I have bandied about my reservations on KOTOR MMO if it would be a subscription based platform, and took time to praise how it could be wonderful on the RMT platform, but actually haven’t discussed the game itself. How could I? There isn’t much known, afterall, and I refuse to get into speculation such as the already thousands of posts on official forums, as well as the several fansites already popping up. The speculation phase builds up the unrealistic expectations of the fan base before release, impending dissappointment ensues.
I have wholly stepped away from the MMO space for now, and have been testing different waters. The post release mega-game discount is just too hard to ignore. Bioshock for $20.00, and I just picked up Mass Effect for $30 on Steam. (Steam is now carrying a bunch of EA titles – yay!)
I am now on my third playthrough of Mass Effect, and my experiences have given me hope on what KOTOR MMO could indeed be – of course, keeping my mind in line with my first paragraph – I am just going to list what I like about Mass Effect and how the game design could mold nicely in the MMO sphere. After the break.
1) Decisions matter: This gives the game a replayability on it’s own. The first time I was my atypical super nice guy, using my charm and wit (along with my assault rifle) to restore order to the Universe. It was a great storyline, and all the asides with what verbal and moral choices I made, along with the companion characters that went along with me adding their own advice, created a great first and second time through. While the “quests” were the same the second time through, the way I decided to take, complete, and react to them were MY choices. First time I let the smuggler live. Second time, being the renegade, I figured the universe would be better off if I shot him in the head. Either way, I would never see him again, but on what terms was mine alone.
To put that into MMO-land, why not cater the experience so that by the time you are on your second or third alt, the quests aren’t quite the same? How about opening up separate and side quest lines depending on your choices in the first quest? Everyone would still get the same amount of content, it would just be different for different people.
2) Achievements have real game consequences: Another reason why I am playing through it again – besides seeing the different choices I make have an impact, and curious of the outcome, is that the ME Achievement system has a sexy side feature – it impacts future characters.
For example, If I complete the “Kill 150 enemies with the shotgun” achievement, it unlocks the shotgun skill for any of my future characters off the bat – whether their class allows it. The shotgun skill is unlocked down the Pistol path, so now I can skip putting those points in Pistols to begin with. Unlocking other achievements gives other great bonuses – hit level 50? All EXP gains go up by 10% – for any existing, or new character. What a great way to lessen the grind if you start a new.
To put that into MMO land, it makes creating new characters and going through boring old content much more manageable, and also gives even greater character customization options.
3) You can replay the campaign using the same character: I really like this feature – You start off a fresh campaign with all the equipment and skill points you had from when you finished it – and the game scales the encounters (and “loot” drops) to your level. Fun, Fun, Fun.
MMO-Perspective – of course, it would be great to do deadmines as a level 80. Why not make it possible?
4) Adult choices in an adult game: Much was made about alien sex in the media, (which was harmless), but as you play through you get (and are forced to at some points) make adult, and important decisions. Have a relationship with a crew mate, or focus on the task at hand? Kill the crime lord, arrest him, or set him free to make ammends? Allow the alien to make penance with the colony she was harrassing by helping them rebuild, or seek vengeance? WHAT? I can only save one of my two NPC friends – the gunner, or the biotic? Well, Kaiden has been there with me from day one and has pulled me out of many jams – but Ash is my love interest. Kaiden is higher rank – what to do?
So many moves in the game are important, impactful choices. As an adult I appreciate being able to make them, and the devs did a great job of emotional ties so my changes effected my mood and outlook on the game. Kudos.
In the MMO-pool, you think it wouldn’t be too hard to make these choices. People would just have to get used to having their actions have a level of meaning.
Mass Effect started off a bit slow for me, and I think the best way to describe the game would be like watching a movie – where you control the personality and actions of the main character. The longer I played it, the harder it was to put down. Give it a shot if you haven’t already, it is probably in the $20 bin by now.
To wrap this up – I hope they use the above tools in the KOTOR MMO. It would be a great way to make the game worth playing – and replaying. The tools above could be ported into any current MMO and have one, major, drastic impact that are missing from all MMO’s – replayability. You know the Alt you just created will go through the exact same steps as your Main. I have said it before, and will say it again – meaningful choices in an MMO space will be the first true innovation in the sphere since UO – IF any game developer is strong enough to implement it.