MMO Mechanics: MMORPG mechanics predictions for 2016

In the last edition of MMO Mechanics, I looked back on 2015 and the mechanics I managed to squeeze into the column: We looked at fast travel, barriers to exit, and some mechanics tied to previously untapped IPs, but I haven’t yet talked about my hopes and expectations for 2016. I was quiet during the various discussions the Massively Overpowered team had about 2016 and what it might bring to the MMO scene, so I owe you guys some predictions! Rather than being too specific here, I’m going to look at the industry trends that are most likely to create new mechanics or at least heavily innovate on existing ones.

crowfall

Player-friendly mechanics to pair with crowdfunding

Despite the general weariness seen on the faces of almost every gamer when they hear mention of the word crowdfunding, we’re seeing large-scale, ambitious MMO plans coming into being through crowdfunding that could point to a player-led rejuvenation of the MMO genre. This movement to player-led funding inevitably has a huge impact on how development proceeds, especially when you factor in stretch goals and the sense of ownership backers feel over the projects they choose to support. I’m very interested to see what this means for the mechanics of these MMOs, and I have a few ideas regarding what we might see in 2016 and beyond.

I believe that the wave of crowdfunded MMOs means that we’ll see an increase in player-driven mechanics across the board, not just in games that were crowdfunded themselves. Traditionally funded games need to compete with upcoming titles such as Crowfall and Star Citizen that feature player-led mechanics: Many have even opened up the development process of those mechanics from the earliest possible stages to intense community scrutiny. Other non-crowdfunded MMOs will need to look to and perhaps emulate the player-led development of crowdfunded MMOs and the mechanics within them, so I’d argue that it’ll make for some interesting developments in 2016.

I need look no further than my beloved Guild Wars 2 when I consider the impact that iterative refinement of mechanics based on player feedback has on an MMO, and I’ve been feeling very optimistic about the game’s future because of how ArenaNet has responded to the community in the last quarter of 2015 and presently. The genre has a fantastically rich history that has resulted in a playerbase that is acutely aware of its likes and dislikes: Developing for a certain niche and creating great community-designed mechanics isn’t a bad way forward for prospective MMO devs and veteran studios alike.

splatoon

Hybrid mechanics employed in not-so-MMOs

The great “Is it an MMO?” debate rages on as strongly as ever in 2016, so I think it makes sense to look at these periphery cases for places where novel mechanics could filter into the genre. I’m not arrogant enough about my game genre of choice to believe that so many developers want a piece of the MMO pie without equally considering that MMOs could be greatly improved with the blending we’ve been experiencing recently. Why can’t we see some mechanics that offer MMO enthusiasts the frantic pace and immediacy we more often associate with non-MMOs trickle into current and future titles this year, for instance?

I particularly like how Tom Clancy’s The Division plans on tackling an open world PvP survival game: No classes to speak of is a brave step that not many MMOs have taken, especially when this is paired with a single skill tree that allows on-the-fly changes. While I haven’t noticed Ubisoft specifically call the game an MMO within the marketing, I don’t need to look much further than the official website to see the familiar hallmarks: the buzzwords include “social,” “player-to-player trading,” “exploration,” “player progression,” and “persistent and dynamic environment.” The choice to avoid the word MMO is perhaps more to do with appealing to the console market than accurate labeling. If it walks like an MMO and talks like an MMO, chances are it’s a bloody MMO!

So what mechanics do I think MMOs can be borrowed from periphery titles? For me, that largely depends on the game at hand! I think most of the stealable mechanics in my mind are more about quality of life, though: I’d love to see more MMOs employ a player-directed mechanic for regrouping quickly with allies in fast-paced PvP and open world scenarios that mirrors the effect of Splatoon‘s respawn launcher mechanic or Paladins‘ super-quick mounted return to battle, for instance. I’m not talking about automatic mechanics such as portals and the usual warping tricks employed in MMOs here, but rather fast manual mechanics that can be used strategically by a player to redirect or refocus assaults at critical moments.

eve v

Movement mechanics for VR development

This section is admittedly a little bit pie-in-the-sky, especially with the frankly unaffordable and unrealistic price point of the Oculus Rift, but we know that some MMO studios, CCP one of the most notable among them, are particularly interested in the opportunities offered by virtual reality technology. When you throw the traditional UI out the window and have the ability to harness the full range of motion and control of the human body, it stands to reason that the scope for new mechanics is absolutely massive if this technology realises its potential, and I believe that the MMO market will almost certainly be able to make good use of it.

