Greg ‘Ghostcrawler’ Street ruminates on fixing MMORPG progression design failings


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is obviously no stranger to MMORPG design and its tripping points, so when he took to Twitter on a self-described rant about the subject, it immediately perked our ears, particularly since his focus is about character progression, its design pratfalls, and the ideas he’s considering in order for his studio’s yet-unnamed MMO project to address them.

In the thread, Street notes how the balancing act between making progression too easy and too hard is a difficult one to achieve, but also says the old loop of killing mobs to get better gear to kill more mobs is too tired. “It felt exciting maybe 20 years ago when that was all new,” he writes, “But as a community we are more sophisticated now. We look for the patterns of broken builds, efficiency, minimizing risk, in our focus on progression.”

He further points out how this progression design has dovetailed into the demands of a build meta and how those who play suboptimally are either hurting themselves and others or are out-and-out locked away from playing content by other meta demands.

Street then talks about his belief that design choices to “push the other players to the background so they don’t get in the way” of progress like dungeon and raid finders did harm; he even acknowledges how he helped this as the designer of the dungeon and raid finder for WoW.

“I think this mentality can ultimately be really detrimental to MMO design. Other players aren’t the problem. Other players are what the genre is all about! Without other players, the progression grind is sort of laid bare for us all to see. And as I am fond of saying, if what you really want is a wonderfully curated single-player experience, this is a great time to be a gamer! But don’t ask your MMO to do that. It’s not good at it.”

So what is his MMO going to do about it? According to Street, it’s going to focus on how other players enrich the genre’s experience, as he calls his title an “unapologetically multiplayer” “social game […] about hanging out and doing cool stuff with your friends.” He does point out that this won’t mean that grouping for everything is going to be required, nodding towards real-life variables that make that kind of design untenable, but he also claims that his studio has come up with some “hopefully clever new stuff too in the name of making hanging out with other players engaging and satisfying.”

As for when anyone will get a look at how this all works, that’s apparently en route soon through what reads like a playable open testing period or a demo, but Street does point out that this will be from a very early build in order to let fans react and let the studio gather that reaction. Street also confirms that this won’t be a paid-for early access, with a price tag coming only when the game feels more solid.

“This is a game where other players provide a lot of the content and novelty. (Not because we have a massive user-generated content plan, and not because the game is solely about PvP),” he writes. “We are going to build it with the curtain drawn back, so that you all can help us beat it up before the game is live and monetized and everything.”

source: Twitter
Previous articleStar Citizen showcases alpha 3.20’s updates, declares it won’t answer ‘when’ questions anymore
Next articleRumor: Embracer is trying to sell Gearbox – and therefore Cryptic and its MMORPGs

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments