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Alternative to MMO level ups and items


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#1 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 12:34 PM

In the majority of MMO's players gain power through leveling up and equipping items with better stats. Their items and armor effectively decide the outcome of the fight(PvP) prior to the start. Of course, things are different when two players of equal level are pitted against each other, but even then, very often, a gap in item level/strength can provide a huge boost.

I have been looking at ways to overcome this.

Currently, we have stats such as hp, mana, spell strength, hit, physical strength, etc. My question is, why have these for PvP type games. They are undoubtedly a great idea for pen and paper, and even vs environment games...but for PvP they don't allow for any strategic customization options. Its only, "get better armor" not "get a different type of armor"

So...the answer? Create more stats outside the typical hp/mana/spell/hit etc. that focus on unique characteristics of your characters attacks.

Essentially, allow players to modify their attacks. For example, a rare sword might change the range of your "cleave" skill rather than simply increasing the damage. There are an infinite amount of possibilities that could do be done in these circumstances. It all comes down to making an ability that can be easily modified through stats.

So specific attack stats would be listed with attributes such as :

Range
Precision (cone range - 180% would be everything in front of you, 360% would be pbaoe)
-Focus (how much damage is done in an expanded range)
Shielding
Time

just to name a few

Now when the developer went to create an ability, they would read each one of these stats, and create a unique ability that relies on them.

For instance: They want to create a Rain of Fire type spell from WoW. The player can target a specific area on the ground around them, cast it, and rain fire as a channeling spell.

So, range would be set to dictate how far out they can cast it. Precision would dictate how big or small the AoE circle would be. Focus would adjust the amount of damage done based on how big/small the circle is. Shielding would have no affect. And time would dictate how long they can channel it for the cost.

Someone might decide that they need a large area from a long range with little damage. They also dont need much time. So they take a majority of items that subtract precision and add range. They ignore damage, time, range, so now they can hit a bunch of enemies at a long distance...possibly applying some sort of debuff.

Someone else might want to focus on a small area with high damage. So yes, they focus on precision, focus and damage.

As you can see, with just a small amount of stats the customization options really open up.

Each item could grant different types of random stats that would apply to all the players abilities,. Or the stats for each abilities can be individually altered...ala D3 and runes.

This way, even lower level players (would they even need levels) would be able to compete with high level players. The only advantage higher level players have is that they have more customization options and access to items that give more modifiers.

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#2 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 04:28 PM

Lessening the influence of gear and power gained through leveling are also options.

Being able to manipulate the actual function of some spells sounds good though and it could still be tied with leveling/skill gain/etc.

Perhaps have a typical hotbar slot with an empty version of the spell. You can then take W, X, Y, and Z attributes and adjust them as you see fit. The total combined power of W, X, Y, and Z would set the ceiling of how high you can put each and still being able to cast the spell. You can have multiple variants of the same basic spell, just with different W, X, Y, and Z values causing the spell to have different end effects.

#3 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 04:53 PM

And the better armor part? You're saying rather than increase the power of your skills, open up for more variation instead.
I don't like it. A very important part in rpg's is feeling you're getting stronger. It's still just about who has the better stats.

To deal with this, you have to make combat skill based. Going for a more action based combat, is probably the most intuitive thing to do.
In current mmorpgs levelling gives exponential stat increase. Opponents a few levels below you, have no chance to beat you.
Levelling up to max is a requierment. To keep players around this is usually loooots of work, and fill this up with extremely repetitive content.
They should make stat increase curve more linear, and make it not to long, to reach the "top" level. However, add additional levels which requires tons of time to level up, but gives a mere symbolic stat gain, and lots of visual stuff instead (cooler looking mounts, etc).
Even though it's action based, stats should still play a big role though. Stats should affect the action part. Your stats vs opponents stats should affect your chances of wether you break a block (or not), and how severe it is (how long time for him to recover). If you hit hard, or normal, and if he "focus" blocking or just accidentaly has his shield in the way, will affect the chances of the outcome. So there's a technical part where you can outfight your opponent, but a high level player will carve through a low lever player like butter.
The low lever player will have most of his blocks broken, and the high level player will block most his attacks with little effort. However, they could still be caught of guard, and a succesful strike could deal major dmg. A bunch of recruits ganging up on a strong player could be succesful.
A cool midlevel group quest, could be to kill enemy high level players in a nearby location, which happens to be a typical place they do quests (often alone).

Oh, and I don't think you should have near sandbox customization. Make a more limited but well made and interesting setups. I don't think armor should have all these fancy stats. It should have armor or other natural properties like weight, noise and visibility. Make magical items priveleged. Only the best items are magical, and one character can typically only equip one or two. Rings could have some minor magical bonuses though. To much stats is boring. Stick with a few basic stats parameters and use these to determine the chances of what happens, depending on what a player does.

I would also encourage some use of rock paper scissor. If you require every character to be on even terms in a duel, then you have serious balacing problems. It often leads to boring abilities, to ensure everything stays balanced. Rock paper scissor will autobalance (if implemented correctly) in group combat. Give players the tools to avoid fights instead (skill based).

