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MiniMORPG Feature Analysis Draft 2.0

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JWalsh

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Hail all!

So I was looking over the discussion about game mechanics, and decided to play around with it a bit more. Out of coincidence, an old friend of mine from my days playing the Legend of The Green Dragon PHP game (Based on an even older BBS game I played) decided to send me an instant message to say hello. This gave me the crazy idea of merging the simple game design I had in mind with something a bit more interesting. So listed here is the second (more detailed) revision of the Feature Analysis.

Before I progress, however, I'd like to make a note. I have TONS of design ideas about MMORPG's, but I opt to keep the majority of them to myself, as it may be financially viable for me to create a game company in the near future, and MMO's are on the menu for probable projects. Understandably, I'd like to save my design ideas for the commercial product. As a result, I'm trying to make this engine/game as generic as possible, while still making it interesting to those following the Experiment.


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Feature Analysis; Draft 2.0
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Chat System
The Chat system will include "slash commands" in order to send conversation to the 'say', 'yell', 'whisper', and eventually 'party' channels. Additionally, there will be the ability to /join custom named channels. Once you've joined a channel you can use /<#> and / to converse with the channel you desire. Finally, /leave <#> or /leave will remove you from the channel, though you cannot leave the say, yell, whisper, or party channels. One last thing, conversation will always go to the last channel you spoke to by default. Using /command is only required to CHANGE who your conversation is directed at.

The Interface
The interface will consist of a main menu, a character sheet, a skills menu (which illustrates combinations for special abilities, etc...), an inventory, an area map, a quest log, and a crafting menu. This is in addition to the dialogs for conversing with NPC's, for dealing with special events, or for evaluating specific items, such as signs, etc...

Zone
There will be 1 zone, which will consist of a desert theme. The appearance of the theme will range from yellow, to brown, to red - (think Arizona/Nevada/New Mexico) Inside of the 1 zone there will be a single, randomly generated instance which will take the form of an ancient sunken pyramid, which has been covered in sand over the millennia, but has recently been uncovered. At the bottom of the Pyramid will be evil untold, and defeating such evil will earn you fame and recognition.

Races
There will be one race - Humanoid, with character customization consisting of physical build (height/weight), skin color, hair color, and eye color. There will not be customization in the form of hair style, or facial skeleton.

NPC's
There will be NPC's scattered across the map of various types, including:
Quest Dispensers - Yeah, gives quests
Class Trainers - Allows training of class skills when tests are passed
Profession Trainers - Allows learning to create new patterns and plans
Event NPC's - Unique
Bankers - Will allow you to withdraw/deposit items and cash into your bank
Merchants - Can buy/sell items of all types

Ability Scores
Strength - Determines how much damage your character does with medium & large melee weapons, and how much can be blocked with a shield.
Endurance - Determines your hit points, as well as your characters resistance to critical strikes
Focus - Determines how much damage/healing your character does with spells, as well as the amount of mana your character has
Agility - Determines how much damage your character does with light melee weapons as well as ranged weapons, and improves chance to dodge attacks
Health - Your character's health
Mana - Your character's pool of energy, from which spells are drawn
Fatigue - Determines how much fighting/adventuring your character can do in a day.

Days & Fatigue
In the world of MiniMORPG, characters suffer from daily fatigue. When a player performs tiring activities such as exploring, killing, and training, their Rest meter drops from full to empty. Once the fatigue meter drops to empty, they may no longer exit the town to explore, train, or do other strenuous activities, though they may still hang out in town and chat, or perform crafting. If a player is already outside of a village when their Rest meter drops to 0, they begin taking progressively worse hits to their attributes, including a decrease Strength, Focus, Agility, etc...until they eventually begin losing health itself. A character's fatigue automatically resets each game day. (probably twice daily). When this happens, your fatigue meter returns to normal, and you may once again engage in tiring activities such as exploring, killing, and training.

Item Types
Armor - Warn on the body, or as a shield to increase damage absorption
Weapons - Equipped in the hands in order to attack at range
Potions - Drank to immediately regenerate health and/or mana
Gems - Rare objects which can be exchanged in various places for unique events and/or effects
Food/Drink - Ate/Drank to regenerate health/mana slowly, as well as to help reduce fatigue and fatigue rate
Crafting Materials - Combined to create Armor and Weapons
Coins - Collected to trade for other item types

The Bank
There will be a bank, which allows the withdrawal and deposit of coins, as well as items carried on your person.

Crafting
There will be two professions which can be learned (1 profession per character) which grants the player the ability to craft either armor or weapons as proficiency in the skill improves. Each time an item is created or reagents are prepared, skill in the profession increases. At certain intervals, new patterns/plans can be learned which grants the crafter craftable items. Players can opt to learn a profession and obtain new patterns at Profession Trainers. To construct an item appropriate resources must be gathered, and then the appropriate tools must be used at the appropriate location. For construction of Armor, Ore and/or Hide must be collected and prepared. Ore is collected from Veins, scattered around the map. Hide is collected from skinning various animals scattered across the map. For construction of Weapons, Ore and Wood must be collected. Wood is collected by chopping wood from fallen branches.

Combat
Combat is initiated by either engaging a passive mob, or getting within range of an aggressive mob. Once combat it initiated it can be ended either by fleeing far enough that the mob loses interest, or by the defeat of either the player or the mob. Melee combat must be at close range (range not yet decided), while ranged combat must be done between a minimum and maximum range. (ranges not yet decided). When combat begins, the player will automatically draw his weapon (if he has one), and assume a combat stance. When combat is ended, the player will automatically return to his normal stance. When in a combat stance, the player may initiate special abilities by using a combination of DPad and Button presses, similar in style to the current generation of Fighting Games (Think Soul Calibur).

Player vs. Player
There is limited PvP in this game. It is actually more Player vs. Player AI. Whenever a player logs out, their characters are flagged as attackable (Yes, they are persistent within the world). This happens whether they are out in "The Wild" or whether they are in their room in the Inn (though they are more difficult to reach). At this point, other players who are currently logged on can engage them in combat. The person who is the victor may, if they choose, loot all coins and inventory (not equipped items) which are on the corpse of the opponent. When the defeated player signs back on they will be Dead (See below).

Death
Whenever your character dies they enter the Underworld. This is an alternate plane which exists within the same realm of the living. Everything looks grayscale, as though shrouded in shadow. While in the land of Shades you cannot commune with those that are living, except by visiting the psychic. You can, however commune with the dead. As well, you can go out and explore. While exploring you will encounter mobs as usual, however killing them doesn't grant Prestige, but instead grants Favor with Osiris, Egyptian god of the Underworld. Gain enough Favor with Osiris and he will bestow you with favors, perhaps even reincarnation. If you "Die" while facing mobs within the Underworld, your soul becomes trapped, and you may not do anything but commune with others in the underworld until the next day, when you may be reborn, and find yourself within your bed.

Mobs
Scattered about the world there will be half a dozen or so killable mobs, mostly all skinnable for crafting. Inside of the random dungeons there will be another half a dozen or so mobs, most likely evil and/or humanoid in nature. Finally, while in the Underworld there will be another half a dozen or so mob types.

Classes
There will be 4 classes - Tank, Nuker, Healer, and Handyman. The 4 classes will differ in their party roles, with abilities associated with their titles.
- Tank (Heavy Armor) will have agro-gaining abilities as well as shield use, and the ability to wear the heaviest armor. The primary attributes for the Tank will be Endurance and Strength.
- Nuker (Light Armor) will have spell-casting abilities for maximum explosive damage. They are the stereotypical "glass cannon" and will be weak in physical combat as well as armor use. Primary attributes for the Nuker will be Focus and Agility.
- Healer (Medium Armor) will have spell-casting abilities for healing and buffing. They will be similar to the Cleric/Paladin of classic RPG's. Their primary attributes will be Focus and Strength.
- Handyman (Medium Armor) will have skill abilities for detecting/disarming traps, opening locks, etc...Although they have some melee skills, their primary combat skill is in ranged combat. Their primary attributes are Agility and Endurance.

Levels
There will be 15 levels. As your character kills mobs he/she will gain "Prestige." When your character has earned enough prestige, he may challenge his class trainer to a dual (for a fee, which enters you into a betting pool). If you defeat the class trainer, you will be promoted to the next level, which grants you additional stats, and occasionally access to new special abilities. At this point, you will be assigned a new trainer. If you lose, there are no negative consequences, however whether you win or lose, facing a tough challenge such as your class trainer leaves you fully fatigued, and you must wait until the next day to do any strenuous activities.

Special Abilities
Each class will have special abilities, which can be activated by performing a special button combination with their DPad (Arrow Keys for Keyboards) and Buttons. Some abilities will require a target, while others will not. Some will have a casting time, while others will be instant. Some will have a cooldown, while others will be spammable.

Quests
Various NPC's throughout the world may have tasks and quests for you to go on. As a reward for completing the quests they will gift you with some combination of either money, items, or Prestige.

Parties
Players may join parties in groups up to 4. This is so they may share quest challenges, and also so they may take down tougher monsters (such as the final boss) located within the Ancient Sunken Throne room.

Random Events
Occasionally, random NPC's or events will occur which will either grant or penalize you with gold, items, or fatigue, depending on the outcome of those random events.

/Discuss
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I like some of those ideas. They are similar to other RPGs but also different. So at level 15 I assume you will be able to gain higher levels only by fighting your trainer or will there be a complete cap at 15 and you cannot go any higher?

Also the fatigue thing sounds like a good idea but I hope it wouldn't run out too fast, what if someone was in the middle of a quest they really wanted to finish but their fatigue level got very low to the point where they were losing health. I certainly would hate that feature if it was in any game I played. It's almost forcing the player to quit playing, and I understand this is just a list of ideas but if you were trying to sell a game like this it probably wouldn't sell well with a feature like that :).

Other than that I really like all the other ideas the Underworld sounds cool and having players still in the game world once they disconnect is something I have thought of before, just didn't come up with an idea quite like yours. But again if a player gets killed then is stuck in the underworld forcing them to play there until the next day seems a bit harsh and not allowing them to talk to other players in the living world wouldn't be much fun.

Anyhow great ideas sorry if I was a bit too critical :) I understand this is just an experiment, these are just some thoughts I wanted to share.

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Hi All,

What I find interesting is that I revised the feature list from Thursday, April 19, 2007, and made a few changes and suddenly it "sounds like a lot of work," when all I did is begin to fill in the gaps between the feature list I had previously provided, and a working Design Analysis.

Hehe, dont get overwhelmed yet, I haven't even begun the design yet, all I've done so far is provide the requirements, and this is only a draft. There's a lot more to a complete Design Analysis.

Cheers!

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Original post by jwalsh
Hi All,

What I find interesting is that I revised the feature list from Thursday, April 19, 2007, and made a few changes and suddenly it "sounds like a lot of work," when all I did is begin to fill in the gaps between the feature list I had previously provided, and a working Design Analysis.

Hehe, dont get overwhelmed yet, I haven't even begun the design yet, all I've done so far is provide the requirements, and this is only a draft. There's a lot more to a complete Design Analysis.

Cheers!


It simply seems like more because you go into more detail. Saying, "There will be fighting", sounds like very little work. Saying, "There will be melee, ranged and magic combat with abilities and weapons and armour", sounds much harder. I too think this is very ambitious. Considering your "rope bridge" analogy, don't you think there may be too many initial goals? Following that train of thought - will you be aiming to tackle all of these at once, or will you get only a few working properly first, and then expand? Also, will you cover making tool programs like map makers in your workshop?

Good luck!

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The more I think to MMO, the more I want redesign them from the ground.

