A Current Approach to MMO Design

I’ve become more and more aware of what I think may be a pretty widespread approach to MMO design.  In essence, it’s the same approach one takes to Dungeons and Dragons, that is, the game setting is ultimately the immediate design of the Game Master.  The player experience is immediately intended to be the way it is.

You can see this in the issues surrounding server shards, the heavy emphasis on quests and story arcs, and the issues surrounding instancing.  I think there is a general assumption that every player wants to experience the same legendary situation as every other player.  I’m not entirely in disagreement with the above assumptions, but I think they are and should be a subset of what is designed for in the game.  The context within which everything takes place is what needs to be most heavily designed so that it allows for instancing, questing, and other such parallel-universe type things, rather than specifically designing the virtual world toward the notion that instancing and defined quests are what make the content.

I’m going to revisit this topic in the future.  I have not quite yet wrapped my brain around the issue.