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r1ft Gaming Blog

A mirror of my gaming blog at r1ft.com. The jaded game designer turned corporate lackey. Feedback is always welcome.

Author: Daedren

Your Ideal MMO - Part 2 - The World You Live In

Posted by Daedren Wednesday May 14 2008 at 2:33AM
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Welcome to your ideal MMO. Last week, in Part 1, I asked what people wanted for Classes and Character Customization. I received quite a few responses, and I thank my readers for their feedback on this. It's good to hear what real players want.

So, what's next? The world you play (and live) in, of course. At first glance, this sub category seems huge - daunting, even - but I'll try to encompass most overall topics and try and get a feel of what people want as far as the world they interact with in an MMO.

Keep in mind we're assuming a post-apocalyptic world, here. We can assume a post-apocalyptic Earth for the sake of argument.

I've split the "World" category into three subcategories here: Design, Interaction, and Size

Design

1. What level of realism do you expect/want in the world you interact with?

2. What game, in your opinion, has provided the best world to live and interact in?

3. What freedoms do you want in a world that haven't been provided before?

Interaction

1. Should you be able to interact with almost anything (like in Elder Scrolls / Oblivion or Ultima Online) or do prefer a more static world (like World of Warcraft)?

2. Sandbox vs. non-Sandbox - what to you like, what do you want, and who's done it the best?

3. How much interaction with the world is required to keep you immersed?

Size

1. How big do you expect a MMO world to be? What's your ideal size, in terms of content and explorability?

2. What are your thoughts on travel time - should you be able to quickly get to one edge of the world to another, through some magical or other means? Or do you prefer having to travel through, with considerable time, to some destinations? (ala EVE Online)

3. Do you prefer a centralized world with trading/hubs and marketplaces or do you want these services to be available in any guild town / small town that you come across? (Basically: should you be forced to travel to major hubs to do some things like sell / train / buy , etc?)

***


Designing a world is tough stuff! As always, please feel free to elaborate or expand on any of the ideas. Tell me the world you want to live in.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.

Gnomig writes:

Good morning! (well at least it is morning where I’m at;)

Here’s my 2 cents for today.

 

Design

1.      What level of realism do you expect/want in the world you interact with?

Realism is kind of needed when you want a postapokalyptic world I guess – it wouldn’t work if there weren’t things that remind you of todays world. Still I’m not a reality-junkie. I want to play an MMO that runs smoothly on my machine, one that looks good but not in an plastic over-the-top kind of way… Polished WoW-graphics would suffice totally for me ^^

2.      What game, in your opinion, has provided the best world to live and interact in?

Eve online. By far…

3.      What freedoms do you want in a world that haven't been provided before?

Interaction with stuff that’s not really part of quests or trading. I want to be able to collect that rusty can from some kind of cellar, better yet: to be able to use it in an unpredictable way. (Ok, that one remains fiction, but I’d like it to be so)

 

Interaction

1.      Should you be able to interact with almost anything (like in Elder Scrolls / Oblivion or Ultima Online) or do prefer a more static world (like World of Warcraft)?

Say “YES!” to interaction! (see above^^)

2.      Sandbox vs. non-Sandbox - what to you like, what do you want, and who's done it the best?

Sandbox with enough well done quests – eve has done a great job in the sandbox-department but somehow I miss really cool quests. A feature I liked a LOT in AoC was the way you acquire quests… you talk to NPC’s instead of just clicking through a series of appearing windows.

3.      How much interaction with the world is required to keep you immersed?

A lot. Another word in respect to immersion.

I would like an improved ignore-filter to be implemented. A filter that doesn’t only apply to the chatwindow but removes another player *completely* from your game.

There were a bunch of pretty good games that I wound up hating because of the retarded community. I want to kick people that annoy me from my pc for good.

 

Size

1.      How big do you expect a MMO world to be? What's your ideal size, in terms of content and explorability?

It should be big, oh yes. But not so big that players never meet – I hate the way WoW turned out when the expansion came out… I once played a character for 2 days without seeing someone outside of a city. It’s a problem that results of the raising of the levelcap and players being stuck to certain level-appropriate areas. But enough of that. Large but not colossal.

