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August 28, 2005



Hmm.. a tale from the desert has 1 year story arcs.

Seb Potter

I agree with the idea, it would be a brilliant way of holding interest in a game right up until the end.

CCP are in a good position to do something like this with EVE when they decide to get out.

For now, I can't see any major publishers buying into the idea of a revenue stream being cut short whilst it's still making money, and it's pretty hard to put together an MMO without a major publisher's backing.

Pixel Kill

Hell yes. I've thought about this in the past - suddenly MMOs would have a goal beyond socialising, an end game beyond hitting 60. A properly arching story with strong player influence and a final destination could be brilliant.

If they kill off Planetside I hope they let one side win once and for all too. One of the problems with that game was that any victory was entirely temporary and thus pointless.

Matt J

This is a great idea.

Imagine further if the end date was relatively short, and the only way the game cycles on is via some collaborative community act (getting the ring to mt. doom or something)

That way, not only does the community have an incentive to stay, but as soon as the community becomes too small to be economically sustainable (from the developers' standpoint), the task won't be accomplished and the game naturally ends. Game over. No continues.


A Tale In The Desert did that I think.


Though you'ld feel right hacked off if you went out and bought this new game of the shelf for yourself only to find that you'ld joined in the closing stages of act 3 and you're new software was about to be made redundant...


This has been done a lot, actually, it's just called the beta. People get as far as they can, then everything is thrown away and they start over. People still seem to have fun.


I think it would be a great idea. I would still buy a game if I knew it would end in 2 years. You could also have some incentives to buy into the next game ie.. discount on software, carry over aspects of your character into the new realm, things like that.


That's an interesting idea, and one that a Guild Wars model would be perfect for implementing.
Say that the Guild Wars Vol. 2 was actually actually set 30 years after the original. You could roll new characters, or you generate a child from your old character, who as a hero presumably has some sort of status within the Guild Wars world, thus imbuing their child with some benefits.

Either that, or have a fixed period story arc, in which the players can massively affect the direction, and then after the end of the fixed period - reset it, but not so obviously straight. A Tale In The Desert tried to do this.

Ben Hammersley

Top idea. But it can't be too player-influenced: they'd game it to see if they could. If the game cycled when the ring got to Mt.Doom, you'd have people camping there to kill Frodo, just to see what would happen.

Seb Potter

True, but that's why it's a game and not a novel or a film.

If you give players the ability to influence events in a game, you can't pretend to be surprised when they do.

It's about time game designers stopped being precious about their idea of a story, and let players work it out on their own...


In a 'random thought' kind of a way, perhaps the way to do it would be for each individual shard/realm/whatever to have its own personal time/story arc, and to only allow new people to join a given shard/realm/whatever within a prescribed 'starting up' period, and then you're locked in. Events in your own little realm would progress at some vaguely predefined but affectable by user's actions rate towards some (hopefully one of many possible) conclusion. Then you just stagger a whole series of these individual realms starting up over time, so new players always have a new one to get in on (or old players who want to start over naturally).

That way you get the concept of an arc and completion without making everyone have to start at once or cutting off revenue streams etc ..

There are all sorts of problems with this of course, but it would be nice to see something where your actions really affect the world in which you're playing in a permanent way, rather than just working your way independently through a set of pseudo-storylines where you put all your effort into killing big nasty monster then.. and then it respawns 15 minutes later for someone else to kill.

Of course, it's an obvious-ish idea so I'm sure someone's already tried it. Probably twice.


You'ld also have the problem of that horrible thing called the internet. As soon as one person has experience something or figured out a trigger, it's up on the net within seconds. Not much cop for cool narrative when someone has already spilled the beans on another server!


Yep, like two others have mentioned A Tale in the Desert was specifically designed to have a set storyline and end date. Of course, when the first game ended this meant that the second iteration started up not only giving things a natural point to upgrade (and since the client is free it's definitely welcome to have a new version). The changeover also meant that activities made at the end of the last game had an effect on the new game (new trials and test were proposed and became a part of the game).

Quite frankly it's a really, really great MMORPG. The client is free. There's a free, credit-cardless trial period. The developers are heavily involved in the day-to-day game (e.g. the player-run legal system is coded into practice by the development staff) and it has a strong, enjoyable storyline with a set ending rather than something you're intended to just hack away at until you get bored.

I loved it greatly and was at one point addicted (i.e. playing from waking up until going to bed for about a week and a half), but there just isn't the time to play with work. Otherwise it's highly, highly reccommended.


I like the idea, a lot. There's one issue that would kill it, though. In just about every single MMOG when an event is scheduled people flood the area to participate and then the zone crashes, or lags, or the server drops you, etc...

Still, I think this idea would be a step in the right direction. Now we just need developers to find a way to do it without the previously mentioned issues. Of course, before any of that, they'd need to actually make MMOGs massive, which to date, they are not.

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