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Humble Hobo

Tearing Down the MMO Boundaries

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So... let's all pretend that I can actually accomplish this idea. Let's pretend I have millions of dollars and a team of 200 professional MMO specialists. Tell me if you like the idea, then you can tell me if it is possible. I call it Continuous Content. In this MMO, if you kill some rats as part of a quest, the rats will stay dead. This means that you, and only you can complete that rat-killing quest. The questgiver will offer the quest to the first person who accepts, and no one else. After that, he will probably brood in his cottage and think up some new quest to give people. I'm talking abut every action that you take has an effect on the world around you. I mean that once an NPC or Mob is dead, it's dead for good. This means that there has to be quests being generated all the time in order to keep up with the people completing them. This means that the guy next to you is not going to get the same quest, or the same reward as you. This means that pretty much all reward items will be one-of-a-kind, and they will be economically rated based on worth, not rarity. This means that your experiences will always be different from the person next to you. The world will generate plots, people, places, and events whenever developers did not. This would take some of the burden off of developers too, so they could concentrate on the big scale content. Basically, the MMO is a new experience every day, and there would be much less grinding. This is just my breathless explanation of the basic concept: I haven't thought of all the details, but please give me some feedback. Do you even know if you would enjoy such an MMO, or would it frustrate you. After you have given me some thoughts on the idea itself, feel free to throw me the technical aspects (I realize this is an extremely difficult thing to actually produce). Thanks!

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You'd have real problems with extinction and exploitation of the environment, since a sustainable play style would be either PvP (since toons will always be a renewable resource) or really boring (unless you have a very sophisticated farming system and a way to keep griefers from burning your fields for shits and giggles).

Edit: The theory is interesting, and I'd like to see such an environment implemented on a much smaller scale. For instance, looking at the Crysis technology, I am filled with pipe dreams of functioning tropical ecosystems, and multiplayer environments where people can build structures, harvest resources and affect the world like a spectacular 3D verson of Clonk Planet. But would it be fun? Even in Clonk Planet, you can't run a multiplayer game without some jerk cementing over your mine entrance or lobbing explosives at your windmill just because you have a windmill and he has some spare bombs.


An MMO game with consequences to actions would be a griefer's paradise.

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Original post by Humble Hobo
So... let's all pretend that I can actually accomplish this idea. Let's pretend I have millions of dollars and a team of 200 professional MMO specialists. Tell me if you like the idea, then you can tell me if it is possible.

I hate to contradict members with much more experience than me, but honestly an MMO is not hard to create at all and doesn't take any money. WoW costs millions to create and maintain, but there are plenty of MMO's that might not be as WOW (forgive the pun) but still aren't terrible. You wont have 10,000 subscribers, but honestly, I find 200 average users to be more than excellent. Remember that Ragnarok has private servers running from average joe's computers, and the server emulation software that wasn't stolen (I wont mention names of software, but there were at least two, one stolen, and one developed) was developed by unpaid developers.
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Original post by Humble Hobo
I call it Continuous Content.

In this MMO, if you kill some rats as part of a quest, the rats will stay dead. This means that you, and only you can complete that rat-killing quest. The questgiver will offer the quest to the first person who accepts, and no one else. After that, he will probably brood in his cottage and think up some new quest to give people.

This isn't an unheard of idea (all of my pipe dream games incorporate this, for instance), but it's an idea I love. Like I said all of my MMO pipe dreams have persistent content like this.
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Original post by Humble Hobo
I'm talking abut every action that you take has an effect on the world around you. I mean that once an NPC or Mob is dead, it's dead for good. This means that there has to be quests being generated all the time in order to keep up with the people completing them. This means that the guy next to you is not going to get the same quest, or the same reward as you.

Some quests can be repetitive. For instance, if the ARMY needs food, but doesn't want to be seen buying from any one source, they might have you procure five pieces of bred and pay you for it, then have the next guy and the next do the same. Now, "I need rare potion ingredients to finalize my very specific potion," "ah, thank you for this, with this I can finish!" *next player* "I need rare potion incredients..." is unacceptable in this model.
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Original post by Humble Hobo
This means that pretty much all reward items will be one-of-a-kind, and they will be economically rated based on worth, not rarity. This means that your experiences will always be different from the person next to you. The world will generate plots, people, places, and events whenever developers did not. This would take some of the burden off of developers too, so they could concentrate on the big scale content.