2.      What are your thoughts on travel time - should you be able to quickly get to one edge of the world to another, through some magical or other means? Or do you prefer having to travel through, with considerable time, to some destinations? (ala EVE Online)

I would prefer it to be a mix ;-). Allow fast-travel but in a way that still makes players DO something to cross the world. Have 2 or 3 fast travel routes over a continent but not to every city. Then give those cities something worth traveling there such as special trainers, guild houses, pvp-arenas etc.

3.      Do you prefer a centralized world with trading/hubs and marketplaces or do you want these services to be available in any guild town / small town that you come across? (Basically: should you be forced to travel to major hubs to do some things like sell / train / buy , etc?)

Players should have to travel to do these things but only if they want the best trainers etc. . As for a routine level-up – they should be able to level in a village as well in my opinion.

Wed May 14 2008 3:18AM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

Design

1. What level of realism do you expect/want in the world you interact with? Realism is kind of ambiguous, so I'll give you sub-categories:

a) I don't care about realistic graphics (I much prefer I could run the game - I'd never buy a new computer just to run a game, and I don't have any friends that would)

b) I don't mind FFA PvP as long as the consequences for the provoker are equally realistic as in the real world

c) I don't want a world I can't make a dint in - excessive hunting in an area should decrease respawn rates. I should be able to eventually purge an area of evil, which could mean that it is "civilized" and ready for guilds of my faction to build housing in.

Yes, this means conquerable territory for particular factions. To enhance the realism of this aspect of gameplay, you need to sacrifice realism in another aspect - via victory conditions for the server. Either via server resets or some kind of "back to square 1" armageddon event at particular time intervals.

d) On the other hand, sometimes you can't let every player make a dint since it can ruin the game for other players... you often have to sacrifice realism (persistent world) in favor of instances. If you make a game that is only one or the other, it will suck.

2. What game, in your opinion, has provided the best world to live and interact in? None. The only game I've played where you feel like you can actually change the world is Shadowbane. The game is too sandboxy for me to enjoy (see below), so it's hard to say whether they went about it well. I never played UO or SWG so can't comment there.

3. What freedoms do you want in a world that haven't been provided before?

There are none, that haven't been provided in some way or another, but your choices in game design will limit you. You just need to pick all the best combinations my friend:

Instance vs persistence...Low grind vs no end game...Easy to learn vs hard to master.... Griefing vs RP PvP-ing... Conquerable territory vs giving players a safe, permanent home... Complete sandbox vs having no idea what to do... Completely skill-based vs completely class-based....

Good luck!

 

Interaction

1. Should you be able to interact with almost anything (like in Elder Scrolls / Oblivion or Ultima Online) or do prefer a more static world (like World of Warcraft)?

I don't care about interacting with the landscape, unless you make your AI so dumb that it's more fun to kill trees than to kill monsters. I do want player-made stuff to be interactive, ie you can create or destroy buildings. Also on a social level, ie you can win over a town to defect to your alliance's rule without destroying a single thing.

2. Sandbox vs. non-Sandbox - what to you like, what do you want, and who's done it the best?

I love the idea of sandbox. Never seen anybody do it and actually keep my attention in a game though. I need to know what my character's purpose in the world is.... it can't just be "get to max level and get the best items for the pure enjoyment of it". You need a story for your game world, and you need some kind of quests to guide new players along that story.

Yes, the story can be player driven (ie sandbox) at higher levels, but if you make me read a forum during my first hour of play, I'm going to uninstall your game.

3. How much interaction with the world is required to keep you immersed?

Nothing more than what I've referred to above.... and nothing less. Let me reiterate: sandbox in the early game actually breaks immersion, because it makes you resort to the forums. Just as being "led on rails" breaks immersion for the experienced players.

Size

1. How big do you expect a MMO world to be? What's your ideal size, in terms of content and explorability?

I'm not an "explorer", so I really don't need it to be too big. It depends on the population density. If the world is so big you never see people, there's a problem, and vice versa for overcrowding.

I WOULD like to see multiple factions in a game (say, ~7), so I'd want it big enough to have room for all those... although bear in mind some factions will be bigger than others.

