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TexasJack

Community Brainstorm of Compelling Game Ideas and Features

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Hi everyone,

It's fairly widely held that good games are not simply a collection of novel features, strung together by adding skins, maps and textures based on whatever franchise is popular at the time.

For me at least, good games are inventive ones that do something, where upon experiencing it, you think: "That's obvious, why hasn't this been done this way a million times before?".

When I first played Age of Empires when it came out, I was totally seduced by the idea of strategy (Yes, I know that it wasn't the first RTS - but the first one I had played); Keeping your resources managed, fending off foes, dabbling in diplomacy. Brilliant. When I first played DOOM, I thought "AWESOME! First person action - this is the pinnacle of gaming!", When I first played Quake, I thought "Excellent - they made DOOM fast paced!

Recently, games that have had the same iconic effect on me have been things like Little Big Planet and Minecraft.

To focus on those two, what makes them so special is that they both allow the user to control pretty much everything in the game world on an essentially elemental level. This leads onto [i]emergent gameplay[/i] in a [i]sandbox[/i] environment. For anyone unfamiliar with those terms, I suggest googling them as they are both fascinating.

[b][u]Emergent Gameplay:[/u][/b]

Different, unique and unexpected gameplay that emerges as a result of the player being given a series of creative tools by the game. For example - [i]Soldat[/i] allows players to create and share their own diverse 2D side scrolling capture the flag deathmatches. Some players however, decided to build maps with no guns in which the two flags spawned next to each other. Players spawn on the opposite side of the map to the flags (these maps are usually an impossible gauntlet), with the object being to be the first one to reach the flags and end the game. This consequently spawned an entire subgenre of Soldat servers and game.

[b][u]Sandbox Gameplay:[/u][/b]

Gameplay that allows the player to do anything or go anywhere, without expecting them to adhere to a linear chronology of levels or tasks. For example - [i]Grand Theft Auto[/i] games allow players to deviate from their single player campaigns so that they can explore their (usually quite large) environments.

-

A fairly potent example of just how emergent some of the Minecraft and Little Big Planet gameplay is - here are two isolated examples of players who have used the elements in the game to build crude, yet working computers within the games themselves.

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGkkyKZVzug"]Minecraft Computer[/url]

[url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiRgYBHoAoU"]Little Big Planet Computer[/url]

-

Like I said, good games are more than a collection of features stuck together - but for my money, the future of video games lies in learning from previous great games' philosophies. In my case, games that encourage emergent gameplay and utilise sandbox freedom. I also think that because the internet is such a prominent part of modern day life, massive multiplayability is soon to become a standard and expected staple feature in most of the video games of the future.

So there you have it, my list of gameplay philosophies:

> The encouragement of emergent gameplay.
> Sandbox environment.
> Gameplay that can easily be or is intended to be utilised as massive online multiplayer.
> Players being given a wide palette, from which they can build and construct their world.

What are yours, why are you interested in them and how would you combine them with mine/the previous poster's?

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Personally I don't enjoy playing sandbox games much. I've bought several because they sounded so interesting (SimLife, Sims, Sims 2, Creatures, Creatures 3, Fable) and even created a litlle content for Sims 2 and Creatures 3, but ultimately they couldn't hold my interest. I just need a more structured gameplay experience based on story, puzzles, missions, and/or complex rules of strategy. I do however like the customization portion of sandbox elements to be available as toys and rewards within a more structured game.

My design philosophies vary a bit depending on what genre of game I'm talking about designing; an MMO presents rather different requirements and opportunities from a single player game, and a farming or animal breeding sim is quite different from a tactical combat game or an adventure game or a collection of speedpuzzle minigames. But if I had to pick one general design principle that I think would easily improve a lot of games it would be:

[u][b]Gazette of Achievements and Set Completion:[/b][/u]
The inspiration for the first half of this concept is the game Vagrant Story (PS1) Vagrant story had a menu subsection called Gazette which kept track of statistics for EVERYTHING in the game: how many times the player used each type of weapon, how many of each monster the player killed, what was the player's fastest time to kill each boss (once defeated they were available to fight whenever you wanted in a boss gallery) and what was the player's fastest time to complete each puzzle. Each statistic had a multilevel achievement to it - a minimum score earned you a basic title, a higher score a more impressive title, and a crazy high score an even better title. I utterly prefer a systematic approach to creating goals and making them available to the player and rewarded to whatever degree the player manages to accomplish them to the haphazard way most games seem to slap on a list of unrelated achievements at the end.

