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Cosmic One

MMO Survival

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Well since the massively multiplayer online genre has really taken off, I find myself thinking of games that could fit into the genre, instead of my usual 'epic RPG' train of thought. Wanted to know what the community here thought of a massively multiplayer online survival game. I'll list out my concepts off the top of my head for you. CONCEPT The game would play a lot like the survival levels in RTS games - Starcraft specifically - only in first person. Hordes of nasties swarming into your stronghold while you and your teammates desperately try to mow them down. PLAYER ROLE Players can pick classes like marine, sniper, close range combat, grenadier, engineer, etc. These classes are easily be adaptable to any genre: fantasy, sci-fi, modern or ancient military themes, etc. The player is doing his part to protect the base and survive during the pretty much continual onslaught. Character development comes in the way of upgrades: armor, weapon, movement, hit points, etc. These upgrades don't get too powerful, as it is an FPS after all. Player characters can be created, personalized, named and saved, and played in as many games as desired. This adds a role playing element to the game, but it is important to note that the role being played is only to serve the greater good of the team. GOOD VS BAD Players are only on the side of defense, since this is a survival game, not invasion. Players can select races or factions and try to protect their own base while another race suffers a similar fate elsewhere on the map. One strategy would be to try and go sabotage another base, if it is in the best interest of the group. Reasons for this are perhaps to draw enemy fire away, steal supplies, etc. Regardless, the main goal is always to fend off enemies from your own base. The game is largely co-operational. Decisions made by an individual often cannot help the effort, but a team effort can make a big difference. Thus it becomes a very tight knit group, what with surviving insurmoutable odds together and working as a team to beat the badasses down. Alliances between factions can also be allowed, merging units and supplies, possibly having some hidden combinatorial options become available. The hordes of enemies are purely AI. Varying degrees of intelligence are available, from stupid/numerous to smart/few. Some would argue that playing the bad guys would be fun, but this then complicates the game extremely, making it more like Starcraft in 1st persion perspective. The enemy needs to continually and almost mindlessly invade. GAMEPLAY Aside from the typical splatter-fest you'd come to expect in this kind of game, you'd also have responsibilities to assist in keeping the team alive, not just yourself. Things like making repairs to fences, walls, and buildings; making sure you're full on ammo and that the supply doesn't run too low; helping out fallen comrades; maybe going out into the field with a team to survey the area, picking off baddies before they get to your base, finding supplies or support. The onslaught is not completely continual, there obviously have to be breaks. So the enemy comes in waves of unknown lengths, and gives breaks of unknown lengths - naturally it can only fall in a certain interval, but making it uncertain adds a varying element to it. During breaks, players can purchase upgrades, set up traps outside the base, beef up their base, all sorts of things. The base has interactive elements too it, and can be upgraded as well. Options like gun-mounts, turrets, traps, etc. can be added in order to better protect the base. Things like vehicles and airstrikes can also be available in the game, purchasable somewhere in the base. As was mentioned before, the game plays from first person veiw. Individuals are not so important, you are playing for the good of your team. NPC commanders (simply to be fair, i don't think people would listen to player controlled commanders... that kind of power tends to get out of hand, or become not listened to at all) can give battle strategies and promote certain players to heroes, depending on how they have played. OTHER POINTS It is apparent that many players would simply drop the game as they were about to die, to avoid any negative repercussions to their character. Thus, to keep players in the game, they can only quit during an emeny attack break, when they are allowed to 'retire', or leave the battlefield safely. If they choose to drop out during the time of an attack, their character is 'lost in battle', or more commonly referred to as 'perma-death'. Otherwise, death is treated similarly to other FPS. Provided you do not quit the game as mentioned abouve, you can respawn in a reasonable amount of time, perhaps as a cost to your team. So ya, that's what I have time to get down here... pretty long, amazing what the top of your head can produce =P Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Did I miss anything? Anybody want to add to this idea? Fire away LOL. This isn't a game I'M making, just wanted to discuss the possibility. In fact if anybody out there could make this kind of thing feel free, I wouldn't take offense. In fact I'd probably sing your praises as I'd personally love to play it. The kind of MMO you could really work at, or just play sporadically, like during a study break. As ever, ******Cosmic******

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Why not add other survival-based actions you can perform outside combat? Between waves of enemies, you could go out and explore deadly terrain looking for upgrades, valuables to sell, etc. The planet itself could be dangerous, with lots of swamps, deserts, toxic waste zones, and so on. Why would humans want to occupy a planet where even the environment was hostile? Maybe it has large amounts of some type of metal or chemical used in weaponry. Maybe teams exploring the area could even fight with each other over resources.

Just some thoughts. :)

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MMO as in 'persistent world' or just many many people?

I'd think that you'd have to have the AI somewhat intelligent. Otherwise it could get dull fast.

Another idea is to have everything fairly realistic. Not too but just fairly. Like no infinte ammo stock. You have a convoy which supplies your base. You have to ensure the convoy route is well protected. when your teammate is hurt, they bleed unless treated (health continues to go down to a certain spot unless treated and it only goes down a little) See Americas Army as how they do it. To actually heal up fully, they have to spend X minutes in the Medical Tents and hope their team can successfully defend with out them... or hope it's a break.

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@ Onyxflame
Quote:
Why not add other survival-based actions you can perform outside combat?


I mentioned that you could leave base at any time, during a seige if it were tactically important, or during breaks to do things like set up traps. I do like your more expansive exploration concept, but you couldn't have too many people venturing off to see the world. If the base could give warning as to when the next wave was coming then this would be a good plan, since the user would be able to get back to the stronghold before they were surrounded by the hordes.

Quote:
Why would humans want to occupy a planet where even the environment was hostile?


Well they wouldn't, but this kind of thing can be explained in the story. It could be like a 'starship troopers' kind of scenario. Or maybe the monsters attacked your home planet in immense numbers. Either way the focus of this game is not story, it's persistent teamwork gameplay. I find too few games these days have good co-operative play.

@ TrapDoor
I definitely like the limited ammo idea. Although not like sparse limited, but with the amount of firing going on it would be more realistic to let ammo be something you need to manage. I also agree with your 'Deaths' issue, which is just becoming wounded enough that you can't fight anymore. At which point waiting to spawn could definitely mean you're in the infermary, or wherever.

As for whether this is a 'persistent world' or just like massive counterstrike... my answer is one word. Both. There would be two options of playing: setting up a campaign to play for a certain amount of time, or a certain number of badguys, or to complete a goal like saving someone, and so on. There could also be a persistent world where players could drop in and out as they pleased, but the overall game would not stop. Both methods of play sound very viable and interesting to me, and I see no reason why they could not both be implimented.

I thought afterwards about how to set up the map. Would the base and its basic surroundings be all you should see? I think it could be expanded to include a much larger, more complex region. You could go off and try to ambush the enemy hordes as they land, or spawn. You could get all the way to the other bases with other races or factions in them, and form some strategy around that. You could maybe go build outposts to bottleneck some of the enemy's attacks and thin their ranks as they push through.

Anybody else with some ideas?

As ever,
****Cosmic****

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Original post by Cosmic One
The game would play a lot like the survival levels in RTS games - Starcraft specifically - only in first person. Hordes of nasties swarming into your stronghold while you and your teammates desperately try to mow them down.


The main problem I'd have with the core concept is a kind of nihilistic pointlessness, as I discovered with Aliens vs. Predator's online component. The monsters are going to be computer controlled, so this is something you know already: You're fighting NPCs which will have predictable patterns. You will get some interesting strategy just by sheer numbers, but the point remains that I think you'll have a serious problem with the psychological concept of progress.

Consider that you'll be stuck in the vicinity of a single base. Unlike say a Diablo or MMORPG, you're not progressing over land or through many different environments. You'll have what I call "bus stop syndrome:" A kind of claustrophobia where the world at large feels like its inaccessible because you have to stay in one location.

