About a year ago a fanatstic MMORPG expert spent a day with Ron and I initiating us into the ways of World of Warcraft. I was impressed by the beautiful landscapes, especially the detail and the level of social interaction that was going on between guilds but I had two reservations. The fantasy and the look and feel were still very much of the elves, dwarves and *lands of yore* that I’d come to recognise from the RP table-top games I was introduced to as a teenager and the primary game-play involved battles. I’ve looked for alternatives, but unless you call Second Life and other MUVEs “games”, there was nothing else out there.
Ren Reynolds of Terra Nova just drew my attention to a new virtual world in development, which may yet fulfill my desires for a really unusual, beautiful, mind-expanding, non-combative MORPG: Lila’s Dreams.
It has the same surreal “inside your head” approach that so appealed to me in Psychonauts. The graphics are expressive and loose (let’s hope they can hold on to that when they get converted into the digital – there’s a good possibility since they’ll be flash-based), the game-play involves monsters and some combat but the designers talk about they wish to avoid it where possible, and alternative activities include growing a garden…
A short quote from the blog
” There are no elves, dwarfs, or other Tolkien-derived player races. There are no dragons, orcs, or other Tolkien-derived creatures. There’s no magic. Well, there are “powers” that might be analogous to magic spells, but in terms of the setting they are psychic powers and not spells. So, there’s no magic.
There is no level grind. Level grinding is when you do boring tasks like killing cellar rats over and over to watch your game character become more powerful so you can kill bigger cellar rats. I personally do not like level grinding, and I think that it puts the focus of play on the experience of grinding rather than on the experience of the game world. I am working hard to design systems that do not require grinding so that the game world itself is the focus of fun.”