Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

dink

MMOs - Longevity vs. Tedium

Recommended Posts

dink    127
This is my first post, so I'll begin with a little background before getting to the point. I'm a long time gameplayer and a student that is studying programming and graphics design while coding small demo games in order to learn and some day create a killer demo in order to get hired by a game company. I'm 26 and do not yet have a degree due to wasting much of my early life as a club kid in Dallas, Texas. My first career as a paralegal was pretty good, but I'm single and don't have kids, so I'm shooting for my dream job. Okay, on to the post! One of the more recent game design concepts is that of the massively multiplayer online game. They've been around for years, but the total number of games produced in the genre remains relatively low within the industry. This is one of the reasons I am compelled to play all of them. Name an MMO and I can tell you all about it's game mechanics. But I never stick with them longer than three to four months, and I think I know why. MMOs offer up gameplay similar to that of console or one player RPGs. The player takes on an avatar and builds that avatar up in order to unlock the story. In console RPGs this can take up to 70 game hours. The most successful RPGs succeed by telling tons of story and giving the characters interesting new ways to develop their characters. On the other hand, MMOs try to supply a similar amount of storyline and character development but they attempt to provide it over a much longer period of time. The "endgame" usually slows down the character development process greatly by making it incredibly time consuming to level the player's avatar. MMOs must be careful to balance their need for longevity (and monthly fees) with the tedium of character advancement. At some point, I lose interest. If someone offered me pizza for climbing Mt. Everest, I'd say, "To hell with your pizza!" I'd only climb Mt. Everest if I enjoyed the climbing. . . the pizza at the top would be nice, but the reward is not balanced with the effort in acheiving the goal. This is the problem with MMOs, the experience of gaining experience is not very fun after you've done hours upon hours of it, and so the reward at the end becomes unbalanced by the challenge. This is exacerbated by the fact that the challenge does not increase. . . only the time needed to beat the challenge is increased. Character development does not require more skill to obtain. . . just more time. How to fix this? Make the leveling, the battle system more strategic. The MMO I played most recently was Final Fantasy XI. In this game, players have a TP gauge that fills up when they successfully hit mobs or when they take hits from mobs. Whenever their TP gauge is over 100, they are able to unleash special weapon skill associated with the weapon they are using. Players can chain these weapon skills together with other groups of their party in order to produce special effects. Additionally, magic users can cast spells associated with the element type of the skillburst (the special effect resultant from a skillchain) for extra damage. The skill chain is limited by what weaponskills the players are capable of and only certain skills fit together to renkei. This element alone gives the battle system so much more challenge than that seen in other MMOs where the cheif strategy is to be able to control aggro in order to be certain that the healers can heal more damage than the mob can inflict within a fight. How to improve on this concept? This is extraordinarily clever, but the problem lies in that the game rewards the same objective over and over. Kill mob X and get Y xp. After a while, even this neat concept becomes routine. I think to innovate MMOs in a way that battling becomes as rich in gameplay as the classic games that have such grand replayability (chess, for example) is to change the player's objectives. Instead of killing mob X for xp, why not have the players work for a larger goal. I'll get back to this but let me expand on some of the other problems facing the group-based, mob killing design concept repeated in so many MMOs. In addition to this concept being repetitive. It forces players to play in certain zones that are popular due to the difficulty of finding balanced groups. In order for a group to be successful they must have a tank (an avatar that excels at taking hits and keeping the mob's damage focused on that player) and at least one healer. The rest of the group are there to kill the mob more quickly to make the healer and tank's jobs easier. Groups are also limited by level. Groups containing players taht are too high in level mean less xp for each mob killed, while groups with players that are too low in level suffer from those players being unable to fill their role competently for the mobs being killed. Many players complain about the difficulty of obtaining groups. I've known several players that have waited several hours to finally get a group. When the player leaves a safe zone (town), why not give them the ability to join an ongoing battle much like those found in player vs. player (PvP) battlegrounds in Dark Ages of Camelot, but with the enemy base defenders or attackers being non-player character (NPC) enemies? Xp and loot could be rewarded for the player community in the area taking over the objective and holding it. The design I imagine would have moderate difficulty in obtaining a keep with a moderate reward and then increasing difficulty from the NPCs as they attack in waves. The easy waves would give small rewards, while holding a position against difficult waves could give great rewards. Additionally, I would like to see healer players be able to set up in mage circles. Melee players could then bind to these circles and automatically become grouped with one of the whitemages in the circle. The whitemages could then monitor the bars of those players under their domain and offer buffs and heals as needed. Additionally, melee players could see the MP of the white mages and those of the other party members so that they could gauge whether or not it would be "smart" to lead an attack or whether to pull back their defenses. This would make grouping "seamless" and avoid one of the larger complaints of players. There are some problems with the concept. One being the technical difficulty of shifting the camera for the helping so that they can see the effects of their heals or just be able to watch the fights that they are helping. Another would be the need to monitor player activity so that idle players did not share in the rewards as much as those who perform masterfully. However, both are obstacles that can be overcome. What about questing and storyline elements? Well, I wouldn't get rid of these at all, but I would put the reward on the completition of the quest rather than on the killing of the mobs. Quests would unlock as the players develop their characters and go on special missions. The majority of quests can be tailored to be beatable by solo players as they should rely heavily on puzzles. Most of the quests in MMOs at this time either pit the players against incredibly difficult mobs that require several players to beat, or they are Fed-EX missions that require lots of travel, or they are drop quests (kill mob X until you get drop Y and return with drop Y to the quest giver). I'd like to see the difficult mob concept that requires several players to beat placed in the whole objective defense idea above. Fighting off several waves of invading NPCs could unlock a wave that is a boss monster, or the boss monster and his minions. Then you have players that are already set up to meet the challenge instead of players who are clamoring to get that perfect group that is barely capable of winning together in order to proceed with the quest. Enhance Fed-Ex quests with puzzle games and throw drop quests in the trash where they belong. Games should not reward players for being patient with boring design concepts. The goal MMO designers should have before adding all the other things (I'm aware there are so many parts of MMOs that have nothing to do with battle, xping, and questing) is to make the battle system rich in gameplay and replayability. When an MMO comes out that excites the player every time they go into battle, it will be tremendously successful. [edited by - dink on January 25, 2004 10:04:29 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127


