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makeshiftwings

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  1. Quote:Original post by Wavinator I realize I started all of this without framing it all that well. Maybe it would help to put some stronger parameters around this discussion. Let's take a couple of examples and see if we can agree on them. I'll throw in some of the more popular ones that maybe the majority have played: Games Closer To The Far End of the "Casual" End of the Scale Tetris Minesweeper Card game ports to computer (Solitaire, Poker) Any of the huge number of match 3 games (Jewel Quest) Diner Dash Games Midway But Closer to "Casual" The Sims / Roller Coaster Tycoon Mario Kart Racing / Wii Sports Games SimCity Myst Games Midway But Closer to "Hardcore" Quake / Halo / Medal of Honor Diablo / Morrowind / Deus Ex Starcraft / Homeworld / Supreme Commander Games At The Far End of the "Hardcore" End of the Scale Most space / air combat simulators (the old Falcon 4.0 for example) Civilization / Galactic Civilizations I don't know if this adds anything to the conversation, but I know quite a few people who really liked Civ2 (and occassionally Civ3), yet were completely uninterested in the majority of games, especially shooters, RPG's, etc., which you put towards "more casual". I don't know if I'd say Civ or GalCiv are necessarily "more hardcore" than FPS's, they're just "more niche". They cater to people who like slow, turn-based, expansion games. Some people like those things casually. For example, a lot of the "casual" Civ players I know enjoyed it because they enjoy similar board games, like Risk. One enjoyed it because he was a Political Science major with a great interest in history and war. Along the same lines, I know a ton of people who consider themselves "hardcore gamers", yet almost all of them think flight simulators are dreadfully boring. Flight sims are also what I'd consider "niche", not "hardcore". There are lots of people who buy flight sims but have little to no interest in the rest of gaming in general as well, again, because of outside interests (model airplanes, flying lessons, etc.)
  2. Quote:Original post by Puck The main point, at least in my eyes, is to maintain item value. If you have a prohibitively expensive item that you intend for only a few select players to have in an open economic system, it's likely that at some point inflation will make attaining that item almost trivial. I don't see how that's necessarily true. Most players have the opposite complaint about inflation from what I've seen. They complain that the magic sword they want is going for 10 million gold pieces on the auction house. Can you give an example of a game where things that were supposed to be prohibitively expensive became trivial? Why didn't the players just start raising the price on the item they were selling? Quote: The current solution to that problem is to add even more expensive items, which results in the previous bottom tier of items becoming useless/undesirable, since what used to be the next tier up is now as trivial to attain as the bottom tier was originally, again due to inflation. While not inherently negative, this introduces some degree of confusion among new players and adds another element of maintenance to the game. Can you give an example? Most MMO's I'm thinking of sell most of the cool stuff through an auction house, which lets players set the price. The main thing I imagine you might be talking about is how WoW has normal mounts and epic mounts that you buy from NPC's directly, but I think the price difference has more to do with the expansion than with inflation. Quote: A closed economic system on the other hand provides you an opportunity to control the value of items, since there's only a certain amount of resources allocated per player. Then, for example, if an item costs ten times as much resources as an individual is allocated you are guaranteed that at most one in ten players will have that item. I guess that might be true, but I don't really see the point. If everyone in my game started using the same item, my reaction wouldn't be "I need to take that away from 90% of them", I would try to figure out what they liked about it and either fix it if it was unintended (maybe the sword is overpowered), or, hopefully, make more items like it but slightly different so that there's some more variety.
