Garrett Fuller, Industry Relations

The MMO genre has grown drastically in the last four years. In the
early part of this decade we saw games like style="font-style: italic;">Everquest and style="font-style: italic;">Dark Age of Camelot
set the groundwork for World
of Warcraft
. By 2005 Blizzard had won the race and became
the dominant game on the market. Even four years later, WoW continues
to have a huge impact on our world as gamers. So where is MMO game
design going after this giant explosion of popularity?

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Age of Conan looks to
revolutionize MMOG combat.

2008 offers us some great options as MMO players to look forward too. style="font-style: italic;">Age of Conan being
the game of the spring and summer season will challenge players with
strong content, personalized story telling, and a unique combat system
that really give the players more to do than just point and click. AoC
has expanded the genre by bringing in NPC cuts scenes for players to
enjoy as well as having more combat options than just your regular hot
bar. With Conan you have to pick where to swing your sword or cast your
spell. This type of active combat makes the game move faster or at
least feel like it is moving faster.  

Dungeons &
Dragons Online
had a very active combat system as well.
Constantly having to catch moving targets and allowing players to move
out of attacks gave the player a dynamic role in fighting. These steps
in combat speed and player activity are taking us away form the
standard tool bar that has a list of skills we can use to fight our
opponents. Warhammer
has a similar system by adding in their Moral
Abilities, which players must build up before they can use. Again we
are seeing the standard skills grow into more active, calculated,
attacks and spells. This slow but sure move to more complex player
options in MMOs will lead us down the path of more dynamic player side

The social aspect of MMOs is the largest factor that these games offer.
Guilds have taken on a life of their own and now collectively travel
from one game to the next. Remember your five person RPG group years
ago to meet and play D&D, well now you have groups with
hundreds if not thousands of members. style="font-style: italic;">EVE Online has seen
their Corporation system grow into an all out warfare in space. The
Corporations themselves have grown into powerful influencers on EVE and
really add to the game’s overall design. With Web 2.0 in full
effect and social networks growing more and more online, will we see
even more social factors coming into MMOs? Will players be rewarded for
being the “most popular orc” in their tribe? Time
will tell.  

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Kid based games like
Mabinogi hope to target tweens and their parents.

The other factor that will impact MMO design heavily is the growing
number of games geared toward children. style="font-style: italic;">Club Penguin, style="font-style: italic;">Webkinz, and style="font-style: italic;">ToonTown all target
a very young age bracket.
, Mabinogi,
and a ton of other games target the tweens, so what will we have in
five years? It looks like a pretty well educated player base looking
for new challenges. Games are made to challenge the players and
hopefully make them grow. If this theory holds true then new
generations of game players are growing before our eyes. Not only that,
but with the huge popularity of the console market, almost every
teenager in the U.S. is playing video games. How will this affect their
choices as adults? How will it impact their children? Video games are
becoming as normal as sports to most children and families, with social
networks growing even more, who knows family night in the future may
consist of a boss raid.  

These are just a few points to think about with where video games and
MMOs in particular are heading over the next few years. If the rumors
are true and the big publishers continue to expand MMOs then there are
some very big games and new play styles coming to the market in 2009
and 2010. (Bioware…cough, cough, 38 Studios, cough, Red 5
Studios, ahem…) These companies are all expected to release
new games in the next two years. Hopefully they will push the limit on
game play and drive players into a new fun world of interactive games
where the days of target and click are over, and social networks will
continue to expand.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016