Take the standard attributes for exemple: gameplay-wise, what is their interest? Can 2 of them be enough? They could provide a neat abstraction to the player (the classical spirit / body dichotomy). Of course, you may think that this simple dichotomy does not allow enough difference between the players - but they are only a base. If you look at a population, that's how you differentiate between people: those who are smart and not strong, those who are strong but not smart, those who are both strong and smart, and the weak stupid guys. You are part of one of these 4 groups (you can extend these 4 groups to 8 by considering average people), you differentiate by what you carry, your clothes, and your aptitudes (ie your knowledge). So having only 2 characteristics

1) simplifies the gameplay
2) does not disallow you to create a very complex identity system

Next comes levelling. Levelling very often badly designed in MMO. Well, to be honnest, I have yet to find a MMO leveling system that is not uterly stupid.

What does level represent? Are they a representation of the character's power? The answer is No (because two very different characters can have the same level. The result is that we speak of a "lvl 60 bard" or a "lvl 40 fighter", for exemple). They are a representation of er... nothing, in fact. They should represent the character's experience, but this is already represented by the advance of the character's aptitudes and competences (because you know, a character with a "craft rat tails" competence which is equal to 98 out of 100 is farily experienced in crafting rat tails).

In the end, levels are just a fun tool which is used to roughly gave an indication about the "power", whatever that be. What about being more explicit? Remove the level, and give a rough indication about how much powerfull is the character (by taking all kinds of factor into account).

With the leveling problems comes the limitation problem too: I still wonder why you can be lvl 40 in NWN, but not lvl 41. The only difference between the two levels is a bunch of xp. That would have been quite easy to implement (especially if you follow the epic rules of D&D3). I can understand why you can't exceed 100 out of 100 (it's a percentage; you can be better than absolutely perfect), but with games that are not percentage based, this limitation should not exist at all.

Of course, these are not my only problems with MMOs (the other being more tied to the game world: quests, IA/NPCs, or the fact that a world where everybody is a hero means that there is no hero in this world).

So, wa da ya think about this? Could the simplification of the design open new opportunities (while simplifying the game development itself)?

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I love it. It feels almost like a 3D extension of Legend of the red dragon, which I assume legend of the green dragon is based upon *Sigh Memories*.

I really like the fatigue system, it makes sense and keeps everyone at a closer level instead of having people advancing really fast because they have 24 hours a day to dedicate to the game.

I'm very interested to see how this workshop works out and everybody's projects which result from it.

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Help me understand Death and PvP...

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Death
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I like the concept, but I'm not sure I fully understand. When you die, you enter another world and the only way you can get out is by doing favors for Osiris? Or is there another way?

I suppose doing it this way helps discourage reckless battle, where you know you'll just respawn in a few seconds.

Also, if I die in the underworld, I'm basically out of play for a "game day", correct?

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PvP
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This is very different from anything I've seen. If I logout while my character is on the couch in the Inn, you're saying another player could come up and attack me while I'm away and get my loot? And then when I log back in I'm doing favors for Osiris?

I'm not sure I understand the motivation for this. Can you elaborate on this a bit?

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Quote:
Help me understand Death and PvP...

--------------
Death
--------------
I like the concept, but I'm not sure I fully understand. When you die, you enter another world and the only way you can get out is by doing favors for Osiris? Or is there another way?

I suppose doing it this way helps discourage reckless battle, where you know you'll just respawn in a few seconds.

Also, if I die in the underworld, I'm basically out of play for a "game day", correct?

--------------
PvP
--------------
This is very different from anything I've seen. If I logout while my character is on the couch in the Inn, you're saying another player could come up and attack me while I'm away and get my loot? And then when I log back in I'm doing favors for Osiris?

I'm not sure I understand the motivation for this. Can you elaborate on this a bit?


When you die, the only way you can get out of the Underworld that same Game Day is by doing favors for Osiris. When the game day ends you will be removed from the underworld the next time you sign on. (thus, not allowing you to be killed two days in a row, without logging on.)

Yes, if you die in the underworld, you're basically out of play for a "Game Day."

As for pvp, this system is familiar to those who've played BBS/PHP games such as LoRD (Legend of The Red Dragon) and Exitilus in the past, where you are given a limited number of moves per day, to advance your character.

The idea is that if you log out in an inn, you're safer, because people must bribe the inkeeper, etc...in order to get into your room. As well, you can stow all your coins and on-hand items in the bank before you sign out, to prevent people from being able to loot you.

