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Fantasy Trumps Sci-Fi For MMOs 408

Posted by Zonk
from the go-play-eve-online dept.
simoniker writes "Mythic's Mark Jacobs, whose MMO company is being acquired by EA, has commented in detail on why fantasy MMOs sell better as part of an extended interview. He suggests of MMOs: 'Fantasy is easier than sci-fi. Want to know why? It's simple. A gun. What's a gun? A gun is impersonal. A gun can shoot somebody from across the room... Part of the challenge we found with Imperator is how do you make a combat system based on lasers and energy weapons, compelling to an RPG audience. The other challenge with a sci-fi game is that fantasy is very well defined in our minds ... I also think there's something I can't explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that's not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that's not as good online. And I'm not sure why that is.' Suggestions?"
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Fantasy Trumps Sci-Fi For MMOs

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  • Other weapons (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:32AM (#15798543) Homepage Journal
    So then use Klingon pain sticks or something. Sci-Fi doesn't have to be with a gun. Or limit the range of the gun.
    • Re:Other weapons (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon.gmail@com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:59AM (#15798758) Homepage Journal
      That's exactly why sci-fi isn't doing very well as an RPG. Most efforts to make sci-fi based on hand-to-hand combat come across as very contrived. It works sometimes for movies and books (see Dune for a classic) but in takes a great deal of originality to explain how people can travel from star-to-star but still have to wack eachother with sticks in combat.

      And in any case, by the time you've reduced it to hand-to-hand combat you practically have fantasy anyway.

      I think one reason that fantasy does better is that it's easier. The constraints on believability are much, much more lax for fantasy. Magic isn't supposed to really make sense. You don't really tend to say "fireball? in this humidity? yeah right!" On the other hand with sci-fi you allways have crowds of people asking "how does artifiial gravity really work?" and "You're saying I have a fighter ship than can travel hundreds or thousands of miles an hour, spin on a time, and I'm not reduced to mush inside the cockpit, how?"

      Sci-fi involves some level of scientific rigor. If you don't have to explain anything (or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about fantasy). Sci-fi demands some exercise in explanation. Fantasy does not. This means fantasy is easier.

      -stormin
      • correction: (Score:4, Insightful)

        by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormon.gmail@com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:14AM (#15798871) Homepage Journal
        or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about fantasy

        should be

        or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about sci-fi
        • Thank you, that was bugging me.
        • Re:correction: (Score:4, Informative)

          by Creepy (93888) on Friday July 28, 2006 @03:31PM (#15801260) Journal
          Star Wars is a Space Opera, not Sci-Fi, yes.

          There are a lot of things that are feasible but not explainable in sci-fi, though - for instance, warp is feasible by manipulating space-time or possibly using an aspect of quantum mechanics (physics is way too far back, but I recall there was an unexplained phenomenon where quanta moves faster than the speed of light - I thought it was quantum tunneling, but that doesn't appear to be it). We don't have any idea how we would manipulate space-time, but one theory is you surround a ship with a bubble of fast time and float it on a bubble of slow (or normal) time (some say you need to also maintain a small conduit between them to avoid dimension hopping). I had heard this theorized before by a sci-fi buff and gamer (of all people) about 15 years ago, but just a few months ago another person had essentially the same theory in Popular Science.

          There's a huge difference between "black box" technology and stuff that's impossible - like engine noises in space. God forbid anybody ever has "passive sonar" in space, like in Wing Commander. I wanted to shoot Chris in the head for that one (figuratively speaking - I'm not a psycho stalker yet ;) ).
      • by phorm (591458)
        Don't a lot of the fantasy genre still have thing like projectile-casting spells (fireballs, etc) or various types of bows, spears, or other manual projectile launchers. How is this different from guns or laser beams in terms of implementation? In the end, many of the projected sci-fi technology (time distortion fields, transmogrifiers, etc) is still just a fantastic as things in fantasy worlds having hobbits and orcs.
        • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:57PM (#15800446)
          In a Fantasy environment it's easy to say "You don't have the required years of training and spellcasting experience to be able to whip out a fireball capable of 24d6 damage".

          In a realistic Sci-fi environment it's difficult to say "You don't have the required years of training and marksmanship to be able to wield a high damage laser pistol, you get a different kind of pistol capable of only doing 2d4 damage."
      • Re:Other weapons (Score:5, Interesting)

        by drsquare (530038) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:38AM (#15799130)
        Fantasy's a more romantic setting. It's a simpler, nicer looking world, no electricity, no power stations, no concrete jungles, no stock markets, no traffic.

        We're surrounded by so much technology nowadays that immersing yourself for eight hours in even more technology in a sci-fi Mmorp seems completely overbearing, whereas a technology-free world is like an escape.
      • Re:Other weapons (Score:2, Interesting)

        by KDR_11k (778916)
        Perhaps they should have hired a japanese writer then, when an anime is SciFi you can be damn sure that the majority of the combat is either with swords or devices that rely on the power of their owner, guns are rarely used and never "the great equalizer" people call them in real life. Come on, in a scifi environment you could replace people's arms with plasma cannons and there you have your fireballs. Or you could have them genetically modified to be able to shoot poison from their mouth. "Any sufficiently
        • Re:Other weapons (Score:4, Insightful)

          by C0rinthian (770164) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:10PM (#15799441)
          Star Wars is fantasy but it's a refreshing change from the usual swords, magic, dragons and orcs you get in 97% of all fantasy settings
          Instead you get Lightsabers, The Force, Rancors, and Stormtroopers. ;)
      • Re:Other weapons (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Gabrill (556503) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:42AM (#15799173)
        There is one more great big difference between the two type of stories. Fantasy plots generally are limited in their geography. Even if you did know about the far away land, getting there is prohibitive, and the stars are simply unthinkable. Sci-Fi plots almost universally have expanded to multiple planet scenarios up to the point of having so much to explore that no one could possibly hope to even see it all on film, much less in person. If I were a game developer, I'd feel much more comfortable producing, and even coding a world that has reasonable and well defined borders and limits.
      • Re:Other weapons (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintro&gmail,com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:20PM (#15799535)
        Sci-fi demands some exercise in explanation. Fantasy does not. This means fantasy is easier.

