Massively Overthinking: Unholy MMORPG hybrids
Massively OP reader and frequent tipster Gibbins wants us to play match-maker.
“I love the wonderful world that Bethesda created with the Fallout franchise, not too bleak but very post apocalypse with a very kitsch ’50s feel from the time of duck and cover educational films, but I wish it were multiplayer. The huge volume of mods for Fallout is also is a massive bonus, giving the game great variety and replayability. On the other hand, I also love the satirical in your face style of GTA Online and its no-holds-barred multiplayer experience, but I wish there were more to the story and more support for mods. Both games offer so much, and I would love to see how each studio would add to the other’s game. Which two development teams would you like to see married… and which game would be their love child?”
Let’s complicate Gibbins’ request and say that the love child game must be an MMO! I’ve posed his question to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Nintendo with SOE circa 2010-2014 for a Smash Bros-esque MMO. However, the game wouldn’t be a fighter but a mash up of popular multiplayer modes and franchises, including EverQuest and PlanetSide. You’d start in an Animal Crossing styled world with a house and debt. Rather work for that blasted tanuki you’d work for (wait for it) Princess Peach. You’d pick different “missions” to unlock other playstyles, not in lobbies but different “dimensions. For example, maybe the princess has a party to prepare for. You could start growing food on the Animal Crossing world, or go to the Splatoon world for PvP to earn cash to buy from other players, or take a job at Cooking Mama world to learn how to make it and trade raw materials for finished products. Rather than levels, players would unlock additional game worlds, housing objects, and skins. For example, upon finishing your cooking mission, you’d get a “Cooking Mama” costume, kind of like Legends Avatars in DC Universe Online.
Combat enhancements should be more lateral than vertical, like in PlanetSide 2 or Splatoon. For example, there’d be a more traditional EverQuest world with more simplified abilities (i.e., Mario-esque players can shoot fire balls, bunch, kick, super jump, and butt-stomp). Players could unlock an ability to shoot a larger fireball but with slower movement. However, that would remain in the EQ world, so when going to the Mario Kart world, they’d still have a similar option but need to earn/unlock it.
Yes, it could be lobby style matches, but it could also have flavored open world options. I’d love to do Zelda style exploration and Mario 64/Galaxy style puzzles in the same area. I’d think it’d be hilarious to get knocked out of Smash Bros world and land in middle of a PlanetSide invasion, suddenly needing to help those players take a nearby base so you can get a ship and go home… or maybe help build a base on the spot!
Both companies have a wide variety of genre experience, and while I feel like Blizzard and Nintendo probably have more in common in general, 2013 SOE seemed to be juggling multiple IPs while innovating. I loved PS2, Landmark, and I actually liked a lot of what was going on in SWG despite only experiencing the NGE long after people claimed the game was dead. As SOE had experience with games that mixed, say, a traditional MMO with the ability to include a TCG while both were relatively well balanced (from what I remember), I’d trust them to get Nintendo into the online space. Just maybe leave a Pokemon mode outside of this one.
Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I wanna mash together Ankama and Blizzard. Ankama is the studio behind Dofus and Wakfu, two highly underrated (here) French MMORPGs. Wakfu in particular is outrageously creative and funny, with unique character classes like Sadida’s Shoe and Xelor’s Sandglass. And Blizzard, of course, brings an unparalleled level of polish and bling and fixer-upper skills to the MMORPG genre with World of Warcraft. So I’d like to take Wakfu’s creativity and classes and underlying sandbox orientation but replace the real-time strategy aspect with traditional 3-D fluidity and the popular appeal of WoW. World of Wakfu! I’d play it. Bonus: Maybe we can get an anime out of it. Warcraft deserves it.
Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): I don’t generally tend to have a grand attachment to _studios_ over _games_; a good game is such a product of the team working on it, after all. That having been said? Volition and Square-Enix. Imagine Saints Row mashed up with Final Fantasy XIV. Verisimilitude, character-building, steady content, accessible gameplay… all in a playground of destructive atavism.
Or maybe I just want to jack some Garlean war machines in FFXIV and paint them purple. To-may-to, to-mah-to.
Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): For ‘ships and giggles, let’s smash together Funcom and KingsIsle to make some sort of unholy hybrid of The Secret World and Wizard101. Naturally, the adult themes and visuals would have to be toned down, but it would definitely be interesting to see a cartoony-style game handle complex mission types, conspiracy tales, and apocalyptic showdowns. In a weird way, both games share a world structure in which they skip around to non-connected, tonally different zones. It might also be interesting to have a build-your-own-class system that’s streamlined and made much more adorable for all audiences. TSW would get the housing it so sorely needs, and W101 would benefit from a vastly improved outfit system. Plus, C’thulu! C’thulus everywhere!
…OK, my mind has left me on this one.
Patreon Donor Archebius: I can’t stop at just one – though you’ll notice a theme. First, let’s take the excellent RPG craft of a company like Larian Studios or Obsidian Entertainment. Then, let’s combine that with the massive tactics and nation-building of Paradox. I imagine a game where players take control of small city-states, built on the ruins of an older world. These city-states have armies, but still chiefly rely on the strength of their heroes. The heroes – the avatars of the player characters – are the research and development wing of any city-state, delving inside ruins to learn of great powers, recover fantastic treasures, and learn how the world was built of old. Cities would specialize, via type of government, civic policies, religion, economic structure, and trade, to give their heroes certain advantages. A highly religious and deeply feudalistic oligarchy would lead towards more Paladin-type characters, who would view all discoveries through a religious and defensive lens; an open society built on free trade, where coin is the ultimate authority and the central government is just a series of guidelines posted on the local signboard, might create more roguish characters. Heroes could explore the continent outside their city for typical PvE action, developing their heroes and bringing back resources. Dungeons and raids would result in exciting new discoveries. PvP would be territory-oriented, as in EVE, with individual characters taking part in small skirmishes, or larger armies fighting in semi-abstracted battles. City-states would need to form coalitions to ensure that their armies had a balance of technologies and tactics.
Or, if we want to get a little more personal (but maintain the strategy front), let’s bring a game like Kingdom Under Fire from Phantagram into the mix, combined with Capcom’s Monster Hunter – heroes leading units in big-battle skirmishes against both creatures and enemy companies. Again, advancement would be on a larger scale, as you would need to properly outfit and maintain your own little personal army. PvP battles would not be abstracted at all, but would only involve 2-6 players at a time. The hero can go out and explore the world alone; larger monsters and monster groups, however, might require a well-outfitted company of soldiers. This would also mean that questing would have real costs – your well-equipped, well-trained army of knights is great, but that dragon is going to kill fifty of them before you finally bring him down. Is the reward worth the cost? Or do you need to bring other players in to help you? (Also, base building mechanics for upgrading gear! Dwarven runemasters! Elven smiths! Taverns for recruiting!)
Ooo, ooo! Or, you could combine XCOM (Firaxis) with Ambrosia Software, makers of the Escape Velocity series. Players would take control of an independent captain just starting out with their first ship. Free to choose their own course across the universe, players could focus on combat or trade or simply explore the galaxy. There would be strange worlds to claim, stellar phenomena to avoid like the plague, and governments with missions for you. But when fighting boarding actions, brawling in ports, or freeing colonies from mercs, players would switch to tactical turn-based gameplay involving their captain and marines. Gear progression would work in a similar way to traditional MMOs, and group battles would be entertaining (if certainly not fast-paced) affairs, especially if the hardcore feel of an XCOM skirmish was maintained.
Mostly… I just want to see a well-done MMO with more tactical options. I’m OK with whatever form that takes.