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Fantasy Trumps Sci-Fi For MMOs

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the go-play-eve-online dept.


simoniker writes "Mythic's Mark Jacobs, whose MMO company is being acquired by EA, has commented in detail on why fantasy MMOs sell better as part of an extended interview. He suggests of MMOs: 'Fantasy is easier than sci-fi. Want to know why? It's simple. A gun. What's a gun? A gun is impersonal. A gun can shoot somebody from across the room... Part of the challenge we found with Imperator is how do you make a combat system based on lasers and energy weapons, compelling to an RPG audience. The other challenge with a sci-fi game is that fantasy is very well defined in our minds ... I also think there's something I can't explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that's not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that's not as good online. And I'm not sure why that is.' Suggestions?"

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Other weapons (2, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798543)

So then use Klingon pain sticks or something. Sci-Fi doesn't have to be with a gun. Or limit the range of the gun.

Re:Other weapons (4, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798758)

That's exactly why sci-fi isn't doing very well as an RPG. Most efforts to make sci-fi based on hand-to-hand combat come across as very contrived. It works sometimes for movies and books (see Dune for a classic) but in takes a great deal of originality to explain how people can travel from star-to-star but still have to wack eachother with sticks in combat.

And in any case, by the time you've reduced it to hand-to-hand combat you practically have fantasy anyway.

I think one reason that fantasy does better is that it's easier. The constraints on believability are much, much more lax for fantasy. Magic isn't supposed to really make sense. You don't really tend to say "fireball? in this humidity? yeah right!" On the other hand with sci-fi you allways have crowds of people asking "how does artifiial gravity really work?" and "You're saying I have a fighter ship than can travel hundreds or thousands of miles an hour, spin on a time, and I'm not reduced to mush inside the cockpit, how?"

Sci-fi involves some level of scientific rigor. If you don't have to explain anything (or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about fantasy). Sci-fi demands some exercise in explanation. Fantasy does not. This means fantasy is easier.


correction: (3, Insightful)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798871)

or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about fantasy

should be

or if you don't bother to even try) than sci-fi itself becomes fantasy (that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about sci-fi

Re:correction: (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799206)

Thank you, that was bugging me.

Re:Other weapons (0, Redundant)

prichardson (603676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799031)

"that's why Star Wars is considered fantasy by most people that care about fantasy"

I really think it's considered fantasy by most people who care about _Sci-Fi_.

Re:Other weapons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15799091)

What a startling revelation...and only 15 minutes after he corrected himself.
I hope you get the 'Insightful' moderation you deserve.

Why? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799127)

Don't a lot of the fantasy genre still have thing like projectile-casting spells (fireballs, etc) or various types of bows, spears, or other manual projectile launchers. How is this different from guns or laser beams in terms of implementation? In the end, many of the projected sci-fi technology (time distortion fields, transmogrifiers, etc) is still just a fantastic as things in fantasy worlds having hobbits and orcs.

Re:Other weapons (4, Interesting)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799130)

Fantasy's a more romantic setting. It's a simpler, nicer looking world, no electricity, no power stations, no concrete jungles, no stock markets, no traffic.

We're surrounded by so much technology nowadays that immersing yourself for eight hours in even more technology in a sci-fi Mmorp seems completely overbearing, whereas a technology-free world is like an escape.

Re:Other weapons (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799149)

Perhaps they should have hired a japanese writer then, when an anime is SciFi you can be damn sure that the majority of the combat is either with swords or devices that rely on the power of their owner, guns are rarely used and never "the great equalizer" people call them in real life. Come on, in a scifi environment you could replace people's arms with plasma cannons and there you have your fireballs. Or you could have them genetically modified to be able to shoot poison from their mouth. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", remember?

We don't even expect much different gameplay, all we want is a game that doesn't put us into a quasi-medieval scenario. Star Wars is fantasy but it's a refreshing change from the usual swords, magic, dragons and orcs you get in 97% of all fantasy settings. Same with WW2 shooters vs. Prey, it's not about gameplay as much as it is about us being sick and tired of shooting Nazis in different implementations of the same few battles.

Re:Other weapons (3, Insightful)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799441)

Star Wars is fantasy but it's a refreshing change from the usual swords, magic, dragons and orcs you get in 97% of all fantasy settings
Instead you get Lightsabers, The Force, Rancors, and Stormtroopers. ;)

Re:Other weapons (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799519)

Don't forget the Ewoks!

Re:Other weapons (4, Insightful)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799173)

There is one more great big difference between the two type of stories. Fantasy plots generally are limited in their geography. Even if you did know about the far away land, getting there is prohibitive, and the stars are simply unthinkable. Sci-Fi plots almost universally have expanded to multiple planet scenarios up to the point of having so much to explore that no one could possibly hope to even see it all on film, much less in person. If I were a game developer, I'd feel much more comfortable producing, and even coding a world that has reasonable and well defined borders and limits.

Re:Other weapons (1)

Kouroth (911586) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799556)

Not all sci-fi has to be done on different planets. There are plenty of great stories or ideas that don't even involve faster than light travel that would be fantastically interesting to explore. In fact you can even incorporate other elements into sci-fi that are traditionally considered fantasy. I've always loved the idea of the old west (US) done sci-fi. There are plenty of great ways to make a game feel sci-fi but still carry elements of fantasy or even real life. Heck, guns could be outlawed or some social reason they aren't around. Just look at AO (Anarchy Online). That game was quite successful for some time. Heck I played it for years. Granted it wasn't completely sci-fi but it was still fun. I think there is an untapped opportunity for sci-fi in MMORPGs. Mark Jacobs is right to some degree; fantasy will most likely always be a better seller just because of its familiarity. Sci-fi does have its place though. While some people would criticize sci-fi games that were scientifically inaccurate that doesn't make them pointless or even unpopular. AO was never huge but it is still around. Neocron pushed the PvP aspect too much to appeal to me but others seem to have enjoyed it a lot. I think with some tweaking and more innovation Neocron could have been outstanding. In the end sci-fi has its place, it just needs to have the right feel and enough believability for those science critics sigh and roll their eyes but still play.

Re:Other weapons (5, Insightful)

SpecTheIntro (951219) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799535)

Sci-fi demands some exercise in explanation. Fantasy does not. This means fantasy is easier.

Perhaps, but I would say advanced particle physics and quantum mechanics are difficult enough sciences that most people will accept any explanation given at face value, which essentially makes the distinction somewhat meaningless.

