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Let's discuss a somewhat "radical" MMORPG theory

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The radical theory is this: do away with the experience, level-ups, skill-based systems, etc. ENTIRELY. I know, I know: the whole point of an MMO is to build up your character. What possible draw could the game have without experience, level-ups, skills to pump? In short, what good would an MMO be without... THE GRIND? There are actually two reasons behind this idea. First is the elimination of the grind. Without such a traditional character-building system, we'll be forced to create new and interesting ways to give the player the all-important sense of achievement. (I'll tackle this in a moment). The second reason has to do with PvP. Unbalanced PvP battles really suck, mostly for the loser who has no chance, but also somewhat for the victor who quickly grows bored with the lack of challenge. But if we eliminate the traditional systems, there will no longer be any such thing as a battle between a level 50 and a level 5. But what do we replace the system with? There is, in fact, one age-old method of building up the character's skill which was pioneered in the very beginning of all video gaming. Can you guess it? The skill of the PLAYER. Instead of focusing on numbers, arbitrary statistics with little to no physical meaning, we focus on the actual human player's skill at the game. Through various systems we will tax his intelligence and problem-solving abilities, his various social skills, his strategic wit, and of course his manual dexterity. Over time, the player will simply become better at the game due to his real-life experience with it. It's a given that the player's ability to learn imposes a certain "cap" on the amount of time for which the game remains interesting to him. For example, if a player is able to master swordplay within a week or two -- having played many games with similar sword-fighting scenarios before -- then perhaps the game won't hold very much appeal for him. This is a problem which must be considered, because ultimately, the goal of every MMO is to keep players playing, and paying their monthly subscription fees. A large part of the solution lies in variety and depth. To use the sword-fighting example, perhaps the combat system consists of numerous types of "basic" moves -- horizontal and vertical slashes, thrusts, a few directional parries, and maybe a slow but powerful "crushing blow" type of attack -- which can be combined in a rather fluid fashion. Some combos might be predefined by the designers, and may have certain prerequisites such as a particular weapon type (more on this in a moment). Many combos wouldn't be "combos" in the normal sense, so much as a certain sequence of moves which the player finds useful and commits to memory. The ideal here is that the player could develop his own particular style of swordplay, rather than choosing an arbitrary stat value defining the same thing. This creates infinitely more possibilities and allows a player that much more freedom for defining his character. Additionally, non-combat systems must be equally well-developed, and possibly even more so. Crafting systems are one area in which this can absolutely excel. The player should have the ability to experiment wildly with crafting -- which of course is broken into various sub-disciplines such as alchemy, weaponsmithing, scroll-writing, and whatever else the designer can imagine -- but more importantly, the player's crafting choices should always have an intuitive effect on the outcome. No more of this behind-the-scenes dice rolling to see if the crafting attempt succeeded or failed. Failure would be determined simply because the resultant object is all but worthless (though remember, one man's trash is another man's treasure!) Anyway, my point is that if a player wants to build a sword out of, say, straw, he can do so, but it will be a very flimsy sword! (This idea can be taken to an almost funny extreme regarding alchemy and spellcraft). Players can now find a sense of achievement in their personal increase of skill in various areas. In fact, a major "fun factor" in the game could be dabbling in unfamiliar areas just to see what it's like. This is very doable since the player doesn't have to sacrifice valuable experience or skill points (read: hours and hours of GRINDING) to try out a new discipline. At most, he would need to acquire the necessary equipment, and maybe have another player show him the basics (more on this in a moment). But there needs to be more to the game than just learning its systems. What's a player to do once he's mastered those systems? Item collections are one possibility. Allow players to collect pretty much anything and everything. Give players a house or similar dwelling in which to display their collectibles. Let them configure these displays in the aesthetic manner which most pleases them. Sure, it has no effect on gameplay, but it's the true essence of role-playing, desu ne? Ditto for everything else related to the player's house, including decorations, artwork, furnishings, even architectural modifications/additions. (I have some other ideas relating to the home ownership aspect but I'll save them for another thread). Let the player have a pet. Yes, I realize this has been done before, but in my view it's been one of the better elements of certain MMO's. The more personality we can inject into the pet, the better. Pets also need permadeath, but never from combat! Pets should only permanently die of old age. Many of the non-combat systems may create gameplay in and of themselves despite their mastery. The idea of a player-driven economy, implemented with relative success in numerous MMO's, has proven this. Combined with a very deep and flexible crafting system, among other such non-combat systems, players may find plenty to do, discover, and claim without ever lifting a sword. Now, let's consider the implications of this system in an MMO. First, with respect to gameplay in general and eliminating the grind, well, this system pretty much nixes it. You're not striving for the next experience level any more. Your achievements are actual accomplishments: locate a rare item, complete a certain quest, collect something you want, finish that big addition to your house, or develop an award-winning potion recipe. No longer must you endlessly slay randomly-spawning beasts in search of the elusive "level-up goal". No longer must you LOSE your hard-earned skills and abilities because you lagged out of a battle or got PK'ed by some 12-year-old griefer. All that's left is the pure, clean simplicity of mastering the game in your own way. Of course, there's that blasted PvP that's going to get in your way! This brings me to my second point: the effects of this system on PvP. Consider any given one-on-one PvP battle: with this system, the winner is the character who is better at playing the game. Maybe he's only put 20 hours into his character, but he uses his brain and figures out how best to handle the PvP situation, while the other guy (who's logged 200 hours) bangs uselessly on his keyboard and yells obscenities at the screen. Maybe not. But the point is, players are motivated to become better at the game, to adjust their play styles, to solve problems and figure out strategies, rather than just farming the nearest monster spawn for six days straight (or worse, macro-farm while they head off on vacation for two weeks). Naturally, in any PvP situation, even with this system, the player with the best equipment has an upper hand. At some point you've got to give them that: everyone can't be perfectly equal all of the time. But that's a part of the motivation as well: go find (or make) more powerful stuff with which to deal with your enemies. I haven't yet taken into account any particular measures for dealing with griefers, who I'm quite certain would become rather expert at a game like this. (What, I don't have to play for 200 hours before I can start successfully killing people? Best. Game. Ever!) They certainly need to be reined in, to a point. Although someone in another thread, a griefer himself or so it would seem, made a good point about "their kind", which was that griefing (well, PK-ing, at least) is their particular way of enjoying the game, and if they're able to do it without really annoying the hell out of their victims, then everybody wins. (Somewhat oxymoronic, I know, but he worded it well and it's food for thought). Anyway, sorry I got so long-winded. I'm curious what the rest of you think. Can an MMO succeed without experience points, level-ups, skill trees, etc.? Can it survive, even thrive, based solely on the skill of the flesh-and-blood PLAYER? Thanks for your time. Josh Sutphin Lead Designer Third Helix That is all.

