• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
sunandshadow

How to combine MMO community feel with a player-shaped world?

20 posts in this topic

In case you weren't already aware, I wanted to bring EverQuest Next to your attention. When I read the thread's title and then saw that the initial post was today, I thought for sure that this thread would be about EQ Next. The questions you're asking have no doubt been some of the very same questions that they've asked themselves over the past months and years. Perhaps it also is a game you should consider playing (or applying for beta, if you're so inclined) as it may blend together the some of those aspects that you enjoy.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I second the above.  EVE ONLINE is good inspiration for a solid design in a good interactive MMO design.

 

The game has been going a long time as well which is a solid indicator that its designers did something very right.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

EverQuest Next - If this is anything like the original EverQuest it will not be similar at all to the design I'm working toward, which isn't very sandboxy, and more jRPG than wRPG.  EverQuest Next might be a great game, and I do see how it exemplifies a player-shaped MMO world.  But I think I failed to explain that the type of player-shaping I mean is that done by an individual player.  The Landmark thing seems to be the most directly related to this, but as far as I can tell it's a game in its own right, and players won't be able to build buildings in this way in EQN???  And I'm even more directly concerned with making the story and NPC portions of the world customize themselves to each player in reaction to that player's actions.  The way Joe Player and Jane Player can both start Skyrim in the same place and end up with quite different worlds shaped by their individual actions, that is AWESOME.  That's what I want to figure out how to do in an MMO.

 

Eve Online - From everything I've heard, this game doesn't have any protections against players messing with each other's personal projects?  I definitely do want to have some such protections in place, I'm just trying to figure out how to balance players claiming a portion of a landcape as their own vs. players needing to shave a landscape to play the game together and see each other's stuff as part of their natural gameplay, not requiring a special trip somewhere they'd otherwise never go.  From what I've heard Eve Online also has no story, so like EQ Next it wouldn't be useful as an example of how to balance individualize interactive story with other players playing their own stories on the same terrain.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everquest Next, from what I understand, has these things in common with this discussion:

 

1) Players can literally shape the physical geometry world. (Minecraft-style digging down and finding caves)

This isn't permanent, though, and the world will 'heal' itself, and the procedural caverns underground will get re-randomized every 24 hours or so.

 

It's important to underline the temporary-ness of the effect, which is at odds with what I desire.

 

2) Cities and such will be built (and stay permanently built for the rest of the game) over the course of 3-month long quest arcs, where based on the actual actions of the mob of players, the end result will change. (Did more players side with the orcs? Maybe that city was destroyed instead of just damaged. Did the other group of players recruit the giants? This city was successfully built).

 

Emphasis on recognizing mob-actions rather than individual actions, which is a step in the right direction, but not the same as your personal achievements being recognized.

 

3) NPCs do remember you as an individual (supposedly - EQN isn't released yet), and permanently change their behavior towards you based on your direct interactions with that NPC as well as your interactions with the rest. If you did side with the orcs in burning down a city, and the human merchants who survived that city found out, they will react differently to you as an individual.

 

This is good - and a great leap in the right direction, if they can implement it well, and if the NPCs react correctly. (It's interesting to note that Dave Mark is helping greatly with that, and is working on EQN with StoryBricks and Sony Online Entertainment in a highly-visible and highly-public consulting role, afaik. He gave some presentations to the Sony Live conference a few days ago, and did some interviews representing Sony speaking about Everquest Next)

 

This thread is talking about alot more than those three things, but those three things are somewhat related, and it will be interesting to see how well EQN executes on them.

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2) Cities and such will be built (and stay permanently built for the rest of the game) over the course of 3-month long quest arcs, where based on the actual actions of the mob of players, the end result will change. (Did more players side with the orcs? Maybe that city was destroyed instead of just damaged. Did the other group of players recruit the giants? This city was successfully built).

 

Emphasis on recognizing mob-actions rather than individual actions, which is a step in the right direction, but not the same as your personal achievements being recognized.

Mob-actions is the big one for me.  I actually hate mob-quests in MMOs.  Hate them passionately. angry.png  I'm very much a do-it-yourselfer or renaissance woman.  I hate in-game goals that are impossible to accomplish solo.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I'm kinda with you there. I think there needs to be alot of both though. Tons of single-player quests, alot of group quests that can be solo'd if you're good enough, some guild-quests that involve an entire guild, and a few world-event type quests occasionally used to unlock/release new content or explain dramatic game world changes.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I decided to use this game concept as an example for my guide to developing a game idea by writing a design document.  So I did the first step, "Designer's Statement Of Purpose", in my developer's journal if anyone's curious to see more detail about the game concept.

 

My guide, if anyone isn't sure what I'm talking about:

http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/creative/game-design/developing-your-game-concept-by-making-a-design-document-r3004

 

My developer journal entry with my Statement Of Purpose.

http://www.gamedev.net/blog/90/entry-2258566-designers-statement-of-purpose-for-wildwright-mmo-concept/

 

Edit: made a gamesprout page:

http://www.gamesprout.com/ideas/5212baa4e3211cd266000029/design_document

Edited by sunandshadow
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Modular housing system from old Ultima Online  (even with fixed house structure players were given alot of leeway to combine (pile) objects to creat something new (looking).