I would say the real reason why sci-fi is more difficult to pull off than fantasy is because science fiction removes the human element altogether. The driving force behind any MMO is to make your avatar more powerful. But in a true sci-fi world, individual people become powerful through the tools they use and the things they own, and not through personal growth. A laser shot from a ship piloted by a level 1 captain shouldn't do any more damage than one shot from the same ship piloted by a level 20 captain--so clearly the traditional method of "leveling" would need significant tweaking. This is akin to the same "explanation" you quoted earlier, but I'd rather label it as "internal consistency." A sci-fi world could not be internally consistent while operating under the same basic system as, say, WoW. This doesn't make it more difficult than a fantasy MMO, it just requires a different take on it--and we all know how successful video game companies are at breaking free of traditional formulae.

Re:Other weapons (1)

boron boy (858013) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799555)

It's called sci-fi. Short for science fiction. I abhor the modern trend of basing sci-fi on reality. The current crop of sci-fi authors all have degrees in physics and get too bogged down in the details. I don't care what kind of engine the ship uses to go faster than light, the fact that it does is good enough for me.

Give me the old-school Jules Vern or H.G. Wells any day.

Re:Other weapons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15799424)

I think that whole statement is bunk.

The main reason you see sci-fi mmo games not doing well is because they pretty much all suck, not as many have been made, they have not
gone through as many iterations as fantasy mmos. look how long it took to finally make a decent fantasy mmo game. (by decent i mean on a large scale to a very large audience).

Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with it (4, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798547)

Maybe people don't want to play in sci-fi games because they're tired of all the technology in their real life? Computer problems, phones, pagers, emails, IMs, ads on TV and radio... it all adds up without realizing it. People play games to take a break from real life. Do you think they'll play in a game with even more technology, or a game with stuff they'll never have, such as magic, monsters, etc?

Re:Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with it (2, Interesting)

ggKimmieGal (982958) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798757)

I absolutely agree with you. There's just something about imagining yourself in a world that could never be. The thing with sci-fi is, there's the potential that the world will one day be similar to the game. Maybe not as violent or dramatic, but it might be just like that. Where as with fantasy, that's a place that is totally imaginary. People like to imagine. That's why we do so when we're children.

Re:Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with it (2, Insightful)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799525)

I would have thought that if people wanted to escape technology, they would perhaps go to a park, read a book, pen-and-paper RP, do one of those sport things, or the like. Not play a video game using technology.

However, this is Slashdot, after all.

hey now... (5, Funny)

smaerd (954708) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798550)

...don't be so harsh. Anarchy Online did...
...poorly. Ok. Bad example.

Star Wars: Galaxies....

Earth and Beyond....

Eve is awesome! Hell, I'm learning a new skill in that game right now.

Re:hey now... (1)

Steepe (114037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798714)

I like anarchy online. Play it quite a bit. not a buttload of cash outlay like some of the others, and not the glut of sit and wait for 3 days camping this mob before you can go anywhere else or do any thing else.

I Fvcking hated that about EQ and WOW.

Re:hey now... (1)

smaerd (954708) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798900)

I've played AO and enjoyed it. I didn't say it was a bad game. I simply said it didn't do well financially. Of course I ended my post with "Eve is awesome!" so I can see where I crossed my signals.

Re:hey now... (1)

Steepe (114037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799435)

LOL NP. I hope they do well enough financially to keep the game going.

It does have a mix of guns and swords, which is pretty cool. and cool high techy bows and of course alien equipment.

Re:hey now... (1)

funkybluewombat (756750) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798969)

I'm playing Eve as well, but if it weren't for my old SG mates moving to Eve from City of Heros, don't know if I'd have stuck with it for very long. The learning curve is steep, and it takes alot of time and money before you can do much more than mine or run those mind-numbing courier missions. Until then, you're gank fodder.

Re:hey now... (1)

Sqweegee (968985) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799074)

Actually Anarchy Online still turns a profit, even if a good chunk of that is through in-game advertising to those on free accounts (AKA: Froobs)

I still play it a lot, and even though it thoroughly mixes fantasy and sci-fi it pulls it off pretty well IMO.

Re:hey now... (1)

Jorack (991421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799437)

Star Wars Galaxies was pretty awful. I played it for a while and then realized it was retarded. Then I played WoW and I loved it. Even got to 60. In hindsight, they were both pretty retarded. The amount of time I've spent sitting in front of a screen and doing a premeditated sequence of attacks is simply mind numbing. Grinding for hours is boring. However, the PvP aspect of WoW is great, not to mention it's more socially acceptable. Take for example the success of Lord of the Rings in recent times. Following this trend, where's the Pirate MMORPG? That'd be a cash cow.

Re:hey now... (1)

Data Link Layer (743774) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799545)

Pirates of the Burning sea [] looks like a very promising pirate themed MMORPG. Now all we need is a ninja themed MMORPG and see which beats which in sales to determine which would win.

Re:hey now... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799546)

I'm learning a new skill in that game right now.

In other words you've logged off for a week.

That really annoyed me about that - nothing wrong with learning skills taking effort, but when that 'effort' is basically
log off and go and do something else... kinds spoils the immersiveness a bit.

And the missions on that game were *so* mind numbing. Just 'take package from A to B, then to C, and speak to D'. I kept it up for nearly a month.. just can't see the attraction.

Factor of Copyright Restrictions? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798551)

I don't buy this argument. In fact, I think that copyright restrictions and forced creative direction are what destroys an MMO. Look at Star Wars Galaxies, too many copyright restrictions and attempts at intervention from LucasArts as to how the game experience should feel. Look at Middle Earth Online. Actually, it doesn't exist and is some pretty famous vapor ware.

Now look at games that are completely original to the developing companies like World of Warcraft, lineage I & II, Runescape (fantasy games), Eve Online (a sci-fi game). You might point out that there are more successful fantasy games but I think it's just the fact that sci-fi is often spurred from novels or movies. Rarely do you hear of an original sci-fi game. Therefore, your players have this pre-conceived notion of what the game should be like and if it misses the mark, they are disappointed. I'd like to think the correlation of success comes with creative and artistic control as well as originality. I don't really buy the argument that projectile weapons make a game difficult to design.

Re:Factor of Copyright Restrictions? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798965)

THe best sci-fi I know of is only available in the game world.

No problems with particle weapons and odd tools, just give your man a crowbar.

(for those totally in the dark, I'm talking about half life)

Re:Factor of Copyright Restrictions? (4, Insightful)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799166)

I don't buy this argument. In fact, I think that copyright restrictions and forced creative direction are what destroys an MMO. Look at Star Wars Galaxies, too many copyright restrictions and attempts at intervention from LucasArts as to how the game experience should feel.