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I can see where you're coming from, but I don't believe your layout offers enough incentive to continue playing, except for the dedicated few.

You will no longer be able to proudly say, "Oh, I'm already a lvl 19!!"

IMHO, some form of statistic must be present. Whether it is a title/ranking system that denotes skill level, or very basic-uninfluencial stat-level up, something needs to be there to measure player growth.

I think the best thing to do, if you absolutely cannot bear to put levels in, would be to organize a ranking system. But it would have to be a pretty complex and dynamic system, so that rank would denote both skill level and skill type. It's basically a thesaurus job, though [wink].

I think it would be better, however, to have *some* sort of level-up/stat bonus reward for playing excessively. I do not, however, agree with the "oh, I killed a bagillion monsters, ergo I am ultimate" approach. While this is the convention, it has many loopholes, as you suggested.

In place of this, you may want to consider a one-time quest system. Say, I go into the Cave of Doom to retrieve the Armor of Invincibility that will make my character faster or something. It may take me a long time to get it, and beat out everyone, but the item could be unique, and show that I went through a lot of trouble to get it.

As for the item creation: I think it's a great idea. I actually have FF11 sitting in my desk right now, and it implements that exact idea: each player can develop item creation skills. Depending on what class of item you create, your skill level for that class increases, and both your success rate for making items and the relative power of them increase. But doesn't that sound a bit like levels?

But aside from that, I'm all with you! [wink]


Mushu - trying to help those he doesn't know, with things he doesn't know.
Why won't he just go away? An question the universe may never have an answer to...

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Wow, I've been offline for a few months now... glad I'm back on a job so I have lots of time to read and write to GameDev =P

Now MMORPGs are not my specialty, I think I've only ever played one or two, and not for very long either... but you certainly can READ a whole lot about them these days. Discussions on GameDev seem to me to be enormously focused to them sometimes... but I digress.

