Five nonexistent MMOs I’d love to play

In honour of the Friday Five 1, and bearing in mind my opinions about what makes a good MMO setting, here are Five Non-Existent MMOs I’d Love to Play:

  1. An Exalted MMO, based on White Wolf’s tabletop RPG Exalted. This is a non-European post-apocalyptic high fantasy game, based on ancient Asian and Roman civilisations, with strange magitech, terrifying Primordials who want to destroy or enslave Creation, complicated politics, and awesome cinematic wuxia-style action. There’s a whole range of potential threats, with a powerscale that would nicely suit a levelling curve with bonus epic (very epic) endgame.
  2. An Earthdawn MMO, based on the obscure tabletop RPG Earthdawn, originally published by FASA as a prequel to Shadowrun. Set ten thousand years ago in an age of magic, Earthdawn is best described as post-apocalyptic fantasy horror — the world is just recovering from the Scourge, a time of darkness when (evil, twisted) spirits called Horrors invaded and the people of the world hid from them in supposedly-impregnable caers. Horrors would make great enemies on every power level, from evil little skittering minions up to terrifying abominations the human mind was not meant to know, and the world would be perfect for exploration as the races of Earth are just starting to emerge from their caers and take stock of the wreckage.
  3. A Marvel superheroes MMORPG. DCUO was a letdown for a number of reasons, and its arguable failure (and the upcoming closure of CoH) doesn’t make superhero MMORPGs look like a good bet. Disappointing, as I’d always hoped to see a Marvel MMO — I simply prefer Marvel’s setting and universe, and I’ve been thoroughly turned off DC thanks to various shenanigans with their latest universe reboot. I know there’s an upcoming MMO, Marvel Heroes, but a) it’s an action RPG (ie Diablo-style gameplay), and b) you’re limited to playing a canonical character and just customising them, not playing one of your own. I want a “proper” (ie traditional) MMORPG, just set in the Marvel universe. (Although I am tickled by the fact that Squirrel Girl is one of the two dozen playable heroes.)
  4. A Harry Potter MMORPG. One of the things I enjoyed most about the Harry Potter series (and the reason it immediately exploded into such an active, insatiable fandom even among adults) was the wonder and possibility in the world. For everything that was defined in the books, ten more possibilities were hinted at, and there’s so much potential for excitement and adventure within the setting. (Also, Quidditch!)
  5. An Eclipse Phase MMORPG. Eclipse Phase, published by Posthuman Studios, is a tabletop roleplaying game of transhuman conspiracy and horror. It’s set in the future after wars have devastated Earth and (trans)humanity has fled to the stars. One of the most appealing things about the setting is that the technology exists to download one’s consciousness into everything from cloned bodies to battle robots to augmented animals, which suggests a lot of really fascinating gameplay options. The setting itself is also really cool, with a huge range of cultures and civilisations to explore. The game’s been a critical and commercial hit, and I think it’d translate very well to an MMORPG setting — in particular, the cloning and consciousness-transfer mechanics allow you to get around limitations like ‘dying regularly’, which is an obstacle MMO settings always have to justify.

Eclipse Phase, art by Stephan Martiniere

So, that’s my list — how about you? Any other super-awesome-cool MMOs that don’t exist but should?

(P.S. Plug time: Eclipse Phase is an amazing game, and if you have any interest in tabletop RPGs you should totally check it out. It’s licensed under Creative Commons, so you can download legitimate copies of the game and its supplements to try it out, and buy it if you love it. It’s totally awesome.)

  1. A long-standing blogging tradition that doesn’t seem to have migrated to the MMO blogosphere

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16 Responses to “Five nonexistent MMOs I’d love to play”

  1. Random
    September 7, 2012 at 14:09 #

    I’d be definitely behind 1, 2, 4 and 5. All awesome universes that have great MMO potential.

    Superheroes aren’t my thing, so 3 wouldn’t do anything for me.

    • September 7, 2012 at 14:29 #

      That’s fair — and to be honest, Marvel is not *so* different from other modern-day superhero settings that I can’t scratch that itch with other superhero MMOs, to a certain extent.

  2. September 7, 2012 at 14:57 #

    I’d like to see a game using ‘psi’ powers along the lines of the Intervention series by Julian May. I like the idea of a use based skilling system too – the more you use a particular ability, the better you get at it to the detriment of other abilities – rather than choosing a fixed class and set of ability at character creation.

    Perhaps the Gauderian (sp?) gate could be introduced as a portal to another game as either part of the story during the leveling process or as part of the game proper. The one-way nature of the trip could be an issue in the current risk-averse stylings of MMOs these days, but it would be interesting.

