HIGH FANTASY IS DEAD.
There, that is out of the way. High fantasy as defined by Tolkien and D&D is an artistically bankrupt, soulless cliche of a genre for MMOs. It can even be argued it’s dead for fantasy fiction, and the long, sprawling series that used to generate sales sputter out and collapse under their own weight. But MMOs have much less flexibility and freedom to deal with the pitfalls high fantasy has, and developers have shown they really haven’t risen to the challenge.
Rather than go into princples, I am just going to list possible genres.
- Modern fantasy. Think Charles Delint, or Mercedes Lackey’s Circle of Iron series.
- Alternate History games. Where the allies lost WW2, or even blending Alternate History with fantasy elements.
- Mystery. I’m surprised no one has tried to make a sandbox game in which players can design crimes to solve.
- Pure history. This has been more of a simulation-based genre, but it could be extended into a massively persistent simulation. Isn’t one of the old staples of virtual reality creating past worlds?
- General Sci-fi.Whether near or far future.
- Sports. We see this already with Pangya but it could be extended into any virtual sport in a persistent, real world.
This is just a few I can think of, but there are no limits. Each new genre will force designers to look at a MMO experience in a new way, and the ones that successfully adapt it will change the MMO experience.