 

Player worn  'stuff'  depends on how much variation is allowed and if differences can even be seen at the usual view one has of other players.   

 

 

There is another 'shaping' of the world' via Player Created Assets.   Neverwinter Nights did this eventually and players created alot of stuff the game company never had the desire to  -- including a NPC combat script set that far surpassed the company created scripting.

 

 

Problem with any drastic 'players shaping the world'  effects is that they can get out of hand VERY quickly unless sufficient 'self centering' and compensation mechanisms are built into the game mechanics and server world management operations.  

 

Without those, next is the need for sufficient GM intervention tools to manually adjust things back into balance (assuming the company want to pay skilled GMs to do the continuous work required)

 

Beyond that is the whole server logic generalized enough to provide for shifts of  theme/situational variations  ????   Some elements like spawn patterns can be readjustsed using some grand faction influence map, but will all the more continuous NPCs/economic elements be able to follow the local 'shifts' of behaviors?

 

 

Im all for this kind of thing but what game company out there will take the risk and expense for  building such a system (where the programming scripting may be a magnitude more complex - and the debugging two magnitudes).

Edited by wodinoneeye
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If anyone has been following the development of Star Citizen, I feel this game design is addressing this beautifully. With a mostly NPC sustained universe players bring pressure to what would otherwise be a routinely driven economy based game.

 

The game's economy is effected directly by players' actions through the movement of goods and services for game moneys. Pressure is applied with conflict (space dog fighting!) and player driven conflict, in a capitalist model, is always abundant. The pressure applied will change the world's structure with companies doing good or bad, empires falling, alien races falling in and out of good terms over trade disputes,etc. Players will feel connected as they look for the next objective to accomplish because all those objectives will be driving the outcome of these events. The game isn't done so it's hard to say what they will accomplish, however following the development has been exciting because he's exploring game design ideas that no developers have been bold enough to go after (thank you crowd funding).

 

Oh PC games you're so much better then other games. ;)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think an important mechanic to implement in a persistent world where players can change things is to have things be resistant to change. Otherwise, you can have the clan like goon swarm that will murder entire cities "for fun." Instead, your world responds to this by the local lord or king to mobilize a squad, or even army, after the perpetrators. If you don't do things like this then players will feel free to do as they please regardless of consequences. Consequences can be fun. It's just a balancing act.

Edited by hrmmm
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think an important mechanic to implement in a persistent world where players can change things is to have things be resistant to change. Otherwise, you can have the clan like goon swarm that will murder entire cities "for fun." Instead, your world responds to this by the local lord or king to mobilize a squad, or even army, after the perpetrators. If you don't do things like this then players will feel free to do as they please regardless of consequences. Consequences can be fun. It's just a balancing act.

Well, I don't think you want everything to be resistant to change.  One of the things players love most about sandboxy games is having their own little territory where they can easily build and customize.  But yes, areas that aren't the player's personal property should be resistant to change.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not everything, no. But, for me, I would question how they get the land as well. Minus quest or coin, someone should go around poking. Plus, bandits inherently don't follow the law. :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not everything, no. But, for me, I would question how they get the land as well. Minus quest or coin, someone should go around poking. Plus, bandits inherently don't follow the law. smile.png

In my specific game design each player gets a personal "estate", which starts as a small territory where they can build a hut, do basic crafting and keep a few pets.  Estate expansions are one of the major quest-reward types in the game.  Expansions allow the player to climb the crafting tech tree, collect more stuff and display their collections, get fancy with architecture and landscaping, and even build sculptures.  I'm still considering whether I want to reward players who reach the max level with the ability to create a dungeon or other playable public area for other players to visit.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest problem with MMO's is the "Massive" part of the design.  The player is always the hero: the exceptional one that can get things done.  Except that in an MMO, you aren't exceptional.  EVERYONE else is just as badass as you.  Because there are literally thousands of heroes stomping around doing exactly the same thing, the world CAN'T change or the newest heroes wouldn't have anything to do.

 

I propose that someone make a "Moderately-Multiplayer" game with a max of a couple dozen to a couple hundred people on a server.  If localized servers aren't in the business plan, then for a monthly subscription, let someone rent a virtual server and control the logins on it so that they can play with friends and ban incompatible players.  Let the players be real heroes and not "just another hero".  You get this feel in some games like in the Red Dead series, but it's not a persistent world.

 

So I like where your design is going, sunandshadow.  It's something I'd certainly like to play.  I just think that there should be a limit to how many players can realistically and practically exist in one continuum.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest problem with MMO's is the "Massive" part of the design.  The player is always the hero: the exceptional one that can get things done.  Except that in an MMO, you aren't exceptional.  EVERYONE else is just as badass as you.  Because there are literally thousands of heroes stomping around doing exactly the same thing, the world CAN'T change or the newest heroes wouldn't have anything to do.
 
I propose that someone make a "Moderately-Multiplayer" game with a max of a couple dozen to a couple hundred people on a server.  If localized servers aren't in the business plan, then for a monthly subscription, let someone rent a virtual server and control the logins on it so that they can play with friends and ban incompatible players.  Let the players be real heroes and not "just another hero".  You get this feel in some games like in the Red Dead series, but it's not a persistent world.
 
So I like where your design is going, sunandshadow.  It's something I'd certainly like to play.  I just think that there should be a limit to how many players can realistically and practically exist in one continuum.

What if the point of the MMO wasn't to be the most badass, or for that matter a hero?  I see an MMO more as people who want to adventure in the same virtual world.  Having great and meaningful gameplay experiences isn't really about being the best fighter on the server, or the richest person on the server.  Your gameplay experience, your story, should be important because it's yours, and shaped by your choices, not because you're inherently special compared to everyone else in the world.  Here let me copy& paste you a thing from my gamesprout page for my design:
 

My goal in designing WildWright is to create a gameplay experience which feels like the player has entered an interactive novel. Specifically a fantasy romance novel, or at least a fantasy novel with optional romance content. I'm really tired of the traditional "hero" role in RPGs which is all about becoming the most badass fighter in the world. There's nothing wrong with that goal, but it shouldn't be the only goal open for gamers to pursue in a virtual world. Instead I want to create a gameplay experience which is more like the typical 'heroine' role in a romance novel.

So, for those not familiar with the genre, what is the heroine role of a romance novel like? Romance novels are closely related to the "bildungsroman" story archetype - that means a story which is about a young person becoming an adult and finding a place they can fit comfortably into adult society, which often includes finding a mate. This is quite compatible with the basic activities of an RPG, such as leveling up, earning money, obtaining a house or other property, gaining abilities and fame, and exploring the world. Self-development is in fact an underdeveloped theme in many RPGs, and by bringing this theme front-and-center WildWright should be able to have a really strong combination of story and gameplay because the two will conceptually support each other.

In addition to the bildungsroman role of young adult finding a satisfying adult position in society, a romance novel heroine is often a problem solver. She may not be able to directly tackle her own major problems, but helps those around her (NPCs). This builds relationships between the heroine and other characters, who in turn often repay her with help for her own difficulties. Again, this is all completely compatible with RPG gameplay; there are many great games, from the Harvest Moon series and Azure Dreams, which are dating-sim hybrids, to mainstream games like Skyrim and WoW, where the player can carry out quests or solve dialogue puzzles to strategically build friendships with NPCs for various reputation rewards.

Another thing romance novel heroines often do is investigate mysteries. The problem of a romance novel is not usually a big monster that can be attacked with straightforward violence, but instead a tangled, unbalanced situation which is a puzzle the heroine must investigate and use persuasion, psychology, and ingenuity to solve. This is really ideal for a story-heavy RPG because it's a more fresh and meaty reason to send the player traveling here and there than yet another mercenary job to lower the population of some monster or gather X drops from said monster. Totally compatible with RPG gameplay such as exploring, giving items and information to NPCs, and again solving dialogue puzzles. And a romance heroine can use force but she uses it strategically, not as an indiscriminate way of life; for example she hunts a particular type of monster because she wants its antlers to craft glue needed for a more elaborate project.

Finally, romance novel heroines don't act as part of a "dungeon party", they mostly "play solo". I think the market of MMOs which are friendly to an introverted play style is really underdeveloped. A lot of people don't seem to grasp why someone who wants to mostly play alone would want to play an MMO. This is a result of not understanding the benefits introverts and others get out of more passive socialization, such as doing the same activity as another nearby player. You don't have to do the activity breathing down each others' necks to feel a sense of community. Creative people in particular get a lot of benefit from doing their solo creation in a shared world where other players can comment on their efforts, and the creator can see what has already been created by others as a challenge to answer with their own future creations. Having other people in a world to talk to and trade with is key to making a player feel like their time spent in the world really means something. So, WildWright will be very solo-friendly; there will be instanced dungeons for small parties of friends, but all such dungeons will also have a single-player mode. There will not be specialized healer and tank classes which are slow or difficult to play with in solo PvE. (Having pre-determined classes would also be incompatible with WildWright's theme of personal evolution; instead players can seek out abilities they want to add to their character's repertoire, and the game will recognize a player's functional class by the abilities that player uses the most and the activities that player spends the most time on within the game.

Edited by sunandshadow
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some systems (including the real world) it is much easier to destroy than to build.

 

In a player shaped world you need to prevent making it easy for players to undo what other players have done.(it may not even be a case of the usual mentally ill griefers but just someone else who has their OWN plans for the world assets involved)

 

You also want some persistance of the 'shaping' so the player can have a chance to see it as 'done' before the world moves on and his efforts are modified by others actions.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In some systems (including the real world) it is much easier to destroy than to build.

 

In a player shaped world you need to prevent making it easy for players to undo what other players have done.(it may not even be a case of the usual mentally ill griefers but just someone else who has their OWN plans for the world assets involved)

 

You also want some persistance of the 'shaping' so the player can have a chance to see it as 'done' before the world moves on and his efforts are modified by others actions.

I can wholeheartedly agree with this.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0