Science Fiction. Largely Unexplored?
Science Fiction is quite possible one of my favorite genres of games. Don’t get me wrong, I love casting a large fireball or wielding a giant sword as much as the next elf. The industry seems to be flooded with the magical environments of fantasy though. This isn’t bad, but it is making the sci-fi guy in me really crave a nice blaster, droid, and spaceship system.
I never played Star Wars Galaxies. By the time I decided that pay to play systems were not the devil, SWG had already hit its peak and, according to the masses, been destroyed by Sony. I also missed out on the era of Anarchy Online. Once it went free to play, I tried it out for about five minutes. I then had to go flush my eyes with water in hopes to alleviate the pain caused by the jagged polygon graphics. EVE online is probably the best sci-fi based game I have played to date. Although once I finished the tutorial and the industry quest line, I became lost in the vast area of space and large skill training times.
I’m curious why sci-fi has had such a hard time making a break out into the MMO industry. What is it about the genre that causes most game developers to aim towards making a fantasy game rather than something in the far reaches of space? Is it the enormity of universe rather than just making one world? Or maybe its a class balanced system that forces them to rethink the Caster, Warrior, Rogue norm. Sure we have titles like Star Trek Online and Global Agenda. Global Agenda feels more like an expansive fps to me than an MMO. STO is… well lets just say I’ve never really cared for Star Trek because I myself prefer the Star Wars universe. (Its the phasers. I cant stand beam oriented weapons even if they are scientifically more realistic).
Where are the games that allow us to explore far off solar systems, engage in combat (space ship and ground forces alike) and craft the very vessels we leave a planet with? Has no one thought of the idea of having space to explore but the need to build your ship in order to see the content? Perhaps players are just not willing to work for such experiences. I for one would love to start out on a planet working months to create a vessel that allowed me to visit space and neighboring worlds. The reward would be better than a surprise peach cobbler after a fantastic steak dinner. MMmm cobbler.
Maybe game companies see the dollar value of the fantasy genre and feel that it is a safer investment than sci-fi. I think if a company put in the time to create an MMO that had you playing a character rather than just a ship, they could tap a seriously saturated fantasy market by providing something the MMO world is desperately lacking. There may be options out there that I have just not seen. STO seems to have a mix of ground content with space content, but the story is set in a world that has a particular fan base and all the connotations (good or bad) that come with it.
Why do companies make great single player sci-fi games on a regular basis, but can’t seem to get it right or create something new for MMOs? I’m befuddled by it. Sci-Fi can be just as imaginative as any fantasy game.
Just give me one sci-fi game that creates an experience that isn’t pigeon holed into one element of the genre. I don’t want to just fly in space. I want to land and take on new worlds with groups of explorers. I want to be able to colonize a space station or make a new space port on a distant planet. Perhaps my desires are too specific and too large to realistically create.
What elements do you want to see in a Sci-fi MMO? Why do you think this side of the industry is largely ignored by companies? Id love to hear your thoughts on what would make you rethink playing an orc and wielding a staff. Frankly for me, none of the games advertising this so far have come close to creating a world that has made me consider retiring from a life of fantasy. How about you?
PS: Thanks again to Stargrace for letting me contribute to The Nomadic Gamer. I look forward to sharing some of my thoughts and experiences with you all.
And as always,
Thanks for reading.