Most devs don’t get it and try to design something “better” (story, UI, combat mechanics) and then they are surprised when it either turns out crap or it is indeed better and WoW puts it into the next patch.
Let me now offer another idea of novel game system: links.
- The player has his own “land” (island, province, planet, floating rock, dungeon, whatever). He harvests its resources for character progression, consumables and building his “base”.
- All lands have all tier 1 resources allowing tier 1 gear, consumables and buildings. But not all tier 2 are found and only one type of tier 3 resource is in the land, while tier 2 items and buildings need many and tier 3 need all resources. (for simplicity I only use 3 tiers, there can be more)
- Therefore the player must either trade with other players whose land has their resource or go there and take it by force.
- Every day N “links” (portals, boats, flying eagles, caravan routes, wormholes) appear in the land. These are the only way to enter the realm of other player.
- If the players in the randomly connected lands like each other, they can stabilize the link, making it permanent and will no longer be randomized. However the players have less than N stabilizers, so they can’t block all links, there will always be random links that can connect to possibly hostile players.
Please note that I told nothing about what kind of game it would be. This mechanic can be put to traditional MMO where player has an avatar, an FPS, or an RTS where the player controls army of minions. All I was talking about is the mechanic of encountering other player, friend or foe.
What would be the main advantages of this game?
- As the links are random, there is no way for an RMT-er to connect to a customer, so RMT will be next to non-existent, despite trading resources is a fundamental part of the game.
- Allows PvP which is the best way to create a challenging and never-boring game without allowing extensive griefing. The link to a griefer will be gone by tomorrow and you’ll likely never see him again.
- Emphasize interaction between strangers without enforcing it. You have to talk to the random guy linked to you in order to either randomly trade or even to form a stabilized link.
The main disadvantage of course would be disallowing real life friends to play together (besides some cooperative mode where they control characters of the same realm, of course without getting more resources). There couldn’t be guilds for the same reason. This game wouldn’t be for the average WoW player and that’s the point. WoW (or any game I can think of) will not jump on you to take your market share.