Autoduel and Universe were a couple '80s games that amazed me from a design perspective. In Autoduel you could be an Arena Duellist, Courier, Highway Duellist, or Questor. I was impressed by the “4 games in one” model. Universe worked similarly.
One of my early MMOG ideas was for a space game where instead of a single player per ship many ships would be manned by dozens or even hundreds of players. The game would play completely differently whether you were an Engineer or a Captain. Many games in one, and much more realism.
Here’s an example of this concept in action in a Military War game…
The “Commander” game: Commander gameplay consists of a War Map showing troop movements which can be zoomed in on to show up close troops. Commander orchestrates the actions of the troops from a physically removed location. Before and during action, the Commander sets strategy for the conflict. This sub-game would be called the “Strategy” genre.
The “Troop” game: Troop gameplay consists of a FPS interface with a headset to receive commands from Sergeant (who also has a FPS interface so is not listed seperately). This sub-game would be called the “FPS” genre.
The “Medic” game: Medic gameplay consists of drop-down menus showing supplies, patients, conditions, etc. This sub-game would be called the “Sim” genre.
The “Supplier” game: Supplier gameplay consists of maps and text data showing supply locations, shipping routes, inventory levels. He negotiates prices and arranges shipments for Commander, Troop and Medic supplies.
Now, the Commander perhaps and the Medic definitely can be killed… they show up as 3-D physical units and are bot-controlled. When they die their interface is gone.
All types of players get individual ratings. The Medic is playing his own sub-game and how well he does determines his score, which he can post and if its good maybe he’ll be recruited by a better team.
Hopefully the MMOGs of the future will incorporate this kind of diversity.