Latency is a big issue with action based combat. Guild wars 2 has apparently some hybrid, between hotkey combat and action based combat. It will be interesting to see how that will be. I especially like that they're limited skills you can use at any given time. They are easily selectable. It should be about using the abilities correctly, and not about finding the ability you're looking for fast enough. You can also instantly switch your role by changing between one of 2 weapons (5 dedicated weapon skills).

Atleast that's my thoughts.

#4 Caldenfor   Members   -  Reputation: 323

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 04:56 PM

And the better armor part? You're saying rather than increase the power of your skills, open up for more variation instead.
I don't like it. A very important part in rpg's is feeling you're getting stronger. It's still just about who has the better stats.

To deal with this, you have to make combat skill based. Going for a more action based combat, is probably the most intuitive thing to do.
In current mmorpgs levelling gives exponential stat increase. Opponents a few levels below you, have no chance to beat you.
Levelling up to max is a requierment. To keep players around this is usually loooots of work, and fill this up with extremely repetitive content.
They should make stat increase curve more linear, and make it not to long, to reach the "top" level. However, add additional levels which requires tons of time to level up, but gives a mere symbolic stat gain, and lots of visual stuff instead (cooler looking mounts, etc).
Even though it's action based, stats should still play a big role though. Stats should affect the action part. Your stats vs opponents stats should affect your chances of wether you break a block (or not), and how severe it is (how long time for him to recover). If you hit hard, or normal, and if he "focus" blocking or just accidentaly has his shield in the way, will affect the chances of the outcome. So there's a technical part where you can outfight your opponent, but a high level player will carve through a low lever player like butter.
The low lever player will have most of his blocks broken, and the high level player will block most his attacks with little effort. However, they could still be caught of guard, and a succesful strike could deal major dmg. A bunch of recruits ganging up on a strong player could be succesful.
A cool midlevel group quest, could be to kill enemy high level players in a nearby location, which happens to be a typical place they do quests (often alone).


MMOs can't generally be too "action-y" because of latency issues. If this were a non-MMO it may be a more suitable path to venture. I am sure there are ways to work in some of the things without relying on the action'ness of them. The higher your shield the stronger your auto-blocks are, but the stronger the attack the more chance your block can be defeated, thus making your shield not as useful until your shield skill catches up to the attackers attacking skill.

#5 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 07:11 PM

MMOs can't generally be too "action-y" because of latency issues. If this were a non-MMO it may be a more suitable path to venture. I am sure there are ways to work in some of the things without relying on the action'ness of them. The higher your shield the stronger your auto-blocks are, but the stronger the attack the more chance your block can be defeated, thus making your shield not as useful until your shield skill catches up to the attackers attacking skill.
[/quote]

I accidentally hit the like button instead of reply button. Not that I think it's a bad comment :wink:
True, and I think some of the things I said are difficult in an mmo. Yet, still they manage to get shooters to work fairly well, and mount & blade warband worked well also.
The advantages of having action based combat could be large (much more appealing).
Still, it will be interesting to see how Guild Wars 2's "hybrid" will do. Will it be enough action based, and how big impact will latency have?
My hole point with the block thing is because you can decide when to hold block or not. You're just saying how it already is, Stats decide chances of blocking or not.
The idea was to get rid of a bunch of unecessary stats, in what would be a more "physics" oriented combat.
I would remove all the block, dodge, hit rating, etc because whether you hit or not depends on where you swing the sword, and you need to actively block and dodge.
The base attributes however (like strength, dexterity, intelligence, health, mana, stamina) will decide how likely you are to be able to block vs certain opponents, dexterity could improve ecasive manuevers (dodge), and stamina could be required to execute them. This is difficult to do properly in an mmo, but it's probably possible.

The other parts in my previous post however is more on topic. Like how make levelling to "max" should not be to long, but make an actual max that takes very looong time, but with trivial benefits in combat, but lots of other stuff, like better looking mount. Also flatten level curve so several low level players can compete with a high level player. Make fewer skills but implement them well (make them visual). Still have enough for specialization and make sure players can use limited skills at once, so you don't have half the screen filled with the various skills that are practical. Each skill should serve a special purpose. If you want to make variations of the same type of skill (instand dmg, vs reduced dmg but with bleeding), it should be through specialization so you can only have one of them at once.

I also don't see the point of having multiple magic paths, where most of them are near identical except in name and effects. The playstyle should be different aswell.

#6 fr0st2k   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 11:49 AM

They have all the pieces in place already. If we look at WoW, or GW2, and piece together their mechanics, you can easily create a system that imitates "physics," such as dodging etc.

For instance. In raids, boss fights will have interesting mechanics such as displaying spots where explosions are going to occur, and you need to get out of the way.

Why not use this for Cleave abilities? Just focus the area it can hit as a small cone in front of the target. Upon using the "Cleave" spell, your character makes a movement to inform other players its about to happen, and other players can "Get out of" the "aoe" of the cleave.