I like the idea of your talent-based game, it certainly lets the user feel more in control of his character and surviving/thriving in the world around him/her/it/they... whatever. But I have to agree with Mushu, in that this kind of gaming can become kind of tiresome. What is the reward for playing this kind of MMO unless you're allowed to say "I'm lvl 30! *fanfare* Hurray!". I mean it seems like there's no sense of accomplishment, no judge of the quality of character to make you go back to it. Maybe it's just me, but thats how I think of it.

Of course on top of my criticism I offer some ideas as well (what a concept, eh? lol). If you had some kind of way to judge players in the game aside from level it would be really neat. I could imagine a colliseum type place (or places, no need to make only one) where players would compete in various different ways. Like they could fight, obviously, but they could also do different talent based things: perform combos for NPC judges, see who can do the most damage to some target (think punching bag) in a certain amount of time, the one hit kill competition, or cook/craft-offs. I think it would be awsome if here was some kind of MMO Olympics like this, where traditional fighting took a second to skills a good amount of the time. There would obviously be regular questing too, but this could be a really huge world event that lets people guage how skilled they are at this game, and keep thriving to place better within it. You could also have people gamble on it, if you dont think you'd be good enough to compete, but still want to be a part of it.

Now, the age old problem of griefers online. I think it could be easily fixed if there were a sense of virtue with questing, trading, crafting, and PKing. Like say you go on a quest, and finish it to the satisfaction of some NPC. Virtue++. Or lets say you, a godly uber char who's logged like 100 hours, trade a lvl 99 sword of ultimate annihilation for 2 gold to some newbie player, Virtue++. Whereas on the other side, if you horde materials and craft like crazy only to throw out most of what you make, Virtue--. Or if you PK outside of designated dueling areas or what have you, Virtue--. So Virtue could then affect how they are percieved by NPCs, how effective they are in doing certain things, even keeping them from buying/resting in certain places... think "Oh, you've killed 3,000 innocent victims... well I dont think we want to let you stay here in the Happy Unicorn Inn... See how this works? Of course this shouldn't be permanent or anything, Griefers can redeem themselves online by doing good things like what has been mentioned, and it brings balance to the force... er, um, I mean world. Hahaha.

Damn, I'm starting to like this idea a lot, why oh why did I blurt it out online like this? D'oh! Hope this sparks some ideas/discussions.

As ever,
**Cosmic One**

P.S. if my ideas are totally stale let me know, I wouldnt want to falseley feign creativity!

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Hi!

I think this idea has potential, I don't think it's particularly original, but I do think you've put a good deal of thought into the implications and how sucha system may pan out in a real game. I can see problems developing as pointed out, that there is nothing to really strive for. Perhaps if you allow advancement in other ways you can keep the grind away without unbalancing anyone. My initial thoughts are that perhaps this could be countered by having to build up a repetoire (sp?) of spells, skills and equipment. The difference though, could be that no spell/skill/equipment is the ultimate of its type. Instead, every spell (or skill or item etc.) is of roughly equal power, but simply expands the tactical options available to the player.

Grinding is inevitable, if someone plays a game for more hours than is generally socially acceptable (as is extremely common with MMO games), just being on the computer itself will be a grind, everything will become a grind of a sort. As games developers, all we can do to make things less of a grind is to offer more options of what to spend your time doing. Having played a great, albeit very old school, game recently (Avernum 3) I came across one particular aspect which now recall as a great idea. Abilities can be gained from defeating specific encounters rather than from any repetitive action. In an MMO game, this would equate to the player having to seek out as wide a variety of different encounters to boost his collection of abilities as possible. In theory this should stop a player from staying in the same place for any longer than necessary, and encourage them to explore. Perhaps abilities such as these could also be gained from non-combat encounters!

Anyhoo just a quick thought, and I could go on for ages, but as it happens, dinner is ready so I'll leave it there for now!

Cheers,

Steve

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stop stealing my ideas!!

anyway,
i completely agree. the focus should be much more on aquired skill than on aquired wealth/'XP'. combat shouldnt be point-and-click, but a system thats inituative to use yet impossible to master. (more like a console fighting game)

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If you remove the idea that you the player are seperate from the character you play, then you remove in many people's minds, the very notion of role-playing itself. Indeed, computer RPG's are so different from what I consider to be roleplaying, that I see it as a misnomer to even call computer RPG's roleplaying.

