Sorry about the brief hiatus: RL got busy there for a bit.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, as I was scanning my shelves looking for my original 5 choices, I came across a bunch of other settings and concepts that also sparked my interest, such that I had trouble sticking to my original 5. I figured I’d just post a brief blurb about each, give them a small bit of exposure, and explain in each case why it didn’t make my original list.
Espionage: Top Secret/James Bond 007
Synopsis: Secret agents, high tech gadgets, exotic locales, glamour, intrigue… what’s not to like (besides the occasional death trap)?
Challenges: While there is plenty of action, gunfights and car chases and the like, to be true to the genre, there really should be some mystery and suspense, stealth and deception as well… not something that has been regularly done well in the MMO genre to date.
Reason for exclusion: Already in the works. The Agency looks to be an attempt at implementing this genre (crosses fingers).
Pulp Fiction: Air Wars
Synopsis: one of the romantic visions of the pulp fiction (1920s-30s) era was the concept of a future world/alternate reality where aircraft was nearly as common as automobiles, and heroes and villains, flying aces all, regularly took to the skies to battle for supremacy. There is a piracy angle here, too, that adds a particular spice.
Challenges: might be a bit thin for a full-on MMO, although there is quite a bit of backstory to the Crimson Skies universe in particular that might be sufficient. Made a decent non-MMO game, obviously.
Reason for exclusion: licensing issues; been done as a computer game, tho not an MMO; maybe not quite deep enough for an MMO… too many “yeah, but” provisos. Might work better as an angle included in a larger setting, such as mentioned re: Space:1889, or as part of a full-on Pulp Fiction setting, bringing everything from “The Untouchables” to “Indiana Jones” into one big melting pot.
Synopsis: Travel through time (and even to alternate realities), fighting the forces of evil and saving the day, usually literally. The specifics of time travel mechanics (timecycles, time gates/portals, etc) vary depending upon the source material, as do the problems and implications of paradox (killing one of your grandparents before your parent is conceived, and other minor difficulties).
Challenges: if there is a type of game that should be instanced, this is it. You potentially need resources for dozens of different ages and settings, from prehistoric to Ancient Greece to American Civil War to terraformed alien worlds. Good luck with the budget. Oh yeah… and when the players screw up at the dawn of time, what happens to the timeline? Does everyone instantly become an super-intelligent levitating trilobyte instead? (heh, sounds kinda fun, actually…)
Reason for Exclusion: sheer complexity. To do it the way I’d want to do it would take the entire human race working until the heat-death of the universe to complete: even I couldn’t ignore the dictates of realism to that extent…
Synopsis: Well, Doctor Who is time travel, yes, but it’s a full-fledged setting as well. Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, Gallifrey and the Time Lords… the name conjures a lore and legendry of it’s own. And there are many people, of several generations, who would love to dive in head first…
Challenges: the usual given a beloved IP. Everyone would want to travel with the Doctor. I know the interior of a Tardis, being a mathematical construct, could be as large as desired, but still… not really workable.
Reason for Exclusion: no real overarching reason, just didn’t make the top 5. Had I arbitrarily chosen to do 6, instead…
Dark Space (alternate fantasy)
Synopsis: This one is gonna take some explaining. Imagine a space opera setting where high tech “hardtech” has been outlawed, and magic (usually) works. Multiple planets in a galactic alliance, ruled by a powerful anti-hardtech Church, magical starships of various designs used to travel between systems. Recently, a new form of biotech grafting (“softtech”) has been developed: various symbiotic lifeforms to augment or even replace body parts and grant augmented abilities. Even more recently, a mysterious dark force has begun eating away at the foundations of society, important people have gone missing, others have begun acting strangely, and rumors of an inimical alien force have begun to percolate in the depths of the galactic slums…
Challenges: same as what makes it interesting: it’s _very_ different.
Reason for exclusion: possibly just a bit too outre. A space opera/high fantasy/cyberpunk/Cthulhu horror combination: not really sure whether that falls under “peanut butter/chocolate” or “dill pickles/maple nut ice cream”.
Synopsis: Where Man Meets Magic And Machine. Magic and Cyberpunk. Given my probable readership, I don’t imagine I really need to say more.
Challenges: balancing the cyber and the sorcery, and getting the dystopian future setting right.
Reason for Exclusion: been done (recently) as a computer game, tho not an MMO; everyone else would probably mention it on their own lists. It would have made a slightly larger list besides the above, however.
Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champions setting
Synopsis: Classic fantasy/sci-fi fiction. Eternal Champions are superheroes that awaken occasionally across the vast continuum of time and space to maintain the balance between Law and Chaos. Hawkmoon and the Runestaff fought on behalf of Law in a chaotic 54th Century post-cataclysm Earth, Elric and Stormbringer fought on behalf of Chaos in a fantasy world dominated by Law, and so on.
(And if I ever find out who borrowed my Elric game box without returning it, a slow death awaits. Involving sporks. Or maybe foons. Just sayin’…)
Challenges: Same as any other strong, beloved IP. Not everyone can travel with Elric or Hawkmoon, or wield the cosmic artifact of the age.
Reason for Exclusion: only old fogies like me probably even remember this IP. Another that would have made a larger list…
All Done? Heh, not by a long shot. There’s a whole bunch more… tune in tomorrow for part 2…