Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Binding MMORPGs together

In a recent interview in Wired, Blizzard COO Paul Sams stated that their next MMO would be "significantly different" from WoW, so as to not canibalize WoW's user base. Now I have this great idea what they could do: Blizzard could do a fantasy space-flight MMO with a twist, with every planet representing a World of Warcraft server. So there would be a huge intergalactic war going on in space in the new MMO, but the outcome of PvP events on various WoW servers would have an influence on that war. The two MMOs would be bound together, each having an influence on the other, and players could communicate from one game to the other.

Of course the idea isn't actually mine. And it isn't actually Blizzard's either. In fact the idea is from the makers of EVE Online, who want to create a MMOFPS called Dust 514. Every planet in the EVE Online universe would be a battlefield in Dust 514, and the PvP in the two games would influence each other. Still early days, and a bit hazy about how exactly all of this would be working. But the idea to bind together two MMOs is out there.

Is this a good idea? I'm not quite convinced yet, because there are huge, obvious pitfalls. In spite of what EVE Online marketing videos try to tell you, already the influence of a single player on the galaxy of EVE is rather small. So who wants to play the Dust 514 grunt working for that insignificant EVE player? Or what EVE player wants to be told that his guild just lost a planet because the Dust 514 players on their side went afk? You really can't make the events in one game have too much of an influence in another game, as people get frustrated to be thwarted by actions which are not only outside their control, but even outside their game. But if there is relatively little connection between the games, then why bother?

I want you to help with a thought experiment: Imagine whatever MMO you are currently playing. How would you make a second MMO from the same company bind to your game? Where would the two games be connected, what would be the influence of your game on the other game and vice versa? Do you think this could possibly work?
I don't care which game does it, but I'd like to see YAFMMO tied into something akin to Atlantica. Learning and leveling your stable of characters for the formation game is (to me), a great use of alts and parallel character development.
Ive been followign Dust for a while now, and while you raise a valid point i think the influence will be much less than what people are assuming, its more likely to be that prices when buying from that planet or system are more expensive, or theres more NPC rats in the system etc i dont think it will be too drastic as no one will play either

Square's "My Life As a King" piqued my interest, because it's delightfully meta compared to other Square games: Rather than play as the group of heroes doing dungeoncrawling, you manage the town that the heroes use as a base.

If you provide housing, your heroes will be able to start a family. If you invest in a mage school, your heroes' children can train to become mages. If you invest in a magic shop, the fresh-out-of-school newbie get his first set of gear. If you post a quest to go to the local equivalent of Deadmines, the newbie mage can meet the newbie warrior and the newbie priest and go find fame and fortune.

That concept could easily be expanded into a pair of MMOs, but there's a few huge caveats: What if you built the best adventuring town out there.. but everyone stayed in Dalaran? Or why would you want to play as a dime-a-dozen adventurer instead of the powerful and filthy rich mayor?
I think EQ and EQ2 could be bound together, at least through public events. As EQ2 is set 500 years into the future of EQ, they could easily run an event in which the actions of the player in EQ influence the world of EQ2 in some kind of time altering fashion.
Thinking about Lotro, it doesn't make sense to combine it with DDO or AC. Imagine the cries of lore-breaking...

On the other hand linking Lotro to other games in the Tolkien-family would make sense. E.g. battles in the old strategy games having an effect in middle earth. Could even replace the pvmp which isn't that great.

Another variant would be linking to the new Aragorn game which is targetted at a younger audience, having more of a fairytale feeling. Maybe possibility to move your character to Aragorn for some lighthearted adventuring, but still maintaining some of you looks and characteristics?

Not very likely, but still...
"already the influence of a single player on the galaxy of EVE is rather small"

The guy who broke BoB had a small impact? The leader of the Goons has a small impact? Market drivers in a sector have a small impact? That MOST people are grunts is a reflection of life, but more so than any game, EVE gives it's players the opportunity to actually be a hero/villain, and not just have some NPC tell them (and the next 1000 people) that they're special.

As for mixing games, it's tough to imagine any of the fantasy MMOs really benefiting from this. Perhaps someone could flesh out what LotRO does with it's monster play, but allow other players to play a Majesty-style game directing mobs and building up mob camps? It would be very RTS-lite, and the bigger the mob camp you create, the bigger the reward for defeating it (so as it grows, more and more players would be interested). Not sure how to technically pull that off, or how many mob-directors you could have going at one time though. Hmmm, maybe I'll puzzle this out over at my blog, to keep this comment reasonable.
I'd have Warcraft 4 directing WoW. Players of that could create BGs of sorts by starting battles. Any extra units would be NPCs controlled by the WC4 player, but the rest would be WoW-controlled, so it would be a bit more hands-off game, focusing more on getting the right forces to the battle rather than directing the battle itself.
Um, it's not a vague concept. Dust 514 has been in development for over three years now. It's what CCP is going to showcase at their fanfest in October (along with their World of Darkness MMO).

And if you understood anything about EvEs sovereignty mechanics, you'd understand how much of an impact this Dust 514 and its console players will really have.

But instead you look at it through a WoW fanboys perspective.
ArenaNet already tried this, in the original Guild Wars. Their servers were divided geographically into three zones (America, Europe, Asia), and only one zone's PVE players had access to the highest-level content, dependent on which zone's PVP teams were on top at any given moment.

