Tenfold Hate

Static Worlds Kill RP
November 28, 2007, 12:22 pm
Filed under: Fantasy, Gaming, MMORPGs

Static worlds kill role-playing. I’m not talking about spewing Middle English in group chat or the slew of other silly stereotypes many a modern gamer equates dismissively with RP. Ideally in an RPG, you can do anything within the realm of possibility (and in MMORPGs, within the constraints of game physics): incorporate elements of your environment into a brawl, dig a ditch or sack a city, plant rose bushes or hack down a forest, become a noble cavalier heralded by the peasants or a murderous cutpurse hunted by the town guard.

Donkey Kong was never considered an RPG. Your avatar in Q*Bert or Crystal Castles never evolved or left any real footprint on the game world outside of advancing from level to level until you got bored or ran out of quarters. You followed a scripted course of play to save said princess or clear said board of adversaries. Sound familiar?

In an RPG, your character not only advances in level, but you “write” his or her story alongside your fellow players. You create a character, not a cog. You are adopting a role for the two or three hours you spend in game, not simply racking up dancing cherries or in the case of MMOs—blue or purple items. Did all the level 60 magic-users in your pen-and-paper campaigns parade around in the same robes? Nope. Because everyone was not pushed and prodded down a near-identical path.

Single player games have given us glimpses of the types of worlds we can leave a stamp on. It’s just a matter of time before our video cards and processors allow for this on a massive multiplayer scale. I for one would forsake multiple continents and vast oceans for a smaller game world if it indeed felt like a world, not the façade of a movie set. But will game studios be up for the challenge, or should we brace ourselves for another decade of hovering yellow question marks and grinding repeatable content?

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