Tools for the Job
June 1, 2010 4 Comments
First, be prepared for some hefty linkage here, while I set the stage throughout the post to give reference to what I’m talking about.
I was reading a post at Syncaine’s where he was talking about SW:TOR, and the results that “calling” it an MMO will have. Right now, it’s too early for me to really comment on the validity of his statements. I don’t know how the gameplay will be, or how closely it will adhere to typical MMO conventions. The short and long of it(or TLDR version for the internet lingo), as Syncaine puts it, is that the game is going to be more akin to an online, co-op single player RPG and that the MMO crowd will not receive that well. If the game is released like that, and lacking in an end-game method of progression, there very well may be problems. However, we don’t know for sure that’s the case.
That said, I want to gloss over that post and get to the heart of what I’m talking about here. Sid 6.7, of Serial Ganker, made a comment, or an observational statement to be more accurate, about how the focus of SW:TOR (story) could be used to further its primary goal. He then went on to make a post of his own about it, explaining in a bit more detail what he thinks should be available to developers of the game post lauch. His statement, and post, struck me as particularly interesting based on what I know of the game engine being used.
If you’ve been reading here for a while, or perused through my “MMO Characters & History” page, you might have remembered me talking about a game called Gemstone 4. This is a game created by Simutronics Corporation, who have been around for ever (Iron Crown Enterprises forever, if you get the reference). Simutronics started work on their own fully 3D MMO YEARS ago, according to their news archive, they launched the website for the game in October of 2004. To wrap this up a bit, they developed their own game engine for creating their MMO, called HeroEngine. If you have free time to spare, and you’re interested in this kind of thing, I strongly suggest checking out the videos they have of the engine in action at world building.
Hero Engine got some very interesting and positive attention after it was displayed at some E3, and given its pruported abilities, completely deserved. It’s most-touted features are its flexibility and adaptability. It is heavily pushed as a tool that lets you quickly and easily create worlds, events, changes, and many of the great things that GMs of old had in simpler worlds. It has a development tool called HeroBlade that is an integrated tool with a real-time interface with the game world that lets the developer affect everything from lighting to game mechanics.
What I’m trying to say, without making this sound like an advertisement, is that the very thing that Sid 6.7 was suggesting as a necessary tool to make SW:TOR successful, is the very thing that the game engine itself is reported to excel at, and he seemed to be unaware of this at the time of saying it. What this could mean for his theory, is that BioWare had the same conclusion, and chose this engine for that very reason, fully intent on constantly developing new stories and adventures for players to partake in.
Imagine a world, where developers ran events on a regular basis that changed the world/universe as you know it. It evokes memories for me of playing in small MUDs online, or in pencil and paper RPGs with friends and a great DM who knew how to make a world fun. I’m not saying SW:TOR will be that game, what I’m saying, is that tools like HeroEngine coming out give me hope for that type of gameplay in the future.