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Zummy

Phasing in games.

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http://www.wowwiki.com/Phasing

There's a link to explain how it is handled in World of Warcraft. Anyway, phasing is when multiple people can have a different view of the same map. For instance, if you do a quest chain and you "reclaim" a city, your map would be personally updated to see the city reclaimed and would be able to use its features. Anyone on the same phase as you would see you and would be able to interact with you, and anyone not in the same phase as you (but in the same area) will not be able to see you, nor see what the phasing has done. To them, it is like it was before, until they catch up.

My question, do any other games use this feature? WoW has been the first I know to do it, but I haven't kept tabs on a lot of games. What do you overall think of phasing?

Pros:
Great for immersion
Great for plot development
Great for being able to find players in relevant situations, for easier grouping and questing.

Cons:
Cannot interact with the whole community.
When you advance in a phase, you cannot go back, bad for repeating content.

(feel free to add/subtract from the pros and cons here)

I think phasing could be a great idea to implement as long as its followed with a phasing npc. This npc would allow you to travel to phases you have unlocked, so you can keep in touch with everyone, regardless of how far you progressed, as well as allow you to repeat content.

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I really really like when the visual appearance of the game changes to show your accomplishments, but I don't see any need to limit interaction between people who see different versions of the game world.

Edit to add: In other words, personal accomplishments should have personal effects - I healed the gazelle plague, I see healthy gazelles, for me they drop useful horns and hides. You didn't heal the gazelled plague, you see sick gazelles, they drop you useless items called ruined horn, mangy hide, etc. But we can still kill them in group.

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For me, I would prefer that plot-centered missions not have an impact on towns and such. I already have to deal with the knowledge that 10,000 other people have driven off the horde of orcs or whatever, since everyone plays through the same story line missions. Aand it's tolerable if it's in an area that is instanced for that purpose alone.

Towns and other common areas I have less tolerance for that sort of thing. I love the idea of players being able to impact the game world in a meaningful way, like factions battling over territory or securing resources that all players of a given faction/town/whatever can use unless it's taken by someone else. Stuff that gives meaning to in game actions and choices, as opposed to the identical instanced quests that everyone does.

But that's not something that it really makes sense to have affect some players and not others. If it's phased, as you mentioned, then you can't interact with everyone even if on the same server. If it isn't, then you run into the repeat-mission bit (it is unsatisfying to me to see someone asking about some danger that I just neutralized, for no reason other than 5 minutes have passed since then).

I would rather see stuff that affects the game world in a material way held seperate from quests and the like. Let players themselves produce plotlines and political intrigues. It wouldn't even be too hard to have mods play undercover to influence a story where a bit more direction might be interesting. But it's not like story is at the heart of most MMO's, so it probably wouldn't take all that much direction to keep players interested no matter what.

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Khaiy basically just described the designs for the MMO my company is working on getting the resources to work on (I think we need more than a few artists, one dedicated programmer, and one technical artist, and no one knowing what Aeternal Designs is). Basically what we want to eventually do is make an MMO where the world changes according to player actions (like if no one does anything about a dragon that's supposed to attack a city, it eventually will attack a city. Cities will expand as people move there, kingdoms will go to war, etc). I think something like that would motivate people to participate a lot more in the game than a series of linear quests. But something like that is extremely complicated, and issues arise when you take into account that people might stop playing (if they can buy a house, what happens to it then?), they might not be logged on when something relevant effects them, and so on.

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Overall, phasing is a substitute for the ability to affect the game world. That said, it is superior to completing quests and not seeing any effect.

Phasing often means that you can't follow a player somewhere you logically should be able to. As a Developer, phasing also sounds like it would be a nightmare to implement.

So while phasing is good apart from trivial indicators of completion/locked doors, I'd recommend spending the time generating shared dynamic content instead.

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