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Theory - Outside the box MMO


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#1 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:09 AM

The MMO genre is getting stale. Each and every MMO (warranting SWG) has been the same old same old with every release, with a special feature thrown into the mix to attempt to differentiate themselves from all the other duplicate games. Start level 1, fight bad guys and quest, get new armor, and continue to max level. Sound familiar?

The fact that professional developers actually believe that their product will stand out by having one extra trivial feature astounds me, but thats an entirely different post.

In this thread, I think it would be fun to discuss different paths MMO's can take to keep the genre fresh and interesting. I have my own ideas which I'll share to get the topic up and running. Feel free to offer comments or criticisms, or your own ideas.

I look at the current formula for MMOs and get tired almost instantly. There is only so much excitement to be had killing monsters with the same old abilities, in the same point and click manner before the brand spanking new art in the world around you gets boring. To me, it seems no one has been able to truly tap the idea of having players play in a truly massively multiplayer game. Its just simplistic gameplay centered in a gigantic world, with the feel that you are part of a bigger world.

So how do you change that?

3 Ideas go into making my perfect MMO:

1) Unique Crafting system that eliminates Leveling
2) Monster-Hunter type gameplay. Killing monsters would be a rarity, and be tough. Finding them would be a completely different story
3) Player built worlds/cities

1)Unique Crafting system - No more leveling (at least through killing monsters and in the conventional sense)

How can you have a game without leveling your character? Well...lets look at the purpose of leveling. It allows you to slowly progress your character so that over time you can access new abilities and new content. There is no reason your character needs a "level" to accomplish that.

My suggestion: Make items the core mechanic for progressing your character. When you start the game, you are given a specific "knowledge pool" Each item you equip will reduce that number. So for instance, there are multiple ways to start the game. You begin the game, and have 10 knowledge points. You perform the tutorials and are given 3 items. The first item is a magic glove that shoots fireballs and cost 5 KP to equip. The second item is magic boots that increase move speed, also costing 5 KP. The third item is a Laser Gun that does 2 x's the damage as the fireball and shoots faster, but cost 10 KP to equip. You now have a choice. Keep in mind this is theory, and no balancing has taken place.

So the new question arises; how do players get more KP. Well, this is where the basis of the gameplay becomes important. Make the game focus around players making new items. If you've played borderlands, you can see the potential for item customization. Even Diablo 2 had a great way to produce random items and Oblivion/Morrowinds crafting idea for spells used a similar mechanic. Players produce items, with seemingly random abilities. They learn recipes and can recreate items they master.

The more time/experience you spend crafting, the more KP you gain. and the stronger items you can equip. You can then use those stronger items to enter new areas and gather new crafting components.

Already we have different types of players popping up. We have players who focus their items on speed, stealth, and armor, who run around and mine. We have the creature killers, who focus on getting a good balance and a strong weapon, and who want to take down the big guys for rare materials. Professions arent chosen. Instead, they are balanced by "proficiency" with a certain item type; like dungeon siege.

Ability Gains: Crafted items will give you stats, which increase your overall power, and abilities. Example: If you want to be a crafter, you find a pair of "Work Gloves" that cost 10 KP, and equip it. They give you the ability, "Craft boots" You then craft random ingredients along with the required ones and start making neat boots. After enough crafts, your proficiency with those gloves will increase, and you'll gain the ability, "Craft gloves" After enough times, you'll simply learn the ability from the item, and can dequip it(ala one of the final fantasies). The item qualities you craft will be limited by the stats you have in the overall "Crafting" algorithm stat, which can be made up of multiple stats, or just one general crafting stat/level. The way you would create better items is by increasing your crafting stat high enough that it would yield better stat items, which would also require more KP to equip.

The craft system would yield random results even if the player uses the same ingredients. Randomness will be based on a time factor (down to milliseconds) Certain ingredients would yield "unique" items. Successful recipes could be "stored" or "saved" by the creator, and sold at a price. If they sell the recipe, they can no longer make it. This helps to make every players "store" unique. Players who collect the greatest inventory of useful weapons will gain fame throughout the server. This gets into player housing...though more on leveling.

Other professions can include :
Real Estate mogul (get into that later as well),
Monster Trackers: Someone who specializes in tracking strong monsters locations and selling the info to monster hunters. Game Designwise, the players who choose this profession will help to spawn monsters and quests throughout the world. Like SWG's "quest spawn" system....a monster tracker might sell their collected data to a monster hunter, who can then go to a guild and get a "Horn." They then travel to the destination (randomly throughout the world), and perhaps this time they run into a large cave. They use the "horn" item and the monster appears.
Monster Hunters: Buys data from Monster Trackers and then physically goes and kills the monsters for scavenged parts to sell to crafters.
Crafters: People who make items to sell
Miners/Gatherers


2) We just talked about it...Monster hunting would be integrating into the player interaction...rather than something you do randomly throughout the game. Most of this MMO would take place in towns and through talking/interacting. So when a Monster Tracker actually discovers a RARE spawn, the data would be well worth the cost for any team/group of monster hunters. And in turn, the drops from that monster would be WELL worth the effort it takes to kill it.

Trackers wouldn't be limited to hanging in town. Their "mini game" for tracking would involve traveling around the world and finding clues/etc in the form of quests. They would have to talk to NPCs, trade for info etc. They might take up mining and gathering.

The trick here is allowing players to only carry 1 set of equipment...and storing the rest of it at their home. This way, when they set off on an adventure, they do so with one specific task in mind. I also dont mean to imply there wont be regular monsters running around the world that are dangerous. There would be. In this sense, if a monster hunter group goes out to hunt a big creature, an experienced miner might want to tag along. While he won't be a big help during the fight, he'd be able to gather the high level minerals that he wouldnt be able to get by himself.

