If you look at what Blizzard does really well, like Diablo.
Lord British, to The Observer on sandbox games
We haven’t had a good Lord British quotable article for a while. He hasn’t flirted with EA or Zynga or called his fellow game designers lazy for quite a while. But here he is, finally back, and with a sick burn on Blizzard.
Okay, I snipped that quote out of its context and you could take it in a number of possible ways, but that is still Lord British, speaking in an interview about his sandbox MMORPG, mentioning what Blizzard does well, and then going for what I might have ranked as the third item on the list, after StarCraft, which was an esport before esports were a thing, and perhaps World of Warcraft, which is actually in the MMORPG genre he is attempting to re-enter and which has been eating everybody’s lunch for a decade now.
Something of an “Elephant? What elephant? No elephant in this room!” moment for me.
And lest you think he just has words for Blizzard, he also takes a shot at NCsofts Lineage, a game still more popular today than Ultima Online at its peak.
Anyway, a bit of silliness that made me chuckle.
Still, there is some merit in the article. It gets into sandbox MMORPGs and Lord British is very quick to equate Shroud of the Avatar with EVE Online, which ranks pretty high on the “successful sandbox MMORPG” list for most people, aside from Tobold. And in the next breath he puts SotA up there with Star Citizen as an important sandbox game slated to release in the next year. Also, did you know he’s been in space? A clear head start into the heads of the EVE Online team!
Okay, maybe I haven’t gotten to the merit part yet.
But there is an interesting thread in the whole thing about reporting on events that happen in-game that is largely the preserve of the sandbox end of the genre. This is why Lord British wants his game to be equated with EVE Online, because things that happen in New Eden actually make the news in the non-gaming press now and again.
To get that sort of thing going in SotA, Lord British mentions that they are working on a way to enable “reporters” to be able to cover live events with special views. This contrasts with the approach CCP has taken, which was the subject of another Observer article that asked why they were not supplying special ships so reporters could cover battles…. to which CCP essentially responded by gesturing at its player base, rolling its eyes knowingly, and shaking its head. We would exploit that in a heart beat.
And all of that ties into another article at The Observer… I had no idea they paid this much attention to video games… which interviewed The Mittani about his news site and which has its own thread about what games are structured so that interesting, newsworthy things can happen and be reported on. EVE Online is a natural for that, as we have seen, but Mittens also brings up H1Z1… though given the tight relationship between TMC and Daybreak I am not sure how much credence to give that.
But he also throws out the potential for SotA, having its roots in Ultima Online and such.
So I guess the question of the day what other MMORPG has as much potential as EVE Online for the newsworthiness of in-game events? Will the BBC and other non-gaming news organizations be covering player events in Shroud of the Avatar… or Star Citizen… or any other sandbox MMORPG the way they have EVE?
Anyway, hat tip to Neville Smit who got me started on this with a tweet: