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MMORPGs and random battles

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I have a theory, that if you were to remove the random battle element from an MMORPG then it could possibly be quite entertaining. I recently tried everquest, and have played a smaller game called deloria, and have read about numerous others, and it seems as if the bulk of the gameplay involves killing monsters and chatting with people. The main focus of the game always seems to be "get the most money, or best weapon, or strongest character..." so on. So I got to thinking, "what if you took away random battles?" A lot of games this would not work for, because there would be nothing left, but if a MMORPG was designed with random battles intentionally left out, I think it could be very interesting. Some outcomes I would predict... The pace would slow way down. I think this would allow for more planning, exploring, and actual role-playing to take place. If a bounty hunter had to go to the local pub to get a contract, track down the bounty, and deliver said services, I think the game would become much more interesting, as opposed to a character going outside the city limits and killing angry rats until he is strong enough to kill angry wolves. In a slower paced environment, more creative solutions to problems could be achieved, the game world might gain a little more structure and civilization... What if your character in everquest (not to bash, it is just a good example) was a city guard. Very boring, because everyone else will be out in the world leveling up, and you would be left to stand around or patrol the streets. But, if the world was a lot more lively, people getting in fights in bars, breaking into peoples houses, fighting and killing in the streets, your job as a guard would suddenly get much more entertaining. What if you were a thief character that could actually spend time casing a place and planning out a heist, rather then killing monsters and taking their money? Keep in mind, I am not saying remove fighting all together, just make it more interesting. If you have ever read a rad fantasy or sci-fi novel, do you think it would have been as interesting if 80% of the book was about the character walking around the goblin camp leveling up? Feel free to post comments, questions, criticism, cookie recipies, so on...

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Unfortunatly, that''s not how things work out in the real world...

If players can fight each other, PK will occure. Low-levellers will get picked off by stronger characters with malicious intent. The main focus will remain to get money, the best weapon, strongest character, etc; it''ll just be brought about by different means.

And RP, sadly, will not occure. People just don''t go for that. Instead, they''ll attempt to build their character through whatever means the game allows. If these means are too difficult to attain, the player will lose interest and find an other game to play. Or create/join a server with higher rates.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer
And RP, sadly, will not occure. People just don''t go for that. Instead, they''ll attempt to build their character through whatever means the game allows. If these means are too difficult to attain, the player will lose interest and find an other game to play.



Maybe this is just what you want, though. I haven''t given much thought to what would make a game good for RP, but it''ll probably be different from the norm. Thus, you drive off most through boredom just leaving those who enjoy the RP aspects. Granted, it''s a much smaller audience, which may or may not be a problem for the designer.

I think as a start, you''d have to focus more on economics and making killing much more difficult/risky. Right there you''d probably have more of the crowd you''re looking for.

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I can agree that the focus truly IS on "killing stuff" in MMORPGs, though. And I see this as something just plain annoying.

One game I play frequently (eh, semi-frequently...) is an MMORPG called Ragnarok Online. Fun game, very nice graphics (2D sprites in a 3D world; think Xenogears), pretty good design, lots of variety in terms of items and abilities, but there''s nothing to do other than fight. :/

There is an extra level of depth to this game, though. One of the classes, merchant, allows you to open up shop and sell stuff. Later, you can become a blacksmith and make items. Social interaction would seem to be necessary even to those who are just there to "play the game" in order to take advantage of this class'' abilities, but sadly this isn''t the case. Perhaps where RO fails is here: you can pretty much end up hitting level 99 without so much as briefly scraping the social side of it all.

Thankfully, some people do end up just crowding around town and talking. ...Well, the amount of shorthand is painful, but it beats fighting shit all day... ...I think. ...Then of course, there''s all the lamers... ...the 13-year old AOL users... ...But there''s a social atmosphere... kinda... ...Oh god, I just relized why people stay away from social events in MMORPGs... :x

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Hi;

I think you got it the other way around.

The original post assumes that by eliminating that, then the quests/storyline ...etc will get more interesting. Someone has to program that, and it is just as easy to program in an environment with random battles.

Currently, the most supported way to "win" in an MMORPG is to kill things. RP''ing in itself is rarely rewarded. A much better solution IMO is to implement mechanisms that promote or reward actions inducive to RP''ing. Lots of games are constantly experimenting with such ideas. Guild systems are an example, Ultima online''s virtue system is another.

Such systems do not guarantee RP''ing on the part of the people but they do give a push in the right direction.

So instead of taking something out of the game, I think it would be better to try to add something into it.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I play an older mmorpg called Mankind. I kind fits what you are looking for. There are no computer generated battles or enemies. All battles are between players. There are things to do if not fighting. You build up your own system with cities, mines, farms, factories, etc. You can become a trader and set up a trade system and sell to other players. It has guilds, both evil and good. it is an international community. The operators of the game do not force any kind of game play on the players. It is a persistent universe, so you can be attacked offline, so you better have good defences in place.

I like the game, because the story is created by the players, not forced by the game developers.

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The problem is one the previliant in all rpgs no just the MMO ones. The problem is that they stuck in notion that an RPG must revolve around combat. Every aspect of them is gear primarly towards combat. In general buying weapons and fighting is all you can do. Even the rpgs that have other option then combat tend to engineer the rewards of those options towards improving the characters combat performance.

Until rpgs developers start to explore centering rpg gameplay on something other then combat, we will be stuck with pure combat rpg and thus pure combat mmorpgs.



-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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My company's project is a pretty good MMORPG (not trying to brag), and combat is only 20% of it. Combat is important, but more important are politics, treachery, etc. A character that has no combat skills but "full" speech, etc. skills has a FAR better chance of success than a full combat character, unless they become involved in a 1vs1 fight.

To encourage roleplaying, we are thinking of including a name parser to eliminate "AOL-HackerXXX-3282" and condsidering some sort of incentive system. The system would activate if the char was behaving irrationally, and thus label the character as "Insane" in which case the local authorities would attempt to take the character to the nearest loony bin until the madness stops.

EDIT: Sorry, I missed the date on this thread, didn't mean to practise the power my name implies

[edited by - NecroMage on April 16, 2004 5:24:20 PM]

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I think it really depends on the type of RPG that determines if combat is the central theme or not.

Most fantasy RPGs are high fantasy where the player''s eventual goal is to become virtual demi-gods with all sorts of magical powers, gear and weapondry. Combat and adventure is the way to obtain this goal and thus combat becomes the central theme. Yes, some players may become, say, a tailor or blacksmith, and simply make gold selling vests or armor or whatnot. But the real driving force of the game is combat. Heck the player who is a tailor or blacksmith probably sells most of his wares to adventurers, who need them for combat.

Nothing wrong with these games being centered around combat really, for it obviously appeals to a lot of people.

To get away from combat a game needs to have other and different "win" conditions. It could be economic, political or whatever. It simply needs to be comparable in terms of enjoyment, satisfaction and time.

Imagine if out imaginary fantasy MMORPG had a "kingdom" aspect to it. Say there were several NPC kingdoms (Dwarves, Elves and whatever) and each had some resources (spices) and needed others (silver). An enterprising player could concentrate on this part of the game, obtaining spices from somwhere cheaply and selling it to the Dwarves for silver and then turn around and sell that silver to the elves for gold (or plat). Eventually this player has enough gold where it makes sense to employ other players to transport these trading goods for him. Now we have player driven caravans. Of course these caravans need protection, so our hero hires some of the local PC muscle. Now we have a player driven quest. After a while perhaps our hero has accumulated enough wealth to purchase some land and build a castle, and this land produces some sort of resource, but needs another. Now he is a budding kingdom. Of course he will need some guards... And having a tailor and a blacksmith on the grounds would be nice, maybe he charges less rent/taxes than the NPC kingdoms do.

Anyhow just a quick example I brainstormed up, but I think this is one way to go. Provide other late game paths beside combat that are just as attractive and can still interact with the other parts of the game.


DaveK

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Yeah, thinking more about it made me realize that what I was imagining was pretty much what the MUSH scene was like in the 90''s. Mainly, I was trying to introduce the idea that if you were to try and implement a rad game that took more brain-power than clicking-power, then you would have to leave out certain aspects. I made the mistake of thinking that random battles would be the main thing to tackle here, but now that I think about it, I think just the whole level system in general should be thrown out the window. It reminds me a lot about how school works. Now, many people may disagree with me on this, but I think the whole school system is backwords, when you have a grade you need to compete with your classmates for, I think it may take the focus off of learning what you personally need to learn. I think this same principle can be applied to RPGs. (MMO and single-player both... good point technogoth) No matter how cool the rest of the game might be, it pretty much all boils down to the fighting. I think Final Fantasy may have helped grind this in... I can''t imagine how many years of my life have been spent leveling up my characters for the final boss fight.
Thats why I think it would be cool to focus more on the structure of the game. Instead of doing something arbitrary like assigning PK zones, or disconnecting players who PK, or whatever else happens when you do something you aren''t supposed to, it should have a more real world approach, For example, if the guards saw you commit a crime you would have to run from them, or fight, or do whatever your character does... maybe you would become an outlaw, your face would be on posters all over the kingdom, there would be a bounty on your head... so on...
And getting rid of the level system - got sidetracked for a minute - could be a giant help to putting roleplaying back in roleplaying. When people aren''t concerned about what level they are, or how high their steal skill is, or whatever, then maybe they would resort to other means to achieve fame. A skill system could replace level, if the skills wouldn''t get extravagently out of proportion and were relatively challenging to advance.

I dunno... any thoughts?

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