3) Player built worlds
SWG had the coolest idea...but it never really took off.

I'd like to see the same idea...blueprints placed in the game world, which are then built. Each player can have 2 houses at any given time. The houses would have a "reputation" stat that is increased depending on how many other houses are located around it. Once that reputation bar reaches the next level, the player can choose to invest money into it and increase the size. This gives players a reason to put buildings close to each other. Once a neighborhood is developed, the houses increase in reputation based on the money invested in the houses around it. So it simulates property value. The higher level of the house, the more luxuries you have..such as a sign outside advertising your professions. Being searchable on the minimap. Having the ability to hire a vendor to sell your wares when you aren't around, etc.

Real estate moguls could make tons of money buying properties in up and coming areas that players will want, then investing very little of their own money into it. Then they would sell that house to a rich crafter who wants to start his business in that neighborhood, and wants the ability to upgrade his house to a lvl 3 estate for the ability to have vendors.

Gold would be put into the economy by players selling their unwanted items to vendors. Gold sinks would be added as needed.

Comments? I personally think this would be a very fun game to play. You wouldnt feel obligated to level, or trapped into doing raids end game. Your focus would be on the community...building your reputation within the server, and making your own little avatar home.

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#2 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 17947

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:42 AM

The MMO genre is getting stale.

MMO is not a genre. Posted Image
RPGs are a genre, and MMORPGs are a sub-genre of the 'RPG' genre. Other genres can be MMOs too.

MMOFPS and MMORPG and MMORTS are completely different genres, and lumping them all under one banner "MMO", and then making the blanket statement that they are all the same as each other doesn't make sense. The MMO part is not the part that is stale, it's the RPG part that is the stale part; watch: "fight bad guys and quest, get new armor, and continue to max level" <-- Classical RPG-related stuff.

Each and every MMO (warranting SWG) [that you are aware of] has been the same old same old with every release, with a special feature thrown into the mix to attempt to differentiate themselves from all the other duplicate games.

There are actually alot of games that are widely different from the common MMORPG; you just have to find them. Mostly, they weren't super successful, because WoW was designed to cater to the masses. You don't like the 'cater to the masses' games (after you've played it until your bored), because you are more of a niche gamer just like most of us creative types. Posted Image

Here are four more creative and risk-taking MMOs that I've heard of (but never played). I'm sure there are more if you look for them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EVE_Online
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nexus:_The_Kingdom_of_the_Winds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_Online
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wurm_Online

These differ in some major ways from WoW, but they are also similar in some major ways to WoW. Why are they similar at all? Well, anything you create, someone here could point out 20 other games that have that feature. If you say you're making a completely new RPG, you already failed, because for it to be a "RPG", it has to fit in the "RPG genre" with other RPGs. Take a moment, and consider: Try to come up with a new genre that isn't just a minor variation of an existing genre or a mix of existing genres. It's pretty difficult.

Why not go play Meridian59 or go read the history of MMOGs, it'll really spur on your creativity, as well as perhaps help you find a game that really fits you much more than the WoW clones do. Also, I know you'll find this video interesting; so why not bookmark it for later viewing? Posted Image

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#3 landlocked   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:50 AM

Your idea sounds more or less like a real estate sim with crafting bolted on. So Sims: Online except you can make stuff. Is this what you're going for? I'm not trying to make it sound like there's not a niche out there for that but from my experience most people play MMOs to escape from their daily lives and jump into a role that really sets them apart and lets them feel powerful, which often times is hack and slash. Something that John Smedley, President of Sonly Online Entertainment, said is that he didn't realize people would grind hours upon hours at the same stuff and had to adjust Everquest to suit (monsters with more HP, reducing drop rates, etc). Also, how are you going to keep things fresh after the same rare spawn has been killed thousands of times? That's a dynamic you'll need to consider as well.
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#4 Songbird   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 11:50 AM

Personally, I love the theory behind this. Giving the players more freedom is always a good thing, as long as it is implemented correctly. The one hang-up I see is player motivation. Although no doubt there are a few people out there who would love nothing more than to go out and become an expert crafter or monster tracker, the problem I see is will there be enough to supply the rest of the player base? And what happens if the premier crafter/tracker/etc stops playing? The hit to the rest of the players could be devastating.
In the end I would expect to see people 'forced' into these professions so they can get the materials they needed to play the game they want, which is not a good situation. But still, if have enough suppliers to meet the demand, I could see a lot of people enjoying an MMO like this.

#5 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 12:57 PM


The MMO genre is getting stale.

MMO is not a genre. Posted Image
RPGs are a genre, and MMORPGs are a sub-genre of the 'RPG' genre. Other genres can be MMOs too.

MMOFPS and MMORPG and MMORTS are completely different genres, and lumping them all under one banner "MMO", and then making the blanket statement that they are all the same as each other doesn't make sense. The MMO part is not the part that is stale, it's the RPG part that is the stale part; watch: "fight bad guys and quest, get new armor, and continue to max level" <-- Classical RPG-related stuff.

Each and every MMO (warranting SWG) [that you are aware of] has been the same old same old with every release, with a special feature thrown into the mix to attempt to differentiate themselves from all the other duplicate games.