Bolstering this point further: Every FPS game generally gives you different maps to fight on, and few people play the same map endlessly. With an RPG this becomes even more of a severe problem because in between waves you'll have time to get bored with the environment you constantly see... same hills, same textures, etc.

The other problem is that although you mention that its an RPG, there's no ultimate point because you can't change anything in the universe. Even in MMORPGs, yes the major challenges come back for the next players, but at least by travelling around you have a way of encountering the world anew.


Quote:

Players are only on the side of defense, since this is a survival game, not invasion. Players can select races or factions and try to protect their own base while another race suffers a similar fate elsewhere on the map. One strategy would be to try and go sabotage another base, if it is in the best interest of the group. Reasons for this are perhaps to draw enemy fire away, steal supplies, etc. Regardless, the main goal is always to fend off enemies from your own base.


This makes it sound like all bases aren't being attacked at the same time. I think what I'd find frustrating is that there's no real way to gain ground. Let's say my team does forge an alliance with another base and we come to them in their hour of need. So what? That we save the base or the base is lost has no bearing on the war itself, so not only are individual lives pointless, whole endeavors are pointless.

Consider maybe an approach of continuous campaigns: There'd be a definite end that carries some sort of resource over to the next round so at least there's a reason to hold out and even sacrifice. The enemy's spawn points could be pushed back on the map, and maybe the player's base is like the Command Center in Starcraft: Relocatable to new terrain in order to perform new missions (resource gathering or whatever).


Quote:

The game is largely co-operational. Decisions made by an individual often cannot help the effort, but a team effort can make a big difference. Thus it becomes a very tight knit group, what with surviving insurmoutable odds together and working as a team to beat the badasses down.


Just a final note about this re: AvP again. In the first game there was a continuous aliens wave mode and a couple of marines or predators could hold out against endless swarms. It was fun for short bursts, but not very fun over the long term. As a result the mode was dropped in the sequel.

Quote:

The hordes of enemies are purely AI. Varying degrees of intelligence are available, from stupid/numerous to smart/few. Some would argue that playing the bad guys would be fun, but this then complicates the game extremely, making it more like Starcraft in 1st persion perspective. The enemy needs to continually and almost mindlessly invade.


It is a complication, yes, but I think you sell yourself short by not including it. If nothing else, the monster player could have "lives" and respawn as a nearby monster, taking control over AI when he dies. An even better thing to do would be to be able to jump from monster to monster, something hero players couldn't do, but which would keep heros on their toes.


GAMEPLAY
The onslaught is not completely continual, there obviously have to be breaks. So the enemy comes in waves of unknown lengths, and gives breaks of unknown lengths - naturally it can only fall in a certain interval, but making it uncertain adds a varying element to it. During breaks, players can purchase upgrades, set up traps outside the base, beef up their base, all sorts of things.
[/quote]

Breaks are good but I'd strongly recommend mechanisms to speed up repairing or other repetitive actions like wall building. Remote controlling mechs would be cool.

Quote:

It is apparent that many players would simply drop the game as they were about to die, to avoid any negative repercussions to their character. Thus, to keep players in the game, they can only quit during an emeny attack break, when they are allowed to 'retire', or leave the battlefield safely. If they choose to drop out during the time of an attack, their character is 'lost in battle', or more commonly referred to as 'perma-death'.


Unless these waves never last more than 7 or so minutes, I think this is a very bad idea. You can't anticipate when somebody's about to be called to dinner or has just had too much lemonade. This is fine for a 0 investment FPS action game, but for an RPG people will be ticked.

What about some sort of stasis case or escape portal or something? It's at the center of the base in the basement and you have to be able to get to it, so as you venture out you have to plan ahead. Getting back to it may be a problem, as monsters may have infiltrated the ventilation and access shafts and may be in your way. But if you get to it, you can safely log off.


Quote:

Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Did I miss anything? Anybody want to add to this idea? Fire away LOL.


I'd like to play something like this, it sounds cool in a Tribes meets Starcraft kind of way.