Perhaps I'm being overly technical, but it doesn't seem like "copyright restrictions" are really the issue so much as creative control, or perhaps "continuity restrictions". SWG (I'm was in from Beta 2 until a year and a half after launch) suffered from a muddied vision of what the game should be, and from an overly ambitious release schedule. Further, there have always been anecdotal reports that LucasArts exerted a great deal of oversight over SOE. The designers originally had Jedi as an ultra-rare mystical thing, and then people discovered it was simply a profession grind for a class which wasn't necessarily well thought out. I maintain to this day that Jedi should have been chosen by special GM's hired just to find Jedi, but that's a topic for another day.

Saying "copyright restrictions" cause problems is misleading I think. Many parts of the Warcraft universe are protected by copyright, whether the embodiments may be as a game, a novel, or even a manual (IAAL, a copyright lawyer, in fact). Again, I think you really mean "continuity restrictions" or even "creative control from an outside agency". Copyright has little to do with it, other than copyright gives the outside agency some of its control (though trademark is as powerful a protection in this context IMO).

Indeed, without continuity, what makes "Star Wars" Star Wars? Noise in outer space? Fantastic alien creatures? Existence of the Force? Without some of those elements, the name alone is useless. I would say that LucasArts' insistence on keeping Star Wars "Star Wars" maintains the integrity of that universe. They may not know anything about MMO design, and perhaps their mistake was trying to exert too much creative control over something they knew nothing about.

Or maybe the article writer is right, and guns are really hard to implement in an MMO...

Re:Factor of Copyright Restrictions? (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799193)

Well, personally I wouldn't be as bold to say that Lucas Arts made SWG as horrible as it was, considering that SOE was the sole reason for the huge drops in player base after the "new game enhancements."
I can't agree with your argument that sci-fi games do poorly because they are based on novels or movies. As far as I know the only one based on novels/movies has been SWG. I think they just do poorly because for every one of them there is atleast 5 fantasy games, that goes to say that you are 5 times more likely to see a successful fantasy game than you are sci fi.
I can agree with your argument that projectile weapons make a game difficult to design. I think it's more apt to say that the current design makes the projectile weapons more difficult to implement. It seems that for the first "domain" of MMO's was just copying the game mechanics from EverQuest, now the current "domain" is just everyone copying World of Warcraft. I think it is the developer's unwillingness to make a gamble on a new/different game engine that makes it difficult to implement the projectiles. It is also possible that the reason why EQ and WoW have been widely recognized as the trend setters because they took the gamble. It is fortunate for them that their gambles paid off in spades. disclaimer: I've been known to store numbers in my ass for which to dig out when quantities are required.

Best Sci-Fi MMORPG EVER!! (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798577)

Buck Rogers

Not much more to say. Monoblades, short-range lasers, granades up the wazoo, and some ship battles. I'd cancel WoW in a heartbeat if they did Buck right. where did I put that Commador 128?

Suspecnsion of disbelief (1)

arb (452787) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798595)

It is much easier to suspend disbelief in a fantasy setting than it is in a sci-fi setting. One problem with sci-fi is the "sci" in "sci-fi". You have to justify the scientific reasoning when doing sci-fi. Fantasy is easier because you can explain things as "it's just magic" and that fits the theme...

I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (3, Interesting)

nathan s (719490) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798602)

I don't know offhand what IS, but I don't think it's the "impersonal" factor of guns being able to shoot across a room - witness the Counterstrike and Quake and countless other multiplayer FPS games that have been massively successful. I'd say there is some other factor at work here.

I'm thinking offhand, but most of the time your classic fantasy stories have been about parties of heroes (witness Tolkien) whereas classic scifi has tended to be much more individualist (even with the Matrix, the main character so strongly overshadowed the others that it didn't really feel very much like a group effort). (Maybe Star Wars is an exception to this, and the Star Wars games have tended to be fairly successful, although some people call it space-based fantasy instead of science fiction anyway.)

I can't really think of any compelling party-leaning science fiction stories at the moment. And this translates out to the scifi games I've tried, from single player stuff to MUDs. They've all felt very "lonely." In fantasy, you have clearly defined classes with separate roles and you tend to need a group of them to get anywhere, which is begging for a multiplayer setting.

Keep in mind that I'm only on my first cup of coffee, though.

Re:I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (3, Interesting)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798658)

"I can't really think of any compelling party-leaning science fiction stories at the moment. "

There's loads (think Star Wars fiction, Warhammer 40K fiction etc.) just like there are loads of fantasy books with lone protagonists (Kane, Elric, Conan - none of them exclusively solo but often).

Re:I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (1)

EggyToast (858951) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798759)

Not to mention that "fantasy" already has long distance -- magic. Magic is cast from across the room, and often the caster needs to maintain line-of-sight, similar to firearms or other projectile weaponry.

I think the big reason is that the setting for fantasy is often simpler -- kingdoms and big bad monsters from "hell" or whatever. Sci-fi is usually burdened with politics and trade routes and other exceedingly deep backstory (not necessarily interesting, mind). That appeals to some gamers, but certainly not all.

Re:I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799015)

I agree with you. And to add something to your comment, with fantasy games, you pretty much know who are the "good guys" and the "bad guys", and in general, people like to know in which side they are (any of them), because that gives them a clear background (independant of if you're a griefer or not, that's gamer related). With sci-fi, that separation isn't clear, and you're on your own (generally speaking). Some gamers don't feel comfortable with it.

And as a personal opinion and taste, I prefer being surrounded by forests or castles than by the cold giant space.

Guns are an issue in RPGs, as I see it. (4, Interesting)

iainl (136759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798776)

The problem is not Guns in Multiplayer - as you say, look at all those FPS games. The problem, as I see it, is that Gunfights don't map as well to a series of prebuilt animations in turn-based combat.

Everyone wants their MMO to basically be Everquest with a different tileset, and the camera doesn't suit the kind of long-range fighting that gun battles suggest. If I point at an enemy and click to shoot at it, I want to shoot at it, not have a bunch of stat monkeys decide whether my character is good enough to do so.

So the setup practically demands an FPS control instead of an RPG one, and then your nearest city descends into Lag Hell. Oops.

Re:Guns are an issue in RPGs, as I see it. (4, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799010)

It really goes a bit further than that, in a sci fi enviroment the empasis is on star ships interacting rather than individuals interacting (so strategy rather than role playing). Women also tend to prefer the fantasy enviroment (daddies little princess) to the sci fi enviroment, this in turns means any attached males will have to follow their partners into that enviroment or they will soon become unattached for spending to much time paying attention to their game and not to she who must be obeyed.

Also the sci fi ones to date have been pretty luck lustre and/or have been mishandled, developing undesirable reputations. The fantansy ones have also tended to have pretty much a zero learning curve allowing the more unskilled game players easy access (in fact they can just buy in and all they have to do is learn how to spell their name and password).

