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TechnoGoth

Writing for Multiplayer

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I don't know why you have to write a script beforehand. If the game is actually based on roleplaying, people will create their own stories.

Take a look at DartMUD (telnet: dartmud.com port 2525 I believe). All the interactions in that world are created by players. Players created the guilds and castles by telling the wizzes what they wanted, and all factions in the game are run by players. The game has very complex politics which you won't be able to see in any detail without months of playing time, so a quick 5 minute trial won't really tell you much.

The main problem I see with this system is that sometimes people decide to do interesting things, and sometimes there's a lot of dead space. This is exacerbated by the fact that most players think boredom can only be relieved by wars. So what you get is: Someone gets bored and starts war -> war gets complex and dangerous to many people -> people bitch about war -> war ends -> people vow to have peace because war sucks -> someone gets bored and starts war -> etc. Which is pretty much how it works in the real world, come to think of it. :P

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Well, a variant on that, I suppose...

If you think about it, you (the developer) control the environment. The players control what happens in the context of that environment.

If you want to tell a story, you achieve your objectives by manipulating the environment.

Easy example:

*Objective: revamp an old dungeon to revive player activity in an area. Dungeon is old news, contains your basic challanges, is on the border of dangerous wilderness. Players use it more as a social place than hunting, because it just isn't dangerous anymore. You want to disillusion them.

*Story: The nearby tribe of Orcs is facing a hunger shortage when they are pressed upon by a plague of dragons. Their desperate spellcasters cast big ritual that summons an elemental of the earth. Unfortunately, they no longer have the means of controlling such a being, and it runs off. It makes its home in the convenient dungeon, traveling through the walls and striking where least expected. It exerts control over weaker creatures, drawing similar elemental creatures to it, and sets up a little kingdom.

*Breakdown: The Orcs aren't dangerous enough. They need to be kicked out. Solution--dragons (small.). This pushes the Orcs to cast spell, which conveniently solves the dungeon problem by turning it into a trap of unseen enemies (I'm sorry, boys, your swords won't do much good if your fighting earth elementals underground). If you push this in stages, first increasing dragon spawn, and giving Orcs: "I'm worried about dragons" lines, then you wait. Once there's a critical mass of dragons (so players could actually supress this story for a while) then the elementals bust loose. Have a rapid build of power of the dungeon, but still a transition. Lower Orc spawn rate over time as they die out. NOw you have a dangerous area.

a little standard, to be sure, but you get my point. You manipulate the environment to provide the story. Larger events merely happen on a larger scale.

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DG: DM has already done that, heh.

Last summer, several players began cheating. Putting info on skill progressions and secret IC info that they shouldn't have been passing around onto a website and such. The creators asked for any info that would help confirm who was involved and who was just an innocent bystander, thus tipping the cheaters off. One of the cheaters thought "well if I'm gonna be banned anyway, I'll annoy as many people as I can first" and went on a killing spree, killing over 20 chars before he was deleted and sitebanned.

The mud went down for a day or so while the creators went through deleting everyone who needed to be deleted. Some of us opened our big mouths and asked why it was down so long. The creators responded by saying a comet had hit the world. We thought they were joking.

Upon logging back on, we discovered a comet really had hit the world. It destroyed our beloved town that everyone hung out in, and all the castles that were ruled by cheaters. The chars of the cheaters and those the one cheater killed were assumed to have been killed by the comet instead.

It *totally* changed the gameplay experience. Players who'd gotten bored and stopped playing long ago suddenly got interested again and showed up regularly. Rivers were poisonous to drink from, refugees wandered the world or shacked up in someone else's castle. Ash covered everything, and a lot of castle stockpiles were destroyed. Crops would barely grow, and animals were harder to find in some areas. Finally there was a big worldwide quest involving a magical monolith, the purpose of which was to purify the air so food could be grown again. This quest took 3 days to complete, with constant cooperation between a large group of chars. And people loved it.

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I think people are misunderstanding my intent I probably should have left out the massively multiplayer part, since people tend to jump to conclusions.

Most single player games have a story of some kind that player is involved in but multiplayer games almost never do, and those that do basically playout the same single player story but you can bring along some of your friends to help out. But if we wanted to created a truly multiplayer story in other words one that is aimed at involing the diffrent players in the ongoing story on some level or another.

Lets use a case study to work out how this could be done, lets consider Diablo 2(not the best example but anyway). Now Diablo 2 allows for upto 10 people to play in a single game and for the purpose of this discussion lets assume that also requires a minimum of 5 players.

One way that we could create part of a multiplayer story (MPS) is by changing the final confrontation with Diablo. Instead now the battle plays out like this:

Diablo is invincible because he has opened the four gates.
The Life gate - allows him to regenerate any damage nearly instantly.
The Death gate - allows him to cast a spell that reduces an enemies life to 1 health.
The Movement gate - allows him to teleport.
The Stone gate - causes weapons that strike him to lose durability with each hit.

In order to defeat Diablo you must lure him into a divine circle. Once he is inside his connection to four gates must be attacked simultainously which will seal diablo and anyone with him in the divine circle depriving him of his powers and providing whoever is with him a chance to kill him.


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I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as I am making an online RPG (this is not a dream, I am an adult with all the resources to do this ie I am not programming it all myself, but rather, using an engine that still requires you to make all the content up, lol I know the normal respnses to MMORPG ideas).

The problem with story lines in MMOs is that it has to be imersive, and yet, it has to be set up so that one player can be involved in the story, and then have another player do the same thing months, even years later. You can't have a story about the end of the world etc., because if that player decides to go do something else, it would not make sence that the world does not end.

I believe that FFXI had a very good idea, where the player can get involved in missions, which open up the story of the world to the player, and shows them the inner workings of the relationships between the main cities (which is not good, as you can figure, or there would be n story). The player can get involved in these mission at any time, provided they have completed the last mission, and they are high enough level to complete it. This idea worked much better, and gave a much more full experience than the normal, "you get the next episode of the world story in your mailbox" thing that EQ and DOaC, among others, used.

They could be done by one player, and then another player doing them at a later point, or putting them on hold for later, did not disrupt the flow of the story. There were a few points that did not make sence if you did them a certain way, but I guess that would be hard to fix.

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“The problem with story lines in MMOs is that it has to be imersive, and yet, it has to be set up so that one player can be involved in the story, and then have another player do the same thing months, even years later.”

This was exactly the sort of incorrect notion I was hoping to dismiss with this discussion. The problem with you logic is that you ignoring the key point of multiplayer games and that is the multiplayer aspect, you still thinking of multiplayer as on line single player. I a multiplayer story is one that involves the multiple player characters in an on going story that advances as result of their actions and not one where they all advances along the same story at their own rate. The players are all involved in the story in different roles and too different amounts but whether they participate or not they still feel the effects.

A good plot event trigger should involve many characters at some level of participation but depending on the trigger a single player may be able to activate it.


For example the plot event trigger “Opening the first gate” which causes the first of the seven gates to the underworld to open which will result in a global weakening of all holy powers. Requires three specific objects to be brought to a chamber in a certain dungeon and placed on the altar at certain time. This event only requires a single player to perform it however many players may be involved in the uncovering how to trigger this event.

Another kind of trigger may require a number of players to perform actions for instance the plot event trigger “Return of Kal Thun” is triggered when the number of evil monsters killed by weapons blessed by the priests of Kal Thun reaches a certain value.



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I think it'd be interesting to give different chars different goals, that sometimes intersect.

For instance, Buff Warrior Dude's goal is to kill the evil Mishlakh, who at some point killed BWD's father and stole his sword. Thief Guy, on the other hand, wants to break into Mishlakh's treasure room and steal whatever he finds there...including the sword. Meanwhile, Wizard Dude is studying the monsters Mishlakh has summoned, so he can learn how to summon monsters too.

A situation like this could be implemented in several ways. They all get together to kill Mishlakh and then BWD and Thief Guy fight over the sword. Or, Thief Guy is puttering around when Wizard Dude stumbles into him while running from some big nasty that poked a weapon in him, and when BWD storms in to slay the evil guy, he thinks the two of them are in collusion with Mishlakh and attacks them. Or, BWD and Thief Guy band together to get through the area, and here comes Wizard Dude wondering why there's no monsters left to study, and getting more and more irate until he catches up to them killing all the monsters, at which point he tries to protect the monsters so he can study living specimens.

The problem with this is, if you give the players complete freedom, 9 times out of 10 they're probably not going to do what would be coolest for them to do. Either they'll think "Oh RPG, that means we all party up and kill bad guys" or beat each other up randomly just for the hell of it. A game that worked like this could actually put some of the roleplaying back into RPG's, but since players aren't used to this being possible, they probably wouldn't take advantage of it.

Alternatively, you could pick what you think would be the best storyline decisions and force the players to do things that way, but people seem to be getting sick of this tendency in games, as witness all the open ended stuff coming out. Or you could code for several possibilities and have them pick between them, which is probably the best compromise as long as their decisions actually affect the future of the game. (For instance, if BWD and Thief Guy fight each other over the sword, it's not likely that they'll want to team up to go slay a dragon 5 minutes from now. Only after they've each completed several objectives over some period of time would they have any chance of wanting to look at each other's faces in a friendly light. Although you could very easily generate a mission where Thief Guy tries to rob BWD's house, or someone hires him to assassinate him, or something.)

The more I think about it, the cooler this idea seems. Goals seem to be the way to go. It's easy to say "ok, I'm playing a bitchy old wizard with a cheese fetish", not so easy to translate it into actual actions.

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Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
“The problem with story lines in MMOs is that it has to be imersive, and yet, it has to be set up so that one player can be involved in the story, and then have another player do the same thing months, even years later.”

This was exactly the sort of incorrect notion I was hoping to dismiss with this discussion. The problem with you logic is that you ignoring the key point of multiplayer games and that is the multiplayer aspect, you still thinking of multiplayer as on line single player. I a multiplayer story is one that involves the multiple player characters in an on going story that advances as result of their actions and not one where they all advances along the same story at their own rate. The players are all involved in the story in different roles and too different amounts but whether they participate or not they still feel the effects.


The problem with trying to do something like this in an MMO is the fact that there may be 1000 players on at once. Trying to make an imersive story that revolves around what maybe just one person does would be confusing and chaotic.

On the other hand, I do plan on trying to implement content that can be opened up to other people. Say there is a large boss character of high level in a remote region of the game world. Once 1 player kills him, another zone will open up past the boss, open for all players. But, the large boss will still spawn, so other people can fight it, and get any kind of treasure it drops, or just to see it. This will not have a HUGE impact on the story, but it will make the players feel like their actions count.

I am going to try to implement content such as that, but I plan on having a semi-static back story that people will be able to follow. I don't like the story telling methods that games such as EQ1 and DAoC employed, which was just issueing an ongoing story that players would read, but never take part in. While they did have some quests that would follow along with these stories, they still did not make the players feel as though they were a part of it. Final Fantasy XI on the other hand tried to set up a story that players could participate in, but it was not disruptive to the other thousand+ people on the server. Like I said before, you cannot have a mission that will result in the world being destroyed if you do not complete it, as it would not make sense when it did not end if you left it. Also, you cannot "rid the world of evil", because after you do the quest, you may then later be asked by a friend to help him do the same quest and rid the world of the same evil all over again, thus breaking the flow of realism.

What you are probably referring to are multiplayer games, not massively multipllayer. It is very difficult to have a dynamic and immersive storyline in an MMO.

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Again the point of multiplayer is the multiplayer part so there is no one player that is critical to the storyline instead any player who involves themselves in the story has the potential to become the trigger in a key event. Also you have to get away from the idea that a player will be assigned a story event mission thee story events would not be assigned in anyway they are there waiting for a group of players to trigger them.

Consider this example:

The Forgotten City storyline –

Initial seed – 255 relics from the forgotten city (fc) are scattered throughout the world.

Chapter 1 - Discover
Trigger – A player trades an fc relic to the scholar’s guild – The scholar’s guild is where player can trade relics and have ancient texts translated.

Event – The scholar’s guild announces that they have found evidence of a forgotten city of untold power and wealthy and will pay a premium for any relics from the fc.

Trigger – As fc relics are traded to the scholar’s guild when the amount traded reaches certain values.

Event – The scholar’s guild (sg) makes announcements as to their progress in researching the fc. Revealing more information on about how it was separated from this dimension.


Chapter 2 – The Riddle

Trigger – Once 200+ fc relics have been traded to the sg.

Event - They announce that it may be possible to return the fc to this dimension, by performing an ancient ritual and that group capable of performing such a feat will surely go down in history. Copies of the ritual are made available at sg houses.

Chapter 3 – The Return

Trigger – A group of players solves the riddle of the ancient ritual gathers the necessary components at the proper place and time.

Event – The fc is returns opening a new area for the player to explore.

...




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