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Long
ago in a galaxy shaped absolutely nothing like a candy bar,
Richard Bartle href="http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm" target="_blank">dissected
the playing habits of typical
MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) players. His analysis concluded that there are
four primary categories players fit into based on the goals they create
for themselves and the means in which they obtain them. As an extension
of this, Bartle also discussed how these four categories –
Achievers, Explorers, Killers and Socialisers – need to
maintain a certain degree of equilibrium from an overall design
standpoint for a game to be successful. In other words, if you tip the
scales too far in one direction, you run the risk of alienating players
from one category, which ultimately creates a lackluster environment
for everyone else.



While many developers attempt to address how upcoming games will appeal
to gamers from each of these categories, that’s not always
the case. By favoring one aspect of gameplay, specific sub-genres begin
to emerge based on which type of gamer an MMOG will most likely appeal
to. These are commonly referred to as niche games, but don’t
let the label fool you. Just because an MMOG is aimed squarely at a
certain type of player, it doesn’t mean it won’t be
an excellent gaming experience.



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Begin
Transmission:




Earthrise,
Global Agenda and Huxley – the Rise of the Sci-Fi Shooter

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Scanning over the eclectic list of sci-fi MMOGs set to release in 2009,
one specific niche stands out from the rest. Upcoming games href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/806"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Earthrise,
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/926"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/53"
target="_blank">Huxley
all aim to bring the sci-fi shooter into the realm of persistent
worlds, each with its own unique take on the genre.


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Earthrise
promises a return to sandbox PvP.

Accessing
data entry: Earthrise:




Earthrise has quickly climbed up my list of most anticipated sci-fi
MMOGs. Somewhere between the stunning visuals, open PvP and in-depth
crafting system the upcoming title by Masthead Studios certainly
grabbed my attention. If you’ve ever been a fan of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/154"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;"> Ultima Online
or href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">EVE,
then chances are style="font-style: italic;">Earthrise
will be right up your alley.



Much like UO and EVE, style="font-style: italic;">Earthrise
will offer href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/42925" target="_blank">a
return to true sandbox PvP.
Crafting will also play a prominent role, with the best items in the
game being created by players. Somewhere in between, players will have
to choose their allies wisely, as the resources necessary to craft the
best items will only be found in specific areas that will no doubt
become a focal point for some truly epic battles. This is a game for
the hardcore, no doubt about it, but I’ve found that some of
the best social experiences in MMOGs are born of a need to bond with
your fellow players to survive.


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Global
Agenda adds more 'spy' to your 'fi'.

Accessing
data entry: Global
Agenda
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With a solid foundation of the Unreal Engine 3 at its core, style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
could very well bridge the gap between FPS multiplayer games and MMOGs.
While Earthrise
offers us a look at a post apocalyptic Earth, style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
takes things in a very different direction. Being dubbed a
“spy-fi” game by Atlanta-based developers Hi-Rez
Studios, it will offer players a setting that’s full of
espionage and interesting tech devices as a solid backdrop for
player-driven conflict.



Though there’s a greater emphasis on PvE thanks to various
factions player agents can align themselves with to complete missions,
the main conflict in style="font-style: italic;">Global Agenda
will ultimately come down to fast-paced PvP against members of rival
agencies. Fluid FPS combat is what the Unreal Engine does best, so if
you’re a fan of the genre but prefer a persistent world where
you can develop a character over a longer period, this game will
certainly be one to watch.


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Huxley's
Battle Zones will provide a more structured PvP experience.

Accessing
data entry: Huxley:




Currently being developed by Webzen, style="font-style: italic;">Huxley
is set in a post apocalyptic future where much of the Earth has been
devastated by storms and floods thanks to the destruction of the Moon
by an unknown source. Players will side with one of two main rival
factions that have emerged in a struggle to obtain increasingly scarce
resources in a series of PvP Battle Zones and underground PvE dungeons.



Huxley
will no doubt appeal to hardcore FPS fans that prefer a bit more
structure to their PvP experience yet still crave aspects of character
advancement. Battle Zone maps will consist of some instantly
recognizable gameplay modes such as deathmatch, team deathmatch and
king of the hill ala control point capture, while the underground
dungeons will pit players against a third NPC faction, and will offer
some more story-driven gameplay. If any of this sounds familiar, it
should, as this type of gameplay is what helped make the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/47"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Guild Wars
franchise a success.



End
Transmission.




Captain’s
Log: Stardate 1190.9




Sci-fi shooters traditionally haven’t fared all that well in
the broader MMOG market. Though href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/215"
target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Planetside
is still up and running thanks in part to SOE’s Station
Access subscription plan, one of the genre’s highest profile
titles, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/tr" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Tabula Rasa,
will be permanently shutting down next month.



That said, I still think style="font-style: italic;">Earthrise,
Global
Agenda
and style="font-style: italic;">Huxley
show a lot of promise, even though each game is clearly aimed at
attracting a more hardcore PvP audience. Only time will tell if
Bartle’s scales have been tipped too far in one direction for
any of them to be successful over a longer period, but in the meantime
I’ll be looking forward to their launches sometime later this
year.



What do you think? Will the hardcore nature of these upcoming sci-fi
shooters ultimately be a boon or bane? Be sure to post your thoughts in
our forums, or you can also href="mailto:[email protected]">contact me
directly.



Until next time, dear readers, this is Captain Sardu signing off!



To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Tabula Rasa Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Sardu 1
Reuben "Sardu" Waters has been writing professionally about the MMOG industry for eight years, and is the current Editor-in-Chief and Director of Development for Ten Ton Hammer.

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