13 March 2012

MMo's: the fatal road they never walked

Can we embrace change anymore?



What happened to innovation in interactivity? Did it vanish? No, someone said nothing is destroyed. It just abandoned the scarier territory of total game structure and headed toward accessibility and a race for technical milestones, which is more reassuring and impersonal ground. What is lost however is the feel of pioneering. It was uncomfortable, it got us games such as Alone in the Dark, Little big Adventure and Dune, games that are essentially strange though fun and great. I think that's how Infocom and Sierra and Origin and so on felt, rethinking basics. Years trod on, we built our safe zone, nomore wandering alone in the dark.

Enough with offline games. This is about online worlds. Hey it seems innovation stopped right with the overwhelming invention of virtual worlds(1998 .ca), which was an incredible break-through, way, waaay ahead of its time because 10 years later we aren't ready, we're not even willing to begin questioning the basic meaning of virtuality. We are back in a frontier, but built a small haven of plastic floor around a vast, damp and weird cosmos. It seems we were scared by its(omg there is no God then) possibilities. This is arbitrary historical rehash junk. Don't mind it too much, i don't want to tell you how history went, just pick the "ha-ha!" of it.

Enough with wondering why innovation got hid by market experts. I wanna tell you where it is, but it must be someplace you will recognize just by sheer evidence. We gotta establish common grounds. I have no idea why i should write articles for people to read them, if not to establish a network of common ideas. Why else does one write? To persuade you that i'm awesome? No, i write to build bridges, to pontificate between humans.

Innovate is latin, i studied latin, i AM latin myself.
Innovo, -as, -avi, -atum, -are: to renew, make something new afresh.

Innovation in MMO is such an exciting concept because an online game should be nothing but one of the static worlds created by writers in the past years and decades and millennia that simply becomes alive. MMO's shouldn't have internal genre standards but simply take everything from that written world and make it virtual, and to make it virtual you can pick traces of virtuality in the written stories as well, you don't need to make stuff up even there. A Warhammer, a Star Trek MMO is not a typical "game", with normal genre elements and with star trek and warhammer gimmicks, it's THAT world as it was imagined by its creator, with no influence from "us" other than persistancy.

The above idea is already innovative (innovative but more realistically most persons forgot that MMO's were meant to do this). In addition, since a good MMO is an artistically creative world + the gift of life,or persistancy, it's only natural to assume that the genre has no element for itself, except that, virtual life.

MMO is almost not a genre; would you call "giving life" something directly related to  a specific "gameplay"? No you wouldn't, it's just a sparke that creators bestow on their audience, because technology allowed them to do that, to make a fictional world "go". Is the famous Origins' motto "We create worlds" meaning still something hermetic? Oh yes what a coincidence, they kinda invented MMO's (as there were muds, before).

Let's begin with examples of turning book fiction into life.

It seems Star Wars is mainly conspiracies to get total political power. A MMO about star wars should focus a lot about that. A player (or group of) that spends days and nights concocting a way to obtain power, spends months at the galactic senate, tries to bribe generals, gain favors in planets, gather separatists, build super offensive weapons to "control sectors without the use of bureaucracy", because "fear will keep em in order". Its "100% LIVE WORLD" should revolve around a politician who, as Obi Wan said "follows his passions" [...] "aims to please so that others may fund his campaign", and the players around and below these politicians should be young jedi who have to weave their careers and lives and they risk their sanity and damnation. And then face the consequences for having supported a player they thought was good.

See i didn't "invent" anything, did i? it's just what the movies told us. I repeat, i don't want to tell you about my personal point of view on MMO's, this is meant to be common evident grounds.

The point is that you got to design a MMO gameplay AROUND the original material.That's the way with MMO's, that's the innovative concept; too bad what really happens instead is the opposite: the original material is glued around the average "MMO-genre" mechanical tropes that i believe shouldn't exist, nobody forces people to apply so-called "MMO elements" upon an MMO. The only acceptable MMO trope is life. Life to Star Trek, life to Warhammer, life, to Herbert's Dune, life to Hamlet, life (back) to a historical period like 1500 Engand, life to the Neuromancer, life to Do Androids dream of electric Sheep and oh that'd be good, life to I, Robot. Even in the case of a historical period, all you have to do, as a designer, is collect informations, and tap all the material with a magical life-giving wand, then add a character that moves around and an interface to do all sorts of actions (examine, use, pick up, talk, and so on).


A MMO about, say, «I, Robot» shouldn't recycle stuff from other games, it would ruin it instantly. It should instead be just players that do more of what was in the books, but simulated in a live world and where players write their own new tales and adventures and plots that all remotely remaind at their original intention: that's because you can't betray the creator's goals and convictions and that's where a MMO stops being a "total freeform life simulation" and reminds us it is a fictional world and a game after all. It is simple as that, developers should be the gods that give players the "tools" to live NEW stories that feel just like those novels and films, persistantly. It's the future! The natural way for ALL licenses to move on, old written novels (the world they describe) should become alive in everyway, and what were the readers should be the new writers. Only when it's a good old offline game the programmers may discard persistancy, not give players tools to create new stories and just retell the original story in their personal way.

Let's take the most evidently troubled franchise of all, Star Trek: this one has been decadent for the last, what, 10 years? Why are we unhappy about it? Isn't it even too obviously because WE don't like what those writers wrote, how they interpret that cosmos, how they interpret a world that became rightfully OURS because we bought it piece by piece? Us being unhappy and them being decading shows even too clearly that WE are ready to claim the right to write new stories for 'em. It's the clear way of the future, not only innovation, but an epoch-long-awaited "social" revolution.

Change is to think differently. Can we do that, please?

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I teach history, literature, linguistics, philosophy and psychology. I believe in a cosmic order. I love each place on Earth because everything has its unique attractions. I worship the God of progress and That of biomechanics. I try to write novels in a strongly interaction remainding formulaic fashion. As i'm progressist, i am a socialist extremist. I wanna open a social library art chocolate house. I write lyrics for my musician metal-crazed friends. I wanna be a theatre master. I believe Star Trek vision of society can be realized, but people are afraid of change and Power frightens people because they are afraid of loosing their privileges. I am incredibly dense in astronomy but i philosophically love it. I can't live without spirituality. I try to find the the key to happiness, investigating, exploring the way nature works, understanding its mechanisms, its secrets and mysteries. I believe one of the goals of living is to make life better for everyone.