    At level cap you get the option to transend your physical form and play a different game entirely. The option then is to essentially create 3 different games/worlds in the one universe and peeps can play in the one they like best.


  3. rori
    September 7, 2012 at 18:13 #

    Not an MMO, but Earthdawn nearly had *the beginnings of* an RPG game around mid-2001.

    The short version is, the company I worked for had a great relationship with Microsoft at the time, and I’d done the legwork for a functional specification document and the competitive analysis doc required to get publisher signoff. Microsoft owned the digital rights for FASA at the time, but a German group had the pen and paper rights for Earthdawn specifically and the finer details were messy enough to need agreement from both parties..

    Microsoft had tentatively said “Yes, interested in seeing more” but the German house said they wouldn’t agree and wanted to develop it themselves…

    which they didn’t…

    Still bitter about it, because I agree, the world is fantastic, and the nature of how the magic system, (and more specifically thread) would contain any player attempting to thwart the overall power/level part of the game. The threading would also give immensely unique side-quests, making re-playability even for the same race/class choices rewarding and different.

    A lot of fantasy RPGS have good, to EPIC backstories, and Earthdawn is no exception, but it’s not something overly unique. I’m not having a shot at it mind you. The depth is staggering, and it’s very fun to play in. I’ve often thought it would be if Bethesda accidentally mixed Oblivion (or Skyrim now) and Fallout 3 into the one game, it’s close to Earthdawn. (Stone era steampunk with ‘shelters’ to survive the dark age of horrors :)

    I really believe that at some point, someone will figure out just how bloody good this universe could be in an RPG (MMO or otherwise) and just how unique threads can make it, to give it a very competitive spot in the “fantasy RPG” market, no matter when it gets introduced.

    So… I have hope. No justification to it. But, hope is hope.

    • September 7, 2012 at 18:54 #

      I remember discussing that func spec with you, actually :)

  4. September 7, 2012 at 18:50 #

    I’d take the Eclipse Phase and the Exalted MMOs. I could live without the Earthdawn one, because I think the “infinite respawns” aspect would significantly detract from the awesome atmosphere of that setting.

    Exalted could neatly sidestep it by simply not letting the characters ever truly “die”, as heroic comebacks from almost certain death would fit right in

    • September 7, 2012 at 19:00 #

      Agreed re Exalted’s deaths mechanic. For Earthdawn, I think the best thing to do would be to borrow LotRO’s “Morale” concept (your ‘life’ pool is actually a measure of your morale, not your physical hit points). It’d fit with the nature of the setting (and the Horrors’ ability to destroy you psychically/mentally, which was always scarier to me than the physical damage they could inflict), and would mean that returning from defeat was a heroic rally, not some kind of credibility-destroying resurrection. But I think I agree that, in general, infinite respawns would dilute the fear of defeat that permeates Earthdawn’s atmosphere. Death just doesn’t have enough consequences in an MMO, other than inconvenience (XP debt, long run-backs, etc) or financial (repairs).

      My concept for an Exalted RPG revolves around playing Dragonbloods, incidentally, since canonically you can justify tens of thousands of Dragonbloods, but no more than a few hundred of any other Exalt type. That would allow Lunars and Solars to be epic-level opponents, too, whereas if you start off as a Solar your abilities at endgame would be reality-destroying.

      • September 7, 2012 at 19:11 #

        Yeah, Dragon Bloods would definitely work better, and lend themselves to nicely to factions with the Houses… And the morale concept you mention (I never played LotRO, so I haven’t seen it first hand) would fit in nicely for the setting. A defeated and retreating Dragon Blood is acceptable. A dead and forever returning one isn’t.

        Eclipse phase would be nice to see as a game that fundamentally embraces the unlimited respawn aspect, and like EVE Online, that fact is shaped in to the story of the world from the ground up. And atmosphere wise, it shares a lot with Earthdawn, in that you can do a lot with the horror aspect, and horror takes on a new twist when death is the least of your worries :)

        • Rori
          September 8, 2012 at 10:44 #

          I was coming back to agree with you on Earthdawn not working as an MMO (but definitely as an RPG) when this thread just -worked- for me. Not just the players losing morale but also the horrors. Defeating them doesn’t kill them, but they do retreat, allowing a small time period for your group/guild to enter the vault and grab a little precious loot…

          When the inevitable expansion packs arrive a similar system that Everquest had of “permanent server” alterations (look up awaking the sleeper for a general concept) and a mass event like they did/do for some WoW expansions, where one or more horrors are permanently dispatched…

          Ohhh that could really work.