        Perhaps, but I would say advanced particle physics and quantum mechanics are difficult enough sciences that most people will accept any explanation given at face value, which essentially makes the distinction somewhat meaningless.

        I would say the real reason why sci-fi is more difficult to pull off than fantasy is because science fiction removes the human element altogether. The driving force behind any MMO is to make your avatar more powerful. But in a true sci-fi world, individual people become powerful through the tools they use and the things they own, and not through personal growth. A laser shot from a ship piloted by a level 1 captain shouldn't do any more damage than one shot from the same ship piloted by a level 20 captain--so clearly the traditional method of "leveling" would need significant tweaking. This is akin to the same "explanation" you quoted earlier, but I'd rather label it as "internal consistency." A sci-fi world could not be internally consistent while operating under the same basic system as, say, WoW. This doesn't make it more difficult than a fantasy MMO, it just requires a different take on it--and we all know how successful video game companies are at breaking free of traditional formulae.

        • most people will accept any explanation given at face value

          Most people are not the people that like sci-fi though. A much higher proportion of sci-fi aficionados are also going to have at least passing familiarity with these issues AND be more demanding of the realism. That sci-fi crowd is the early-adopting crowd.

          I'd argue that WoW was adopted first by people who like Warcraft already, and who are into fantasy. You need that kernel of fantasy lovers to get the ball rolling and tell their non-fantasy bud
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:32AM (#15798547) Homepage Journal
    Maybe people don't want to play in sci-fi games because they're tired of all the technology in their real life? Computer problems, phones, pagers, emails, IMs, ads on TV and radio... it all adds up without realizing it. People play games to take a break from real life. Do you think they'll play in a game with even more technology, or a game with stuff they'll never have, such as magic, monsters, etc?
    • I absolutely agree with you. There's just something about imagining yourself in a world that could never be. The thing with sci-fi is, there's the potential that the world will one day be similar to the game. Maybe not as violent or dramatic, but it might be just like that. Where as with fantasy, that's a place that is totally imaginary. People like to imagine. That's why we do so when we're children.
    • I would have thought that if people wanted to escape technology, they would perhaps go to a park, read a book, pen-and-paper RP, do one of those sport things, or the like. Not play a video game using technology.

      However, this is Slashdot, after all.
  • hey now... (Score:5, Funny)

    by smaerd (954708) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:33AM (#15798550)
    ...don't be so harsh. Anarchy Online did...
    ...really...
    ...poorly. Ok. Bad example.

    Star Wars: Galaxies....

    Earth and Beyond....

    Eve is awesome! Hell, I'm learning a new skill in that game right now.
    • I'm learning a new skill in that game right now.

      In other words you've logged off for a week.

      That really annoyed me about that - nothing wrong with learning skills taking effort, but when that 'effort' is basically
      log off and go and do something else... kinds spoils the immersiveness a bit.

      And the missions on that game were *so* mind numbing. Just 'take package from A to B, then to C, and speak to D'. I kept it up for nearly a month.. just can't see the attraction.
      • Re:hey now... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pinkoir (666130)
        It's understandable that you gave up on EVE. Unlike most massives the content is heavily loaded towards the more advanced characters. I've never played WoW but I've heard from many people how it's lots of fun until they hit 50 and then it sucks. EVE is exactly the opposite in that the more time you have in the more options and opportunities open up before you. I've been playing EVE for 3 years now and I still haven't tapped out all the content because every 8 months or so they add a new level of complex
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:33AM (#15798551) Journal
    I don't buy this argument. In fact, I think that copyright restrictions and forced creative direction are what destroys an MMO. Look at Star Wars Galaxies, too many copyright restrictions and attempts at intervention from LucasArts as to how the game experience should feel. Look at Middle Earth Online. Actually, it doesn't exist and is some pretty famous vapor ware.

    Now look at games that are completely original to the developing companies like World of Warcraft, lineage I & II, Runescape (fantasy games), Eve Online (a sci-fi game). You might point out that there are more successful fantasy games but I think it's just the fact that sci-fi is often spurred from novels or movies. Rarely do you hear of an original sci-fi game. Therefore, your players have this pre-conceived notion of what the game should be like and if it misses the mark, they are disappointed. I'd like to think the correlation of success comes with creative and artistic control as well as originality. I don't really buy the argument that projectile weapons make a game difficult to design.
    • by radarjd (931774) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:41AM (#15799166)
      I don't buy this argument. In fact, I think that copyright restrictions and forced creative direction are what destroys an MMO. Look at Star Wars Galaxies, too many copyright restrictions and attempts at intervention from LucasArts as to how the game experience should feel.

      Perhaps I'm being overly technical, but it doesn't seem like "copyright restrictions" are really the issue so much as creative control, or perhaps "continuity restrictions". SWG (I'm was in from Beta 2 until a year and a half after launch) suffered from a muddied vision of what the game should be, and from an overly ambitious release schedule. Further, there have always been anecdotal reports that LucasArts exerted a great deal of oversight over SOE. The designers originally had Jedi as an ultra-rare mystical thing, and then people discovered it was simply a profession grind for a class which wasn't necessarily well thought out. I maintain to this day that Jedi should have been chosen by special GM's hired just to find Jedi, but that's a topic for another day.

      Saying "copyright restrictions" cause problems is misleading I think. Many parts of the Warcraft universe are protected by copyright, whether the embodiments may be as a game, a novel, or even a manual (IAAL, a copyright lawyer, in fact). Again, I think you really mean "continuity restrictions" or even "creative control from an outside agency". Copyright has little to do with it, other than copyright gives the outside agency some of its control (though trademark is as powerful a protection in this context IMO).

      Indeed, without continuity, what makes "Star Wars" Star Wars? Noise in outer space? Fantastic alien creatures? Existence of the Force? Without some of those elements, the name alone is useless. I would say that LucasArts' insistence on keeping Star Wars "Star Wars" maintains the integrity of that universe. They may not know anything about MMO design, and perhaps their mistake was trying to exert too much creative control over something they knew nothing about.

