14 06 2009

Here’s what bugs me a lot on the iPhone. There are tons of different mmos that don’t have any compelling reason to be played whatsoever. I played a vampire one, an undead one, a mafia one and a racing one. They all seem to think that what people really like about mmos is the grind. What they then did is took away any social aspect of mmos and any reason to keep going, there is no “end game” at least not one that is defined and compelling in any way. So what you’re left with is an almost satirical reduction of the genre, every action reduced to a click of a box.
If you ask anybody that plays an mmo like WoW or Eve Online, the reason they subscribe to this game month after month is because of the social factor. That could be chat, guilds, groups raids, anything at all. I started playing WoW because my friends all play and it’s much easier to keep in touch. What keeps me playing is that I have something to aspire to be. And it’s not that I wanted to thwack more things, it’s that i progressed across the world with a purpose, whether that was taking out Edwin VanCleese in the Deadmines, trying to take out Illidan’s henchmen in the path to rid outland of his evil or storm Northrend to kill Arthas once and for all. There was not one point in the game that I didn’t feel like I was doing something that mattered.
Hell, I played EQ back in the day, before MMOs were good, and even though there was no obvious “point” i wasted days of my life taking a boat across the world just to see a new city and walk around it. That’s what EverQuest did right, they didn’t want maps published so you could get this feeling that you are discovering this world. They nailed that part because a city didn’t show up on any map, you didn’t know there was a Wood Elf settlement above you, and I remember finding it early on and just looking up at these platforms full of life and being amazed, i’d never felt this before.
It’s well-known that EQ was broken in many ways, but this is why it got big, and why people remember it. MMOs are supposed to give a feeling that the player occupies a world with other people in it.
The iPhone brought people the possibility to be on the internet everywhere people wanted it. The important stuff, not just email and crappy browsers that blackberry gave us. We can finally be on the bus, at a movie, in a church pew, or an Applebee’s restroom socially networking with our friends or shopping. Also looking at pornography.
The mobile game space could be changed too. What if there were thinned out clients for WoW, that could let you just chat or flag items at the auction house. Or maybe games like Lineage or UO could be re-jiggered to work on the device and supported by ads (bring me 5 bags of new tacos at midnight flavor doritos, your reward shall be a jubilee of flavor! Go forth, noble adventurer!) or people paying a dollar to gain a level or get a sombrero to show off to the bitches.
My nerd boner was throbbing, and nothing of the sort was even announced yet. I was sure that someone would do something with this.
What do we get instead? Games like the aforementioned MMOs where as a [mafioso, vampire, werewolf, zombie, pirate or race car] you have to [rob, bite villagers, storm castles, sodomize or race other cars] to get more [guns, weapons, pawns, acessories or parts] all in an interface like:
Storm castle
You get gold!
Then you have the joy of waiting for four hours to refill your action points! Woo! You can actually pay money to refill said action points so you can have more fun right away.
He worst part is, people want this! There are tons of downloads, and i'm sure everyone with an iPhone either is playing or has played some variant of this. You might even like them and think i'm nitpicky or annoying. The point is, the iphone can handle a lightweight mmo, maybe something with a text-based hub world and instanced dungeon crawling, like Diablo. Maybe the fate of flagship studios' Mythos could be in this new market. It would be nice.