Okay. . .

Can someone tell me what I did wrong? I read the FAQ and it says not to discuss your great new idea for an MMO, but this is not about an MMO idea, but about gameplay across the entire MMO genre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JD    208
Both teamplay fps and MMO games extracted concepts from existing games that would appeal to players who want that kind of thing. Quake3 gave you shooting and jumping, two activities you don''t do often in a single player game. The MMO extracted leveling concept and battle system. So if you only like those activities then you buy those kind of games. Others prefer varied activities and opt for games that give that to them. I like to have a good story and feel like I''m the hero in a game so I buy single player games that will give me that. Multiplayer games are not going to kill off single player games and vice versa. They all fill their niche.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EricTrickster    142
Why do you think you did something wrong?

If no one has responded...speaking personally it''s because I got as far as the 1st two paragraphs before starting to skim. Nothing wrong with what you wrote, you just wrote a lot - and I''m at work. Can''t sit and read it all, so I''ll print it and read it later when I have some down time.

Odds are pretty good everyone else is doing the same.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
usser    116
Hi Dink,

Very interesting post. As a developer I find MMO''s a very intersting phenomena so your thoughts as a longtime MMO player is very useful. As EricTrickster pointed out your post was very long and I was not able to respond right away.

Although your battle-system is probably good I do have one objection. My notion of MMO''s these days (correct me if I''m wrong) is that few people dare to really think outside of the box. Why does all MMO''s have to be centered around slaying/killing stuff for XP? Even if there are other stuff to do (quests etc) why do we have such a huge focus on the battles? Almost everyday there is a new post here about someone that is creating a new battle-system for their RPG.

Maybe I''m missing the point and a good RPG *needs* battles, but if thats the case, I think the RPG''s are missing the point of what makes a good game

Surely there must be a huge market for MMO''s that focus on more complex issues, like creating dynamic social structures and dynamic gameplay. This instead of just focusing on battles as the central point of an MMO would create some really interesting gameplay.

Anyway, enough criticism. Please post more of your thoughts/insights on todays MMO''s, I would be very interested in hearing about them!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127


JD - Hmm. . . so your saying that innovation in MMOs won''t appeal to different markets? They is as they is? If that is the case, I disagree, but I may be culling your post unfairly.

ErikTrickster - Thanks! I''m new and I waited a day before I complained. Seriously, I thought I must have done something wrong. Forums often have hidden rules and I''m always wary when I post the first time.

usser - I hear what you are saying, and I love the idea of a game that is not centered around battling, but I also love to get togheter with other players and battle monsters. ^^ The Sims Online was built around the concepts you invision and it has not proven commercially successful. I might go on to do a postmordem on why below.

As far as thinking outside the box, I think that is what I''m trying to do! Slaying/killing stuff is an element of the battle system I envision, but the killing stuff is just an obstacle you face on the road to your objective. The real objective would be to "take the castle" or "hold the cstle". Players that are not interested in "killing stuff" could help out in other ways. If they did not wish to fill the role of a healer, perhaps they could work at a minigame that allows them to reinforce barriers or create amunition that is fired by NPC ballista or catupults?

If your question is how to take the emphasis off of killing stuff and put it on other objectives, then I think my system fits the bill, but if your question is how to make an MMO that does not use violent conflict then I think the answer lies in finding other types of conflict to excite the gamer.

The Sims Online (TSO)attempted to do this, but they were largely unsuccessful. In TSO, players developed their avatars by repeating tasks ad naseum until they "skilled up". Then they could use these skills to click on other objects and perform tasks that netted them money and allowed them to build their own homes. You could earn money by having a popular house, or by performing these tasks.

