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I've been active in SunAndShadow's thread, where they're co-designing a game.
Part of that thread got me thinking about how much "game" actually needs to be in an MMORPG. What I'm kicking around is the potential of having the mechanical elements of an MMORPG, with no storyline and minimal lore as back story.
The core concept I'm working on is Simulation versus Game.
The way I see it, there are already people, myself included, who completely skip quest stories, focusing primarily on "what do you want me to do", and "where do I turn it in once it is done". If storyline is not essential for these people, perhaps it can be completely removed.
I see gameplay (simulationplay?) as:
Explore until you find something to fight -or- follow a breadcrumb from an NPC suggesting where to go
Fight until you find something interesting -or- fight until the area is cleared
Do something with the interesting item (sell it, equip it, turn it into an NPC for reward)
Progress as a character
Rinse and repeat
New areas open up based on character progression, and areas unlocked by items.
Since areas are not locked static based on hard-coded quests, in theory the world population could be procedurally generated, so long as the drops still work correctly. One visit a cave might be loaded with spiders and rats. Once cleared, the same cave might be inhabited by vampires.
The way I see it, other than breadcrumbs provided for the exploration-impaired, the world would be entirely simulation.
As for could such be engaging for a player, I think it could providing combat and progression kept the pace moving quickly enough to avoid boredom.
Of course it is niche. People who need a PVE story would hate it, but people who skip stories anyway might not have an issue. Although I'm not a PVPer and not qualified to design PVP, I don't see lack of PVE storyline being a negative for PVPers.
Could the formula be: Simulation = HackAndSlash + farming + gathering + crafting + trading ?
Let me know what you think. I'm genuinely curious.
Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security. I don't Forum PVP. If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident. When I don't understand, I ask. Such is not intended as criticism.