The countdown to New York Comic Con continues with our next on the list of comic book videogames that we think need to happen. If you're just joining our countdown and haven't checked out our #7 pick, you can find it here.
If you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you may not be aware of the gaming genre referred to as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. In theory, a gaming world populated with millions of other players around the world. Where normal RPG's are confined to just your own experience within a narrative, an MMO lets you help to shape a world, and carve out a place for yourself in it. At least, that's the theory. But every single new MMO is trying to succeed in hitting the missing element that will catapult them ahead of the competition, and we think they should be turning to comics for that advantage.
So allow us to pitch our idea for a massively multiplayer game that would shape a player into an inhabitant of an online world, but also give them the ability to have a real impact on not just their own future, but the future of the world itself. Without further ado, here is our #6 pick:
#6. Marvel Universe MMO
There's definitely no shortage of MMOs at this point, with more than a handful in development at various studios and another handful failing each year. With so many to choose from, gamers have a tough choice on their hands, since playing more than one at a time is unlikely (cost and time). No matter how the choice gets made, the fact remains that one of the most compelling characteristics of an MMO is the world in which it takes place. Many flaws within a game are overlooked if the fictional world is a satisfying enough place to inhabit and role play in.
From Spider-Man to Captain America, the Marvel universe is populated with cultural icons. And the fact that their heroes and villains exist in real cities only adds to the creation of a world we all wish came true. Giving players the opportunity to enter the Marvel Universe as their own crusader for good or as a force for evil is nearly impossible to resist, and sure to attract fans of the genre as well as newcomers.
With the impending release of DC Universe Online, it's yet to be seen if the market can support another super-powered MMO in the wake of City of Heroes and City of Villains, or whether it's possible to make a quality RPG from existing comic book properties. Marvel itself has already tried and failed, before even leaving the starting blocks. But if DCU is even a moderate success, then rest assured the wheels will begin turning at Marvel to produce a competitor. And if that's the case, then DC will have a serious problem.
We all love Superman and Batman, but the Marvel Universe is simply a better fit for an MMORPG. Where DC has superheroes with various super-team affiliations, it doesn't make any sense for John Q. Gamer's brand new character to join a team of the world's greatest heroes. So while the idea of embodying a hero in a comic book world, the question lingers: what role could my character possibly play in the DC Universe?
Marvel, on the other hand, is built top-to-bottom for taking sides. With a history of conflicts between numerous factions, the choices are endless for a brand new character on the scene. Will you side with Iron Man's S.H.I.E.L.D.-sponsored, Pro-registration forces and hunt down super-powered outlaws? Or with Captain America's freedom fighters, wreaking havoc on the government sponsored programs he finds unconstitutional? Join up with the X-Men at Xavier's Academy, or Magneto's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?
Why We Need a Marvel Universe MMO:
The word that gets thrown around a lot these days is "immersion". For the moment, that ability to place a player so deeply in the story and world that they're playing in that lines between themselves and their character is the current Holy Grail of gaming. And while one would expect that the genre of games known as Role-Playing Games would undoubtedly be the best, some of that ability is lost when it becomes massively multiplayer. Games like Fable 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Mass Effect have all succeeded to a great degree at giving a player to embody a role, and make decisions that shape their own story. But one person can't really make a large difference in a world of thousands of players, and that's where Marvel could succeed. By granting a player the chance to become part of a larger group, they could play a role in the group's ability to make large, widespread changes.
If my superhero could join up with evil-doers in bringing about the Age of Apocalypse, or House of M, it would offer fans a chance to play a part in some of their favorite comic book moments and events. Even losing in a battle for something you personally believed in could offer a richer experience than simply leveling up your character, or loot-hording.
Developers constantly speak about the importance of giving players agency in a game's narrative, and the ability to make choices that will dramatically change their own game experience. With Marvel's tendencies to reflect real world struggles and issues in their comic pages, being able to take part in one of those fights could offer an experience that goes beyond any other MMO.
Do your share our beliefs, or do you think the depths of superhero gaming have already been explored?
So with our desires for a superpowered MMO that's about more than just webslinging or bataranging, we move on. The first two have already gotten us wanting to add another fifty to the list, but we must go on! Tomorrow we'll take a look at our #5 pick: an opportunity for game developers to add a little insanity to a very familiar neighborhood...