Massively Overthinking: Hopes and wishes for MMORPGs in the new year
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It's way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight's Massively Overthinking, we'd like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2017 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I hope we can get back to being virtual worlds more than loot chases. To be excited to log into a game because of an exciting, developer lead story arc we the players can actually affect in a non-binary win/lose way. To have an "everything box" game where I can sit in a tavern doing a card game and, relatively easily, jump into my friend's star cruiser, help her with a big asteroid mining haul, and then prevent space pirates from penetrating the ship too deeply. To have characters that are more than just equipment dolls, but avatars capable of living in worlds with families, die a noble death, and have their next of kin pick up where their parent left off. They're ideals that have been simmering in developer minds for decades now, and a few games are trying to make them happen. I don't know if 2017 is the year they'll actually launch in, but this is about hope, right?
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I always struggle, from my position atop the professional insanity of Massively OP, to maintain the proper balance of hope and terror when it comes to the MMORPG genre. Worrying is literally my job. But when I put our lists of upcoming stuff in front of my eyeballs, it's not hard to feel optimistic. So...
I am hopeful for Guild Wars 2's expansion (please be a return to form) and Elder Scrolls Online's rumored Vvdardenfell DLC and housing -- these are pure nostalgia! I'm hopeful for Blizzard's ability to stave off World of Warcraft drought as implied (if not outright promised). I'm hopeful that Crowfall will make it out the door before it runs out of money, that Camelot Unchained's beta blows everyone away, that Project Gorgon can prettify itself in a world where appearances matter more than content, that Shroud of the Avatar and Star Wars: The Old Republic can escape from their business model woes. I'm hopeful that one of the retro games like Pantheon will finally give those folks a home, and I'm hopeful that fans of SWG-style sandboxes will someday get a home too.
While we're wishing for things, let's wish luck on the City of Heroes spinoffs and Daybreak -- it hasn't had the best year -- and Standing Stone too. WildStar, it may not seem like it, but we're still rooting for you. And let's not forget to pile hope that games like Bless and Lineage Eternal and Lost Ark actually make the journey westward, and that New World isn't our last great chance for a true and full AAA western MMORPG. I want more big MMORPGs, and I want them to be good and do well!
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I have lots of hopes for the next year, but a lot of them are pretty straightforward and even likely. I hope that Stormblood continues the excellent track record that Final Fantasy XIV has already been having, and I hope that before the year is out we have a plan and a launch date for World of Warcraft's next expansion. I'm also hoping for more news on Peria Chronicles and some really good forward movement for Funcom and The Secret World.
Industry-wide, of course, my big hope is the same one I always have, that we see more studios break down the idea that there's some kind of enforced and necessary split between types of genre. There's no reason why WoW can't have housing, no reason why Star Wars: The Old Republic can't have more freeform content, and no reason why you can't have more ad hoc options for gameplay resting alongside structured content. It's another one of those things that FFXIV has been doing really well, mashing up stuff like Palace of the Dead and beast tribe quests alongside dungeon runs and endgame progression content. I want to see more of that, more emphasis on playing how you want without feeling that it leaves you miles behind.
Also, I want more robots.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I deeply hope that 2017 will be a renaissance of sorts for MMORPGs. We need to pull up out of this slump and back into an era of excitement and experimentation. There are several games coming out this year; I pray that at least two will be modest-or-greater hits and show some sign of innovation. I don't want any more games to shut down but would love to see previously closed titles come back via official permission from the previous owners. I want to be surprised and delighted on a weekly basis.
Larry Everett (@Shaddoe, blog): I mentioned this on the roundtable podcast: This year, I'd like to focus on the roleplay side of the MMORPG, specifically in its immersive roots. In the ye ol' days while sitting around a table throwing dice at a character sheet, the focus used to be about creating an interesting character living in a fantastical world. As MMOs grew and more players were required to support a game, the stories and systems became simpler and more general. This year, I'd like to find support for game systems that allow a wider variety of things for the player to do and create for themselves. The tabletop games, which were always a lot of fun for me when I was a kid, allowed for players to used the campaigns and stories that the game had to offer or carve their own path in the world created by the developers. I know I'm just dreaming, but that is what I would like to see more of from MMOs this year.
MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): I'm sure this will come as no surprise, but my biggest hopes and wishes revolve around The Secret World. I want to see season two get rolling really early and have the game get back to 3 or 4 good story-filled issues a year (at least one of them focused on Innsmouth Academy, possibly tying it to the history with Little Springs High). I really want to see the game get more of the recognition it deserves. And I admit it, I want to see a mind-blowing story next Halloween.
I was about to say that I want to see more games adopt awesome housing systems, but then I realized that too many and I would end up in trouble trying to decorate them all. I'm already unable to get all the decorating projects I want in the games I am currently in, and with ESO getting some good housing and my goal of creating a working inn and tavern in Shroud of Avatar, my to-do list is already growing!
Another hope is to see a resurgence of roleplaying. I personally want to increase my roleplaying in games again (and in fact have a project starting that does just that!). I also want to see a return to stronger community bonds, be it in single games or groups that hop between games. Also, as corny as some may think it sounds, I mostly hope that devs get to keep doing what they love, bringing us games to play. I know all the games aren't my cup of tea, but I am loving the variety. Besides that, I am finding that I really enjoy some of these games in genres I wouldn't have normally even tried. Speaking of which, if someone can please invent a way I could just plain fit more gaming into my days, that is a major 2017 wish! There are just so many interesting and fun games now I want to delve into.
Finally, big wish for the new year is that the rabid negativity that plagues our pastime diminishes. Specifically, I hope that instead of spending inordinate amounts of time tearing games (and studios and devs) down that they hold a grudge against, disgruntled people can move on. Viciousness just doesn't accomplish anything good.
Tina Lauro Pollock (@purpletinabeans): My main MMORPG wish for 2017 is to see a fantastic expansion come together for Guild Wars 2. It'd be fantastic for ArenaNet to use this expansion to well and truly shed the Heart of Thorns stigma and prove that the team can produce a stellar expansion that satisfies players from all corners of the gamespace without alienating players of any type of content by dropping it without fanfare or any feasible replacement in sight. I've loved this season so far and have been delighted with the team's work in the latter half of 2016, so there's a solid framework in place to build upon in 2017.