Re:I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798907)

Rats, you got my idea first :)

Just to elaborate, if I'm playing a fantasy MMO, groups are all smaller. And even if the plot does have rigidly segmented races, they do not carry over into the game and races are instead chosen based on their base stats/abilities.

Fantasy allows much more fame and renown on an individual level. Sure, there's guilds, but you can still be known as "THE elf assassin" on the server. Science fiction just brings up an image of "Stormtrooper 1138 ready, sir..."

Re:I'm not so sure the guns are the issue. (1)

prichardson (603676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798996)

Startrek has always been about the group overcoming a challenge. This is why I prefer it to most other science fiction.

I really think you distinction is artificial. There are plenty of fantasy settings with only a single hero.

I'd argue that a single hero is more conducive to a game anyway, unless it features co-op multiplayer (drool).

Roles (2, Insightful)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798632)

I wonder if it's the races and roles that people find easier to identify with in a fantasy MMO. Typical RPG characters like Human, Elf, Dwarf, Wizard and so on are pretty well defined. Give someone Human, Alien, Other Alien etc. and they don't know how to associate with the role.

Just a thought.

Humanoid (4, Interesting)

phorm (591458) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799229)

For the mostpart the "other races" are still humanoid though, but fantasy has plenty of things beyond that such as dragons, beholders, and various other tentacle monsters. There are plenty of identifiable aliens as well, those from the Alien movie (bipedal/quadripedal), predators, klingons, kilrathi (sp?), Kzinti, Posleen, etc etc

Yeah, somebody might not immediately identify with a Posleen (basically centaur-structured lizards), but the badasses from the Alien series are pretty identifiable (ever played AvP), and the Kzinti/Kilrathi are pretty much fuzzy people.

Thinking about it, one of the previous comments [] definately hits near the mark. People will identify with being an orc, hill-giant, or hobbit because they're common fantasy characaters. People could also identify with being a Klingon, Geiger-Alien, Predator, Kzinti, etc.... but that's not going to happen because when you include them all you're probably going to have your ass sued into the next starsystem by the copyright owners of Star Trek, Aliens, Predator, and the Larry Niven books. I suppose you could make similar characters and/or use parody (a-la SpaceQuest), but look at what happen with City of Heroes and the lawsuits wherein players could make characters similar to movie entities.

Anothe reason why current Intellectual Property laws suck ass, while using a Klingon named "Worf" in your game might be dubious, you shouldn't be attacked for having something klingon-like, hell it's a compliment to the creators.

I long for a good sci fi mmo (1)

tont0r (868535) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798641)

Im getting tired of the same old fashion nerds and dwarves MMO's. I was extremely excited when i heard that there is a warhammer mmo coming out, then i wanted to cry when i found out that its not warhammer 40k :(.

Hmmm... (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798657)

What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?

They are both focusing energy on the enemy, no?

Methinks the problem is that there hasn't been a really good Sci-Fi MMO yet. Yes I know, Anarchy Online was decent as was Planetside. But nothing on the order of WoW has ever come out.

It's a quality thing, not a fundamental human nature thing.

Re:Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798795)

I disagree - there is something different, but it's not in the effect itself. Rather, consider: the fantasy premise of "You have awesome destructive powers" is different from the scifi premise of "You have equipment with awesome destructive powers". Or, take some sort of fantasy healer: "You heal your wounded comrade with the energies of Nature and the purity of your own soul" versus the scifi: "You heal your wounded comrade with the medpack, the tricorder, and the powers of Science".

These are two different mindsets, and they really do make all the difference for a role-playing game. The sci in scifi, the idea that it's Scienc and technology and such, is really different from the more spiritually-mystically-oriented realms of fantasy.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

Skynet (37427) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798813)

That's a very great argument.

Although I wonder if all the Star Trek role-players of the world would agree. :)

Re:Hmmm... (1)

andphi (899406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799052)

From my experience with Star Trek roleplay (admittedly a chat-based roleplay in a Star Trek metaverse, rather than a strictly canon universe), they might. They might also ask: Who made the tricorder? Who made the medpak? What models are they exactly? What tech manual is the role-player referencing? A Federation triage kit and a Cardassian triage kit may be far from equivalent.
A certain fraction of the time anything involving combat quickly devolved into technical bickering. It made starship combat a real pain in the ass at times.

Bingo! Crunchy Bits. (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799349)

I agree. There's a big difference between, "I blast things with my tool," and "*I* blast things."

In addition, I'd like to note that having the powers be personal means that it's easier to distinguish between character types without BS restrictions. In a world of magic, you can have necromancers, elementalists, healers, summoners, etc. each with wildly different abilities that makes them more differentiated and gives a greater feeling of being somehow special.

In a world of technology, anyone can use a gun, a laser, a medpack, cybernetics, nanotechnology, etc. You can be more skilled at it than someone else, but there's no reason for strong differentiation between ability types. Your character isn't necessarily Special. Any artificial restrictions on access to tools and powers become more blatantly arbitrary than in a fantasy setting.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

mashtb4 (902800) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798894)

There is a big difference between a lazer gun and casting a spell. It's all in the timing and feel of the game. When you're playing fantasy, there's a part of the game that tells you that pulling out a wand and physically casting a spell is much more developed and realistic (inside the game) than shooting from the hip with a lazer gun that fires almost automatically. This feel of being inside a game is why people play fantasy more than sci-fi. Sci-fi seems a little too much like today, and people are trying to escape that. Not using guns is a big part of maintaining that escape from reality.

The difference : cycle time. (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799096)

What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?

Real simple : cycle time.

How many games have wizards who can fire 60 rounds per second?

It's difficult to balance out the classes when someone can fire that fast -- you have to either nerf all of the damage, or make sure they're really inacurate (and well, then you've got your basic storm trooper).

Not to mention all of the extra overhead needed in showing all of the combat going on when there's a whole lot of shots being fired. (anyone remember that level in Quake 1 w/ the fire pit in the middle, and balconies around the sides? If were playing against a bunch of people on dialup, all you had to do was whip out the nailgun, and spray wildly)

Of course, MUDs had this problem to a lesser degree, and the common situation for that was to just treat everything as semi-automatic, and when you got your attack, you'd fire a burst, rather than a single shot, and resolve all of the damage at once.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799343)

What's so much different between a laser-gun wielding trooper and a lightning-spell chanting wizard?
I can cast, (ok I can tell my character to cast) Thunder on a Thunder based mob and there will be at least some, if not a lot of resistance to the spell. It just won't do as much damage as it would against a Water based mob because of the magical elemental relationships. Explain resistance to a gun or laser weapon.

