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Feature Analysis Draft 2 to Draft 3

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Hail All!

I frequently hear that it's difficult to develop a complete feature analysis (design document), and that when staring at the notepad (digital or print) it's often troublesome to come up with the next finer grain of detail. How do you know what else to add? How do you know when you're done?

The answer to both of those is yet another question: "What else do you need to know?"

Any answer to that question other than "Nothing" is an answer to your first question above. If the answer to that question IS "Nothing"...well, then you're done. So to get from draft 2, to draft 3 of our feature analysis, we must look over our existing feature list and ask our selves "what else do I need to know to come up with a working systems design for this list of features?" Lets do that now...

Chat System
What channels are present by default? (ie. General, Trade, etc...)
What's the range on the /yell command? (how far away must you be not to hear it)

The Interface
What do each of these interface elements look like?
- What's the layout and behavior?
How do you target enemies, object, and party members?
What are the camera/movement controls?

What does the map look like?
Is there water anywhere?
Where are the trees, the NPC's, and the Instance located?

What are the color ranges for the different customizable attributes?
What are the ranges for height & weight? (Visual Attribute)

What are their names?
What inventory do they carry?
Is their inventory static or dynamic?

Ability Scores
How are Health & Mana calculated?
How are Health and Mana increased/decreased/Recharged during game play?

Days & Fatigue
What EXACTLY causes fatigue?
How much rest do those things consume?
How much TOTAL rest do you have to consume?

Item Types
Are items statically created or randomly generated?
-If static, what items are there?
-If generated, what tables are there for item creation, what effects do they have on items?
- Which classes can use which items?

The Bank
How many items will the bank carry?

What patterns & Designs are there?
How much of which resources is required for each pattern?
How much skill do you earn for creating the different items?
How much skill do you need before obtaining new patterns?
What tools are there?
WHERE do you create craftable items?

Can users trade items with other users?
- How will users go about making a trade?
- How many items can be traded at a time?

What are the ranges for melee and ranged combat?
How do ability scores relate to formulas for determining damage modifiers?
How far do you have to run before a mob leaves you alone?

Player vs. Player
What IS the Player AI for combat?
How do you get into the inn to attack players?
If the player AI wins, does he loot the active player's corpse?
- What if there's not enough room in his inventory?

Where is the psychic located and why is he/she not listed with the other NPC types?
What does talking with the Psychic ACTUALLY do?
How much favor do you gain with Osiris for killing the different mobs?
How much favor do you need to be reincarnated?
What else can you get for exchanging favor?

What are the different mobs' stats & abilities?
What are their loot tables?
Which are aggressive?
Is there some place specific they spawn? (rough formula)

What stats do the classes start with? - How much do they gain per level?
Which abilities do they get at which level?

How much XP is required to advance to each level?

Special Abilities
What ARE all of the special abilities?
Which require a target, what kind of target, etc...?
Which are instant cast, and which have a cooldown?
How are they acquired after defeating your master?

What ARE the available quests?
What ARE the rewards for each quest?

How is XP and quest rewards divided up between party members?
How are parties created?
- Are there requirements that must be met to add someone to your party?

Random Events
What ARE the random events, and what must I do to trigger each of them?

Answering the above list of questions should get us from Draft 2 to Draft 3 of the Feature Analysis (Design Document). But ya know, I could have always missed some things.

Look over the Draft 2 feature list and see if YOU'VE got any questions which need answering. Post your comments, and I'll add them to the list of questions to answer for Draft 3.

As well, we've gotta come up with ANSWERS to all those. So if you've got a particularly strong idea about the answer to one of the above questions, post that as well and I'll add it to the feature analysis if possible.

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One I can think of is what weapons is each class able to use and can they use different weapons depending on their skills with that particular weapon? Sort of long I'm sure it can be shortened up.

I will add more if I can think of any but so far the list looks fairly complete.

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Here are some thoughts:

- How do you create a party? What are the mechanisms required to add someone to your party?

- When you say "What are the ranges for height & weight?", are you implying that we will apply uniform scale to the characters? Or is this simply a character attribute that doesn't really show up when we render him/her?

Ability Scores
- On the flip side, how are health and mana reduced / recharged during gameplay?

The Bank
- Wow! We're going to have a bank?