      Or maybe the article writer is right, and guns are really hard to implement in an MMO...

  • Buck Rogers

    Not much more to say. Monoblades, short-range lasers, granades up the wazoo, and some ship battles. I'd cancel WoW in a heartbeat if they did Buck right. ...now where did I put that Commador 128?

  • by nathan s (719490) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:39AM (#15798602) Homepage
    I don't know offhand what IS, but I don't think it's the "impersonal" factor of guns being able to shoot across a room - witness the Counterstrike and Quake and countless other multiplayer FPS games that have been massively successful. I'd say there is some other factor at work here.

    I'm thinking offhand, but most of the time your classic fantasy stories have been about parties of heroes (witness Tolkien) whereas classic scifi has tended to be much more individualist (even with the Matrix, the main character so strongly overshadowed the others that it didn't really feel very much like a group effort). (Maybe Star Wars is an exception to this, and the Star Wars games have tended to be fairly successful, although some people call it space-based fantasy instead of science fiction anyway.)

    I can't really think of any compelling party-leaning science fiction stories at the moment. And this translates out to the scifi games I've tried, from single player stuff to MUDs. They've all felt very "lonely." In fantasy, you have clearly defined classes with separate roles and you tend to need a group of them to get anywhere, which is begging for a multiplayer setting.

    Keep in mind that I'm only on my first cup of coffee, though.
    • by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:46AM (#15798658)
      "I can't really think of any compelling party-leaning science fiction stories at the moment. "

      There's loads (think Star Wars fiction, Warhammer 40K fiction etc.) just like there are loads of fantasy books with lone protagonists (Kane, Elric, Conan - none of them exclusively solo but often).

    • Not to mention that "fantasy" already has long distance -- magic. Magic is cast from across the room, and often the caster needs to maintain line-of-sight, similar to firearms or other projectile weaponry.

      I think the big reason is that the setting for fantasy is often simpler -- kingdoms and big bad monsters from "hell" or whatever. Sci-fi is usually burdened with politics and trade routes and other exceedingly deep backstory (not necessarily interesting, mind). That appeals to some gamers, but certain

      • I agree with you. And to add something to your comment, with fantasy games, you pretty much know who are the "good guys" and the "bad guys", and in general, people like to know in which side they are (any of them), because that gives them a clear background (independant of if you're a griefer or not, that's gamer related). With sci-fi, that separation isn't clear, and you're on your own (generally speaking). Some gamers don't feel comfortable with it.

        And as a personal opinion and taste, I prefer being sur
    • by iainl (136759) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:01AM (#15798776)
      The problem is not Guns in Multiplayer - as you say, look at all those FPS games. The problem, as I see it, is that Gunfights don't map as well to a series of prebuilt animations in turn-based combat.

      Everyone wants their MMO to basically be Everquest with a different tileset, and the camera doesn't suit the kind of long-range fighting that gun battles suggest. If I point at an enemy and click to shoot at it, I want to shoot at it, not have a bunch of stat monkeys decide whether my character is good enough to do so.

      So the setup practically demands an FPS control instead of an RPG one, and then your nearest city descends into Lag Hell. Oops.
      • by rtb61 (674572) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:28AM (#15799010) Homepage
        It really goes a bit further than that, in a sci fi enviroment the empasis is on star ships interacting rather than individuals interacting (so strategy rather than role playing). Women also tend to prefer the fantasy enviroment (daddies little princess) to the sci fi enviroment, this in turns means any attached males will have to follow their partners into that enviroment or they will soon become unattached for spending to much time paying attention to their game and not to she who must be obeyed.

        Also the sci fi ones to date have been pretty luck lustre and/or have been mishandled, developing undesirable reputations. The fantansy ones have also tended to have pretty much a zero learning curve allowing the more unskilled game players easy access (in fact they can just buy in and all they have to do is learn how to spell their name and password).

    • Rats, you got my idea first :)

      Just to elaborate, if I'm playing a fantasy MMO, groups are all smaller. And even if the plot does have rigidly segmented races, they do not carry over into the game and races are instead chosen based on their base stats/abilities.

      Fantasy allows much more fame and renown on an individual level. Sure, there's guilds, but you can still be known as "THE elf assassin" on the server. Science fiction just brings up an image of "Stormtrooper 1138 ready, sir..."
    • Startrek has always been about the group overcoming a challenge. This is why I prefer it to most other science fiction.

      I really think you distinction is artificial. There are plenty of fantasy settings with only a single hero.

      I'd argue that a single hero is more conducive to a game anyway, unless it features co-op multiplayer (drool).
    • Very interesting point about the idea of classes. One problem with the sci-fi model is the egalitarian nature of technology. If you have some sort of "super-duper body analyzer/healer" that just requires a scan and a few clicks to use then what is the point of having, say, a "medic" class? Anyone could use it with with a few skill points. Same goes for weapons, even a child can pull a trigger on a machine gun (with ugly proof of this in Africa today). Since RPGs generally revolve around personal combat
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:56PM (#15800434) Journal
      Think of the classic sword fights you see in the movies, now think of the classic gunfight eh fights you see in the movies. Notice a difference? The sword fights, last! They take time. The hero spots the opponent, closes, parries, thrusts, dodges and finally makes the kill.

      The gunfight is far faster, spot, shoot, kill.

      While in real life a hit with a broadsword is probably as much an instant kill as a bullet in the head, movies have made us believe that sword fights last minutes while gunfights are over in a matter of seconds.

      Now take a look at the various MMORPG's games. Because of the general lack of AI or anything approaching tactics let alone strategy most fights are about wearing down the enemies hitpoints slowly in a prolonged duel. No instant kills allowed. It just doesn't fit in the gameplay.

      SWG offcourse had guns and believe me that after years of movies and books and other star wars games it came as something of a shock to find that stormtroopers do not die instantly if you hit them with a blaster shot. Neither two, nor three, nor five. In fact during a period before the dreaded CU/NGE debacle you had roving bands of stormies that had some very big brothers that could whoop your ass. But apperently not spot you sniping their platoon down one by one. Well when I say sniping I mean firing away at their heads with concealed shot for about five to ten minutes a piece.