There are actually alot of games that are widely different from the common MMORPG; you just have to find them. Mostly, they weren't super successful, because WoW was designed to cater to the masses. You don't like the 'cater to the masses' games (after you've played it until your bored), because you are more of a niche gamer just like most of us creative types. Posted Image

Here are four more creative and risk-taking MMOs that I've heard of (but never played). I'm sure there are more if you look for them.
http://en.wikipedia....wiki/EVE_Online
http://en.wikipedia....om_of_the_Winds
http://en.wikipedia....i/Ultima_Online
http://en.wikipedia....iki/Wurm_Online

These differ in some major ways from WoW, but they are also similar in some major ways to WoW. Why are they similar at all? Well, anything you create, someone here could point out 20 other games that have that feature. If you say you're making a completely new RPG, you already failed, because for it to be a "RPG", it has to fit in the "RPG genre" with other RPGs. Take a moment, and consider: Try to come up with a new genre that isn't just a minor variation of an existing genre or a mix of existing genres. It's pretty difficult.

Why not go play Meridian59 or go read the history of MMOGs, it'll really spur on your creativity, as well as perhaps help you find a game that really fits you much more than the WoW clones do. Also, I know you'll find this video interesting; so why not bookmark it for later viewing? Posted Image


I think you are taking my wow-factor(no not world of warcraft) statements a bit too literally and missing the main point of the post...which is essentially the development of a fresh idea for an MMO...which you didnt comment on. I've played EVE and i've played Ultima...as well as nearly every wow-clone out there. EVE is probably one of the most unique imo, focusing on gathering, economy, and ship upgrades rather than leveling.

All that aside, you offer a lot of good info that i will definitely check out.

Your idea sounds more or less like a real estate sim with crafting bolted on. So Sims: Online except you can make stuff. Is this what you're going for? I'm not trying to make it sound like there's not a niche out there for that but from my experience most people play MMOs to escape from their daily lives and jump into a role that really sets them apart and lets them feel powerful, which often times is hack and slash. Something that John Smedley, President of Sonly Online Entertainment, said is that he didn't realize people would grind hours upon hours at the same stuff and had to adjust Everquest to suit (monsters with more HP, reducing drop rates, etc). Also, how are you going to keep things fresh after the same rare spawn has been killed thousands of times? That's a dynamic you'll need to consider as well.


I feel like its a lot more than just a real estate sim. If you could equip your sims with crafted items, track monsters in a huge world you run around in then kill them, and sell your loot and craft new and better gear...then yeah.

I realize exactly what you mean when you say people like to escape their daily lives and feel powerful. Thats why I felt it was important to have an increase in power/stats through items. Players would still progress by increasing their overall strength (whether it be physical strength in battling monsters, or stats for crafting/ mining), and would do so by equipping new weapons.

Concerning the rare spawns. Monster development would be an ongoing task. Think back to when you continually killed a specific boss in WOW just to have a chance at getting an item. Lets say that you found a crafter who has a "Unique" recipe to build the sword you've been longing for, and just got enough KP to equip it. Only 2-3 unique spawns have a chance at dropping the loot that is required to craft the sword. You head around town looking for Monster Trackers who have the location data for that monster. You buy it off them, and go for the kill. Once you finally get that loot, and your sword, you no longer have to fight it again. By putting the loot on multiple monsters, you also give the player a break in monotony while hes trying to get it.

Because the rare spawns would be custom made, their fights could be as unique as we wanted them to be. It could require puzzle elements, dropping rocks, using specific items to weaken it, or just an all out battle with a team of players.

Personally, I love the theory behind this. Giving the players more freedom is always a good thing, as long as it is implemented correctly. The one hang-up I see is player motivation. Although no doubt there are a few people out there who would love nothing more than to go out and become an expert crafter or monster tracker, the problem I see is will there be enough to supply the rest of the player base? And what happens if the premier crafter/tracker/etc stops playing? The hit to the rest of the players could be devastating.
In the end I would expect to see people 'forced' into these professions so they can get the materials they needed to play the game they want, which is not a good situation. But still, if have enough suppliers to meet the demand, I could see a lot of people enjoying an MMO like this.


Any crafter will be able to get better recipes over time. If a premier crafter/tracker leaves, it will certainly slow down the system 'temporarily', but it will give the second place guys a chance to make it into the spot light. It also wouldnt remove the items they already made. I dont see that as a big problem. IMO, it would actually be rather fun to see the economy change based on a single players decision. Could you maybe expand on why you think it would be devastating? I might just not be looking it at from the same view as you.

Also, valid concern about forcing players into specific roles. When I wrote the post out, I tried to imply that players would only be able to take 1 set of items out with them at any given time. I should have expanded on that. They could come back from hunting a monster and equip their crafting gear and start that up asap. I would balance the amount of professions each person takes on by decreasing proficiencies on professions that have not been increased for a while. For instance. lets say you start out crafting, and you get pretty good at it. You gain a total of 30 KP, and have a lot of abilities that you got from doing it often. Then you make an awesome weapon, and you decide you want to use it. You equip it, and now youre a monster hunter, however, you have very little abilities, because you never used a weapon before, despite having a very strong base weapon. So you head out and start using it. Your autoattack devastates, but you can't kill the real big things yet until you reach gain more abilities. So you equip some more Monster Hunter gear increaser items, and develop your abilities. While gaining those abilities, you start losing some abilities in the crafting area. This creates a balance.

Here is a more detailed system of how I would do this from a technical side.

Each item would have a specific ability. Each ability would be tagged as a specific profession via keyword.

Sword1(5KP) => Ability Slash(exp10) => Ability Chop(exp15) => Monster Hunter(tier1)
Sword2(10KP) => Ability Cyclone(exp10 => Ability Omnislash (exp20) => Monster Hunter(tier2)
Work Gloves(5KP) => Ability CraftGloves1(5 exp) => Ability Craftboots(10exp) => Ability Craftshirt(20exp) => Crafter(tier1)

(KP) is the amount of knowledge points needed to equip the weapon. (exp'x') designates the amount of experience you have with that particular item. The more you use that items ability, the more experience you gain in it. If you use Sword, and you kill things, you get it to 10 exp, and gain the ability "Slash." Tiers are what will limit the player from becoming over powered.

