Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

God for a Week

There’s a post over at Kotaku that talks about the upcoming MMO Forsaken World. Most of the post seems to simply be taken from a statement by the MMO’s creators (even keeping their praising tone), but there’s a small bit that caught my eye: Apparently players will have a chance to become gods of a certain specialization if they are really good at their job. The system is still being tuned, but Kotaku gives an example of the player who travelled the most in any given week becoming god of transportation for the following week. These gods (limited to 10 apparently) would get special powers according to what type of god they are.

I find such a system intriguing as it gives players something to shoot for and might allow dedicated players to influence the world in some way or another. On the other hand there are so many issues that come to mind when talking about a system like this that I have to wonder whether it’s really worth doing. For one, your gods would have to be powerful enough to warrant dedicating oneself to getting such a title but at the same time must not be too powerful to break the rest of the game. If raiding with a god or two in your group would be really easy, for example, raid success would become meaningless as players would no longer have to work on the encounters but simply on getting gods.

Then there’s the issue of the grind of course. Pretty much every measurable statistic can be achieved through grinding in MMOs in some ways or another. Just think back to the vanilla days of World of Warcraft in which PvP ranks were given out on a percentile basis. There was rarely more than one Grand Marshal on a server and it was something players really wanted to be. This lead to lots and lots of grinding because there would always be someone grinding even more than you did. I can see the Forsaken World system going into a similar direction. Players will choose a type of deity and then spend their week doing nothing but things that give them points towards deity status. Sure, some things are hard to grind and require skill instead (such as having the highest ELO rating in a PvP competition) but I wish you good luck to find ten of those in a single game.

I really like the idea of allowing players to get to ranks that not only make them more powerful but actually expand the scope of their powers. Some MUDs of old did this (though those were really before my time and my knowledge of them is limited), but I don’t believe that they used a purely numeric system of deciding who would get those extra powers. I just don’t see such a system working.

Do you know of any games that successfully incorporated such a system, if so – how?