What do I mean? Let's examine what roleplaying really is. The word itself gives us the strongest clue. It is playing a role or identity. Roleplaying games in a nutshell are about stepping into the shoes of a protagonist who has different abilities and possibly different philosophies, convictions and beliefs from the player. It is because the character has different abilities from the player himself that the player lives vicariously through the protagonist (the character). But what ties the experience together is the knowledge that even if the skills, abilities and beliefs of the character are different from his own, it is the player's choice that guides the player through whatever happens, for good or ill.

If we remove the idea of skills, attributes, or other quantifiable means of determining the capabilities of the character, then the player IS the character. RTS games, FPS games and some adventure games take this approach. In essence, it is the ability of the player that matters, and is what makes the first two genres of games so competitive. But the appeal of roleplaying for many is that they are able to step into the shoes of someone who id different from themselves. For example, my father has very poor vision and as he's older, his reflexes aren't what they used to be. He can't even play Diablo-esque type RPG's very well because they require the skill of the player rather than the skill of the character. But when it comes to turn-based strategy games which are slower paced, he's very good at them. But my father likes the notion that he is able to be someone that has different capabilities from himself.

Your approach would work for some, but it would be less appealing for others. An approach like this would IMHO also encourage PvP. When you play a protagonist with the abilities of yourself, it begs for a competitive mindset. This is why RTS and FPS games are so competitive and encourage the notion of pitting one player's talent against another. True roleplaying however is not about "winning and losing" or even about making your character more powerful. It's supposed to be about the experience itself and the tale that is told. But computer RPG's are unable to do this (Neverwinter Nights excepting), so in lieu of the gameplay being centered around the experiencing of a tale, it is about making your character more powerful.

I think that much of the "roll playing" qualities of games can be reduced if all of the skills, attributes and other quantifiers are made unknown to the player. Afterall, in real life, you don't know exactly how strong, intelligent or charming you are. If your character's personality is overconfident, they will overestimate their abilities. Another example is that a player should never know exactly how wounded their character is. That hit to the leg may have severed an artery or vein and they may be internally bleeding. Player access to too much information is what causes the "roll playing" syndrome, not the very existence of things like skills, attributes and abilities.

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Dont have time to read everyone else comments (there are alot of long comments in this thread! )

Anyway I like you idea and i think it would have a much better gameplay value then other MMO. I think have some ranking system in would be good though, dont make changes to the player based on their rank just have it sort of as bragging rights! So you could have leader boards of most kills with such and such weapon, highest accuracy, most rare items just general stuff like that and then it adds another element for people to play for.

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Someone said that there would be no incentive to play without some statistic; how about a global ranking? People could try to win tournaments and duels to get up in the rankings. This would leave out the grind while still encouraging characters to keep playing.

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Quote:
Original post by nagromo
Someone said that there would be no incentive to play without some statistic; how about a global ranking? People could try to win tournaments and duels to get up in the rankings. This would leave out the grind while still encouraging characters to keep playing.

That was me.

Making it into a global ranking re-introduces the time-old problem of first-come seniority - if you're ranked against people who have been playing since the beginning, you stand no chance.

The only ways that I can come up with to incorperate global ranking are to:
  • Stratify the ranks by time online.

  • Penalize those who spend time online:
    Rating = Score * Time Online/Constant
    So that as time online increases, effect on score decreases.

Otherwise, you'd always have the older people on top, and that wouldn't change very much at all. And that's what we're trying to change... [bawling]


Mushu - trying to help those he doesn't know, with things he doesn't know.
Why won't he just go away? An question the universe may never have an answer to...

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After all, we all remeber Gunbound. "Experience", a measure of how many battles won (in a way), and rules your rank in the game (that goes from chick, hammers, axes, battleaxes, wands and ultimately dragons). "Money" rules the harware you can buy, to improve your stats. Usually, if you got the ranks, you got the money to buy badass hardware.

And in the Avatar Servers (servers where the equipment's stats modifiers are applied) we got mega-equipped dudes bullying novices. All powered-ups in the same team, beating hammers and below mercilessly for fun and profit. Where did I seen this?