      Not that the melee combat was any better but at least that seems acceptable. You can parry my sword blows but how exactly do you stop an energy bolt straight between the eyes? It gets Jagged Alliance kind of silly where you shoot somebody with a machine gun at point blank range, only somehow manage to hit them once, in the head and they still fight with 94% of their health gone in the next round. WTF? Any notion of suspense of disbelief is gone. You are in a spreadsheet with pretty picture mate. Not fighting the evil empire. Or rebel scum.

      The same problems occurs ofcourse in KOTOR with the damn lightsabers. You get this cool weapon that can slice through anything except it seems clothes, swords and any piece of armour. That wasn't the deal!

      Guns don't work in current MMORPG gameplay. For instant kills to work you need more enemies, they need to be more intelligent (how many MMORPG's are there were the enemy is even capable of seeking cover?) and you need far better code for instance collesion detection to avoid people targetting and shooting through walls. Already a pain with swordfights it could make gunfights with instant kill even more frustating.

      Oh and if you add instant kill on the enemies, do you add it on the player? A modern war based MMORPG would suck for the point guy. Spend an hour getting ready to get to the quest area only to be ambushed and get a bullet in face and be forced to respawn.

      Your argument of aloneness doesn't ring true to me. Star Trek is very much a group off people, especially the original series, while say the entire TES series of games (Oblivion) is very very lonely.

      People accept a resistance to fire. They do not accept a resistance to hot lead. MMORPG structure at the moment just can't do gunfights. Hell, single games can barely do it. FEAR and that old Lucasarts cowboy game are about the only games I remember where there was movie style gunfights going on.

      • A modern war based MMORPG would suck for the point guy. Spend an hour getting ready to get to the quest area only to be ambushed and get a bullet in face and be forced to respawn.

        This is probably why World War 2 Online (Or Battleground:Europe or whatever it is these days) has as few players as it does. It's a fairly realistic experience in terms of weapon damage and survivability: BOOM, headshot, respawn. Ahh, I kinda miss that game. Unfortunately for them, I got a trial for EVE a week before they sent out
  • Roles (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HugePedlar (900427) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:43AM (#15798632) Homepage
    I wonder if it's the races and roles that people find easier to identify with in a fantasy MMO. Typical RPG characters like Human, Elf, Dwarf, Wizard and so on are pretty well defined. Give someone Human, Alien, Other Alien etc. and they don't know how to associate with the role.

    Just a thought.
    • Humanoid (Score:5, Interesting)

      by phorm (591458) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:47AM (#15799229) Journal
      For the mostpart the "other races" are still humanoid though, but fantasy has plenty of things beyond that such as dragons, beholders, and various other tentacle monsters. There are plenty of identifiable aliens as well, those from the Alien movie (bipedal/quadripedal), predators, klingons, kilrathi (sp?), Kzinti, Posleen, etc etc

      Yeah, somebody might not immediately identify with a Posleen (basically centaur-structured lizards), but the badasses from the Alien series are pretty identifiable (ever played AvP), and the Kzinti/Kilrathi are pretty much fuzzy people.

      Thinking about it, one of the previous comments [slashdot.org] definately hits near the mark. People will identify with being an orc, hill-giant, or hobbit because they're common fantasy characaters. People could also identify with being a Klingon, Geiger-Alien, Predator, Kzinti, etc.... but that's not going to happen because when you include them all you're probably going to have your ass sued into the next starsystem by the copyright owners of Star Trek, Aliens, Predator, and the Larry Niven books. I suppose you could make similar characters and/or use parody (a-la SpaceQuest), but look at what happen with City of Heroes and the lawsuits wherein players could make characters similar to movie entities.

      Anothe reason why current Intellectual Property laws suck ass, while using a Klingon named "Worf" in your game might be dubious, you shouldn't be attacked for having something klingon-like, hell it's a compliment to the creators.
  • by Skynet (37427)
    What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?

    They are both focusing energy on the enemy, no?

    Methinks the problem is that there hasn't been a really good Sci-Fi MMO yet. Yes I know, Anarchy Online was decent as was Planetside. But nothing on the order of WoW has ever come out.

    It's a quality thing, not a fundamental human nature thing.
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:05AM (#15798795) Homepage
      I disagree - there is something different, but it's not in the effect itself. Rather, consider: the fantasy premise of "You have awesome destructive powers" is different from the scifi premise of "You have equipment with awesome destructive powers". Or, take some sort of fantasy healer: "You heal your wounded comrade with the energies of Nature and the purity of your own soul" versus the scifi: "You heal your wounded comrade with the medpack, the tricorder, and the powers of Science".

      These are two different mindsets, and they really do make all the difference for a role-playing game. The sci in scifi, the idea that it's Scienc and technology and such, is really different from the more spiritually-mystically-oriented realms of fantasy.

      • That's a very great argument.

        Although I wonder if all the Star Trek role-players of the world would agree. :)
      • by Valdrax (32670)
        I agree. There's a big difference between, "I blast things with my tool," and "*I* blast things."

        In addition, I'd like to note that having the powers be personal means that it's easier to distinguish between character types without BS restrictions. In a world of magic, you can have necromancers, elementalists, healers, summoners, etc. each with wildly different abilities that makes them more differentiated and gives a greater feeling of being somehow special.

        In a world of technology, anyone can use a gun,
    • What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?

      Real simple : cycle time.

      How many games have wizards who can fire 60 rounds per second?

      It's difficult to balance out the classes when someone can fire that fast -- you have to either nerf all of the damage, or make sure they're really inacurate (and well, then you've got your basic storm trooper).

      Not to mention all of the extra overhead needed in showing all of the combat going on when there's a whole l

    • What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?

      I can cast, (ok I can tell my character to cast) Thunder on a Thunder based mob and there will be at least some, if not a lot of resistance to the spell. It just won't do as much damage as it would against a Water based mob because of the magical elemental relationships. Explain resistance to a gun or laser weapon.

