MMO thought

Would it not be possible to have an MMO that lets you be something other than a single character?

For example, you control the development and advancement of a 100 man strong army. Forming alliances with other armies to do battle with opposing forces. XP would be garnered in similar fashion to standard MMO’s but the scale would be huge.

You would decide the specialty (ranged, melee, rear support like medics or researcher teams, crafting) etc of your “army” just like you would in a character creator.
To make it more personable and less RTS like there would be one “captain” of sorts who would be the character through which you would command.

Huge allied armies 1000 strong controlled by 10 players taking on the same number of foes on a wide open battlefield. If you lose soldiers in the field of battle it costs XP to get back to full strength and if your “captain” bites it it’s a huge XP hit.
It wouldn’t be just PvP. There would be rogue bands of NPC barbarians and such roaming the lands that would need to be dealt with. Missions would include razing of villages among other things more standard to MMOs.

There could be crafting “armies” who would peddle thier goods to the players leaning towards combat and alliances would be made as such. The economy would be driven by warfare and the wares needed to wage it.

I could go on and on but it sounds cool to me. Oh, has anything like this been (or is being) done?

This doesn’t really sound like a viable MMO game to me. I’m not a dev, but it seems to me that there are technical considerations that would rule out many designs like this one. For instance, you’ve multiplied the number of polygons required for each player by a factor of 100. That’s probably fine if you’re going to limit the number of players to 10, but then you’re not talking about a MMO game anymore; you’re back in the realm of plain ol’ multiplayer online. For a MMO game, you’ve got to be able to support the case where, say, 2000 guys show up with their armies to do battle.

Another consideration might be story-related: where are all these armies coming from/based? Are they tied to specific geographic locations like earthbound armies are? If so, then you’ve got to have a gameworld capable of dividing up a map between thousands of players. But then there’s a problem: if territorial conquest is possible, what’s to prevent players from capturing areas that don’t belong to players yet? And if you simply make that impossible, how do you explain such a restriction in a plausible way?

There are a hundred other problems like these that would have to be addressed for a game like the one you suggest, many of them so subtle and arcane that they wouldn’t even pop up until you were well into the development cycle. Again, I’m not a dev, but that’s the way it looks from where I’m sitting.

In general, though, I agree with your complaint: I, too, would like to see something besides RPG’s in the MMO format. It’s just a question of whether other kinds of games are really possible.

Actually, something vaguely similar was tried way back I think, although I never played it. Called TenSix if I believe, back when Sega(?) was doing… it was an online, persistent, realtime (it happened while you slept) territory carving out type game. Can’t recall hearing much good about it, though.

I think the main problem is that you just have to support a huge population of virtual “things” if you expect 3k people per server each controlling 100 or more virtual things…

I believe SOE axed an MMORTS named Sovereign a little while back.

Oh, and if you like the multiple-units thing (although the max is 12 per person and 20 people per side in a fight) kept me entertained for about 6 months - in beta. It’s nice and cheap, and very well made for a small project.

The main problem with an MMORTS is that it would almost necessarily have to be full PvP. With that said, in standard RTS structure, the farther along you are in a game, the better.

Although you could fight computer-controlled armies… eh… it’d be really hard to pull a workable design. Whoever did it first would win kudos from across the industry, though.

There’s an MMO named Ballerium in the works that’s some kind of hybrid RTS/RPG.

I’ve often thought that a RPGish MMO that let you control a small group (maybe 4-6 characters) would be fun. DAoC has the Bonedancer class which lets you control a Bonedancer and three pets, so there’s some precedent for it.

I think I’d like to see a MMORPG get the one character thing down right first. There’s alot that needs to be done before we have the kinds of MMORPGs I’d find believable rather than dull or grinding. You do touch, I think, on one vital component of what needs to be done. Overarching strategic elements. A glaring weak point of the D&D of the masses model is that the answer to the question “What’s the point of doing this?” tends to be “Because you’ll get more powerful.” And the answer to the question “What do I do with being more powerful?” tends to be “Get yet more powerful?” Social, economic and military structures tend to be dwarfed into insigificance by the stress on personal character building in terms of stats rather than relationships.

Whether I’m playing one character or a posse of a hundred, in theory, I’d like to see designs that create environments that guide credible human behavior and organization based on setting, or where setting is lacking, a believably abstracted version of reality. I’m very tired of games that build to whomever is doing the most screeching in the forums at any given time or based on preconceptions about what kinds of players are out there - given the fact that’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Would it not be possible to have an MMO that lets you be something other than a single character?

Fighting Legends from Maximum Charisma studios did this well, IMHO, but it was critically panned and hit the circular file about 3 months after being released.

You started with one critter, and then, as your power grew, you were able to add more characters to your “tribe”. PvP was essentially battles between “tribes”.