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A few interesting system designs I've been throwing around...


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#1 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:29 PM

Alright, well, I've had a few systems that could spice a game up to some extent. I'd like to hear some feedback and discussion on the matter. Let's get started, shall we?

Persistent & Dynamic Economy

Okay, now the title pretty much says it all, however, let's go in to more detail! Basically, you have NPCs, now, what if, wait for it, they ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING.... Yes! NPCs functioning as something else other than the wonderful conversation (heh..)! Enough of the jokes...

Example:
Gatherer NPC finds seeds, sells the seeds to the Farmer NPC, Farmer NPC plants and harvests them then sells them to Vendor NPC. Vendor NPC then sells to players or OTHER NPCs.

This idea is more geared towards a multiplayer environment, so as the player's actions can actually affect the economy. (Steal crops from the farmer, the farmer can't sell the crops, the farmer can't buy seeds from the gatherer, the farmer can't plant anymore seeds, and finally, the farmer can't sell the crops to the vendor for the vendor to sell, and so on...)


Unified Massive Multiplayer Experience

This means that everyone is working towards the same MAIN goal, and are affected by changes in the world that one player causes. For example, I was just recently thinking of how awesome it would be to develop a Diablo fan-game. In this rendition, it would be a multiplayer 3D third-person hack-and-slash game with a dark gothic feel. Well, it would follow the story of Diablo II, but everyone would be involved, new and veteran players; however, this would be different from most MMOGs, as in the bosses are the only bosses and will not respawn magically from the pits of hell... The only thing to respawn would be your common enemies and the occasional unique mob, etc.. In effect, you would really be fighting to save Sanctuary from the three Prime Evils, which would be EXTREMELY difficult. By difficult, I mean several dozen level 99 characters still trying to struggle against their immense power. I mean, it would only make sense that the three Lords of Hell might be a little epic? Anyway, this is just an example (unless someone wants to help me develop it XD jk)


Wow, it seems my well has run dry all of the sudden... Well, I'll post more later if it comes to me! Please comment!
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

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#2 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7859

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:25 AM

Persistent & Dynamic Economy

Okay, now the title pretty much says it all, however, let's go in to more detail! Basically, you have NPCs, now, what if, wait for it, they ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING.... Yes! NPCs functioning as something else other than the wonderful conversation (heh..)! Enough of the jokes...

Example:
Gatherer NPC finds seeds, sells the seeds to the Farmer NPC, Farmer NPC plants and harvests them then sells them to Vendor NPC. Vendor NPC then sells to players or OTHER NPCs.

This idea is more geared towards a multiplayer environment, so as the player's actions can actually affect the economy. (Steal crops from the farmer, the farmer can't sell the crops, the farmer can't buy seeds from the gatherer, the farmer can't plant anymore seeds, and finally, the farmer can't sell the crops to the vendor for the vendor to sell, and so on...)

Yes, almost every game designer has that dream once in his life Posted Image
But game design is much like movie making. You don't create a whole living sci-fi citiy for a movie for just one shot, because it only matters what the audience sees. Games are not really different from this approach, only that you can change your view angle. This is, it does really not matter if a peasant who eats a carrot at this moment has stolen it or if the game just spawned the carrot.

If you make such a system, you would make it for yourself and interested game designers, but not for the player. Posted Image

Here is a nice blog entry about this topic (AI specifc).

Unified Massive Multiplayer Experience
...
however, this would be different from most MMOGs, as in the bosses are the only bosses and will not respawn magically from the pits of hell...

Hehe, MMORPG designers are not stupid or lazy. They design MMORPG system like this, because there're several issues to solve. One of the major issue is the player himself, because he will not do what the designer desires, killing every single good idea in milliseconds, either for fun, out of curiosity, or just by accident.

Edited by Ashaman73, 14 September 2012 - 12:29 AM.


