IP of Choice
August 16, 2010 10 Comments
I read a lot of fiction, and the books I prefer tend to be the ones where whole worlds are created. It’s part of why I prefer to stick to a series as opposed to a one-shot novel. This draw is why I love Jordan’s Wheel of Time, and Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and how I’m able to tolerate Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series (despite how terrible everything after book three is). Coincidently, as a fan of MMOs and video games in general, I spend a lot of time thinking about games, and what I would like out of my ultimate setting. So, a natural occurrence that arises from my affinity of the two mediums is a ponderance on what type of world from an existing setting I would like to play around in the most.
We see this type of creation frequently happen, an existing intellectual property gets cooped into video game format. My current MMO of choice and the raison d’être of my blog is a game with such roots. Warhammer: Age of Reckoning is obviously based on Games Workshop’s tabletop and fantasy setting. An existing IP isn’t a guaranteed success for any game, and the games frequently turn out to be terrible or readily as good. Look to the vast expanse of Star Wars games across all the various platforms for a clear evidence of this premise in action. Still, there’s a strong connection and appeal between the creation of a world in literature and to the creation of a world in virtual space. It may have to do with the groundwork being laid out for you, and the ability to hit the ground running in terms of framework and concept. If the literary work is popular, you have a bonus with a built-in initial fan-base that is likely to at lease partake in the initial sales.
So, as I do every night, I finished my evening off with reading whatever at home novel I’m currently working on (for posterity’s sake: at home I read one novel, and at work another during my lunch hour). This month, I picked up Dune, having lost my old copy somewhere in the nine moves I’ve had during the last 10 years. Reading the book, I remember the movies, the old bad (but still a cult classic and favorite I have), and the new good (SyFy does them right), and I remember a Dune-based MUD I used to play, and I think back to the scattering of console games made around the series, and I wonder why it they are almost universally RTS games, and it has never made it to MMO space.
To me, this seems like the natural world to take into MMO gaming. It has a depth and history that vast and deep, a series of novels that spans thousands of years across the books. It brings with it a world-wide fan base that will help support initial sales. For both PvE and PvP the game has incredible potential. Obviously, I skew towards the potential PvP aspect of various houses waging war on each other. The biggest concern for making such a game would be the potential for a too-expansive scope, which is problematic in most Science Fiction, multi-world spanning properties. The design team would need to be conscious of this and actively work to keep the game from spinning out of control into the realm of un-manageability. A simple universe of a few planets with a handful of “zones” each. or even better, each planet be a seemless series of zones (but that’s a different conversation). Control of each planet could be given to a ruler of a house (guild) based on some type of resource collection or PvE activity. Planetary control could increase provide benefits like weapons, transportation, monetary incetivization (I swear that’s a word), or any other slew of bonuses. Players of the same race would compete internally for control from week to week (or month to month), and the there would be competition across planets, perhaps even potential occupation and seizure by invading forces. Really, the possibilities for a game based on the IP would be huge, it would need to be focused and narrowed to find the place where it would fit, but thinking about it gets my juices revving.
So, if you had a choice, what IP would you like to romp around in? Have you given thought to how you would implement it or how viable it would be? I’d love to hear the favorite playgrounds of everyone else out there.