Most players skilled up rather quickly and performed the tasks to get money and then built their homes. At that point, they were left with a graphical chat and a month long wait for new and (hopefully) exciting content. The game failed because players ran out of things to do that were fun.

I think a game like this COULD be successful though. The key would be to take the focus off of character development and put it on the gameplay of the things they did to skill up and to gain money. Instead of having your avatar sit at a computer to skill up in logic, why not have the players compete against one another against a trivia bot? Instead of standing and watching their character skill up in charisma while practicing a speech in front of a mirror, why not attach the charisma skill to a /clap emote given by other players? Fun and interesting chatters would gain charisma this way and the avatar''s skills would grow to reflect the skills of the players who played them.

In the end, I think MMOs that have violent conflict will be more successful. MMOs appeal to a market that loves the grand story and their avatar''s part in it. The key is to make the gameplay fun all of the time, and not just some of the time. Make grouping seamless and easy. Get rid of travel down time and camping. I think players would respond well.




Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kylotan    10008
Basically, nothing in the original post is new. It might look it, to someone who has played all the MMORPGs on the market, but if you listen to the developers, they have all given good reasons why they don''t do this.

quote:
How to fix this? Make the leveling, the battle system more strategic.


eg. replace character skill with player skill. Bad move. Now you have less reward for long-term play. This means less incentive to spend many months on the game, which means reduced income. In fairness, I don''t think your example (Final Fantasy special moves) goes very far down this road, but then I don''t think it would add much to the gameplay for many people either.

quote:
When the player leaves a safe zone (town), why not give them the ability to join an ongoing battle much like those found in player vs. player (PvP) battlegrounds in Dark Ages of Camelot, but with the enemy base defenders or attackers being non-player character (NPC) enemies?


This sounds hideously difficult to balance, and doesn''t seem to offer anything interesting in the long term over the usual ''monster harvesting''.

quote:
I would put the reward on the completition of the quest rather than on the killing of the mobs.


Again, this rewards player knowledge over character ability; you can get the hints for the quest off a website and advance more quickly than someone who tries hard in the game for a long time. This will reduce the amount of investment in the game required by some players.

quote:
Fighting off several waves of invading NPCs could unlock a wave that is a boss monster, or the boss monster and his minions.


The implication of a ''wave'' is that there is some sort of event in progress. To make this feasible would require a lot of intervention on the part of the game staff, which I don''t think is practical in terms of time. Maybe you had something else in mind.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff | Tiny XML | STLPort]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127






quote:
eg. replace character skill with player skill. Bad move. Now you have less reward for long-term play. This means less incentive to spend many months on the game, which means reduced income. In fairness, I don''t think your example (Final Fantasy special moves) goes very far down this road, but then I don''t think it would add much to the gameplay for many people either.



Not at all. Characters with greater stats from leveling and loot would be more successful than those without such benefits. Have you played many MMO''s? MMO''s lose players a lot more quickly from boredom than they do from players reaching the level cap and feeling like they are "done".


quote:
This sounds hideously difficult to balance, and doesn''t seem to offer anything interesting in the long term over the usual ''monster harvesting''.


What problems do you see in game balance? I can think of many, but I can also think of solutions.

The system I am proposing helps in many ways:

- gives game designers the ability to create waves of monsters to alter the challenge with increasing steps of difficulty and different types of challenges so that fighting does not become repetitive or boring.
- makes grouping seamless.
- eliminates long travel times.
- eliminates mob camping and kill stealing issues.

Basically I''m designing around the flaws and frustrations of many MMO players. If you don''t think these are true complaints, I would suggest you read MMO boards, if you don''t think this system would do the above, then you either think it is technically impossible or you don''t think the system as stated would acheive these goals.

quote:
Again, this rewards player knowledge over character ability; you can get the hints for the quest off a website and advance more quickly than someone who tries hard in the game for a long time. This will reduce the amount of investment in the game required by some players.


This is the case in MMOs already. Eliminating frustrating time sinks like mob camping for quest items is a plus. Gamers should be having fun when they play, not cursing bad game design. My friends and I are gamers, and we nearly never use guides on single player guides. However, online quests are so tedious, poorly explained, and difficult to access that the entire guild uses guides before ever even starting any of the quests. Easily accessible quests with fun puzzles would be a godsend. We could actually play them and be rewarded for our efforts instead of just our time.


quote:
The implication of a ''wave'' is that there is some sort of event in progress. To make this feasible would require a lot of intervention on the part of the game staff, which I don''t think is practical in terms of time.


Nah. No staff needed. When the objective is under mob control then X mobs defend it. After it is seized, Y mobs attack and Y spoils (xp and loot) are distributed among the defenders. A small amount of time passes while the xp and loot distributes. (Another idea I had that seemed to get off task: Give accolades to the players that did particularly well. This can be tracked in a variety of ways and will be difficult to balance, but it could be a lot of fun for the players). After this short period of resting, chatting, etc. Z mobs attack (the Z mobs are slightly more diffiuclt than the Y mobs) and Z loot drops. It''s just a matter of having shifting mob spawn tables and giving them sufficient AI. Archer mobs move to within archer range and begin firing arrows. Melee mobs attack in groups, etc. The timing of each wave could be put together by the devs to give the players a truly engrossing experience each round. Once the AI is sorted out into clusters for each mob type, then you could even random spawn different clusters and only assign the number of clusters and their difficulty as parameters for each wave.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kylotan    10008
quote:
Original post by dink
Not at all. Characters with greater stats from leveling and loot would be more successful than those without such benefits.

The key here is ensuring that the stats are high enough to always make a difference. If they don''t, and the player is not bright enough to work out some new tactics, then the player will get disillusioned.

quote:
MMO''s lose players a lot more quickly from boredom than they do from players reaching the level cap and feeling like they are "done".


But that is not very relevant to designers, who know that most gamers will never complete a game anyway. They know they can''t stop some people from leaving mid-way because the vast majority just don''t have that kind of attention span. That''s not lost revenue. However, if someone reaches the max level/skill cap/whatever, and then leaves out of boredom, that''s a problem because you''ve just encountered someone who was willing to continue playing your game but was unable to do so. That is lost revenue. Therefore designers worry a lot about the end-game because they know it''s the place where they need to improve the most.

quote:
What problems do you see in game balance? I can think of many, but I can also think of solutions.

The system I am proposing helps in many ways:

- gives game designers the ability to create waves of monsters to alter the challenge with increasing steps of difficulty and different types of challenges so that fighting does not become repetitive or boring.


Heh. ''Giving game designers the ability'' is a bit of a euphemism. What you really mean is "forcing game designers to have to". An idea does not empower them, an implementation does.

quote:
- makes grouping seamless.
- eliminates long travel times.
- eliminates mob camping and kill stealing issues.


Could you elaborate on these points in turn? I think you''re too rooted in your own experiences of MMORPGs to see the theoretical side. In particular, all of the above can be solved in simpler ways but often designers choose not to.

quote:
Basically I''m designing around the flaws and frustrations of many MMO players. If you don''t think these are true complaints, I would suggest you read MMO boards, if you don''t think this system would do the above, then you either think it is technically impossible or you don''t think the system as stated would acheive these goals.


I am merely saying that reacting the complaints of some disgruntled players is not always the best way to a better game, nor is it the most financially viable approach for a developer.

quote:
Eliminating frustrating time sinks like mob camping for quest items is a plus. Gamers should be having fun when they play, not cursing bad game design.


Time sinks are there by choice. Nobody forced the developers to make the Chastity Belt of Cthulu only appear once in every 40 respawns. They chose to do so in order to make it more valuable and to give people a long-term goal. Long-term goals = retention, retention = cash. On my online game I banned such items because I, like you, disagree with the principle of it. But I don''t bill customers periodically. For a standard MMORPG with standard billing, they''re pretty much forced to suck up your time.

quote:
We could actually play them and be rewarded for our efforts instead of just our time.


In such a game, the developers might be tempted to charge you on a per-quest basis rather than a per-month one.

quote:
Nah. No staff needed. When the objective is under mob control then X mobs defend it. After it is seized, Y mobs attack and Y spoils (xp and loot) are distributed among the defenders. A small amount of time passes while the xp and loot distributes.


How does Y relate to X? And won''t this just be Reverse Camping, except that the monsters come to you? What about when the Z wave arrives, the players get beaten, and you now have a large mob of angry and tough creatures gathered at that spot? Do they get bored and wander off to give the players a chance? I can see some merit to this idea and it certainly adds some variety but I''m not convinced it''s really any different from the normal gameplay.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff | Tiny XML | STLPort]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AfroFire    471
I say do away with the tedious level system, and im one of those people who hate the fact that all games are about is killing NPCs.

Where is the fun in that?

Go with a skill system that I can raise with just my friends, like the old days of Ultima Online. Create a character, spar for awhile, and catch up with the rest of the people, then I enjoyed just adventuring with my friends. Treasure Hunting, etc...





-AfroFire

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127


Afrofire - Character development is a big draw for a large amount of MMO players. Planetside does not give much in the way of character development and has lost many of the RPG-friendly users because of it. Ultima Online seems to have a market though, so your type of game seems fairly viable. I''d certainly give it a shot as long as the gameplay was interesting and the quests were fun. I''ve always hated games that make you relearn things though. . . that adds repetition. UO was neat, but degrading skills are bleh.

Kylotan -

quote:
But that is not very relevant to designers, who know that most gamers will never complete a game anyway. They know they can''t stop some people from leaving mid-way because the vast majority just don''t have that kind of attention span. That''s not lost revenue. However, if someone reaches the max level/skill cap/whatever, and then leaves out of boredom, that''s a problem because you''ve just encountered someone who was willing to continue playing your game but was unable to do so. That is lost revenue. Therefore designers worry a lot about the end-game because they know it''s the place where they need to improve the most.


As long as a game had solid and fun everytime gameplay, I''d play it over and over. I''d want to see character development over time, but hell levels wouldn''t be nearly as tedious if I were having fun playing. I see what you are saying, but DAoC serves as a good example of how good gameplay keeps retention up. That game had more level capped players that continued to play than any other game I''ve ever played. The game would need some additions for level capped players. I like the idea of an alternate leveling system once levels are maxed.

quote:
Could you elaborate on these points in turn? (See below - dink) I think you''re too rooted in your own experiences of MMORPGs to see the theoretical side. In particular, all of the above can be solved in simpler ways but often designers choose not to.



- makes grouping seamless.

The healer circles would allow players to get "grouped" whenever they bind to one of the circles. Basically they would be assigned to one of the healers and get access to chat specific to that healer. It would be neat if you could group types of players to each healer too. My idea would be set up to have mages and archer types on the walls and melee in a courtyard defending against those mobs that break through. Grouping these together could help with moving the healer''s camera around. The additional benefit of this is that the shifting camera for healers lets them be closer to the battles. Healing has always been divorced from the action a bit.

- eliminates long travel times.

Want to go fight? Go to your town''s guards and get warped to the zone appropriate for your level and help your faction be victorious. No travel time needed.


- eliminates mob camping and kill stealing issues.

Kills are communal and the mobs come to you. This is like camping in that you set up to kill things in one area (once you''ve taken the objective) but I''m referring to long camp times on rare spawn mobs. Rare spawn mobs are either lucky waves if the wave system is randomized (with parameters for difficulty), or you get them after defeating the maximum number of waves and "winning" an area. Rotating through all the waves would spawn the area boss.


quote:
Time sinks are there by choice. Nobody forced the developers to make the Chastity Belt of Cthulu only appear once in every 40 respawns. They chose to do so in order to make it more valuable and to give people a long-term goal. Long-term goals = retention, retention = cash. On my online game I banned such items because I, like you, disagree with the principle of it. But I don''t bill customers periodically. For a standard MMORPG with standard billing, they''re pretty much forced to suck up your time


I couldn''t agree with you more that time sinks are programmed on purpose. Wouldn''t it be much more fun if instead of having the uber rare loot drop on rare occassions it dropped when an alliance of guilds got together and really laid waste to an area to get a boss mob to spawn? You could still make things rare as far as drop rates. What if the boss mob drops a rare and really good but not fanttasic item all the time, but an ultra rare super item every 1 in 20 times? Of course the numbers could be adjusted, and I wouldn''t even add ultra rare loot until after beta balancing and a post launch balance confirmation period. My experience from betas is that the players who find bugs or the optimum way of doing something do not report it or do not have the resources to make it happen until after a game has launched.

quote:
In such a game, the developers might be tempted to charge you on a per-quest basis rather than a per-month one.


Hah! Not unless they were attempting to lower company stock.

quote:
How does Y relate to X? And won''t this just be Reverse Camping, except that the monsters come to you? What about when the Z wave arrives, the players get beaten, and you now have a large mob of angry and tough creatures gathered at that spot? Do they get bored and wander off to give the players a chance? I can see some merit to this idea and it certainly adds some variety but I''m not convinced it''s really any different from the normal gameplay.


X being the defenders, they would probably have an advantage. I''d have to play around with it, but I''d definitely want Y (the first wave of attackers) to be a warm-up wave. This is a timesink of my own. ^^ Getting the castle/objective should not be that difficult because I''d like to see low population areas able to acheive this. The real xp and loot would come through holding out over time.

Yes, it would be reverse camping.

As for after the players are defeated. I see this as kind of how it is done in DAoC. After an NPC attacker kills the objective''s NPC leader then the players would get a defeat screen. The surviors would load back in to the starting area, the attacking mobs would poof, and the X mobs (defenders) would spawn in.








Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nice Coder    366
How about a ''do anything'' type game,,
Like say you were in one of two castles (chosed at random), you are a private, so you cannot order people around with sucess. but you can talk to other people in the game, after accomplishing things (preset or changable by player) they move up rank, or down (by doing something you don''t want them to)
As they move up rank they can summon more people, (or NPC''s) to help them destroy the enemies!

the other side is the exact same thing,
and both start out with say 1000 NPC''s each time (they use Ga''s and/or neural nets and/or expert systems to learn new skils/tactics. so that after a while they become better and better (information is leaked to so many bots, so that information is moved from NPC to NPC)

Eventually the human side will need more people to defeat one NPC (new ones start all the time and there is a max on how much a NPC ''Learns'')

So would it be playable/good?
(it came to me while reading this thread, so i hope it has *something* to do with it.)

Nice coder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster


quote:
Original post by Nice Coder

How about a ''do anything'' type game,,
Like say you were in one of two castles (chosed at random), you are a private, so you cannot order people around with sucess. but you can talk to other people in the game, after accomplishing things (preset or changable by player) they move up rank, or down (by doing something you don''t want them to)
As they move up rank they can summon more people, (or NPC''s) to help them destroy the enemies!


