Syp at Biobreak wrote a short post this morning on five things he wants to find out in a beta. I thought number five, “the full map of the world”, is a good point.
For example, right now I’m starting a five-day vacation, and I’m looking for a game to play while not working on my novel. My options:
+100% XP anniversary weekend in the Tolkien MMO. Leveling my Captain from 75 into Rohan, which I swore not to do. I already have three characters at cap. I don’t need another one. Still. It’s solid fare. It’s paid for.
Guild Wars 2. If it happens to go on sale again in the next couple days, that could tip me to pull the trigger. Every time I think seriously about playing this game though, I look at race selection videos, and none of the races appeal to me. Sylvari are alright, but I want to play the evil sect, just like I want to side with the dragons in Skyrim.
SWTOR subscription. I’m trending in this direction. It’s already installed on my hard drive. My LGBT romance boycott is over. I spent two hours last night looking at video and information on classes and companions. Apparently a subscription solves all problems like in the Tolkien MMO. The PvP looks good.
It’s mainly depressing that I can’t romance any of these interesting female NPCs unless I play as a male. I decided that the Sith Warrior has some nice female companions, plus a male doctor. If I’m going to do a man, he can at least be attentive and rich!
These are all good options. I realized this morning though that I have no concept of the size and scope of the game worlds in SWTOR and GW2, despite watching countless videos and reading many articles and webpages.
Why don’t I? I even played the SWTOR beta to level ten. I know there is no space combat (boo), and there are X number of planets, a number that doesn’t mean anything to me.
I also realize that I never looked closely at the Neverwinter world map beyond the city itself. Meanwhile, going to the volcano and fighting giants is something I most want to do in that game. That Neverwinter video expanded the game world both in my visual sense and my imagination, and it was very effective.
If you pick up a good book on writing sci-fi or fantasy fiction, it will tell you that setting description is super-important in these genres. It might be something that is falling short when advertising MMOs.
The typical fly-through video clips often aren’t good enough. They need to also evoke the player’s imagination far beyond what is seen, in terms that imply a translation into concrete game scope, not just empty advertising adjectives.