The second half of this concept, set completion, unifies the drive to explore and the drive to collect. Vagrant Story had the exploring part: statistics on what % of treasure chests you had discovered in each area, and what % of the whole world you had visited. Collecting is more about the Pokemon slogan "Gotta catch 'em all!" Many games have given the player sets of objects to collect. A few games allowed the complete set to be combined, traded, or shown to an NPC to earn a prize. A few games allowed the player to view their collection in a book or display case which kept track of which ones had been collected so far. Even fewer games have encouraged players to show their collections to each other. And I have yet to see a game which provides a systematic reward structure for amassing a large collection consisting of several sub-sets. For example, I'd like to make a breeding sim/tycoon game where the ultimate goal is to breed one of every possible plant or animal, not the standard goal of breeding one max-level animal or the seven magical plants or whatever. If you're going to create a big breeding system with lots of possible creatures, why would you not want your player to experience the whole thing? Similarly, if you're going to create a big map with lots of interesting little places, why would you not encourage your player to explore the whole thing, and helpfully point out any little corners they've missed? And since it's easy to forget about or get bored of such a large, long-term goal, define subgoals (breed 5 fox-type monsters; breed 10 different plants with pink flowers; explore the whole sub-area of the dark forest; collect every treasure in the lava dungeon).

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To follow on from your train of thought; you mentioned not being keen on sandboxes.

Although opinion on them seems to be polarised, the more recent Rockstar [i]Red Dead[/i] & [i]Grand Theft Auto[/i] games (with the exception of [i]L.A. Noire[/i], which I have not played and cannot comment on) to me are beginning to adapt sandbox play to cater for your tastes. Linear, more focused gameplay is facilitated as an optional feature of what is potentially still a sandbox - as is similar with many traditional MMORPGs. Granted, in the case of [i]GTA[/i]; the missions/quests etc... tend to be repetetive (Drive to it > Kill it > Steal its car > Escape the police), but that is simply a case of varying the context/content of each task.

I recently completed [i]Batman: Arkham Asylum[/i], which in my opinion is every other stealth 'em up game, only with a Bat Symbol logo stuck on the box.

One of the game's redeeming merits was, as you mentioned, it's collection system - which was also chronicled in a gazette. The system was far from perfect, but essentially presented your collectables/trophies in a kind of trading card catalogue fashion.

Personally, I think that this sort of collection mechanic would benefit from two things, expansion and variety.

Firstly, expansion. Using the Rockstar games again as an example; their trophy collection system (and almost every other game's trophy collection system) seems to invariably end when you have completed 50, 100, 150, or at the most 200. For some reason, they seem to stick to those convenient round numbers - maybe it's just me. Wouldn't it be nice for a game to defy convention and have 4789 trophies?

This doesn't mean the world should be eight times bigger - it would be just as rewarding if areas the same size were peppered with more treats. A higher density of trophies if you will.

Secondly, variety. Collecting 100 gold medals will become repetetive after the seventh or eighth. When Johnny Depp opens up a treasure chest in the [i]Pirates of The Caribbean[/i] films, more often than not - the things are full of beads, coins, cups, plates, skulls - all sorts. This should be true of collectables too, easy enough to implement, it makes the game look more eclectic and crucially, it makes the trophy hunt that little bit more challenging.

Maybe 10 of each object, but you need to find 100 different object types? I don't know.

So far, we're looking at some kind of MMO sandbox with a heavy emphasis on engaging collectables as a means of attracting intrepid players to every nook and cranny of the game world.

A strong Minecraft-esque building/crafting dynamic would make the trophy hunting pretty interesting.

