Game Design Wednesday

How do you design a Free To Play scheme? What can a 9-year-old teach us about game design? Could user-generated content ever work in an MMO?

It seems to be Game Design Wednesday here at the Melting Pot. First up we had the very exciting news that Alexander Brazie, a designer at Blizzard, has started blogging. Now, we’ve got some great writing on game design from a number of interesting perspectives!

Let’s get going.

  • Tobold considers a part of MMO design we’re only starting to understand – the structure of a Free To Play deal, and whether SWTOR’s F2P deal is fatally flawed“Leo Tolstoy’s book Anna Karenina begins with the phrase: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The MMORPG version of this is: Subscription business models are all alike, every Free2Play game does business in its own way. “
  • Big Bear Butt’s Cub returns in an interesting discussion of his 9-year-old perspective on game design – some really interesting stuff here, particularly about arch-villains and how they can succeed or fail“He likes the individual pieces of what is coming out, and the game in my opinion is going to be vastly improved by what is being changed and added. But taking the focus off a single storypoint that captures the minds’ eye has left Alex cold. More faction battles? “But”, he says, “we already have that. I can do PvP in a battleground whenever I want. We’re already at war. How is the war new? Or are we not really killing each other in PvP battlegrounds?””
  • And Fulguralis asks whether a map creation tool and user-generated content could be the saviour of the MMORPG world“Heck, one could make the argument that the map creator was the true shining star in some of Blizzard’s old Warcraft and Starcraft games. User created maps have spawned entire games for Fel’s sake! (League of Legends anyone?)”

Of course, Everquest has User-Generated levels already, but from what I’ve heard, their mapmaker is fearsomely limited.

Oddly, this is one area I could see SWTOR suddenly rising into. Bioware are well-known for stories, but what you may not know is that they’ve also created some of the greatest user toolsets of all time. Neverwinter Nights spawned mini-MMOs of its own, not to mention a feature film made in the engine (which I may have, erm, had some involvement with). If they focused on UGC suddenly, it could be a game-changer.

What do you think?