  3. I think the barrier to hardcore games is the same as it is in many other forms of media and hobbies. Hardcore games are made by gamers for gamers, and are therefore less accessible to people that only have a passing interest in games. This is the same way that certain genres of music are only interesting to certain full-time fans who are often musicians as well (free jazz, math rock, etc.), while people with a passing interest in music prefer pop. Certain novelists only appeal to people who read a lot; certain movies only appeal to people who watch lots of film. I don't think this is a bad thing. Some games should be made for people who already have a thorough understanding of the medium and the genre staples, while some games should be designed to attract casual audiences. Anywhere there is a target audience for a type of game, game designers should boldly go. ;)
  4. If I may ask, what is the point of a closed economic system? Is it that some people think it would be more realistic? The workarounds suggested here to make it work certainly aren't realistic, so I can't see why that would matter. Is it supposed to be more fun? I'm not quite sure why that would be the case either. In fact, with some of the workarounds suggested (like spawning nodes as other players use up resources), I don't think an average player would even realize the economy is closed, so it can't increase the fun for them. It just seems like a lot of work for no good reason.
  5. Also, as a player (not just a designer), I strongly dislike the philosophy that players should have unlimited freedom to manage their own challenge levels. I would absolutely hate playing chess if my opponent kept saying "Just tell me whenever you want me to make a bad move, so I can make sure you win". I would hate to be in a bike race where the guy next to me kept asking me "You want me to go slower? A little faster? Just let me know. How about I'll swerve a little bit?" As a player, the only time I like to decide my challenge level is outside the actual game. I don't mind picking my chess opponent before the game starts. I don't mind setting the point limit on a game of basketball before the game starts. But I don't want the freedom to change the rules once I'm actually playing and competing, and I want my opponent to work as hard as he can to defeat me. That's why, as a player, I really don't like quicksave/reload. I hate having to try to manage my own challenge level using it, because I know that in the usual design (say, Oblivion, for example), that there's no way I can actually "lose", I will inevitably beat anything if I decide to quicksave before it. It helps a little bit if a game is divided into levels or missions, as at least then, there is a sort of structure for me to try and base my challenge on. For example, Warcraft 3 is divided into separate missions that are affected very little by previous missions, and I would just save at the beginning of each mission and never quicksave/reload within one. But in a game like Oblivion that lacks discrete "rounds" and where each point in time is entirely dependent on earlier points in time, it's impossible to really "create your own challenege" until you've played through the game enough to know where to set reasonable save points and goals. And I had no desire to play through Oblivion twice.
  6. I pretty much agree with most of what Trapper Zoid says. In addition, I'll add that quicksave/reload almost always does have an effect on game design, even if the designer swears up and down that really, he's totally ignoring the fact that it's there, for real, honest. The accepted notion of quicksave/reload leads to lazy death mechanics. Tons of games just put up a "Game Over" screen when you run out of health, with the assumption that you probably quicksaved a while ago. And that's the entire "challenge" mechanic of the game. It's not actually a gameplay challenge anymore at that point; it's a sort of meta-challenge. The strategy in the game comes down to knowing when and how often to quicksave to ensure you replay as little as possible. There are lots of games that do just fine without quicksave/reload: for example, nearly every online game. MMO's don't let you reload, but plenty of people play and enjoy them. The key is that they actually bother to implement a death system, rather than just taking the lazy way out and using a Game Over screen. If someone made a game with quicksave/reload and it absolutely 100% had no effect on the rest of the game design (ie, the game would still be playable, beatable, and enjoyable even if you never reloaded at all), then I'd say it would be fine. But that's not how it works in the real world.
  7. The key for me would be that the lying NPC's motivation would need to be shown fairly clearly. If some guy tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then when I go east, he's there waiting for me with a group of bandits, then that's fine and interesting. If he tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then I go east and there's nothing there, and it's actually west, and the NPC never says anything more about it, then I'd assume it's a bug.
  8. Hmm. There's a whole lot of discussion about what levels are in your post, but the only two complaints I see are: Quote:A standard system of levels in an MMORPG also cripples its player competition, because the competitive aspect becomes focused wholly upon "leveling" and not on the competition itself. And: Quote:Likewise, participation in the economy at a lower level becomes impossible as loot, NPC drops, and crafting materials are stratified based on the range of levels and cannot be accessed by those at a lower level. For both, I don't think this is a problem unless you make it one. In both cases, you can easily participate, you're just limited to participating in your own level range. In WoW, if you want PvP at level 29, then you go into a level 29 Battleground, or you just challenge people around your own level. In WoW, if you want to sell level 36 materials and equipment, you sell them to other level 36 players. You're not really "crippled", and it's not "impossible to participate"; the player is possibly just feeling bitter that their goods don't sell for as much money as higher level goods, or that they aren't as good in combat as someone higher level than you. But that's the whole point of levels. Also, I don't think EVE's leveling system has much of anything to do with its economy. EVE's economy works for several key reasons: 1) Everything can be player-crafted. 2) Players die and lose everything somewhat often, so they need to keep buying new equipment. 3) Goods have to be physically transported throughout the galaxy rather than all being at a central auction house, which creates spatial supply and demand. I really don't think the fact that you don't have a level has much to do with it. If they took WoW, made it much bigger and harder to teleport, made crafting equipment better than raiding equipment, and then made your equipment explode every time you die, the economy would be very similar, even though there would still be levels. I also don't think EVE really solves the two "problems" above. A low skillpoint player can't kill a high skillpoint player in EVE, exactly like a low level player can't kill a high level one in WoW. A low skillpoint crafter in EVE is limited to mining low quality minerals and making low quality goods, and can't participate in Tech II or high level ship production until he gets more skillpoints. There are ways to solve these problems; the simplest way is to just make a shallower progression curve. If level 70 WoW players were only marginally stronger than level 1 players, then it would be fine, even though there are still levels. EVE does have a shallower progression curve, so maybe that's what you're seeing. So I don't think power difference has anything to do with levels per se; you can have just as much power imbalance in a skill-based system as well if you have a steep power curve on your skills. Quote:The result is that the game will always be based on this form of linear grind of levels, and that the bulk of content created by the developer is simply played once, then becomes completely irrelevant for the rest of the game experience. This isn't necessarily true. People who like leveling often create many alts, and will progress through early content a few times. I know I have always have tons of alts in MMORPG's. Quote: By converting to a non-linear system of character development with, most importantly, diminishing gains for character development and a set of game-world items, areas, etc. that remain CONSTANTLY relevant, developers can focus on creating content that adds depth to a MMORPG as opposed to simple length. Again, I don't think EVE works as a good example. A high skillpoint player is only going to do Level 4 missions; he's never going to redo levels 1-3. He's never going to go back into 0.8 Space to mine Veldspar. Once a player's got high skills and is out in 0.0 space, he probably only goes into high sec space to sell some things at Jita once in a while. EVE's also a little questionable since its "content" isn't the same as other MMORPG's. I like EVE a lot, but its art and quest content is all the same thing repeated over and over. The fun of EVE is almost entirely in its players. [Edited by - makeshiftwings on June 8, 2008 7:00:29 PM]
  9. If you're going for a JRPG feel, then you need a weapon that's unique, stylish, and memorable. The buster sword and the gunblade are good examples; they're both unique and very stylized. They're the kind of things that make "realists" foam at the mouth (No one can lift a sword that big! Why would anyone ever attach a sword to a pistol grip?!), but they are strong visual cues that make the character memorable. When you see someone walking around a video game convention with Cloud's sword, you know it's Cloud's sword. There are millions of swords out there in video game land, so it's quite an accomplishment to have one that so many people instantly recognize. My advice is to first throw realism out the window. Your primary objective should be making something that looks cool and captures some element of the main character's personality. It doesn't make physical sense that Tidus would fight with a glass sword full of water, or that Kratos would fight well by twirling around daggers chained to his bones, but it makes perfect thematic sense for those two characters. Try to think about the important parts of your main character's back story, personality, and looks. Then spend some time on the internet looking for weapons and other items that match those themes. Put the weapon together with some other thematic items and keep sketching until you find something that looks cool.
  10. Quote:Original post by Tangireon On the other hand, crafting might have a hand at how physically adept you are (to which is the major factor in combat systems). For example, a woodsman who spent a lot of time chopping trees might as well be able to be transfer all of what he learned to battle, only this time, the difference would be wielding a battleaxe chopping flesh and bone. A blacksmith who spent much time hammering metal might become proficient at wielding a warhammer pick smashing enemies in battle. A miner could wield his miner's pick and start poking some holes in an enemy's armor, or chip away at an enemy rock golem. I was talking about the player being clumsy and bad at fighting, not the character. In a typical RPG, you start at level 1 with a small handful of abilities, fighting small amounts of slow, easy monsters. You gradually gain more abilities and have to start dealing with more complex fights, more monsters at a time, and tougher enemy strategy. If we take WoW for example, handing a new player a level 70 shaman and dropping them off in Kara would be a disaster: they'd have tons of abilities they don't understand, monsters that are incredibly difficult, and a whole bunch of angry players kicking them out of the group for being a liability. (On a side note, this is often what happens when people buy characters off eBay.) So, even if it might seem realistic to let characters skip past a bunch of combat levels by doing something else, it might actually end up being confusing and annoying for the player.
  11. Quote:Original post by Humble Hobo Ok, let's assume a few things. 1) Hypothetical MMO. Everything else is polished, and based on the standard systems of today. 2) The crafting system is fun and deep. Now, would it be unreasonable to make crafting levels increase your overall level? After all, just what does that number above your head mean? Right now it means how much you have participated in combat. Would it be interesting to have that number represent your overall experience in the game instead? I suppose that this would then shift to the definition of a skill-based game. It just seems that the only meaningful level I've ever seen in an MMO is your combat level. It's what everyone around you looks at and judges you by. It determines who you are. But what if you are someone who enjoys crafting, but does not get around to much combat? Should they get rewarded for the time spent? Or should the main 'level' only represent combat experience? I feel like I say this in every thread, but here it is again: It sounds like by MMO, you mean World of Warcraft. You should play a few others to get an idea of the systems they use. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes divides your progress into 3 "spheres": Combat, Harvesting, and Crafting (with a side system for Diplomacy). You pick a combat class, crafting class, and harvesting class. If you spend all your time crafting, you'll be a level 50 Blacksmith but only a level 7 Paladin. Games like EVE Online and Ultima Online use skills instead of levels. In EVE, you can spend all your time crafting to become an awesome crafter and advance through the game that way, without needing to do much combat. I would say that it's not a great idea to increase combat level through crafting, though the world won't end if you do it. You'll end up with a bunch of level 70 Rogues who are clumsy, inept, and terrible at combat, since their players won't have had any practice since they spent all their time in the alchemy lab. Combat level should advance by fighting, so that you must learn to use new abilities as you get them, and deal with the ramping up of difficulty and complexity as your level rises.
  12. I think there are a few simple options you're leaving out: 1) Don't let the player save skill points. You have to use them all when you level up. 2) Use talent trees, like WoW, where you have to progress deep into a tree to get the best stuff anyway, so you're not "wasting" points by taking the early tree slots. I can't remember exactly how Diablo 2 did it, so maybe I'm not grasping the problem.
  13. Quote:Am I overstating the loss of immersion when dealing with "artificial" caps? I'd say yes. Limited party size is something that's become so ingrained in every RPG fan's mind that most of us probably don't even question it anymore. It would be like a platformer fan playing Mario 7543 and shouting "What?! No one can jump that high!" It's just an accepted genre convention by now. If you need to include something, I'd make it subtle. If you have the game start stuttering excuses at the player for why it's limiting the party size, it might actually backfire, and cause them to start thinking about how it's awkward and unrealistic when before they wouldn't have even noticed. I would go with something short and hand-wavey, like: Bob: "Let's go!" Jim: "Wait! Someone should stay here and protect the base!" Bob: "You're right..." (transition to character select screen) Or, if you like X-Com's system, then translate that into your zombie world. Give them an armored van, or six motorcycles, or an anti-zombie warding spell that only covers six people. You could make most of the missions require them getting out of the van or whatever, to go into buildings and sewers. Personally, I would just use the "protect the base" excuse, and have it keep scaling up as the game progresses. At first, when you're only leaving 2 people behind, the base is pretty secret. Later, when you're leaving 40 people behind, the place is surrounded by zombies and everyone at the base is constantly running around shooting and securing the perimeter.
