Thursday, 14 November 2013

MMOs: Stale Worlds

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

One of the things I miss most about the free shards of Ultima Online are the GM's and their impromptu quests.

Yes, some were incredibly silly ranging from "catch the talking cat" to "suddenly - SKELETON ARMY!" while some were obviously just there to kill you, like "A pit fiend pops out of hiding... in your house!" Most were still very well thought out and actually did have storylines running behind them, and given the nature of the game all of them were just one time events that you had to be at or miss them entirely. Half the time there weren't even notices to let people know that something was happening. It was always a surprise, and that is actually what made them so good. Their random encounters that could happen along any part of the map, even the middle of the ocean, was what made constant exploration fun. Sure you could fast travel to spots, but odds are you risked missing out on stuff in between.

Not all random encounters are hostile.

Compare that to modern day MMO's. There's a main quest everyone can do, at anytime they choose. The spawns pretty much stay in the same place. The "dynamic" events, if there are any, are looping on timers. Special events are held in major populated hubs or are specifically announced to the world. Sure, I appreciate the theme park nature of getting everyone to come try out your new ride but with that system it somewhat of kills the adventuring part of the game and the uniqueness, the story of your character.

Despite being unable to attend, I didn't mind the one-time event karka finale in Guildwars 2. I felt they were on the right track for that (apart from overestimating their server capabilities). Where they fell off though was when they declared that they would only run events to their highest populated time zone. That's a big nope right there. Simple rostering is all that's required to cover multiple events for global time zones, or they could have just said the next one time event will be at a favourable time for Europe, then China, etc. The backlash they got was so severe they've not had a one time event since.

When was the last time you encountered a unique quest or event that was just for you or your party in an MMO, which no one else got to experience?


  1. Never actually. I can recall being part of the events that were one-time happenings, but nothing that would be limited to only me and my party.

    1. They certainly gave the feeling that what you were doing was important / unique. Sure hope you manage to experience the awesomeness in an MMO one day. :)