So the player begins by equipping Sword1. He kills many creatures and eventually gains ability Chop by reaching 15 exp for the item Sword1. Doing so increases his "proficiency" level as a Monster Hunter. His proficiency level raises above Tier1 level, enabling the use of tier 2 skills. So he equips Sword2, and reaches Cyclone. His proficiency in Monster Hunter is now rather high. Lets say its at 110, 100 being the minimum number for being in tier 2.

now he switches to crafting. He equips Work Gloves along with his Sword1. He can currently use Cyclone/Chop/Slash, even though he has Sword1 equipped, And work gloves. So he starts crafting, and reaches CraftGloves(5xp). His proficiency in crafting goes up to 5, and his Monster Hunter proficiency is reduced to 105/100. He continues crafting until he reaches Ability CraftShirt. His proficiency for crafting is now 50, and his proficiency in Monster Hunting returns below 100, to 60, and he is back to tier one Monster hunting, thus cyclone is grayed out, and he can not use it.

Sorry for how unorganized this is ... writing this as it comes to my mind.


#6 Songbird   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 01:44 PM

I suppose 'devastating' was a little bit of a hyperbole. I expect in most cases it would be a little setback, especially depending on how you set up your game. For me, I was thinking of a scenario where a tracker spends months leveling up his/her skills to the point where they can track down a vicious boss creature that takes an entire guild to defeat. I would expect many guilds would simply pay the finders fee for its members rather than have one of their own grind out the ability.
But then the tracker quits the game and there is no readily available second. Guild progress would halt for months while someone who might not even like tracking down monsters is forced to skill up for the good of the guild. And if that person decides they're not having fun doing this and quits the guild, etc.
Granted, this may be more of an exception than a rule. I just thought of how I would implement it and what possible problems may arise.

#7 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:05 PM

I suppose 'devastating' was a little bit of a hyperbole. I expect in most cases it would be a little setback, especially depending on how you set up your game. For me, I was thinking of a scenario where a tracker spends months leveling up his/her skills to the point where they can track down a vicious boss creature that takes an entire guild to defeat. I would expect many guilds would simply pay the finders fee for its members rather than have one of their own grind out the ability.
But then the tracker quits the game and there is no readily available second. Guild progress would halt for months while someone who might not even like tracking down monsters is forced to skill up for the good of the guild. And if that person decides they're not having fun doing this and quits the guild, etc.
Granted, this may be more of an exception than a rule. I just thought of how I would implement it and what possible problems may arise.


I can see that. Though it seems we are viewing the difficulty for discovering rare monsters differently. My assumption was, that while it may take a bit of time to level your skill close to max proficiency, it would require luck to get the really rare monsters...equivalent to a rare/epic drop rate in WoW. This means that many people would have the ability to get those monsters, but not many would be selling them, simply because they wouldnt be able to find them.


It would also be interesting to give Creature Trackers a role to play in battling bosses. For example, they could mark weaknesses, or activate environmental traps to deal damage, making having 1 of them very beneficial

#8 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4656

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 02:38 PM

Although I'm interested in the concept of a levelless MMO (it could be great for pvp equality and characters with different numbers of hours put into them being able to pve together) and although I'm generally interested in crafting, the game described in the first post doesn't really interest me. For one thing the experimental crafting system and monster tracking system would be solved and documented in a wiki within a few months. For another thing, being forced to carry only one set of gear when each set of gear is of extremely restricted use just sounds obnoxious. For a third thing it sounds like even though you are removing leveling, characters that have had a lot of time put into them will still be able to kick the butts of those that haven't, which IMO defeats the who point of a levelless MMO.

I just described my 'starfish' concept for a levelless MMO in the Community Brainstorm thread, so I won't repeat that. But overall I'd like to see an MMORPG progression, whether you call it levelling or not, which does not overall make the character stronger/faster/etc, but instead allowed the character to obtain a variety of alternative combat skills which enable different fighting styles. You can equip a limited number of them at a time (8 or 10), but can change them around for free whenever you are not in combat. You are intended to change them around all the time experimenting with different tactics. Different combinations of skill would effectively change your class - Place Trap is a classic assassin/thief/hunter skill, but whether you combined it with Short-term Invisibility, Archery, Ice Bolt, Mind Control, Statue (take reduced damage but you can't take actions either), Speed Burst (lowers defense), etc. would result in a wide variety of different possible play styles that would be roughly equally powerful.

Crafting on the other hand I'd like to see aimed at crafting a lot of tings which each player crafts once for themselves (backpack, house, appliances which enable crafting processes, stable for pets, and breeding pets/mounts is a form of crafting) as well as items mainly intended for aesthetic use (clothing, ornamental weapons (equipping a sword might be necessary to use a sword skill but all swords have the same stats so the reason to get a different one is looks) and especially dye to change colors of everything (hair, skin, eyes, tattoos/clothing/jewelry, clothing/weapons, house walls and roof, pets, mounts).

The other thing I'd really really like to see in an MMO is more of an interactive fiction experience. The goal would be for the game to feel more like being the main character of a good science fiction or fantasy novel. Some of the mechanisms used to accomplish this would be a more in-depth and fleshed out system of building reputation with NPC factions and a dating sim like system of building relationships (positive or negative) with individual NPCs. Overall the game would have a lot fewer NPCs and the player would interact a lot more times with each one; questgivers would not be throwaways used for one thing and then never spoken to again.