2. What are your thoughts on travel time - should you be able to quickly get to one edge of the world to another, through some magical or other means? Or do you prefer having to travel through, with considerable time, to some destinations? (ala EVE Online)

I blogged just the other day on this exact issue, it's lengthy but give it a read if you have time:

http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/Melf_Himself/052008/1664_Travelling-in-MMORPGs

The summary is: travel being restricted increases immersion and provides for localized economies, but there must be ways around those restrictions when wanting to jump to friends or to "the battlefront", to make the game  fun for casuals. Read the blog for suggestions.

3. Do you prefer a centralized world with trading/hubs and marketplaces or do you want these services to be available in any guild town / small town that you come across? (Basically: should you be forced to travel to major hubs to do some things like sell / train / buy , etc?

Local economies rock my world. I want particular items to be sold at particular prices in particular locations. BUT every location should have items of comparable power to other locations, there should just be LARGE differences in appearance and SMALL differences in functionality.

Specific example: Town A is close to a meteorite crash site. Town B is close to a massive valley filled with giant spiders.

ie Town A might have the cheapest "starmetal swords of doom" available where Town B has none...but Town B has the cheapest "spider acid swords of ouchie"... wildly different art for each sword, but perhaps the spider sword has slightly lower DPS in exchange for mild debuffing effects.

Bottom line: location specific items should be "just as good" as each other, with a big difference in look/feel.

It should also be profitable for players to form merchant caravans and trek off across the landscape to take "spider poison glands" to Town A from Town B.... and they can fill up on "meteorite ore" to sell on the retun journey.

Thu May 15 2008 1:39AM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

*bump* because somebody else posted like 7 blogs at the same time :/

Thu May 15 2008 8:53AM Report
Melf_Himself writes:

Hmmm bumps don't work here, that's lame.... *sigh*

Thu May 15 2008 8:54AM Report
Azmaria writes:

Design

1. What level of realism do you expect/want in the world you interact with?

In a post apocalyptic world, it'd be interesting to see a mix.  Sure, you still see instances of the former world, but perhaps the force(s) that made the apocalypse were freaking Weird and the current state of the land is not quite so realistic.  That being said, graphics do play a decently large part in how I enjoy a game - better graphics allow for me to more fully immerse myself in the landscape.  I tend to play solo or use a select group of friends as my companions, so a lot of the time I ignore the (typically) retarded populace.  Because of this, the landscape and mobs need to have a real enough feel to create a visual immersion.

2. What game, in your opinion, has provided the best world to live and interact in?

Ironically, a text based MMO called Achaea.  It had the best world, lore, and habitation of any game that I've so far played.  The people in it were typically mature and roleplayed extensively, creating that great immersion that is to hard to find in graphical MMOs. 

3. What freedoms do you want in a world that haven't been provided before?

Player buildings built where want them, not where the game developers say that they can be built.  There have been plenty of games (best example Vanguard) where I saw a beautiful location where I wanted to build a house, but because the developers hadn't made a "plot" there, I couldn't do anything except stare and wish. 

Interaction

1. Should you be able to interact with almost anything (like in Elder Scrolls / Oblivion or Ultima Online) or do prefer a more static world (like World of Warcraft)?

Interaction is a big thing for me.  If there is an offending barrel (or perhaps even a rock), I want to have the option of moving/destroying it.  If I am raiding an enemy town, I want to torch some buildings, break windows, etc.  When I swing my sword and hit a tree, have it get lodged there (and when I get it out, make the tree have a notch in it). 

2. Sandbox vs. non-Sandbox - what to you like, what do you want, and who's done it the best?

Sandbox with main events that happen throughout.  Not everyone has to be present at these events, in fact most people won't be.  But for the group of adventurers that are in the right place at the right time, they might see the current ruler's brother run out of the ruler's room after stabbing the poor guy - at which point they could work to arrest him or try to ingratiate themselves with him to gain more power.  Thing is, most of the populace would hear of the events and then do their best to try to find the events themselves.  Other than that, sandbox with quests to make it not quite so monotonous.

3. How much interaction with the world is required to keep you immersed?

Tons, oodles, you name it.  The more I can really do in a world and feel like it makes some sort of a difference the more I am immersed.  If I can get together a group of a few like minded crafters and start a store which gains popularity and is eventually visited by a large number of people, I'd be happy and feel like I accomplished something.  If I (and my group) went out and destroyed a one-time spawn that had been terrorizing NPCs and PCs alike, I'd feel like I accomplished something (especially with some sort of a kill trophy that I could remove from aforementioned monster).  The more the better, in my opinion.

