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What are good resources for MMORPG game rule design?

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I'm in the process of putting together a team and developing a MMORPG. However, I do not claim to have any prior knowledge that would make me a kick ass game developer, let alone able to design a successful MMORPG. So my question: Where can I learn more about MMORPG design, rule systems, and general theory? or an even more blunt question: where can i learn about the theory around create the most psychologically addictive MMORPGs? For instance, I know that in a lot of successful commercial MMORPGs, there is the general player aspect of "Tank, Healer, Damage Dealer" etc etc. Where did these concepts originate, and where can I find additional theory information on these and other concepts? Digging around on the internet, I found the following: Daedalus project: http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/arch_cat.php Chris Craford, Art of Computer Game Design: http://www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/peabody/game-book/Coverpage.html The first (Daedalus) gives some interesting tidbits, are there more resources like that? The Chris Craford stuff is great, but more "general game dev" focused, so not really much help when trying to create the next "more addictive than crack" MMORPG. Additionally, I found some of the usual "why mmorpgs are addictive" online articles, which are great and all, but dont really get into the theory of creating games such as that. And please dont flame about me saying "I want to make an addictive game"... to me, saying "addictive" inclusively encompasses a wide scope of desirable attributes, such as "fun, easy to learn, long playability and replay ability, deep game play, etc etc".. Thanks, -JasonS

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There's a lot of variation among MMOs, so it's not like they operate according to any standard set of rules. If you're specifically interested in different strategies like tanking, denial, healing, etc. you might want to look into some of the very detailed analyses of Magic the Gathering play strategies. Probably the field as a whole could be considered game theory with a dash of military tactics, but if you try to look it up that way you'll get math and history, not the psychology you are looking for. If you just study psychology there's a lot of useful stuff in there (addiction, goals, motivation, rewards, audience psychology, token economies, etc.) but it's hard to know what will be relevant and what won't. The simplest place to start might be just finding a website which has reviews of different MMOs. Also read the Problems in MMOs thread I started a while ago.

Me personally, I have been playing lots of MMOs for about a year now, and writing down my thoughts about the virtues and flaws of each one. But my goal is not an addicting game (addicted people are often unhappy so it's rather unethical to try to get people addicted to your game) my goal is a game which feels satisfying and meaningful to play.

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Thanks for the replies guys.

That book "designing virtual worlds" looks to be an extremely good primer for the basics of what i'm asking, so we could pretty much end this thread right now until after I read that book :)

As for the "Addictive games are harmful" comment, yeah I actually do have a moral sense. I was using the word because, negative connotations aside, it pretty accurately encompasses all the positive aspects of MMORPGs people strive to put in their games.

using the word addictive is a bit inflammatory I admit though :)





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Yeah, it's an interesting issue. Some things are addictive because they're good - for example being in love with someone could be considered being addicted to them, as could having a favorite series of books where you eagerly read each new one that comes out. But it's a bad thing when the MMO designers start thinking, "How can I get players to pay me for as many months of subscription with as little work on my part as possible?" without caring whether the players are actually enjoying their play time or are frustrated and bored.

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
"How can I get players to pay me for as many months of subscription with as little work on my part as possible?" without caring whether the players are actually enjoying their play time or are frustrated and bored.


That doesn't constitute addictiveness, just a cause for getting the players addicted. My team and I are in the process of desiging a series of games that players will want to play each one in succession on release. Not because we want to make money, but because we want the players to enjoy our game and WANT to see how our story continues.

I ran into this with, surprisingly, God of War. The story in it was compelling, and was enough to make me want to play the game again, just for the story elements I would unlock by beating a harder difficulty.

Addictions can be a good thing IMHO, as long as they are for the right reasons.

Cyprus

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Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
I'd recommend buying a copy of Richard Bartle's Designing Virtual Worlds. It sounds like that's what you're looking for.


I too highly recommend this book. I got a copy a while back and it's definitely one of the best investments I've made.

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Well, first off what is your genre for the MMO ? Sci Fi ? Fantasy ? Something else ?

An important concept to realise is that the tank / healer / mage concept is just that, a concept. The basic reason it works is because players have limited abilities and the various otehr classes or archetypes can do other things that a single player cannot. This creates synergies between different players that allow a team to function as a team by setting up roles for each person to play.

It is not the only method to use for creating player classes or abilities, and infact if you can come up with something unique that still allows players to team up and have fun you would probably be better off.

I'm a long time Magic player and I frequently read up about Magic design. I defintely agree that looking into how that game functions would be helpful.

Do you have any specific questions I / we could answer ?

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Quote:
Original post by vaneger
Well, first off what is your genre for the MMO ? Sci Fi ? Fantasy ? Something else ?

An important concept to realise is that the tank / healer / mage concept is just that, a concept. The basic reason it works is because players have limited abilities and the various otehr classes or archetypes can do other things that a single player cannot. This creates synergies between different players that allow a team to function as a team by setting up roles for each person to play.

It is not the only method to use for creating player classes or abilities, and in fact if you can come up with something unique that still allows players to team up and have fun you would probably be better off.

I'm a long time Magic player and I frequently read up about Magic design. I definitely agree that looking into how that game functions would be helpful.

Do you have any specific questions I / we could answer ?


For me, I'm still in the process of architecting the base mmo technology, so while i'm a bit far from creating a game system, i'd be a good idea for me to think about the direction i want to take it.

So that said, I'm planning on using the SRD (D&D rules) as the core game system, at least for prototyping purposes, because it's free, and has undergone about 30 years of play testing/revisions so far.

So from the basic game mechanics, I think i have a fairly good start. But when it actually comes to taking those rules, and integrating it into a MMO, all those nebulous questions about team cooperation, group member roles (tank, healer, etc), start coming into play.

What's even worse, is that I actually want to allow player bots, but me being fairly out of touch with modern MMO's (I played WoW 2 years ago, for about 5 months) I dont know how that will affect game economies and playability.

So, lots of stuff to ponder. I'm thinking I'll have to hire a creative designer a bit sooner than I was originally thinking.



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Well as far as bots go, it just comes down to how much control you want the players to have over their bots. You could have a City of Villains level of control, with only a few basic commands, or it could be more like Final Fantasy XII's Gambit system that lets you 'program' specific actions in specific scenarios.

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