Edited by sunandshadow, 13 December 2012 - 01:59 AM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#9 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:16 PM

Although I'm interested in the concept of a levelless MMO (it could be great for pvp equality and characters with different numbers of hours put into them being able to pve together) and although I'm generally interested in crafting, the game described in the first post doesn't really interest me. For one thing the experimental crafting system and monster tracking system would be solved and documented in a wiki within a few months. For another thing, being forced to carry only one set of gear when each set of gear is of extremely restricted use just sounds obnoxious. For a third thing it sounds like even though you are removing leveling, characters that have had a lot of time put into them will still be able to kick the butts of those that haven't, which IMO defeats the who point of a levelless MMO.

I just described my 'Octopus' concept for a levelless MMO in the Community Brainstorm thread, so I won't repeat that. But overall I'd like to see an MMORPG progression, whether you call it levelling or not, which does not overall make the character stronger/faster/etc, but instead allowed the character to obtain a variety of alternative combat skills which enable different fighting styles. You can equip a limited number of them at a time (8 or 10), but can change them around for free whenever you are not in combat. You are intended to change them around all the time experimenting with different tactics. Different combinations of skill would effectively change your class - Place Trap is a classic assassin/thief/hunter skill, but whether you combined it with Short-term Invisibility, Archery, Ice Bolt, Mind Control, Statue (take reduced damage but you can't take actions either), Speed Burst (lowers defense), etc. would result in a wide variety of different possible play styles that would be roughly equally powerful.

Crafting on the other hand I'd like to see aimed at crafting a lot of tings which each player crafts once for themselves (backpack, house, appliances which enable crafting processes, stable for pets, and breeding pets/mounts is a form of crafting) as well as items mainly intended for aesthetic use (clothing, ornamental weapons (equipping a sword might be necessary to use a sword skill but all swords have the same stats so the reason to get a different one is looks) and especially dye to change colors of everything (hair, skin, eyes, tattoos/clothing/jewelry, clothing/weapons, house walls and roof, pets, mounts).

The other thing I'd really really like to see in an MMO is more of an interactive fiction experience. The goal would be for the game to feel more like being the main character of a good science fiction or fantasy novel. Some of the mechanisms used to accomplish this would be a more in-depth and fleshed out system of building reputation with NPC factions and a dating sim like system of building relationships (positive or negative) with individual NPCs. Overall the game would have a lot fewer NPCs and the player would interact a lot more times with each one; questgivers would not be throwaways used for one thing and then never spoken to again.


I don't think removing levels from design is actually required to creating a balanced PVP experience. What I do feel though is that the current scale of the systems employed are too drastic. Level 50's capabilities are generally like a nuclear bomb being dropped compared to a level 1 being a spit ball shot from a straw. The difference is too vast and the prevents level 1s from grouping with level 50s. I do not like a level 1 should be able to beat a level 50, that just doesn't make much sense, but the current difference in power curve is too large and causes the balance problems. Combine levels with skills and I think you can do something even better.

Something that just popped into my head regarding your later crafting comments was one that I think could be explored. Have one craft skill, not 5+. Why can't everyone learn to make their own linen sack? It may not be the greatest bag ever, nor the largest, but it should still be possible to accomplish. Thread and cloth. Give them weight restrictions, durability variances, sizes, etc. What could be done is rather than limiting people to being a Tailor, or a Blacksmith, or a Fletcher, let them be all, but require advancement to occur in various methods of crafting to be able to learn to create more advanced things. Specialize, but allow each character to specialize to different degrees of success, resulting in specialized crafters or ones that craft what they need as they go so they are more jack of all trades. It would take a bunch of fleshing out, but I think the removal of artificial barriers and making it more realistic, ha, ya I know, realistic. Anyone can make anything as long as they learn how to do it and have the necessary qualities/attributes/knowledge required.

Putting a limit on how diversified you can become, to prevent people from being able to make everything themselves, is something to pay attention to; have a skill cap, a time cap, or a monetary cap or any mix of caps required to balance. You could just make it really slow to continue to gain on a single character once you gain a lot of skill in a specific area, or a large assortment of areas, requiring people to pick and choose what they would want to work up. It doesn't necessarily force people to use mules, but it makes room for multiple crafters of varied specialty, thus more room in the market for the individual, if one person doesn't feel like working up all the skills themselves.

#10 AngleWyrm   Members   -  Reputation: 554

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 02:58 AM

First up, having a random result from a recipe. This mechanic is in the game Age Of Conan, and it came across to me as just an unnecessary hassle. If there's only a 10% chance of successfully making the desired item and a 90% chance of just wasting resources creating junk, the result is going through the tedium of doing it ten times to achieve the goal. But in the game of Perfect World, adding plusses to equipment can fail and destroy all the previous additions. In this case it works like an escalating gamble, and the player has to choose to stop adding plusses and be satisfied with what they have, for now. I found this situation entertaining.

Second up, the business about only one player having control of one recipe is going to be...problematic. There would have to be a set of unique recipes for every player in the MMO. So either there's going to be a very small group of players or an extremely energetic team of recipe creators.

And finally, an opinion on the popularity of levelling: It has some psychological connections with growing up, in the same sense that smoking has something to do with eating and taking a rest, or that religeous figures have something to do with ancestral figures. And growth is a powerful biological motivator; it's hard at work in games like SimCity, the entire 4x genre, and nearly any facebook game. So if the commonly thought of Toon Levelling process is to be removed, the idea of growing will need a new place to hang it's hat.
--"I'm not at home right now, but" = lights on, but no ones home

#11 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 07:26 AM

First up, having a random result from a recipe. This mechanic is in the game Age Of Conan, and it came across to me as just an unnecessary hassle. If there's only a 10% chance of successfully making the desired item and a 90% chance of just wasting resources creating junk, the result is going through the tedium of doing it ten times to achieve the goal. But in the game of Perfect World, adding plusses to equipment can fail and destroy all the previous additions. In this case it works like an escalating gamble, and the player has to choose to stop adding plusses and be satisfied with what they have, for now. I found this situation entertaining.