Size

1. How big do you expect a MMO world to be? What's your ideal size, in terms of content and explorability?

I want a large world that isn't so big that people don't meet each other in the countryside, but is large enough that I don't have 20 other people wandering around in the same part of a remote wilderness as me.  If level appropriate areas are the way to go for you, make a ton of them so that they're not huge gathering/choke points.  The large gathering points should be cities, keeps, towns, whatever - something civilized - but not monster hunting areas.

2. What are your thoughts on travel time - should you be able to quickly get to one edge of the world to another, through some magical or other means? Or do you prefer having to travel through, with considerable time, to some destinations? (ala EVE Online)

Some destinations deserve to be remote and hard to get to.  Like some random hermit who happens to know a lot about x (cliche, but effective).  Some places, like going from town to town, should be relatively quick, especially in a post apoc. world where advanced forms of travel should be around.  Take a train that gets you there in 5 minutes (real time) where you can interact with the other players and NPCs on the train instead of walking for a half hour to an hour to reach this place.  Have faster forms of non-automated ground travel available (cars, trucks, airplanes for the people who want to take the time to become pilots) at affordable prices of time and money.  Course, there are going to be places  you couldn't safely take a car/truck/airplane - ex. into a rocky ravine, so walking will still be a decent part.  Long travel times to places that don't need them are aggravating, especially to casual players.  However, going to a far away place to learn some crazy stuff, that deserves a longish travel time to get the sense of achievement and "epic journey" status.

3. Do you prefer a centralized world with trading/hubs and marketplaces or do you want these services to be available in any guild town / small town that you come across? (Basically: should you be forced to travel to major hubs to do some things like sell / train / buy , etc?)

Certain things should be available certain places, as Melf_Himself was saying.  Sure, most everywhere will carry the basics (look!  A linen shirt!) but you need to go to this famous gunsmith to get high quality guns.  As I was saying before, players should be able to make it in the global economy as traders.  Things that are possible for good crafters to make need to be valued (and not readily available by NPCs) so that there is an actual point to crafting.  Auction House sort of things should be in the main towns only, but pawn shops could be found in some medium towns/villages where players could easily pawn off some unwanted gear (more easily than AH can be sometimes) and other players could come browse through the pawned wares to see if there was anything they needed/wanted at their leisure.  On that note, the AH should be run more like an auction house.  Instead of real-time buying/selling, run it so that every in game week, anyone who wishes to attend the auction at a certain in game time (runs for a while) can go there and bid competitively against the other people who decided to show up for the items they wanted.  Another possibility is to run it like eBay runs now - no weekly auction, but players go to this auction area, places bids with caps and let the bidding continue until the item runs out of time.  That way, the bidding continues instead of a set price being put forth - the seller can get more money out of it and it becomes a very interesting place.

Thu May 15 2008 10:13AM Report
Daedren writes:

Thanks for the comments everyone. I'll compile these in my grand review. ;)

Tue May 20 2008 2:34AM Report
Hordequester8 writes:

Design

1. Highly realistic in terms of physics. I'd give some dramatic license to improve enjoyment.

2. Everquest

3. Complete freedom. As in, I should be able to burn down house X just because I feel like it. Or kill random NPC Y. That's not to say I should not be hunted down for it.

Interaction

1. I feel Ultima Online and the like are too open. The events and what to do will get too convoluted with too much stuff.

2. I don't get it.

3. Everything I or someone else does should directly effect the world just as it would in real-life. If you don't want something to effect the world in that way then I should not be allowed to do it. It should not let me do it and then pretend nothing ever happened.

Size

1. Relatively related to earth. Anything too small will get boring fast.

2. This is directly related to the theme of your game. Is it logical for instant travel to exist (ie Star Trek Transporters, Wizard Teleport spells, etc). If it's logical then I accept it. Travel time should not be placed there just to extend the life of the game however. I am not paying to spend 6hrs walking somewhere in order to fight for 10min and log off. Everquest was good about this before Planes of Power. Combining walking, Spirit of Wolf, and Wizards/Druids Teleporting.

3. There should be NPC ran cities/shops/etc at first to stimulate the economy. But, eventually the world should grow on it's own with player ran economics, cities, guilds, etc.

Fri Jun 13 2008 4:30PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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