On top of that, Sci-Fi often pretty much has the requirement that those characters that are engaged in the story have a level of knowledge that fits the world around them. You will never find players that fit that, the world would be as much a fantasy as a real fantasy game.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799559)

Lets be honest, fireballs are a lot more visually appealing than bullets.

Although that can be overcome in sci-fi to a point. Take Eve for example. Energy Weapons and Missiles look really slick in action, while the projectile weapons are barely noticable.

Sci-Fi vs Fantasy (0)

mknewman (557587) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798663)

You don't think it could be that Sci-Fi gamers are more intelligent and discerning than Fantasy dreamers, uh, I mean gamers, do you? Sci-Fi is highly analytical and scientific, so if the premise falls apart then nobody will play the game. Fantasy ALWAYS works because the premise is nonsense, based on a made up reality with no basis. You can do literally ANYTHING in a Fantasy game since you can just write it off to being an alternate reality or something.

" I also think there's something I can't explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that's not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that's not as good online. And I'm not sure why that is.' Suggestions?"

Re:Sci-Fi vs Fantasy (2, Interesting)

teflaime (738532) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798782)

You can't do "anything" in a good fantasy game. Good fantasy still has to have internally consistent rules. And I doubt sci-fi fans are more discerning than fantasy fans. There is just as much crappy sci-fi published as crappy fantasy. More actually, because fantasy editors are picker now as there is far more fantasy available. There is a dearth of Science Fiction for publication, so they are taking lesser quality work in the science fiction markets.

Re:Sci-Fi vs Fantasy (1)

Pale-Horse-Rider (713087) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798852)

Right. Because Sci-Fi is so very limited in the possibilities it allows. No one ever heard of an alternate reality in Sci-Fi. And there's never been any wildly popular Science Fiction that's done something ridiculously out-of-line in comparison to known laws of physics.

Fantasy worlds have to make just as much sense as Sci-Fi universes; conversely, Sci-Fi universes often make just as little sense as Fantasy worlds.

Re:Sci-Fi vs Fantasy (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798872)

The other person who responded amply addressed the point that good fantasy has to be well thought out too.

I'm pointing out that it is just not true that you are more limited in science fiction than in fantasy. In science-fiction, you can still use alternate realities and you can also make up any kind of alien you want, have holodecks, etc. In fact, you are probably more limited in the fantasy genre at this time because the "premise" of fantasy tends to stick with wand magic, elves, spells, dragons, the medieval setting, and related elements. Not so with science fiction.

WoS (1)

preppypoof (943414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798669)

fantasy is more popular than sci-fi for all rpg's (not just mmo's) because of what the summary says: guns. think of final fantasy 8 and final fantasy x-2. both featured guns, both were not the most popular games in the series. if gamers wanted to play with guns, they would play a fps. would World of Starcraft have been as popular as World of Warcraft is?

Re:WoS (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798868)

Final Fantasy 7 had characters with guns in it, and that one went just fine. The reasons Final Fantasy 8 (schmaltzy love stories, Squall being an emo fuckhead) and X-2 (Charlie's Angels anyone?) aren't the most popular in the series have nothing - or at least very little - to do with guns.

Re:WoS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15798934)

if gamers wanted to play with guns
...Jack Thompson would shit his pants in glee.

Re:WoS (1)

tukkayoot (528280) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799511)

fantasy is more popular than sci-fi for all rpg's (not just mmo's) because of what the summary says: guns. think of final fantasy 8 and final fantasy x-2. both featured guns, both were not the most popular games in the series. if gamers wanted to play with guns, they would play a fps. would World of Starcraft have been as popular as World of Warcraft is?

Final Fantasy VII is probably the most popular game of the series and it features guns almost as prominently as Final Fantasy VIII.

I don't know about Final Fantasy X-2, but isn't it set in the same "world" as the immensely popular Final Fantasy X? I would think they'd sport similar levels of technological development and use of guns, but I haven't played either. I've heard a lot of complaints and criticism as to the quality of X-2 compared to its predecessors though, enough to account for it's unpopularity without blaming guns.

I'm not saying that guns aren't a factor at all, but I don't really see how the Final Fantasy series corroborates that theory.

Set and setting and slicing (4, Insightful)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798685)

I think it's largely an issue of art style. Sci-Fi MMOs are either immaculte buiness sims (like EVE) or ugly dystopian battlegrounds (like Auto Assault) while fantasy MMOs are lush forests and towns nestled in mountains and meadows. My guess is that people would rather frolic "outside" than in claustrophobic corridors which they see enough at work.

Another issue is the familiarity with the weapons, as mention in TFA. A 3-foot sword has a 3-foot range, but a 2-foot gun has an arbitrary range that takes practise and familiarity to recognize by sight. It's quicker and easier to cut a guy with a kitchen utensil then to hone a masterwork of alien engineering.

Magic = No Explanation Necessary (1)

BartulaPrime (744634) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798700)

I believe that it's mainly due to the inherent need of science to justify how something works. I always find it interesting how a Sci-Fi MMORPG is going to explain healing, buffing, shape-changing, etc. While no one seems bothered by the limited range of spells, I'm sure you'll hear people complain that said gun should be able to shoot for hundreds of meters. Personally, I understand the need for gameplay to overshadow realism, but maybe the sci-fi crowd needs the scientific justifications to enjoy the game. Before this article, I've always believed that sci-fi MMORPGs were going to suffer due to this situation.

Game Design All (2, Insightful)

realisticradical (969181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798723)

World of Warcraft has guns. But more than that I think all fantasy MMOs have some sort of ranged characters, just look at spellcasters.

The reason some online games do well and others don't is because of a game design. A design that creates community and has fun and engaging play will do better than one that doesn't. I also think advertising and general appeal helps to pull in those people who wouldn't otherwise jump over the fence that seperates MMOs from other games.

Re:Game Design All (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799174)

I was thinking the same about guns of WoW, but I guess the difference is that you're not shooting lasers or high-tech ammo, just small rocks and basic bullets. It fits with the world. And only one class uses them as main weapon (and sometimes). The rest uses them to pull, and they still have to do melee. About spellcasters, I think that was very well explained some post ago.

Trump? (2, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798726)

I can't wait for the Trump MMO! Massively multiplayer online Apprentice will be great!

One is just more popular (1)

FadedTimes (581715) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798736)

Look at TV ratings NFL vs NHL
Sales of Coke vs 7up

Why I chose EQ2 over EVE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15798823)

I like having both feet on the ground. It's that simple.
I know it sounds like an odd reason and I don't know if it applies to others but I can relate better to my Inkie toon than being a ship that flies around. And don't get me wrong, I love flight sims but that's because they're sims with real dynamics and not just the random chance of one stat beating another stat. Actually, I feel that way about some FPSs too. I very much dislike having to ride in a jeep in medal of honor. I'd rather be on my feet.
I know it sounds like a weak reason but since it's my consumer dollars that they are trying to win over they have to understand that's simply how I feel. Besides, dark elves kick ass. There ain't not dark elves out in space. Hmmm... I have an idea for a new MMORPG... EVE-Quest.