EVE Valkyrie will be bundled with the Oculus Rift on launch, so we’ll have a solid conceptual development piece in our hands fairly soon. The VR dogfighter has garnered so much interest that the studio managed to get $30 million towards VR development, so I’m really excited about where the financial boost will take the technology and how (or even if) the team will apply it to the company’s future MMO development. Our very own Brendan Drain last played an early build of the shooter at EVE Vegas and was impressed with the polish it displayed despite being rather light on the customisation front. We’re both united in our opinion that such experimental developments are only a good thing for the gaming industry in general and the MMO industry in particular, and I can see plenty of opportunity for new mechanics to flourish in the virtual reality worlds developers are creating.

Plenty of MMOs could enhance their mechanics sets by employing VR, and I think we might see further development in that direction by the end of 2016. Graphical beauties with vast open worlds scream for this level of immersion: I am imagining how much sweeter GW2′s vista mechanic would be if the game worked with a VR headset, for instance. Explorative MMOs with rewarding journey tracking mechanics would be an absolute treat for escapists everywhere, and action combat would take on an entirely new meaning with the technology too. I’m sure I’m not even scratching the surface here, which is why I’m particularly keen to see what passionate MMO developers with cleverer minds than mine could do with the power of VR behind them.

Over to you!

I am hoping that this year, developers continue to explore genre mashing, new development sources, and promising technological advances to shape the future of MMOs. Borrowed yet reinvented mechanics could challenge the definition of MMO even further, crowdfunding has the capacity to change how developers approach the genesis of mechanics, and virtual reality technology possesses the power to transform more MMO mechanics that I can even foresee at this time, provided its adoption surpasses that of other promising yet overpriced home tech developments such as 3-D television.

What do you think? Have you any mechanical predictions for 2016? What do you think will shape those mechanics, and why 2016? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

MMOs are composed of many moving parts, but Massively’s Tina Lauro is willing to risk industrial injury so that you can enjoy her mechanical musings. MMO Mechanics explores the various workings behind our beloved MMOs. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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89 Comments on "MMO Mechanics: MMORPG mechanics predictions for 2016"

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Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

CU is not exclusive or elitist. It is just a game that is 100 % about PVP or supporting PVP. If someone is into that then CU is for them. If not then not.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

We lost a mini-game the other night, that we should have won. One guy who was a new pvp”er said, “It’s ok to lose sometimes.” I told him, “With that attitude I do not want you in my TeamSpeak. We are here to win everytime. Think genocide and murder or get out”.

paragonlostinspace
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paragonlostinspace

Tina Lauro paragonlostinspace Damonvile Zardoz1972

 Exactly Tina. We all have our favorite games that we love and games we don’t care about as much. The one thing that I think I can state without causing much debate is that we’re all fans of this hobby and love to talk about it. :)  

  I think that it also would be fair to say that we also who write, read and post here on MassivelyOp share a desire to learn more about other mmos than just our favorite. Which is why I’ll read articles about MOBA’s for example. They aren’t my cup of tea really but I do reading about them and even watching some of the streams that MassivelyOP has run. :)

 Btw, looking back at my post, I realize that it’s pretty badly stated, I actually do take to heart what posters and readers say about mmos, even if its not something that they normally care about or like. I’d scratch that part of my post out if I was doing the post again. Even someone who doesn’t care for a mechanic or a certain mmorpg, can bring insight and an interesting point of view. 

 Now off to go play some Eagles albums back to back, seems like the bad news keeps hitting. Seems that Eagles guitarist/singer Glenn Frey just passed away too. Lemmy, David Bowie and now Glenn Frey plus the legendary Alan Rickman. Ugh.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Let’s be real, if someone wants to play across all factions and not commit fully to one. CU is not the game for them. It would not be a case of 33%, 33%, 33%. It would be 3 times 100 % . You have to be all-in on your chosen faction per server. Then when it comes to aggressiveness if someone is super timid, hardcore pvp does not fit their personality. I see CU as a niche game that will live or die based on having the proper type of people in it. Not from an elitist standpoint. But from a personality standpoint.