#3 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 08:19 AM

I'm going to second Ashaman's opinion in that, while Designers may dream about these idyllic scenarios, they're just not realistic to implement.

Persistent & Dynamic Economy

Okay, now the title pretty much says it all, however, let's go in to more detail! Basically, you have NPCs, now, what if, wait for it, they ACTUALLY DID SOMETHING.... Yes! NPCs functioning as something else other than the wonderful conversation (heh..)! Enough of the jokes...

Example:
Gatherer NPC finds seeds, sells the seeds to the Farmer NPC, Farmer NPC plants and harvests them then sells them to Vendor NPC. Vendor NPC then sells to players or OTHER NPCs.

This idea is more geared towards a multiplayer environment, so as the player's actions can actually affect the economy. (Steal crops from the farmer, the farmer can't sell the crops, the farmer can't buy seeds from the gatherer, the farmer can't plant anymore seeds, and finally, the farmer can't sell the crops to the vendor for the vendor to sell, and so on...)


You could have a persistent simulated economy if it's the focus of the game - some sort of world simulation, but integrating it into an MMO for example isn't going to work because there isn't the scope for it to be a main feature. The economy of a farm is dependent on much more than a few crops.

If you have a field with the farmer's crops, a few lootable items to represent this and a player comes along and steals one, the farmer is losing a significant portion of his crop. In a couple of minutes of theft the farmer would be completely ruined.

If you have a large area, with dozens and dozens of items it'll encourage groups of players to come along and help themselves to free food, and the farmer is ruined simply because it's easier to take from the source.

Either, the effect a player has on the economy needs to be reduced (in which case, why not just simulate the economy without player interaction?) or the scale of the economy needs to be greatly scaled up: an example would be that Elwynn Forest in WoW would need to be just farmland in order to support an area the size of the original Stormwind.

You could add some simple price fluctuations into the market, but having a working economy would require an inordinate amount of work, for no real benefit.


Unified Massive Multiplayer Experience

This means that everyone is working towards the same MAIN goal, and are affected by changes in the world that one player causes. For example, I was just recently thinking of how awesome it would be to develop a Diablo fan-game. In this rendition, it would be a multiplayer 3D third-person hack-and-slash game with a dark gothic feel. Well, it would follow the story of Diablo II, but everyone would be involved, new and veteran players; however, this would be different from most MMOGs, as in the bosses are the only bosses and will not respawn magically from the pits of hell... The only thing to respawn would be your common enemies and the occasional unique mob, etc.. In effect, you would really be fighting to save Sanctuary from the three Prime Evils, which would be EXTREMELY difficult. By difficult, I mean several dozen level 99 characters still trying to struggle against their immense power. I mean, it would only make sense that the three Lords of Hell might be a little epic? Anyway, this is just an example (unless someone wants to help me develop it XD jk)


Anyone who's thought about making an MMO at any point, has dreamed about the Mythical "Real World" where what you do matters. But even something relatively simple - Large Bosses that do not respawn - is not realistic. Supposing you have these three primevals. Dozens of players work together over months, manage to kill one of them, it's a great accomplishment.

What happens to the players that missed out on the kill? People that were offline? What about players just joining the game now?

Someone joins the game a few weeks later, the second boss is already dead, everyone is working towards killing the third boss. They still have to level up to a position where they can help, by which point the last boss could be dead. When the last boss is dead, then what? Are you going to release an update with a new boss, and a new calamity? If you are, and will continue to do so whenever the next boss dies, then maybe you could get this to work.

Essentially, just by limiting the bosses you're limiting the endgame of your MMO, and that is always a bad thing.

#4 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 02:56 PM

Then the question becomes, how to make them work, not that they are impossible or not feasible. So, how do you think you could make this work? Either idea, you don't have to use both. And remember, these ideas are not "to scale" they were just short descriptions to give a general idea of the concept.
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

#5 bwight   Members   -  Reputation: 165

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 03:00 PM

Anyone who's thought about making an MMO at any point, has dreamed about the Mythical "Real World" where what you do matters. But even something relatively simple - Large Bosses that do not respawn - is not realistic. Supposing you have these three primevals. Dozens of players work together over months, manage to kill one of them, it's a great accomplishment.

