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Avoiding the MMO end-game with generational advancement


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#1 rakketh   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:19 AM

Most MMOs I've played seem to be a race to get to the max level so that you can play the "real game". My idea is that instead of having this maximum level to strive for, you can create a new character that carries on some traits of the parent. For example, if you want a fire mage you can train in fire spells. The current character will only be able to reach a certain level of spell. To progress further, you would have to start a new offspring character. In this case, the parent has been training with fire, so the offspring would start with a certain level of fire affinity. This would allow him to train his fire spells a bit faster and to a higher level. The new character could also be given traits, depending on certain circumstances. If the parent character died while retreating, the offspring might hate his father for being cowardly. In this case he would get a resolve trait which would give him a burst of health/stamina if he was nearly dead. Other traits could include hatred of a certain type of creature. I haven't fully thought out what traits could be included, so any help in this area would be appreciated. I don't want them all to revolve around the manner of the parent's death, which these two do. Because everyone would be creating offspring at different times there wouldn't be huge "n00b" areas of the game world completely abandoned and all the high level areas full of max level players. I have some ideas of what to do with the ancestor characters, such as continuing to be able to use them but with a penalty of perma-death, but would like to discuss the mechanic of constantly creating new characters here. Is this a good way to spread out characters throughout the game world? Does it put too much burden on the player to keep restarting from a lower level? Do you think it's an awesome idea :D? Are there any games that do this already? I'd like to take a look to make sure I'm not just copying an existing idea and to make sure my way has a unique angle.

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#2 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:34 AM

This seems like an interesting mechanic if somehow applied to alts. If we consider a player's alts as their 'family', with levels being a mapping of ages, there might be some carry over. It could offer some sort of twinking benefits, so that re-rolling a second toon isn't such a slog through introductory levels.

Metal Geer Solid (the first one on Playstation) gave out special geer when you start a new game after completing it once. And the loot was different according to whether you saved the girl or not.

[Edited by - AngleWyrm on January 30, 2009 9:34:26 AM]

#3 folcojp   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 02:40 AM


In some games like MU you can reset your character...

when you are at MAXLEVEL you can start playing the game again from level 1 but a little more powerful at start...

You can reset N times... reaching a MAXRESET - MAXLEVEL...

Anyway i like your idea. It increases posibilities.

#4 Durakken   Members   -  Reputation: 532

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 03:05 AM

I think that "get to the end to start again" of any sort is a completely jerk move for MMORPGs that throw away the idea of RPG. You are playing a character that you created. You put time and effort into creating this character and you want to play it... Theres a better way to state this argument but mind is dead right now...

anyways, that being said, Co* has virtually no lvl 50 content and expects you to make a new char once you hit max level with your new char getting nothing from a previous one getting to lvl 50 other than 2 epic classes being unlocked the first time...and it's pretty successful...so yeah...

#5 Puck   Members   -  Reputation: 367

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 06:13 AM

The problem with your idea is that you create an entirely new problem: With players creating all these offspring characters that are each progressively more powerful, at some point they're going to become so powerful that none of your content is challenging any more. You could solve the problem in the same way -- with much less work involved -- by simply removing "caps" on levels, skills and statistics.

Of course the obvious solution is to put a limit on how powerful characters can get, in which case you aren't solving the problem but rather delaying the inevitable.

That's not to say the idea is completely without merit though.You're on the right track in giving players more incentive to create new characters and thus recycle content. The primary purpose of MMO design is to keep players p[l]aying for as long as possible after all.

On the other hand, as much as you want them to players don't really want to replay the same content. "Been there, done that" they say. Traditionally the approach to this problem has been to provide multiple paths the player can take to get to the higher levels. "Well, I have a maximum level elf, but I've never played a dwarf before."

The problem with this approach is that as the player progresses more of the world opens up to them, and the number of viable advancement locations -- dungeons of the correct level to put it another way -- he or she hasn't already visited tends to rapidly decrease. Near the maximum level the player tends to find that they've already seen everything and you risk losing their interest.