Tina Lauro
Guest
Tina Lauro

paragonlostinspace Damonvile Zardoz1972  And I enjoy your comments, Paragon, because they always add something from another perspective than my own! :D The staff here are all human and we obviously each have games that we do enjoy and ones we don’t. I write two general columns, and the real challenge there is that I talk about games I personally dislike or don’t frequently play (if I play them at all in rare cases) if it makes my point or the game speaks to me mechanically. I actually have mentioned CU before in this column, and I talk about whatever specific game the reader in question mentions for Guild Chat where relevant. Of course I adore talking about my favourites, especially GW2, but I equally adore writing Guild Chat and MMO Mechanics because the crafting of those articles stretches me and allows me to appreciate games I wouldn’t normally as a player.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

I’m big on realm pride. Appreciate your stance on TSW factions. However, we don’t want to alienate people from our game(s). Heck, I didn’t like the spying that went on in WoW as well.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

You were going too far, basically accusing Tina of playing favorites and making the game seem exclusive and elitist. Now, you are bowing up to me, because I disagree with your tactics.
Your defensiveness speaks volumes. A mod deleted the post in reference, so the proof is in the pudding. Cheers.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

paragonlostinspace Tina Lauro SallyBowls1 DeadlyAccurate 

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Many people don’t like the feeling that someone on the other side of the computer screen wants to put them in the dirt. But many of us view it that way. I had a guy here tell me he’s going to kill me if I roll Viking. I loved the comment. I hit “like”. Bring it : ) People need to leave their sensitivity at the door in a competitive environment. I don’t shit talk the opposition. In fact, I hope that there is zero way to communicate with the other sides.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

It is my hobby too. I’m not personally attacking anyone. Just saying that I like the concepts that CU is bringing forward, and that I want to aggressively PVP against other Factions. I am a Cabal/Guild leader in TSW and I take Faction seriously. If someone has an alt in either of the other factions they can not Premade in my Templar group.

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Tina Lauro SallyBowls1 DeadlyAccurate  Unfortunately?  To totally warp a quote from Princess Bride, “Life is sex, highness. Anyone who says differently is in denial.”

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Tina Lauro BryanCo  Horrid about sums it up. Heh.

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Zardoz1972  Great, you dislike those two mmos. Good for you. Forum pvp is not something we try to do here. I love in game pvp pr what we used to call it in the bad ole text based days of online multi-player rpgs, CvC. Which was Character versus Character because it wasn’t supposed to be personal and against the player. I really dislike that the term CvC went out of fashion and character versus character became so personal that it became PvP.

Regardless try to cool your jets and recall here at MassivelyOP we try to be a community that wants to talk about our mutual hobby. Forum pvp isn’t what we do here. ;p

paragonlostinspace
Guest
paragonlostinspace

Damonvile Zardoz1972  Great points Damonvile. I missed this thread yesterday because I was doing stuff with the wife offline. I’d have jumped in though had I been around. Zardoz1972  was making some great points but the way he was going about it could alienate players. 

Hell I and my wife are backers for a decent amount of coin and even I went from enjoying the points he was making to “ugh please stop”. I would have enjoyed seeing Tina talk about CU but I know what she enjoys mechanically speaking isn’t the same as what I tend to enjoy, based on the largely on everything she posts in articles here.

 I enjoy Tina for her genuine enthusiasm of GW2 and general knowledge of GW2, that said I don’t really take to heart most of her opinions on other mmos that she does infrequently speak about. They aren’t really her knowledge base from what I’ve been able to see. Every writer on MassivelyOp has their knowledge strengths and weaknesses and I enjoy reading all of them. It gives me a wider base of information and opinion. :)

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Forum PVP is still PVP : )