Books and movies? (2, Interesting)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798825)

Look at books: In recent years, the Narnia, Harry Potter LOTR, Robert Jordan, D&D adaptation novels (Dragonlance, etc) have ripped up and down the bestseller lists. I'm having trouble even thinking of recent science-fiction bestsellers. Look at movies: A lot of those names repeat, don't they? Add in the fantasy-heavy pirate blockbuster movies. I'm having trouble thinking of outright huge science fiction movies. Yes, we can count the last "Star Wars" movies. There are other genres where fantasy is trumping science-fiction.

Fantasy trumps science because... (2, Interesting)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798839)

All the sci-fi based MMOs have been utter shit so far. Star Wars Galaxies? Utter shit. Anarchy Online? Utter shit. The Matrix Online? Utter shit. Everquest was the first real big MMO out there, and World Of Warcraft cashes in on a decade of building up a rabid fanbase. Those two just happen to be fantasy games. If Blizzard had decided to make an MMO out of Starcraft instead, it would have done just as well.

Magic = More eyecandy (2, Insightful)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798845)

Part of it, is that magic looks cooler than tech. It is not about guns being a long-range attack (most spells are long-range, as are arrows and throwing stars). A real issue with sci-fi RPGs is that there really isn't a fighter-type class since there are very few melee weapons in a sci-fi universe. They just to be more creative (perhaps even a hybrid).

What I would really like to see, though, is a game that completely eliminates the classes/jobs and provides every skill a la carte (and preferably using the Korean MMO model... free to play with premium real money items). Perhaps one already exists but I just don't know about it yet.

Re:Magic = More eyecandy (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799212)

It already exist my friend, and it was one of the first graphics MMOGs: Ultima Online.

But I guess isn not sci-fi, but yet another fantasy game.

Bye World of Warcraft (1)

PatJensen (170806) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798846)

I quit WoW for EVE. After leveling 5 characters to 60 and decking out my Mage in Tier 1 epics. EVE is so much better, gangs are cool. Awesome graphics, cool soundtrack. The strategy in skill planning and ship building is awesome, and running a corporation is so much more fun. Next build gets built in voice chat too. You can level in EVE without even being logged in. Plus, it made my wife happy. She gets to see more then the back of my head.

Re:Bye World of Warcraft (1)

amelith (920455) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799047)

Interesting. I'm a fairly heavy WoW player and I'm just reaching the end of a 2 week trial of Eve, prompted by the recent publicity around the PvP tournament.

I'm a fan of space games and in need of a fix (after being disappointed by X3:The Single Figure Frame Rate) but I don't think I'll be subscribing to Eve. I agree with your points on the graphics etc. but for some reason the fun seems to be lacking. I'm not saying its a bad game and maybe two weeks isn't long enough to really get into it but I just found it draw me into the story and universe. I know the developers seem to enjoy their niche/cult status but I don't see how making it more accessible to new players would necessarily be a bad thing.

Each to their own in the end I guess.


Scifi as an RPG (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798849)

As someone who runs pen-and-paper RPGs in fantasy and scifi environments, I've learned that for Scifi to work on the same playability and fun levels as a fantasy RPG, many tweaks need to be made.

There is the gun issue from TFA, but if done right it's not anywhere near as big an issue. For something immersive like an RPG, the game must be crafted with things like this in mind. In the "Dr Who," "Star Trek," "Star Wars," and general scifi RPGs I've done, the story has to be crafted in such a way as to make things interesting for the players without just being a shoot-em-up. There are scifi concepts galore, but they have to do far more than just "shoot bad guy X to get item Y." In these particular Universes, the "tank" type of character tends to be the absolute least interesting to play. Storyline, brain-requiring quests, and interesting puzzles make all the difference in something immersive.

In any case, I really think the best stories can't be cold computer-generated grind quests, they need to be crafted around the players talents and shortcomings.

To be fair, my love of truly immersive interactive RPGs is part of why the whole MMO deal never did it for me. A game world full of people going "lol" and "a/s/l" and "omg nd heal pls" really kicks the crap out of suspension of disbelief.

I digress, but I do believe that immersion and feeling like part of an imaginary world is doubly important to scifi fans in such an environment. Hardcore scifi nuts, the types who read Gibson or Heinlein or Asimov or Douglas Adams or whoever else, tend to want to use a brain more than they want to just shoot everyone. It just takes a lot more effort on the part of the game creators to get it right. Think of the best scifi games you ever played. What was interesting about them which you don't see in modern MMOs?

Take the Hitchhiker's game from Infocom, for instance.. I've played very few games that I've ever felt more immersed in. I was totally Arthur Dent for most of my time in front of that monochrome screen. (Except for the parts where I wasn't..) And how many times in that game does the player shoot or kill anyone?

Almost certainly familiarity and nostalgia (1)

AnotherGuyHeardFrom (677495) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798853)

Fantasy is always going to be more popular than sci-fi because of the implied sense of things past and the past is always a golden age in the human psyche. Sci-fi tends to imply the future which is just too difficult for most people to even visualize. Successful fantasy settings are all pretty much the same medieval time frame and everyone knows all about that. Sci-fi settings can be anything and good luck getting a group of people to agree on anything.

Re:Almost certainly familiarity and nostalgia (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799248)

And somehow it's almost always a very f*cked up or messy future.

It's not just computer games... (1)

Aeonite (263338) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798860)

Role-playing games have the same issue; while there have been science-fiction themed games over the years (Cyberpunk, Traveler, Star Frontiers, etc), none of them has come close to approaching the widespread appeal of the fantasy games (D&D, White Wolf's stuff, etc.). The ones that seemed to achieve the broadest appeal were those with crossover potential, like Rifts and TORG.

The one place sci-fi does better seems to be television. There have been fantasy TV series, but they don't come close to the number of sci-fi series that have a relatively large following.

Three Words: (3, Insightful)

Yusaku Godai (546058) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798880)

World. Of. Starcraft.

May just be wishful thinking on my part, but if Blizzard ever decides to do it, it would probably invalidate this article. I'm not a WoW fan at all, and ever since I quit RO I've placed a moratorium on MMOs for myself. But I don't think I could resist something like this, assuming it's done well.

Not that other sci-fi themed MMOs can't be great. I'm just going off of Blizzard's track record here...

