Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From Skills to Real Estate

MMORPGs require some kind of achievement grind. These grinds were about skills in UO, levels in Everquest, epics in World of Warcraft and later pets and text messages that were called 'achievements'.

All these achievements were very player specific. That's what made them cheap to produce. Especially so called 'achievements' are probably the cheapest achievement grind ever for the developer.

But the problem is that players get used to these different forms of achievement grinds. They tire of all of them after a while. Raiding to get better items to raid with? That was fun for a few months. Farming mobs at respawn points to get more levels? Also fun for a few months. Grinding stupid quests, that you don't even read, just to have them done all? Fun for a few months. Farming pets or even text-messages (=achievements) was fun for .. well was never fun for me .. anyway.

Players like to achieve things, and this "achieving" is the main motivator to log in; always has been. Yeah, players also like to explore and to socialize and to kill and a lot of other stuff. But achieving stands out. It has been the most successful motivator in the past and will be the most successful motivator in the future. But players need new things to achieve! Levels and epics and pets and the rest, they are worn out. We need something new!

So what will be the next thing that we will achieve? What will drive us into dungeons and make us fight monsters, even though we've seen this kind of content before? "Path of the Titans?" I doubt it. Rather, I'd say: Minecraft.

People like to build stuff. To construct something. And if you have to venture into dangerous dungeons to be able to make your real estate shine in silvery light at dawn, then you will!

This step will be made eventually. Minecraft is too successful to not make an MMO out of it! The question is really not whether, but only when it will happen! And there's also another reason that this will overtake other MMORPGs: If the achievement that drives the player does not modify player power, the social aspect of playing together can finally become more important. Social games and showing off to other players are the current hype. A lot of money can flow here.
While Character Power Progression, CPP, is really a two-edged sword; real estate is not!

A game that is about perfecting your player house, or even your guild-castle still has all the achievement-crazy addictiveness of current MMOs. It is even better at showing off! It also is much better at socializing! It feels more "fair"! And it can be more casual, which is important as the current MMO generation enters the high-noon of their careers.

What do you think ?


  1. As someone who's spent months farming high-level dungeons in Estiah for rare drops required to build certain guild structures and crafts, I wholeheartedly agree.

  2. Some CPP is good to have. It provides a buffer against loss. When my house gets blown up by creepers in Minecraft or I die deep in a cave and my armor is gone, what do I have? The real estate is destroyed or highly damaged. If I had some sort of CPP I'd at least have the sense of "it will be a little easier to rebuild".

  3. Klepsacovic, all of these achievements are actually good. I'd always add a little bit CPP to a game, Just as I'd always add item and skills and stuff like that. I'm not so sure about 'achievements', but since they are so damn cheap we will probably have to live with them for the forseeable future.

    Point is that these achievements shouldn't overtake the game any more. For that you need something new. Real estate is just right. It is technicallyx feasible and obviously a lot of fun.

  4. I loved how UO allowed you to plant houses on the map and fill them with all sort of crazy, fancy clutter, trophies and spoils...(and no, it didnt only appeal to women). :)
    it's absolutely addicitive and good fun. I think it's a natural human trait that we like to build and own, and to see a product of our work. A space of your own in an MMO, be it a shared guildhouse only that you can shape yourself, adds deeper meaning: you leave a trace on that world, you add impact.

    I wish I could have played AoC longer than I did; the guild towns there sounded very intriguing. apparently quite the farming effort though.

  5. "you leave a trace on that world, you add impact."

    I'd like to expand on that a bit. You make one great point in your post: It's not just about building and crafting something epic, it's also about showing it off, or building it with your guild and having it be a communal space. I go in City of Heroes and take down a villain, and it has no tangible effect on the world. Clearing out a cavern system in a mountain with friends and turning it into a dwarven-esque hall? Now that's something you can not only show off, but has a tangible effect on the world and makes the game memorable.

    It rarely gets mentioned in most MMO circles, but LEGO Universe gives you your own lot to build whatever you want out of LEGO bricks, and you can bring other people in and show it off. It's an instanced area all about your creativity. More games should have that.

  6. Basically what you're saying is that it would be more fun to do things in game if it resulted in something you could look at and even use or design to some extent, as opposed to just a "score".

    But, as Straw noted above, the main drive for "achievement" in an MMO is "showing off".

    Sure, real estate would be "technically feasible" (but probably not that much fun) if it was instanced to you personally. But then what would be the point? It would be no different than a single player game.

    It sounds great, but I think you are vastly underestimating the complexity and security concerns of an open and impactable virtual world. It just wouldn't be fun.

    It's bad enough the impact of the jerks that befoul chat channels, much less if they could build eyesores, make noisy or incessant motion machines, or impact what I've built.

  7. Bristal, I am not talking about instanced housing. I said Minecraft for a reason. There is no need to allow other players to destroy your houses, btw. You can absolutely make this a pure PvE game if you want.

    About showing off: If houses aren't good for showing off then I really don't know what is! Look at real life! People love to show off with their houses! And look at Minecraft (have you played it?).

    Sure, there are ways other players could annoy you. But that's true for all games. I really don't think that this would be a game-breaker, literally :).