Weird ideas tend to jump out at me from time to time. Most often they’re some kind of crossed-wire damaged synapse juxtaposition of otherwise perfectly harmless thoughts or observations floating around my brain.
I was reading some article talking about the changes happening to the player population in Azeroth since the release of Burning Crusade. Someone quoted was ranting about how the reduction in raid size no longer made raid encounters in BC feel as “epic.”
Outside the MMO world, “epic” always conjures up one thing to me: Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. Massive Roman and slave legions maneuvering across the terrain to engage in wholesale carnage. That’s when it occurred to me. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a “game” that would allow hundreds or thousands of enthusiasts to re-enact great battles of history online in real time?
My mind immediately leapt to that most fruitful of American reenactor enthusiast, the Civil War Reenactor. Now many are called, but few are chosen and the reenactor gig is not for the faint of heart. Enter the MMOS, the Massively Multiplayer Online Simulation.
Consider the possibilities: 160,000 players reenact the Battle of Gettysburg on a virtual battlefield in real time. That’s massive. That’s epic.
Not a virtual world by any means, but the event-centric MMOS wouldn’t need a fully-baked world environment, just the setting of the event. All those resources that would be devoted to world design would be focused on figuring out how to allow the MMOS to scale for 160,000 plus simultaneous players.
Wouldn’t this be the ultimate what-if engine? Reenactment societies all over the world could join in a single epic battle. Fight it with historical accuracy, or develop your own strategy to win the day. What if Pickett didn’t charge?
Ok, so maybe 160,000 simultaneous users is a bit ambitious. Especially if they are actually supposed to coordinate their attacks. But certainly a few hundred or thousand could be mustered for a headline event. If reenactors can get it together in real life, I’m sure they have the skills to organize that on-line. Hell, if I didn’t have to grow a neck beard, I’d probably try a reenacted battle IRL just for the heck of it.
An MMOS would offer things no historical reenactment could. First, scale. Its probably easier to get massive participation simply by hosting the event on the net. Call it enthusiast aggregation. Second, you can virtually kill people. No bang bang, your dead, now lie down until someone says its Miller time. That’s realism. Third, accurate period terrain and weapon physics. Down to the fence post and miniball. Finally, people do stupid stuff. The make mistakes, they panic, they don’t pay attention, etc. Hail lord Chaos.
Roll this platform out in any direction– Tobruk, D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, Waterloo, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, Huns, Goths, Saratoga, Tet and on and on.
There’s gotta be a market for this stuff…