If you want more MMO coverage after this series, download the free MMO Magazine

If you want more MMO coverage after this series, download the free MMO Magazine

I’ve kept this subject ’til last in the series for a couple of reasons: firstly, it’s already happening, and secondly it’s the one that’s likely to be misinterpreted most and get lambasted. But here we go, the final thing that I think need to happen in the next-gen of MMOs is homogenisation or plagiarism.

What I mean by this is that developers shouldn’t go re-inventing the wheel. If there is a good gameplay mechanic in one MMO, then incorporate into your one. Of course, tweak it, improve it, but don’t leave it out just because someone else thought it up. As I say, this already happens – for example, LOTRO currently has a quest tracker beta feature that is a rough implementation of the World of Warcraft add-on QuestHelper.

To create a next-gen MMO, we should build on the best-in-class of the current generation, from the big ideas – the Legendary weapons that can be levelled in LOTRO are a great idea nicked from pen and paper RPGS, to the small gameplay tweaks that just make playing less of a hassle: LOTRO puts quest items into the quest tracker for access, so they don’t take up inventory space. World of Warcraft now puts an icon for quest items in the quest log on screen, so you can immediately access a quest item to use on quest objects. Let’s roll the two ideas together to make quests less of a chore.

This is a big challenge for the next MMOs, current gen games (and even some of the fanatics I know agree with this) can feel like a chore at times. It’s not just the grinding, it’s the idea that travelling or running counts as valid in-game content. We shouldn’t be counting how successful a game is by how long a gamer spends in a world at one time, but by how much fun they have while they are there. And running, real or virtual, is not fun.

If there’s one thing that has come from the comments on this series so far, it’s that there are MMOs out there, current or even extinct now, that in some way implemented or bettered some of the ideas that we’ve put forward. What we believe is that when planning the next-gen games, the developers should draw all the best ideas from the games that have gone before, whether that be crafting, combat, levelling, whatever – ask themselves how they can implement and improve on those ideas in the game.

Homogenisation doesn’t need to mean that every game is the same, just that the best ideas survive, and we don’t end up with the situation we currently have where we enjoy one MMO for X feature and another for Y, but never the twain shall meet.

On the other hand, maybe we’re just morally bankrupt, with no original ideas of our own, so all we can do is steal from others?

Next, we’ll wrap up the series with a conclusion, and then confusingly, reveal where it will be going next.

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