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Mook Accounts

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I have heard of some multiplayer persistent world games which offer "anonymous" accounts for free. The "anonymous" characters can explore the world, engage in activities, and generally get a feel for the game - but on logout, their progress, items etc are not saved. Therefore, if you like the game enough to play seriously, you''ll want to shell out for a "named character" account which saves your progress. While considering this, I made a mental connection with the Feng Shui P&P roleplaying game. In this game, which is designed to simulate the "reality" of action movies, there are two types of people. "Named Characters" such as the players and major allies and opponents have cool skills and powers, good stats, and hit point counts. "Extras" or "Mooks" have minimal abilities and die as soon as they are hit with a successful attack. They serve as the anonymous cannon fodder which all good action movies require. A third thought emerged: a big part of many MMO games is going out and fighting with things. Warriors and bravoes earn their keep by repulsing goblins, bandits, and other dangerous nuisances from civilised folk. Unfortunately, this can get somewhat boring, as said dangerous nuisances aren''t particularly tough or clever. Opponents controlled by humans would be more crafty and dangerous, but too few people are willing to play the losing villain (victorious villains are another story...). So, I think you can get where I''m going here. We have our multiplayer game - for the sake of argument, let''s say it takes place in a lawless urban ruin. Paying players can build their own characters: gangsters, soldiers, scavengers, or rough-and-tumble traders and craftsmen. These characters have some degree of durability, as well as abilities which start pretty neat and get better as they play. Non-paying anonymous players, on the other hand, are Mooks. They are easily identified by their bright orange vests with MOOK printed on the back. They are dressed in crude rags and armed with rusty piping. They have no neat powers whatsoever. Like player characters, they''re free to wander about, earn cash through menial jobs or scavenging, buy some items, do some quests, and so on. They cannot gain abilities or otherwise improve. In short, they''re kind of weak. In a one-on-one fight with a low-level named character, they are somewhat outmatched; more advanced named characters can take on dozens at a time. On the other hand, they''ve got nothing to lose from jumping named characters (or each other), so they get to try out the combat system for about ten seconds before they get blown into next week. After which, of course, they respawn no worse off than before. On the other hand, named characters have permanent death or at least penalties for dying... so they''d better be careful not to take on too many Mooks at a time. If there are any restrictions on PvP combat, they certainly don''t apply to Mook vs Named Character combat. Either group can attack the other without worrying about adversely affecting their karma or whatever other mechanism is being used to enforce good behavior. So, whaddya think? -STC --------------------------------------------------- -SpittingTrashcan You can''t have "civilization" without "civil".

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Allowing more ways to get into the game is always a good idea. If you have seen Underlight, they do such a thing where you can have a pmare account which I believe is actally one of the bad guys; but you pay per hour or something that the pmare is logged in and I''m not sure how persistent the character is.

I don''t know how many people would play mooks, but I know that I would (even if I had a named character) because it''s always fun to be a bad guy. This would be the perfect character for someone who just wants to run around and annoy people, and the "MOOK" on the back of their orange jumpers is a really nice touch

If you have permanent death, you need to make sure that mooks cannot actually kill a named character, because on the off chance that a paying, named player is killed by a non-paying, junk mook character, you will have one very annoyed player; who will take some form of action against you

Other than that, I think mooks should be a little better than the begining named character, because to get a good feel for the game it would be nice to start after the initial levelling up. Maybe level 3 rather than level 1, but I don''t know. (And don''t say, ''my game doesn''t use levels'' just using as an example )

Should mooks be able to level up? I think it wouldn''t really make sense, as on logout they lose everything; and if they CAN level up the person can save their character levels/eq by leaving their computers on and setting up auto move scripts or something to stay logged in. Maybe you could just give mooks a time limit, say a day, then it automatically logs them out and destroys the character.

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This is a really neat idea. Of course, there would have to be NPC baddies, but Mooking could be a real blast.

There would have to be a way for people to achieve as mooks, though. Maybe a basic score-keeping system, whereby mooks score huge points for killing players, or even for landing successful blows, so if ten mooks take on a player, they get points for every blow they land on him. If they survive, then they can keep at it, and if they manage to kill him, then they get a huge bonus. Scores can be registered on the server, and you just type in your name when you get a hi-score. You might even offer a free month account for a mook who kills a player or gets a certain number of points, as an added incentive for mooking.

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What is the purpose of evolving the PvP game? That''s like adding visible "ghost" players in a FPS, the ones that can roam around and look at stuff, see who is hiding where, etc. It also adds yet another level of metagaming inside a game world (i.e. a bunch of mooks who have nothing to do with the real world, but are outstanding unrealistic features of the setting

Keep in mind that these "mooks" from movies are part of a "one-hit wonder" event. Online persistent state worlds are an ongoing thing. These two criteria don''t necessarily mix (in fact, I think they are akin to oil and water).

Personally I would say that anything that detracts from the realism or believability of the game world is a Bad Thing. Look for better ways for players spend their time engaging in other activities than mindless slaughter.

From the game world''s point of view, mooks are irrealistic. Such things shouldn''t exist in a PSW where the game should actually be able to evolve and contain a story.



MatrixCubed
http://MatrixCubed.cjb.net

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I like the idea a lot.

I also like the ideas about encouraging mooks to play. It might also tend to encourage mooks to band together (so they can gang up on a player), which they might carry over into their paying characters.

If mooking is free, there will probably be a lot more mooks than players. The balance will be tough -- if mooks don''t have enough players to gang up on, they''ll leave. If there aren''t enough mooks for a player to fight (I''m assuming this is the focus of the game, but it would be even more difficult if it weren''t), the players will leave. If mooks have nothing to do but gang up on players, there will be a lot of mooks killing players. Mooks will tend to gather wherever players are (particularly wherever low level players are), and never explore the game world. If mooks have a lot of interesting things to do, they won''t gang up on players, and players will get bored and leave (or become mooks).

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I can see one flaw in this, a MOOK can be anyone, it could be a paying player or a random person. okay lets say there are a bunch of named players that are super powerful and have but alot of time getting there character advanced..

Now all that needs to happen is a large group of MOOKs that aren''t afraid to die (why should they they can just return) so all one player would need to do inorder to take out someone is to get a group of mooks.. so now you have 20 mooks and 1 powerfull character, thats fine the powerfull character can take them out, but ooh no they just come back.. how long can a player hold on fighting against 20 mooks before he is overwelmed.. and then how is that player going to feel after all his work is gone forever

Please visit Turt99 Productions

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To MatrixCubed, I say this: There''s no real need for them to wear big orange jumpsuits. You could make them look just like NPC enemies, so that they won''t affect the immersive quality of the universe. Also, they won''t have any more impact on the story than a big rat or a goblin. They will be totally inconsequential, and useless in combat unless they can overwhelm with sheer numbers. Their impact on the paying players will be negligible, adding nothing more than the possibility of encountering an uncommonly clever grunt enemy.

To Turt99, I say this: The mooks don''t necessarily have to respaw right there. They can be generated someplace else, so that you can cleave through a pack of them and be left all alone until the mooks can find one another, rally, and come after you again. In the meantime, you can drink a healing potion to heal whatever tiny amount of damage they might have inflicted, and either go someplace else or just kill them all again. Mooks killing players would be very rare indeed, the way I understand the system to work.

Turt99''s post does make me think a little bit about implementing this system. Maybe mooks could be like Agents in The Matrix (I feel bad referencing that poor tired movie, but...). They could "possess" enemy NPCs, like monsters or grunt humans. That way, there would never be an unusual number of mooks in an area. If you find yourself in a forest, then the usual moblins and wolves will be there, but some will be mooks. No tougher, no faster, just smarter (maybe). When a mook dies, he is either beamed automatically to the nearest "vacant" NPC host, or else he gets a chance to pick one. This gets rid of the risk of mooks beaming in all around you, and keeps everything in context, so you won''t have mook yeti attacking you in the rainforest unless they actually walk there from the arctic wilderness that they are native to.

Actually, that could serve to make mooks more deadly. If a dozen or so get organized, they could possess some fairly tough enemies (maybe a mook''s score could allow them to possess tougher and tougher enemies, but that''s a little too in-depth for a mook) and then migrate to an area where such strong monsters are rare. Then weak players who are harvesting imps might be faced with six or eight minotaurs, and be in real trouble.

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Mooks that possess. That's something that can easily be worked into the plot. Perhaps some magical civilization got destroyed by the current one and is out for revenge, buwhahaha.

Anyway, I like the idea a lot. As far as taking away realism, I disagree on two accounts. One, how realistic is it for every animal, monster, and npc to be a retard? No matter how well you design an AI, you just can't premap out enough situations to make them smart. Having mooks, especially the posessing mooks could add realism, not take it away. Secondly, video games are not models of reality. It's not realism they need, but rather, coherence and concurment within it's own system. As people often state, how realistic is it for people to run around casting spells and slaying monsters? Or how about all those giant headed sprites? Or having all wounds instantly vanish just by resting at an inn? Yet games that did these things are very very popular. If you want a realistic game, all you have to do is press the off button on your computer and stand up. The ultimate realistic 3d video game in realtime! It even connects directly to your senses! Who could ask for more than that? I could, cause it sucks and so does realism for realism's sake.

I have something to add. The main problem I've had in mmorpgs is the availability of items. In ultima online you have all sorts of skills from blacksmithing to tailoring to mining to cooking. Yet, even if 100% of the players on a shard were to abandon all those skills and do nothing but fighting, decent weapons will still find their way into the player's hands. Perhaps as an incintive to fight mooks, they should spawn with some nessisary item, like say food, that is rare to come by (no npcs with infinite food). Heck, players might even end up fighting each other over limited food supplies.

*Only in darkness can one truely shine*

[edited by - entivore on January 22, 2003 5:26:24 PM]

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No offense to everyone else, but this is the first truly original idea I''ve read on this board in months. My lurking has finally paid off.

I''ve had the idea of Player-Actors since I saw my first Seer in UO inhabit an ogre and other monsters. I can''t believe I never made the leap to putting normal players in that role.

A problem arises when you run out of non-paying customers trying the game though. Eventually people will either forget about the game or buy a subscription, and no new blood will come in. One solution is obvious: allow paying customers to play mooks. But can they be depended on to mook around with any regularity? I mean, sure playing the bad guy is fun, but you''re playing a bad guy destined to lose.
Also, a human controlled orc may be just as hard as an AI ogre, when normally the orc is much easier. I think this would confuse some players. I realize different strengths among creatures of the same race would be realistic but it''s never been done before as far as I know (without name or graphic changes). A mook could be worse than the standard AI or much, much better. I don''t think players are ready for this kind of randomness, especially since most modern games have threat indicators.
I was going to try and put down another flaw but I really can''t think of one. What a coincidence I read this great idea just as I start fleshing out my new MMOG design.

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You are all aware, of course, the EVERQUEST has already done this, right? On one of the PVP servers, you could choose to spawn as a random monster that couldn''t talk or leave the area...but COULD level up That lack of talking really made the whole "ganging up" thing difficult, since you couldn''t tell if you were staring at an NPC or a PC that looks like an NPC.

I don''t know if they still have that option around (I think they took it off since playing a regular character was difficult to say the lesat), but its been done.

While it was around, it was kind of fun

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mumboi makes a good point. Mooks will probably decrease in numbers as time wears on. However, I foresee multiple solutions to this problem:

Solution 1: Don''t give a rat''s ass. Fine, there aren''t any more hordes of mooks. Don''t make the game depend on them. Have passable AI, some decent challenges, and plenty to do. Mooks aren''t that big a deal to players, who just kill them.

Solution 2: Make mooking tempting even to paying customers. If you go with the "possession" theme, let paying customers "inhabit" monsters and NPCs that demo-players couldn''t, or else let them level up the beasties. Heck, you could even let player''s save beasts as a character file, thus leading to...

Solution 3: Make everyone a mook. "Mook" becomes an inappropriate term at this point, but let players play as any monster. The genuine mooks, who don''t pay, can only be weak, introductory level monsters, but once your money''s in, you can level up, access more impressive "hosts", and generally get more out of the game. I hate to suggest monster transformation and growth as a game element, since it''s so damnably similar to certain Japanese fads, but it''s a possibility that may be worth investigation.

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