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I think that its high time for game companies that want to make MMOs to understand one simple thing about MMO player :
We dont want games - we want worlds.
We have millions of games - Halo , Super Mario , Starcraft , Monkey Island , Baldurs Gate ... to note few genre stars.
Now they want to take these games and add multiplayer aspect - and slap brand this MMORPG.
This my friends is the themepark world. And the direction its moving ( we are seeing mmofps , mmo platformer , mmo sport , even mmo adventure - beside more traditional mmorpg approach )
But this is not what we are here for ... not what we wanted...
When I played games before the era of internet , this was not what I dreamed of - Super Mario with oter people playing.
What I dreamed was Ultima Online
This dream was shared in developer community that was young and not GREED oriented as today.
And than it stopped. Because its easier to just make a game and add multiplayer element.
And we have what we have today. Shallow abominations. Most laughable of which would be MMOs that came 2012. Basically Single player games with other people running around.
This. That much is obvious - will not fly anymore.
We want worlds.
You can call it sandbox. I call it Virtual world simulation games.
Worlds that have its rules , its economy , its inhabitants , its dangers , its politics - and than we are put inside - and become part of them.
Sadly only good and sucessful modern example of this is EVE online.
The game that caters bit to much to agressive player.... but there is so much potential around.
Will we ever see it ?
There have been lot of discussion in this topic pondering over fun aspects of "Sandbox" and "Themepark" concepts.
For me sandbox represents dead world where nothing grows unless a player places it there. Its a system that came out of limitation. Same on oposite spectrum is themepark which is dead world inhabited by stage props. They provide resemblance of something happening. You can only look at it (do the quests) but can not influence it in any other way.
Virtual world is living world where NPCs actually live and have needs. Its a jungle instead of sandbox. And it provides both sandbox and themepark elements that are created and influenced by player actions
Here is a great example taken from Elite:Dangerous dev diary 2:
Its still unclear if Elite:Dangerous will be MMO (or will even get kickstarted) and I am not trying to promote it. But this is exactly the idea I am talking about.