  14. Player skill already lets you grind faster in a typical MMO (we're all talking about WoW again, right?). So you already have a reward for being able to kill the minotaur in one second rather than spending five minutes doing it: you can kill 100 minotaurs in 100 seconds, and level up faster. I think the general idea of giving bonus XP for "cool tricks" is fine, but I think it could go too far. The early levels are where your players are still learning the ropes, and you would usually want to maintain a somewhat steady level curve for all players so that you can lead them through tutorial-style quests. Once you get to mid-levels, I think it would be easier to allow a bigger discrepancy, where you let the good players rocket to the level cap and force the worse players to grind away in obscurity for years. Of course, I think this might make a lot of the worse players quit the game, since they're being doubly penalized: first, they're bad at the game and can't kill things very fast, and second, they're getting far less XP than everyone else even when they do finally kill things.
  15. Some of your ideas are interesting, but I feel a need to point out some reasons that most MMO's do not do what you're suggesting. Quote:Original post by bhuma Up to this point in time, there have largely been three ways to advance in MMOs: 1. level progression, 2. gear progression, 3. skill progression. I think by "MMOs" you mean "World of Warcraft". There are other MMO's out there; you should play a few more so you have a broader view. I think the appropriately named "Guild Wars: Factions" might give you some ideas, as well as EVE Online. You can get free trials for both. Quote: Let this have both benefits and costs. For example, it could affect the players stats—increasing faction in a given direction could increase certain stats, while simultaneously decreasing others. It could also open up certain skills and abilities, which are taught by members of the aligned faction and their allies, while blocking other skills and abilities, which are taught by members of the opposing faction and their allies. This is pure benefit, and no cost. The way you're describing it, the only way to advance in the game is to pick one faction (or possibly a group of friendly factions) and grind it. There is no reason to play both sides. "Not getting access" to other factions isn't really a choice; it's like saying "Gaining Aldor has the benefit of getting you cool stuff, but the cost is that you don't get the Scryer stuff." That's not a cost, because you can't get the Scryer stuff at the beginning. Picking one of Aldor or Scryer is necessary to advance, and once you do it, it's pure benefit over not picking a side. This isn't necessarily bad, but I think you're glossing over the fact that anyone interested in advancing must pick one faction and grind it; there's no real choice to do otherwise. Quote: Whether or not one succeeds in accomplishing this goal, depends upon every action that one makes throughout the entire game. By virtue of some actions, one might rise in rank, and by virtue of other actions, one might fall in rank. Once you have achieved a certain rank, it is not locked in stone. If you perform actions that are opposed to your favored faction, you can fall in rank, with a corresponding reduction in your favored stats, skills, abilities, etc. One thus has to be careful as to what one does, if one wants to rise in the ranks and become a mighty hero, or elite member of the chosen faction. The realistic outcome of this, if it were to be a real commercial MMORPG, would be that two weeks after launch, there would be an automated thottbot system and fifty wikis and strategy guides telling you exactly which choices you should pick to grind up your faction the fastest. "Keeping secrets" from players doesn't work well in an MMO. All of your players are internet-savvy. If you did manage to keep the secrets, I think many players would intensely dislike the idea of questing for an hour and then at the end getting a message that says "No, option C was the wrong choice. Please do the quest again and guess either A, B, or D." Quote: Those who succeed in achieving the highest rank in a given faction are granted extraordinary stats, along with extraordinary skills and abilities, which can then be employed in an attempt to overcome the world-wide threat. This sounds like a level cap; if it is, then you should realize that in a successful MMO, there will be a ton of players that hit it. The vast majority of them in fact. A mistake a lot of MMO dreamers seem to make is that they envision their world as having a small handful of powerful players, without