[MUD-Dev] pluggable MMOGs

ceo ceo at grexengine.com
Tue Apr 8 14:45:51 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


Is anyone working on / thought about an MMOG based upon pluggable
sub-games?

The absolute nightmare scenario in this direction is the crap "film
conversion" games from the 64k microcomputer era. The tendency was
to look at the major scenes from the film, make each one a level,
and make each level an entirely different game. So, e.g. for
Terminator 2 - IIRC - one level was a bit like a car-racing game,
recreating the scene where you were on the motorbike trying to
escape the truck. The next level was a sideways scrolling
beat-em-up, etc etc.

The problem with such games was that they were massively disjointed
and there was no feeling of any relationship between different
levels; supposedly the "theme" was enough to provide a link...but it
never did.  Where the juxtaposition of two scenes in a film may make
sense, it often is completely incomprehensible / stupid in a game -
even if you supply a cut-scene to try and explain.

....

Fast forwarding to today , it's rather easy to produce something
like those film conversions - just invent lots of completely
unrelated games, stick them together, and voila!

But it occurred to me a while ago that - with a lot of effort on the
designers' part - this could provide an extra dimension of
"expanding content". Raph etc have done to death (mostly very
eloquently with lots of good examples :)) the pros, cons,
impossibilities and inevitabilities of the standard view(s) of game
content for MMOGs. But with this kind of game design, you can view
gameplay itself as "just another form of content".

By it's very nature, gameplay-as-content has a non-linear
relationship between "effort to produce" and "time taken to
consume". There are certainly many cases (e.g. Tetris) where even
simple gameplay shows an exponential relationship to
rate-of-consumption. (Note: I'm borrowing heavily from Raph's
terminology when reasoning about whether "developer-authored
content" is a feasible way forward. Not to give all the credit to
Raph, but his is the name I associate most strongly with that...and
unusual names are also pretty useful for google searches ;)).

I'm not asking "Is this possible? Is it worth it?" - the answers are
obviously yes and yes - but just wondering if anyone's actually
DOING it. I've been thinking about it for months in one form or
another, and some of my GDC conversations have brought it all back
to the fore (ironically the best one was with someone from a film
studio, the original [indirect] authors of the worst-case scenarios
:)).

Adam M


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