The solution up until now has been to add new content in these level ranges to keep things interesting, but doing so also removes the original incentive to start over, and the low level areas get forgotten.

With your idea you'll end up in much the same situation, where you have to add high level content to keep the progressively more powerful characters content, while the original low level starting areas get forgotten about as their offspring start becoming too powerful for them right at the start.

At least, that's how I see it. You're thinking in the right direction, but when it comes to MMO design the simplest things have to be considered very carefully because not only will players try to defeat the system, but the system can even defeat itself if not designed correctly.

#6 DaveSF   Members   -  Reputation: 139

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 07:00 AM

Quote:
Original post by rakketh
Most MMOs I've played seem to be a race to get to the max level so that you can play the "real game". My idea is that instead of having this maximum level to strive for, you can create a new character that carries on some traits of the parent.


While the idea of generational 'families' could be interesting, I fail to see how your idea either eliminates a max-level or provides an alternative endgame. Instead of viewing it as an idea which somehow fundamentally changes an MMO (because I don't see how it does), I'll consider how generations could be used...

Generations could provide a tradeoff between power and endurance. Using the mechanism you talked about, offspring could provide you with more power, but age/level could provide you with more endurance. Each powerful descendent could shorten lifespan (or maximum endurance), such that players are challenged to make a tradeoff between power and endurance. --- Though I don't see why doing this as generations is important, instead of doing it through other means.

Generations could be an important part of a game in which characters have a maximum lifespan. This seems like a poor idea from the perspective of locking in players, as when their main dies, they could view it as lost investment. However, your idea to allow offspring which are based on the power of the main could provide continued investment value. I'm concerned about the method to determine lifespan, as both calendar day and play-time lifespans have serious issues.

Scenerios could be geared to require players of different ages. Players in their teenage years could wield more variety but less power; or players could gain power through age but also gain undesirable side-effects or unpredictability. This would create even more of a rat-race for endgamers, as they would not be able to permanently stay in fixed roles. Players would constantly be leveling new characters to fit into spaces that are voided, and raid teams would be constantly shifting capabilities. However, this sounds like something that could ultimately be more frustrating than satisfying for the player.



#7 rakketh   Members   -  Reputation: 192

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 10:31 AM

Thanks for the replies so far. I was trying to get a feel for whether constantly having to restart a char was a big problem. I don't think that the "ultimate top level boundary" poses too much of a problem: if you consider WoW, once you get to full tier 3 epic armour and such, there is still a drive to get just that little bit extra; in a game such as EVE, which has no skill caps, players are striving to achieve an ever-decreasing performance boost every year of play.

I suppose I am moving this boundary to a different position in character development. Instead of having 1 char constantly getting that little bit better, you spawn a new char with the extra potential to get better, or with a different build so your game can vary that way also. Doing it this way opens up a new part of the game, which is a large focus of my overall game plan: having elder characters.

Elder characters become controllable NPCs that are added to your clan village - this would be either as an alt or in a more generic goal kind of way (comments?). Rather than having a bunch of developer-created NPCs that you have no connection to, your village is actually full of characters that you (and your clan-mates) have developed.

For example if your elder char is a healer, they could open a hospital where players can respawn for a fee. The better the healer the less of a debuf the death leaves, giving an incentive for friendly players to use your healer, and therefore giving your village more capital.

The game introduces a strategy to either breed early to give your village more NPCs, or less frequently to give it more knowledgable ones. For example one player may want to train their first character to a high skill level, compared to another player who breeds 5 generations in that time. The second player would have contributed more NPCs to his village, which would provide a different advantage to a village compared to the advantage of having a single strong character.

There would need to be a mechanic for a population control for elder characters. This could be an aging mechanism, perma-death whilst making the NPCs still playable, a combination of the two, or some other mechanism (insert ideas here).

I envisage this game is largely PvP, so the challenge is not a particular "dungeon" which would be repeated through each generation; instead "quests" would be based around player interactions so repetitive PvE content would become less of an issue.




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