      On top of that, Sci-Fi often pretty much has the requirement that those characters that are eng

    • Lets be honest, fireballs are a lot more visually appealing than bullets.

      Although that can be overcome in sci-fi to a point. Take Eve for example. Energy Weapons and Missiles look really slick in action, while the projectile weapons are barely noticable.
    • In a science fiction setting, everyone has a blaster. Wizards =/= Stormtroopers.
  • by spyrochaete (707033) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:50AM (#15798685) Homepage Journal
    I think it's largely an issue of art style. Sci-Fi MMOs are either immaculte buiness sims (like EVE) or ugly dystopian battlegrounds (like Auto Assault) while fantasy MMOs are lush forests and towns nestled in mountains and meadows. My guess is that people would rather frolic "outside" than in claustrophobic corridors which they see enough at work.

    Another issue is the familiarity with the weapons, as mention in TFA. A 3-foot sword has a 3-foot range, but a 2-foot gun has an arbitrary range that takes practise and familiarity to recognize by sight. It's quicker and easier to cut a guy with a kitchen utensil then to hone a masterwork of alien engineering.
  • World of Warcraft has guns. But more than that I think all fantasy MMOs have some sort of ranged characters, just look at spellcasters.

    The reason some online games do well and others don't is because of a game design. A design that creates community and has fun and engaging play will do better than one that doesn't. I also think advertising and general appeal helps to pull in those people who wouldn't otherwise jump over the fence that seperates MMOs from other games.

    • I was thinking the same about guns of WoW, but I guess the difference is that you're not shooting lasers or high-tech ammo, just small rocks and basic bullets. It fits with the world. And only one class uses them as main weapon (and sometimes). The rest uses them to pull, and they still have to do melee. About spellcasters, I think that was very well explained some post ago.
  • Trump? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Friday July 28, 2006 @10:55AM (#15798726)
    I can't wait for the Trump MMO! Massively multiplayer online Apprentice will be great!
  • Look at TV ratings NFL vs NHL
    Sales of Coke vs 7up
  • Books and movies? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by krell (896769)
    Look at books: In recent years, the Narnia, Harry Potter LOTR, Robert Jordan, D&D adaptation novels (Dragonlance, etc) have ripped up and down the bestseller lists. I'm having trouble even thinking of recent science-fiction bestsellers. Look at movies: A lot of those names repeat, don't they? Add in the fantasy-heavy pirate blockbuster movies. I'm having trouble thinking of outright huge science fiction movies. Yes, we can count the last "Star Wars" movies. There are other genres where fantasy is trum
  • All the sci-fi based MMOs have been utter shit so far. Star Wars Galaxies? Utter shit. Anarchy Online? Utter shit. The Matrix Online? Utter shit. Everquest was the first real big MMO out there, and World Of Warcraft cashes in on a decade of building up a rabid fanbase. Those two just happen to be fantasy games. If Blizzard had decided to make an MMO out of Starcraft instead, it would have done just as well.
  • by smbarbour (893880) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:11AM (#15798845)
    Part of it, is that magic looks cooler than tech. It is not about guns being a long-range attack (most spells are long-range, as are arrows and throwing stars). A real issue with sci-fi RPGs is that there really isn't a fighter-type class since there are very few melee weapons in a sci-fi universe. They just to be more creative (perhaps even a hybrid).

    What I would really like to see, though, is a game that completely eliminates the classes/jobs and provides every skill a la carte (and preferably using the Korean MMO model... free to play with premium real money items). Perhaps one already exists but I just don't know about it yet.
    • It already exist my friend, and it was one of the first graphics MMOGs: Ultima Online.

      But I guess isn not sci-fi, but yet another fantasy game.
    • Valerian Marines with Space Axes!

      The original sci fi melee fighter was from EE Smith's Lensman books. The premise was that the energy shields on space armour could stop smaller handheld energy weapons and fast moving projectiles, but were unable to stop slow moving objects. So the way to beat a pirate in space armour was to hack him to bits with a neutronium space ax, preferably wielded by 300 lb dutch space marines from the heavy gravity planet of Valeria.

      Frank Herbert stole (borrowed?) the idea for his
    • As another one to add to the list already given, http://www.runescape.com/ [runescape.com] is a browser-based MMO that doesn't have classes.
  • I quit WoW for EVE. After leveling 5 characters to 60 and decking out my Mage in Tier 1 epics. EVE is so much better, gangs are cool. Awesome graphics, cool soundtrack. The strategy in skill planning and ship building is awesome, and running a corporation is so much more fun. Next build gets built in voice chat too. You can level in EVE without even being logged in. Plus, it made my wife happy. She gets to see more then the back of my head.
  • Scifi as an RPG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:11AM (#15798849) Homepage Journal
    As someone who runs pen-and-paper RPGs in fantasy and scifi environments, I've learned that for Scifi to work on the same playability and fun levels as a fantasy RPG, many tweaks need to be made.

    There is the gun issue from TFA, but if done right it's not anywhere near as big an issue. For something immersive like an RPG, the game must be crafted with things like this in mind. In the "Dr Who," "Star Trek," "Star Wars," and general scifi RPGs I've done, the story has to be crafted in such a way as to make things interesting for the players without just being a shoot-em-up. There are scifi concepts galore, but they have to do far more than just "shoot bad guy X to get item Y." In these particular Universes, the "tank" type of character tends to be the absolute least interesting to play. Storyline, brain-requiring quests, and interesting puzzles make all the difference in something immersive.

    In any case, I really think the best stories can't be cold computer-generated grind quests, they need to be crafted around the players talents and shortcomings.

    To be fair, my love of truly immersive interactive RPGs is part of why the whole MMO deal never did it for me. A game world full of people going "lol" and "a/s/l" and "omg nd heal pls" really kicks the crap out of suspension of disbelief.

    I digress, but I do believe that immersion and feeling like part of an imaginary world is doubly important to scifi fans in such an environment. Hardcore scifi nuts, the types who read Gibson or Heinlein or Asimov or Douglas Adams or whoever else, tend to want to use a brain more than they want to just shoot everyone. It just takes a lot more effort on the part of the game creators to get it right. Think of the best scifi games you ever played. What was interesting about them which you don't see in modern MMOs?