While I don''t know if your post is related, this might be a fun game dynamic. You would want to make player rank not mean anything between players, but higher rank could access more NPCs. In an MMO, I would avoid too many NPCs controlled by players though. My experience from SWG makes me wary of pets though. Pets that are not "dumb" and that are disposable would be fun though. Personally, I do not like playing with pets due to the balance issues I have seen in other games that have pets, but if they are balanced then they could be fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kylotan    10008
quote:
Original post by Nice Coder
(they use Ga''s and/or neural nets and/or expert systems to learn new skils/tactics. so that after a while they become better and better (information is leaked to so many bots, so that information is moved from NPC to NPC)

...

So would it be playable/good?


No, because it would be impossible. The artificial intelligence techniques you described are simply nowhere near advanced enough to do what you want. And how does that accommodate new players? Or when there are no more tactics to learn?



[ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff | Tiny XML | STLPort]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nice Coder    366
as per Kylotan's last post;
both sides deal with new characters by simply setting a flag in one NPC that states that when it dies, it instead of being reborn with an AI 'brain' it is controlled by a player.

With no new tactics to learn, then the game is at its limits, it (the game's AI) would probable contain something which every once in awhile changes its stategy or implements a new stradegy (only if winnig by so much, as not to cause instantanious loss), if the stradagy is good, then it learns it.
It could also learn in a more per character basis of other NPC's or Characters.
If there are no new tactics to learn, then it could forget one that is bad, then relearn it eventually (this would be a last resort)

Nice coder (being nice as always... )
Edited to correct smily

[edited by - Nice coder on January 30, 2004 4:44:45 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digisoap    241
Here''s an even better idea: DEVELOP SOMETHING BESIDES A MMORPG! I swear, if I hear one more person, or one more 5-person indie dev team, talk about developing a MMORPG, I''m going to go on a killing rampage (and not IG, in-game, either).

I, for one, am bored stiff with MMORPGs, and I don''t think change of genre, or tweaks to the game design, will solve such problems. Where are the ideas for a good SINGLE-player game? Or a good online game that does NOT last forever? There''s going to be a continuing drop in the usage of MMORPGS, as has been going on for the past six months to a year, as players get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Developers simply do not have the monetary or staff resources (and their publishers will NEVER give either to them, as all of the big commercial publishers are simply greedy bastards more concerned w/ making a quick buck than providing any degree of interesting gameplay to customers - though this is not exactly late-breaking news to those of us who have been in the game biz for awhile), and game designers are eventually going to run out of original stories for users - not to mention any new feature/story arc, thanks to the blatant stupidity of the US Patent Office and the event more blatant idiocy, greedyness, and lawsuit-happy developers/publishers, raises the chance of being sued for plagarism, copyright, or patent issues - and what happens then? Users still leave, though maybe the aformentioned greedy publishers have managed to squeeze a bit more blood out of rocks and netted another hundred bucks from players, thanks to their ridiculously high per-month fees.

I''ll be happy when indie developers and commercial developers alike get back to creating good games - games that have ONE solid story, w/ maybe a few side-stories/quests, and that you can actually FINISH a game again; half the enjoyment players get from games is being able to say they BEAT them, and this is a very, very important (feature) that has been dropped by the wayside w/ the development of MMORPGs. Even multiplayer games like Quake3 (which I''m not a fan of, but it''s an obvious example) or WarCraftIII, a game which can take HOURS to beat in multiplayer, not to mention single-player, have an "end," and because of their flexiblity & extensibility, you can beat them over and over again without repeating the same quests or story arcs. Even if a game ISN''T so flexible, if it''s fun enough, players will play over and over again: the old Sierra & LucasArts adventure games - a genre FINALLY being revived by DreamCatcher/The Adventure Company - are a blast to play, even after you''ve already beaten them a dozen times (I''ve recently installed Beneath a Steel Sky - an adventure game I LOVE - on my PocketPC, thanks to an independently-developed parser for this platform, and there are SCUMM and SCI interpreters for Mac/PC/PPC/Palm freely available), so why not consider making such games, as opposed to MMORPG titles that no indie dev team will ever be able to finish, support, extend, etc., especially when even multimillion-dollar assembly-line development companies like Sony w/ EverQuest cannot do it fast enough to keep players interested? I''d rather play Tron 2.0 again (which I''ve already beaten three times over on every level), in SINGLE player, than play any of the existing MMORPGs. The only one I''m even remotely interested in is the yet-to-be-related Matrix title, and I''ll only play that until my free trial is up, and then it''ll join the pile of MMORPG title''s boxes, as I''ve already tried them all, for the same period of time (one to three months), and in every case have been bored out of my mined even BEFORE the trial is up...and I''M your MARKET, though perhaps - no, definitely - slightly more intelligent and less socially awkward than your typical MMORPG dork who player EverQuest 14hrs a day, not speaking to their friends/family outside of the game, and depressingly single to boot (though they''ve got a girlfriend they''ve met through EQ who lives in Canada....).

End of rant. Go outside, get some sun, and GET A LIFE!

-Nick "digisoap" Robalik
Web & Print Design, 2D & 3D Illustration and Animation, Game Design
http://www.digital-soapbox.com
nick@digital-soabox.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
onebeer    140
digisoap, you took a nice thread about MMO game ideas and injected your BS opinion. If you don''t like MMO games, why don''t you start your own thread entitled "Why digisoap doesn''t like MMO games" and leave this one alone.

/End of rant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digisoap    241
Seeing as how it was NOT a thread called "how much I like MMORPGs," I think I can do what I damned well please. And even if that WERE the title of the thread - I could do the same. If you don''t like my OPINION, don''t read it. Your post only serves one purpose - to start a flame war.

Fortunately for you, we MODERATORS and staff members have an unofficial policy of not moderating threads we participate in. Otherwise, I''d delete your post, as it serves no useful purpose. If another moderator chose to delete it, I''d support their decision.

-Nick "digisoap" Robalik
Web & Print Design, 2D & 3D Illustration and Animation, Game Design
http://www.digital-soapbox.com
nick@digital-soabox.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
onebeer    140
So basically you are saying you can do what you "DAMN well please", but I have to worry about moderators like yourself?

I was enjoying this thread, with the ideas being bounced around. Everyone was putting their $0.02 in. I wished I could contribute, but enjoying it anyway.

But your post was just negative. No ideas, no suggestions other than "don''t do it". Lets try to keep it positive, try to contribute, ok?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
EricTrickster    142
quote:
Your post only serves one purpose - to start a flame war.

Truthfully, digi, it was your post that only served to fan flames that didn''t exist. This was a good thread, until you interjected with a self-admitted rant (your choice of words) about how much you hate mmo''s, copyright laws, greedy developers and mmo "dorks". There was absolutely nothing constructive, or even critically related to the thread, in what you posted. As a MODERATOR (and I did note the emphasis you placed on that title) you should know better.

But I will say I disagree with you completely. MMO''s ARE a market, but the problem is one TRYING to be addressed here in this thread - how to improve them so that people do, in fact, stay beyond the 3-month period. I''m an old MUDder/text rpg/table top gamer; MMOs appeal to me and "my kind" because the idea of playing in a persistent, real-time game world is what we''ve been waiting for. Graphical representations of our rp sessions.

The problem for us is that there is very little room for actual role-playing in these MMOs. They''re designed more with the arcade-style gamer in mind; I don''t think anyone, at this point, knows HOW to build an MMO/persistant game world that WOULD draw the hard-core roleplay crowd. Ultima probably has the biggest following in that regard, but how many of these gamers migrated to the games that came out over the past 2 years?

MMOs are new, relatively speaking. There is plenty of room for growth IF someone can find a way to bring in new markets.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127


quote:

Original post by EricTrickster

The problem for us is that there is very little room for actual role-playing in these MMOs. They''re designed more with the arcade-style gamer in mind; I don''t think anyone, at this point, knows HOW to build an MMO/persistant game world that WOULD draw the hard-core roleplay crowd. Ultima probably has the biggest following in that regard, but how many of these gamers migrated to the games that came out over the past 2 years?

MMOs are new, relatively speaking. There is plenty of room for growth IF someone can find a way to bring in new markets


I thought your post was really interesting, and I think it is ironic because the way I''m wanting to go actually narrows that gameplay a bit. . . actually, that''s not fair. It changes the narrow group and fight tough mobs while camping for xp and loot to group seamlessly and fight waves of monsters to complete a game designed group objective. I''m thinking my idea will be more fun than the one currently represented in MMOs right now, but it is still quite narrow.

The idea of giving players the pen-and-paper RPG feel in an MMO is really neat. I''ve not had the opportunity to play in many of these. . . or, to be more precise, I have not found many groups I enjoyed doing this with. However, when I have joined groups that roleplay, the games seem to be heavily centered around characterization and story. The players bring it to the table. When I''ve played with the same people in an MMO, they didn''t bother to voicechat or type the same stuff. Maybe this is because the nature of a videogame is to give you preset rules in an unforgiving game engine, while the nature of a pen-and-paper RPG is to socialize by telling a group story. I''m not sure how a game designer could do this in an MMO. I think that you could do this with a smaller LAN game much more easily and I''ve heard that there is a Vampire:Masquerade game out that does this but I have not played it.

