Saturday, March 03, 2007

Looking Ahead with MMORPGs

As much as I am immersed in World of Warcraft, I realize there'll be a time I'll have to move on. I'll hop on my horse (or rather, ram) and trot off into the sunset, headed for greener pastures filled with new challenges and feats. In my wake, I leave Azeroth behind.

While this surely isn't happening any time soon, certain games are stacking up to be solid competitors for the attention of the millions-large MMORPG-playing population.

One game that's recently grabbed my attention is Darkfall Online- a dynamic MMORPG offering a new take on the MMO experience. Gone are the limits of "Skill/Weapon/Armor Requirements", "Character Classes", and other developer-instated boundaries. This game's world is a palette, and its players are the painters.

Not to mention, you won't be fighting by conventional MMO methods (most games require button-mashing to do special attacks/combos)- you'll be using first-person aiming and firing. This game boasts, in short, letting the skilled and inventive strive.

On paper, Darkfall Online sounds fantastic. Any game that gives players ultimate control over their environment is destined for success. However, implementing and maintaining this system- not to mention keeping malicious players from exploiting it- should be a development process in itself. Ensuring that such a multi-faceted game remains balanced and fun on all levels will require massive tweaks and quality assurance teams, which may not be feasible for a start-up MMO company.

I've seen this MMO before, albeit in less splendor, a few months back on Most people have written off this MMO as vaporware- software that's in perpetual development and destined to postpone itself into nonexistence. However, with this resurgence of media, perhaps there's hope for Darkfall Online yet.

As much as I like World of Warcraft and hope to see it strive, I think it's due time for some serious competition. Vanguard, Warhammer, and others are making WoW work harder for its subscribers, but as of yet, nothing can topple Blizzard's behemoth. Will Darkfall Online be the David to Blizzard's Goliath?

The next hit MMO is inevitable. The only question is... which?

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