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Robsykes

Brainstorm Challenge: New directions for Persistant Worlds

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I have been into MMORPGs for over a decade now and I am tired. I love the depth and social aspects of it as well as the feeling of being part of something bigger and on-going. The problem I am having now is the lack in variety. I am tired of leveling and experience. I am tired of thousands of bland npc's with repetitive quests. I am tired of the classical fantasy tank/dps/healer/blah blah mold. I want something different. So, here's the challenge. What would you want to see in a game featuring a persistent world online with other players. I am avoiding MMO despite if fitting because it is also used as a shorter version of MMORPG, and I am trying to change direction from that. If you are considering adding your input, please take time to challenge yourself to break from what the current mold is, or take that mold and do something really different with it. Maybe read this and think about it, let it grow until tomorrow than post. Some off-the-top-of-my-head ways to break the mold: 1. Fewer players per server, what about 100, or 10? 2. A different way to grow besides leveling and stats/attributes. 3. The player controlling something besides a single humanoid. 4. Resetting servers. "Persistent world" could be argued, but I think that it refers to the game still progressing while the player is gone. I do not think it means that it just runs until the game devs quit on it six years later. 5. Take a favorite game of yours, and place it in a persistent world online. For example, Sim City. Some questions to consider noting when posting: 1. What are the obvious flaws with my idea as it stands? 2. Why would my idea be fun? 3. What other games does my idea compare to? That's easier than explaining everything.

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Original post by Robsykes
If you are considering adding your input, please take time to challenge yourself to break from what the current mold is, or take that mold and do something really different with it. Maybe read this and think about it, let it grow until tomorrow than post.


Just a quick nitpick; that isn't how "brainstorming" works.

A true brainstorming session basically involves everyone dumping any and every remotely relevent idea that comes into their head, however unfeasible or stupid, with complete freedom to feed off other people's input as well as come up with their completely unique ideas.

The idea being is that people are free to be totally creative, and while the ideas presented may be completely bonkers, they can often spark off similar ideas that will work, or otherwise lead you down avenues of thought you might not have considered otherwise.

Perhaps, if you want some really original ideas, you're better off starting with a 'true' brainstorming session; but I'll leave it up to you.

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Original post by Robsykes1. Fewer players per server, what about 100, or 10?


My own game, Odyssey, is targetted toward a smaller player base of 50-500.

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2. A different way to grow besides leveling and stats/attributes.


How about growing as a member of a community, such as owning a business, or becoming the head of a household which bears influence?

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3. The player controlling something besides a single humanoid.


How about controlling, over time, an entire bloodline of characters of your choice?

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4. Resetting servers. "Persistent world" could be argued, but I think that it refers to the game still progressing while the player is gone. I do not think it means that it just runs until the game devs quit on it six years later.


Not really doable in my plan, considering timelines are key in the game world's social development.

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5. Take a favorite game of yours, and place it in a persistent world online. For example, Sim City.


I suppose what I mentioned above is "Sim"-ish.

Some questions to consider noting when posting:
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1. What are the obvious flaws with my idea as it stands?


The raw ideas by themselves are premature. If an entire system was developed, then it would be immensely fun.

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2. Why would my idea be fun?


Because it would be "different" than the leveling-game that makes up 99.999% of multiplayer RPGs today.

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3. What other games does my idea compare to? That's easier than explaining everything.


Mine (eventually).

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I sketched out a design for an MMO quite different than any that exist currently, but I don't think there's any point in posting the whole design. I'd be astonished if anyone reading this post succeeded at making an MMO, much less did so using any of my ideas. But the most important element would be courtable NPCs like in a dating sim - not very many NPCs, maybe 20-30 for the whole world, and each one much more deeply developed and interactable than current NPCs.

Better use of integrating forums and minigames into the main game would be nice too, taking a page from Gaia Online, Neopets, Popcap, etc. Maybe do a postmortem of A Tale in the Desert and Sims Online and look at what worked and what didn't. Acclaim's Top Secret concept of beast racing and (more importantly) breeding might have been cool if it hadn't jumped the shark in the design phase, so it still might be cool if someone else did it differently. Or political alignments might be really interesting if they could be done in a more story-embedded way and with alignment levels having more impact on gameplay and just being less stupid than those in WoW and Fable. Then there's crafting, there's a lot of games that have crafting which is interesting in some way but most of them are terribly flawed simply because the designers thought of crafting as an add-on to their world, not as a central element of the gameplay. Crafting is actually one of the few things that might conceivably work better in a levelless MMO than the standard character-level based kind, and could fit really well with making combat optional.

Supposedly a Harvest Moon MMO is going to come out soon, I'm really interested to see what that will be like.

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The mold-breaking concept that I'm currently excited about:

Persistent, but NOT a Permanent world.

If the player actions actually mattered, if you could cause actual change in the game world, then the MMO would have a key feature that is not seen in any other MMO (that I know of).

Incorporate a more flexible ecology and economy to the world. You could still build upon WoW's "questing" model if you want familiarity, but simply make each quest unique through procedural content generation. It actually isn't impossible for today's technology. There are excellent ways to procedurally generate quests based on an NPC's goals and motivations, not just randomizing kill X, or go to Y.

1. Obvious flaws - making procedurally generated quests of a certain quality. The quality really only depends on how complex you want to make the generator. If done properly, you can get fairly fun quests being generated. Designers would still make the most fun quests, and put them in the game, but there will always be plenty to do.

2. Why it's fun - because you MATTER. If you help establish some forward outpost in the desert with your crafting skill, it might stay there for years thanks to you. If you kill the evil wizard, he's going to STAY DEAD, and his nephew will take up the evil plot in his stead. If you kill all the squid in the sea, you're going to get some fisherman really angry.

3. I know there have been attempts at dynamic content generation. Notably Dwarf Fortress, but I haven't played many others besides this. It has never been attempted in an MMO I know of.

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You're simply tired of MMO's. You need to take a step back and realize that's the issue here. You are tired of that genre. It doesn't mean the genre is old or tired or done to death or repetitive. (it may or may not be) It simply means that that style of gameplay is what you are now tired of. People tend to assume that others feel the same way they do about things like this and that's usually not the case.

Everything you've listed and that is likely to be listed in this thread has been mentioned a thousand times before. These are "ideal" philosophies.

No matter how good or great something is there are always those who wish things were different or better. These are usually simply those inclined to whining and being discontent.

Dynamic content generation and unpermanent-yet-persistent worlds are horrible from a gameplay perspective. If you really put yourself into the shoes of a player and think it through (more than just superficially which seems to be the limit of depth of thought of most "visionaries") you will realise that there is a world that is too dynamic.. too difficult to get a handle on.. a game that is too hard to become a meaningful part of and too difficult to succeed in. It favors hardcore players not casual players.

You'd be better off combining genres. There have been some MMOFPS attempts. I'm not sure if MMORTS has been attempted. FPSRTS would be an interesting concept (has that been tried?).

Or maybe you want to come up with a completely new genre. Don't feel that one genre needs to be magically transformed just because you've had your fill of it. This is not just wishful but selfish thinking. Also overly idealistic and unrealistic.

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sharpnova, I said in my paragraph that *I* was tired of all of that jazz. I am sure someone who has not played them before would have a great time. I just think the online persistent world has lots of potential in other directions and wanted to see what other people have thought about.

Sandman, you really wrote that much over the terminology used? I am confident the message I am sending is still clear and understandable. May I ask you why you thought it was important enough to comment on? People obviously, as seen in the other posts, still understand what is being said.

"Then there's crafting, there's a lot of games that have crafting which is interesting in some way but most of them are terribly flawed simply because the designers thought of crafting as an add-on to their world, not as a central element of the gameplay. Crafting is actually one of the few things that might conceivably work better in a levelless MMO than the standard character-level based kind, and could fit really well with making combat optional."

I agree completely sunandshadow.

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Original post by RobsykesSandman, you really wrote that much over the terminology used? I am confident the message I am sending is still clear and understandable. May I ask you why you thought it was important enough to comment on? People obviously, as seen in the other posts, still understand what is being said.


He didn't dispute that your message was clear. But he was right. You ask people to brainstorm, they come to the thread with that intention (some of them at least) and then you limit and put stipulations on what they can think and how they should think.

He made a valid point. And he never implied that your post wasn't clear. (at least once you get past the misleading title)

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Original post by Robskyessharpnova, I said in my paragraph that *I* was tired of all of that jazz. I am sure someone who has not played them before would have a great time. I just think the online persistent world has lots of potential in other directions and wanted to see what other people have thought about.


You also implied that the genre is dying and needs to be completely reworked, which in my opinion is incorrect. Any genre is going to feel dried up and played out by someone who has been through most of its hoops and experienced all or most of its bells and whistles. I restate what I said. You want a new genre. That doesn't mean that MMORPG's are dead or played out.

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Original post by sharpnova
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Original post by Robsykessharpnova, I said in my paragraph that *I* was tired of all of that jazz. I am sure someone who has not played them before would have a great time. I just think the online persistent world has lots of potential in other directions and wanted to see what other people have thought about.


You also implied that the genre is dying and needs to be completely reworked, which in my opinion is incorrect. Any genre is going to feel dried up and played out by someone who has been through most of its hoops and experienced all or most of its bells and whistles. I restate what I said. You want a new genre. That doesn't mean that MMORPG's are dead or played out.


I have to agree with Robsykes here, the wording of the first post doesn't really imply anything about existing MMOs, it says he's tired of them and would like to think in a new direction, i.e. invent a new genre, and he even goes to the length of not calling it an mmo, which I wouldn't bother to do. Personally I am not tired of mmos, I thought the genre was largely dumb from the start. I've played several, enjoyed them, and may start a new one at some point in the next few months, but I have yet to play one that would qualify as great, much less excellent, and I think the genre is still in its childhood and still has a lot of diversifying and experimenting to go, probably splitting into several mmo subgenres.

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Original post by sunandshadow
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Original post by sharpnova
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Original post by Robsykessharpnova, I said in my paragraph that *I* was tired of all of that jazz. I am sure someone who has not played them before would have a great time. I just think the online persistent world has lots of potential in other directions and wanted to see what other people have thought about.


You also implied that the genre is dying and needs to be completely reworked, which in my opinion is incorrect. Any genre is going to feel dried up and played out by someone who has been through most of its hoops and experienced all or most of its bells and whistles. I restate what I said. You want a new genre. That doesn't mean that MMORPG's are dead or played out.


I have to agree with Robsykes here, the wording of the first post doesn't really imply anything about existing MMOs, it says he's tired of them and would like to think in a new direction, i.e. invent a new genre, and he even goes to the length of not calling it an mmo, which I wouldn't bother to do. Personally I am not tired of mmos, I thought the genre was largely dumb from the start. I've played several, enjoyed them, and may start a new one at some point in the next few months, but I have yet to play one that would qualify as great, much less excellent, and I think the genre is still in its childhood and still has a lot of diversifying and experimenting to go, probably splitting into several mmo subgenres.


Firstly, thanks for helping me clarify with sharpnova.
Running with what you said at the end, whats a cool or interesting way you would like to see the genre diversify towards and experiment with?

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