You Can Fight or Fight Some More
by, 03-14-2011 at 08:18 AM (1033 Views)
It wasn't too long ago that I went on the lookout for an MMO that would fit the needs of the "non-gamers" that I know. I quickly realized that there are no modern MMOs on the market (at least any that I could find) that are not almost entirely based around fighting things. I got to thinking about the fighting itself and realized how "throw-away" it was. You go to an area that is packed with mobs idly standing there, you "click+123" them, and, without breaking a sweat, you kill your ten rats (which instantly respawn) and without a second thought, move on to the next area to go do the exact same thing. There is no weight to the fighting, it is simply a procedure that one goes through like eating potato chips, and even if the potato chips are dazzlingly flavored jalapeņo white-cheddar, the process itself remains mind-numbingly uninvolved.
For this post I will mostly discuss the first point: there is a major lack of MMOs that contain anything other to do than fighting. I'm not talking about crafting and trading, side-things that accompany the fighting, I mean like actually choosing to play the game as a civilian or a farmer, an entrepreneur, a scholar, or a page. Not everyone wants to fight things, but that doesn't mean they have no place in MMO society. I could easily imagine farmers being a primary source for the game's economy and a very popular choice among more "casual" players.
Some of you may be reading this and, seeing all of the classes, rolling your eyes as you think back to my post about "The Trinity". Having the balance of the trinity may be intrinsic to deciding roles on the virtual battlefield, but its inclusion does not mean there can't be a variety of experimental classes, so long as they have a place.
So, with that said, here are some ideas for non-traditional classes:
-The Scholar: the scholar does not show a level when clicked on; the scholar increases his defenses by adorning himself with increasingly complex charms and accessories; the scholar progresses from being a Student, to Scholar, to High Scholar, to Sage; the Scholar is like a walking, in-game wikipedia, and has access to (and can provide players with access to) a wealth of information about the different classes, secrets about the evironments, and tips for finding the best locations for rare ingredients; the scholar has the unique ability to train modes of combat that he or she has studied; the scholar is able to manipulate the elemental properties of party members and opponents; if a scholar would like to take part on the battlefield he or she serves as an "RTS Master": by meditating he or she gains a top-down view of the battlefield allowing them to see what's coming ahead, mark parts of the map with visual tags for the party members, warp party members about the battlefield, indicate or gather members that need to be healed or buffed, and manage the tactics of the team.
-The Runner: the runner delivers messages and packages between the nation leaders, npcs, and player; the runner makes money from his or her service which is put toward increasingly efficient mounts that are exclusive to runners; the Runner progresses from runner, to messenger, to elite messenger, to ambassador; the runner is often accompanied by a sentinel who gets a portion of the reward as payment for guarding the runner and insuring a successful delivery (the sentinel can be any capable "fighting" player who offers their service); playing as a runner is the primary source of "fetch-quests", inside information, and extra lore details; the other classes in the game are not subject to being everyone else's "page" since the runner is a specific job with this responsibility that the player chooses.
-The Farmer/Entrepreneur: the farmer or entrepreneur is in the business of producing and selling goods; the farmer progresses from planter, to gardener, to farmer, to agriculturalist; the farmer is able to manage a plot of land and a spreadsheet of prices and contacts; the farmer can assign special deals for specific players in return for services or for specific resellers.
These are all choices that the player could have as a class in the game. This is not to say that even further content and options can't be added, regardless of class. Just look at all of the different things anyone could do in a game like "A Tale in The Desert" (not that I play the game, but it shows that there are plenty of feasible options).
One thing that I would like to touch upon before wrapping this up is that navigating the world itself should be fun. Breaking the world up into zones by having different level agros everywhere is a quick way to destroy the aspect of exploration that should be emphasized in an open world. Traversing the land should be part of the game, not an intermission between gameplay. Take a look at platformers, the whole genre is based around this concept. Imagine having to climb, jump and double-jump across recesses, work your way around the land, cross disappearing platforms, navigate with a compass and land marks, and explore faster ways and obscure passages to get from place to place. An element that takes so much time out of the game needs this type of extra attention.
So what do you guys think? Especially in light of the fact that it appears that Reckoning will not have jumping, what's your opinion on the topic?