I know GB is not an RPG, but is a level-less pvp combat game. And has the same probs as the normal RPGs...

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Sadly, I think the only thing limiting this so called "player-skill-based" type of RPG is the very limited input devices that a computer possesses. The most you can do is click your mouse in certain locations and enter certain combinations of buttons. It would take a lot of work to create a combat system that a) has a suitable learning curve (not too shallow or steep, and more importantly, without a "ceiling", so that players could always improve) b) made strategic sense (logical and not random) and c) had a great "fun-factor"

If those challenges could be met, it would be a great idea. Though you still might want to incorporate some sort of level-based progress throughout the game, so that perhaps someone who wasnt so naturally talented at the battle system, but had played for months, couldnt be beaten by first-week players. This could be in the form of improved items, improved damage, etc.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by invicticide
Anyway, my point is that if a player wants to build a sword out of, say, straw, he can do so, but it will be a very flimsy sword!

1) Building a sword out of straw the sword is useless 2) It's not intutive 3) waste of resource and time in development cycle = really bad example.

Quote:
Item collections are one possibility. Allow players to collect pretty much anything and everything. Give players a house or similar dwelling in which to display their collectibles. Let them configure these displays in the aesthetic manner which most pleases them. Sure, it has no effect on gameplay, but it's the true essence of role-playing, desu ne? Ditto for everything else related to the player's house, including decorations, artwork, furnishings, even architectural modifications/additions.

Have fun negotiating with the artists. It sounds like alot of time need to be spend on drawing items that "has no effect on gameplay". Unless you're planning this as text mud?

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@invicticide

Skimming over some of the replies I think most people are missing one big point. Having a mmorpg based off of the skills of players makes no difference! You might as well be using levels because there are very clear differences in player skill levels. Have you ever played counter strike? You can tell the people who have been playing the longest. They usually dominate the game. Beginners, newbie’s, etc have no chance of beating them... they might as well be level 5 and 50. The "level 5" still doesn't have any fun and the "level 50" is still looking for a challenge.

Now with a level system you can compare levels and adjust rules accordingly. Why let a level 50 even fight a level 5?!? Unless the level 5 commits to it there should be no reason other than to have a pure pk environment. Sure you could take a similar approach with the player skill system by giving them ranks and such based on their performance, but that’s getting back into a level system albeit with a little less grind (still takes time and commitment to hone those skills).

Not to mention that at least in a level based system the, how should I put it, crappy player will at least have a chance once they level up. Some people just aren't made for skill based games and instead devote their efforts in developing a character that can make up for that difference.

Besides hasn't this been tried before? Has anyone ever played PlanetSide? I have not but from what I've seen/heard this is what it is like? Someone please feel free to correct me on this!

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Quote:
Original post by Dauntless
If you remove the idea that you the player are seperate from the character you play, then you remove in many people's minds, the very notion of role-playing itself. Indeed, computer RPG's are so different from what I consider to be roleplaying, that I see it as a misnomer to even call computer RPG's roleplaying.

What do I mean? Let's examine what roleplaying really is. The word itself gives us the strongest clue. It is playing a role or identity. Roleplaying games in a nutshell are about stepping into the shoes of a protagonist who has different abilities and possibly different philosophies, convictions and beliefs from the player. It is because the character has different abilities from the player himself that the player lives vicariously through the protagonist (the character). But what ties the experience together is the knowledge that even if the skills, abilities and beliefs of the character are different from his own, it is the player's choice that guides the player through whatever happens, for good or ill.

If we remove the idea of skills, attributes, or other quantifiable means of determining the capabilities of the character, then the player IS the character. RTS games, FPS games and some adventure games take this approach. In essence, it is the ability of the player that matters, and is what makes the first two genres of games so competitive. But the appeal of roleplaying for many is that they are able to step into the shoes of someone who id different from themselves. For example, my father has very poor vision and as he's older, his reflexes aren't what they used to be. He can't even play Diablo-esque type RPG's very well because they require the skill of the player rather than the skill of the character. But when it comes to turn-based strategy games which are slower paced, he's very good at them. But my father likes the notion that he is able to be someone that has different capabilities from himself.