Other Questions
- How do you target an enemy?
- How do you target a party member (e.g., to cast a buff or something)?

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There are features that aren't directly game-related that you need for a MMO as well. In particular you're going to need a patching system in there somewhere. If you are thinking that this might turn commericial at some time you might start thinking of a billing system. Eventually you're going to need server hosting. You're going to want customer service features. An event tracking system to help designers keep track of possible exploits and to help with balancing. Etc, etc.

For a "mini" non-commerical MMO most of those can be ignore to some extent, with the possible exception of patching. I just wanted to illustrate that the game design is only one part of the puzzle even for small-scale stuff. Of course if somebody wants to go commericial then things get way more complicated.

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Thanks for all the suggestions...I'll add those to the list. Let's keep 'em coming!

As for Height/Width, yes, we will be applying scaling to the skeleton and skin in order to obtain a height and "weight" factor. These will be visual attributes. I'll make a note of that in the Feature Analysis.

And thanks for the link. I'm always interested in hearing about current/future trends in MMORPG development.

Anon Mike:

Design Features, such as are written up in a Feature Analysis (Design Document), are not the same thing as a Technical Design Document. Please stay on topic. Patching, billing, event tracking, etc...are all features which are necessary to discuss in a technical design doc (or business plan), but are not relevant when discussing the user's general game experience.

As far as this turning commercial...needing billing, server hosting, customer service, etc...there's no plan for that with this experiment. It's simply a learning experience for myself and those who decide to follow along. Incidentally, Google offers Google Checkout, and there are other billing systems available as well. Customer service is usually outsourced for small companies, and hosting can be obtained in the form of Self-Managed hosting for about $39-$99 a month for hobbyist, or Managed Hosting and/or Co-location hosting for $5-$10,000 a month, for commercial - all depending on the size and amount of bandwidth you want, in addition to the amount of control and responsibility you want to have over your server.

As well, did you actually read the entire journal along this topic, or did you just jump in the middle and decide to throw in a "Here's what I know about the MMORPG industry!" comment?

If it's the former, I apologize for being harsh, I have a strong dislike for people who use forums simply as a method to make themselves appear smarter, and thus, I'm a little irritable sometimes. If you've read over the journal and just felt I was ignorant of game development and/or hosting issues at this point, then again, I apologize - and thanks for your concern.

If it's the latter, please don't do it again. This journal is currently focused on an on-going experiment, designed simply to give readers a place to go when they ask "How do I make an MMOPRG?" as well, as a way to answer the age-old question, "Can one man make an MMORPG?". There's no room, or interest, for off-topic posts by people who simply want to explain to me (and the readers) how difficult it is to make an MMORPG, and ALL the stuff that's involved. We Know. Believe me, by the time I'm done with them, every reader out there will know exactly the amount of work and effort is involved in making an MMORPG.

All in due time.

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Original post by SanityAssassin
Here are some thoughts:

- How do you create a party? What are the mechanisms required to add someone to your party?

Ability Scores
- On the flip side, how are health and mana reduced / recharged during gameplay?

Other Questions
- How do you target an enemy?
- How do you target a party member (e.g., to cast a buff or something)?

I was thinking about these questions as well and you beat me to it!

- How much Money can you hold at one time.

Anyhow I do not have much game programming experience but I had a thought about an answer for the mob spawns. There could be a GM account which would allow the GM to hold the mouse over a position and type in some sort of spawn command like:

/spawn creaturetype maxcreatures radius (spawn time?)

Which would randomly create creatures within a certain radius of that point on the map where the GMs cursor is located. The GMs would be the only one this point is visible to and these points could also be picked and deleted by GMs at will. Spawn time could be the time used to check for missing creatures and creating new ones.

I think this would allow monster/npc spawns to be more easily modified by GMs without having to shut down a server or open a map editor to change spawn locations. I think this is how most online RPGs handle spawns, but I could be wrong.

Anyhow I'm sure this is something already thought of by you or someone else but you asked for answers too so I figured I'd get those started or at least give it a shot.

- DreamGhost


Hmm how did my comment get pushed way up here..... Strange.

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One major thing that isn't on the list!

How will users go about making a trade?
How many items can be traded at a time?


Special Abilities
How are they acquired?

This list is getting big...BTW, where's everyone else at?! Have people lost interest because this isn't in a forum? I sure hope not :(.

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