Everybody hated it, and eventually they got rid of the system.
The guy who broke BoB had a small impact? The leader of the Goons has a small impact?

Syncaine, you don't fool anybody with your straw man arguments. I say "the average American has little influence on US politics", and you reply with "Obama has a big impact on US politics". I'm not talking about the one traitor who broke BoB, the guild leader of the Goons, or the guy who founded the intergalactic bank and then robbed it. I'm talking about the AVERAGE player. Who in EVE has as little impact as if he would play WoW.
I would love it if they made a World of Warcraft Soul Caliber. I would love it to be exactly like the Soul Caliber platform except I would be fighting with my Wow toons against Voldo etc. Once can duel in warcraft atm but I want the insane PS3 graphics/textures when I fight like soul caliber.
Who in WoW is the equivalent of the Goons leader in EVE? EVE gives you the opportunity to truly set yourself apart, WoW (or any other themepark) at best allows you to be a name in a known guild forum followers drool over, unless you think the top raiding guilds in WoW have the same impact on the game as the top leaders in EVE?

Of course the AVERAGE player in EVE is going to be a mining/ratting peon, just like the average person in the US can't influence politics to any noticeable degree. That does not mean someone out there does not set out to make an impact and succeeds, just like those in EVE who have distinguished themselves. The point is not that most do reach that level, it's that the level exists to begin with.
"already the influence of a single player on the galaxy of EVE is rather small. So who wants to play the Dust 514 grunt working for that insignificant EVE player?"

If you changed the first line to include 'single AVERAGE player", and removed the second line, sure. But that's not what you wrote, right? You argue that Dust 514 players won't bother working for some no-name pilot in EVE, and you are right. But when the leader of a player run bank funds an objective, or the battle is Goons vs BoB, I doubt motivation will be lacking for the average Dust player, which I believe is what CCP is aiming for.
There you are assuming that a single EVE player can sponsor thousands of Dust 514 battles. I don't think it will work that way. If the number of Dust 514 battles an EVE player can sponsor is limited, the average Dust 514 player will work for the average EVE player. Boring grunt working for boring peon.
And elite Dusk work for the elite EVE pilot.

(That's assuming all Dusk battles are EVE-player driven. Perhaps only the 'special' ones are, and most games are more standard pitched battles on some planet, similar to any Quake or CS match. Or perhaps one powerful player will require many battles to be fought in Dusk. Say the Goons attack BoB and go after a few systems, each system contains dozens of planets to battle over)
If the number of Dust 514 battles an EVE player can sponsor is limited, the average Dust 514 player will work for the average EVE player.
And who will that average EVE player work for?-) Granted, the average player might not cause any world-changing events himself, but he'll be able to say: "I helped with that".
I wouldn't touch the concept with two bargepoles tied together. Cross-continuity is what turned superhero comics into a gordian knot of twaddle. MMOs do not need to hurl themselves down the same black hole.
I'm going to side with Syncaine here; the biggest roller in WoW could delete his account and the world at large wouldn't notice. Not so much in EVE.

Sure, the average EVE player is a drop in a bucket, but he is still having an impact. WoW doesn't really have that option.
I wouldn't touch the concept with two bargepoles tied together. Cross-continuity is what turned superhero comics into a gordian knot of twaddle. MMOs do not need to hurl themselves down the same black hole.
Too late. :-) There's Garona's age and race, Kalimdor geography, chicken-vs-egg with Sargeras and the Eredar, the wacky time-traveling adventures of Broxigar and many, many more.
Tobold, a single player in WoW has no influence, as he actually never gets the possibility.

In Eve you have the possibility, if you are good and skillful.

Thats the key difference which negates your argument comparing WoW and EvE (or US and Obama :)
I disagree. I have thought about this idea for a few years, and if done correctly it could bring a whole new type of MMO together.

Sci-Fi MMO's are the perfect place for this type of playstyle because you can't confine a Sci-Fi game to one planet and an all Space Shuttle MMO will turn alot of people off.

A mix of the two, that is designed to be that way from day 1, could work very well.

Imagine Warhammer 40K or StarCraft as a MMO in space. You can control giant space ships that would act as guild halls. You could personally control smaller fighter ships to battle others in space. Then when that was old or you won the space battle, you begin a plantary invasion.

It could be easily one of the most epic games ever, if done correctly. It wont happen though. It would cost to much time and money considering the risk.

It would require 1 server with lots of people to fill not just a content, 2 contents, a world... but an entire galaxy.

Everquest... a themepark that allowed players to set themselves so far apart they were given a chance to design OTHER worlds... how big of an impact is that?

Tigole/Furor -> blizzard
Tweety/Lum -> mythic

Now that is setting yourself apart.
Well in my current game Mabinogi, we have pets we can play as. If I were to bind a second MMO to it I would center it around the pets-they play almost exactly the same as players, but weaker, and Mabinogi has the whole cutesy aesthetic going on, so I think it would make a good fit.

This way you could use your pets in the linked MMO to aid your players, and your players could level up your pets in the current one and have that reflected in the pet MMO.

This would also solve a problem Dust will have, by making connections, but not overly meaningful ones. You don't want to lose a planet's sovreignity because a team went afk, or just fooled around together playing some form of halo-esque football instead of fighting the battle.
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