Posted: Mon Sep 21, 2009 11:59 am Post subject: Why make a hunting MMO?
For Monumental, who specialise in making massively multiplayer online games, a hunting MMO was an obvious thing to do, but there are some people who have questions about the format and the platform. The first thing we need to clarify is 'what an MMO really is'? A massively multiplayer online game is capable of supporting hundreds and thousands of players simultaneously in a persistent world, which is hosted on a server that continues to 'live and breathe' even when no one is playing. MMO's enable players from all over the world to compete and cooperate with each other. The term MMO has become a trendy buzz word in the computer games industry and some people have used it inappropriately, which has caused confusion. If a game cannot have over 1000 players playing together in the same world at the same time, it is not an MMO. If a game cannot have more than one person playing in it at the same time and be able to see the other player in the game, it is not even a multiplayer game. If the game is not hosted on a server, it cannot even be classed as online.
There are two main reasons a Hunting MMO would work well; it makes compelling commercial sense and would give the best form of game play experience. Existing PC boxed product games have found the best ways to keep experienced players interested in the game is to have player vs. player competitions online. This is now a standard feature of many hunting games. Deer Hunter 2005 was the first hunting game to do this well and is still the most critically acclaimed by the fans, mainly because of the online experience. This feature has proved to be enduringly popular with dedicated fans, some of which are still making maps for it today, but unless there is a dedicated separate server hosting the games, the format is very limited. An MMO hunting game is the logical progression to this genre. Commercially non MMO PC titles in general seem to be struggling at present and even though the Hunting genre is growing in unit sales every year, most of the growth is in console sales with PC client based games falling. The only format that would work commercially on a PC at the moment is an MMO and Monumental also have the technical skills to push this out on console as well.
As regards gameplay, the hunting genre lends itself well to the core aspects of any successful MMO. Exploration within Hunter's World will be a much richer experience than any current hunting game, much bigger than any map currently found on any temporary server set up for other popular hunting titles and exploring the world will be a compelling experience. Progression in the game can be helped, hindered and measured against other players and will be similar to most fantasy MMORPGs, which in reality are a type of hunting game where you kill creatures, gain rewards and level up. Players like to progress in level and ability in the game. To do this and compare progress with your friends adds to the fun. The MMO format is also the best way to immerse players in the game as the other live players add to the living breathing feel of the world in a way that AI characters could never do.
The persistent online environment will also give a player a level of authenticity. Unlike most hunting games, we will be hunting through all times of day. The animals will behave as they would in real life, during the day and the season. The animal AI within the game will include everything from walking, eating, sleeping, running from danger and dying when shot. We'll also include complexities like rutting behaviours and reaction to predators. As the animals are in a persistent world, any tracks or interaction with the environment will be there for other players to see and use. Non server based games are unable to do this.
With so many people playing in the game, will they get in each others way?
The short answer is no, except for team hunting and a concentration of the population in the more settled areas, you are unlikely to bump into another player when you don't want to. The world will be designed so that we will end up with an appropriate number of players on every server. Players will concentrate around the settled areas, which is a natural occurrence in real life as in:
* Hunters need ammunition and equipment
* They will need to hand in their kills, earn money and improve their skills
* Hunters will need to rest and replenish their Stamina
* Competitions, quests and premium hunts will be offered from the lodges
* Hunters will want to meet people to go on the bigger expeditions
The type of hunting experience offered in the world will naturally relate to the concentration of people and also the level of difficulty. Varmints that are more plentiful and less wary of humans will be found nearer the settled areas. Game hunting that works well with groups like 'bird hunts' will be found further out. The type of hunting that is more solitary and would be adversely affected by other people being nearby will be even further out, far from the civilised areas and in the type of habitat where you would expect to find that type of animal.
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