Your approach would work for some, but it would be less appealing for others. An approach like this would IMHO also encourage PvP. When you play a protagonist with the abilities of yourself, it begs for a competitive mindset. This is why RTS and FPS games are so competitive and encourage the notion of pitting one player's talent against another. True roleplaying however is not about "winning and losing" or even about making your character more powerful. It's supposed to be about the experience itself and the tale that is told. But computer RPG's are unable to do this (Neverwinter Nights excepting), so in lieu of the gameplay being centered around the experiencing of a tale, it is about making your character more powerful.

I think that much of the "roll playing" qualities of games can be reduced if all of the skills, attributes and other quantifiers are made unknown to the player. Afterall, in real life, you don't know exactly how strong, intelligent or charming you are. If your character's personality is overconfident, they will overestimate their abilities. Another example is that a player should never know exactly how wounded their character is. That hit to the leg may have severed an artery or vein and they may be internally bleeding. Player access to too much information is what causes the "roll playing" syndrome, not the very existence of things like skills, attributes and abilities.


Well put! If only people could focus on how to add more Role Playing appeal to mmorpgs, I think they could develope quite a hardcore following. There are a lot of people I think looking for this.

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I like your idea. But I also like the way MMORPG is nowadays... Of course there are many mistakes, as well as your suggestion. But I really liked your idea, and that's why we should think in "mixing" these styles of gameplay... There's no need to be "radical", and also, why can't we experiment something new?

And yes, we need more roleplay! Definetely, that's the reason why I get bored so soon with some MMORPG.

I like when people discuss this matter... and I think you should consider the feedback you're getting, but also, try your hand at it. People often fear something new, without knowing it. Try to do something like that if you can, prove your points. I think that's what lacks in games these days, they want to profit, not to improve. I really like old rpg games like Lunar 2, Breath of Fire 3, and others, much more than the latest comercial final fantasy games - Final Fantasy XI is cool, fine, but for me Xenogears beats it to the ground. Why? Hell, it has feeling, and at its time, it had something new.

Forgive my poor english.

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So...we're basically talking about Tekken/Fatal Fury/Street Fighter Online? Make a character, roam the game world, collect items that have no meaning, use your game controller to fight against other gamers.

While I do like the concept of an MMO with no (visible) stats or levels, I also think you run a number of risks with a pure twitch-based MMO. Lag suddenly becomes even more of a factor than it is now; can you imagine having an army of players fighting each other while the server tries to keep up with the twitch-commands from the gamers? Get 30 players in an area and you'll probably crash the server!

I also worry that, depending on the design, there is no way to learn new skills or increase your attack/defense. If each avatar is identical except in appearance, then there is no "advantage" to keep playing other than advancing on the leaderboard - which, in and of itself, will get tedious. Especially if you're paying a monthly fee for the privalege. As others have said, there has to be some kind of incentive to win. An increase in defensive ability, better weaponry, better armor, speed increases, stronger stamina - something to say "look, I'm a veteran" other than a win-loss record.

If everyone starts with the same moves, what's to distinguish the new player from the old, grizzled veteran? I do realize your argument is "that's the point!", from a practical standpoint you end up with a lot of bored vets who see no benefit in playing beyond a month, except to alleviate RL boredom - which they could do by loading up their PS2 or XBox.

I'd also be concerned that you end up alienating the older/casual gamer. On the one hand, if everyone is equal - and always equal - in one-on-one combat, whether you've logged on for 2 minutes or 2000 minues - then as a casual gamer I'd probably love it. My time, or lack thereof, means nothing because I'm just as good as anyone else. However, the downside of that is - why should I pay monthly for this, then? What's the appeal?

On the other hand, if you do institute bonuses and advantages for continuous wins - well then the casual gamer is at an incredible disadvantage. At least in (some) current MMOs a low level player is generally combined with other low-level players; you're on somewhat equal footing. DAOC is a good example of this in PVP combat; until you reach the outer realms, PvP is limited to those within 4 levels of you. Without levels, it becomes a slaughterhouse - a casual gamer is thrown in the fighting pits against better armed, better defended "power gamers" and would rarely stand a chance. It's similar to the problem in the arcades; the older gamer walks up to a game, considers playing it, and as soon as you stick that quarter in some 12 year old comes up and says "challenge?", popping in his quarter and slamming down that 2-player button before you've had a chance to consider the offer. 30 seconds later, you walk away grumbling while junior is happily bragging to his friends about how he ganked your sorry butt! ;)

So, again - how do you avoid it being little more than a Street Fighter Online with a monthly fee?

