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Stagnant MMO design has become standard, argues Garriott

Tabula Rasa and Ultima Online developer Richard Garriott believes that MMO publishers and developers owe it to the consumer to innovate in a market where stagnant game design has become standard.

Tabula Rasa developer and NCsoft exec Richard Garriott believes that stagnant game design has quickly become standard in the genre's short history, using his keynote speech at the Develop Conference in Brighton today to highlight ways in which publishers and developers can push massively multiplayer gaming in new directions.

For Garriott, the most basic design and features have not changed in ten years, with the majority of titles built on the same models established by Ultima Online and Everquest, and therefore failing to offer diversity for the player.

"MMO game design has not changed over ten years," said Garriott.

"If you look at the vast majority of MMOs that has come out since Ultima Online and Everquest, you can look at the features and they are almost exactly the same. Even though the graphics have got better and the interface is much slicker, fundamentally the gameplay is unchanged.

"Worse yet, there are many things that have become standard that I look at and even though they are powerful enough to encourage the behaviour of people obsessed with playing these games, I don't think they are the right way of building the future.

"Players manically manage one per cent of their character and it quits becoming an immersive world and becomes a data management game," he said

Using his new title Tabula Rasa as an example, Garriott highlighted a number of areas in which game design can advance the genre beyond is current stale offering, with a focus on improving combat and artificial intelligence, as well as offering more strategic demands and ethical choices for the player.

"As a developer and publisher I actually believe that we owe it to the consumers to continue to innovate and provide new kinds of gameplay experiences and not just 'me too', grinding gameplay," said Garriott.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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