Technically, ProjectX, isn’t an MMOG quite yet. Unlike some people, they’re familiar with the limitations of starting a niche product and seem to be keeping their goals realistic. Rather than build a game with magic server code and 19 species of sponges, they’re starting smaller – a game designed around the Gemstone III mud engine and client, which has the actual benefit of already existing… More to the point, it’s a project lead by an employee of Simultronics, who made Gemstone III in the first place.
Personally, I’d like to see them get somewhere with this. Yes, I’m still an atheist. I don’t consider that a contradiction. Of course, by the same token, I also wouldn’t be playing it, but I think it might have more to offer the industry than is first apparent.
Presumably, a Christian-specific role-playing environment would exhibit many of the same traits as existing MMOGs. In fact, human nature guarantees it, and that’s why it interests me. If this game sees the light of day, it’s going to have administration requirements that have been seen in previous MUDlike games, but simply hasn’t existed in the newer generation of MMRPGs. Having a moral aspect to your games isn’t new, as anyone who played Ultima IV through VII can tell you. But that aspect of Ultima Online was abandoned during development; the irony isn’t lost on a lot of people.
Content control is a big issue when you’re not only trying to tell a specific story (at which some games have been better at than others) but also trying to make sure your players aren’t telling the wrong story. At least in a game like this, the developer has a pretty good idea of what does and doesn’t constitute the “right” story.
There are content issues inherent in an environment like this that need to be solved differently. The false dichotomy of Ultima Online’s “PKs vs RPs” pales in comparison to the problems of actually enforcing not only a role-play environment, but one with specific values and beliefs. What do you do with players who prefer a PvP style of game – let them be Romans, witches, heretics, Muslims, demons, unbelievers, or do you have Christ’s followers camping the newbie spawn points for fresh souls? These pre-existing solutions are not as practical in an faith-specific religiously-themed environment.
Is there a way to create a game for a niche market and be something bigger than a MUD? Is there an interest in online gaming with a moral dimension (whether it’s one I agree with is more a question for me as a customer than as someone writing about this genre), and more importantly, how reasonable a concept is this? Is there a way to woo an audience that has a vocal minority assuring it that the very concept of a role-playing game isn’t appropriate for the very target audience it’s intended for?
Does Jesus cast spells?