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Well i've mentioned before elsewhere, don't award exp for killing monsters.

First remove the idea of the massive level gaining, let all characters start proficient. ie New characters don't have to stay in newbie zone untill such and such level. This doesnt mean no progress just allow stronger starting characters. Heck just set the entire world to work off of a common sense skill stat model. Whatever creatures there are should be on par with the players.

Next remove the award on killing creatures. This is the second guilty party for grinding. Instead offer experience based on effective interaction in the world and quest rewards.
Example 1. Player Skieve kills npc Dukes son. First don't respawn the son. Second offer xp for the action. Third there is now a bounty on Skieve head.
Example 2. The player who accepts the bounty on Skieve will gain xp for returning or killing Skieve.
Example 3. Orc band kills some npc hunters that wander too close to there hunting lands. The town offers quest to get these Orcs.
Possibly also award exp for community based participation. Set it up though that the more you use a skill the more exp is put into it when exp is awarded.

Of course to implement would be a redisgn on the entire mmorpg content delivery system. instead of content being something that story written, it would be created through a simulator. Or in a simple way take a RTS let the computer be the rulers and players are just solitary characters.

As for the idea of player skill check out Yohoho Puzzle Pirates. There are no levels no grinding right from the start it's all based on player skills, and there is a ranking system. Problem here is that if you not good at puzzle games your not going to have fun.

How many Hardcore fps players go out at hardcore play a mmorpg. Simply is that they don't. How many hardcore puzzle players rock at fps, simple they don't. But at least with the "rpg" mechanics both could play a mmorpg without penalizing the other. Will they want to play, eh who knows. But at least it has a more open player market.

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It seems that several people got the idea that I'm proposing an action- or twitch-based game. I'm not proposing a combat system to dethrone Street Fighter or similar such games, by any means. But current MMO combat systems revolve around repeating the same attack over and over until the monster dies. Movement is rarely effective, changing to different types of attacks is only effective in very specific circumstances and not nearly often enough, etc. So, your ability to win a battle is dependent on the power of your strongest attack/spell/skill/whatever and how many times in a row you can use it before running out of mana/stamina/skill points/whatever.

I'd like players to be able to construct a huge variety of different attacks, blocks, maneuvers, and other "tactical actions" where it's not the power of the skill, but the context in which the skill is used that determines your success in the fight. It's not twitch-based stuff; it would still be based on a "tick" system like most current MMO's. The idea is not to increase the speed of combat, but to increase the depth, and to make that depth available to players early on rather than forcing them to earn every little baby step along the way.

There were also numerous comments about losing the sense of achievement by losing level-ups. That's a truth, in many ways. My proposal is to give back the sense of achievement through a huge variety of other things. Immediately coming to mind are better/cooler equipment, good-looking clothes, rare items, collections, additions/decorations for your home, etc. I've spent inordinate amounts of time online not fighting, but trying to track down just the right cloak for my character to make him look like an uber-badass, and I know I'm not alone in that. Additionally, many of the ideas about competitive arenas and global rankings are an excellent start in this department.

One thing that could really liven the appeal of the game is to introduce a wider variety of gameplay styles. Contemporary MMO's tend to focus on the "RPG" play style, that is, run around and kill monsters, find items, level-up, talk to people, etc. But there's a much wider variety of multiplayer games out there, beyond MMO's, which could be integrated as "mini-games" which are a major focus of the game world. Puzzle games, racing games, turn-based strategy, SCUMM-style adventures (quests), even some old-school twitch-based arcade-type stuff... the list goes on. What better way to exemplify an MMO than to include every kind of multiplayer gaming experience imaginable?

Sure, that sounds like a pretty big job. As we all know, MMO's *are* a big job. Collosal, in fact. I'm not trying to put forth any kind of "actual" design here, I'm just throwing around some ideas which could be selectively integrated into the "next big thing"... or so my ego tells me. ;)

Anyway, it's cool to see so many thoughtful responses to my humble little idea. An effective back-and-forth dialog is always a good thing in my book. :)

Oh, and to that anonymous poster who bashed my straw sword example: dude, grow some balls and put a name with your opinions, and try backing up your criticisms with actual *ideas*. Yeah, a straw sword is pretty stupid, but that was the point of the example. As for your other jab, I'm willing to bet plenty of artists will be more than happy to build items that have no effect on gameplay, IF YOU PAY THEM A SALARY!