Second up, the business about only one player having control of one recipe is going to be...problematic. There would have to be a set of unique recipes for every player in the MMO. So either there's going to be a very small group of players or an extremely energetic team of recipe creators.

And finally, an opinion on the popularity of levelling: It has some psychological connections with growing up, in the same sense that smoking has something to do with eating and taking a rest, or that religeous figures have something to do with ancestral figures. And growth is a powerful biological motivator; it's hard at work in games like SimCity, the entire 4x genre, and nearly any facebook game. So if the commonly thought of Toon Levelling process is to be removed, the idea of growing will need a new place to hang it's hat.



On your first point: I wasnt imagining it in the same vein as AOC, but more so in the same vein that is Diablo 2. Whereas each and every item you make has the chance to be great ... for someone. There would also be 100% chance recipes which would be the unique items...these are the ones you could pull up on the net. However, the random items would have the potential to give wacky combos and possibly be better. Now since you have the ability to save/trade those recipes, you now have a really complex system...imo.

Second point. People could have the same recipe...just one person who creates it can not make multiple copies of it and distribute it throughout the game. If he pulls up a really nice recipe that he thinks will be popular, he can choose to sell it outright for a high price, or start making items, and hope that down the line he might get another lucky random draw.

Third point. I agree, leveling is a great way to show progression, and is almost required in a way. My original point, though cloudy, was meant to imply that players could get stronger and progress outside of continually doing quests and killing monsters. Ala being part of developing a town, doing a mini game to find monsters, crafting items, exploring the world, etc.



#12 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 07:48 AM

Although I'm interested in the concept of a levelless MMO (it could be great for pvp equality and characters with different numbers of hours put into them being able to pve together) and although I'm generally interested in crafting, the game described in the first post doesn't really interest me. For one thing the experimental crafting system and monster tracking system would be solved and documented in a wiki within a few months. For another thing, being forced to carry only one set of gear when each set of gear is of extremely restricted use just sounds obnoxious. For a third thing it sounds like even though you are removing leveling, characters that have had a lot of time put into them will still be able to kick the butts of those that haven't, which IMO defeats the who point of a levelless MMO.


I dont see how the experimental crafting system could be cracked if it was random. Again, think D2. While the ingredients would play some role into what your getting (and this would be documented IN GAME, no need for outside resources), the majority of the stats woudl be randomized, just like finding an armor on the ground. My idea is that in the mini-game created to make crafting fun (and this idea is without limit...use your imagination to make it as fun as you'd like), would have some effect on the final outcome. For instance, how long you leave it in the furnace down to the milliseconds (as i said in the OP).

The monster tracking system....I dont know if you ever played SWG, but each quest was always in a different place, and spawned in relation to your character. On top of that, the quest would involve a tier system and working with other players. For instance, tier 1 tracking would simply require easy fetch quests, or having to run through the woods and finding randomly spawned items. tier 2 quests would require items from the monsters you tracked down in the tier 1 quests. For example. T1 you track down a Giant Bird. One of the items it drops is a "Smelly Gland" which you buy from a Monster Hunter. You then use the smelly gland to finish up the tier 2 quest, which might randomly spawn an instance entrance somewhere. My thought was that thanks to the fact that players have to interact with each other to complete quests, it would help break up the monotony. Plus, you are inevitably doing it to make money, and thats always fun...as is getting a really rare monster.

I just described my 'Octopus' concept for a levelless MMO in the Community Brainstorm thread, so I won't repeat that. But overall I'd like to see an MMORPG progression, whether you call it levelling or not, which does not overall make the character stronger/faster/etc, but instead allowed the character to obtain a variety of alternative combat skills which enable different fighting styles. You can equip a limited number of them at a time (8 or 10), but can change them around for free whenever you are not in combat. You are intended to change them around all the time experimenting with different tactics. Different combinations of skill would effectively change your class - Place Trap is a classic assassin/thief/hunter skill, but whether you combined it with Short-term Invisibility, Archery, Ice Bolt, Mind Control, Statue (take reduced damage but you can't take actions either), Speed Burst (lowers defense), etc. would result in a wide variety of different possible play styles that would be roughly equally powerful.


That sounds a lot like Guild Wars. Sure they have levels, but only 20, and you level pretty much solely to enjoy the story. GW had classes, but you could change the subtype of your class by changing abilities.

Crafting on the other hand I'd like to see aimed at crafting a lot of tings which each player crafts once for themselves (backpack, house, appliances which enable crafting processes, stable for pets, and breeding pets/mounts is a form of crafting) as well as items mainly intended for aesthetic use (clothing, ornamental weapons (equipping a sword might be necessary to use a sword skill but all swords have the same stats so the reason to get a different one is looks) and especially dye to change colors of everything (hair, skin, eyes, tattoos/clothing/jewelry, clothing/weapons, house walls and roof, pets, mounts).


See, this idea seems fun on the outside, but to me, it seems to just be a lot of requirements you have to get out of the way before you can do anything. While aesthetics is fun, and certainly something players care about...it just seems too much like a farmville game, and i feel an MMO can be much more. I don't see any reason not to include this, but there would have to be more to it than simply changing the looks. Look at the SIMS. You can customize every facet of your world and characters, but there is still a game behind it all.


The other thing I'd really really like to see in an MMO is more of an interactive fiction experience. The goal would be for the game to feel more like being the main character of a good science fiction or fantasy novel. Some of the mechanisms used to accomplish this would be a more in-depth and fleshed out system of building reputation with NPC factions and a dating sim like system of building relationships (positive or negative) with individual NPCs. Overall the game would have a lot fewer NPCs and the player would interact a lot more times with each one; questgivers would not be throwaways used for one thing and then never spoken to again.