Don't get too carried away. I've been considering the logistics behind it, and honestly you're better off comming up with "believable" quests as apposed to everchanging ones (like the one I mentioned above). Certainly when, say, 2000 players complete the quest something major should happen, but you'll run out of quests long before you would otherwise if every quest is unique.
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Original post by Humble Hobo
Basically, the MMO is a new experience every day, and there would be much less grinding.


This is just my breathless explanation of the basic concept: I haven't thought of all the details, but please give me some feedback. Do you even know if you would enjoy such an MMO, or would it frustrate you. After you have given me some thoughts on the idea itself, feel free to throw me the technical aspects (I realize this is an extremely difficult thing to actually produce).

Thanks!

Here's an idea I never intended to share, but will because your idea is like mine. Whenever a mob kills a (different) player of sufficient level, increase it's difficulty by a large degree (exponential decay in this increase!). When a mob kills enough players, automatically generate a "hunt the manslayer" bounty quest. When a player kills it, that player can collect the reward (even without knowing about the bounty), and all other players who actually collected the quest automatically fail.

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Original post by Zouflain
Here's an idea I never intended to share, but will because your idea is like mine. Whenever a mob kills a (different) player of sufficient level, increase it's difficulty by a large degree (exponential decay in this increase!). When a mob kills enough players, automatically generate a "hunt the manslayer" bounty quest. When a player kills it, that player can collect the reward (even without knowing about the bounty), and all other players who actually collected the quest automatically fail.


Counter-Strike already beat you to it with all the bounty mods. One time I had somebody get 32,000 dollars for killing me.

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Original post by TheKrust
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Original post by Zouflain
Here's an idea I never intended to share, but will because your idea is like mine. Whenever a mob kills a (different) player of sufficient level, increase it's difficulty by a large degree (exponential decay in this increase!). When a mob kills enough players, automatically generate a "hunt the manslayer" bounty quest. When a player kills it, that player can collect the reward (even without knowing about the bounty), and all other players who actually collected the quest automatically fail.


Counter-Strike already beat you to it with all the bounty mods. One time I had somebody get 32,000 dollars for killing me.

Not to hijack the post, but that's a bit different. Imagine a <insert generic enemy> that leveled up greatly whenever it (by some miracle) managed to kill a player. After one, it'd be easier to kill another, then another, until eventually you have a boss-level monster (not player, this is not a bounty system like Eve Online or any player based system) that needs to die else it will savage the poor newbies (this will probably happen to them most, as they are most likely to die to a monster). Adding a quest (and a generated boss name like <adjective> <noun> the <noun> <verb> not only makes the world feel dynamic, but also encourages higher level players to help out newbies, which opens the door to communications between new players and older ones.

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Yeah I think the hardest part would be sustaining what is basically a consumable world. Every minute a player spends in your world, he is eating up the current resources. You would have to have a pretty frisky rat population, or rats would become extinct. If you have a good dynamic ecosystem it could work I guess, just make the untamed or wild part of the world vastly outnumber the players and even if you have people trying to burn areas, there will be many more after that.

Other than that I am not sure what benefit this really adds the game. Whether I am the only one doing a rat-killing quest, or whether everyone else does it to, so what. With higher level quests that would be cool, but I think a mixed system would be the best. All the low level grinding would be handled as normal, but higher level quests, such as assassination, or dragon-slaying for instance, could be one time use (or maybe more if the quester gets killed ;)). That way your actions still influence the game but there isn't as much of a problem with extinction etc.

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You're not going to be able to hardwire in every quest if they're only being done once, so really you need some kind of procedurally generated mission system. You can tailor the missions available to the world stats, so for instance the rat killing missions dissapear for a while whenever there's been a huge cull, and you can entice players towards more unpopular missions types with better quest rewards if you want players to try them.

I'm not sure quite what you mean when you say a monster stays dead when you kill it. Surely unless you have respawns you'll end up with nothing left to kill before long. That's probably not what you mean so perhaps you can elaborate. Something to watch out for: lets say you have a mission where you clear out a town full of monsters, and from then on the town becomes a standard safe zone with shops etc. The trouble is, that's creating content that will only ever be enjoyed by the first people that play the game. WoW would not have had the same long running success if newbies didn't enjoy the same game as the older players. I started playing WoW years after its original release and yet my enjoyment was not hampered because of this. If you want missions to really change the world then you'll need a fully dynamic system, so that for instance the town you "rescue" gets taken over again at intervals so newer players get to play the same content.

Anyway, there's a lot to be said for procedurally generated missions; they would have many distinct advantages. First, it makes the grind less repetative as you can never "run out" of missions. Second, you're never forced into single or multiplayer missions, as both would always be available (for instance, in WoW you got forced to do group missions every so often when there were no single player tailored ones for your level. If you mostly enjoyed the single player missions, this got annoying. Also, if you wanted to play 2-player with a friend, there were never any missions specifically tailored for that). Thirdly, you can use the system to solve the death penalty problem; instead of losing anything like hard cash or exp, you can simply fail the mission (and since the missions are generic, this isn't a penalty in itself, your punishment for dying is simply to not get the rewards of completing the mission). Lastly you can get rid of "rare drops" (which I always thought was a stupid idea) and just have the better items be rewards for uber hard missions that appear at random.

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Original post by Zouflain
I hate to contradict members with much more experience than me, but honestly an MMO is not hard to create at all and doesn't take any money.

0.o Why has no one told me?! Seriously though, I don't have that much experience.
Quote:
Original post by Zouflain
Some quests can be repetitive. For instance, if the ARMY needs food, but doesn't want to be seen buying from any one source, they might have you procure five pieces of bred and pay you for it, then have the next guy and the next do the same. Now, "I need rare potion ingredients to finalize my very specific potion," "ah, thank you for this, with this I can finish!" *next player* "I need rare potion incredients..." is unacceptable in this model.

Naturally. I completely agree with you there.
Quote:
Original post by Zouflain
Don't get too carried away. I've been considering the logistics behind it, and honestly you're better off comming up with "believable" quests as apposed to everchanging ones (like the one I mentioned above). Certainly when, say, 2000 players complete the quest something major should happen, but you'll run out of quests long before you would otherwise if every quest is unique.

Ah, it seems that people are finding the biggest problem to be that consumable quests will consume too fast.
This would certainly be true if it involved developers making 100 quests in a week, and discovering that players burned through them all in a day. However, the bulk of the quests (in theory) will be computer generated. And no, I don't mean "Person B wants you to kill X rats and collect Y rat bones and bring them back." I mean a generator (that is already in progress, mind you) that generates actual plotlines for sidequests, and generates meaningul quests with different play possibilities. A generator can pump out quests the moment that the old ones are finished, thus no burnout.

Thanks for sharing your ideas and input, everyone!

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Have you considered the psychological problem that the player would always feel totally lost? If I don't have some goal 5 levels away that I'm working toward, how do I know how to develop my character or what gear to buy? If my friend is also playing, how can we play together if I get a random quest to kill 5 thingamajiggies but he gets a random quest to mine 100 iron? Totally aside from the problem that random quests are stupid and IMO quests are only tolerable in the context of a story which makes them meaningful. What little virtual-world feel mmos currently manage to accomplish is a result of players as a community dealing with the same problems, communicating strategies to each other, and competing over the same opportunities.


Zouflain - You can make mine for me then lol.

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Original post by sunandshadow
If my friend is also playing, how can we play together if I get a random quest to kill 5 thingamajiggies but he gets a random quest to mine 100 iron?


In WoW there are very few quests tailored for two people; the single player quests are too easy and the group quests too difficult. The whole point of having procedurally generated quests is that you can tailor them to precisely what the player wants. Go to a quest-giver and say "I want a fighting quest for me and my friend" and he says "Ok, go kill x number of cheesemonsters", where a cheesemonster would be picked specifically because it took two players around your level to kill.

The continuous content described above, so far as I can gather (it's not that clear the way it has been worded), involved taking into account recent quest completions in the way you generate the missions. So for instance, somebody gets a mission to clear out monsters from a village. Once completed, this creates the option of an escort mission (not necessarily for the same player) to let peasants and merchants back into the village. Then you have a spying mission where a player learns more monsters are planning on attacking. This opens up a guarding mission, and then possibly a rescue mission (getting the peasants and merchants back out again) so the whole process can repeat. You could also have the potential of PvP missions when you have multiple factions, so for instance one player or group gets given an escort mission at the same time another player/group gets an assassination mission.

I'm not sure story is that big of an issue in an MMO (I didn't once give a damn about the story in WoW), but you could include predetirmined story missions if you wanted. In other words once you've done enough generic missions to gain a particular faction ranking, it opens up a special mission that advances part of the story.

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