Thought of the Day: An MMO of Thrones

I’ve been catching up recently with episodes of A Game of Thrones (can’t wait to go to Comic Con now, since Arb informed me that GRRM was going to be there on the Game of Thrones panel) which seems to be getting better and better every week as the pacing kicks in.

It makes me wonder about the role of politics in MMOs. And how interesting it might be to play a more strategic and political game.

Probably EVE is the strongest implementation of this type of concept, and the player politics there sprang up from within the setting. Partly because the game allows players/ corps to effectively claim and try to hold areas of space, so there is something worth fighting over. Without this sort of stake, the politics is going to feel fairly pointless.

And ultimately, in a MMO, the role any individual player is going to play is far more likely to be that of a grunt than of a kingmaker, unless you keep the size of the game small and have tight-knit, active factions.

So I think politics in an MMO is awesome for flavour, and factions have a lot more potential than most designers give them credit for. But ultimately the most fun sorts of politics for games are played out on a smaller canvas, where individuals feel that they matter.

Note: This is not to say I wouldn’t jump for an Amber MMO, because that would be crazy fun … but not for Westeros.

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3 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: An MMO of Thrones

  1. Even in EVE most players are at best grunts and pawns. As you point out, there just isn’t any way you can thousands of players in an MMO and have them ALL be movers and shakers in the world. And to my mind, if the game is small enough that everyone can be significant it probably doesn’t count as an MMO at all.

    On the other hand, lots of players do play the “game of thrones” in their MMOs – only we refer to it as “guild drama” :)

  2. The difficulty in adapting Westeros to an MMO is that it’s strongly character-driven. It’s just not reasonable for characters to have much agency in that world at present, because we have high-profile NPCs running everything.

    No, you can’t be commander of the Night’s Watch. No, you won’t win that tournament. No, you can’t sell seafood in Braa… actually, go ahead and do that one, that’s ok.

    That’s some of the same difficulty faced in LotRO; players won’t be the ones shaping the main storyline. It’s possible to sell us on a lesser role, e.g. saving Eriador from the Shadows of Angmar while the Fellowship heads off to deal with that Ring thingy, but it’s not easy.

    IMO, Westeros would work best as a setting in a different time. Set it in Valyria before the Doom came; I’d check that out.

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