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Zardoz1972 Setting aside the accusation, which is unjust as well as rude, this part isn’t even true: “The Devs of CU have been around much longer and have much more experience with PVP than anyone at Crowfall.”
Jacobs has earned player respect a thousand times over, but it’s hard to claim that Crowfall’s designers, who built UO (which predated DAOC) and Shadowbane, have been around less long and have far less experience building PvP games. Crowfall and CU’s core devs are all among the founders of the genre and have extensive experience with PvP-centric MMORPGs. Not everything has to be a pissing contest of who got here first anyway.

madhunde
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madhunde

I believe tie-in apps are going to be huge. XL is making one for ArcheAge. WoW will probally push a lot of their garrison crap onto mobile, and as soon as WoW does it, everyone going to jump on the bandwagon straight away.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

Tina Lauro SallyBowls1 DeadlyAccurate
Porn is usually at the forefront when it comes to adopting new tech. It was like this for DVD, Blueray, etc. So, just business as usual.

shadowblender
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shadowblender

I dread the day when we will see ”automatic comabt” mmorpgs( like they have now in the browser section.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

I mentioned that…

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Which “trolling” are you talking about? My thoughts on CU vs Crowfall are far from trolls. Where do you see trolling? A guy wants to give me a Marketing lesson who obviously does not know the difference between mass market, niche market and guerilla marketing. And I call him linear is “trolling”. Or the fact that I as a PVP’er want to be aggressive and not friendly to the other sides? Please, that is my right. There is no “display” here. Get off the high horse. There is no moral high ground and who are you to even attempt to occupy it? CU has Crafting and Building for non-PVP players. You can also Scout without fighting. But everything revolves around supporting PVP. No troll at all, I don’t care who likes or dislikes my ideas. But nothing I am saying is used to specifically provoke. Condescending douchebag, just LOL.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

The trolling is not appreciated.
Hope you folks on the fence aren’t paying attention to this unfortunate display.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

CU is a big family. The game caters to many play styles. We have a good time on the forums talking faction smack. 99% of the people I have encountered are friendly. However, to prevent unfair play, alliances are locked per server. Nothing says you can’t play another faction on server 2 or 3. Don’t sweat it.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

Samizdat 
Except that was drama by a bunch of wannabe players who got lucky in the qualifiers, but didn’t win a single match up in their entire run of the season. They freaked out because they had no chance of winning anything other than a last place trophy.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Hmm, I did not hear of a separate reveal for the crafters. If there were Realm specific ones or if there were differences.

DeadlyAccurate
Guest
DeadlyAccurate

SallyBowls1 While VR will probably catch on due to porn’s influence, it’ll need something mainstream for it to really achieve mass appeal.

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

SallyBowls1 DeadlyAccurate 
I was expecting porn vr to be about 69 million ;o

Siphaed
Guest
Siphaed

Zardoz1972 
No, that’s “crafting”. That is not the crafter class specifically, which is to be info released ‘soon’.

DasBenty
Guest
DasBenty

All I care about is that we get some more open world sandbox games. Not seeing many of those. Also need more moba’s

BryanCo
Guest
BryanCo

Damonvile BryanCo Tina Lauro camelotcrusade  I haven’t tried.  Neverwinter is a good game, but the cash shop is so intrusive I simply can’t stand to play it.  A shame really.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

Zardoz1972 How dare you fail to mention the other sauce! Green sauce is headed up by Dirk Hiccups, the finest cheerleader sauce maker of all! Dirk should be right behind me posting his self importance. Letting us know he’s OK with not being mentioned yet mentioning his company Green sauce anyway! 

How’s that for topic derailment…. You like that! (/Cousins)

BryanCo
Guest
BryanCo

Zardoz1972  You can always roll a different faction on a different server.  Unless you buy that package that locks you account wide.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Is it the White Sauce or the Red Sauce?

Craywulf
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Craywulf

Zardoz1972 its looked more like cheerleader sauce to me.

zoward
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zoward

Zardoz1972   By “completely free reign” I meant the latter.  Sorry for the confusion.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

BryanCo Tina Lauro camelotcrusade Can you uninstall with at tool ? :)

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Your a bit linear, it seems.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

Zardoz1972  The objective of marketing is to sell a product not make people back away in disgust. Maybe you should attend a few more night classes before trying to use that.