What happens to the players that missed out on the kill? People that were offline? What about players just joining the game now?

Someone joins the game a few weeks later, the second boss is already dead, everyone is working towards killing the third boss. They still have to level up to a position where they can help, by which point the last boss could be dead. When the last boss is dead, then what? Are you going to release an update with a new boss, and a new calamity? If you are, and will continue to do so whenever the next boss dies, then maybe you could get this to work.

Essentially, just by limiting the bosses you're limiting the endgame of your MMO, and that is always a bad thing.


While this is true on a large scale I think that you could have a few unkillable bosses. Everquest had a boss that was intended to be unkillable, with enough time and progression of gear after years of expansions they finally managed to kill the boss. Stuff like this is legendary, people in the everquest communities talked about it for months and months. The three largest raiding guilds on Rallos Zek, including the one i was a member of, managed to kill the boss after hours of dying with over 250 players. He didn't even drop any items because he was intended to be unkillable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EverQuest#Kerafyrm_-_The_Sleeper

Kerafyrm, "The Sleeper", is a dragon boss in the original The Sleeper's Tomb zone.
While sleeping, Kerafyrm is guarded by four ancient dragons (warders) in "The Sleeper's Tomb". When all four dragons are defeated by players and are dead at the same time, The Sleeper awakes, triggering a rampage of death. Kerafyrm travels through and into multiple zones from The Sleeper's Tomb to Skyshrine, killing every player and NPC in his path. This event is unique in EverQuest, as it only occurs once on each game server. Once The Sleeper awakes, neither he nor the original guardians will ever appear again on that server, unless the event is reset.
As of 05 April 2012, Kerafyrm remains asleep on both the Al'Kabor (Macintosh) server and the official Test Server.
Originally intended to be unkillable, SOE prevented a raid of several guilds on Rallos Zek server from potentially killing him, claiming the existence of a bug. SOE later apologized for interfering,[29] reset, and allowed the players to retry the encounter. Two days later, the same three guilds made a second attempt and after almost 4 hours, successfully killed the sleeper.[30][31] [32]
"Kerafyrm The Awakened" appears in the expansion Secrets of Faydwer as part of a raid event "Crystallos, Lair of the Awakened" in the instanced zone of "Crystallos".



#6 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 03:02 PM

Ah, Bwight, very nice example! Thank you for your contribution!
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

#7 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:20 AM

These are popular ideas that get posted very often on these forums, and so there might be a wealth of past discussions to discover. But nonetheless...

Persistent & Dynamic Economy

Gatherer NPC finds seeds, sells the seeds to the Farmer NPC, Farmer NPC plants and harvests them then sells them to Vendor NPC. Vendor NPC then sells to players or OTHER NPCs.


1. Hard to control, might not produce intended outcome.

I do research on "complex systems" such as economies and biological entities as a job. These systems, made up of thousands or even millions of moving parts are notoriously hard to control/predict. So much so that "complex systems" is a field of scientific research.

2. Takes too much time to make.

Related to my previous point. There are quite a large number of "simulations" you'll need to make in order to produce a piece of bread: weather, plant growth, harvesting, economics etc. Imagine doing so for weapons, armor, potions, magical trinkets etc.

3. Too little reward/gain.

If you game involves going into dungeons, why spend all these time making a complicated item shop? The time could be better spent making better dungeons. If players are playing your game for the dungeon aspects, they might not even notice the elaborate item shop mechanics. Also, it might be difficult to avoid inconveniencing the player (point 1). E.g. Running out of health potions, economy crashing etc.

