Research and future MMO Mechanics articles

So I’m having some difficulty right now, simply deciding on the next piece of the series I want to cover.  My series on MMO mechanics was meant to be a comprehensive look at as many systems in an MMO as I can find.  However, now that I’m done with the theme of economics, I’m stymied as to where to go next.

Be that as it may, I’m still plugging away on new work for the series and astute readers may notice the new page at the top of the site that houses links to all the major pieces I’ve done on the topic.  For now, my research on the subject has taken me far and wide.

For classes, my class-work (hah hah, see what I did there?) has had me studying the pre-nge profession trees of Star Wars Galaixies on their old wikia.  What I find particularly fascinating with them are how mundane tasks that are taken for granted in most MMO’s today, player housing and avatar customization, actually had their own specific class designations in the game.  The politician and Image Designer, a specialization of the Entertainer profession, were setup to help administrate the tasks of guild management (including housing management) and avatar customization.  I find it very interesting how the game used these professions to add an element of gamification to tasks and activities that most modern MMO’s, when they bother with player housing and avatar customization, just give away.  I’m wondering if this is a lost opportunity that modern MMO’s are missing out on.  I have more thoughts on the other non-combat professions and what they bring to the game, but we’ll save that for when we get to our MMO Society discussion.

Remember way back when, one of my first posts was on the Bartle Theory of gamers and which category of gamer you fell into?  Extra Credits posted up their own review of the Bartle Theory and it is WAY better than anything I talked about when I did it.  In addition to discussing the basics of the theory, their 2 videos also go in-depth about how the 4 types of gamers affect each other when you have them all in a game together.  It’s fascinating stuff and, in my opinion, required watching for any would be MMO game designer.  I’ve embedded the two short videos below.

Finally, a brilliant article by one Sam Kabo Ashwell, on “Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games.”  If you’ve ever been a dungeon master and struggled with how to write an effective campaign for your players, this essay is amazing.  It starts with a discussion around choose your own adventure books but ventures into the previously mentioned D&D, and then jumps around to video game design.  It’s an amazing read on how choice structures affect what you’re creating and the best bit I’ve pulled from it is that linear choice structures provide for a great deal of depth to the world you’re creating, while more open choice structures add a great deal of breadth to that world.  What you’re trying to create greatly impacts what choice structures you should use when you’re making a game/story/campaign.  This kind of knowledge, along with knowing what kind of audience you’re playing to, can be essential to how you craft a game.

So yes, far and wide on the research for my upcoming posts, but I’m excited about what I’m reading and I hope I can bring it together in a way that makes sense and is interesting for you too.  And if not well, I guess we could talk about the old games I’m just getting to playing now, like FTL and Fallout 3.  Verdicts:  FTL is so good I have to stay away lest it consumes me (playing till 4:30am and then trying to get up and go to a day job, not good).  Fallout 3….meh…but only played for maybe a half hour so far.

Stay tuned.

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