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MMORPG Construction Sets (research)

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Wait! This isn't a n00b topic asking for the best way to start writing an MMORPG. Instead, I have this idea: to provide MMO players with a Construction set to add new quests into the world and other world expansion (ie adding dungeons). The concept of a CS is like the ones in Morrowind, Oblivion, or NwN. In MMOs this should solve the problem with repetitive quests and worlds where there's nothing to do except for endless looting and PvP. And maybe even help create a true DM'ed mmoRPG. For there are too much games that are just a big big world populated by mobs to kill and nothing else. It's boring and it's not roleplay. IMHO. The process is like: you design a quest in the construction set, test it out on a test server (which is used only for quest testing purposes), then submit it it gets added to the real world - or scheduled for addition. It gets announced on in-game BBS, then stays active for some time (a week? a month?), then gets replaced by some other quest. This way the quest set for the world is highly dynamical, which is kewl. Obviously there should be some moderation system, so the world doesn't get flooded by low-quality quests. I'm looking for some kind of list of existing mmorpg construction tools/developer kits to get inspiration. Since I've never used one, I don't even know where to start. :) I know they're supposed to be lame, but hey, they may be inspirational anyways. :)

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Here's the question I would decide:

1) "Hail A Questgiver."
2) "Deliver this note to the guy who stands right next to me. He will reward you."
[you receive a note]
3) "Hail A Recipient."
4) /give Note Recipient
5) "Ah, the note I've been waiting for! Please accept this jewel-encrusted +5 Vorpal Blade with my thanks!"

In other words: where would the rewards come from, and how could the game know it's a balanced quest? Most of the problem in designing an MMO is in things like level progression, class balance, quest fairness, etc -- not in just coming up with what the quest is. The parts that make it hard is that it's an integrated system.

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Original post by hplus0603
Here's the question I would decide:

1) "Hail A Questgiver."
2) "Deliver this note to the guy who stands right next to me. He will reward you."
[you receive a note]
3) "Hail A Recipient."
4) /give Note Recipient
5) "Ah, the note I've been waiting for! Please accept this jewel-encrusted +5 Vorpal Blade with my thanks!"

In other words: where would the rewards come from, and how could the game know it's a balanced quest? Most of the problem in designing an MMO is in things like level progression, class balance, quest fairness, etc -- not in just coming up with what the quest is. The parts that make it hard is that it's an integrated system.


I agree with hplus post. Players will create quest giving them hard-to-find items, powers they can imagine. You can make this with team that you trust in, who will make quest on a day/week basis.
Personaly I think that idea is great, but I would make a slight modification in. When you complete the quest, you close the quest, so noone else will be able to finish that quest again. This will give players a chance to be remebered as "hey this is Feran the Strongheart who defeated Senegard a great red dragon!" and not as "yeah I found that puppy too in the forest". One shot quests!
You can achieve same effect with lot of work. A database of possibilites with quest creating programs. Think of it! Like program make several quests on random basis, you preview them and as GM you modify anything you need, and then put quests in game. In this method you can create severeal BALANCED quests for players of different levels.

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Providing a construction set for a MMO is a wonderful idea, but it brings up a lot of issues (twinking, powerleveling, bloated economy, etc). There would have to be a dedicated team just for verifying player made content, and then approving it for the game world.

The MMOs I played, it didn't take long to get tired of the content. I enjoyed exploring and doing the quests....the first time around. The second, third, fourth, etc times around (with new characters) it became a grind. The whole "new" feeling was gone. No surprises. No thrill of exploration. Introducing a construction/tool set into the MMO community would greatly increase the replay value of a MMO. The game would literally have new content available for download everyday (new items, new quests, new areas, new NPCs).

An idea like this isn't too far fetched. As with everything else, careful planning and testing would be needed before implementing something like this. I'd like to see a MMO take a chance and try it out.

As far as existing construction sets for MMOs, I haven't heard of any that are available to the public, but I haven't bothered to look either. :)

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You could use a combination of personal moderation and rating limiters:

1. All quests MUST be verified by a human. This is both to stop exploits/power gaming and to stop people from putting homophobic/racist/sexist content in

2. Why delete quests? Surely it's better to have 50,000 quests than 500 ones that were added in the last month? If you want to keep it a small set, you coukd CYCLE the available quests (so the entire database is available, and every week it cycles out least popular 1/3 of the quests and randomly 'opens' up another 1/3. from the dataset)

3. Users are notified when their creation is open, and can check statistics (number of people who start it, finish it, average level, etc). Users can submit new versions of old quests (need moderator approval again), so that they could expand on the story-line, tweak bugs, and adjust difficulty settings.

4. Your personal rating (could be an aggregate of an Avogato trust metric (like gamedev), a rating from your quests (so users can rate how much the liked the quest after completing it, and your rating goes up based on positive feedback), etc) limits what you can do. So at a Rating of 1, you can spawn monsters at a low level, and give away rusty dagger of -1. At a rating of 500, you can spawn mid-level monsters and give away l00t worth XX gold. At a rating of 1800, you can spawn The Lord Of Darkness, and give away the above-mentionde vorpal blade. The assumption is that, having earned the privilige, you'll be more carefull with it. You still have moderator approval process in case you sold your account to some n00b on ebay.

Anyways; good luck and have fun

Allan

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As far as existing construction sets for MMOs, I haven't heard of any that are available to the public


It'll cost you fifty bucks to get one.

Quote:
All quests MUST be verified by a human.


If these people are volounteers, there will be 'sploiting. If these people are paid, then who pays these people?

I think a better idea might be to have the quest-making character actually donate the drops from the quest. If I want to give away a "+10 Flaming Sword Of Meh" from the end boss, then I have to put that sword into the quest (or some amount of resources that equal the value of that item). The quest will be available once per such sword I put into the quest.

OK, so why would anyone create quests, then? They would have to get something out of it, more than just recognition -- perhaps score, or gold, or whatever for each player that does the quest (depending on how far they get in the quest, to avoid the worst kinds of cheats).

With a lot of work and careful attention to detail, this might work. However, you will find that only 10% of your users will create content, and only 10% of the content that's created will be any good. You'll need a very efficient system (like a marketplace) to weed out the nuggets of gold, and put them in front of as many people as possible. It is, after all, the goal to make as many players as possible experience as good content as possible.

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I've been admin on a MUD years ago. Checking submitted areas for balance was tedious, even with the handful automated scripts we had designed. "Moderating" submissions would likely require an amount of time and skill comparable to designing the quests in-house, if not greater, considering the amount of garbage that would likely be submitted, and the risk of letting a malicious design through.

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Original post by streamer
...

Personaly I think that idea is great, but I would make a slight modification in. When you complete the quest, you close the quest, so noone else will be able to finish that quest again. This will give players a chance to be remebered as "hey this is Feran the Strongheart who defeated Senegard a great red dragon!" and not as "yeah I found that puppy too in the forest". One shot quests!

...


The amount of effort that goes into making a quest (balance and testing) makes it inpractical for most quests to be one shot quest.

Maybe certain epic quests that changes the storyline, quoting your example after Senegard is slayed the quest to kill Senegard will be finished for that server. New quests will appear like gathering materials to rebuild the town Senegard was terrorizing or exploring the it's lair to find a certain powerful artifact.

Epic quests shouldn't be too easy and it's rewards must be on par with the difficulty of completing it. Like a few powerful and unique swords or a new spell available to the mages who completed the quest.

Of course that will add more complications into the game making balancing the game much harder. People will start whining on forums about how unfair the system is when only a few people can finish such quests and getting the rewards, well just another day for MMO customer service :)

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Original post by Fruny
I've been admin on a MUD years ago. Checking submitted areas for balance was tedious, even with the handful automated scripts we had designed. "Moderating" submissions would likely require an amount of time and skill comparable to designing the quests in-house, if not greater, considering the amount of garbage that would likely be submitted, and the risk of letting a malicious design through.


Indeed. You can cap the potential risk by resticting what they can do.. but then where's the fun. If it's not powerful enough to do something wrong (for example through scripting), it's unlikely to be powerful enough to be of any real interest.

The alternative is to get away from the Grind; if the core goal is not to amass loot and twinkies, powergaming would be less of an issue. Sure, you could be sitting on a throne made of vorpal blades (which sounds faintly painfull), but if the game isn't about grinding for +10 swords of ubern3ss, that's not really a problem.

How do games such as Second Life handle the ROI cycle? How do they deal with exploits? Surely the goal would be 100% user-generated content, with the company operating as a fascilitator rather than as the primary producer.

Allan

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Original post by hplus0603
Here's the question I would decide:

1) "Hail A Questgiver."
2) "Deliver this note to the guy who stands right next to me. He will reward you."
[you receive a note]
3) "Hail A Recipient."
4) /give Note Recipient
5) "Ah, the note I've been waiting for! Please accept this jewel-encrusted +5 Vorpal Blade with my thanks!"

In other words: where would the rewards come from, and how could the game know it's a balanced quest? Most of the problem in designing an MMO is in things like level progression, class balance, quest fairness, etc -- not in just coming up with what the quest is. The parts that make it hard is that it's an integrated system.


Why not make the rewards random based on the characters level/skill/stats/whatever. In Dungeon and Dragons Online, every chest you open had random spoils in it. Sure a lot of the time you got crap, but eventually you would get something good. This wouldn't prevent players from making an easy quest where they can just keep spawning chests to open, but if you make it that a character can only do a given quest once, or so many times a day, that would cut down people doing this, as it wouldn't be time effective.

The flaw I see with this comes from the game Second Life. Unless you implement some sort of content control, things will get out of hand. In Second Life, you go from areas of great detail, to areas that look terrible. There is no consistency. If the goal is role playing, nothing takes you out of the role play when there are inconsistencies.

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