Playing God

It has been so long I had forgotten how much fun it is to be God.

For years I have been spending my time in online games, MMOs, and as a creative individual it has taken over my thoughts on gaming. Inside I have been designing an MMO of my own… but its never going to work. What I really want in an MMO just can’t happen. Maybe someday someone will figure out a way, but I really doubt it.

But what is it I want?

The personal touch. And what does this have to do with being God? Have you ever tried to seriously design an RPG game and have it service a hundred people? two hundred? a thousand? five thousand? If you have, have you ever taken that step back and looked at what you have done with new eyes? As rich and inviting as the World of Warcraft appears on the surface, if you spend any time there the trappings fall away, and the game is… well… bland. Pretty much all games are. They can be boiled down into a half dozen quest types, and if you pay attention to the game mechanics at all, 99% of all fights are a foregone conclusion, you either know you are going to win or you know you are over your head. Rarely do you really go into the unknown, rarely are you truly surprised at the outcome, and if you are its likely because you don’t really understand as much as you thought, it was your miscalculation, not the game’s.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been pen and paper gaming with some friends. We started doing an old school AD&D (1st edition) campaign, but eventually we converted over to 3.5 because it works better and flows easier, less looking up stuff in tables. Then we started interweaving two campaigns. In the first, we’ve all hit 10th level and things have been getting easier, but I suspect only because the DM has been a little hesitant to throw hard things at us since the behir encounter back when we were level 5. We lost nearly half the party in those tunnels, and unlike MMOs the dead are dead and the players roll up new characters. The second game is going along swimmingly, I think we’re all teetering around level 6, maybe 7, and the real story is beginning to unfold. Both of these games have been far more engaging than any MMO and even any single player RPG. Computer canned responses just feel flat, but a DM who can roll with another one of your crazy schemes… oh yeah.

So back to the God bit… a couple of our group has asked me if I wanted to start running a campaign. And I do. So I’ve been digging out my old notes and pulling together a world I originally created fifteen years or so ago, and filling in the gaps, and expanding. I am molding the world, shaping the societies, and setting up what could be a legendary adventure and hopefully will be. I am God.

Does this mean I’m giving up on MMOs? Not likely, but hey, with my aging PC and my mortgage, I’m probably not going to be playing any of the graphics card busting, memory and processor hogs that are coming down the pike. I’m also not likely to stop thinking about game design… I’m a programmer by trade, so that’ll never change.

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