Monday, February 23, 2009

Mechwarrior meet EVE Online

My time in EVE Online this past week has, if nothing else, increased my desire to see a Mechwarrior Online MMO. In fact EVE has done more than just that, it's shown the light on a classless system that would fit perfectly into my ideal of what a Mechwarrior MMO should be like. If someone were to take EVE Online, and plunk down some development for planet side warfare with infantry and mech units and then melded it all together you'd probably have THE game of the decade.

In EVE you can seize and hold territories, which is exactly what I envision being able to do in Mechwarrior Online. However in EVE seizing territory seems to simply be about gaining access to raw materials. The best raw materials are in "low security" zones, which are the zones most fought over as you can imagine. In Mechwarrior online I'd like to see something a little more integrated. Factions should gain access to more raw resources as they gain more territory, but they should also attain strategic assets along with those territories as one would expect in real world combat. Taking a system that contains a particular foundry that offers access to a superior product with superior craftsmanship should have an impact on the overall war. Bring strategic thinking to MMO warfare and you will create a product that no MMO enthusiast can resist.

In previous writings I had envisioned a Mechwarrior MMO featuring a strong PVP and a strong PVE "end-game", but I think that might be a mistake now. Mechwarrior Online should be about PVP. That PVP should take the focus, as it does in the books, of internecine warfare between the factions and should give players the option to enlist in factional armies or in mercenary outfits.

There should also be a strong crafting and trade system, which I also look to EVE Online for as a model. A vibrant player controlled economy should be the very foundation of the game, from which the PVP and crafting and trade systems spring.

Of course a game of this nature would necessarily require a large gaming population. But what happens if you launch and find yourself with only 250,000 to 350,000 players? Is that enough that bring rea life to the war? In my view Mechwarrior online would also have to include strong NPC AI. The developer of Mechwarrior online should not fall into the same pit all previous PVP-centric MMOs have fallen into. And that is the boredom factor. PVP-centric MMOs are great in the beginning when there are lots of players. But they quickly grow stagnant and boring as players leave. The games were never designed to fill in for real players. Mechwarrior online should account for that. Players should be able to join existing battles being fought between NPCs and should be able to make real contributions to those battles. In short, a player interested in "PVP" should never go for want of it. Even if that "PVP" is actually against NPCs. Make the NPCs smart enough and he or she won't notice or care.