We noticed already ... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798906)

when they cancelled their SciFi MMO with a fairly rare topic (romans in space) and replaced it with a Warhammer MMO. Most likely because they noticed Warhammer's imitators made big money with an MMO and now they wanted to cash in on the same niche. Well, if you really believe you have the skills to beat Blizzard in terms of game design...

What about EVE Online? (1)

Tranvisor (250175) | more than 7 years ago | (#15798925)

"Sci-fi, could be anything. And that's tougher. You're now creating very original IP. I think that some day someone's going to get it right. Nobody has yet - nobody's even come close to getting it right."

While the part about the challenge of creating original IP in Sci-Fi is true, it is harder to come up something from total scratch, I think EVE is pretty damn close to "getting it right". Its a Sci-Fi MMO that is big, diverse , pretty to look at and lots of fun.

Oh, and the part about guns, total hogwash! In fantasy, bows/magic spells take the place of guns and work just fine. They are both just kinds of ranged weapons, the only thing that is really different is the on-screen graphics.

All the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15798975)

What does it matter if the majority of MMO RPGs are dorks-and-dragons-based? Virtually every MMO RPG is the same, just running with different skins and irrelevant backstories. You have some sort of market, you have an endless collection of weapons and armour, you have a dozen varieties of character types, and a vast world full of resources and monsters. Sure in this game you might have a space ship, or in that game you might get to ride a giant panther, but these differences are superficial. You still trudge through level after level, learning skill after skill -- does it matter if you're a level 20 Druid learning Smelting, or a level 20 Space Smuggler learning Counterfeiting?

The gun argument is nonsense. FPS MMOs are huge, and sci-fi doesn't require guns to be sci-fi. Look at Dune: guns are obviated by personal shields, and laser weapons become fatal to the user. Then look at Star Wars: katanas upgraded to lightsabres. Maybe it has to do with modelling them on the fantasy MMOs? I know I'd much rather play as the ship than as the captain, a hyper-advanced android than as human, and I'd rather not zip around space looking for asteroids full of goldonium to sell at the space market.

Same is true for PnP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15798982)

The same is largely true for PnP. I think there are a couple reasons.

A great deal of the challenge in RPGs (online and PnP) is logistics -- travel distances and hardships, scarcity of information and equipment, etc. In a pre-industrial fantasy setting, that's more plausible, even with magic. People are more willing to accept that travelling across the continent is hard, even with a horse. They accept limitations on magical substitutes like teleporatation circles. The have no problem with it being hard to find a magic item because they are handcrafted and thus rare.

Those things are a lot harder to buy into in a sci-fi setting. I always thought it absurd in Anarchy Online that a pair of sunglasses was more expensive than a decent piece of armor (because the sunglasses were *arbitrarily* rare). It was stupid that in at a tech level where we could re-create humans from clones that there was any scarcity at all. Travel distance either becomes a non-issue, or again, limitations break the mood.

Combat does also enter into it. In a low tech setting, the slower pace of combat feels right. We're used to seeing movies with long swordfights, etc. In a high-tech game, combat seems absurdly non-lethal.

Maybe it reflects demographics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15799008)

Maybe more people like phantasy than sci-fi.

Magic vs. Technology (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799049)

Any insufficiently developed magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Because Sci-Fi MMOs have all sucked so far (1)

keath_milligan (521186) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799082)

This has nothing to do with fantasy. It has everything to do with the fact that, so far, every science-fiction themed MMO has outright sucked or, at best, been mediocre. So far, there has not been a stand-out sci-fi equivilent to World of Warcraft. SWG should have been that game, but LucasArts chose the wrong company to develop it.

A science-fiction themed MMO can be successful if:

* It isn't just a failed fantasy MMO with updated graphics.
* It is accessible and playable by non-hardcore MMO addicts (single biggest factor in WoW's success).
* It is essentially fun to play and not a grind (a concept that appears to be completely alien to most MMO designers until WoW).
* It uses the primary elements that make science fiction in general appealing as its main focus and theme (space, aliens, blasters, etc.) in the same way that successful fantasy use traditional fantasy themes as their main focus (magic, monsters, dugneons, treasure, etc.). See SWG at release for an example of what not to do.

Sci-Fi games are not epics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15799107)

The reason that Fantasy does so much better than sci-fi is not so much that it is magic or that the science in sci-fi is so bad, or anything like that. It really boils down to the fact that fantasy games, movies, and books are almost always on the scale of an epic. There are clearly defined lines of good and evil, and there is almost always a violent struggle against a great evil involved. This is the reason (imho) why Star Wars has done so well - it is an epic. How else would one explain that in spite of all the cheesy dialog, acting, and special effects (not to mention blatant violation of scientific laws) it has managed to capture such a large portion of the culture?

Two necessary parts for an epic are: a hero, and (of course) a villain or monster. Fantasy has this (it is an integral part), but sci-fi typically does not.

Far easier to put yourself in the heros shoes (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799157)

with fantasy as it tends to be world/region specific.

Sci-Fi for the most part is locked into this idea of being multisystem with starships, though a good sci fi never has to leave the world its based on.

Motivation behind the genre (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799171)

Fantasy is personal, generally hand to hand, missle weapons tend to be weak.

Sci fi is impersonal, big boms and guns from a long range, unless they switch to fantasy weapons, light sabers, vibroswords.

I prefer Sci fi books that focus on psychology and characters. Fantasy tends to focus on larger scale things, or skills and adventures, not psychological character development.

LOTR was about an adventure and the reluctant hero, Enders game was all about Enders mind.

Shadowrun please! (2, Interesting)

Sesticulus (544932) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799220)

Please someone make a Shadowrun MMO. I loved that universe in the pen and paper days. It was the best of both worlds, wizards with railguns!

Re:Shadowrun please! (1)

IAstudent (919232) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799352)

I've heard of a Shadowrun FPS in development, which unfortunately looks like another wannabe-Quake fragfest. Why do I have a feeling that going the FPS route instead of MMO is gonna make Daikatana look like a masterpiece?

This chummer is not pleased.

What is SciFi? (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799222)

What is Fantasy? Magic, dragons, elves, enchanted items, dungeons, etc....
Sure, it's always tweaked to hell, but it's the same familiar elements each time.

What is SciFi?
Spaceships? No, not always, look at Fallen Earth.
Lasers? Not necessairily.
Space Travel? Could be.

There's no common elements, there can be, and normally are, but not many. And people are more defined in the Star Trek/Star Wars/Stargate worlds, "generic" scifi could be anything, and by generic I mean common elements, it'll be a custom, new world.

