Will On-Line Console RPGs Work? Depends...

by Matt Hayes

As we speed ahead in this very highly technological age, we find ourselves reaching milestones that before seemed unthinkable. One of these milestones will be the ability to play console games on the Internet. We tried it before with the Sega Channel, but unfortunately this idea failed. Now, with the coming of the Playstation 2, we again try to reach for that milestone. And I believe that it can be successful, as long as the developers learn from other on-line RPGs and try to mirror console RPGs to certain elements of the others.

The first thing that the developers should look at is the computer on-line RPGs. It has been a few years since on-line gaming has first become popular, and it has had a chance to develop and change to the needs of players. The game that is most successful in catering to the player's needs is Asheron's Call. By successful I mean that it seems to address and fix the problems like hacking and Player Killing that have come up in other on-line RPGs such as EverQuest or Ultima Online. I feel as though Asheron's Call solves most of the problems and is a really fun game to play because of it, so I believe that a lot of the ideas in the game should be used for console games, as well. Perhaps the best thing about Asheron's Call is the way it deals with Player Killing. First off, Player Killers can only kill other Player Killers. Second, to become a Player Killer, you must first go through a long and difficult quest. Only after you complete the quest will you be able to become a Player Killer. Finally, if you don't want to go through the long quest, there is a server that is just dedicated to Player Killers. If console games want to be successful, they should at the very least have this somehow implemented into the game.

Another good thing about Asheron's Call that developers should pick up on is the amount of updating that goes on. Every month, the developers for Asheron's Call-which, BTW, I've heard is only a group of a few people-update the game and add new graphics, fix bugs and cheats that people have found, and then they also do something to add to the story line of the game. This is perhaps one of the most interesting things about the game, and it solves the problem of the game becoming monotonous. By updating every month, it gives the players something fresh and new to deal with. It may be too hard for a console game to do, but if it were possible, that would also be a good idea to add.

While it is easy for all of us to sit back and say that the games should be mirrored after certain PC games, it's a whole other story to what the developers can actually do. There's a big difference between using your computer to play on-line and using your console system. I'm not saying I know how fast the connection will be, or if it will be lag free. I'm not saying I know if these games will have the ability to be updated or not. I'm not saying that I know how much it will cost, or if it will all be worth it. What I am saying is that if they truly want these games to work, developers will need to find a way to address the problem of Player Killers and the monotony of having an open-ended system. I am also saying that the developers should take ideas from what is already out there and proven successful. If they can do that, then we will enjoy our on-line console games. If not, then it might very well be a flop. We can only wait and see.

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