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Fantasy Trumps Sci-Fi For MMOs 408

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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: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 Maserati ( 8679 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @07:38PM (#15802967) Homepage Journal
    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 a "Welcome Back" promo for WW2OL.

    The specific instance I thought about when I read the line I quote above was pretty messed up for the guy I inflicted it on. Defending a town from an Allied counterattack I was in a defensive position out between the enemy forward base and our town. I was hiding in a treeline looking for scouts infiltrating. I spotted one a few hundred meters away, the poor SOB skylined himself. I watched him run up towards a hedgeline through binoculars, switched to my trusty rifle, and Juuuust as he flops down and pulls out his binocs to check out our defenses... headshot. Poor guy, 15 minute run to a vantage point on our defenses and he doesn't last long enough to wipe his lenses before his screen suddenly goes black.

    Mmm, yeah. If EVE starts sucking I'm back to France. Good times.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison