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Fri, Mar. 3rd, 2006, 06:35 pm
Game Genius

One last thing before Shabbat: go forth, all of you, and read the brilliant article on ideas for supporting role-playing in MMORPGs at The Escapist. The Escapist always has good stuff, but this piece outlines simple things that MMORPGs can do to increase the amount of actual storytelling and role-playing that goes on in-game. Whether that means better grouping tools so that the world chat channels aren’t full of “32 WARLOCK LFG!!11!!”, or helping players keep in-character blogs, every idea here is pure gold. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author’s own game, Pirates of the Burning Sea (oh, and ZOMG pirate MMORPG!) incorporated a lot of these notions. Yet another reason to sign up, I guess!

Letting players design quests for other players is particularly brilliant, but I’m not sure that any company’s going to be ready to relinquish that much creative control. Given the lawsuit potential, and the possibility for creating unbalanced or exploitable quests, and the certainty that many players will create quests that have nothing to do with the larger game world, I don’t know if we’ll be seeing it anytime soon. When the first lawsuit over “You let players create a quest using the word Spiderman in your game!” comes up, it’s going to persuade a lot of developers to back off moving in this direction. Still, I hope we do. I’d totally create mad content for other people.

This reminds me of Amy Bruckman’s work on MediaMOO, though I don’t have time to find the reference that I mean. She found that only about 10% of the people on the MOO were willing to create content for other people - but that those people were quite active about doing so. An MMORPG doesn’t need everyone to be a content creator, but if it can turn that 10% into apprentice game designers, they’ve just massively increased the longevity and playability of their game. Hopefully. :)

I have to be done talking about this now, because it’s almost Shabbat. Somehow this week was just as crazy as last week, and I’ve got a lot of stressful things coming up (like GDC - though perhaps I shouldn’t admit that it’s a little stressful! - and my cousin’s wedding at which I am sure I will be interrogated about why I’m not married). I need some Shabbat, and I need it now now now. Hugs are also accepted.