    Take the Hitchhiker's game from Infocom, for instance.. I've played very few games that I've ever felt more immersed in. I was totally Arthur Dent for most of my time in front of that monochrome screen. (Except for the parts where I wasn't..) And how many times in that game does the player shoot or kill anyone?
  • Role-playing games have the same issue; while there have been science-fiction themed games over the years (Cyberpunk, Traveler, Star Frontiers, etc), none of them has come close to approaching the widespread appeal of the fantasy games (D&D, White Wolf's stuff, etc.). The ones that seemed to achieve the broadest appeal were those with crossover potential, like Rifts and TORG.

    The one place sci-fi does better seems to be television. There have been fantasy TV series, but they don't come close to the numbe
  • Three Words: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yusaku Godai (546058) <hyuga@guardia n - h y u g a .net> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:14AM (#15798880) Homepage
    World. Of. Starcraft.

    May just be wishful thinking on my part, but if Blizzard ever decides to do it, it would probably invalidate this article. I'm not a WoW fan at all, and ever since I quit RO I've placed a moratorium on MMOs for myself. But I don't think I could resist something like this, assuming it's done well.

    Not that other sci-fi themed MMOs can't be great. I'm just going off of Blizzard's track record here...
    • I wouldn't look for it any time soon, seeing as they have extreme difficulty keeping their current MMORPG running at all. I still love and play the game though, which is a testament to how fun it is when it works. Any other pay service that went down for "emergency/extended maintenance" 2 or 3 days each month would have subscribers canceling and/or suing in droves.
    • World. Of. Starcraft.

      You have to admit, hearing "Nuclear launch detected" will be a much more personally significant experience in an MMO setting. In Starcraft, there's the flurry of high-level detector activity to find and kill the Ghost, but if you're IN the target zone priority #1 becomes getting the hell outta there (or covering up, or shielding, or maybe picking the right emote for your final act of defiance).

  • when they cancelled their SciFi MMO with a fairly rare topic (romans in space) and replaced it with a Warhammer MMO. Most likely because they noticed Warhammer's imitators made big money with an MMO and now they wanted to cash in on the same niche. Well, if you really believe you have the skills to beat Blizzard in terms of game design...
  • "Sci-fi, could be anything. And that's tougher. You're now creating very original IP. I think that some day someone's going to get it right. Nobody has yet - nobody's even come close to getting it right."

    While the part about the challenge of creating original IP in Sci-Fi is true, it is harder to come up something from total scratch, I think EVE is pretty damn close to "getting it right". Its a Sci-Fi MMO that is big, diverse , pretty to look at and lots of fun.

    Oh, and the part about guns, total hogwash!
  • Any insufficiently developed magic is indistinguishable from technology.
  • This has nothing to do with fantasy. It has everything to do with the fact that, so far, every science-fiction themed MMO has outright sucked or, at best, been mediocre. So far, there has not been a stand-out sci-fi equivilent to World of Warcraft. SWG should have been that game, but LucasArts chose the wrong company to develop it.

    A science-fiction themed MMO can be successful if:

    * It isn't just a failed fantasy MMO with updated graphics.
    * It is accessible and playable by non-hardcore MMO addicts (sing

  • with fantasy as it tends to be world/region specific.

    Sci-Fi for the most part is locked into this idea of being multisystem with starships, though a good sci fi never has to leave the world its based on.

  • Fantasy is personal, generally hand to hand, missle weapons tend to be weak.

    Sci fi is impersonal, big boms and guns from a long range, unless they switch to fantasy weapons, light sabers, vibroswords.

    I prefer Sci fi books that focus on psychology and characters. Fantasy tends to focus on larger scale things, or skills and adventures, not psychological character development.

    LOTR was about an adventure and the reluctant hero, Enders game was all about Enders mind.
  • Shadowrun please! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sesticulus (544932)
    Please someone make a Shadowrun MMO. I loved that universe in the pen and paper days. It was the best of both worlds, wizards with railguns!
  • What is Fantasy? Magic, dragons, elves, enchanted items, dungeons, etc....
    Sure, it's always tweaked to hell, but it's the same familiar elements each time.

    What is SciFi?
    Spaceships? No, not always, look at Fallen Earth.
    Lasers? Not necessairily.
    Space Travel? Could be.

    There's no common elements, there can be, and normally are, but not many. And people are more defined in the Star Trek/Star Wars/Stargate worlds, "generic" scifi could be anything, and by generic I mean common elements, it'll be a custom, new wor
  • 'I also think there's something I can't explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that's not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that's not as good online. And I'm not sure why that is.'


    You don't don't know why that is? Well I have no idea what the sentence even means! I've tried reading it 3 times, and still don't get it. Anyone?
  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:02PM (#15799363) Journal
    That's my rule anyway. In a game you want freedom to do stuff - that's the whole point of escapism. Science fiction is simply too straitjacketed and fantasy is so much more colorful.

    But in fiction you need structure. Fantasy (at least of the sword and sorcery variety) is one of the worst genres of writing simply because people just make stuff up for hundreds of pages at a time. This kind of arbitrariness can kill dramatic tension because any kind of deus ex machina can appear at any time.