As far as an MMO, I think this will be difficult. I''d love to see story elements enhanced with cut scenes for NPC scripts to bring the story more alive. In fact, I would put a priority on this. Quests should be a diversion and a reward from the normal game system. They should be fun and challenging, but not cryptic. Players should know from the quest details where to go and what to do and the challenge should come in the form of fights or puzzles. Additionally, quests should be accomplishable by every class that is level appropriate for that quest. So many quest designers have upped the difficulty of quests so high that solo players cannot acheive many of them alone unless they play the most deadly fighting class in the game or a class that is capable of heal-tanking. This limits the choices in characters for players who like to solo play and annoys gamers that have to beg help or be the helpers for quests they have already repeated. I''m not saying make all quests easy, but don''t make them artificially difficult. Personally, I am much more happy with a quest that has lots of story and is completable without any frustrations like waiting for drops, long travel times, or the need to put together a group of questers that have not completed the quest yet or who are nice enough to help out.

Anyway, sorry for the divergence from your point. My main point was that I think the dynamics of pen-and-paper RPGs are such that it will be difficult to provide them in an MMO. So much of what makes tabletop RPGs special comes from the players and the game master. I think the trick is to do what all of the MMOs have attempted in giving the players a lot of character choices and ways to roleplay if they choose to do so.

My focus would be on providing the GM side of the tabletop RPG. Great and fun quests with cut scenes and a challenge that does not seem tedious or artificial.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cosmic One    308
Actually I believe the topic of the post was originally intended for people to voice their opinions on just such a matter. Longevity vs. Tedium can easily be thought of as "good vs. bad" in a broad sense. The thread doesn''t plead for new ideas in MMOs, but lends itself to discussion about general opinions.

The post was even started out with a criticism of MMOs...
quote:
Original post by dink

If someone offered me pizza for climbing Mt. Everest, I''d say, "To hell with your pizza!" I''d only climb Mt. Everest if I enjoyed the climbing. . . the pizza at the top would be nice, but the reward is not balanced with the effort in acheiving the goal. This is the problem with MMOs, the experience of gaining experience is not very fun after you''ve done hours upon hours of it, and so the reward at the end becomes unbalanced by the challenge. This is exacerbated by the fact that the challenge does not increase. . . only the time needed to beat the challenge is increased. Character development does not require more skill to obtain. . . just more time.


I, for one, am torn about MMOs. They are tiring in the way that the only real goal is to not fail, not die, not stop. Meanwhile in a traditional game the goal is clear, and every aspect of a good game (almost) leads up to the goal in an intricate, thought out, brilliantly put together manner. MMOs don''t have one story, one goal, or one singular purpose, and are becoming so complex that they are both amazing and daunting at the same time. This leads to the game involving, yes, a lot more time, which is definitely an achievement, and yes, a lot more possibilities and things to see and do... but not necessarily a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction. People do things because there is an end to them. What is the end to an MMO game? honestly.......

forever thinking,
Cosmic One

P.S. this doesn''t mean i don''t hop on the bandwagon every now and then... WoW <- can hardly wait

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
dink    127

quote:

Original post by Cosmic One

I, for one, am torn about MMOs. They are tiring in the way that the only real goal is to not fail, not die, not stop. Meanwhile in a traditional game the goal is clear, and every aspect of a good game (almost) leads up to the goal in an intricate, thought out, brilliantly put together manner. MMOs don''t have one story, one goal, or one singular purpose, and are becoming so complex that they are both amazing and daunting at the same time. This leads to the game involving, yes, a lot more time, which is definitely an achievement, and yes, a lot more possibilities and things to see and do... but not necessarily a lot more enjoyment and satisfaction. People do things because there is an end to them. What is the end to an MMO game? honestly.......


That is a GREAT point!!! MMOs are designed to be open-ended. The point is to inhabit and feel part of the world. That''s why I''m focusing on one problem. . . the gameplay. Some games have great replayability and zero story (chess, some FPS games, spades, etc.) The gameplay is what makes them fun.

Some MMOs have added the story. FF XI has the mission system. These quests allow the players to go up in rank and get access to conquest point items through the guard NPCs that issue the quests, but what they really do is tell the central story of the game. The conclusion has not been added yet, but it should come in the form of an expansion. This is actually pretty smart in a financial sense. The story ends in cliffhangers, but with major parts of the game''s story completed, separate acts to one central story. It''s really neat and I think other designers should adopt this ongoing storyline in their products.

However, I''m focusing on gameplay. The leveling grind is a huge design flaw that is repeated over and over in MMOs with little innovation.

As far as the post re: disliking MMOs and doubting their future. That''s fine. I don''t mind his post, but I''m also not going to respond to it very much because I think it is pretty divergent to the real theme of this post: how to improve gameplay in MMOs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kylotan    10008
quote:
Original post by Nice Coder
With no new tactics to learn, then the game is at its limits, it (the game''s AI) would probable contain something which every once in awhile changes its stategy or implements a new stradegy (only if winnig by so much, as not to cause instantanious loss), if the stradagy is good, then it learns it.


Again, you''re really talking about technology that isn''t invented yet. Computers aren''t currently capable of learning strategies by observation, and you can''t expect to evolve such strategies and tactics unless you were able to describe them in a very rigorous way (such as an algorithm or formula).

[ MSVC Fixes | STL Docs | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost
Asking Questions | Organising code files | My stuff | Tiny XML | STLPort]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites