Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tabula Rasa - The end of the shooter MMO?

As I mentioned recently, the basic principle of combat in a classic MMORPG is a comparison of numbers: health vs. damage over time. Other games with combat, for example typical shooters, don't have such a huge influence of character stats on damage. In a shooter whether you hit or not is more often a question of how you aim than the results of some stat-based formula. Nevertheless some games tried to combine shooter elements with MMORPG elements, for example Hellgate London or Tabula Rasa. Hellgate London will close its servers on January 31, Tabula Rasa one month later on February 28. Are shooter MMOs dead?

The problem with questions like these is that there are relatively few games, and thus relatively little data points. It is totally possible that there is a large demand for good shooter MMOs, but neither Hellgate nor Tabula Rasa were good enough. But then, I kind of liked Tabula Rasa, especially the instances, and wouldn't say it was a terrible game. Is it a statistical fluke that over the last 10 years games with swords sold better than games with guns, or is there a fundamental incompatibility of MMORPG gameplay and shooting?

The reason why that question could be important is future games. The Agency will be a shooter MMO. Star Wars: The Old Republic will have both (light) swords and (laser) guns. Are these future games going to take a hit just because of the weapons they use, or will we see a game break the curse of the shooter MMO? What do you think?

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