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Thanks for the big response Wavinator... it sorta grounded me with respect to this idea. I guess the general consensus is that we want a bigger world than just our base, and some small area around it. The problem as I see it is that if you're being constantly bombarded and you abandon your team to go off lollygagging at the pretty sights, you're not really in the game for the right reasons. Although maybe I should consider that there are more reasons than one to BE in the game in the first place.

This having been said, it occurs to me that survival is a very broad concept, with many ideas that can be added to it. For instance, not only must you stand your ground during attacks, but during breaks you must venture out into the world to nourish yourself, to gain better understanding of your attackers, and to retain sanity. The more that is out there available for the player the better.

I think using the 'technician/ engineer/ scientist' player character would make for some varied play, a break from the repetetiveness of the assault. Say you could go and capture some alien egg samples, or hack into the main computer system of the enemy, or intercept private communications revealing intelligence information; this would require mr. scientist, and you would need a team of escorts to follow him so he didn't get creamed. Exploring the map you would find yourself in locations where there was something to learn, if you were on an alien world, or something to gather, someone to rescue. Ultimately though, you would have to make it back to the base to use this knowledge. Does this all seem to give the player more purpose?

With regards to your first point:
- I realize that perhaps no progress is ever made, you're much too busy to go out into the world and 'quest' as it were, but this kind of game is not a questing RPGer, it's more good for quick, repetetive play.
- Thus, a persistent environment is probably not ideal. I agree that there must be some goal to the game. I'd mentioned already that surviving a certain time limit or killing a certain number of enemies are good goals to achieve. Also, goals like search and rescue, taking out a specific target, scavenger hunting, occupying a certain area, ect. are also interesting goals, which would be made difficult and innovative if you were madly defending your base at the same time. I didnt think of being offensive on the enemy in the first place, but to wipe out the enemy spawn points would be a good mission. That too would be something you could take care of with a tactical strike team in between attacks.
- I didn't mean to imply in my post that AI would be minimally important. I just meant that it could vary within or between the forces you're fighting. You'd naturally have your 'lemming' enemies that just come to your front gate armed to the teeth, but there'd also be others, ones who could take advantage of weaknesses in your base, operate stealthily, attack from a distance, have difficult attack patterns to deal with, be immune to certain kinds of weapons. So AI would definitely have to be something the player could immerse him/herself in figuring out and exploring.
- And there would DEFINITELY be many different maps to play on. This would play a large part in strategy, and a map editor could be be implemented as well to make things really interesting.

As for your second point:
- Waves of attack would happen very much simultaneously, regardless of base. Limited of course by the location of the base, layout of the base, etc.
- I like those ideas of campaigns, the carry over missions and the movable base components.

For your fourth point:
- Enemy play shouldn't be user controlled because it would involve so many fewer elements than playing as the defenders. Deciding who to kill, how to kill them and how to get to them to kill them is basically all you have. If you give them control of when entire attacks happen and how they deal with defending their own base, it really does become like starcraft in 1st person, which is not what I envisioned. It also becomes difficult to balance - the number of players being enemies vs. the number being defenders. Above all else you must have a good number of people in the same base to actually accomplish anything.

And your last point:
- I agree completely, I never intended waves of attacks to be more than like 5 minutes long. Breaks should be shorter, like 3 minutes tops. I think this is fair for those of you with weak bladders (wussies =P) and strict parents.
- I wanted to discourage players to drop during attacks because, as I should have written, the size, duration and intensity of the attack each time it starts is based on the number of players actually logged into this game. If many people run during an onslaught, the game quickly falls apart. Besides, in a real life scenario, when you're kickin in skulls with your allies by ur side, do you really stop halfway through the crowd and say "well that's enough for me". The goal was to create quick, fun play that was easy for all to participate in, with enough depth to keep people playing. While the player should be able to pop in at any time, the only time they can leave is during break.


Now, for some more variation, what about including many world events, new challenges thought up every now and then to intice players to play a certain way for a certain goal?

Just some thoughts for the aft,
As ever,
****Cosmic****

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