Jim Rossignol at Rock, Paper, Shotgun recently made a post laying out a theoretical game that merges the generic fantasy appeal of World of Warcraft with the flat, level-less design of Eve Online. It’s not an altogether original idea, and I suspect that most players who have tried both games will have hazily imagined such a chimera sooner or later.
There are obvious contradictions with this basic design: Eve Online is all about the complex interactions between its players that its mechanics allows and the profound way that these interactions can shape the universe they inhabit. As such the Eve universe is appropriately enough a mostly blank expanse of interstellar space populated by planets, moons and asteroid belts. World of Warcraft on the other hand derives its appeal in large part from its aesthetics, in the form of player avatars, the environments they live their adventures in and the plethora of enemies that they fight. It’s part of what makes it “compelling and immediate” as Rossignol writes. It’s not obvious to me that the intersection of these two different groups of players constitutes a broad enough player base to commercially justify such a game given the resources that would be required to give a Eve-like game WOW-like eye candy. As an exercise in theorycrafting though, it’s great fun to speculate on the many ways that WOW would need to be changed to make it more like Eve.