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Meaningful, fun and lasting PvE system(s)?

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Player vs Environment.
Not PvM.. Although it is included in PvE.

I am designing a sandbox mmorpg..
And wondering about what kind of PvE the game needs so that it doesn't turn into a PvP mmorpg instead like Darkfall Online and Mortal Online.

I know that one option is to allow terraforming and crafting your own house, garden etc anywhere in the world.
But that's not an option for me and I don't think that can be the only option for Meaningful, fun and lasting PvE system(s).
There must be more options..

I know in some oldschool MMORPG's they got away without too indepth PvE systems since there was no World of Warcraft etc back then.

Some things that come to my mind are..

  1. New dungeons added regularly.
  2. Rare items collecting and wealth.
  3. Highest level (if no cap).
  4. Less meaningful crafting systems for weapons etc.
  5. Get the best armor and weapons in the game.

There's some more less meaningful ideas I can add to the list but it's really nothing special.

With #1 The problem is that it's not a lasting solution. I think a good game is one that doesn't need updates. Because when you don't need updates anymore to keep the game fun and interesting for all players that means you have succeeded. And there are games out there like that!

#3 is an "ok" PvE feature but first of all you can't have a cap then which is rather rare these days and wouldn't work well in most games on the PvP side. It's also a pretty boring thing. Although I'm not really into PvE at all as a player so maybe it is fun for the ones who do like PvE.

#2, #5 and #4 are less meaningful and are should be thought of more as bonus PvE features than the main one(s). I don't think they alone can keep PvE players interested if that's all they have to look forward to when starting the game.

Anyone have any ideas or comments about any Meaningful, fun and lasting PvE system(s)?

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I am also working on a sandbox MMO. I made a really complex crafting system. I also did player buildings and terraforming. In fact there are no npcs or npc buildings at all.
I also set up a dynamic ecosystem which scales to player presence while not breaking lore. I also went for a huge world with lots to explore and also have stuff like sailing, airships, cliff climbing, and tunnels for travel.

In the end though the question is, can you really expect for a single game to keep millions of people playing for many years? Many subscribers to games like WoW only get from 2-4 hours in in a whole week. Does WoW have meaningful fun and lasting PvE? Maybe if you are a casual. Hardcore players? Not so much.

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1) Competetive elements: The fact that a player has completed a dungeon a few times and gotten all the loot from it doesn't have to mean that it is pointless to go back, you can add rankings for fast clears(with standardized gear and levels this can also keep content intended for low level players interesting for high level players) and hand out rewards to the fastest x or x% players each week, similar things can be done for both solo and group content.

2) Social elements, Large scale projects that guilds or the server community as a whole can participate in. (Look at things like the community collections in Ultima Online for example), These things can interact with PvP elements aswell by giving advantages to the faction or guilds participating.

3) Community organized adventures, (Diffcult to implement) allowing a player to set up their own instanced adventure in a zone or dungeon for friends/guildmates or anyone who happens to be interested, placing enemies, configuring objectives and even controlling npcs can create some interesting possibilities.

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I'm struggling a lot to try and express my answers to your issues, so I'm just going to boil it down to this and hope it doesn't offend:


I think a good game is one that doesn't need updates. Because when you don't need updates anymore to keep the game fun and interesting for all players that means you have succeeded.


If you seek to make a game people will play forever; you will never finish developing. As soon as someone reaches the limit of your content, you need new content. There is only one way to create infinite content; which is grinding. If you create a grinding system with infinite pre-set rewards (say "Grind Points"), people will get bored of it and quit.

In short:
The only way to get "Meaningful, fun AND lasting" content, is to develop new, meaningful and fun content forever.

Of course, this happily ignores the effect a good social environment will have on your playerbase. This is because, whilst good social systems will encourage repeat play, it won't last past the moment someone says "I'm bored of this content, let's all go play Happy Ninja Narwhals instead."

I hope this is helpful (and not as critical as it sounds to me when I re-read it),

Wyrm.

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I pretty much agree with wyrmslayer - all games get boring unless you are basically providing new game segments. But I'll make some overall comments on what I think makes a good PvE MMO.

First of all I strongly prefer games that have npcs which deliver story content to orient and immerse the player, and form the foundation of the social fabric that players interact with each other and roleplay within. These NPCs can be multifunctional if also used as part of a dating sim relationship building system, a factipn points grinding system, and to provide various in-game services. Its much better to have fewer than 50 NPCs who each can interact with the player in multiple ways than it is to have hundreds who only have one thing to say.

Second, player crafted housing and gardens are awesome. There's no reason they have to exist in the main game world if this is a technical hurdle; Wizard 101 for example has each house as a little island in space and it works great. Along the same lines customizations like mounts, pets, clothing, tattoos, hairstyles and even anthropomorphization are some of the most long-term motivating rewards any MMO can use to keep players playing for months. Not to mention these kind of things motivate the player to explore for gatherable resources and recipes as well as fight to drop-hunt crafting mats.

