Why MMORPGs will always suck

In Fallout 3 I wandered off the story path into a building stuffed with super mutants, and since I had a new toy in the form of an overpowered minigun handy I went on a rampage and cleared out the entire area in the hopes of finding some great loot to scavenge.  Hours later, near the end game, I’m told to head to a certain area to find a machine, which happens to be in the area I cleared out hours ago, and when I head back there, all the monsters are still decorating the floor with their minigun-pierced carcasses. So I skipped through the area admiring my handiwork, grabbed the machine, and headed out again. Quest completed.

Everything I do in the Fallout 3 world has a lasting affect. Monsters stay dead, things stay blown up, people still hate me for kicking their pets and stealing their cutlery, and this is where MMORPGs fall on their faces. It doesn’t matter how many quests you complete or how many things you kill, the world will stay exactly the same for the next player. There’s no sense of progression other than a level counter ticking up after agonizing grinding to gain experience. The world is static and everything keeps respawning, and there’s no way around it, nothing you can do will leave a mark. So you saved the princess and killed the evil villain? It doesn’t matter, because next time you head to the castle the silly cow will be in the villain’s dungeon yet again.

I’m going to avoid MMORPGs until we have procedurally generated characters, monsters, quests, and areas in a true, living, multi-player world where your actions matter.

2009.10.08