One MMO idea I had ages ago, was to have one item (a sword perhaps, or some kind of special armour) which when found would render the bearer practically indestructable. However, The location of this item was readily available to every other player (perhaps through the use of a cheap and common item like a compass which lead the way to the special item). The idea being that, despite being super strong - you would be cursed by the rest of the game world hunting you constantly.

The reason I mention it, is that it is one example of the variety that could be added to trophy hunting. X amount of unique trophies combined = the special item? But I'm being too specific.

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Id like a game where the economy isnt based on NPC shops or fixed prices.

For example there shouldnt be anything stopping you from trading 2 random items, possibly even without a shop system (dropping the items, or building your own shop system if the game has a way to build complexish stuff like that). If doing it without the shop system, the player would attack the other player and they both would get very hurt and lose something (getting hurt must not just mean having to wait a minute to reheal or spend a worthless healing magic item)


I also like the concept of everythign in the world being made of basic materials, and nothing ever leaving or entering the world (maybe on planned events though...)

That works for plants and stuff because sunlight and such will put thrown away material back to the system (more trees can grow and stuff), but for something like ore its not going to be very simple.
For ore, there should be tons of it, and it should take a long long time before it starts running out of the mines.

The ore will never get back to the mines. If the players of the world use up all the ore, they will need to spend more energy in getting ore after that point, but as nothing leaves or enters the system its still going to work.

For example if at start the time of players is 10% for making a sword and rest for killing, after exhausting all ore the time for making a sword will just increase lets say to 25%. It shouldnt make the game less fun or anything if extracting ore from the old tools is a process wich requires players to interact. There could be players who cut wood so there is energy for extracting the ore from broken tools, and players who actually do it, so when a player wants to go killing, he can just buy ore from some recycling building instead of from a mine. That might cost too much for the player if he just kills and sells something he got from the kills, so he also needs to work on the recyling process to get money without spending any on the sword, like he needs to if he wants to get money by killing.
That will balance out so that soon both killing and being a part of the recycling process give the same amount of income (depending on how fun it is)

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I rather like round numbers, actually, they please my sense of symmetry, but I don't care strongly either way. It's been my experience, though, that MMOs always have uneven numbers of objects due to releasing a few new ones every few months. I think a decent model for collectibles are the plushies in NeoPets - Overall there are more than 200 plushies, but they consist of subsets by shape (i.e. the one that looks like the cat-like monster vs. the one that looks like the fuzzball monster), each shape coming in some or all of their standard palette of colors and patterns. Some people collect all the blue plushies, others collect all the cat plushies, others collect them all, or only the cheap ones, or only the valuable ones... It's also nice that some sets are obtained by different types of gameplay, e.g. as high score prizes for different types of minigames. Neopets also has at least a prototype of a "display case" where the player can put their collection for others to admire; expanding this display case makes a nice money sink because it's totally optional and not something a penny-pinching player has to repeatedly agonize over and be irritated by like bank fees or transportation fees are.

If you want to talk about MMOs specifically, I'll talk about my "Octopus" structure. I believe that mmos should never force the player to do types of content they aren't interested in, especially group cooperative play and pvp. And since I've often heard others complain about quests, faction rep building, crafting, and romantic content in games, I also include these in the list of what players shouldn't be forced to do. Every type of content that some players really like and some really don't. Further, I think all types of activity within the game should provide approximately equal economic rewards per amount of time spent doing them, so players don't go broke doing the fun parts then have to do something boring or irritating to try to earn money. This especially applies to crafting - crafting should be a fun minigame players do primarily for their own enjoyment, not something they level grind until they can act like a factory and make a fat profit. Another reason behind the Octopus structure is to fix the problem that in many games pvp is inconvenient to participate in because it may require going to a specific in-game location or it may require the player to get to a high level before they can participate usefully.

Thus the Octopus structure: After completing a brief tutorial, the player arrives immediately in the capital city of the game. This is the body, or hub, of the octopus. This location contains the jumping-off points for all the different types of content in the game: pve realtime combat, pvp realtime combat, monster taming/breeding, tactical turn-based combat with tamed monsters, possibly also a card game type of combat, story/quest chain, faction rep/dating sim content, crafting, minigames, world marketplace, and forum. Each of these types of content has its own path (the arms of the octopus) for the player to enjoy progressing along. PvP is levelless and instead has rankings, so a newbie can immediately jump right in and have a fair fight with their friend who has already been playing for a while.

There is a physical location in the city which contains pvp tutorials, but the queue to start a pvp duel or multiplayer game can be entered from anywhere in the world. The same applies to the marketplace - there is one marketplace for the whole world, which has a physical location in the captial city where tutorials are located, but the marketplace is accessible from anywhere in the world. The pve combat tutorial and first pve area are on one edge of the capital city, and subsequent pve and story/quest areas wrap around the city in a circle so it's always quick and easy to go back to the city when you are done farming monsters. The "courtable" NPCs and faction headquarters are also located in the capital city, although they have additional locations in the outer circle. A player's personal land with their house, stable of pets, crafting appliances, etc. travels with the player in 'subspace' or 'hammer space', being temporarily unpacked onto the ground of a pve area for use. A player's collections, titles, trophies, etc. are viewable by simply clicking on their name in chat, or right-clicking them in person.

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Hmm. Its an interesting question. As far as i can think it would change depending on the genre to be honest. The one thing that tends to span more than one genre is for a game to have a "deep" world behind it. This kind of doubles up with the game having a story that compels me to play the game.

Don't get me wrong game mechanics are also important to me but i like having a "good" reason to be shooting someone in the face, games without this tend to keep my attention only for short periods. I would even go as far as to say there’s a lot of games i have actually cheated through the second half of just to see the story, although this has become less frequent as i have grown older.

Current i play MMORPGs for the majority of my game time and i feel there one of the genres that suffer the most from a lack of story/backstory. But its not just that when it comes to them, there (for me) needs to be a certain depth to the world. I yearn to feel like I'm part of a bigger world whenever i play an MMORPG, its one of the reasons i keep playing them, and when i do feel that i can easily get drawn into the game for weeks/months at a time.

Hope that kind of answers your question.

(the following me is going a tad of topic now i reread it so apologies)



I can see the importance of collecting objects within a game to keep the player well playing but i feel it is one of the most widely messed up mechanics in games. Take the GTA series for instance. Vice city had you collecting one kind of object, the number of which was in the low hundreds, and i remember spending ages doing. I knew the big reward at the end and the task wasn’t to big, although still a challenge, to put me off doing it. Then take GTA SanAndreas it has something close to three or four different sets to collect all in the hundreds, if I remember right, for me that was too much. There was little point in doing most of it. The rewards weren’t as strong as in Vice city and frankly it was just to much work to collect them all.

So what’s the point I’m trying to make? Well that in one case a system worked well for stimulating me and in another it totally failed at its job. As far as I can tell there’s a reason, beyond the one but forward by sunandshadow, you don’t have over 4000 objects to collect in a game, it’s either too much work to get that many (especially if they require the same effort as the few 100 did in GTA vice city) or its made stupidly easy and there’s no achievement in getting them all, it just becomes a time sink.. Now you can get away with the latter a lot of games do, but it doesn’t really “enhance” the game, it just draws it out.

I was reading an interview Gamasutra did with the creator of DragonQuest and I think it sums up what has become of the collection/achievement system in the majority of western games and what in my opinion needs to change.



[quote]One MMO idea I had ages ago, was to have one item (a sword perhaps, or some kind of special armour) which when found would render the bearer practically indestructible. However, The location of this item was readily available to every other player (perhaps through the use of a cheap and common item like a compass which lead the way to the special item). The idea being that, despite being super strong - you would be cursed by the rest of the game world hunting you constantly.[/quote]

If I remember right linage 2 had a similar system in it although I couldn’t give u details on the whole thing.

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To digress into the specifics of what you mentioned further;

If we're talking about MMO story content, I think that the one thing that needs to be cracked, and will push the genre forward massively, is [i]individual[/i] stories. It's tedious when you create a character, and that character is exposed to the same events as everyone else's. For example - the staple beginning quests in most MMORPGs always seem to be "Go collect some assortment of items in a harmless part of town, so you can become familiar with the basics of the game's interface".

As a result of this, minutes later, you find yourself in the spot where your items can be found, with fifteen other novice players going through the same motions. It completely undermines the illusion of the game being your unique experience of the game world.

There are three ways of cracking it that spring to mind:

1) The game has an array of "First quests", and array of "Second Quests" and so on... Which one each character experiences is randomised - so the combinations will differ from player to player. This approach is still fairly limited though.

2) The game abandons the idea of each player getting the same treatment, some players are privelidged and spoiled - others are dealt a rough hand so to speak. While ultimately it would deter players whos characters were constantly "losers", it would also bring in an interesting angle of character development. One humerous example would be the typical Darth Vader character - who's entire ethic and character is established by his own misfortunes.

Complacent characters would be undone by the simplest things, but they have the benefit of being generally fortunate, hard done by characters would get to savour rare triumphs.

Ironing the bugs out of that idea is a whole other discussion, as it presents a ton of balance issues.

3) The game harks back to the Minecraft mentality discussed before. Provide the player with the low denomination elements that they can use to build their own game world, perhaps imbue the higher level players with the ability to assign quests and simply rely on the game world to find it's own natural economy and conventions. Gaming communities are incredibly shrude, and I think that they could be relied upon to find their own comfortable society. The added bonus is that GMs wouldn't need to be that heavily involved either, simply able to sit and watch as it all came to fruition - only having to interviene when players began to exploit core parts of the game itself's structure (practical things like the deep programming and server achitecture).

-

As for the collectables system - how about a Zoological perspective. You could take on the role of a naturist documenting new species. You could even go so far as to designing the game to randomly interbreed its original wildlife roster, so that the ecosystem randomly, procedurally evolves. They could act differently accordingly too - ala [i]Spore. [/i]- Now that would be a great feat/example of emergent gameplay design.

This way they don't have set locations either, you'd need to effectively hunt them based on their behaviour.

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[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
If we're talking about MMO story content, I think that the one thing that needs to be cracked, and will push the genre forward massively, is [i]individual[/i] stories.[/quote]
That's one of the major goals of the game I'm creating. NPC interactions will be governed based on that NPCs perceptions on the world, their own unique knowledge and how they perceive you based on several factors. If they voice a need, for example, and fulfill it then you'll probably be their friend but the point here is that the next person that comes along probably won't get that "quest" as that need has already been fulfilled. I'm not saying you'll need to go around like an idiot asking each NPC "do you have a quest for me?" but it's just a small example to illustrate that no two experiences will be the same. There are several issues that need to be worked out as I'm working only on modeling a natural way to interact with NPCs, currently, but I'm very excited to see how it comes out.

I too believe that MMOs should be more sandbox-y rather than less and that people really should be able roleplay [i]their[/i] character rather than what I could possibly be able to program in the ability for them to do. Rather, my goal is to make a construct of rules and limitations and let you have free reign within the box I created for you. Now, I know I'm going to have to make a "main" quest of sort to at least get new players familiar with the various things possible for them to do but for the most part your destiny is in your own hands. Once completed, the plan is to release "updates" that include whole new factions or settlers from a distant land trying to make their own way of life in the game world to mix things up from time to time but I'm really stoked to see how it comes out.

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[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
To digress into the specifics of what you mentioned further;

If we're talking about MMO story content, I think that the one thing that needs to be cracked, and will push the genre forward massively, is [i]individual[/i] stories. It's tedious when you create a character, and that character is exposed to the same events as everyone else's. For example - the staple beginning quests in most MMORPGs always seem to be "Go collect some assortment of items in a harmless part of town, so you can become familiar with the basics of the game's interface".

As a result of this, minutes later, you find yourself in the spot where your items can be found, with fifteen other novice players going through the same motions. It completely undermines the illusion of the game being your unique experience of the game world.

There are three ways of cracking it that spring to mind:

1) The game has an array of "First quests", and array of "Second Quests" and so on... Which one each character experiences is randomised - so the combinations will differ from player to player. This approach is still fairly limited though.
[/quote]

Dont see this solving anything. It only helps to spread out the monotonous actions of players.

[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
2) The game abandons the idea of each player getting the same treatment, some players are privelidged and spoiled - others are dealt a rough hand so to speak. While ultimately it would deter players whos characters were constantly "losers", it would also bring in an interesting angle of character development. One humerous example would be the typical Darth Vader character - who's entire ethic and character is established by his own misfortunes.

Complacent characters would be undone by the simplest things, but they have the benefit of being generally fortunate, hard done by characters would get to savour rare triumphs.

Ironing the bugs out of that idea is a whole other discussion, as it presents a ton of balance issues.
[/quote]

How would you make the game fun for those who are dealt a rough hand? Gaming is about entertainment. If i saw someone advancing their character with hardly any work, whereas I was playing like a dog and getting nowhere, i would immediately cancel my subscription and head straight to the forums to whine about how bad the game is. Not only that .. but how would you keep a player in their perspective role? What mechanics are put in place to keep the "loser" down, and the "winner" up? a Luck stat, that gives benefits to the lucky?

Different players also have different tastes. It'd be impossible to make everyone content with your game if it was just up to chance.


[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
3) The game harks back to the Minecraft mentality discussed before. Provide the player with the low denomination elements that they can use to build their own game world, perhaps imbue the higher level players with the ability to assign quests and simply rely on the game world to find it's own natural economy and conventions. Gaming communities are incredibly shrude, and I think that they could be relied upon to find their own comfortable society. The added bonus is that GMs wouldn't need to be that heavily involved either, simply able to sit and watch as it all came to fruition - only having to interviene when players began to exploit core parts of the game itself's structure (practical things like the deep programming and server achitecture).
[/quote]

I like this idea, and just made a post about an MMO idea I had that is similar. The idea of limited materials is neat...but then youd have to focus the game design primarily on the end game when all materials are used up ...because inevitably, thats where the game would go. Either that, or include some sort of recycle mechanic. For example:

Sword is made up of 5 ore
If you use the "Destroy" feature, all 5 ore is cached into the game worlds ore bank and eventually respawns in a mine.
Alternatively, you could sell the ore to a vendor. Lets say that in the game world, 1 piece of gold is equivalent to 1 unit of ore. So if you sell the Sword to a vendor, despite its net worth being 5 g, he will only give you 3 g, and 2 ore would be placed into the cache to be recycled back into the world.

Thats actually a pretty neat idea. This would limit the total amount of gold in the world to a preset amount. However, how would you combat hoarders? A guild could get together and attempt to store as much gold/ore as they possibly could and ruin the entire servers economy.

[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
As for the collectables system - how about a Zoological perspective. You could take on the role of a naturist documenting new species. You could even go so far as to designing the game to randomly interbreed its original wildlife roster, so that the ecosystem randomly, procedurally evolves. They could act differently accordingly too - ala [i]Spore. [/i]- Now that would be a great feat/example of emergent gameplay design.

This way they don't have set locations either, you'd need to effectively hunt them based on their behaviour.
[/quote]


Yes, AI creatures would certainly be an interesting game mechanic ;)

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[quote name='fr0st2k' timestamp='1307037946' post='4818778']
Thats actually a pretty neat idea. This would limit the total amount of gold in the world to a preset amount. However, how would you combat hoarders? A guild could get together and attempt to store as much gold/ore as they possibly could and ruin the entire servers economy.
[/quote]
Why, you go to their guild and steal it, of course. :wink:

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[quote name='TexasJack' timestamp='1307016936' post='4818621']
To digress into the specifics of what you mentioned further;

If we're talking about MMO story content, I think that the one thing that needs to be cracked, and will push the genre forward massively, is [i]individual[/i] stories. It's tedious when you create a character, and that character is exposed to the same events as everyone else's. For example - the staple beginning quests in most MMORPGs always seem to be "Go collect some assortment of items in a harmless part of town, so you can become familiar with the basics of the game's interface".

