The time-travel mechanic is superbly demonstrated in the movie Edge of Tomorrow. I saw it. It's worth seeing once.
Otherwise, if you want a persistent world without time-travel, then you have either legacy-play or resurrection-play.
I'd lean towards resurrection play like how it's done in GTA. If you get too much heat, let the cops kill you and the heat goes away.
For the story, I'd make the world very superstitious that everything needs to be buried to pass on to the next life. But the PC is cursed to not pass on but to reanimate a day after dying. The PC's main quest is to break this curse so they can go to their blessed afterlife. The benefits of death would be (at least until the NPC's catch on) that enemies would think they beat the character. If they encounter the character again after a death, perhaps they would be terrified of the vengeful spirit that is coming for them. Maybe after breaking into a hard area, not to loot, but to plant an item in a place, pull a sacred lever, talk to someone who is being held captive, etc... the PC can choose to fight their way out, or take some lumps and die whereon they are then buried in the graveyard outside of town. (Hey! Free teleport-ish mechanism!) Of course, dead bodies get stripped and looted unless you incorporate a superstition that anything that is in the possession of someone who dies is "unclean" and will keep the person from passing on to the next life. Anyway, a banking / storage system would be useful to re-equip if necessary. Maybe some not-so-superstitious brigands could loot the PC's corpse (including quest items) whereby the PC would then need to re-equip, track the brigands to their hideout and reclaim all the equipment (and probably more stuff that the brigands also have stolen).
OK. I'm just rambling now. But I clearly see some ways that death can be used strategically and beneficially if designed properly in the game.
So there is the current "boss" model of combat where the boss goes through stages of aggression and power as the player progresses towards winning. Any good FAQ on a game can detail these changes and what causes them to any frustrated player (or cheater). Randomizing the behavior is a good way to somewhat overcome this predictability.
Say the boss is a big knight. It's default behavior is to close the distance to the player and swing its sword. If the player can dodge and counter attack successfully a number of times, then the boss AI should be programmed to try something else rather than keep up the ineffective action. Perhaps a faster attack like charging at the player with the sword held out like a spike would be next. Or it could throw a net to ensnare the player. Or something else. Maybe have a set of attacks in a table with % chance of trying it next would be nice. If an attack fails, the % for that attack would be lowered to zero and the points redistributed evenly among the other attacks. If the attack is successful, then the % to try that attack again increases and it'll be used more frequently. Roll again to see which attack comes out. This doesn't negate the possibility of boss stages. It's just that those stages can have their own set of attacks.
So yeah, bosses with set patterns can and will get old after a few play-throughs. I'm thinking that a boss with a sizable move list (5 or more?) and a moderately-complex AI to be less predictable (patterns, useless moves) would go far to keep things fresh for a while longer.
Do players that like story-driven co-op also like the co-op experiences possible in Minecraft or Halo3:Forge?
I can only speak for myself. I don't much like sandbox scenarios like you mention. I prefer a fully crafted story and clear goals. But of course, that's just me. Others may be more open minded and enjoy both.
Do you think a game that did have in depth Co-Op experience would have a market. Or would it get pushed under the rug because it isnt GTA or COD? I just wonder how much there actually is an appeal to Those types of games.
That's the real $1M question there and the underlying concern of this thread. It would take an actual marketing study to answer it definitively, but my hypothesis is that companies believe that the more competitive a game is, the more it will sell. This leads to a sports-like mentality where the game is developed to be replayed with just a thin veneer of optional storyline as a setting. Many games can be played in succession with little interference from a plot or character motivation urging the player to action. CoD is pretty much a sport now. The setting is near irrelevant. GTA is a playground. Again, the setting is irrelevant. It could be just about anywhere. The last big blockbuster game is going to be GTA: Fallout: Blackops.
The problem with a good story is that it eventually comes to a definite conclusion. I have some favorite books and movies which I have experienced several times, but those times are not back-to-back. Often times, there are years between readings/viewings. Some games fall in that category as well. They just don't have immediate replay-ability. That's not to say that a good story won't sell. Look at The Last of Us and The Walking Dead titles. I hear they are doing well. They just aren't co-op titles. I'm going to have to think on how to make a good in-depth co-op experience. I don't have an answer for that yet.
I think this is a commentary on how people play games solo versus in a group. When playing a solo game, the player steps into a character and stays in that character to get the full immersion of the story. When more players are added, the character becomes less defined by the game and more by who the player is and their real world personalities. Left 4 Dead is a good example of this since it does not matter, gameplay-wise, which survivor you play since they are all functionally identical. The character comes out in the lines they say which are largely uncontrolled by the player. Conversely, the Team Fortress series has many classes which are functionally different, but have no depth of character since there is no personal story attached to anyone in any given scenario.
I see the difficulty with developing Co-Op Story-Driven games is getting multiple people to willingly take on unique characters with defining characteristics. Generally, there will be some real-world bickering (I wanna be the mage! You were the mage last time!) and likely some out-of-character gameplay that can ruin the story and immersion. Add in the fact that ALL players are to be treated as main characters to the story, and you get added frustration when differing skill levels cause disadvantages in the gameplay. (Now you are 1 man down because of "noob" OR "elite gamer" is doing all the work and nobody else really gets to "play".)
So I don't see Co-op going away, but naturally settling into a shallow character, squad-based tactics style games where the players largely define themselves. I'd LIKE to see a story game where 2 players play vastly different and defined roles. Resident Evil 4(?) came close there, but even then, the characters were almost functionally the same. It was a good try.
Not being helpful, but you could take a humorous approach to your situation and send them a letter rejecting their rejection like this one:
Herbert A. Millington Chair - Search Committee 412A Clarkson Hall Whitson University College Hill, MA 34109
Dear Professor Millington,
Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful
consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept
your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your
This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an
unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied
and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept
Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous
experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does
not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the
position of assistant professor in your department this August.
(Remember, I'm broke as a joke, so I'm not looking to actually produce any of this. This is a purely hypothetical discussion.)
The most basic idea behind my original post was to get away from the "Massive" portion of adventure gaming, but still be able to play with a reasonable amount of friends in a persistent world. This eliminates auction houses, gold farmers, and spawn camping almost entirely. Why even bother adventuring if you can grind up enough gold to buy the latest and greatest in equipment that other people went out to get? Why bother playing at all? There's no story or fun to be had there. (But... it's FUN being powerful! Well... why don't you EARN that power yourself instead of just PAYING someone else to play the game for you?)
The business model I had in mind would be to rent the new worlds to the players by server. There wouldn't be any buffs or shortcuts for sale. A player or group of players would prepay for a fresh, unspoiled world to be spawned where then they could log in and stomp all over it as they pleased. Griefing would be mostly eliminated as the players would (ideally) already know each other and have social repercussions for their actions in the game. Strangers and bots are up to the managing players to allow or disallow. Items would be locked to that singular world and not available for cross-server trade or sale. I think this would foster a culture of cooperation rather than competitiveness between players.
Now hold on... I don't think you are hearing my point.
Why do people keep thinking the "solution" to MMOs is different content for different players? It's not.
I whole heartily agree... because that's not what I'm saying.
What players are really satisfied by is feeling that the game is telling them a story focused on them
Exactly right! And that can't happen in a traditional MMO where the story isn't unique to that player no matter how much they want to kid themselves about it.
If anything it should be the other way around, players need protection against other players screwing up the story the game is telling them about their character's adventures.
Aaaaaand that's what I'm trying to solve with the small-population server idea. Don't get all hung up on the quest-locking idea I had earlier. It was just a tangential thought passing through my mind at the time. I was writing that post as a somewhat continuous stream of thought (a la Finding Forrester). The small-pop server is really where my inspiration for writing that post came from.
I'm going to make a wild assumption here that everyone is still assuming that the ModMO idea I'm posing still means playing with random strangers. Well... it can if that's your thing, but for me, I'd rather play something like this with friends and acquaintances. It's not that content would be locked for my play experience, but that I could and would work with others that I actually know and give a crap about to make a real impact on the game world. That, and the story can be dynamic, even rogue-like. Like the games I mentioned, my ideal game would be like a ModMO sandbox without all the annoying real-world strangers screwing things up for me. If anyone's going to screw things up, I'd like it to at least be someone I know...
TL;DR: I want a big game with a small population so I can feel like my character actually matters. (Like the Elder Scrolls + a few friends!)
I'm tired of MMO's. They are supposed to be super social games, but I find myself "soloing" for the most part and not giving a flip about anyone else out there. This got me thinking: no player in-game is special. They all get the same content. They all beat the same bosses and the outcome is the same for every story. I can do that in a single player game and feel like my character is the only one that matters. No so for an MMO.
So this got me thinking... (no, this isn't a rant) what can be done to change this feeling of not being special in a game world full of "heroes"? My answer: deal with the overpopulation of heroes. Limit their numbers to something reasonable. Also: make situations the players deal with have real consequences. Events should resolve for better or for worse and stay that way until the hero does something about it. If there's a Lich in a cave nearby and your character kills it, then the guy 5 minutes behind you can't kill it again for his quest because it's already dead!
How can this be executed? Well... I'm thinking that the first thing that needs changed is the meaning of the first "M" in MMO. Make it Moderate Multiplayer Online. Limit the number of players to anything from 1 to 100 depending on the size of in-game real estate and make the quests "complete-able" only once per server. I know I'm being unreasonable now, but I think it's the future of cooperative gaming. I point to RDR, GTA V, and Farcry 3 as examples of ModMO experiences where everyone is having fun. Granted, they add the final piece of the puzzle: randomly generated quests. Then it doesn't matter if the quests are lost forever if botched. We'll make more! And cities, outposts, and zones can be continuously conquered by opposing factions to extend gameplay.
Servers can be rented by the players on them. Some prepaid predetermined amount divided over the number of intended players (character creation would have to happen in advance of server creation) would fund the creation of a new server for a fixed amount of time (which can be extended at any point with more $$$). Interestingly enough, this would also deal with the overseas gold-farming industry as each server would be a closed economy. That is, unless you wanted a gold-farmer on your server and hired one as an extra player...
So here's the elevator pitch for the game I have neither the time or resources to make: WoW-like servers with very small numbers of players and instances that are closed when beaten making a real server timeline of significant events leading to a final climatic battle after which players can compete amongst themselves to maintain control of the game world map's resources for their own purposes.
I suppose once it's all over on a server, the character can be transferred to a new server with a higher difficulty setting. I don't know, I'm just rambling now. It's just that playing with complete strangers all the time sucks.