/rant off

Sheesh, at least the rest of you used your brains while responding! :P

That is all.

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Original post by invicticide
Oh, and to that anonymous poster who bashed my straw sword example: dude, grow some balls and put a name with your opinions, and try backing up your criticisms with actual *ideas*. Yeah, a straw sword is pretty stupid, but that was the point of the example. As for your other jab, I'm willing to bet plenty of artists will be more than happy to build items that have no effect on gameplay, IF YOU PAY THEM A SALARY!


I've made the post. My apologies if it seems I'm trying to flame.

"Yeah, a straw sword is pretty stupid, but that was the point of the example."
So the purpose of the straw sword is for someone to role-play an idiot?...

Actual game development and talking about theoretical game design are two complete different things. Money is scarce; management will not throw down the cash on something that has little effect on the game. Combining all the MMORPG feature into one game will not get you anywhere when you propose it to publisher or client; they will want unique features else the game will have to compete with EVERYTHING in the market. Personally I think removing the kill level scale is doable in MMORPG,. Ie. A tale in the Desert. However your design need a lot more work.

Need to get back to work¡K

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Well firewindshadow, I didn't expect you to actually step up. Hat's off to you. :)

The purpose of the straw sword example is not to say that people should run around using straw swords -- quite the opposite, I would hope! -- but to illustrate the intended flexibility of the crafting system (which, not being the focus of this topic, has not been fleshed out by any means). The idea is that a player can *try* numerous combinations -- like a straw sword -- and it's the player's ability to put things together *intelligently* -- *not* like a straw sword -- that determines how good he is at crafting.

As for the art thing, look at any MMO running today and start counting up all the art assets that do not directly affect gameplay. To use one example, there's a rather sizeable variety of different furnishings a player can craft or purchase for his house in Star Wars Galaxies. I think that maybe 1% of them have any kind of gameplay function, the rest are just there so you can make your pad look cool. That's what I'm all about here, and with respect to role-playing, I contend that such things *do* directly affect gameplay.

With the growing proliferation of outsourcing -- particularly overseas -- as well as the evolution of new design and development techniques, I think that massive-scale projects such as MMO's can and will continue to expand in scope, and an all-inclusive online "experience" (as opposed to just a "game") could be a reality within the next five years. Someone just has to put all the right pieces together, as they've all been done already, somewhere in the fragmented morass of thousands of active MMO's.

And as far as the real world of game development goes, well, I work in it. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I'm just saying that I have some idea about what will and will not get funding. I'm no expert and I'm not in charge of accounting at my company, but neither am I an ignorant 12-year-old who thinks game budgets grow on trees. I think that a properly defined and, more importantly, properly presented design for such an all-inclusive game could well garner funding, but not only would the game design have to be excellent, it would have to be backed with -- and *integrated* with -- a very solid business plan. Just as games are getting bigger and better, so are game budgets growing (astronomically!) and publishers are gaining more and more power every day. The means are there now to bring ideas like these -- not necessarily *mine*, but something in this general area -- to life. The developers just have to prove that they've got what it takes to follow through with such an ambitious project.

That is all.

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Umm... that's me above. Apparently I wasn't logged in. :P

Which means I should back off a little from my harsh reply to firewindshadow for also posting anonymously before.
~foot in mouth~

That is all.

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I'd like players to be able to construct a huge variety of different attacks, blocks, maneuvers, and other "tactical actions" where it's not the power of the skill, but the context in which the skill is used that determines your success in the fight.

Forgive me for what i know is an over simplification, but what you're talking about is an MMO using a card game mechanic. Or to really over simplify it, rock-paper-scissors.

Game combat would consist of you choosing particular manuevers: forward sword thrust, sideways cut, angle slash, block, upward slash. Your opponent queues up his or her own set of combat manuevers.

Depending on the various strengths of one over another, the victor is the one who happens to choose the better combination of "cards" to play in sequence, correct?

So instead of Street Fighter Online we have Magic Online, or Yu-Gi-Oh?

I'm not necessarily saying whether that's bad or good, I just want to get a better assessment of what you're trying to accomplish.

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