Ok so Bioschock has been out a week or so and from all accounts (including me) it is an outstanding game, providing you are into fps games. Now as mmo players why do we care about fps ? … good question … Quite simply to see what makes a great game and what parts can we incorporate into designing mmo’s to give it that single player expereince in a multiplayer world …
What i dont want to do is review Bioshock, that has been done to death by better people than me. What I want to look at some of the more aesthetic sides of the game … you know how do they achieve those wow moments, the environment etc … can they be incorporated into a mmo
So I picked a few things from a very large list of things that I would like to see, or if i was to be let loose and design a mmo that I would take from Bioshock and incorporate into an mmo.
An original environment … cant tell you how important this has become to me. The current fair of fantasy has been done to death in mmo’s. The overall environment and the appearence of Rapture is fresh and and yet familiar. The whole concept immediatly pulls you in and the little details just add to the ambience. With clever use of cut scenes and in game movies develops the story as you experience Rapture and helps build on an original concept that you ‘feel’ part off ….
Imagine taking the free download preview of Bioshock and that being you tutorial mission for a mmo. You create your character and bang you are straight into the environment in a very memorable way. The story background unfolds as you progress through the ‘zone’ conecting you to your avatar, to the environment and you feeling and knowing your beginging place in the world ….. would be priceless experience.
As i have said before the first 2 hours of game play in a mmo is the most important to me. If it sucks me in, gives me a reason to want to see beyong the first tutorial zone and understand a bit of the story and myplace in the world then we have a winner. Bioshock does this in a spectacular way … and I think mmo designers could learn a lot from the experience.
Speaking of the environments and ambience lets look at the level design of Bioshock. Have you ever gone into a dungeon in say eq2 that is infested with undead and just thought ok wheres the ambience, the sitting on the edge of my couch not wanting to look around the corner in case something is going to make you jump experience.
Just as I thought, not a single time in my playing of mmo’s have I felt that ‘oh crap’, ‘er this is serious tense’ experience.
Yes I know this is not something exlusive to Bioshock but it is compleatly lacking in mmo’s. I put it down to clever level design, the way they put together claustrophic feelings levels, the amount of space you can see at anyone time, the lighting or lack thereof.
If I were desinging Strangelands this is something I would make sure we hit on every level (excuse the pun). The more the person playing the game feels what the avatar is seeing connects you to the game in a very personal way.
This is lacking in the mmo world. The ability to connect you to the game on a personal level. This type of connection really opens up a game to be thrilling, exciting and not just a walk in kill the mobs and walk out. Designers take note …
Anyway before I end up writing a small novel I will brake here. There is plenty more to come in regards to this topic and I will post it up later this week or weekend.
As per usual share your thoughts and ideas … have fun