Massive Multiplayer Online Games, also called MMOs, have been around for some time now and it has been stated by some supposed experts that they are on the way out the door.
The Internet community in general and the more than two billion people who play them tend to argue differently, however. One game that highlights current trends is called Brick Force, and I want to use it as an example of the modern MMO to help explain that not only are they not on the way out, they are building a second floor.
Brick Force is a massive multiplayer online game that smacks loudly of heavy influences from such notable success stories as Minecraft (for visual style), Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress Classic (for gameplay).
The best part is that it is now completely free to play, having adopted the smart model of the F2P MMO. This is, as I have mentioned once or twice before, the gaming model of the future for PC (as opposed to console) gaming, especially where MMOs are concerned.
Personally, I can easily see and anticipate a day when absolutely every game that comes out will technically be a massive multiplayer online experience, and the industry accepting and moving forward gung-ho with the “Free 2 Play” model that offers a completely free experience, with totally optional benefits for premium memberships, is the first big step toward that utopian day of gaming glory. Brick Force shows up, not late, but not early to the scene of F2P and because of that timing they have been able to avoid many of the pitfalls that other, earlier attempts at the model suffered from. There’s a robust support system and large FAQ, player community full of new ideas and tips, and of course information on the optional premium bonuses at the web site as well.
Brick Force is, at heart, a game inspired by Minecraft and various ‘deathmatch’ style shooters as well. No matter what the press kits or the fans or even the coders themselves might say, anyone who looks at Brick Force for more than five seconds will see that it was influenced by Minecraft at the very least. This is not a bad thing, as many of the greatest games ever produced were inspired or influenced by previous games. Brick Force takes a general idea (build anything from blocks and get the community involved in this custom-content-fest!) and refines it to a process that makes the user experience seamless, easy, and so completely all about the fun. In an effort to combine more than two things they love, the developers have created a beautiful gaming experience that is quite heavily flavored with familiar elements but feels polished and fresh all at once.
Brick Force basically plays as a deathmatch style shooter with variants offered like capture the flag or defusion (terrorists with bomb vs. counter terrorists with wire cutters) that will keep you coming back for more again and again. But that’s not all it is. There are plenty of games out there to shoot each other in, so what makes Brick Force unique is the sense of visual style that comes with the blocky, “macro-eight-bit” graphics that are nevertheless slick and quite professionally done. As opposed to Minecraft, the visual style here was a driving force in the game’s creation, rather than a by-product of it. Minecraft had its style built up over time (which is apt) but Brick Force started from day one with a particular visual goal and they nail it with great effect. The campy, kitsch graphics make the game feel comfortable and non-intimidating, as well as being colorful and easy to track. Both of those things make it an ideal game to introduce first time MMO players or even first time online competitors of any kind. The tutorial mode is quite useful, but the Build and Play modes are pretty self explanatory even if you don’t go through the learning mode first. All of this is typical of the common MMO these days, and the sheer number of available F2P MMOs would seem to indicate that there are more and more people playing them, not the other way around.
One of the biggest draws for Brick Force (and indeed for all F2P MMOs) is the wave of players out there, and I mean a tsunami, with time to kill and a willingness to create a sense of community online. This isn’t just about playing games anymore. Quagmire may think the Internet is “that lame dial up thing that takes forever? I thought that was just for nerds!” but the estimated numbers are surprising, to some. At least one out of every four adults plays an online game of some kind and conservative numbers show that more than three out of five kids under eighteen play some kind of free online game as well! There are so many people out there playing this little game, and so many others, that lots of people have never heard of, it’s astounding and quite heartening to those who spout nonsense about PC gaming being dead or dyeing. You can create your own group of players, called a “Clan” and basically take over the world of Bricks with your own little gang or army at your command. That is, of course, assuming your friends will take orders from you, but if not they might enjoy some of the other game modes all the same. Build mode is a joy to mess around with, seeing what you can come up with and share with others. It’s an excellent creative outlet and the connection to making things go boom and shooting virtual guns assures a wide audience. Some of the options can be a bit tiresome, like the pseudo disco-dance-wave music in the background that I can tell someone worked really hard on but it got on my nerves after a bit. Thankfully, options is not something Brick Force is lacking. Shutting the music off is easy, just like everything else in BF. This kind of ease of play,. jumping right in and getting started and getting results immediately, is an earmark of a good company behind a game. Gamers want to play now, not ten minutes from now after staring at various loading screens and registration pages and instruction books.
One of the big misconceptions about F2P MMOs, and part of why the misinformed are so woefully wrong in their conclusions, is that there’s no way to get the ‘good stuff’ in the game without paying for the premium content that costs money. The fact is, however, that most of the successful F2P MMOs offer in-game methods of getting the same ‘good stuff’ or comparable items without paying anything other than your time and effort into the game. Gems, crystals, badges, points, coins, bricks, approvals, whatever the denomination, there’s nearly always a way to get the lewt (MMO slang for treasure or in-game items of worth) that you want without paying a dime in real money. Of course, for those that do have disposable income and want a faster, easier way to get the goods, they can do so. It’s really a win-win-win situation all the way around and quite frankly stands out as my idea of the American sense of liberty and the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, in the cyberverse. If the USA were a video game, I believe it would be a Free 2 Play MMO, maybe even something like Brick Force, where everyone gets to be creative and effort is rewarded.
You can play the game on the web site, via your browser if it’s among those supported. Current support is up for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and IE but there may be additional browsers added in the future if there’s enough demand. Alternatively, you can also download the game and install it on your local system, designed for both US and UK language based PC systems. The game is also, like most successful MMOs, very scalable as far as graphics go so if you have a bit of an older system you won’t be left out. If you’ve got a Mac, then you’re stuck playing in your browser but the experience is nearly identical either way. Brick Force is an almost perfect example of the evolution of modern MMO games so head over to the web site and check it out. The argument of MMOs versus traditional gaming is rapidly becoming a moot one, as the gaming and business communities come together to make money as well as mirth. Free 2 Play MMOs are going to be the standard, mark my words. While behemoths like Blizzard will always be around and will (hopefully) always offer a high quality product at a reasonable price, the more community oriented game companies will also continue to advance into the market, making their legacy a force to be reckoned with.
Get Brick Force here.