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Casual Confessions

In search of the lost mmo

Author: Draccan

THE ROAD mmo - concept / idea

Posted by Draccan Saturday August 29 2009 at 7:27PM
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This is an idea I toiled with some time back. Since I started blogging here today, I think it might be worth bringing up again:

 

THE ROAD (by Cormac McCarthy) MMO - wanted!

                          

 
Hi
I have this idea for a new mmo that could be really cool but also very difficult to make, but not impossible (except for naysayers and people with no imagination)..
Anyways it is based on the book [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road]THE ROAD by CORMAC MCCARTHY[/url] (you don't need to buy the IP per se, though it would be nice).

Story and concept
The story is one of survival in a post apocalyptic world. The world is ravaged by nuclear holocaust and is dying. There is no crops, everything is burned and scarred. There is almost no food. People are grouping into scavening groups. Some prey on others and even eat them in desperation. Others in turn will just survive and not be blindsided by evil to live.
Will you be the decent loner and survivor, the one carrying light to others and aiming to recreate a society or will you scavenge and kill anyone you meet?

Skills and progression
This mmo is skill based. You can learn to drive a truck or shoot a gun. However bullets and gasoline is scarce. The main thing here is not skills or the usual progression in mmos. The main thing is survival.
You can lose skill points when dying. But not age.
Also you have a reputation / conscience gauge that shows you (and other players) how much bad stuff you have done. Stealing / looting / killing? Self defense kills or unmotivated killings.

Weather
The weather is very important. Very dynamic. You live and die by the weather. Finding shelter, avoiding others and not getting your things wet or finding a container for your rotten apples. Maybe even logging a shopping car around. Having tools to fix it. All this is important.
Radiation is a big factor here. Always watch your radiation levels. If they get too high you might start coughing blood, get tired more easily, able to carry less, finally it might become lethal and you die.

Avatars and aging and dying
In this mmo your avatar ages. You can play any age, but you will get older. So the older you start, the shorter you will live. But the younger you are the more hard it is to survive and make it. Older ones start more skilled. Younger ones starts with fewer skills and will be more in need of tutalage and playing around with things to learn how they work.
While there is no instancing there are large / no huge zones. Population is very low and npcs are scattered around but not met often.
Dying is finite after 10 (or so) lives. You have ten precious lives and then permadeath. Your avatar can be fat or thin, but you might lose endurance if very over weight. Also you loose weight when not eating. Since food is incredible hard to find (you can die from hunger and exhaustion) you most likely will loose a lot of weight and your avatar changes with it.

Groups
Guilds here are 10 men maximum. No more can find food or sustain themselves.

Surviving and goal
Surviving is key here and moving away from contaminated areas. Svavenge for food. Find shelter for storms.
Everywhere you go you are afraid you meet other people. Most likely they will steal your equipment (full loot) and food, they probably kill you too and if you are really unlucky they will eat you.

Spawn points and dying
When you start the game you will start in one of a multitude of places. This could pretty much be thousands of places. So no spawn camping.
You pretty much go back to square one when you die. Also death is closer to disaster / contamination zones, so you would want to move south towards Mexico or South of Spain (depending on continent played).
People will naturally go south to avoid that radiation. Once they get really south (takes months of playing) the endgame starts where people will try to find places to grow food or group up, create a civil society, laws or just scavenge and steal from others.

Health bars and other mechanics
The health bars doesn't bounce up and down like normal. Here you can get wounded. Wounds get affected. Can you get medicine? Will you hump around on a broken leg? Be carried by your mates (suicide and restart of this toon is possible).
There is full loot in this game. Should people not pick up your stuff you can find it again.
There is no magic bags holding tons of stuff. What you keep must be fitted on you, get regular bags fitting normal size stuff. Or a car and gasoline if really really lucky, but this will only get you so far, roads blocked and broken and if you leave the car it can be hotwired or stolen.

Weapons and equipment and fighting
Weapons here is not your tradition mmo. If you get a gun with one bullet you are dangerous. You can use threatening stances with your weapons. Your enemies will know if they don't stealth (not invisibility but hiding) and disarm you, you might kill them. Survival is key here. On the other hand you are not likely to shoot your bullet if there are three with sticks or clubs. It is a delicate balance. Will you yield your food. Negotiate.
Here it is possible by the way to have instant online chat (if you enable it for your toon) with people around you so you dont have to write. So you can keep the gun pointed and engage in discussions. There is no certainty that handing over some food means they wont demand more.

Missions and quests
There are no npcs with question marks over their heads. If you meet a child crying you can either avoid it, go there and talk or go there and kill the child and eat it. If you talk you might be asked to help the child find a parent. Do so can be on your own peril. You might get to group with npcs that will let you lead them or they might give you a can of tomatoes (food for the day) or even some medicine.
Every day is a quest to avoid cold, find food, find ways of coping with your radiation levels, electrical storms and smokey days, days of scorching heat.