Unified Massive Multiplayer Experience

this would be different from most MMOGs, as in the bosses are the only bosses and will not respawn magically from the pits of hell... The only thing to respawn would be your common enemies and the occasional unique mob, etc.. In effect, you would really be fighting to save Sanctuary from the three Prime Evils, which would be EXTREMELY difficult. By difficult, I mean several dozen level 99 characters still trying to struggle against their immense power.


This, too is a common idea. Like others have pointed out: what about new players joining the game? They missed all the old events that have taken place over the last few years. Instead of selling a game with 5 expansion packs of content, your game only has 1 expansion pack worth of content...you're throwing away old content. Furthermore, it runs into commercial problems: what do stores do with the 4 older packs? They can't sell it because the content is gone.

Edited by Legendre, 15 September 2012 - 07:20 AM.


#8 bwight   Members   -  Reputation: 165

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 09:56 AM

This, too is a common idea. Like others have pointed out: what about new players joining the game? They missed all the old events that have taken place over the last few years. Instead of selling a game with 5 expansion packs of content, your game only has 1 expansion pack worth of content...you're throwing away old content. Furthermore, it runs into commercial problems: what do stores do with the 4 older packs? They can't sell it because the content is gone.


This is a good point. Like I said in my previous post. You can't do this very much. I think you can get away with a few legendary bosses that are alive but essentially unkillable, and when i mean a few I mean maybe one every 5 expansions or so. It cannot however be the focal point of the game there must be plenty of other content. Maybe a good alternative is to make the bosses only respawn once every few days or even up to a month would probably be acceptable for a game with enough content. What you don't want to do is have a bunch of max level characters running around with nothing to kill... You have to keep them busy because once they get bored they're going to jump to another game.

#9 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 10:24 AM

I'll think about that and try to find a way to make it work where no content is missed.... I love a challenge.
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

#10 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 02:05 PM

I'll think about that and try to find a way to make it work where no content is missed.... I love a challenge.


1. If your "epic boss" take 1 year to beat, newcomers after a year will miss out on that content. If it takes 2-5 years to beat, people probably won't bother grinding 2-5 years.

2. High levels probably would have all the fun fighting the boss, while low levels die instantly and by the time they grind up the boss could be dead. Its easy to say "lets make it so low levels can participate!" but is there really a way of doing it? Low levels by definition will not be able to access the same content as high levels. They might "participate" by killing low level mobs but they will miss out on the boss fight or high level obstacles.

3. Can you imagine the lag 1000+ players in the same area fighting the "epic boss" will cause?

#11 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 04:06 PM

Ye have little faith, lol. For something like this, levels would be nonexistent. It would have to be good ol' skill. As far as the game content goes, why have every player experience the same things? Why not have a game have an actual living history? Expansions wouldn't have to be released commercially. You could update the game via a patching system. You could make the game a digital download and pay to play for further development.

Still brainstorming...
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

#12 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 966

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 06:10 PM

As far as the game content goes, why have every player experience the same things? Why not have a game have an actual living history? Expansions wouldn't have to be released commercially. You could update the game via a patching system. You could make the game a digital download and pay to play for further development.


Suppose you spend a year and thousands of dollars making expansion pack 1. Your players beat it in a year. That becomes history. New and old players alike can only play the new expansion pack 2. There is no way for new players to experience expansion pack 1. You are just going to throw away all that content that costs time and money to make.

Furthermore, your new content needs to be rich enough to entertain new players. And you'll need to do this without help from old content, since they are "history" and cannot be accessed. New players are not going to buy your game so they can learn about all the history they didn't participate in. So, you'll have to fill each expansion with enough content to rival the initial release.

Isn't it much better to have initial release + expansion pack 1 + expansion pack 2's worth of content to great new players?

#13 MichaelRPennington   Members   -  Reputation: 127

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 07:29 PM

I'm currently fiddling around with a few other ideas that will allow new and old players to experience the world they influenced....

Brainstorming...
Any problem can be fixed, any issue balanced, any design possible; it's a matter of your resolve to make things happen.