As a result of this, minutes later, you find yourself in the spot where your items can be found, with fifteen other novice players going through the same motions. It completely undermines the illusion of the game being your unique experience of the game world.[/quote]
The word 'tedious' only applies when you have to repeat a set of quests every time you create a new character. Personally I think you're just looking at shared experience wrong. People enjoy watching the same movie at the same time with their friends, then discussing it during and after. People enjoy being in a book club where everyone reads the same novel and discusses it. If people playing an MMO aren't doing the same quests how can they meaningfully ask each other for help or discuss their experience of the game's story?

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[quote name='sunandshadow' timestamp='1307126876' post='4819172']
If people playing an MMO aren't doing the same quests how can they meaningfully ask each other for help or discuss their experience of the game's story?
[/quote]
I don't have another person's game in mind but in my own sandbox there would be several reasons to ask for help and for people to get together. One way is including puzzles that take several people to solve by disjointed moving parts, for example. Another is to make up for weaknesses. If you need someone who's an extremely well versed diplomat then that'd be another reason. Another possibility is the sidekick scenario where a couple friends travel together. Quest rewards (like loot and coin) can be shared however the group decides and in the end it's about people being social instead of being a glory whore. Also too in my game there aren't "xp rewards," per se. Skills are invested in rather some "character level" stat. Another reason is let's say a player in on a quest to take down an enemy stronghold that alone will take several people by nature of the task. Something like this is also its own reward as I'm also taking the "if you see it you can interact with it" approach so there's no telling what sort of goodies you could find there. The possibilities aren't limitless. You'll never have the scenario of "oh my god my friend just asked me to help on [Long tedious quest]. I've already done that dozens of time." If done right, I really think it's the superior way to go.

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[quote name='landlocked' timestamp='1307383429' post='4820190']
No rebuttals? Man, I was really hoping to hash through some stuff on this. :P
[/quote]

Oh, I figured my disagreement was already covered by the blanket statement "I resent MMO elements that force, pressure, or bribe me to play socially when I'd rather solo." Maybe I said that in a different thread, if so I apologize, I lost track. I like solving puzzles by myself. I've done group puzzles in Dofus and Maplestory and they are torture. One of the things I detested about Dofus was that you simply couldn't get certain monster drops unless you were in a group. Again in A Tale In the Desert one of the reasons I quit was that some resource gathering simply couldn't be done solo. The kinds of group play I like are the ones that are really casual - anyone can enter a battle or multiplayer minigame if the battle starter doesn't have it set to private (Dofus, Wizard 101) You can battle or play a solo minigame in a room with other players and look at what they are doing if they don't have their activities set to private, and your avatar may make appropriate emotes or thought bubbles, or the chat log may make appropriate auto-comments, to show others when you have good or bad luck. (Dofus, Gaia Online, Puzzle Pirates)


I'll talk about sandbox games if you want, though. I accidentally ended up playing a sandbox game this week (Viva Pinata, didn't know it was when I bought it) so now the reasons I don't like sandbox games are fresh in my mind.

[Rant against sandbox games] I hate being disoriented and clueless. No idea what I'm supposed to be doing next or there isn't anything I'm supposed to be doing, not even an array of goals of which I can choose one to aim for. No idea how difficult any goal will be to accomplish so I repeatedly end up stuck when I get to a requirement I haven't unlocked the ability to satisfy yet, and likely don't even know how to unlock it. When I do manage to accomplish something within the game there is little recognition of it, and it is unrelated to any story the game has and thus mostly meaningless. I have no idea what percentage of the game I've completed, and since the game has no ending it can't be satisfactorily completed. I never get as much gameplay out of a sandbox game as it seems like there is, and often am dissatisfied to find that I have stopped playing the game without experiencing all of its content, but I have no desire to play it more because I don't know what to do next and further play would be too repetitive with what I've already done. So overall I feel disoriented, inadequate, like what I'm doing is pointless, and like I have made a bad purchase during and after playing a sandbox game. [/Rant]

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