A week or so ago, Cynwise wrote a post talking about WoW’s evolution in the current era of the Internet, which touched on a lot of interesting points about social networks and how WoW’s design could evolve.
Now, that post itself has evolved, into a thorough look at how WoW and other MMOs can and should develop in the age of Facebook. After all, as Cynwise says, one of the big golden promises of the MMORPG was that you could play in the same universe as your friends, but thanks to guilds, servers, and various other impediments, the reality is far from that claim –
“World of Warcraft’s infrastructure requires players to create accounts on specific, mutually exclusive servers. If I roll on Durotan, I cannot interact with players on Drenden or Moonrunner, and vice versa. Each server is effectively its own independent social network, limited in scope, much like old-school BBSes were. This made sense in 2004, but in 2012 social networks are broader, which is the whole point behind Real ID/BattleTags grouping. Warcraft is moving players towards a cloud-based existence, where your server matters less than your friends list. I personally think this is a good thing, because no matter how nostalgic I am for the old days of BBSes, I enjoy the present day reality of a global social network …
Let’s take a simple example, a player who wants to play both Horde and Alliance. She joins nice guilds on both sides of the same server and enjoys spending time with each group. But depending on which character she chooses to play, she either has to choose one social group or the other. This doesn’t have anything to do with guild perks or reputation – imagine a social network that forced you to choose between talking to one set of friends or another when logging in, and see how popular that would become. It’s not enough to be able to talk individually. “
I really hope that the poor, underpaid guy that Blizzard pay to sit and keep tabs on the MMORPG blogosphere (let’s face it, we know they must have at least one) spends a good chunk of time reading this post. I’ve never seen Cynwise’s central question – “How can WoW change to survive the post-Facebook age?” articulated so clearly, and whilst he doesn’t have a solid blueprint – yet – he does an excellent job of not only articulating the various problems but also proposing solutions for them.
And for the rest of us, it’s worth reading this post because it’s likely to be prophetic. Cynwise has nailed a key element of any future MMO that isn’t doomed to looking like a throwback – certainly, I’d be astonished if Titan wasn’t designed around social principles. And he’s doing some interesting thinking about not just directly Facebookifying WoW, but also translating the strengths of WoW via the things that make social networks great.
I’ll be interested to see how the conversation develops around this one!
How do you think MMOs will evolve in the Social Age?
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I think today may be something of a record for the Melting Pot – we’ve got literally no WoW posts on the features list today! (Although I’ll admit I have a couple on my “to feature tomorrow” list.)
In many ways, it’s a breath of fresh air to see so much discussion of so many different games in the MMORPG community. And I find it comforting – even if the giants of the field do slowly fade away, it’s easy to see there’s plenty of other interesting stuff happening in the smaller games too!
- Random Waypoint considers a small but significant aspect of MMO play, specifically LoTRO – the effect of floating nameplates on your in-game immersion – “You tend to not notice the scenery any more, or the mobs themselves; what you see is a target, and a beeline in your mind to said target. Run, kill, loot, run, kill, loot.”
- Syp at Bio Break is shocked by six really great things about F2P Star Trek Online – “People who denounce F2P as being this great evil that’s corrupting our beloved MMOs from the inside-out don’t often acknowledge that there are many ways to do F2P, and while some are aggressively bad and harmful to the game, others are finding a great balance between giving a free experience while tempting players to pony up dough. “
- Player vs Developer is reporting on the RIFT experience at endgame – “I’m starting to see why this game seems to draw the older-school crowd from the days when MMO’s were more of an activity than a game. “
- In Titan (yes, Titan) news, Rock Paper Shotgun have noticed Blizzard are looking for an in-game advertising specialist for their next MMO – “Blizzard are looking to recruit a Franchise Development Producer for their “next-gen MMO”, with one of the main responsibilities being to “work with major consumer brands to facilitate product placement and licensing within the world of Blizzard Entertainment’s next-gen MMO”. Hmmmm.”
- And MMO Quests offers both advice and caution for potential players on the extremely hardcore nature of Wurm Online – “For those gamers who are often enthralled with sandbox games then Wurm is probably a fantastic MMO for you to sink your teeth into. If you struggle with those types of games you may be better off simply reading about it – and I don’t say that to be insulting but I say that because over the course of time I have played I have seen MANY people in Freedom Chat expressing their frustrations.”
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Let’s face it, there’s only so long you can talk about pandas.
Today the blogosphere’s turned its thoughts further afield, with comment on Guild Wars 2, as well as a really interesting bit of speculation on Titan. Let’s go:
- Ravious at Kill Ten Rats notes that Guild Wars 2 is remarkably eagerly awaited despite its lack of publicity – “Currently Guild Wars 2 is the most anticipated game on mmorpg.com by nearly a whole point. That is a game without a release date being more anticipated than say Star Wars the Old Republic (SWTOR), which is going to release this year. I’d say the so-called “hype machine” has done it’s job.”
- Syp is thinking GW2, too, and suspects that the press silence may be part of a master plan – “Assuming that ArenaNet makes good on its promises of unparalleled gameplay and MMO innovation, then we could be looking at a silent predator in the treetops, waiting for its best chance to pounce. “
- And Doone at T.R.Redskies has a really interesting bit of speculation on what Titan could be – not a game, but a platform for games – “Blizzard said “it’s a game changer” about Titan a few months ago. First, I don’t see how a single new game could change the whole industry right now. Second, Blizzard is well know to NOT create new types of games. “
Is Titan going to be more than a game? Is Guild Wars 2 going to live up to the hype?
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See? It’s not another Diablo III Auction House post!
There’s a hell of a lot to consider about the possibility of mixing real-world commerce, specifically Internet Marketing-type stuff, and MMOs. And if Diablo III’s experiment with in-game RMT isn’t a total disaster, we can expect to see a lot more of it in the future.
Hence, Mana Obscura’s Gazimoff has been staring into his crystal ball of gaming, and has written a lengthy blog post on the kind of developments we can expect to see as and when the RMT AH makes its way into the next Blizzard MMO, currently codenamed Titan:
There’s the potential for profession guide and levelling guide writers to put together bundles of raw materials, then sell them on the auction house as a complete pack. Buy their levelling pack for real money and they’ll mail the guide on how to use it free of charge.
There’s the option for crafting teams to group up and put gear packs together. Everything you’d need for your class at that level, with a new pack every ten levels. This already happens in Team Fortress 2. People will buy them for the cool hats alone.
I’d not thought of several ideas in Gazimoff’s post, and as an experienced entrepreneur and WoW AH player, I’ve been spending some serious time thinking about real-world money AH tactics recently – as have many people, even given we don’t so much as know the Diablo 3 release date yet. Any RMT-based game is going to see farming, sales and every other stage of the cash-generation process get scarily efficient, very very fast indeed.
And whilst it’s fun, from a certain perspective, to think about all the things that will go wrong, the fact is that most real-world business creation is perfectly legitimate and equally interesting. And like it or not, business and MMO gaming look to become the same thing, at least for some people, in the near future. It’s interesting to think about all the neat or just plain odd stuff that will happen, as well as the disaster potential.
What cool stuff can you see coming out of the RMT auction transition? How do you think game-based businesses will evolve?
_Quote taken directly from Gazimoff’s post.
Find Mana Obscura’s homepage at http://www.manaobscura.com/._
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