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Meatsack

Being Relevant in a MMO

44 posts in this topic

MMO:s are pretty expensive to make. Adding any form of restrictions on how and when the player may play limit player influx and probably make them bounce away before they get stuck. 

 

I think player content is one way forward. Let players set up challenges/minigames for other players and have some form of mutual award system. People like to be creative and a small tournament in the shape of a minigame can bring people together. 

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Well, personally I think the "answer" is more interactive storytelling in MMOs.  And good interactive storytelling pretty much requires there to be no randomness in the base game given to players - instead the only difference in players' experience is a side effect of the game responding to their choices and actions.  Randomly generated quests are the root of all evil as far as interactive storytelling goes.  Well, other than budget limitations for creating interactive content and bugs in the game's ability to track and respond to what the player has and hasn't done (I'm looking at you Skyrim).

 

Personally I've found that playing MMOs with people I know in real life doesn't work at all; we don't like the same kind of MMO or the same type of play within an MMO, we can't stay synchronized as far as leveling goes, and it puts unnecessary burdens on a friendship to try to synchronize our schedules for crap like dungeon runs.  I like soloing, I like doing an activity within sight range of someone else doing the same activity, I like having someone to chat to about the activities of the game and someone to trade with in the marketplace; other people make the game feel real, but I don't really want to play co-op with them for more than 15% of the time I'm playing.  I don't like sandboxes, and my ideal MMO would have a more or less linear core, with the sandboxy part limited to personal property development and pet breeding and such.  That's just me; I just figured I'd explain where I'm coming from.

Edited by sunandshadow
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This totally breaks the model of the MMO though. It is by and large an "endless repetition" genre of game, and "completing" the game by finishing everything in a given server destroys that.

There are some existing MMOs which are cyclical.  Whenever a server is completed a new one is opened (or in some cases a new one is opened on a regular schedule every month or two) and players race to be the first to accomplish various things in the new server.  In some cases the player's customized personal property or appearance is saved when the rest of the server resets.  Some parts of the new server have been randomized and must be rediscovered.

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Agreed (with Iron Chef) this could be a fun new take on the MMO structure.

 

MMOs are quest based, some quests being quite meaningful and other which are worthless tasks. Player's follow the HUD or map and carry out their quest to drive the narrative forward. Instead of having important heroes doing pointless tasks it might be fun to explore more pointless characters... Maybe the idea of a paired down MMO is reasonable by playing out a branched chapter of a branched story allowing players to drop into the roles of the existing characters written to play out the adventure of a chapter in the story (be it a major character or a minor characters). By the end any branched outcome of a chapter is driven by the actions of players. If no player jumps into the positions the whole chapter can be played out by the NPCs as it's written, the player driven actions will have meaningful consequences to the stories outcome.

 

The outcome could drive and trigger parts of up coming quests and tasks like any branching RPG. I don't play a lot of MMO RPGs but this would really enable the episodic content structure for players, since each chapter could be populated with hundreds if not thousands of characters both meaningful and filler to flesh out the chapter's world. Allowing players to enjoy  serious(primary characters) or casual(tertiary characters) gameplay when they choose which character to jump into for a chapter. Players could start chapter's they've purchased and play in private or public games choosing the characters they'd like to explore. The tasks, adventures and quests could be driven more by the internal decisions of the character (like internal monologue) still prompted by character socialization but more so as  a decision made by the character to go get something done.

 

To handle trolls and other grief, each quest can have multiple outcomes all triggering the plot to drive towards one of a few major outcomes. This would be a dizzyign exercize to try and write with even a small cast of characters but I still think it would be a lot of fun and it could still enable a lot of MMO staples like rare items custom leveling and etc. These elements could enable players to unlock certain quest endings they hadn't experienced before. So instead of just multiple endings you have multiple endings based on prerequisites. Many of which that could encourage cooperation and more socialization (which I get the feeling is the root cause for this topic). I want to play this game. How about you?

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If Skyrim had a co-op mode it sounds like that would be most of what you want.

 

That's probably closest to the truth, right there.  I'm not even going to give Elder Scrolls Online a fair chance because of the "Massive" portion of its multiplayer aspect.

 

 

 


I don't like sandboxes, and my ideal MMO would have a more or less linear core, with the sandboxy part limited to personal property development and pet breeding and such.  That's just me; I just figured I'd explain where I'm coming from.

 

To each their own, right?  My favorite MMO to date was Star Wars Galaxies (Pre NGE. The CU didn't bother me so much).  Very sandboxy, randomly generated missions, and a core storyline if you chose to follow it.  You'd think I'd like Minecraft, but I don't.  Too much sand, not enough box.  I don't want to build EVERYTHING I own from the ground up...  dry.png

 

EDIT:  Also, I don't care for modern day settings.  I live in modern day.  I want to escape from modern day.  So my ideal settings are Futuristic Sci-Fi or Mythological Fantasy.

Edited by Meatsack
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EDIT:  Also, I don't care for modern day settings.  I live in modern day.  I want to escape from modern day.  So my ideal settings are Futuristic Sci-Fi or Mythological Fantasy.

 

Now that I can agree with completely! lol  So bored with all these zombies and urban fantasy... I like alien historicals and low fantasy romance best, but I like pretty much any sci-fi and fantasy that isn't too grim and gritty or conversely filled with elves and dwarves or petty gods killing people off for their entertainment.

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I partly agree with the OP and I'm actually planning to create an Fantasy MMO myself.

 

About social part, I know what you mean. I decided I want to make it turn-based and PvP only. That way, people HAVE to work in teams. Also, turn-based games are not as intense, so you get time to chat with your friend / foe. This also fixes what you said about everyone facing the same mobs and everyone being the same, because there are no mobs and quests, only PvP.

 

Another concept I am trying to enforce is freedom - there will be a large variety of builds available, not limited by classes. I want to give people the option to name their own class, so that's gonna keep them creative - they can look up a really powerful warrior build for example and then go like "nah I don't want this skill so I won't invest in it as much, but I want a heal" and then get high HP and make their class "Tank" or "HP Warrior" for example.

 

I am really hoping to make it 100% F2P too, so there will be no subscription or cash items or anything, but we'll see how it goes.

 

I don't want to limit the number of players, but I doubt it will be that much of an issue.

 

 

Tell me what you guys think.

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If there's a Lich in a cave nearby and your character kills it, then the guy 5 minutes behind you can't kill it again for his quest because it's already dead!
 
Do not do this.  This opens the door to player griefing (moreso if there's a sellable drop on the same enemy).
 
Personal experience - In Final Fantasy XI I wanted to get the quest item for the Paladin Job, which drops off of a certain ghost that spawns about 5 or 6 times every night.  There was someone standing there all day waiting for it to spawn and killing it as soon as it popped up (I suspected botting, but I couldn't prove it).  The only way I could get the item was to buy it off the Auction House.
 
Even if a tradeable item is not involved, there is a subset of players that will abuse the system just to piss others off.
 
Guild Wars 2 achieves a nice balance with this - there are events and bosses that sometimes appear on the map that you can take out (most of them require a group, but not all, and they scale) but at no point are you required to complete it for a quest.  Success/fail of these missions chain into other events triggering - causing a bit of a domino effect.
 
Now granted - the idea of smaller servers that die and start up kind of mitigates this, and there is a market for town/empire building games using this structure;
I remember when Batheo first started, my guild was on the top tier.  They start a new server every other week, I think (they are up to 68 servers!)  The problem with it is that servers 'die' as players leave - no one wants to join an 'old' server and players leave to join new servers.  The business model is based on selling 'perks' in order to build faster or pay to have an advantage - so each new server there are more ways to pay to have an advantage and get ahead before other players do.  You can play for free, but you'll lag behind a little unless you spend all day at it (and even then, there are those who pay for the edge AND play all day)
 
This business model is popular for games developed in China and Korea.
 
Here is another one that's quite popular;
In this one, you work as part of one of the Three Empires and you can purchase buffs that benefit all players on your team and send armies to capture cities.  They are up to 98 servers now (I think they start a new server every 3 weeks or so?)
 
I haven't seen this model used for an adventure MMO like WOW, but it might be worth checking out games that use something similar to what you are describing and see what is worth improving on.
Edited by ShivaFang
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(Remember, I'm broke as a joke, so I'm not looking to actually produce any of this.  This is a purely hypothetical discussion.) 

 

The most basic idea behind my original post was to get away from the "Massive" portion of adventure gaming, but still be able to play with a reasonable amount of friends in a persistent world.  This eliminates auction houses, gold farmers, and spawn camping almost entirely.  Why even bother adventuring if you can grind up enough gold to buy the latest and greatest in equipment that other people went out to get?  Why bother playing at all? There's no story or fun to be had there.  (But...  it's FUN being powerful!  Well... why don't you EARN that power yourself instead of just PAYING someone else to play the game for you?)

 

The business model I had in mind would be to rent the new worlds to the players by server.  There wouldn't be any buffs or shortcuts for sale.  A player or group of players would prepay for a fresh, unspoiled world to be spawned where then they could log in and stomp all over it as they pleased.  Griefing would be mostly eliminated as the players would (ideally) already know each other and have social repercussions for their actions in the game.  Strangers and bots are up to the managing players to allow or disallow.  Items would be locked to that singular world and not available for cross-server trade or sale.  I think this would foster a culture of cooperation rather than competitiveness between players.

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What you’re describing sounds a lot like a Multi User Dungeon, rather than an MMO. (essentially a video game version of D&D) In a MUD-like game, actions have a permanent effect on the world and the focus is on completing the dungeon/quests as a group, whereas MMOs are meant to be persistent and open ended worlds where everyone can run through the content in their own time. This leads to the mindset of everyone in an MMO being out for themselves, since the incentive structure is built around personal character advancement, rather than working together to beat the game. In an MMO, people typically group up because they want to get X item from Y boss, whereas in a cooperative RPG, the focus is more on actually accomplishing the mission than grinding for gear.

 

You could think of any co-op RPG as being a kind of multi-user dungeon on a small scale, but they're usually much more linear than MMOs and it’s pretty rare to see them on a large scale, (requiring more than 4 or so players) especially in recent years. The main problem as I see it, is that for the game to work, all the players have to pretty much enter and play at the same time, and that means already being friends; you probably wouldn’t want to join a public world and find that most of the monsters have already been killed and there’s nothing for you to do. From a business perspective, it’s difficult to sell a game (especially if the plan is renting out servers) when you need to have a large group of people in order to play, since potential customers essentially have to organize a group beforehand to really get the most out of the game. These kinds of games really have to be built on top of a singleplayer RPG or else with a free to play model to remove the risk of buying on your own and then not being able to find enough others to actually play the game.

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...for the game to work, all the players have to pretty much enter and play at the same time, and that means already being friends...

 

That's pretty much what I'd like.  I don't see that as a problem, but as a strong selling point!

 


...you probably wouldn’t want to join a public world...

 

EVER!  Public worlds are chiefly what I'm complaining about.  I'm largely antisocial and plan on being an old crotchety man in a few decades...  I don't care much to play with strangers online or in real life.

 

If there is a problem with this business model, then I agree that it would be about the part where players would have to organize themselves before purchasing a world.  So there would have to be some set of scalable selectors during creation to adjust the world to fit the population of players.

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...for the game to work, all the players have to pretty much enter and play at the same time, and that means already being friends...

 

That's pretty much what I'd like.  I don't see that as a problem, but as a strong selling point!

 

 

 


...you probably wouldn’t want to join a public world...

 

EVER!  Public worlds are chiefly what I'm complaining about.  I'm largely antisocial and plan on being an old crotchety man in a few decades...  I don't care much to play with strangers online or in real life.

 

If there is a problem with this business model, then I agree that it would be about the part where players would have to organize themselves before purchasing a world.  So there would have to be some set of scalable selectors during creation to adjust the world to fit the population of players.

 

 

I think a lot of people don't like being flocked by a bunch of griefing noobs. I'm beginning to think the answer lies in persistent elements and localized multiplayer with a system of checks and balances to keep it all tied down (similar to how bitcoin can't be hacked at the moment). For example, a global market and trade mechanisms with localized quests and events that do not effect the larger persisting game. However, it really depends on your objective with the game and some people like to have people running around ruining stuff for no other reason than its a good show. 

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Maybe what you're looking for, then, is a really well-designed multiplayer campaign for an existing game.  I think Neverwinter Nights might have the tools you need to do this.

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An alternative to cutting the number of players could be to design the game so different players can have different goals and quests / missions.

That would be to make the game more sandbox,so instead of having a game focused on a single thing to do and every player having to do the same thing,you make individual story lines and maybe factions,or jobs or other stuff,that are designed to be fun on their own and not having a supporting role.

 

Take a look at Grand Theft Auto for example.

It has a series of racing missions,a series of linear shooting missions,another 'mission' that will have the players explore the world to find and kill / collect / whatever all "X"...

The point is that in Grand Theft Auto,the player chooses what suits him best to his own tastes,and he does that. So there are some GTA players who only do the shooting parts. Others enjoy racing and spend their time racing....

 

Now imagine how that could work in an MMO world.

There would be some players spending all their time on racing. While these people would do races,others would fight each other in a let's say "Team Deathmatch" fight. Those racing wouldn't care for the guys being in the mission of TDM. They could just run over a squad of a TDM team and kill them. This would make it kind of more believable from a point of view,but in the same time it would make players feel that they have an identity - Those racing are different than those shooting. Those shooting have entirely different thoughts and goals than those racing.

 

The thing is,everything has to happen in the same 'world' or 'instance' for this to work. If such events are happening in different instances,the shooting guys are never going to see cars speeding in front of them. And of course that would mean that there would be less 'safe' areas in the world,as PvP could come up when the players decide,in the same world everyone is playing. It would also require from players to be more safe because of that.hmm..

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Ugh, not this thread again.  Why do people keep thinking the "solution" to MMOs is different content for different players?  It's not. T_T  What players are really satisfied by is feeling that the game is telling them a story focused on them, but that isn't actually related to whether the player is given different random stimulus than another player, and is absolutely not helped by limiting later players' opportunities because earlier players have already used them up.  If anything it should be the other way around, players need protection against other players screwing up the story the game is telling them about their character's adventures.

The solution to MMOs is to separate boring themepark WOW clones from actual MMOs. If you have to call MMOs VOWs or something w/e. The label is not important except in conveying the idea, which is the main thing.

 

If you want a game to tell you a story you shouldn't be playing something prefixed with massively multiplayer. That's just the stupidest thing ever.

 

Whether or not there are a large amount of people who want to play a REAL MMO is a whole other question from the idealized concept of the games. EVE Online and ATITD both work well are are incredibly social compared to themeparks.

 

I get that you love JRPGs and what not but not everyone does and jrpgs have very specific rules that are anathema to massively multiplayer game play.

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Ugh, not this thread again.  Why do people keep thinking the "solution" to MMOs is different content for different players?  It's not. T_T  What players are really satisfied by is feeling that the game is telling them a story focused on them, but that isn't actually related to whether the player is given different random stimulus than another player, and is absolutely not helped by limiting later players' opportunities because earlier players have already used them up.  If anything it should be the other way around, players need protection against other players screwing up the story the game is telling them about their character's adventures.

The solution to MMOs is to separate boring themepark WOW clones from actual MMOs. If you have to call MMOs VOWs or something w/e. The label is not important except in conveying the idea, which is the main thing.

 

If you want a game to tell you a story you shouldn't be playing something prefixed with massively multiplayer. That's just the stupidest thing ever.

 

Whether or not there are a large amount of people who want to play a REAL MMO is a whole other question from the idealized concept of the games. EVE Online and ATITD both work well are are incredibly social compared to themeparks.

 

I get that you love JRPGs and what not but not everyone does and jrpgs have very specific rules that are anathema to massively multiplayer game play.

 

Wow that's prejudiced.  I get that you have an ideal MMO in mind, but that does not make it a "REAL MMO". dry.png  There are a lot of people who like low-socialization MMOs better than either high-socialization MMOs or single-player games.  The fact that you don't understand why people who are different from you like that kind of MMO best does not meant that they aren't MMOs or that they are "the stupidest thing ever".

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An Idea I have been investigating (for a long time) is the use of 'bubble' scenarios, where the quest/missions lead the player(s) to their own section of the map (server bubble) which has other (non-party) players blocked from entering (and interfering).   Virtual on-the-fly built terrain (world map huge so the not-seen-by-anyone-else locations can be justified and whatever-is-needed-in-the-bubble can be accommodated).   Small enough so 'baking' a custom level isnt overly taxing...

 

   Note - NOT random but some random variations to make elements in the various 'quest' scenarios different much of the time  (10 factors each with 4 substitutions  = million plus variations...).   Auto-generation used with and templated scenario elements (and sets of prop object/opponets viable for the basic quests plot).      Solo games could even use this to increase replay particularly with the falling play-thru-hours.    Fitting rules logic to place elements properly and nix conflicting details.

Hierarchical templates with parameterized elements to increase variations (but also to inherit and apply 'themes' to make the scenes somewhat cohesive).

 

For the World Map a kind of influence control map with NPC 'faction' entities which define areas of control (and spawns and local variations of theme flavoring and events).   Player's actions kill off spawns (a resource token of the faction entity) which effects that area which a particular faction controls (or multiple factions contend for), thus adjusting the spawns and making them push back or move their influence elsewhere - thus shifting the behaviors and reactions and motives of various NPCs on the map (and what they use their spawned minions for).  When a vacuum forms the factions pour in to take that area, potentially conflicting with each other. They attempt to rebuild their token resources, but with different strategies (risky vs conservative, warfare vs economics, power centering vs diffused, etc..)

 

Thus players can  have a visible impact (modifying local influence of the entities), but when they move-on, the factions reassert themselves and 'heal' (adjust) for later players to encounter - the currect placements somewhat differnt than earlier.

 

MMO with an overall plot and player development pushes them to new areas as they 'progress' ???  Just implement the above stepwise in the  progressive zones the players work themselves thru.  Each progressive are can have overall themed flavoring (and different factions) following the main plot   (ie- the closer you get to The Lonely Mountain the more and more wastelandish the areas get....)

 

 

Problem - its alot more complicated than the static stuff MMOs are currently.  The logic of the high level influence entities might not be complex, but tuning them so they dont unbalance the whole world suddenly is hard.  (GM override needs to be provided for (meaning proper tools to tweak factions) for the inevitable manual adjustments when things do go out of whack).

 

Programming locations and NPCs be able to operate under the different theme/situational modes  (ie- town is in Peace Mode or Warzone Mode or Border Chaos Mode or Depopulated Wasteland Mode and flavors of Faction A B C controlling differently in that local area  -- props and NPC demeanor/mix/behavior adjusted appropriately)  --- so thats a hell of alot more scripting to make things fit local factors/situations.   Alot of the logic can be shared and somewhat generalized, but the endcases explode -- all that having to be developed/tested/fixed/tuned (and largely work in production)

 

SO what game company wants that expense and risk  when they have trained customers to expect nothing better than they already get (or actually degraded from MMOs of 10+ years ago) ??

Edited by wodinoneeye
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It's just that playing with complete strangers all the time sucks.

 

 

I made a lot of online friends while playing WoW. The thing is, they all started as strangers. It takes time to get to know someone online and you miss a lot of the type of people that you actually want to get to know. Eventually this wears you out and you just start loving solo more. I don't think anyone can argue that accomplishing things with "friends" is more exciting than doing it solo in an MMO. I think MMO's should start focusing MORE on the social side. How do you do this? Well it might sound funny but they need to take a page from the online dating pages. They need to be smarter at teaming you up with people that you'd actually want to team with. Leaving it up to chance just doesn't work all that well and I think that's why we see the trend of soloing in MMO's. 

 

So I think the future of MMO's need to give you a starting area that basically is filling out an online "friend" profile based on the decisions you make. Take the online dating profile questions (a subset anyway smile.png ), and hide them in the choices you make at the start of the game. Then based on how you played the starting area (filled out your questionnaire), the game will find the best matches for you when you want to group up.

 

Honestly, this seems so obvious to me now, but back when I played WoW I never thought of this before. I mean why wouldn't you do this? This gives players the best chance to have fun with "friends" in an MMO. Yes, there are technical issues with this, but they can (and I'd almost say NEED) to be resolved in order to make the best group experience for the players in a genre that is supposed to be built around group experiences.

 

I just gave someone a billion dollar idea. I'll take 5% :)

Edited by rpiller
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Ugh, not this thread again.  Why do people keep thinking the "solution" to MMOs is different content for different players?  It's not. T_T  What players are really satisfied by is feeling that the game is telling them a story focused on them, but that isn't actually related to whether the player is given different random stimulus than another player, and is absolutely not helped by limiting later players' opportunities because earlier players have already used them up.  If anything it should be the other way around, players need protection against other players screwing up the story the game is telling them about their character's adventures.

The solution to MMOs is to separate boring themepark WOW clones from actual MMOs. If you have to call MMOs VOWs or something w/e. The label is not important except in conveying the idea, which is the main thing.

 

If you want a game to tell you a story you shouldn't be playing something prefixed with massively multiplayer. That's just the stupidest thing ever.

 

Whether or not there are a large amount of people who want to play a REAL MMO is a whole other question from the idealized concept of the games. EVE Online and ATITD both work well are are incredibly social compared to themeparks.

 

I get that you love JRPGs and what not but not everyone does and jrpgs have very specific rules that are anathema to massively multiplayer game play.

 

Wow that's prejudiced.  I get that you have an ideal MMO in mind, but that does not make it a "REAL MMO". dry.png  There are a lot of people who like low-socialization MMOs better than either high-socialization MMOs or single-player games.  The fact that you don't understand why people who are different from you like that kind of MMO best does not meant that they aren't MMOs or that they are "the stupidest thing ever".

 

This is the traditional bullshit defense of people who like to play certain kinds of games. I understand perfectly why people like those games. I just also understand that massively multiplayer is an adverb and that older MMOs and MMOs not optimized for massive games publishers profits actually attempt to do justice to said adverb.

 

I even said you could call real MMOs something else since MMO has been coopted for a different purpose than it was originally intended.

 

You were the one who brought this bullshit up and you didn't expect anyone to respond to you? Its clear what the OP is asking for but you just had to drag this same bullshit argument that pops up in all MMO threads here about how your kind of MMO is the one true MMO. As if the massive cultural and economic support for that idea can't buoy your fragile gaming ego enough.

 

The god damn topic is "Being Relevant In An MMO" and its clear what relevant means in this context. In no way whatsoever does a single player story focused MMO fit that description. Aside from taking the Online out I can't see how people in most MMOs could be LESS relevant to either the game itself or other players.

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