Some of what we do as we think about Mystic Riders is try to answer the question, what does an MMO look like in 2025? What is the next step in the MMORPG experience? Games such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, and Elder Scrolls Online started the “mount” system for MMOs that is becoming more and more standard.
So, where do we go next?
In Mystic Riders, we want to use a more three dimensional level platformer gaming type of experience that Guild Wars 2 is flirting with in their jump puzzles and huge battle arenas. Make the map of an MMO a more dynamic exploratory experience and use magic and mini-games to enhance the experience.
Games like Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, and Okami allowed the player in a single player mode to explore the map and reach places in varying ways. Sly Cooper can climb ladders and pipes, and sneak along ledges. While Ratchet and Clank gave the character the ability to swim and gadgets to fly, walk on magnetic surfaces, and even change the state of liquids to solids (and back.) In Okami, the player used magic to cause the wind to blow up banners, become small, or even slow down time so they could make that tricky jump.
A platformer by definition has the game set up as a series of ‘platforms.’ So, I’m not going to say that we aren’t going to crib from these games in places, because why mess with what works.
The easiest use of a platform mechanic is to provide places for players to jump between. Whether this is across rivers or up in the mountains or in the marshes.
The next step is because we have a dedicated mount system is to merge these platformer style mechanics with the different racing mini games. Instead of the races being on flat ground, they maybe be more three-dimensional. Having the player doing a dressage routine, but that routine as they turn takes them up a hill or down into a pit.
They don’t want to mess up the routine, because that means they fall and falling is going to hurt.
Or maybe they’re in the mountains on a pony and there is a very thin gully that they have to get through in a set amount of time. This gully could be set up as a clover leaf pattern going up or down or it could be a pole bending pattern where the player has to move quickly in a zig-zag shape.
Or, they’re in a marsh on their draft horses and parts of the marsh are too deep even for their drafts to traverse and instead there is a show jumping race in the middle of the marsh to get them from point A to point B.
There are also other standard platformer game options, like rebuilding bridges. (We have a puzzle game for that.) Unlocking different doors in various ways. Or players might have to own a specific type of horse in order to move the tree that blocking the path. (That is if they don’t have rot/disease magic.)
Using platformer mechanics in the environment will give the player something to puzzle out and more places to explore once they gain more magic and unlock districts than simply riding from point A to point B and hope for some hills or mountain paths.
Now how can we utilize magic in our platformer mechanics? For this, we need to look to Okami and Ratchet and Clank. Players can lower and raise water. Turn water from liquid to a solid. Use the wind to turn a windmill and move bridges. Summon lightning to power a door or a dam. They can use magic to grow plants and make a ‘natural bridge.’ They can use magic to lift and lower rocks. Or to grow big and small. Or even to tame a pegasus and glide between extra long platforms.
The possibilities of how to make a map more dynamic with magic and mini-games really in only limited to the imagination of the game devs. Having different areas of the map only accessible if the player has mastered certain types of magic will hopefully encourage the player to explore the map multiple times.
They never know what they might discover and the secrets they could unearth.
Even if that means they have to become tiny like a bug or tame a pegasus.