"C4 charges ready," a voice calls from your left. Nervously your eyes dart
about, re-thinking every step of this mission through. Failure is simply not
an option. You have spent nearly everything you had on this mission, from
the weapons and medical supplies to three of the best mercenaries for hire.
The armor, though, is well worth it...
Welcome to the worlds first MMOFPS, or Massively Multi-player On-line First
Person Shooter. Only problem is, such a beast does not exist yet.
What follows are my ideas concerning the problems such a game might face and
why an MMOFPS would be appealing for many gamers. Although I have neither
the skills nor inclination to work on such a project myself it is my hope
that people will take these ideas, hone them, and possibly eventually propose
them to a company with the resources necessary to create the worlds first
The real monster: latency
Latency has always been the bane of skill-based games. While MMORPGs (Massively
On-line Multi-player Role-Playing Games) are not affected as much by high latenc
due to the one-dimensional nature of combat, any skill-based game would suffer
from a high ping. As such any company trying to craft an MMOFPS would need to
redesign how their server cluster works.
While "common" areas such as towns or other places designed for social
interaction and void of combat would be possible to host hundreds of players
in the traditional way, combat zones would need to be player-limited.
Instead of a small cluster of powerful servers comprising a typical MMORPG
world, the world of an FPS would need to be hosted by a much larger cluster
of less powerful systems. This would avoid any system lag as each node in
the cluster would only be responsible for the equivalent of two or three
The company would need to geographically segregate its servers, placing one
near major metropolitan areas. Players would chose their "world shard" based
on average latency to that particular cluster of machines. Using this method
an MMOFPS could ensure that there would be a close shard regardless of where
you lived, at least in the continental United States.
A problem with all MMORPGs is the basic gripe of He Who Has More Time Has More
Power. Those individuals able to work themselves up to level 50 have vastly
more power than the casual player only able to play a few hours a week,
regardless of merit. Moreover, combat for these gamers tends to become
routine and boring, endlessly fighting the same mobs over and over and over
again so you can watch a tiny bar fill and approach the next level. This
reason alone has forced me to give up all the MMORPGs I've played -- they're
simply too boring.
In an MMOFPS power would be equated to skill. Character development
would happen, of course, but not in the terms of attributes like
strength or dexterity, rather in terms of weapons, armor and items. Player
skill would be paramount, but a shiny new set of armor might be the difference
between living and dying.
The death penalty would need to be lenient as to not cause undue frustration.
As there is no experience or levels, and no real way to make a character
weaker, the best option I can see is for a small "death tax." I would propose
that dying simply destroy 5% of your accumulated wealth. This would provide
a "sting" to death and help the economy at the same time, while not devastating
the player to the point of quitting.
PvP and PvE
Player vs. Enemy (PvE) would be accomplished by numerous "zones" representing
everything from caves, abandoned castles, to sewers and outdoor areas. These
would be the areas in which players hone their skill against computer-controlled
opponents and earn money for new equipment. These regions would range from
easy areas devoted to helping newbies learn the game to extremely difficult
dungeons requiring a skilled group of friends to successfully traverse.
Obviously the rewards for fighting in a tougher area would be greater than
fighting in an easy area, giving skilled players an extra edge in terms of
wealth and equipment, enabling them to take on even tougher areas and acquire
even more wealth and equipment, etc. Players would not feel useless until a
certain level when they can fight the beasties in a particular area, as even
a fresh character could theoretically take on an advanced dungeon, although
chances are without good armor he would simply be splatted on the wall by
the closest mob.
PvP would be a bit trickier. A few areas would be designated "free-for-all"
where PKs (Player Killers) can fight amongst themselves, much like typical
FPS games. Dying to a player would be the same as dying to a monster, however
instead of the "death tax" simply vanishing it would be rewarded to the player
who won the battle.
Obviously clans would form and this would be the preferred method of PvP combat.
Clans would be able to purchase fortresses to store excess wealth and items
and provide a safe place for their trade-smiths to work. The leader of each
clan would be able to declare an attack or raid on another clan. Upon stating
his intent to mount a raid the leader of the clan would tell the game system
the time in which he will attack, the only condition being that it must be
at least 12 hours in the future. Upon confirming his intent all members from
both clans (attacking and defending) will be notified. When the designated
time arrives the clans would fight each other for control of the outpost.
In this way the game would take on another dimension of strategy and battle
tactics as the clans fought each other for domination. Outposts would fall,
expensive castles would be built and dedicated strategy would need to take
place by the leaders of different clans to expand their empire.
The most obvious problem with an MMOFPS would be a lack of content, as players
would conceivably burn through content quickly. However, as the game would
be geared toward fast-paced action over traditional RPG exploration, attention
to detail for each particular zone would less important in an MMOFPS than
its MMORPG counterpart. A large team of designers would still be required
to create the content, however, and ideally new content and zones would be
continually released. This fact coupled with the increased cost of
significantly larger geographically distributed server farms would probably
increase the monthly fee of such a service.
Different types of characters
Although an MMOFPS would be centered around combat and skills many different
types of characters could be created. The base class would be your typical
fighter, ever striving for new armor and weapons. Many would chose this
type of characters while others would strive for something else. Players
could choose to spend their money on medical supplies and become a medic
able to heal their comrades on the battlefield and, with the proper expensive
equipment, allow them to raise fallen comrades from death. They could purchase
steroids to increase the hit points of their fighters. Other players could
become explosive experts able to destroy walls and doors, or dedicate
themselves to more rouge-like equipment to circumvent traps and pick locks.
It would not be possible to become an all-in-one class, however, because all
the classes require specialized (and expensive!) equipment. Moreover,
everything from ammo to weapons to medical supplies to explosives has weight.
A character carrying two powerful weapons and an adequate ammo supply would
be unable to carry medical supplies or explosives, and a character carrying
thief-like equipment would only have room for one weapon and a modest supply
The benefit of a system restricted only by what you can carry, however, leads
to some interesting consequences. Hybrid classes could appear, such as a
medic who only carries the essentials of medicine and a big-ass gun, or a
thief that doesn't even carry a gun but doubles as a medic. Also, people
with sufficient funding would be able to change their class at will, giving
their uber weapon back to their clan and donning the cap of a medic instead.
In EverQuest a level 60 druid was identical to every other level 60 druid.
Unless the player was exceptionally stupid, any level 60 druid would do
for a raid. In an MMOFPS all characters are not created equal. Just because
you have decent weapons and armor doesn't mean you're capable of helping
a group raid a new dungeon. Instead reputations would be built. You might
be known as the best medic around because you are the best medic
around, and not simply the highest level medic on the server.
This article only scratches the surface of what an MMOFPS could be. An MMOFPS
would create a new genre of games that I think would appeal to a large
audience of gamers. What do you think? Have I overlooked an important
problem that would prevent my dream from becoming reality? Is there already
a game like this in the works I am simply not aware of? Or am I the only
person who thinks such a game would be enjoyable?
If sufficient comments are produced of high quality I will add your ideas to
my own and possibly create a web-page dedicated to the design of an MMOFPS.
These ideas are my own, but I do not claim ownership of them, and I encourage
individuals and companies to take them and use them as they see fit. I would
rather see a game like this come to be than hold out in the hopes that my
fantasies could ever make me wealthy. Thanks in advance for the (hopefully)
enlightening discussion that follows.