          Damnit someone get MM onto this… (points at Elle)

  5. September 8, 2012 at 08:38 #

    I’d be interested in one based on the Harry Dresden series. Modern world, but with magic, vampires, demons, and the like.

    • September 8, 2012 at 10:33 #

      That’d be pretty neat! Unfortunately the relative “failure” of The Secret World (i.e. low sales numbers, though very high customer retention) might well put devs off the genre, since TSW is set in the modern day in a supernaturally-influenced world. Admittedly, Lovecraftian horrors rather than vampires and demons, but still.

  6. SelfDestructPro
    September 30, 2012 at 01:27 #

    I’ve tried to get a Harry Potter MMORPG going multiple times. The problem is just lack of knowledge on my part in game development. But, I’ve got so many ideas for this kind of game dating all the way back to before the release of Chamber of Secrets the book. I just wish I had like tons of money and the permission to start such a project.

    • September 30, 2012 at 11:47 #

      The big problem I have with a Harry Potter MMORPG is the audience. Rowling seems to see the HP series as very much “for kids”, as evidenced by some of her comments about Harry Potter fanfic, and I’m worried that the potential would be squandered on a “for kiddies” MMO, instead of an all-ages game that kids could enjoy too (like WoW, for instance, which has been played by plenty of preteens with world over).

  7. Marianne Stephens (@at_marianne)
    October 7, 2012 at 05:21 #

    hmm… I strongly agree with 2 and 5. I have personal and more general leanings against some of the others.

    1– Exalted is actually the one old WW game I have no experience with. We have the main book and a couple supplements, just no one in the group here is really interested in playing/running it. So I’m going to say pass just because I don’t know anything about the system.

    2– Earthdawn I would play in a heartbeat. I agree the dying thing would be a problem (I like your LOTRO morale comparison above) but I think it would require more bite since it’s a HORROR game. I’m not certain how best to penalize death (and the fact that I’m trying to think of ways to penalize death means it’ll likely not ever get made as penalizing death is a big no-no for understandable reasons) but… yeah. Consequences. Also, Marking. How do you deal with that? Stat drain? Ability loss? The kinds of problems that are caused by being Marked are very tabletop (and roleplay especially) friendly, but I”m uncertain how to make them properly painful in a MMO environment. All that being said, I’d still fork over my $15.month like a good little fangirl regardless.

    3– Marvel is kinda meh for me. There are/have been a good number of superhero/villain games made, I’ve looked at them, went “that’s nice” and moved on. Not my thing at all, alas. :\

    4– Harry Potter is one I *should* love. Looking at my interests and the fact that I’m a complete obsessive fangirl, I should be all over it. I just am uncertain about translating it to an actual MMO. I worry since a lot of the book’s focus is on Hogwarts, you’d just end up with a Japanese-style High School romance type game. Like Persona without the supernatural stuff. Except with supernatural classes instead. :\ I could argue it’s not really different from LOTRO, both are based on books, and the most important bits are the characters in each. But with HP, you’re in a situation where you’re supposed to be fundamentally fine. Not going out and doing the random adventuring you’d do as an adult. It’s a modern society, just… I don’t know.

    5– Eclipse Phase. I agree with your statements 100%. Like Earthdawn, I would play it in a heartbeat. (It’s also easier to translate and wrap my mind around, which is a double bonus)

    • October 7, 2012 at 12:33 #

      On reflection, I agree with your concerns about Earthdawn. I think this might be one of those cases where one has to accept that the adaptation just doesn’t encompass everything from the original — Marking, for instance, being a great example.

      One of the things I’d most love to see in an Earthdawn MMO is the character progression system – ie the way it’s a class-based system but your skill choices drive your class progression instead of the other way around. I really love that (I am not a fan of class-based systems in general, although that dislike is strongest re tabletop games), and I think it’d be a breath of fresh air in the MMO landscape.

      What would your top five MMO choices be? :)

  8. KreigenWylde
    May 1, 2014 at 11:48 #

    Bleach, I think, would make a great MMORPG game. The storylines have expanded so far as to make multiple different types of character classes available, as well as several different types of powers and abilities already formulated. Players could choose to focus on developing their avatar’s skill sets with a Zanpakuto, or forego that skill set entirely and instead focus on Kido or development of Quincey powers. Heck, I no doubt would love to have a character with the powers and abilities of an Arrancar. On top of all that, the fact that there are multiple zones that are also highly established in the lore of the Manga and the TV Series makes for a good transitional option. The world of the living would be a start point, and obviously someplace to return to at higher levels of content. Than you have the Soul Society itself, Hueco Mundo, The Precipice World, among others. I think it would be a ton of fun!

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