It has to be familiar, or you've lost a good portion of players already, and scifi just doesn't have much of that. Star Wars? I'll pass, it's mildly interesting(am I the only slashdotter who doesn't care much at all for the whole star wars story, even the first 3 were bleh). I like Star Trek, and look forward to the game, but I doubt it'll hold my interest, it's always been about the story, and the game looks more about the consoles/technology. Stargate? Well, it's getting an MMO too, but, um, er, I'll pass. I really enjoy Atlantis(not the second season, third is good so far) but as a game? maybe, as an MMO? How about not?

I can tell you what I like, Fading Suns, but it's an RPG, not a comp game(although I think they had a few). Broken down, "wow-you-can-travel-through-space-even-if-just-bar ely-wowza" kinda stuff, everything is run down, low-tech trying to keep hi-tech going. That's my kind of SciFi.

But fantasy is accessible to all, easy to understand, and pretty well defined. Just try releasing a fantasy game without magic, enchanted items, sure, but no magic. It won't work either.

Suggestion... (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799238)

'I also think there's something I can't explain, which is that people are more willing to play a fantasy game that's not as good online, than they are willing to play a sci-fi game that's not as good online. And I'm not sure why that is.'

You don't don't know why that is? Well I have no idea what the sentence even means! I've tried reading it 3 times, and still don't get it. Anyone?

Sci Fi vs. Fantasy (1)

sanjacguy (908392) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799244)

I run a table top rpg based on a mostly hard science fiction game called Traveller. I had to drag my players in kicking and screaming to play traveller. Part of the problem seemed to be related to how much science is in the game. These are players that usually play D&D. When many of them were exposed to science fiction rpgs, they could accept the arbitary rules of magic. However, I think the reason for some of that is the nature of, well, nature. Science is actually kinda messy, which is why we tend to learn about physics in the so called 'thought experiments'. The best example is what happens when you drop a feather and a hammer here on earth vs on the moon. On the moon, both fall at the same speed; on the earth they fall at different speeds. Why? Air provides resistance and force on the feather (force in the form of wind, resistance in the form of air resistance). So a game designer builds a magic system so that it is 1) internally consistent and 2) useable. Nature has no such constraints.

SF for writing, Fantasy for games (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799363)

That's my rule anyway. In a game you want freedom to do stuff - that's the whole point of escapism. Science fiction is simply too straitjacketed and fantasy is so much more colorful.

But in fiction you need structure. Fantasy (at least of the sword and sorcery variety) is one of the worst genres of writing simply because people just make stuff up for hundreds of pages at a time. This kind of arbitrariness can kill dramatic tension because any kind of deus ex machina can appear at any time.

Two words: (1)

jdcool88 (954991) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799398)

Phantasy. Star.

While the 'MMO' feature of PSO pretty much failed, the game itself was amazingly addictive. I have very high hopes for PSU.

Though I suppose if you really looked at it, these games probably lean more towards fantasy than sci-fi anyway. At least it has guns, which invalidates that claim.

Maybe fantasy roles are more clearly defined (2, Interesting)

jhsiao (525216) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799461)

Looking at the various fantasy-related MMORPG breaks down party roles into clearly defined responsibilities: tank, healer, DPS. Some variation between different games is inevitable (pets, hybrids), but they appear to rarely break away from these primary roles because they're well established. Does easy = mass market? When you get some SciFi MMORPGs, they tend to have more open-ended class roles resulting in alot of hybrid classes or their roles are defined but not as clear as a D&D meme that's been around for 30 years. Here's a pop quiz: Guess the best tank in Guild Wars--warrior, necromancer, monk, or mesmer? Which one is the best healer? Guess the best tank in City of Heroes--Blaster, Brute, Defender, or Tanker? Which one is the best healer? Guess the best tank in Anarchy Online--enforcer, soldier, doctor, or agent? Which one is the best healer? Guess the best tank in Matrix Online--soldier, patcher, code shaper, or programmer? Which one is the best healer? Now, folks will say "well this is a complicated answer" and "you can add modules slots to make any Eve ship a better healer". But a game's complexity is usually something to be overcome for mass market acceptance unless there's a built in audience that can understand the concepts (e.g. Star Wars or Tolkein fans).

What a non-answer! (4, Insightful)

bobocopy (816690) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799466)

His answer to, "Why is fantasy so hot?" is basically, "Because with fantasy, we don't have to be original." Listen, this is about a much larger "problem" that's been slowly cropping up recently within in geek fiction: readers (and gamers) believe they're willing to try something new, but they really aren't. So, when you pick up a hundred fantasy novels off the shelf in your local bookstore*, you'll find that most of them have similar themes ("We have to save the world!"), have the exact same types of settings (similar to medieval Europe), have the exact same types of action (swordfights with wizards) and have the exact same type of fantasy beasts (dragons, zombies, dragonzombies, zombodragonoids). Likewise for fantasy games. Why is fantasy so limited? It should really only be limited by the author's/ designer's imagination. But too often, designers and authors (rightfully) believe that their audiences just want more of the same. That they don't want a completely new type of world, a completely different definition of "magic," a completely different set of creatures unique to the world. We end up with more of the same becuase that's what sells. And since it sells, producers/ publishers are unwilling to take risks. The sad truth is, the self-important fantasy crowd lives in an adolescent power-fantasy. They know how they like their superheroes, and they know how they like their fantasy. Sci-fi is too challenging to them becuase from one universe to the next, the rules are completely different. (This could be the case for fantasy too, but too often we're just force-fed more of the same). What Mr. Jacobs' answer should have been was, "Because it's easier to force-feed our users more of the same." *(a pre-Amazon phenomenon)

It's Classes (4, Insightful)

MuNansen (833037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15799570)

Fantasy has several established archetypes so there's enough variety in character choice. Warrior, Rogue, Ranger, Mage, Healer, and some variation in between. Sci-fi's got guns. That's it. If you're Star Wars you've got guns and lightsabers, but Jedi are supposed to be rare.

Balancing melee weapons with guns (a la SWG) is pretty much impossible because it breaks the laws of physics and along with the basics of latency, ruins the fun for either the melee classes because they can't get close enough (realistic) or the ranged classes are so gimped that the melee can trash them against all logic and reason.

Trying to create enough classes with guns just needlessly restricts the player. Why shouldn't a guy that's an expert with a rifle be able to shoot a carbine? That makes no sense.

At least that's the answer I can take from SWG. Star Wars really isn't a good universe for an MMORPG. An MMOFPS, though, now that would be a different story. Anarchy Online, I think, just wasn't all that attractive of a universe. Very odd. And had a very rough start. If there was a Sci Fi game with the polish and pazazz of WoW, I'm sure it'd do just fine, if they could solve the class problem.
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