If you really wanted to “market” CU you should of brought up some of the better mechanics it was using that tina left out, not throw a tantrum and make people think…uggh is this what I’m going to run into playing that game ?

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

No offense, back at ya. But CU is Faction Locked. You can only roll characters for one Faction per server. This is to keep the other factions from placing spies. CU has a map with much less information than most games. Scouting is very important. Spies impeded in your Faction would cause huge problems. This environment is not meant to be “light hearted”.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

Zardoz1972

No offense intended, but if that feeling is common in the CU fanbase, then I certainly, absolutely don’t want to play it. While more of a PvE guy, I do actually enjoy PvP when it’s kept completely apart from the PvE (and a game without PvE certainly does that), but together with the PvP I also want the combat to be more lightheaded, without any actual hatred or animosity between players or player factions.

Heck, for starters, if a game has factions, expect me to never choose one, and instead to create a character in each faction and divide my time fairly equally between them. I’m very unlikely to even consider playing a game where a significant part of the player base sees that in a bad light.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Wonderful, I look forward to it : )

BryanCo
Guest
BryanCo

Zardoz1972  Filthy Viking.  We of the Tuatha Dé Danann will crush you with the might of our severed heads and silver arms!

BryanCo
Guest
BryanCo

Tina Lauro BryanCo camelotcrusade  https://gateway.playneverwinter.com/#/characterselect
That lets you do a lot of things (opening boxes being one) from your browser.  You can also give orders for professions and collect the results.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Get some rest, Sir. Your troops are out there, even as you sleep. (But this Stone Thrower thing we’ll have to talk about on the CU forums, LOL)

PurpleCopper
Guest
PurpleCopper

Way I see it, deliberately stating that your game is a MMO (whatever that means) actually limits what your game is about.

If you say that your game is a MMO before actually creating it, you’re basically painting yourself into a corner.

Now some say that from a developer’s point of view, slapping the MMO label is a way to persuade people to fork over a monthly sub. But look at non-MMO games like TF2 which makes tons of money from hats/skins/lootboxes/etc.

Now as for predictions, as technology increases, MMO games will increasingly add “non-MMO” features that are more dynamic and resource intensive that wouldn’t have been possible years ago. But then again, you could say that prediction every year.

Mark Jacobs
Guest
Mark Jacobs

Tina Lauro SallyBowls1 Zardoz1972 Hey, just jumping in here since well, I’ve been deeply occupied in sleeping after a couple of long days/nights doing CU/CSE stuff. :)

Please know that I’m fine with CU not being used an example by Tina and instead CF, no worries at all. MOP has been grand, just grand in its coverage of our game . She also didn’t mention a lot of other titles so it’s not like she called us out by lack of presence in this piece. 

Thank you Zardoz, and other Backers, who posted here. I do appreciate the support and sentiment as always but remember, I am very grateful for all the coverage we have gotten here on MOP. 

And Tina, as you acknowledged above, an RvR world is very, very different than FFA PvP world. Camelot Unchained, like its predecessor, Dark Age of Camelot, was quite the departure from FFA PvP games that had existed before. I/we took a lot of scorn from some hardcore PvPers because we weren’t hardcore enough. It’s amazing how much that simple difference can change the experience for even folks who don’t love PvP. It was, as always, a lesson I learned from the great folks at Kesmai Studio and their landmark game Air Warrior.

Have a great rest of the weekend all. I’m getting back to working on crafting, guild stuff and maybe a movie with Lady J. Something fitting, like Revenant. :)

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

I 100 % Agree with you. I do not want everyone against everyone. That is “gankbox” and does not foster any collaboration. I want to fight for something. I want to be part of a group whose lore or flavor appeals to me. I’m leaning toward Viking.

BryanCo
Guest
BryanCo

Grimmtooth BryanCo  My idea was mostly satirical.  Mostly.

Tina Lauro
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Tina Lauro

SallyBowls1 Zardoz1972  That is a good point, Sally: At least then I know who is out for me :P

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

Zardoz1972  As not a real pvper, there is an added appeal for realm.  I expect that 100% of the time the people from the other two realms will try to kill me. That’s not griefing, that’s the game. I like RvR where I can expect 0% of the people on my realm to try to gank me.

wpDiscuz