Every new MMO currently in a pipeline seems to have been branded with the “Going to be on Console” iron, I ponder on what the future for cross-platform MMOs and MMOs in general could hold.
The biggest concern is the compatibility between platforms, it leads us to ask, “can I team up with my Xbox friend to complete quests?”. This very important keystone in the future of console MMOs, if you split the population based on platform, it’s not exactly that different to the current situation.
Difficulties are glaringly obvious off the bat, how to deliver a fun game for all users not matter how they choose to play.
Interfaces / Crafting
I feel that in order to achieve this goal, all the excessive elements of MMOs currently will need to be trimmed down if not done away with. Take your current PC based MMO, all the dialogue boxes lurking beneath the surface, options / quest log / friend list / map / Inventory, all waiting ready to spring into action when needed.
The MMO interface is a complex beast, how do you cater for all these in an console environment without boring the user to death? Does spending 25 minutes arranging/identifying/sorting through loot on your Xbox sound enjoyable?
Of course not, and standard core systems like this will need to be well thought through and examine before making it into a future MMO.
Having crafting systems is all good and well, but if it’s overly complex, navigating it using a controller would seem hellish. Would a future game opt out of a full crafting system or go for very light model?
Do you need a class system?
Would it be more practical to let the players plot their own path, choosing powers to fit a situation or fight? Locking in users to a set number of powers could be a model of MMOs of the past, giving player more options and choice could expand the longevity of the game for many gamers.
Going back to my MMO roots take a Planetside certificate system, player can alter their powers to suite their mood or the teams needs. Could this system maybe more ideal for the drop-in nature of the console audience?
Building a future MMO is going to need to take a number of items in consideration:
- Character controls that work equally on the PC and the console
- No overly complex systems for crafting, if any at all
- Catering for the drop-in nature of modern day gamers
- Allow friends to team up no matter the length of time played
If the future of MMOs is really going to encompass the console market, then I for one shall cheer when it finally and successfully occurs.