WorldIV Design Review: Information Sharing

Tachevert took a stab at presenting the core goals for prototypical WorldIV. Since Tache did the work of writing it up, I get the enviable job of playing devil’s advocate. Each day I’ll attempt to provide commentary for one section (or paragraph) of the original. Today I tackle the first paragraph of the second section: Information Sharing.

As always, we appreciate any and all comments from fellow armchair MMORPG designers out there (hell, we’ll even listen to professionals). Your thoughts help to shape our own.

Information Sharing

Players will be able to interact with each other socially. Development of player communities will be essential to core gameplay. WorldIV will provide many familiar web technologies within the game, to promote player interaction and to limit the importance of exiting the game world to access vital informational resources; part of character development will be the growth of access to email, online auctions, discussion forums, wikis, weblogs, and any other such familiar technology that can be well-employed within the constructs of a cyberspace game to facilitate interaction and information sharing. Additionally, where appropriate, players will also be able to access these facilities when not in-game, via the Web.

The concept of integrating some of the usual web technologies directly into the game world is a brilliant one (whether original to WorldIV or not). Promoting and easing communication is key to promoting the growth of vibrant player communities. Out-of-game access can only increase the stickiness. No longer do you have to forgo involvement in your virtual world while at work. 😉

Such facilities might also improve playability for the casual player. For those with limited time, there are occasions when they’d like to access game information (or their friends) when they simply cannot sit and play for an extended session.

In a subsequent section of the design summary, Tachevert describes the ‘offline’ mode for play (where characters continue simple pre-established actions. Communication tools accessible both ingame and out might also lay the ground work for multiple interfaces with which to play the game. Example: While you are offline, your character harvests. Wondering how they’re making out? Use an IM client or web-browser to check on their status, and perhaps alter their activities.

Options for unattended play or alternate interfaces may further improve playability for casual gamers. There are no MMORPG’s for the casual player who wants once again to be addicted to an immersive virtual world without being chained to their desk. I’m one such player with limited time (family, work, life) but with the desire to play and be immersed.

As devil’s advocate, I should probably raise at least one concern. Making a wiki (and email, and calendaring, etc) available via an ingame interface sounds like a lot of work. And if we expect it to handle anything other than text and simple formatting, it may be beyond our technical means. I was once told, “If you only aim for the horizon, you’ll end up pissing on your own shoes.” Nonetheless, we must be careful not to aim too high, lest we catch some spray in the face.

I’m reminded of a post by AFK gamer, who recounts the tell-hell of organizing raid night. Tell-hell is a real problem: it annoys community leadership; it consumes time that could be otherwise spent playing (and enjoying); and ignored tells leave community members feeling cut-off.

Rather than dive right into integrating a Wiki, we might want to consider focusing on solving a small and specific problem with a tool accessible both ingame and out.

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