Those who say, "It's not possible!" should look at where games started and where games are today. I'm sure they once thought that millions of players playing and interacting at once was not possible, yet we play games that match that description everyday.

Never tell me that something isn't possible; it will only make me more determined to prove you wrong.

#14 PyroDragn   Members   -  Reputation: 404

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:52 PM

I'm currently fiddling around with a few other ideas that will allow new and old players to experience the world they influenced...


Usually, games need one of two things (ideally, both): Replayability, or On-going content.

There needs to be something for the player to do, either doing something new - reaching a new goal - aka, leveling / killing a new boss / etc.
Or redoing something they've done previously - aka creating an Alt / farming a boss for gear / etc

Having a non-static world where actions of the players makes a difference would be a wonderful thing but it limits content. There's a lot of single player games with deep storylines whereby your choices affect the world and the progression of the story. In singleplayer games they only have to deal with the actions of one person.

In WoW the first quests you get in the starting areas are "Kill x amount of somethings" (for humans it's Kill 10 Kobolds). The world was static so they didn't have to worry about the fact that there'd be hundreds of people set to the task. In a dynamic environment what would happen? The first 20 people come along before eventually the kobolds are driven back and the monastery is left in peace.

There's only a few core possibilities for a dynamic environment, which I will try and use the above example as an illustration of:

1: Your task leads to a defined outcome.
You kill kobolds in the area. Eventually all the kobolds are driven off. The area is safe.

2: Your task leads to a defined outcome. It struggles to return against that outcome.
You kill kobolds in the area. The kobolds get driven off. They fight to come back, you have to keep driving them off.

3: Your task leads to another task, which leads to another, which leads back to the first.
You rescue the area from kobolds. You rescue the next area from kobolds. You rescue another area from kobolds, eventually they "escape" to where they started.



Number 1 is the "bosses don't respawn" scenario. You kill a boss, everyone is safe, everyone is happy. But you run out of content. Either you will reach a point where people end up doing repetitive tasks in the same zone (like current MMOs) or you have to keep developing and releasing brand new content. Old content is lost.

Number 2 is "bosses work to respawn" scenario. You save an area, but eventually the bad guys return and you have to save the area again. This basically means it is like the current repetitive MMO, except quests have a cooldown period.

Number 3 is "bosses don't die" scenario. You chase the enemy into a new zone, then another zone, then another. Eventually you get back to where you started. Again, like the repetitive MMO of today, but quests are just quest 'loops.'

The first scenario is the truly idyllic dynamic world scenario. This is where what you do matters, and the world changes, and you can see how things will turn out in the end. The problem is what is there for new players, and what is there in the end-game. Will there be as much content in the new world as there was from the start? If not, then that is detrimental to newer players. But then presumably this new content isn't dynamic, it is just repetitive quests for players to complete endlessly. The only way to counteract this would be to continuously generate brand new content while knowing that it is going to become obsolete.

Number 2 and 3 are just different ways of reusing content whilst mimicking dynamic progression. But either you'll reach an equilibrium whereby the world is essentially static, or your actions don't really have any effect on the world.

Now, I'm sure there's different ways of rehashing this, but essentially it boils down to: either you're going to have to keep creating brand new content, or you're going to have to reuse content, or your players are going to finish your game and go play something else.

#15 bwight   Members   -  Reputation: 165

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 08:34 AM

I'm currently fiddling around with a few other ideas that will allow new and old players to experience the world they influenced....

Brainstorming...


WoW did this with Wrath of the Lich King came out. What they choose to do is actually have a separate phase of the world for different people. Completing a set of quests brought you to a new phase of the zone. There were sometimes new buildings all the NPCs were in different places etc etc. The only drawback is that only people who are in the same phased stage as you are visible. This was pretty confusing when they first released it as sometimes you'd be grouped with a party member who was on a different set of quests as you and you couldn't see them. However, in the end I think it worked out pretty well.




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