Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Casual MMORPGs?

Does "casual" really mean "dumbed-down?"

Here's what Wikipedia suggests are the properties of the typical casual game:
  • Extremely simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad
  • Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation
  • The ability to quickly reach a final stage, or continuous play with no need to save the game
  • 2D, abstract graphics
  • Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

(And to this, I would add "backgrounds or pieces may feature advertising, and short play sessions allow more between-game ads.")

Setting aside for the moment the question of more real-world advertising, would any of the other features listed above be a deal-breaker for an online Star Trek implemented in a more casual way than the typical hardcore MMORPG?

Think of this as a design challenge. How could you take the above constraints and make a game that also offers the depth that some of us enjoy?

Is a "casual MMORPG" a contradiction in terms? If not, what might the general features of such a thing look like?