really coming up with a system of how that would work, other than, "Well, my MMO will be really hard." It doesn't matter how hard you make it: if players can respawn and try again, then everyone will eventually hit the level cap. Does your vision work if "those who succeed in achieving the highest rank" are 90% of the people online at any time? Or does it fall apart? Quote: The ordinary factions represent organized society, which has its own rules, designed to preserve some semblance of order. Over and above these ordinary factions, let there be a demonic faction—which is increased by performing mindless, evil, and despicable acts, designed to disrupt the activities of organized society. This would include ganking of low level players, spawn camping, general griefing, killing innocent NPCs, including quest-givers, burning down or destroying villages, etc. By doing these things, the player falls outside of organized society and will eventually come under the sway and tutelage of the rising demonic force. As a result, the physical form of the player gradually changes into that of a demon, who is kos by all members of organized society. I think this is a terrible idea. Griefing is a bad thing. Griefing is different from PvP, and it's different from roleplaying the evil team. Despite what a few masochistic teenage boys might say, most people do not enjoy being ganked and corpse camped by someone 30 levels higher than them. Especially new players who are just learning the ropes: the low levels you're talking about. Most people do not enjoy being harassed or insulted. You should never reward this sort of behavior. I can't say how much of a bad idea I think it is to make a game where the key to advancement is killing someone fifty levels lower than you over and over again or camping the spawns of quests you don't need just to annoy people. Almost all MMO's that allow this sort of behavior do everything they can to make it useless for advancement, so that the only people who do it are those who enjoy annoying people for its own sake. A better idea would be to have the Evil Team go on Evil Quests where they need to kill good guys of their own level to advance. Quote: In the event that the demonic hordes win, by killing the King or Queen, and defeating the champions of the world, then they can go on a rampage for a limited period of time, destroying villages, cities, guild houses, etc. at their whim—and killing all the lower ranked players that they can find. In the event that organized society wins, by killing the Demon, and his demonic horde, then they can enter the gates of Hell, destroy the demonic stronghold, and kill all the lower ranked demons that they can find. In both cases, the ‘banks’ of the losing side can be robbed—and their treasures stolen. Once the world-event is over, both sides will need time to recover, replenish their treasures and supplies, and prepare for the next world event. This sort of thing tends to lead to a "cycle of power". The side that wins gets all the gold while the losing side loses all their gold. Now the winning side is stronger and the losing side is weaker. So in the next battle, the stronger side wins again. Now they're even stronger and the other side's even weaker. This continues for a while. Players on the losing side start to re-roll alts on the winning side; new players tend to migrate to servers where their preferred side is winning. Eventually, one side just automatically dominates every time, especially if there are one or two uber players who keep getting nominated over and over again to ensure the win. If you want it to balance out, you need to either reset everything a while after one side wins, or you need to ensure that the losing side gets some advantage that is actually better in the long-term than the short-term advantage that the winning side gets. One good example is in the MMO Pirates of the Burning Sea. When one faction wins the world event, it gains rewards, but the losing sides gain bonuses to their economy that will help them more over the long run so they have a better chance at winning the next world event. Quote: This, in my mind, would constitute a worthy end-game for an MMO, while allowing a rich sandbox environment for those who didn’t care to participate in the end-game. The way you've described it with the demons, it's not a rich sandbox for those who don't care to participate. It's a vicious gankfest against invincible assholes in every zone, with every questgiver dead and every spawnpoint camped. I would highly recommend you rethink this. There are plenty of ways to roleplay a bad guy without actually needing to ruin people's fun in real life.