Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is Hellgate an MMO? and why does it matter?

Well, the question has been raised again. But, this time, Cuppy took it further:
"Why anyone is wasting time on whether or not this is an MMO is beyond me."

How Flagship labels the game can affect how people perceive and approach it. It's like deciding whether to call an El Camino a car or truck. The label can affect how the potential buyer imagines its possible uses and compares its features against other vehicles. Should it have as much towing capacity as a truck? Should it have a sportscar's acceleration? What sort of vehicle should its gas mileage be compared to? A label of "car" or "truck" answers these questions for the buyer. Labels underline your selling points.

Flagship's decision to call Hellgate an MMO might represent an attempt to appeal to all the MMO veterans who have been anxiously waiting for the next good game of the genre. Hellgate might even help build interest in the genre, since many of folks playing it have probably never before played an MMO (the sort of games we usually associate with the label).

Originally, I didn't think Hellgate qualifies as an MMO, but I'm starting to come around. You'll never witness another player adventuring who is not in your group, for example. The only time you see other players outside your group is in the hubs (in which I've never seen more than 20 people or so). But you can communicate with people in separate instances across the server, and that limited interaction in the hubs is meaningful.

Anyway, in summary, the MMO label will have consequences. What those consequences turn out to be will be interesting, to the extent that we can discern them.

4 comments:

  1. My point is that you can't debate if something is an MMO....if it in fact *is* an MMO by every definition of the world.

    Just because there is instancing does not get rid of the massive aspect. It is clearly multiplayer, and clearly you play online. There really isn't any other way to explain it to people other than - "Yes, it's an MMO, but no - it might not be the same kind of MMO that you're used to playing." They certainly aren't labeling it wrong when it fits the definition like a glove.

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  2. That was every definition of the word* not world.

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  3. [repost of my reply on Cuppy's site]:

    The term isn't "Massive" Multiplayer --. The term is "Massively" Multiplayer -- . The first word isn't about the size of the gameworld. It qualifies "multiplayer" to mean multiplayer on a massive scale... as in an incredible amount of players contributing to each other's gameplay.

    Hellgate does allow all players on a server can communicate with each other. The point of debate is that not many Hellgate players ever exist in the same gameworld, contributing to gameplay in any way aside from mere chatting. The social aspect might be important to MMOs, but simply adding a chat program to a game does not make it multiplayer (let alone "massively" multiplayer). The small hubs are the only areas where players ever witness other player-characters outside their own groups. Nor does the gameworld change for one player as the result of another in a different instance.

    Hellgate is multiplayer, but not massively multiplayer. If it is, so are Counter-Strike and Star Wars: Battlefront.

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