  • Looking at the various fantasy-related MMORPG breaks down party roles into clearly defined responsibilities: tank, healer, DPS. Some variation between different games is inevitable (pets, hybrids), but they appear to rarely break away from these primary roles because they're well established. Does easy = mass market? When you get some SciFi MMORPGs, they tend to have more open-ended class roles resulting in alot of hybrid classes or their roles are defined but not as clear as a D&D meme that's been aro
  • What a non-answer! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bobocopy (816690) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:13PM (#15799466) Homepage
    His answer to, "Why is fantasy so hot?" is basically, "Because with fantasy, we don't have to be original." Listen, this is about a much larger "problem" that's been slowly cropping up recently within in geek fiction: readers (and gamers) believe they're willing to try something new, but they really aren't. So, when you pick up a hundred fantasy novels off the shelf in your local bookstore*, you'll find that most of them have similar themes ("We have to save the world!"), have the exact same types of settings (similar to medieval Europe), have the exact same types of action (swordfights with wizards) and have the exact same type of fantasy beasts (dragons, zombies, dragonzombies, zombodragonoids). Likewise for fantasy games. Why is fantasy so limited? It should really only be limited by the author's/ designer's imagination. But too often, designers and authors (rightfully) believe that their audiences just want more of the same. That they don't want a completely new type of world, a completely different definition of "magic," a completely different set of creatures unique to the world. We end up with more of the same becuase that's what sells. And since it sells, producers/ publishers are unwilling to take risks. The sad truth is, the self-important fantasy crowd lives in an adolescent power-fantasy. They know how they like their superheroes, and they know how they like their fantasy. Sci-fi is too challenging to them becuase from one universe to the next, the rules are completely different. (This could be the case for fantasy too, but too often we're just force-fed more of the same). What Mr. Jacobs' answer should have been was, "Because it's easier to force-feed our users more of the same." *(a pre-Amazon phenomenon)
  • It's Classes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MuNansen (833037) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:24PM (#15799570)
    Fantasy has several established archetypes so there's enough variety in character choice. Warrior, Rogue, Ranger, Mage, Healer, and some variation in between. Sci-fi's got guns. That's it. If you're Star Wars you've got guns and lightsabers, but Jedi are supposed to be rare.

    Balancing melee weapons with guns (a la SWG) is pretty much impossible because it breaks the laws of physics and along with the basics of latency, ruins the fun for either the melee classes because they can't get close enough (realistic) or the ranged classes are so gimped that the melee can trash them against all logic and reason.

    Trying to create enough classes with guns just needlessly restricts the player. Why shouldn't a guy that's an expert with a rifle be able to shoot a carbine? That makes no sense.

    At least that's the answer I can take from SWG. Star Wars really isn't a good universe for an MMORPG. An MMOFPS, though, now that would be a different story. Anarchy Online, I think, just wasn't all that attractive of a universe. Very odd. And had a very rough start. If there was a Sci Fi game with the polish and pazazz of WoW, I'm sure it'd do just fine, if they could solve the class problem.
  • Anyone remember Anachronox [wikipedia.org]? I remember playing that when it was released (well... playing being a relative term given the amount of bugs in the game), and thinking it was a near-perfect setting and combat system for an MMO.

    Course, we can't ALL be El Puno.
  • "Mythic's Mark Jacobs, whose MMO company is being acquired by EA, has commented in detail on why fantasy MMOs sell better as part of an extended interview. I find this article to be rather amusing, in that they chose this moron to discuss MMORGS. The short of it for the slashdot audience is that this guy is is a tool. Not once has anyone in this thread mentioned the Mythic Entertainment flagship product. For those who are interested it "WAS" Dark Ages of Camelot. And if you've read this far along, pl
  • Ok, I'll probably get flamed for my ignorance but are there any RPGs based on the old pnp games Traveller and Twilight 2000? If not then why?
  • by cnelzie (451984) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:29PM (#15799627) Homepage
    ...has done SciFi right.

      If they do it right, then it will sell and be happily played by many.

      Star Wars Galaxies was going great, before they poorly rewrote the interface. If they had rewritten the interface properly, then I would have stuck with the game. I still did good with the changed interface, but it just wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
  • Galaxies sucked, but it could have been bigger than WoW if it had been any good. I dont want to play a fantasy MMO, i want to play a sci-fi one. I may start EVE online sometime soon, but what i'm really looking forward to is Tabula Rasa and Stargate Worlds. But i dont know when either of those are going to be released.
  • But I think the Department is really onto something with that suggestion.
  • No No No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rucs_hack (784150) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:56PM (#15799888)
    The reason that MMO's with a fantasy element are 'better' is principally down to Tolkein. He spent years of his life creating a beleivable fantasy world which people enjoy, and will do for many years to come.

    From him we get the rich depth that so many MMO's rely on. I love his work, it populated my imagination when I was a child.

    There has been no equivilent story world in the conventional or sci-fi world. The Dune universe, which I enjoy more than Tolkeins work, almost gets there, but it's never been tried as an MMO. Even Dune uses an analogue to magic (melange and it's associated effects), so probably doesn't count.
    Star wars doesn't count as sci-fi different from fantasy, because it *is* fantasy of a sort, and has magic, albeit by a different name.

    everyone uses the crutch of magic these days. It speaks not of originality, but of unwillingness to venture beyond what is known to sell.

    Where, I ask, are the risk takers, prepared to move in a new direction with an MMO?

    The problem is it would take years of work to create a new rich 'motherlode' story. The potential for such stories exist, but the games industry is scared to venture into any field that might reduce their precious profit margin.
  • Uhm PSO? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Maudib (223520) on Friday July 28, 2006 @12:57PM (#15799896)
    The problem isnt that Sci Fi is il suited to MMOs, its that the Sci Fi MMOs of late have been really crappy.

    Star Wars Galaxies? First off, there is the light saber, which throws his whole gun problem out the window. Second, has is there a better example of an MMO concept that should have worked brilliantly but failed because the developers where just dumb?

    Phantasy Star Online. One of the best MMOs ever. Sure its a little dated and it is lacking in many things which define current MMOs, but in this game you can see just how well a PROPERLY done Sci Fi MMO can do.

    Finally has this idiot never played Q3A? No its not an MMO; but who the hell can play this game and say a gun is impersonal?
  • by Don_dumb (927108) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:05PM (#15799970)
    Why does it have to stop with those two genres? really I can't help thinking that if there is a 'problem' it is becuase no-one can think outside of this pair, which in the case of classic fantasy has been well and truely done.
    For originality why not set something in the present or in the recent past, perhaps in a 'Buffy' style universe. If that is a bit too modern fantasy, how about Westerns, a bit of artistic license with the Indians and you can have a large array of skills. What about a 'cold war-esque' bond style setting, a couple of cities with many interestng skills, all manner of 007 gadgets and all of the ultra-camp, ultra-silly characters?
    Come on lets think just a little outside of the current blinkered ideas.
  • by beaverfever (584714) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:07PM (#15799990) Homepage
    "fantasy is very well defined in our minds"

    Isn't this phrase a bit contradictory? Shouldn't this be setting of warning alarms in what is supposed to be a creative industry? Maybe the problem isn't sci-fi vs fantasy, maybe it's stuck-in-a-safe-rut vs being-creative-and-coming-up-with-new-ideas?

