January 25th, 2006


LARP/MMORPG Comparisons

OK, bear with me...

You basically have three modes of LARP, ones that correspond pretty well to the MMORPG world.

1. Players Vs Monsters - Organised play like Labyrinthe and the smaller LARP groups in which people 'monster'. Much more like traditional tabletop play.
2. Big armies and factions - Like the big battle oriented LARPS with some politicking between factions but usually all building to skirmishes and a big fight. Much more like a wargame in many regards.
3. Intrigue based - Like oWoD, politicking, scheming, erupting to violence when the positives outweigh the negatives and so on.

MMORPGs are a lot like LARPs and I see a lot of comparisons.
You have your PvE play (which corresponds to no.1).
You have your faction PvP (which corresponds to no.2).
You have your Free For All PvP (which roughly approximates to no.3, only with no consequences, generally, for killer or killee and no balances.

You get similar splits in expectations as well, though most in LARPS, since they're more split up, seem to enter into it with a clear idea of what they're getting into. I think part of the problem with MMORPGs is that they try to be all things to all people but end up pleasing none of them entirely.

PvE players tend to be more the genuine roleplayers, interested in developing their character, exploring the story and 'living' in the world. The community builders.
PvP players seem to, most of the time, come to MMORPGs more from the FPS route and their roleplay is pretty much limited (where it does exist) to 'Lol! I am teh 3vi1!'. There are exceptions but still.

Trying to mix these communities (in a situation with little to no consquences for the murderous PvPers) appears to be a recipe for constant bitching and recrimination but gives the PvPers all the power in the situation since they want to kill, don't mind dying and tend to get extra rewards for PvPing.

PvE content is often unrewarding for those players since development time is taken away from it to cater to PvPers and 'balance' that wouldn't be so much of a concern in a pure PvE environment. No developer can produce enough PvE content to satisfy the masses and very little quest or event content has a genuine effect on the gameworld, leaving those players unsatisfied.

MMORPGs seem to have lost sight of, and even to poor scorn on, their roots despite the fact they could learn a great deal from going back to tabletop RPGs.

I think WoW has taken the place of D&D in the MMORPG equivalency - an unusual thing from our point of view, a Fantasy Heartbreaker that usurped the original. The best route to take for many developers would be to find and exploit the various niche markets rather than try to be all thigns to all people and to take on WoW. We might be starting to see that with DDO and it'll be interesting to watch how things develop.

I have some solutions to the root problems in MMORPGs but the solution has to start at the development stage and there just aren't many people willing to risk innovation given the cost.

Maybe I can find a way to get involved in improving current MMORPGs, training the plot/quest developers or something.