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Member Since 07 Aug 2009
Offline Last Active Dec 21 2012 04:59 AM

Topics I've Started

[Game Design/Rant] Emergent behavior and griefing in sandbox MMORPGs

16 December 2012 - 09:10 PM

Although this is more of a 'rant' than a design post, I think the future of MMORPGs is monopolizing on 'emergent behavior' and encouraging community-based interaction. Everyone suggest this is a pipe-dream, and I would like to hear your thoughts.

In a true sandbox MMORPG, the developers shouldn't have a lot of control over 'emergent behavior'. In online games like Ultima Online, the development team constantly strived to 'balance' the world against 'griefers' and other disruptive players. Instead of providing the community with proper tools, the developers continually eliminated or restricted features of the game until it was no longer a real sandbox.

Players are often working together to protect the world against great evils. These great evils are usually represented by NPCs in 'raid encounters' and other such mechanics. Video games will have you believe that 'good always prevails'. It's a comforting feeling to know that heroes will always come out on top. However, life in a fantasy sandbox world is not what it's cracked up to be.

Emergent behavior is a powerful force in an online game, and it is oftentimes negative. Many games with PvP and open-worlds are plagued by problems because things snowball and get out of control. Griefers and 'trolls' intentionally use their freedom to disrupt play for others. They ruin it for everyone, and game developers choose to punish everyone by creating more and more gameplay boundaries and restrictions.

My development team is working hard to create a game world that encourages players to work together for a common good. A community is always more powerful than it's individual parts. In our game, we have provided players with the tools to not only create their own content, but also to autonomously aid in enforcing certain behaviors. All creatures in the game are controlled and programmed by the players.

However, these tools will be used for evil. We've accepted and welcome that. In this game, if you do not work together for the greater good, not only will your character die, but the entire game world can potentially collapse. The server dies because no heroes rose from the community to maintain balance and order. This isn't about griefing or hackers, this is cause and effect in a game world that is not governed by the developers.

When this happens, we will relaunch a new server, giving the community another opportunity to create a world worth living in. The new world will be procedurally generated, and mankind will attempt to stand the test of time once again.

I present to you, the Slimepocalypse:

And ive provided a code snippet that will allow griefers to rampage in the game, consuming everything they can. My final question to the GameDev community: What will it take for players in gaming communities to truly cooperate? If griefing is prevalent, can the community as a whole stand together to stop it?

An MMORPG as a Javascript/programming teaching tool

15 December 2012 - 02:18 PM

I've been developing an MMORPG to use as a teaching tool for Javascript, HTML, and other programming concepts. It's received a huge amount of attention lately in various programming communities. I think the GameDev programming community will be especially interested to learn about it. The game is called Topia Online, and the game engine is designed to give player's full scripting capabilities and a marketplace to share their creations.

Here is a screenshot of the marketplace:

All creatures in the game are coded by players, limited only by their creativity and the limitations imposed based on their characters skills and resources. Scripts execute within the context of your character, so you need the appropriate abilities and reagents to invoke scripts. Players can also create their own interfaces. I am currently working on a sandbox which teaches Javascript in an interactive way.

Here's a game screenshot:

Our Kickstarter is trending slowly, and we're having a hard time explaining to non-programmers how they can enjoy the game. We're reaching out to a lot of IT / 'technical' communities to help us get a following. I'm not trying to advertise the Kickstarter, so I won't link it here, but I would definitely like to spark some discussion about 'programming in online games'. I also think this game will be the birth-place of very complicated automated ecosystems and society.

Topia Online - An MMORPG for game developers

11 December 2012 - 12:27 PM

I'm the lead developer of Topia Online, a massively multiplayer sandbox RPG. Everything in Topia Online can be programmed by the players using built-in editors. The engine itself will be licensed out to fellow indie developers so that they can create their own MMORPGs.

Our Kickstarter just went live as well:

PvP discussion, how is it different from being killed by monsters?

30 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

I would like everyone to discuss their feelings on PVP, particularly these questions:

1. Does it feel different to be killed by a player than it does by an NPC/monster? If so, why? What if the player is controlling a monster rather than a human?

2. What weaknesses have you seen in other games which implement PVP?

3. What would make it easier for you to cope with your 'sandcastle being kicked down' by bullies or griefers?

4. Would you be more acceptable to PVP if you felt that you always had a fighting chance?

5. Do you get positive excitement from battling other players?

Upcoming sandbox open-pvp perma-death HTML5 MMORPG

04 November 2012 - 04:39 AM

I am developing an online HTML5 tile-based MMORPG called 'Topia Online'. It features many things that ive always wished an online game would contain. Here is the feature list:
- A fully player-run world, where every creature is controlled by players.
- Permadeath ensures that each player takes responsibility for their actions.
- A powerful crafting system that allow players to create homes or dungeons.
- Dynamic procedurally generated sandbox world with no 'safe zones'.
- Every character is always 'logged in', resulting in a true persistent world.
- Play as any creature in the game, including wolves, vampires, or dragons.
- Built-in scripting system allows players to create artificial intelligence.
- Support for thousands of scripted characters on a single game server.
- Fully customizable game interface allows players to play the way they want.

I am 2 months away from a beta test. I will be launching at Kickstarter at the end of November. Please follow my dev blog, wiki, and forum for information about the game. This is the first official public announcement ive made about the game. I will be discussing it in more detail in two weeks.