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Caldtem

MMO with Discovery as Prime Content Advancement

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Discover a world, not just explore it.

As an alternative to traditional MMORPG design and development I propose that a world should be unknown to the player before playing it. For example, the people's of the world have been massacred and pushed out of their once thriving cities. What remains of known society has taken refuge on an island off the southern coast where they have been gathering strength in an effort to reclaim their lands. The first influx of players are responsible for being the initial settlers of the world. They must establish themselves to the point where they can construct boats to sail to the mainlands. From there players are able to establish player structures and revive civilization to further their efforts towards retaking old cities.

The world would be similar in design theory to that of Ultima Online in that it would be a seamless world with no artificial barriers, just natural terrain, with no pre-existing map to go off of. If you sail too far north, you eventually come up from the southern portion of the world, no end of the world. There would be a fixed third person camera angle as well, giving the viewpoint similar to that of UO as well, updated for modern resolutions/technology of course.There is no free for all PvP. Through capturing past portions of society you are able to unlock various factions/skills/item recipes/abilities. Players that discover these recipes, some more rare than others, would be able to teach them to other players. If things aren't passed down they will eventually fall into disuse and potentially may no longer exist within the game world.

Through discovery and social interaction the players are able to advance their character as they see fit in a non-class based system. Player owned/rented structures are going to be key towards providing an enjoyable experience to the players. Being able to display your item collections/decorate your buildings is a must have.


I wish I could have been more thorough, but my co-worker insists that I actually do my job, so I must be off. Thoughts/comments on this form of game would be appreciated. I understand that testing is very much required and people are terrible at keeping secrets. This isn't a AAA idea, this is a game idea. I will be open to elaborate on any concerns later, but for now I must be off.

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Words "MMO" and "unknown" are mutually exclusive. Other players will simply tell all the secrets immediately to all who want to listen. In singleplayer games they at least have to google it, in MMO they are basicly told by others regardless if they want to know or not :D

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Words "MMO" and "unknown" are mutually exclusive. Other players will simply tell all the secrets immediately to all who want to listen. In singleplayer games they at least have to google it, in MMO they are basicly told by others regardless if they want to know or not :D


Don't go in with the mindset that the content that is unlocked would be typical MMORPG stuff. You aren't after sweet gear drops and doing expert instance runs. While yes, sadly, some content will only be able to be enjoyed by the very first few in a discovery based experience, should it take away from the story that is actually for once playable and experienced by individuals? I don't think it has to. It is about providing the ability to discover things for the very first time that can continuously keep players playing. As you add content to the game through patches/expansions it wouldn't be the same old same old because endless linear progression isn't the goal.

It would be a non-linear game experience with gear decay/destruction through use.

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It is about providing the ability to discover things for the very first time that can continuously keep players playing. As you add content to the game through patches/expansions it wouldn't be the same old same old because endless linear progression isn't the goal.

What mechanisms are you including to prevent the first few players from just mapping out the entire world, and then publishing it? Even a world on the scale of Skyrim's could be fully mapped out in a couple of weeks - less if a group of players cooperate.

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You can make it harder, but you can't stop players from mapping out the world. The only way to accomplish that goal is to procedurally generate the entire level - thus rendering any form of sensible mapping implausible.

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The only way to accomplish that goal is to procedurally generate the entire level - thus rendering any form of sensible mapping implausible.

That's fairly common in single-player games, but a side-effect of making an MMO is that the players need to interact - and to sensibly interact with each other, they all need to see the same world.

You could make instanced Dungeons work this way (i.e. generate a unique dungeon for each party), but I don't see a way to accomplish it for the world map.

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Consider a reward system that decreases as more players discover an area. This would encourage exploration and discourage sharing information. The question then would be balance and enjoyment for casual/late-joining players.

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Doesn't Wurm Online have an explorer aspect? At least I have heard a few stories about people exploring the world. There's also another one that uses Bartle's player types (Wildstar I think) where one of the roles a player can take on is that of an explorer. Come to think of it Mortal Online "rewards" exploration with rare boss mobs that never respawn and if killed provide the player with a certain level of prestige (maybe other in-game things as well, never looked into it that deeply to be honest). There is certainly a player base for an exploration based MMO or one that features it heavily.

I think there's a certain amount of underestimating being done towards the player base though. I'm not sure players will share information if it is against their interests (see vanilla WoWs boss strategies) or indeed look up said information if it removes the "fun" from the game. Sure the first few areas will eventually be mapped out and well known but that could take a relatively long periods of time depending on how challenging exploring is. The player base of such a game will also be relatively small which will certainly slow the whole process down and eliminate the worry of larger news sites providing map information to the majority of the players.

If you plan out the majority of the world beforehand and have a solid process by which to add those missing areas to the game then I see no reason why you couldn't stay ahead of the majority of the player base in terms of land to explore.




Although something like Skyrim can be in a few weeks it is still rather a small game world (by sandbox MMO standards anyway). Scale it up to even the size of a small country and it would take a long time for people to fully explore it. Considering you wouldn't be making a world that detailed or graphically challenging I think it probably is doable as well.

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SKyrim is not big in mmo standards. What kind of discovery are you talking about?
I wouldn't feel like I'm "discovering" if I'm going through an instanced randomly generated dungeon, which swiftcoder mentioned.
If we neglect technical issues, you could make a terahuge game world. It should be possible if you break it down into smaller connected zones.
Not sure how exciting it would be though, it would probably just feel very empty and generated.

Consider a very huge game world. Most activity is in some key areas, while specific places in a large part of the game world is rarely visited. It can go days (maybe weeks) before it's likely that someone revisits a place, so the game world can be potentially mapped in a very brief time. However, what do they map? If you have a complete static world then everything is known. By making a very dynamic game world, the same place still have the same core look, but the really important stuff, like resources types of npc's/monsters and some buildings can be completely different at a later stage.
Stone forts and base of the landscape stays the same, but the stone fort may be inhabited by different npc factions, or maybe other player guilds, it might also have modules that can be built and destroyed. Landscape stays roughly the same, but waters may freeze, tree's can be cut down, while others may grow, and the landscape could be covered with snow. Extreme weather could occur (tornado) changing the landscape. Camps can be built, simple villages/farms, wooden palisades and similar.
Make the game world up of soft modules.
Minecraft takes this to the extrem, where every cubic meter can be seen as a "build spot" where you can put any type of material you'd like.
You don't need to be able to make buildings everywhere. Just have a large number of build slots, so most won't be used giving you a sense of choice (easier to make more robust).

Resources could also spawn in fixed locations. Making it more numerous will reduce potential benefit of mapping where these are. In Rift you have specific resources you can gather. Problem is that the same type always spawn in the same location. In one region there's only a few places they can spawn, so it's easy to set up a farm route. If these switched between the sites, the farm route would be significantly longer. If you tripled potential spawn sites, but only 1 of 3 would have something at a time, then you would get a very complex farm route compared to payoff. It would be better to just use your senses (eyes) to spot the resources while exploring. You may also make some resources rare, but give the player some skill to be able to track them down (scent or similar). Some NPC groups could move camp to where key resource sites are (a guild would be very interested in this), and they would leave trails behind them, enabling you to track them down.
Getting resources should have complex mechanics. Run scanning the map should be very inefficient, while a group of players succesfully cooperating in tracking down valuable resource should be the most efficient. Transporting resources back to base /civilization should be an important aspect. Unfriendly npc's or players could rob your hard earned resources. Tracking down certain groups of humanoids, or trophy hunting might also be a way to gain money/resources.

Players can post on the net when they find places of value, but why should they? They want to extract it, without competing with other players, and what's discovered will be completely different a week later.

There should also be the big cities where resources/money are exchanged, and where there's a political system or other powerful positions that player guilds can be a part of, which is largely influenced by how much resources you want to spend on it.

The key aspect is to adapt to a changing game world. Find resource before other does, and protect the extraction of these, gain power, and make important decisions in parts of the game world, that can influence other player organizations both for good and bad, and especially help yourself.

This is quite ambitious, but definitely something I'd like to see done succesfully.

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In my mind the content would be world based, rather than individual based, for the more important parts of the discovery process.

For example: Reclaiming the Dwarven City of Draught could unlock the Dwarf race to be playable for that particular server. It could also unlock some sweet brewing recipes lost when the city was overrun. Some special dwarf smith recipes. Stuff like that. It could be during initial exploration, during the final stages of retaking the city, or at some point afterward. Potentially it could be designed that there are multiple ways, but only one per server, to accomplish the same thing. Perhaps on a different server you need to secure the freedom of enslaved Dwarfs from a mine to unlock them as being playable. The options are near endless so why are we so restrictive with our designs?

Each individual would not be able to collect each item via the discovery process as there would be a limited amount made available per run of the server. First come, or those fortunate enough, first serve. Other players will have to rely on the explorers, the discoverers, to share/sell their findings, or the individuals could horde them and corner the market/potentially have a unique item. The hope would be to provide a system where just by crafting you can make discoveries. You have a recipe to make an item, but the end result isn't what you expected. You, or someone capable, look more closely at the item and study it to discover a new use for said item, thus discovering a new recipe.

There could be a process of determining/reintroducing certain things over time if they have become obsolete through neglect. I believe by limiting the amount of items it can be strategically used to assist in economy structure and behavior along with player experiences with the game. If everyone has something, it isn't special, but if you make a discovery, it means something.


As to avoid being over ambitious with the concept I wouldn't aim to provide much more from an item/resource standpoint than that of older UO. The very basics of the game would be the important features, like how the world advances as players interact with it. After the essentials are established the remaining content would be filled as available. I have no qualms with leaving portions of a world "incomplete" at the initial opening of a game server. This isn't a AAA aspiration, but a game that can be established and continually added to. Subsequent server openings would be more diverse and deep than the previous making each server opening different than the last.

Just from viewing the supposed capabilities of the Hero Engine, for example, I don't see any problem with starting small and expanding as able.

I would certainly like to have Faction PvP added in the future, minimum of three factions, but it would be something that players choose to join, not forced on them.


In the end I believe that the game can actually be more than just a "niche", but due to it's independent nature it would certainly have to start as one. As a reward to players that participated in previous versions of the game prior to the more complete, releasable build, they would be given the choice of selecting a rare commodity to signify their previous efforts.

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