Sounds like what Oblivion tried to do. Each NPC had a daily routine, and walked around during specific hours of the day. It was a nice start imo. They also reacted differently to you depending on your notoriety. I personally would like to eventually see NPCs completely done away with in the MMORPG genre, and replaced by players. Whereas players can come up with quests and other players can finish them. I feel like the first step to that is making players more dependent on each other in the economy and in the accomplishments they can finish throughout the game.




#13 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4656

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 12:41 PM

I dont see how the experimental crafting system could be cracked if it was random. Again, think D2. While the ingredients would play some role into what your getting (and this would be documented IN GAME, no need for outside resources), the majority of the stats woudl be randomized, just like finding an armor on the ground. My idea is that in the mini-game created to make crafting fun (and this idea is without limit...use your imagination to make it as fun as you'd like), would have some effect on the final outcome. For instance, how long you leave it in the furnace down to the milliseconds (as i said in the OP).

A minigame controlling the stats of a produced item could be fun, but controlling how long something is in a furnace sounds like the most obnoxious parts of a tale in the desert's crafting system. I don't see how something can be experimental if it is random. Is is random per user, but consistent in each user's experience? Because experimenting is about testing combinations of factors and recording the results with the goal of being able to predict the results of future combinations. If it's random, it's not predictable, and if it's not predictable it can't be functionally experimented with.

To me randomness isn't fun. I really hate trying to drophunt rare drops (especially from bosses), and I really hate crafting with a possibility of failure causing expensive loss of ingredients. I like having a recipe, knowing what ingredients I need, being able to get all the ingredients for one attempt in a few hours' work unless it's a truly epic thing I'm trying to craft, and successfully carrying out that one attempt without being terrified it might fail and waste all my work.

The monster tracking system....I dont know if you ever played SWG, but each quest was always in a different place, and spawned in relation to your character. On top of that, the quest would involve a tier system and working with other players. For instance, tier 1 tracking would simply require easy fetch quests, or having to run through the woods and finding randomly spawned items. tier 2 quests would require items from the monsters you tracked down in the tier 1 quests. For example. T1 you track down a Giant Bird. One of the items it drops is a "Smelly Gland" which you buy from a Monster Hunter. You then use the smelly gland to finish up the tier 2 quest, which might randomly spawn an instance entrance somewhere. My thought was that thanks to the fact that players have to interact with each other to complete quests, it would help break up the monotony. Plus, you are inevitably doing it to make money, and thats always fun...as is getting a really rare monster.

Making money is only fun if you have something you want to spend it on. I've played many games where I ended up with a pile of money and nothing to spend it on. More importantly, eww procedural quests. Procedural quests are almost as bad as AI characters; I'll rant about those below.


See, this idea seems fun on the outside, but to me, it seems to just be a lot of requirements you have to get out of the way before you can do anything. While aesthetics is fun, and certainly something players care about...it just seems too much like a farmville game, and i feel an MMO can be much more. I don't see any reason not to include this, but there would have to be more to it than simply changing the looks. Look at the SIMS. You can customize every facet of your world and characters, but there is still a game behind it all.

What requirements you have to get out of the way before you can do anything? One of the major goals of the octopus design is that a new player entering the game can immediately start doing whichever gameplay type they want to do, whether that is pvp, killing monsters for drops, playing minigames, or crafting. You craft yourself things like a house, but a house is mainly useful for crafting, and not required for pvp, minigames, or monster-hunting. I haven't played farmville *shudder* but from what I've heard it's totally different - you can't walk around inside the game world, I don't think it even has monsters to kill, and it seems to be mainly about getting people to send facebook messages to each other *eww* and spend money in the cash shop.


The other thing I'd really really like to see in an MMO is more of an interactive fiction experience. The goal would be for the game to feel more like being the main character of a good science fiction or fantasy novel. Some of the mechanisms used to accomplish this would be a more in-depth and fleshed out system of building reputation with NPC factions and a dating sim like system of building relationships (positive or negative) with individual NPCs. Overall the game would have a lot fewer NPCs and the player would interact a lot more times with each one; questgivers would not be throwaways used for one thing and then never spoken to again.


Sounds like what Oblivion tried to do. Each NPC had a daily routine, and walked around during specific hours of the day. It was a nice start imo. They also reacted differently to you depending on your notoriety. I personally would like to eventually see NPCs completely done away with in the MMORPG genre, and replaced by players. Whereas players can come up with quests and other players can finish them. I feel like the first step to that is making players more dependent on each other in the economy and in the accomplishments they can finish throughout the game.

Err, no. NPC sims driven by AI are the exact opposite of an interactive fiction game where every NPC has multiple quests and conversations to have with the player. Here's my rant about procedural quests and AI NPCs: they blow chunks. Giving a quest or npc a minimum amount of scripting just makes them seem even more robotic and and meaningless than they already do. Characters in novels DON'T go about their own meaningless routines, they don't even exist when they are not participating in the plot, carrying out a role with the main goal of developing the themes of the story and driving the plot forward. In a novel every character is there because the author put them there for a reason. The author carefully chose every word to come out of the character's mouth, and their appearance and body language. Linear games like jRPGs have the best stories in the realm of games because their stories were written like screenplays or manga by actual professional writers. A good interactive story like a high-quality dating sim is the same way - one or more writers plan out potential stories and write the dialogue and stage directions for them, then the player's choices direct them through a subset of these stories. One of these stories might be about an NPC falling in love with the player. If the NPC doesn't seem to be a person with feelings instead of an automaton there would be no value to the player in experiencing this story. NPCs are supposed to exist in whatever form and functionality creates the best story experience for the player, period. Okay, end rant. But also, *shudder* at the horrifying idea of a game that tries to force me to interact with other players instead of NPCs; now that would make for a craptastic 'story experience'.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#14 adrix89   Members   -  Reputation: 128

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 03:01 PM

Here's my bits on a diffrent MMORPGs:

In my opinion the most underused aspect in MMORPGs is the fact that the player cannot affect the world, you should implement whatever you can to make the world evolve with the players rather then making it a them-park ride.