If you log out somewhere other than the inn, however, or have not stowed your items in the bank, you're more susceptible to attack and the loss of your items.

As for the motivating factor, I couldn't say honestly. The LoRD/Exitilus system is one where people compete every day to advance their characters. The ultimate goal being to reach level 15, when you can face off against the legendary Red/Green dragon.

In our game, reaching level 15 means being able to access the bottom level of the underground pyramid, and thus facing the final boss and his minions.

Dying, fatigue, etc...are all roadblocks towards advancing faster than those who are competing with you to defeat the final boss.

LoGD does have a system where if you've not attacked another player, you cannot be attacked, this is a good safeguard. However, those who do attack others and win, have the chance for better loot, and experience. So it's kind of a trade-off.

/disucss

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Emmanuel:

I completely agree with the majority of points you made. In my commercial MMO I'm taking quite a different approach to most of the game elements above.

As far as attributes go, I think that 2 attributes instead of 4 doesnt add much simplicity, as we must now evaluate how those 2 attributes determine a characters broader range of abilities. How does a "Physical" attribute control both a character's striking power, and also reflexes, for example? In the end, some kind of extrapolation must be made between the artificial attributes we assign a character, and the game mechanics used.

In my opinion, there are actually more than 4 stats, something closer to 6 or 8, as we tend to try and give a single "attribute" more power than it really has over a person. As well, many tasks are not governed by a single attribute at all, but are determined by a combination of multiple attributes. For example, attacking someone with a sword will be successful not only based upon your stength, but how fast you swung it, as well as how accurate you are with a blade (skill). At any event, I think the few attributes we have above are fairly simple.

As for leveling and level caps. I think there are fundamentally two ways to determine a character's "Power"; one is continuous, and one is discreet. When you talk of a character's "skills" in the Ultima Online sense, you're talking about percentages and a continuous level of advancement. That is, my skill witha sword is now 55.65 out of 100% talented with a sword. Logically, the higher your % goes the more difficult it is to increase...ie, it's asymptotic.

The other method of determining power is discreet. Ie, you work real hard at gaining continuos xp, and at discreet intervals we'll give you the effects of the skills you've earned. ie, at level 10, you now have 10/100% skill. At level 20 we'll give you 20% skill. So rather than your character continuously improving, he does so in intervals.

Now, as to level caps...the idea is that if a person can have continuous skills from 1-100%, why cant a discreet mapping of that be in the range of level 1-100? (ie. no decimals) And if I can make a discreet mapping of 1-100% over 1-100 levels, why not allow caps of an arbitrary mapping. This is essentially saying that at level 40, I've reached 100% capacity with my continuously measured skills. Is the number arbitrary? More or less.

What makes the real difference is content. If I haven't created any special abilities above level 40, then anything beyond that, although still technically improving continuous skills, doesnt offer any new discreet abilities...so why not just "cap it."?

At any rate, I tend to be in the camp of a continuous system of character advancement divided up over various skills, rather than using a level system that grants new abilities at varying plateau's. But alas, that requires that we determine what the various skills are, how they impact game mechanics and options, etc...and tends to be more work, though more realistic.

But ultimately, I like your suggestions, and am doing similar things in my commercial design.

Cheers!

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I don't like the fatigue idea 100%. I think the users should slowly have their fatigue drained as they adventure, and as their fatigue goes down, they suffer a penalty, but going back to town and visiting the local inn, or tavern for a few mins. should restore their fatigue.

By forcing your users to take a 'time out' you are basically limiting the time they can play your game. I guess this is more directed toward 'power gamers', but if any company charged a monthly fee, and then dictated how often I could play, wouldn't have my subscription.

Why discourage people from playing your game for long periods of time?

Secondly the Log out/PvP system sounds like it needs a little re-work. No one is going to want to bust their ass getting good loot and objects, just to have some snow blower come and steal it from them while they are logged off.

The rest of the game concepts sound pretty good. I especially like the underworld concept. I have a similar concept for my own ambitions.

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