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robert4818

How much impact should players have on an MMO world

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What in your opinion is the right amount of impact players should have on the game world in an MMO. I give two examples of the extreme. Shadowbane: PLayers ran the world, they built/destroyed cities shaped the politics, etc. There was very little in the way of game generated changes in the world. Everquest: Players have 0 impact on the world. The only time the world changed was when the game installed either a patch or an expansion. I believe that a world should react strongly to the player's presence, but the question is to what extent. Opinions?

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The extent of player involvement is based on what kind of game it is. There is no one answer. Some games might strictly be designed to allow players to run everything, while others don't let you effect the world at all.

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Well *somebody* needs to make more world-like, interactive games. I haven't played an MMOG I truly liked since Ultima Online turned to crap (though nothing beats the holiday events in Guild Wars). Ten years later, there's still huge swaths of untapped potential in the genre. I never tried Shadowbane, since I heard they never got the balance right.

It seems that kind of game is extremely difficult to develop and balance, though. A PvE-centric, EverQuest-style grind game is so much simpler to develop and easier to sell.

Maybe Spore will start a new era of sorts in gaming. The design tools alone...

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My personal opinion is one of a middle ground.

Players should have very little individual effect on the game world. However the actions of the playerbase should have a huge effect on the game world.

My personal opinion is one of balance. Ideally the world should react to what the playerbase is doing, both with monsters, politics, and economy.

What do I mean?

Supply and demand in economics, have items in shops have a refresh rate of some sort, when the supply goes up due to people not buying the price drops, when there is a rush on supply, the prices rise. You can get as complicated as you want in this area with supply lines, delivery routes, base resources etc, each having an effect on supply and demand.

Monsters die out of an area while another takes over, this is a result of hunting.


Politics, the world changes, countries go to war, make peace, etc. due to actions that the players take doing missions and such. Imagine a world of mideval europe with 12 nationalities all vying for land and power with results tied to player actions...


However one thing I did not like about Shadowbane is how much personal politics influenced the game. Individual guilds and guild leaders held too much power. Ideally no player should be able to say "I'm going to get rid of _____"

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I think the freedom to interact within an established game-world is a good way to go. EVE Online is a good example, where players can build starbases, mining factilities, and customize their ships to serve as gank-squads, mercenaries, miners, traders, etc. Players can go about doing whatever they wish, be it galactic conquerer or lowly miner.

Having a game be ultra linear (everquest) to me is a waste of time, after i grind myself to death against the horde of monsters only to beat the last "quest" i'm left with nothing to do and a terribly empty feeling of having accomplished nothing (and having had to pay for it too). On the other end of the scale though, having far to much player freedom can cause a great deal of problems, such as Second Life's bout with some people using their ability to manipulate the game world and their avatars to create child characters and simulating child abuse, among other things.

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I started a topic some time ago on this subject which you may be interested in looking at; you can find it here (http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=443115). I agree with robert4818. Personally, I think that the first and most important thing in a dynamic MMO is to make a good player economy. Further, I think that the second most important aspect to add is a living ecosystem. That is, make the environment a balance of "natural" phenomenon. When players alter or make new phenomenon, the environment will change as a whole; but, over time, it will naturally revert back to it's proper balance which the natural forces are always moving toward. As robert4818 said, the important thing is make the sum of the player population's actions result in a general, average shift in the universal game world.

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I've also thrown in my bid for consumable content. That way, even quests that are identical to wow would actually make an impact.

Another good thing might be physics in the world, making things more destructible, chopping down trees permanently, the more people that walk over a specific ground will cause a path to be worn into it... ect.

And I completely agree that a living ecosystem is a good addition. If you want consumable, this would be a good way of doing it without making it a 'sandbox' MMO.

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H.H.

I have to disagree with you on some things. I don't believe a destructable environment is a good thing for an MMO, unless it is involved in an instanced portion of the game. The reason being that what happens when all the trees are cut down? It makes a game world a pretty dull and bland looking place. However if the idea of cutting down tree's permanently is more of a resource item, then I believe that Nodes may be a more suitable answer. You go into a forest and as people gather resources the Nodes deplete only to very slowly regenerate.

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Quote:
Original post by robert4818
The reason being that what happens when all the trees are cut down?

Hence the ecosystem. They grow back, or other things grow in their place.

Also, think about it: you have a medieval-esque world, say, with a few thousand players. They don't have the capacity to cut down large numbers of trees, let alone the need to do so.

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however, the problem with making a living 'ecosystem' in an MMO is that if you make things destructible, and more importantly gain resources from destruction, you will have people farming to dominate the market for that resource as you immediately create a scarcity of the product, hence you'll be left with a world where players camp trees in order to chop them down as soon as they can, just to avoid the next guy doing it and selling the wood. So essentially, your whole world becomes devoid of natural features which are also an important resource. I would therefore agree that resource 'nodes' are still the best way of approaching this problem.

the only way to create an ecosystem in an MMORPG would include regeneration being incredibly quick, and then before you know it, if you've had a lull for a couple of days for one reason or another, half your world is overgrown.

And as far as consumable content goes, I'd much rather have less human-generated content, than an abundance of computer-generated content at this point in time, as due to linguistic difficulties and generation of continuous plot being nigh on impossible, the computer generated content becomes very bland and monotonous, leaving us with 'go kill 10 <insert monster name>' or 'deliver this parcel to <insert NPC name>' type quests, which become more monotonous that human-generated content, which at least can lend itself to a continuous story arc.

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