Third, combat - WoW-style combat is inherently boring because the monsters have to be pretty homogenous to be equally killble by all classes, plus the player has to act fast (limiting thinking) and there are quite limited tactical options wihin each class. I much prefer combat like that in Dofus, a turn-based tactical combat paired with a system where players use points to purchase their choice among an array of spells. it would be even better if there were no classes so all spells were available to one character, and the player could easily switch between different builds which were effective against different monsters. For example they could equip an invisibility spell to avoid being poisoned by a cobra, but a bat wouldn't be fooled an the player should instead equip a speed bonus or a paralyzing projectile to catch the speedy agile bats.

Fourth, mini-games and a forum, build them right into the MMO. NeoPets and Gaia Online are two examples of how an online game can keep players interested for years without even having a world the players can walk around and kill monsters in. Good minigames, for example classic solitaire, have tons of replayability. (Gaia does now have a more standard monster-killing world but that's a fairly recent add-on).

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I think a good game is one that doesn't need updates. Because when you don't need updates anymore to keep the game fun and interesting for all players that means you have succeeded. And there are games out there like that!

Which of those are PvE MMORPGs and don't need updates? To tell the truth, I haven't seen even one MMORPG that didn't require content updates, much less an MMORPG that was strictly PvE. There's no way to do it, unless you can somehow create an evolving game world and I think PvP is one of the keys to create such a world.

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You're right actually.
I can't think of a game that has meaningful, fun and lasting PvE that don't need updates.
PvP games are borderline, The only reason they have to update is incase another game adds all the features and similar combat system with better graphics.
And some games let the players "update" the game by making modded servers.. so it never stops evolving and great speed without any work for the DEVs.

Hmm, That last line..
Maybe that's the key to meaningful, fun and lasting PvE?
Alltough I don't really want players to created modded servers in my game at least.


Keep up the brainstorming.. Maybe there is good ways of achieving this?

Otherwise if not..
I think best would be to focus on the social systems of the game and making more meaningful and fun updates.

Like the MOBA games for example.. they have probably the best fun and meaningful regular updates..
Mainly a new "class" several times per year.. and then bonus updates such as weaopns, avatars, emotes etc etc.
They could even make a habit of adding new game types such as "FFA Madness" / "Last man standing" etc just ideas out of the top of my head.

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Personally, I much prefer the sandbox free-market and PVP driven MMO, but that's just me. I think if you want to make a solid PvE system just make sure it doesn't end up being 'single player online'. Make some dungeons/forests/mob heavy areas almost impossible to venture in without a team (which could lead to a broader class or weapons or skill system?) so players can cooperate more, improving the social immersion and cohesion, but not forcing them into it.

What about tournaments? Statistics and leaderboards for biggest slayers? Skill development when fighting mobs and then extracting their resources?

Maybe certain mobs or dungeons etc drop rare resources for crafting.

I agree with what Wyrmslayer said, MMOs need constant or periodic updates because it's what keeps players interested and wanting to play (and pay, hopefully) for the game.

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I actually share the idea that a perfect game is the one that doesn't require content updates from developers to keep being interesting. To that end I came up with a few thoughts on the matter. A game becomes boring after awhile if it doesn't have new content. If developers aren't the ones adding the content, then players should be the ones to do it. The player's motivation however is radically different from the developer's. The player wants to enjoy the time spent with a game, developer wants players to play the game and earn money from that. So either the players have to become developers themselves or the game has to offer the kind of gameplay that allows the players to enjoy creating content in the same way they enjoy playing a game. The first approach is the one chosen by the creators of Second Life. The second approach is the one chosen by the creator of Minecraft. However neither of these products are actual games where people enjoy playing together in a PvE fashion. Surely there are times where you would enjoy fending off zombies with your peers but that kind of gameplay gets old fast. What's more interesting is competing with your peers, and that is the essence of PvP.

So to recap, you need:
1. Content generated by players
2. PvP

Unless of course you can somehow make a system that would generate new content on its own in an evolutionary fashion, adding new locations on the map, new monsters and everything else, without the designers doing so much as lifting a finger. I don't think that's possible yet though. Maybe in 50 years time.

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Unless of course you can somehow make a system that would generate new content on its own in an evolutionary fashion, adding new locations on the map, new monsters and everything else, without the designers doing so much as lifting a finger. I don't think that's possible yet though. Maybe in 50 years time.


50 years? D= But I want it now!
I think, if we're talking about a system of fun, meaningful and lasting (near-)infinite self-generated content, we are fantasising a little. It does exist, to some extent. I've seen it in 2D / Text RPGs - but even then, the system is finite and limited. Every dungeon ends up looking the same, it's not meaningful, and certainly not lasting.
I would probably sell my soul to someone who could develop a fun, meaningful and lasting system of self-generating MMORPG content. It would be pure genius.

I'm totally on board with people saying "Social content will increase gameplay" and anything along those lines. It's the only reason I still play WoW - to spend time with the Guild.
And the idea of "Content generated by players" is very, very interesting. People are always going on about how they want a "Guild House" that is designed and developed over time by their Guild.
An idea might be to look on the forums for other MMOs and find the "Suggestions" section. (Avoiding the Trolls), you might find some good ideas for what people want; what would make them carry on playing for longer.


Wyrm.

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