Also getting inspiration from great single player games like Patrician, Annon,Total War,Dwarf Fortress and so on can help allot for a vareity of things including implementing tricky things like economy and logistics.

On the progression debate I view the skill pool system as the best,where your number of points are limited and focusing on another skill will decay an unused one,tht way you can have proper specialization of various degrees

NPC can be allot more useful as anything other then quest givers, since they can be regarded as workers while the players as adventurers/entrepreneurs you can delegate normal boring things to the workers in the services of players, this would both enrich the world as well as provide higher levels of play, especially if the NPCs can be a potential weakness if the NPCs themselves are a limited resource.

Player created quests are and interesting idea especially if implementing, if played right you might even get emergent storylines.

Also interesting is user unique crafting utilizing a type of noise function to get quality with different local optimums representing effects,this way it will negate looking at outside sources and be based only on your own research

#15 Rodimus   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 04 June 2011 - 12:52 AM

I think Adrix89 mentions a really interesting thing, players creating content. I think a big problem in the MMO industry is the need to constantly produce new content for the players. Content variety and originality drops and time to develop new mechanics/features simply ain't there. If you let the players contribute with even the simplest things like quests, the company themselves could focus on other things.

Example: I was quite disappointed when the WoW guild patch was deployed (guild achievements ...) and I think it could have been a lot more interesting if the players got total control over guild reputation and the possibility of creating quests.

Imagine using the reputation as a way of really showing how much you've done for the guild. Maybe the guild is in need of certain materials for crafting equipment, so the guild master creates quests that people can do to gather these. The guild could add their own reputation rewards, like titles or custom tabards. Everything paid by the guild and created by the guild, allowing everyone to do it their own way, but also having to get the resources for it.
"Rodimus and Unity" - My developer journal

#16 Songbird   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 08:57 PM

So what keeps people coming back day after day, week after week, month after month? Although I can understand not liking procedural quests, they do give the players something to do at a relative cheap investment (programming-wise). Just for fun, I designed a single storyline that contained 9 quests. It had three quests where you could make a decision that impacts the storyline and makes it more personal. The result? I had to make 39 total quests and had 8 possible endings. Which is about 4 times the work as a procedural quest (unless I'm missing the definition of 'procedural' which is highly probable). And even then, I was starting to see a lot of quests were grinding of some sort: grinding X amount of Y material, X amount of Y reputation, kill X amount of Y creatures. How do you make quests original and (semi-) unique to the player while maintaining an immersive narrative?

And while I'm at it, I disagree with having the players create the quests resulting in decreased workload for the developers. Because for every submission it has to be spell checked, grammar checked, reality checked, and lore checked. Plus they have to make sure there's not a huge influx of cool new quests that all happen to take place in a single area, making it congested and frustrating for players.

#17 Rodimus   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 11:37 PM

I was thinking more of guild internal quests and I'd say those don't need any sort of check from the developers.
"Rodimus and Unity" - My developer journal

#18 Songbird   Members   -  Reputation: 131

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 12:35 AM

I was thinking more of guild internal quests and I'd say those don't need any sort of check from the developers.


Aha, gotcha. Yeah, I'm surprised more MMOs don't have that option. The only one I can think of is Eve, which has a contracts system where a corporation (guild) can set up buy orders for stuff.

#19 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 02:36 PM

I think Adrix89 mentions a really interesting thing, players creating content. I think a big problem in the MMO industry is the need to constantly produce new content for the players. Content variety and originality drops and time to develop new mechanics/features simply ain't there. If you let the players contribute with even the simplest things like quests, the company themselves could focus on other things.

Example: I was quite disappointed when the WoW guild patch was deployed (guild achievements ...) and I think it could have been a lot more interesting if the players got total control over guild reputation and the possibility of creating quests.

Imagine using the reputation as a way of really showing how much you've done for the guild. Maybe the guild is in need of certain materials for crafting equipment, so the guild master creates quests that people can do to gather these. The guild could add their own reputation rewards, like titles or custom tabards. Everything paid by the guild and created by the guild, allowing everyone to do it their own way, but also having to get the resources for it.



I agree, which is why I originally thought that random items were a good idea for crafting. It makes it maintainable by using a nice simple algorithm for item creation, while making it expandable and gives the player the ability to materialize and trade their creations.

The system would be "Random" but certain factors would sway the end process towards a specific direction. Once they made something that seemed useful, they could sell the recipe..one that many others would not have due to the nature of random. Of course, you can't leave out static unique recipes that everyone can get.

Player built homes and evolving cities really helps the world become the players. Every server would have different looking cities and with the system I described, It wouldnt be too hard to build. Just a simple grid, and something to track the value of the neighborhood around you that increases the overall "experience" of your real estate and allows you to upgrade it further.



#20 Rodimus   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 03:00 PM

Allowing for player-built structures does raise the question whether it needs to be instanced or not though. Instancing it sort of defeats the purpose you are describing but not doing it would require a large area that was easily expandable. At the same time, I feel that the area and the structures needs to feel "important" and "original" If everyone built the same structures over and over, it would be better to keep it instanced.
"Rodimus and Unity" - My developer journal




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