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Sylon

GOD and MMORPG design!

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Hello! I was reading a lot of the MMORPG ideas on this forum, mostly on how to create the "perfect MMORPG". They really fascinate me. I will just refer to them as MMGs. In this post I am trying to deal with the philosophy behind our problems in MMG design. You may remember "absolutism vs. relativism" and "freedom vs. determinism" in philosophy 101! That's what my post comes down to; absolute vs relative, freedom, and my belief that there is an objective reality that exists by which all subjective perceptions are relative to, but that might be obvious, so I am also going to describe how it may help (maybe it can't). If you bear with my first paragraphs, which may seem vague or overgeneralized, I will get to a more concrete explanation of my idea down further. I hope my point will piece together clearly eventually, and I do believe it does, anyway. As we all know, to devise a working, balanced MMG world that can provide fun for everyone is to take on the position of a God. The "perfect MMG" theoretically is the one that satisfies everyone (most think it's not possible), and to be more extreme, one that everyone could love equally as the best MMG ever (I think we all believe that is not possible). What I've noticed is that, in searching for the perfect MMG, what we often end up doing is think about how an MMG world can be designed relative to the real world that we live in, and all aspects of its current state. This is where all of the trouble seems to come in, to me. In the real world there are moments of happiness and suspense, but there are also moments of sadness and anger. There are instances of love and instances of hate. As much as we would like to create a balanced MMG world off of the current real world, it can't be done, partially because within real-life humanity there is a blatant imbalance of happiness. Some might think "that's tough" or "that's life", and thus it should be so in an MMG to add "realism", but is that really the right attitude? Also it seems that in finding balance, there are always two sides of the spectrum, whether between immature chatters and mature chatters, PKers and carebears, newbies and veterans, hardcore gamers and casual gamers, etc.--and positions fall from one side to the other or in between. I think to FIND the solutions (in other words I don't claim to have a solid one quite yet but I believe I'm at least close), the direction we should move our minds in, is towards God, and to devise a method to model an MMG off of the "laws of happiness" of our real-life world, and leave out all those qualities of it that don't fall in line with those "laws of happiness". To find these laws we should put ourselves in God's shoes. What happened to God when He took on the task of devising a perfectly balanced world? What did He want to give us in this world that would cause us to have maximum happiness and how can we mimic that in a game? What in this world is impure and unacceptable and why? Here is an analogy: 1. God. 1. Lead game developer (creator). 2. God must have planned beforehand how to create a world that provides maximum happiness for everyone who exists in it. 2. Same with game creator. 3. Satan. 3. Hacker. 4. Satan betrayed God and all beings on the side of God. 4. Hackers betray game development teams who have innocently given hackers access to their world, and they betray all other players as well. 5. Satan was claimed to be "the God of this world" by unfairly taking the power from God. And, where he exercises his power it is sometimes difficult for us to point him out and say "that's evil and things could be better"--instead we accept the world as it is, as if he is not there, as if he has not tainted God's perfect design, and accept the inequality that was given to us since birth because of him, and we continue to let ourselves be influenced by Satan as if it is "all good". 5. Hackers give power to themselves and take glory, kill others, abuse their power or whatever, and other PCs may never realize that the guy cheated to be that good, and thus accept their fate and continue to play the game even though the inequality exists and always will. 6. There will always be those that God has been able to protect from Satan more than others, but nonetheless they have been affected in some minute way as well. 6. There will always be those players on the other side of the continent that may not have been killed by a hacker, and perhaps a GM could have helped filter out some hackers to defend some players, but of course if the hackers are good enough they can ruin the game enough to affect everyone, and the fact that they stepped into the game once is bad enough. So NOW, when we try creating a sub-world (MMG) within God's crumbled, stolen world (reality), we have no perfect Godly reference by which to design it. Our perception of creating the balanced perfect MMG relative to current reality will never work because: Either 1. Our perceptions of the perfect reality are false, due to the fact that our own perception of this world is FINAL in our minds, YET this world has been twisted in ways we can't see. This spills over into our perception of creating the perfect MMG world. Or 2. We have had the luxury of perceiving a higher % of the truth about reality and happiness and thus can conceive of a perfectly balanced MMG in line with laws of happiness God intended to provide us for our own world, BUT it will never be called "perfect" in the real world, because others will reject it due to their distorted perception of what "fun" really is in the real world. It's not to say one is at fault or utterly