You essentially just have to tweak a few ways the player uses spells:

Freeze him in place when he uses some abilities
Make it so you can use the ability at anytime, and not require a target
Make all abilities AoE, just with different ranges, and cones effects

If you want to block, you can just simulate activating a spell shield. "Deflect" would "block a single physical attack, can not attack for 3 seconds after casting"

#7 Bigdeadbug   Members   -  Reputation: 173

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:28 PM

There are examples of MMORPGs that use the fact a new character can go toe to toe with a high end one as a bragging point. Darkfall comes to mind although i never played it long enough to see if such an assertion was true.

From what i read i agree that traditional stats should have less on an emphasis. Instead there should be more focus on things improving certain abilities in different ways (I do hope i understood you right). Although i can see this becoming an even bigger nightmare to balance than traditional stats.

The only point i can think of, apart from what has already been covered by others, is that I found a lot of the "balance" issues arising in current gen MMORPGs due to two reasons. The first being the overabundance of high stat items at high levels. Probably the best example i can think of is the stat inflation seen in the last few months of Wrath of the Lich King. This can simply be solved by planning better.

The second, and one I'm not sure anyone else covered, is that developers have been focusing on smaller and smaller groups of players for PvP. For example trying to balance a 1v1 is next to impossible is a normal MMORPG, not only because of stats but also due to the way classes etc. often work. If instead you make sure your battles involve say 20+ players the stat disparities between players tend not to be such a huge issue. Others things come into player, such as tactics, that drown out the fact the other team may have some very well geared players. To be honest the focus on such small PvP battles is mystifying to me, especially when i think of the fact MMORPGS are meant to be massive but instead of playing on that are almost trying to mimic the kind of situations you get in normal multilayer games. (I know latency etc. have been issues with bigger battles but that's less of an issue now with new more affordable technology and there have been ways around such issues for quite some time)



#8 Telgin   Members   -  Reputation: 200

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 10:28 AM

Posting at work, so I didn't have time to read through the whole thread, but it sounds like you're aiming for a PvP focused MMO that doesn't let gear and levels trump skill. That sounds like an admirable goal, but is going to be tough to accomplish.

I think the biggest issue with this in modern games is just how much it matters. Character levels can be dispensed with completely and replaced with player skill. Gear is a different story though. In real life, gear should make a difference, so I think it should in a game like this too. You wouldn't want to face a guy with full plate armor with a quarterstaff, would you? Maybe you could beat him, but he's going to have a much easier time of the fight than you would.

A way around this is to just give different gear combinations its own set of advantages and disadvantages (not entirely unreasonable, and probably an acceptable departure from reality for a game). People in full plate armor are going to be very difficult to injure (in fact, without a gun, well made plate can withstand almost any muscle powered weapon), but are going to tire faster and probably be slower. Leather offers some protection but doesn't really slow you down. A great sword does more damage and has a longer reach, but is tiring and somewhat slower to use. A mace is faster, easier to use, and gives some chance of harming someone through heavy armor. The list goes on.

Balancing this becomes very tricky, but it's probably possible. I'm reminded of games like Team Fortress 2 where the different classes are balanced against each other and where gear options make small but flavorful changes. This would be a bit of a step beyond that perhaps.

I like your idea of having customizable abilities to give flavor without changing absolute power, but I fear it would be impossible to balance. First off, most players are probably only going to care about a few modifiers, and so wouldn't be overly motivated to unlock many. Second, getting the balance right gets 1000x harder. Games like GURPS (a pen and paper RPG system) where this is possible are notorious for player abuse and require GMs to moderate what the players do. Third, so you have these options for casters, but how could you offer the same level of flexibility to melee attacks? Or are you focusing mostly on magic?
Success requires no explanation. Failure allows none.

#9 n00b0dy   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 03:34 PM

Third, so you have these options for casters, but how could you offer the same level of flexibility to melee attacks? Or are you focusing mostly on magic?


in my game :
caster spells dont auto-hit, instead they have a travel time,
any warrior with a brain will easily avoid all spells but this becomes harder as the warrior gets closer to the mage.

Since the warrior is destined to be worse in group pvp ( 1 melee vs 5 ranged characters), he is given special abilities to counter "ganking",
Abilities including getting 50-90% dmg reduction for 3-6 seconds, depending on how many enemies you fight.

Same thing with other melee, rogue can just go invisible and run away from battle if he gets ganked.

#10 Rajaat   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:14 PM

Since the warrior is destined to be worse in group pvp ( 1 melee vs 5 ranged characters), he is given special abilities to counter "ganking",
Abilities including getting 50-90% dmg reduction for 3-6 seconds, depending on how many enemies you fight.


You are trying to fix something which is not broken. You are short and slight of build, your mate is built like a bull - you don't try and fight (physically)him for obvious reasons. If you were to get angry with him, you'd probably say something hurtful or do something else - such as not hang around him.

Life is not balanced, but there are always drawbacks to every advantage. Your warrior must use his brain to get close to the ranged characters. He could hide, someone else could lead ranged into a trap where warrior is waiting. Life is about people playing unfairly - and this is why players complain about unfair play - if someone is big and nasty it is not up to the game creators (god) to fix the problem (how many dictators were taken out by divine intervention? -saddam, mugabe, stalin, gaddafi, idi amin). If there is a big scary bad guy, get your society in order - train up a police force and enforce your ideals of law/order/balance/fair play.




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