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October 11, 2006

Comments

bob

Looking at "Archlord," i wonder if they should stop using the term MMORPG and start calling them YAPTFCG (Yet Another Post-Tolkien Fantasy Cliche Game). Game developers, take note: Fantasy does not have to equal Orcs+Elves+Humans. Really.

The "casual MMO" is long overdue, and giving the player more creative power is very smart (I think WoW would benefit enormously from a more creative crafting system).
As for the "epic storyline" of Uru, this is one of the problematic aspects of "standard" MMOs such as WoW. I assume that it wouldn't be integrated any differently here. Epic narratives make perfect sense for a single player RPG- after all, the player *can* change the world. But telling us that we're "holding the fate of the world in our hands" in most MMOs isn't fooling anyone. We all know that as players we have absolutely no impact on the linear storylines. The most we can do is choose not to advance to the next text blurb of a narrative thread (but we also know that plenty of other people will). The only impact on the world that I have as a WoW player is the cost of goods in the auction house. (And that's assuming I'm willing to grind and sell.) It's rather perverse to use the promise of an "epic storyline" to draw players to a game where they are actively shut out of that narrative.

Actually, the whole idea of the world changing narrative is very much a Post-Tolkien Fantasy Cliche as well. Can we not be interested in a game world unless the narratives are on the grandest scales? Or are game developers just not able to create compelling narratives on a human scale? Perhaps some game developers are lousy at compelling narratives, period, and fall back on familiar cliches to propel things forward?

Aluvius

Interesting and yet the level of WoW fangirl/boism here is just as fevered as ever. I'd love to see some other genres developed as well, particularly sci-fi, but the reason most mmorpg's are fantasy based is because it sells.

bob

Aluvius, you've hit upon the problem right there- the idea that fantasy *must* equal Elves+Orcs+Humans. That *isn't* fantasy. That's a particular micro-sub-genre of Tolkien-by-way-of-DnD fantasy. It's as if every time anyone talked about 'vehicles,' they were only referring to 1997 Honda Accords.
Fantasy didn't start with or end with Tolkien (or Dungeons and Dragons). There's no reason to act like it did. Certainly the mechanics of DnD are the basis for the mechanics of most RPGs, but paper *fantasy* RPGs have moved far beyond DnD, and it's time that computer RPGs and MMOs did the same.
As for what sells or not, I think much of that has to do with how narrowly the game industry has defined the game mechanics and settings of various genres of games. If Hollywood worked the same way, they'd only be producing self-referential Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies. Some people would like and watch them regularly. Others wouldn't like them at all, and would decide that they didn't like "movies" as a result. If someone made a film version of say," Sense and Sensibility," the people who might like it wouldn't see it, as Hollywood had already convinced them that they didn't like movies. The film would do poorly, and as a result people would say that non-Schwarzeneggerian-action films 'didn't sell.' The game industry has created a similar situation for itself.
WoW has almost 7 million subscribers, worldwide. Hit American TV shows have almost 20 million viewers in the U.S. alone.

Alice

Gawd, Bob, INSPIRED. Perfect. Beer is on me for that one.

Deg

It's great to get Uru Live back. It alone will justify GameTap's subscription cost for me.

The environments definitely surprised me in the game (when it was in beta the first time around). I remember seeing a concept art sketch and thinking, "that could never be created in a realtime game." Then, after turning a few corners, there it was. I was soaking up the vista view I deemed impossible.

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