stupid for thinking how they do. It is just saying that one's idea of fun is higher and IS more enjoyable than another's, but the other has not had the opportunity to see it as such simply because there is a metaphoric brick wall between them and the higher form of fun. That, guys, "is life". It's like being a drug addict smoking crack, or a little girl playing with dolls, or a serial killer who kills for fun. Ehem, most of us reading this post would not think any of those activities are fun, or at least that 2 of the 3 are not healthy forms of fun. I believe that a "potential maximum fun" exists in a perfect world designed by God and doesn't exist here/now--and that this "potential maximum fun" doesn't include doing drugs, or playing with dolls. A little girl and a serial killer may not be consciously aware that a higher form of fun/happiness exists and therefore they can't relate to ideas from anyone that proposes such a fun does exist, because their minds simply can't wrap around the concept unless they somehow have been through or had the same experience as the one claiming that it's fun. With all that said, it's true when people say there is no "perfect MMG". So this is what I propose when we think of ideas. When you're debating in your own mind how gameplay should be based, choose the option that more closely resembles what you think God would choose for your game, and simply not what you think a distorted mind would, no matter how much of your audience is compromised! These are aspects of reality which I believe God intended to have us exist within, in order to feel an "ultimate" happiness. 1. Uniqueness but Balance. This is the huge, major issue everyone seems to have trouble with, and it has to do with freedom and balance. Obvious human beings are unique. MMG balance depends on freedom and uniqueness so much--everyone as well as myself are always complaining about how we want to have a unique role in the game and perhaps change the world, while at the same time we don't want to permanently lose our valuable items or permanently die or, as in my case, miss out on what could have been killing a ferocious monster or miss out on exploring a certain city before it was razed or anything of the sort, etc. What I perceive the solution to be, is to first figure out how God would have originally planned for us to experience uniqueness but total equality within our reality. Issues in designing an MMG are things like the thought of "permadeaths" and "what we lose by dying and how much of it" etc. This scares us. We are scared of being permanently scarred or disadvantaged within the game, and that is just like it is in reality. In God's perfect world, would He think we can experience equality by dying prematurely? So logically most of us know allowing permadeaths in an eternal MMG world would be impractical (of course there is 1, maybe more games out there that don't think so!). In reality, there are so many things which permanently negatively affect us, that it's absurd to mimic those qualities in an eternal MMG. I think I've found only one thing God has prepared for us in terms of equality during any competition, and that is, that in a perfect world, by our choices and by the effects of others on us, we will either gain nothing, or gain something, but never, ever, lose anything. We can choose our role in life, who to be, good at soccer or good at tetris, but our progress at becoming the best will never be stunted as long as we push at it. We will always be able to feel we are gaining progress in a perfect real world, DESPITE the fact that others may be progressing along side of us, constantly topping us when it comes down to competition--the point is, we should always improve if we want to, and it will feel good to know it, even if it is an illusion. As for others who have chosen to progress when we have chosen to idle (therefore we think we are "losing" something), well if it is inevitable in a perfect real world, due to age difference or opportunity, then it should be accepted in an MMG world. As for losing something (substantially feeling a reverse in progress), no one likes to get pushed back in the real world, or else they lose motivation--and those that keep pushing forward after they fell down are honorable, but in a perfect world would such a fall be necessary or desired? If I get paralyzed and continue to push forward in life that may be honorable, and I may pursue living even though I have lost much, but is such pain necessary to me in God's perfect design? So should falling hard and losing anything besides a competitive showdown itself be necessary in an MMG, if it shouldn't be necessary in a perfect world? Only now, if you agree with me so far, we have the task of finding out how to make people feel either gaining nothing, or progress, but never a loss in an MMG--particularly, with keeping the infinite and finite in mind. Do we want the world to exist in a cycle, so nothing pops out of nowhere and the world is finite, or should items, money, monsters and resources and levels be infinite? Should there be a mixture? What in reality allows us all to progress and grow every time, giving us the illusion that it's infinite? I'm not saying it's definite or discovered yet, I'm just proposing a method to achieving that goal of designing an MMG so everyone feels that they can progress at will, without the threat of being stunted. 2. Loving/Friendly Relationships This issue is another major one. In reality, God has given us the opportunity to experience joy with people. But not only that, I believe in a perfect world, everyone will be friends with everyone. I'm sure venturing through a world of mature players would satisfy so many people, and it's sad that this isn't true. Some players like to chat with internet lingo, or be immature, and some don't. In our perfect reality, I'm sure we'd all believe negative or unfitting immaturity would not exist. There is little that can be done about this problem except separating the immature from the mature, or tolerating the immaturity. A couple theoretical solutions. One thing we can hope for is that perhaps the game we design does not attract the immature ones, so they are repelled to even play the game. But this doesn't guarantee that the mature ones would like to play it either. Once again we can design it according to how we think God would like us to, and let it go from there. This doesn't mean there has to be fairy princesses and candyland in our games, but perhaps, to change rules regarding how we go about competition--should there be PKing? War? The other solution, is that if we are able to design a game they really really love, so much that they want to be accepted by the community within the game in order to enjoy the game more fully, they might just desire to be less of a pain towards others. Of course they'd first have to see that they're being immature in the first place, and they'd also have to see that being immature prevents them from experiencing the world and the people in it as fully as possible. I don't mean to physically experience the world better, as in, to travel farther or gain better items. What I mean is, if they see the intrinsic value, the atmosphere, a world that welcomes them into it, a world that they want to be a part of simply because of itself and not because they want to be the best explorer or fighter or anything, but just because they enjoy being a part of that world. They might tone themselves down because they enjoy the world for itself so much that they themselves will not enjoy their own immaturity. To them it should feel out of place. Is it possible? Highly unlikely, but then again, if a game could be designed according to the laws of a perfect world imagined by God, maybe it could? 3. Beauty! God obviously has a talent for creating lush landscapes and jaw-dropping scenery. It's a pity we can't hear any of His music except as wind through leaves, seashores, and birds chirping, but I guess He left music up to us! Beauty is actually #1 in my mind when it comes to thinking of fun maximization in an MMG. Having beautiful artwork and beautiful music is an OBVIOUS quality game developers look for in their games and I'm not saying no one looks for it! But surprisingly, two things: some people ditch the beauty aspect as a side issue because they claim a good game doesn't need beauty--true, but only when other MMG aspects are boosted and/or actually WORK! The second thing is, on gamedev I have seen very few people talk about the importance of beauty in creating a stunning MMG because they'd rather talk solely about gameplay and balance, which in my opinion are immensely important, but shouldn't hog the debate, thereby shoving aside the potential that an exceptionally beautiful game can offer, when beauty is one area which can be developed and advanced without much dispute between developers or players, unlike gameplay and balance. I think to focus on an area that has potential to succeed without conflicting opinions is more efficient than to dabble in the realms that are constantly argued over. However beauty once again is relative, and there are reasons, and I understand that, but I'll bet we can all agree that large crowds of people generally accept similar standards of what make "beautiful" audio and visuals. I have always, always thought, that in an age where gameplay debate consumes us all, that the major practical escape is to put our players through an otherworldly experience that leaves them simply itching to explore the whole world just because of its beauty. If gameplay fails or cannot be guaranteed, just the sight of a game combined with great music should keep a player wanting more. Beauty and art is an area that creativity can basically be expressed within an infinite range, so why struggle with gameplay issues which can be quite limited, when creating a visually attractive and musically stimulating MMG has so much potential? Don't we all agree that we understand some form of visual or audial beauty? I keep thinking that even in a world without conflict or danger, if I could explore a great vast land with musically-enhanced, beautiful artwork, alone or with other MMG players, it could be extremely enjoyable! This is why as an artist I love Legend of Mana background art as opposed to realistic 3D imitations of real trees and plants. Real trees and plants are beautiful, but they have already been created and already been experienced, and God gave us the ability to design our own trees and our own plants and planets through art and we should exploit it. An MMG is really a virtual world, and doesn't need to be "a game". Despite the differences in artistic taste, once again I think the general audience will agree on what is a great experience of beauty. Satisfactory artists and musicians may be hard to find, and that is an obvious problem, and I don't claim to have a solution to that. Also I'm not saying current computer hardware or server power is able to provide for such beauty though. That's beside my point. Anyway I hope this has been something different, and helpful, for once, despite its monstrosity. I welcome any debate. Like I said I don't claim to have solid idea, but I will pursue these ideas as much as I can unless someone can prove to me why they might fail.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
but I will pursue these ideas as much as I can unless someone can prove to me why they might fail.



The Apple.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
So your entire theory is that game designers need to be creative and make good games?


No he's trying to make you join his cult. I will resist.

Hard work Sylon, I'll give you that, but not very practical like Run_The_Shadows mentioned.

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Well... I liked the God=Programmer/Devil=Hacker analogy. It would be great to create real gameplay around this concepts.

Luck!
Guimo

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Hmmm...when I read this thread, I thought it was gonna be about something a bit different. I'm a bit too lazy to read all of it, but the first half of it sounds pretty good.

Personally though, I thought this thread was gonna be about making an MMORPG with "Gods" which are moderators/company players who are immortal and control different things about the world. Actually...that'd make a kinda cool Ancient Greeek MMORPG...but I'll save the game design for those who know what they're doing.

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I refute your logic in that hackers equate to evil ... this is using the same logic which proves guns by themselves are evil.

Furthermore, game developers should not innocently give away their private networks, data, server access, or anything. Innocence and presumptuousness, do not a good network admin make.

You have some interesting points, but I think your logic is diminished by a very narrow view on the reality of games, religion, system administration, and business.

(Personally, I don't think logic and religion should even dare approach one another... one is based on facts and deduction, the other is based on faith.)

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I can't do much about debating the philosophy, but on an interesting note, the #1 character in MUD/MUX/MUSH code, the one who controls everything, is called God. :)

Myself, I'm not going to make the perfect MMO. I'm making the one I'd like to play, which I haven't seen made yet. I can pretty much guarantee it won't be perfect or balanced. But it's the one I envision I'd want to log into an hour or two a night, and just play. :)

If someone does manage to make the perfect one, though, I'll play there, too.

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Rather than setting forth a series of maxims by which to guide the organic development of a teleologically intact, optimized surrogate universe by following in the ontologically prior footsteps of an omniscient being, why not embrace your mortal finitude and set about applying the toolset of physical, mental and spiritual virtues with which that Creator has imbued you? Instead of creating a universe ex nihilo or drawing it out of a realm of perfect forms, try to deconstruct the end goal that you have in mind, and use rigorous analysis to reverse engineer the things you love, so that you can approximate them in the simulated world?

After all, gaming isn't a thing, it's an event, a relationship between the gamer and the game. In an MMG, it's the sophisticated relationship between the gamer, the game and the other gamers. Use a framework of interfaces to guide interaction, and then you can fill the rest in around it. Just as an animal's form is determined most prominently by its skeleton, let the game's for be set forth by the underlying and overarching metagame, which sophisticated players will quickly detect. Blemishes in presentation, like damage to a vehicles aesthetic body panels, are easily forgiven. If the chassis of the thing is damaged or improperly affixed, then performance and satisfaction will be ruined.

I'm just joshing you. Break your OP into smaller, more coherent questions if you want to engage in pointed, meaningful discussion around here. We've got itty-bitty attention spans, and are easily distracted.

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