Star Wars: The Old Republic
is apparently pretty profitable
these days. Wouldn't it be slick if BioWare
reinvested some of that cash shop windfall into something other than dungeons, dialogue, and cutscenes? Don't get me wrong; I've warmed to SWTOR
over the last few months to the point that it's now my primary fun-time MMO
(at least until ArcheAge
gets here!), but the current game does have a one-track mind.
I'd love to see it branch out much as EverQuest II
has over the years. I'm not talking about neglecting the progression-based core or even the PvP sideshow in favor of fluff, but just as SOE
has made an artform out of various non-combat activities, so too could BioWare
, particularly given that the firm is blessed with both a money-printing IP and an IP that is overflowing with unique gameplay possiblities.
Look at the dozens of minigames
in SOE's Clone Wars Adventures
browser title, for example. Most of them would fit quite comfortably inside SWTOR's
established framework, and they'd flesh out the title immeasurably and make it even stickier for both subscribers and free-to-play types.
Perhaps BioWare is already going down this route, too. The rumored space expansion is one of the industry's worst-kept secrets, and I've also heard scuttlebutt regarding customizable ship interiors and the like. Who knows, at this point, but given how popular non-combat activities proved in that other Star Wars MMO, and given how player-generated content pays for itself in short order, BioWare would be wise to give it a serious look.
This one will probably elicit a few WTFs. Hear me out, though. Yes, I know that some of you don't even consider Wargaming.net's
instanced actioner to be an MMO, but to be honest, you've lost that battle because dozens of industry folk and gaming publications classify and cover it as such. And semantics aside, it's a fun online multiplayer title with a massive playerbase!
So how could World of Warplanes
possibly add player-generated content to what is in essence an instanced shooter? And why would the devs even want to? Two words: nose art. Well, OK, here's a third word, too: customization. I've played Microsoft Flight Simulator
for more years than I care to admit, and the thing that keeps me coming back to it apart from an incurable obsession with aviation is the ability to mod my aircraft.
certainly isn't a flight simulator, and I'm not talking about players getting the opportunity to tweak their aircraft performance config files or whatever Wargaming's
equivalent happens to be. But nose art? Custom squadron livery or decals? Why the hell not? Look at the custom graphics community that sprung up around the Forza Motorsport
games, and those
poor geniuses are forced to perform their aesthetic wizardry with a console controller. Imagine what similarly talented community artists could do on a PC and the larger surface areas on an aircraft!
I know, someone would turn his fuselage into a giant penis on day one if left unchecked. So Wargaming would probably have to dedicate a community rep to policing that sort of thing, but wouldn't it be worth it? The company could even take a page out of SOE's book and integrate approved community designs into the game's cash shop. Crazier things have happened. DC Universe Online
has a leg up on the other titles in this article, mainly because it was designed and published by SOE. The company certainly takes its lumps from vocal critics in both the games media and the MMO-playing public, but no one in his right mind can deny the firm's willingness to experiment
with sandbox mechanics and player-generated content in nearly all of its titles, even those like EverQuest II
that are linear, quest-driven progression exercises at their core.
SOE recently added a robust housing system to DCUO
, and while most of the decorations come from loot drops instead of crafting (boo), the foundation is there for a spectacular system on par with those from both EQII
and Star Wars Galaxies
, which are the gold standards for instanced and open-world housing implementations, respectively.
Additionally, what I'd like to see from DCUO
in the future is some sort of player mission system. SOE has multiple blueprints to choose from, whether it be EQII's Dungeon Maker
system. I wouldn't put it past the DCUO
creative team to come up with an entirely new system, either. But hey, why reinvent the wheel when you're already got a couple of awesome examples right there in your proprietary portfolio?Every two weeks, Jef Reahard and MJ Guthrie take a break from their themepark day jobs to delve into the world of sandboxes and player-generated content. Comments, suggestions, and coverage ideas are welcome, and Some Assembly Required is always looking for players who'd like to show off their MMO creativity. Contact us!