Author’s note: Just like last weekend, I’ll put in links on Sunday evening. The bosses don’t like me surfing the web to much on their dollar ;)
I was reminiscing about my time in Preview Weekend this morning, mentally willing the minutes to tick faster until my work day was done, and got to thinking about a couple of small things I really enjoyed. They’re nothing much but I think that they’re a step in the right direction for MMO gaming as a whole.
The first thing that I thought was really neat was the ability to operate mechanical weapons against your enemies. I’ve touched on my elation regarding the mechanical crossbows in the Dark Elf starting area before, but I also toyed around with a catapult in the Green Skin chapter three zone.
The crossbow and the catapult were different in a couple of marked ways. First, the crossbow featured crosshairs that would lock on a target before it would shoot. They’d begin green and turn red when they were set to kill. I found this to be really neat and reminded me a lot of some of my favorite first person shooters. It’s also something that I’ve never seen in an MMO before. The catapult, on the other hand, reminded me of older Tiger Woods games. The main reason for this is that when you “man” the catapult, a little power meter comes up on the left side of your screen. You also get a small action bar that allows you to shoot it. I was cramped on time, and wasn’t able to really figure out how to work it, but the general appearance was definitely similar to a “swing” bar in a golf game. In practice, I’m sure distinct differences will arise but these preliminary experiences were definitely food for thought.
The other thing that I thought was intriguing was that you (as a goblin) could be launched from a catapult to assault your enemies. I’m not sure if this is something that occurs in more than just the first chapter, but I hope it does. The only thing I wished was that I could have a) aimed myself before launching and b) moved myself in the air. As it is implemented now, you’re on a set launch track without the ability to move at all. It would have been nice to have had a little more choice in how to launch myself. From a game design perspective though, I understand their decision to keep it locked.
Both of these things lead my mind to a place of genre-melding. It’s a place where dragons fight cyborgs and uzi’s are held by hello kitties and cute squirrels. I mean, think about it: if done correctly, in a way fitting with a game’s main genre, mixing in elements from others can add a whole lot to it. I may be behind the times (did DAoC have anything like WAR?) but being able to hop into FPS mode in the middle of a huge battle, behind some big mechanical weaponry is just cool. Think of how that would affect game play if all the sudden being out in the open became a lot more dangerous in world RvR. Or, for example, being able to hop in a catapult and launch myself precisely into a group of the opposing faction, just as the healer is about to keep their tank from dying? Mayhem! Madness! MA- I mean, WAAAGH!
Another thing that would add a whole lot to WAR, and a lot of MMOs actually, would be working physics engines. How much fun would it be to be able to get in your gyrocopter and buzz around the skies with working physics? Loop-de-loops R’ Us! Better than that though would be some form of mechanical land mount to use with this. I’m not too into WoW anymore but when I saw that YouTube video of the motorcycle working with real physics, I couldn’t help but to think of all the places in Azeroth that I’d like to buzz around on and pull some jumps off of.
Genre-melding… oh we could have some fun. Mixing up FPSs and MMOs might be able to work in some cases and even some limited physics could be worked in but, unfortunately, some things would just break the essence of the world. As much as I think I’d have fun blowing through a fantasy lands on a big motorcycle, I’d hate to see the world of Warhammer watered down so much. This isn’t ATV Madness. I’m not big into lore, so I don’t know appropriate motorbikes/cars would actually be, but that’s not what WAR is about and I accept that.
I think all of us have some kind of “dream MMO” in our minds. MMOs draw you in and take part of your life, after all. They become a hobby. Since the course of our hobby is largely out of our control, it only makes sense that we’d dream up features and imagine all the things we would do if we had our way. I think that’s why people love sandbox games so much. For me, WAR is the closest thing I’ve seen to blurring genre lines in an MMO, even if it is in a very limited way. I may have limited modern MMO experience but being fresh to a scene can really allow you to appreciate the small things in games. Even if WAR never goes a step further in this direction, it’s still a step in the right direction.
And hey, we can always imagine. Right?