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Gnollrunner

Some ideas for a single shard MMO

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While I’m working on my MMO engine, in parallel I wanted to get some feedback on a few ideas for the eventual game. 

First, the idea behind it is that everyone will be on a single shard, a planet of perhaps 2000km in diameter.  This size is not set in stone. It could be larger or smaller. I would like to have high population areas and vast wildernesses

All this will be supported by the run-time procedural generation engine that I’m working on. There will be some limited modification of the world through voxels with “override functions” and you will be able to build houses and eventual cities, but no willy nilly construction and destruction as this is probably a disaster in an MMO for several reasons.  Any modification will take a lot of player resources, so players will not be encouraged to just create havoc for the sake of it.

I wanted to make the world large to give players a real sense of adventure.  The general idea is that when you first start, you are placed in an area corresponding to your true location on earth. For instance, if you live in China you will be in a virtual fantasy sort of China.  It won’t be called China but it will have architecture and a general feeling of ancient China. Also the map won’t be the same as the earth, just certain areas in the fantasy world, will correspond roughly to certain areas of the real world. That goes for say medieval England, Germany, etc etc.

When you first log in, people around you will naturally be from your region and speak the same language (assuming you aren’t trying to hide your location). As you travel, it will be like you are traveling in the real world. You will meet people you may not be able to talk to. There might be some very limited accelerated travelling but generally I want to keep that to a minimum.  Fast mounts will be really valuable. Flying mounts will be elite and only available if you make heavy sacrifices to your character to obtain one. I want to make them a real rarity, such that actual horses and similar creatures are the mainstay mounts of the world for the most powerful characters.  I also want to make ships valuable.

In general everything will be a tradeoff.  For instance, if you want to be a good crafter, you won’t be the best at combat.  On the other hand, you will have certain support skills that make you valuable in a group, for instance sharpening weapons. In addition the absolute best equipment in the game by far, will be player made.  However the materials to make such items will be hard to come by and require group effort. In general I want to highly encourage group play.

That being said, in general I dislike raids. I’ve always thought they were a huge boring waste of time and kind of a crutch to provide end game content.  I think if I make the world big enough, there will naturally be a lot of stuff players have never seen, so I’m hoping I don’t need to put in a bunch of fake stuff just to give players things to do.

There will perhaps be some sort of long term grouping such that if a traveling party gets separated (say because people log in and out at different times) you can bring members back together, however I want to force people to really traverse the terrain, because I think jumping around too much breaks immersion.

As for combat, I’m leaning towards simple tab targeting because I’m thinking it’s not so lag sensitive. Also I’m an old time table top player and I don’t really want a twitchy game since to me that really isn’t what RPG is all about. A want a character’s stats, skills and equipment to play a huge part in what they can do.  

PvP is kind of a though thing to design.  While it’s cool to have it, I think it has to be designed very carefully. I would rather make PvP naturally part of the game rather than having special battlegrounds etc.  Again, I’m shooting for maximum immersion.  At the same time allowing power gamers to kill off people randomly tends to destroy a game pretty fast.  The average player just gets sick of dying over and over and simply quits, and once the community is gone that’s pretty much it.

I was thinking of a system that allows you to engage in PvP at your own discretion.  However players will be able to choose between being a civilian or a soldier. Killing enough civilians will have serious in game consequences.  You will be freely kill-able by anyone in the game including civilians.  You will get bad rep with guards and won’t be able to enter cities easily.  In short you will be a criminal.  The idea is to turn the screws on these types of players to the point where only the most hard core PK will want to take that rout. I think you really need play testing to get this right. If it turns out you still have too many PKs, you need to make it even harder for them until you reach the right level.  I look at this as somewhat realistic.  In most cases if you go around killing people on the street you won’t last long in the real world.

I think I’m kind of rambling now. I don’t have any specific questions. I just wanted to get some thoughts from people on this stuff. Thanks for reading.

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