Friday, September 30, 2011

The MMOFPS Essentials

When it comes to the MMOFPS genre there are are few things that just have to be done right. If not? Things won't go well. We've decided to list the essential elements to making Persistent Shooters a success. We looked at several online experiences that are top-notch and borrowed elements from each. As the MMOFPS/Persistent Shooter genre is in its infancy, making sure the experience is a great one isn't easy. Here's our list:

Population - Since there are oftentimes no bots or AI there is one thing that is a necessity in the MMOFPS genre without fail, and that is players. As games that depend on large populations have showed before, lack of, or mass exodus of players usually starts the slow, painful process of Game Death. Even die-hard players can be frustrated when there is a lack of persons to interact with. The one sure fire way to get players? ADVERTISE. People cannot enjoy what they don't know exists. People that enjoy the experience will also tell their peers. Thirdly, RETAIN those players that choose to purchase your game with good gameplay and a great experience. In the end, players (particularly the hardcore players DUST is geared towards) want a deep, persistent, challenging and rewarding experience. You can keep them around by giving this to them.

Timely Support - Games aren't perfect, we all know and accept this, but when imperfections and flaws are discovered they have to be eliminated within a timely manner. Nothing will shorten the life cycle of a game faster then a failure to address game flaws and issues. While its not a crime for these things to exist, its a big no-no for them to fester for too long.

Content - You gotta keep it coming, let's be honest, the mind of a console player needs new content every ninety days or so. On Day ninety-one the console player starts to look for something to renew his or her experience, even if its an experience they like. Things like new maps, new features, new weapons and patches for known issues are the things that keep players around and turn a game into a platform where a developer can continue to pile great elements.

Communication/Social - When shooters added the ability to speak  to other players it changed everything--when games included headsets it did it even moreso. Games went from zero to sixty more quickly than anyone could have imagined. Now that we have the ability to converse, strategize, socialize and alert our teammates of oncoming danger, No game in this genre can be complete any longer without a well done chat system in place. Typing just won't do as the sole means of communication any longer.

Persistence - This aspect is new to the FPS Genre but players are starting to really like the depth it offers. The ability to craft and progress their characters keeps players coming back for more, and gaining new brands of weapons, vehicles, armor and other items for customization is second-to-none. The one aspect that Dust 514 may break new ground in, is its ability to let players make a sincere and measurable impact on the Game World. The Dominance, Effectiveness, Infamy or Popularity of your Dust Corps is entirely up to you. No other experience in gaming offers anything even remotely close.

Training - Games that have a steep learning curve owe us a bit more in the way of preparation, those without an offline mode or campaign to familiarize ourselves even moreso. Depending on players to learn as they go along or to be "trained" by friendly peers is never a good idea and can cause frustration for newer players and the veteran ones. In-depth Training Modes that show players how to play and how to familiarize ourselves with the control scheme and game objectives are almost necessary at this point.

Game Integrity - While the ability to take advantage of naive players seems to be rewarded in EVE, its still important that the game still has a measure of accountability. If abused badly enough, devices like Lag Switches, Exploits and other manner of cheats or hacks will lose you players. For all of the popularity of the COD series, the existence of rampant glitches is the reason fans are hungry for another shooter. MAG allowed people to quit out of games or relinquish leadership so that it wouldn't reflect on their stats. Many games aren't prepared to handle the abuse of alternate accounts by using a different Playstation Profile. Issues like these must be eliminated as quickly as possible. Having exploits in your game that online players will take advantage of is normal, having them fester for months without being addressed is not.

Gameplay - Of all the features that people are concerned about, this one might be the most critical. The game must at least be good. Clunky mechanics can hurt here, its best to go with familiar and intuitive, which is the reason so many shooters tend to go with a similar setup. The key is allowing players actions that impact the game. Like the ability to "paint" targets for teammates, draw on a mini-map, send a message via a web application or see an icon when teammates are talking. These are some of the extra things that go into making great gameplay.

Balance -The best way to consider Game Balance is to think of it similar to a Rocks/Paper/Scissors system where everything has a counter and weakness. Having one weapon that is dramatically better than the rest? Bad Idea. Everyone will be using it thirty days in--guaranteed. Giving any faction, weapon or perk dominating stats will cause your online community to fold like a house of cards.

Griefing - Some players sole purpose is to ruin the experiences of others. When its done within the mechanics of gameplay there's no issue. When things like team-killing, abuse of chat channels, and use of exploits and cheats are taking place something has to be done. These are the reasons why a balanced vote-to-kick system is paramount in addition to Mute User options and sometimes even Online Moderators. Let's make sure that people are ruining the experiences of other players the proper way--by shooting them in the face or hitting them in the wallet as allowed by gameplay.


  1. i think all of this listed above is a must for an mmofps

    ps: good job realy liking the stuff you put out here :)

  2. i like this one too. good article.

  3. u didnt rank them, but 2 me balance is #1

  4. Almost all of these issues were addressed by the devs, or at least recognized by the players, in Planetside. It's too bad that SOE hates their own games so much... hopefully they won't botch PS2.