Game developers love spicing up their projects by combining multiple genres into one cohesive experience. That’s how we get exciting stuff like FPS/RPGs and action/adventure titles. The key here is that the separate elements need to come together to form one project. The DungeonMaster Online takes several interesting ideas, but then only lets them awkwardly wave at each other from across the room.
The Kickstarter campaign, which hopes to raise a modest $10,000, describes the project as Dungeon Keeper crossed with Star Wars Galaxies. Developer Jubal Biggs is hoping to make a massive online world of player created experiences. Not gonna lie, the list of features sounds rad as hell. Enemy strongholds are actually player controlled RTS experiences. Player characters remain in the game as NPC’s who attend to the daily needs of the towns they inhabit. Hell, if you get bored you can even log in as a random monster and wreck havoc across the map. There are an overwhelming amount of potential options, and therein lies The DungeonMaster Online’s greatest problem.
It seems like a game that offers options for every play-style would quickly gain a massive following. After-all, it is literally everything anyone could want. The trouble being that in order for the game to succeed, each of these systems must work together and enhance the experience of the others. If any system fails to appeal to it’s specific community the rest of the structure topples.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Imagine if a group of RPG players decide to go on an epic raid, but there aren’t any RTS players available to pit their skills against. Worse, what if the only available encounters aren’t very challenging or fun? Not every gamer is a natural level designer or DM. What if you’re the RTS player trying to set up your stronghold, but the RPG players keep wiping the floor with your minions. What incentive do you have to make the experience “fair” to them? Why even make the strongholds challenging if you can make them an easy way for you and your RPG friends to gain experience? These questions barely scrap the surface of all the ways giving players complete control can backfire from a development standpoint.
An MMO’s success is directly tied to the community that supports it. While The DungeonMaster Online has some cool ideas, backers haven’t been quick to pledge toward it. For a game that would rely so heavily upon a necessarily massive community, it doesn’t seem like any effort has been expended towards that goal. Even amazing campaigns can fail if nobody knows about them.
This lack of community insight is likely what lead The DungeonMaster Online to grow into something so overly ambitious in the first place. The genres don’t feel like exciting hybrids so much as separate experiences. Sure, you swap between them at will, but having that option isn’t the same as having a game that lets you do both. Instead the project splits its nonexistent player base into smaller groups based on which genre they prefer then expects them to work for the benefit of the other. A noble goal, but there’s a reason nobody ever maxes out their altruism skill.