38 Studios New Vision of MMO’s

Just read on Massively that a new privately funded game developer called 38 Studios will have both Todd McFarlane and R.A. Salvatore as artistic directors in the company. Even more so, it looks like their MMO fantasy world will have quite a different gameplay approach to it compared to the typical MMO games of today (like World of Warcraft) as noted in this Gamasutra interview.

This all seems very character focused both from your side, and with Todd McFarlane creating things for the universe as well, it sounds at least very character driven. Is that true?

RS: No, I wouldn’t say that. I would say that it’s going to be character focused in the manner that it’s going to be focused on the character you create, but you want to have iconic characters. You want to have people in the world that you know, or you get to know, and can say “hey cool, I just read about this guy”, or whatever, “and here he is!”

I’ve been playing MMO’s for years, I love them, and the one thing I know as a player is that I don’t want anyone to hold my hand and walk me through something. I want to write my own books with my character. I would never – as a dungeon master and as now a game designer – I would never want to take that away from the player.

BC: If anything I’d say it’s maybe event-focused. In terms of the larger world what’s important to the –

RS: I’ll just cut you right off here, he’s getting into areas we really don’t want to discuss. [laughs]

This sounds really really intriguing. When he slipped "event-focused", I immediately thought of an open storyline similar to Privateer versus a linear storyline that most MMO use to day (as you progress through your character levels). However for this to work, you need a game that doesn’t limit your movement based upon your character level (similar to how quests in WoW only show to those of appropriate level). Will this new MMO fantasy game be without levels? Not sure but the following almost hints at it.

There’s nothing out there that really has this story overlay that keeps sucking you further and further through the experience, that presents this larger entertainment experience that keeps you engaged. You still have the other two: you still go wanna hook up with your friends, you’re still going to grind a little bit – although, there won’t be grinding in ours – but the larger pieces present an entertainment experience, with the story that unfolds as you interact with it. You’re going to see changes that impact the story, you’re going to see the story in a larger scope of what’s going on in the world, so you have context to get what you’re doing. Nobody’s doing that. It’s sort of the difference between basic 3D shooters, and say, Half-Life 2.

"Although, there won’t be grinding in ours…" Interesting indeed. Without a doubt though, it seems like they will create this world as a dynamic ever changing one. Even more so, it appears they will cross market a variety of things to coincide with the ongoing changing storyline within the game (i.e. new fantasy novels that provide detailed stories and backgrounds on major personas within the game). Pretty cool indeed!