Tuesday 4 March 2014

MMOs: Rewarding the Ordinary

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

"What we need in MMOs is content and systems that endorse, encourage and reward the choice to be an ordinary Joe or Jill, someone just doing their best to help their friends, their family, their neighbors, their community in difficult circumstances." -Bhagpuss

In a previous post, Bhagpuss disagreed with my notion of needing more Heroes and less Soldiers. While we still don't see eye to eye on that matter, the quote above got me thinking about how a game would encourage and reward the "ordinary". My initial thoughts were something along the lines of "WTF? I defeated the enemy army solo and got the same reward that farmer who stayed in his field planting crops got? Well that's unfair."

Then I thought more about it. More about this term... this label, "ordinary". What separates the "ordinary" from "heroes"? The answer I came up eventually was: nothing. No one is just ordinary. Everyone has the potential to be a hero. They just need the will, the means and the opportunity to do so.

Heroes come in all forms after all.

Translating all that into an MMO, the best solution I could come up with is still the individual skill levels, which increase as you use them and degrade as you neglect them. In this way people can shine in the actions they prefer to take. Maybe I can slay dragons solo with ease but when it comes to building defences for a village I'm as useful as a bucket, while the master builder who would rather not fight dragons at all could build a wall in no time, and the farmer can harvest food and herbs quickly, and the alchemist can make the best potions with those herbs, and so on and so forth.

There's even room for a jack of all trades who can help out each specialist better than those with no knowledge in the specific field, but alone he's simply not as good at dragon slaying as the hunter, or building walls as the master builder, and in turn will find it harder getting the varied rewards for each task. Maybe the builder gets a better hammer while the slayer gets a better weapon. So yes, while I would like a system where you can be anything you want - it should be left up to you where you want to shine the most and that way everyone can be rewarded for how they would like to play.

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