So does that mean 38 Studios is attempting to create a world
that’s at least more dynamic than the current static MMOG
worlds that we see today?
“Oh yes, much more dynamic,” Brett responded.
“Things are absolutely influenced by what your character
“Yeah, I mean obviously its harder to do than a static world.
The question you have to ask is, ‘What is the granularity of
dynamicity?’ How granular do you want to go? Are we talking
about the butterfly effect? Will killing off this wolf cause an
imbalance in the general ecosystem so later the trolls will all die
out? Are we getting that crazy? Obviously not, but are there clear
cause and effect things that make it clear that what you do with you
and your crew has meaning in the world? Absolutely. Does that fit in to
a larger story context? Absolutely.”
“Ideally what you want to do is allow the player to create
their own story within the tapestry that he’s laid
out,” Brett continued. “That’s critical.
On the other hand, you can’t have a world like Second Life
where players can do whatever they want. If you don’t have
some sort of structure, you’re not delivering an
Brett and Cody
discussing storytelling in MMOGs.
“Really it’s one of those fundamentals of game
design,” he said. “If you clamp people down too
much, they’ll think they’re playing on a rail. But
if you open it up too much, players can’t find the
entertainment experience in the game. That balance is sort of the magic
of very solid game design.”
“Frankly, there are a lot of interesting parallels in game
design and movie writing,” Brett added. “There are
a ton of games out there that explore that sort of experience. Of
course it’s not easy, but it’s been done in single
player games. Now it just needs to be done on the MMOG side of
By a ton of games, I assumed that Brett was talking about single player
games. As his background is mainly in single player titles (although he
was working on a MMOG game at VR1 Studios), Brett seems perfectly
suited to bringing the single player gameplay to the massively
multiplayer realm. I asked him about this, and what sort of things
he’s brought from single player games to the multiplayer
“I think there’s a lot to learn from the single
player games,” Brett said. “MMOGs are great,
they’re an enjoyable experience and there’s a lot
of value in what they do. However, in many ways it seems like the
community experience has allowed players to overlook the sort of story
experience that’s missing from MMOGs but inherent in a vast
number of single player games. There are a lot of things in non-MMOGs
that are just…fun…and you don’t see a
lot of that in MMOGs. It makes you go, ‘Why?’ There
are a lot of experiences there that are really cool! Clearly
there’s a lot to learn there.”
“I still believe – and this is an embarrassing
statement – I still believe that people will pay a chunk of
money to go have a solid, entertaining experience,” Brett
continued. “Look at movies and when the price of a movie went
up to $10 a ticket. There was a lot of complaining at first, but now
people are more than willing to pay $10 to go see a movie. If you do it
right, people will pay your price because it’s good.
It’s worth the money.”
But there are so many people that believe fantasy MMOGs are dead! The
one portion of the 38 Studios game that we do know about is that the
game is going to be set in a fantasy world. Yet everyone believes that
fantasy games are a dying breed. I posed this concern to Brett, who
responded with the best counter-point I’ve heard on the
“It’s sure too bad what happened to Harry Potter
after the whole Lord of the Rings thing,” Brett said with a
smile. “Definitely quote me on that. Fantasy is sort of
ingrained into our DNA. Star Wars was fantasy! You look closely, and
there are reasonably similar analogs that apply in Asia and vice versa.
There’s just something about fantasy that crosses those
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The 38 Studios
As we wrapped up the interview, I turned the ball over to Brett so he
could close out with whatever thoughts he’d like to express
to the Ten Ton Hammer readers. He did voice his thoughts and offered a
little hint on the content in the upcoming 38 Studios game.
“It’s exciting because we have so many options and
opportunities in front of us,” he said.
“Specifically in the MMOG industry, it’s just not
being done. We want people to step back and just say,
‘Wow.’ We also want to engage the user on a
cerebral level, because they’ll have opportunities to piece
different elements of the story together and start to see some of the
larger story arcs going on within the game, like what’s
occurring with the various races in our world.”
“It really needs to be the next step,” Brett said.
“There will be lots of other companies that continue to make
the MMOG 1.0 type experience, and that’s fine. There are
plenty of people who see value in that. We just see so much more that
can be done in
Thanks again to Brett for sitting down with us and conversing about the
future of MMOGs, and his game in particular. For more information about
38 Studios and their games, make sure you check out the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/344">Ten Ton
Hammer ComicCon coverage!
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