    Maybe we need a new name for what are now popular yet highly generic fictional "fantasy" worlds, such as "Olde Tyme Wizard's Worlde" so that "fantasy" can go on being imaginative. The whole fantasy genre as it stands is terribly predictable, after all. Sci-fi isn't doing much better.

    "The creative imagination; unrestrained fancy."
  • by CFTM (513264) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:13PM (#15800039)
    Star Wars is not science fiction it's fantasy. Just because you use swords does not make you fantasy and just because you have a gun does not make you science fiction; personally I'm partial to Phillip K. Dick's definition which I am only able to paraphrase at the moment so I doubt I'll be nearly as succient nor as accurate.

    'The Shifting Reality of Phillip K. Dick' [everything2.com] contain many different short stories and pieces of speeches he gave throughout his life; in one of those speeches Dick espouses his definition of science fiction which goes something like this: A science fiction story takes place in a world that is not our world, but could be. In other words, the story is grounded in some sort of reality that we know. Star Wars has no such grounding, unless someone knows where I can find me some Ewoks to enslave.

    I have only played SWG, and the star wars franchise is the only one mentioned that I have knowledge of so I'll limit my critique to that but clearly it's just shitty fantasy. Star Wars has been shitty fantasy for a long time and has never been science fiction. It's childish and nonsensical... ...disagree all you want but I think I'll stick with PKD on this one.

    PS: If you think I've just commited an act that merits hari kari, stand up from your desk walk outside and breath some fresh air...
  • by jftitan (736933) <jftitan@gmail.com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:14PM (#15800051) Homepage Journal
    While I am not a fan of Fantasy MMOs, it is mainly because of the monthly dues. Plus my personality really isn't into Fantasy, its with Sci-Fi space sims.

    Lately I have been playing Darkstar One, which to me is a re-incarnation of WC: Privateer, but with a better looking ship, and weapons. I have been into this game the moment I found the demo, and have been playing non-stop even though at this point all I am doing in the game is playing the randomly generated 'quickie cash' missions. (I'm improving my Saitek X45 flyin g skills)

    I've gotten into EVE, and I really love the vast universe it brings to me. I could get lost into such a vast sci-fi mmo, but one things holds me back from getting into the 'monthly pay for' phase of game play. Its the interaction with my piloting of my space(craft)ship.

    Sci-Fi MMOs have to abide by higher gameplay standards than that of Fantasy MMOs. Fantasy has to create scenic worlds, on a planet. While Sci-Fi, needs to create planets, within galaxies, to which even our own knowledge of the universe is incomplete so everything must be created theroy. While I will settle for EVE mixed with Freelance, and Privateer qualities, physics and game play are very hard to incorporate into a MMO. How about the alien races. I'm pretty sure, that a Sci-Fi MMO could just involve humans the way EVE has done. The storyline is impresive, create 6 human races with entirely different cultures. Attempt to create a universe with peace. Give the player a ship, and tell him to survive in space. DONE.

    Just make the space physics, economy, social interaction (go ahead and create space stations with NPCs, hell make planets with NPCs too... Go as far as allowing people to goto 10 or more places on one planet) But as long as I can combat like a pilot against uneven odds of space pirates/bounty hunters/alien races, then fly home on the last leg of my spaceship to the nearest solar system to fix my ship, and fix my next job, then... and ONLY THEN will I be happy.

    Here is what I would want in a Sci-Fi MMO;

    1. Vast Universe... (EVE's universe is huge... I know it would take me years to goto each solar system, only to go back to one, and its been changed entirely. Thats how reality works too)

    2. Human/Alien Races... (I have no problem dealing with some foreign alien, Rule #1 if it shoots at me, I shoot back. nuff said)

    3. Economy... (EVE, excells, heck I could possibly find enough friends to help me manage a vast company in EVE, but hell, I need better friends to help me manage my OWN finances. Make the economy complex, but also allow for some form of automation, that will pay the ingame bills, every time you goto a planet/space station)

    4. Gameplay Interaction... (This one is what EVE lacks. Put in some flight controls, and first person POV so I can duke it out with space pirates. If my ship exploids then... shits, I'm a bad pilot. Restart at the nearist planet/spacestation, and lose the mission.)

    5. Gameplay cont... (As with Dying, respawning is not a bad idea for Sci-Fi.. heck we don't explain WHY when I die in Guild Wars, I end up alive at the nearest gateway, why not in a sci-fi sim as well) With Darkstar One, when I die at the lasers of a pirate, I just reload my most recently autosaved game, and retry.

    6. graphics... (Things can't get worse from todays standards of MMO graphics, so at this point it can only get more detailed, or stay the same. EVE has done well with the online MMO for Sci-fi graphics)

    7. Customizability of... (Characters, Ok, so Fantasy allows you to customize how your character looks, Sci-Fi can do the same thing with characters. You start off as a person/alien anyways, so let us customize five or more races of human or alien.)

    8. Customizability of... (Spaceships, well for sci-fi why not customize your spaceship. Give users 10 or more types of spaceships they can start from, and then allow us to customize the wings, engines, shields, paint jobs, computers, etc. I know we'll upgrad
  • by LS (57954) on Friday July 28, 2006 @01:17PM (#15800080) Homepage
    Why must a MMORPG be a single avatar per player? A player could control several characters, or a team, or a military, or a civiliation, or research lab, or a starship, or whatever. The players could be super-titanium robots, which would get rid of the gun problem. Or other alien races that developed different types of weapons. Or perhaps some real time strategy aspects could be pulled in, but on a larger scale. You'd then have a mechanism for balancing out extremely power technologies. I suppose you lose a bit of the immersion when you don't play at the single character level, but I could see a market for a more complex gaming mechanism that would suit a sci-fi universe.

    LS

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