Endgame
When you get to the endgame you will either fight to create a scavenging society, be a hired merc for mishap bands of killers or loners trying to carve our a life for them and their friends and familiy or just themselves, or a group of decent human being trying to recreate order in their lives and society. Player cities (more like camps with adv. ones having a good stockade and irrigation and some basic sanitation) and be built and destroyed. The land is vast and you can hide for a while but not for ever. There are constantly changing and moving ressources to gather and split between you or take and keep for yourself.
A game of survival where you are constantly on your toes to survive and move on with your destiny. You might even group up and play a husband, wife and four kids. All servers are pvp, all servers are full loot. There is no carebear, no elves, no magic, just the nitty gritty fights to find food and live in a world gone mad, in a world where a rotten apple might be the sustanance that keeps you alive to live and fight the next day.
NPCs might track you and hunt you down. Hiding and stealth, removing tracks after you when it snows, freeing people about to be eaten by thugs, crawling in tall grass to snatch that truck with food away for a player who left it for a second to go scavenge an old scarred house.
This mmo is a change to all you know about mmos. While combat is a part of the game there are no classes, no magic, no soldiers with unlimited (or even lots) of ammo. Every thing is dirt realistic. You find 20 gallons of gasoline? How are you going to carry it. Either put it in a shopping cart if you are lucky to have one or dig it down to pick it up later. Digging leaves a mark that other players can track maybe.
Besides player versus player there is also a lot of fighting from npcs. Random events, npcs travelling or hiding in a forest, a house where npcs keep prisoners. In the endgame there could be npc groups. And they might disagree with your brutal warrior society or your democratic group of freemen and thus try to slay you and burn your city and steal your crops.

Get the picture? Comments are welcome. Please don't flame!

Draccan

 

(original post in the Age of Conan forum, June 2008 | and on mmorpg.com)

____

Also please note that the book is actually coming now as a movie! See the trailer here.

 

Upcoming MMOs

Posted by Draccan Saturday August 29 2009 at 6:38PM
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Aion, Champions Online, Jumpgate Evolution, Fallen Earth are all going to be released soon. For some of us none of these look truly great. We turn our attention otherwhere. Even SW ToR is not appealing to me, not at all.

Here is a list of some of the most interesting upcoming MMO projects:

 

THE SECRET WORLD

Funcom's new game. The lore resembles Lovecraft / Cthulhu myths. Classless, little focus on instances, this could be interesting. Main player cities are London, New York and Seoul.

Main site (Dark Days Are Coming)  | forum (Dark Demons Cry Gaia) | alternative site | Funcom | Teaser trailer | wiki

 

COPERNICUS (codenamed project by Studio 38)

MacFarlane and Salvatore as Executive Art Director and Executive Creator of the worlds - how can this not be exciting? Seems like they want to break new ground!

Studio 38 (developer) | Copernicus mmo | Massively article (and video) 1 | Massively article 2 | Wiki

 

UNANNOUNCED mmo (Carbine Studios)

Not much is known. Fantasy. But this is worth keeping an eye out for. Seems like they want to rival WoW, create something new and fresh, not copied. And they focus on stories. Believe polishing the game is important.

Carbine Studios | 2 | Massively chat | MMO gamer conversation

 

For more upcoming mmos read this article on mmorgp.com - Top 10 Tightlipped MMO projects. Some of the key mmos are Warhammer 40K, CCP's World of Darkness and of course Blizzard's Unannounced MMO project.

Other honorable mentions are Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars IIEarthrise

 

 

 

ONE MORNING (The Secret World - fan fiction)

Posted by Draccan Saturday August 29 2009 at 5:42PM
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Lilac Strachey woke up one morning - a Sunday like any other - or rather, it could have been any Sunday, but for one small mishap; her left arm was replaced by a tentacle. At this point most people would have started screaming hysterically, not not Lilac - not only was she the epitome of cool, but she was also kind of expecting something like this. In place of hysteria she merely rolled over to the empty spot on her left and grapped the phone and called her friend and mentor Hagner Palle Blomkvist.
- Hagner, the man on the other end answered
- it's Lilac, I think I need to see you, she said. Something urm... happened.
- what is it?
- I think we should meet. Can I pop by your office?
- It is Sunday, how did you know I would be here? And after a pause he added, sure.

The green slimey thing attached to her had a life of its own. While she was trying to catch the milk for her cereal it violently jerked the carton of the table and milk spluttered the kitchen floor.
- guess breakfast is not an option today, she said, and got up and dressed herself haplessly with her right arm.

Hagner was an old friend. He had always been there for her, when her parents abandoned her as a young student. When they one day told her they were moving to South America and left her a small sum that hardly covered her studes, Hagner was there to support and advice her - he even gave her a part time TA. Hagner came all the way from cold Oslo to the big apple before she was even born. He was young, bright with a big beard and a phd diploma in History in his pocket; that and 1000$. He eventually settled, become lecturer and then a professor of History at the Columbia University. And in his spare time he collected old books and opened an antique bookshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn long before the area was even remotely popular with the crowds.
The old world had nothing to offer me, he always said, when asked about why he left Europe. And that's all he had to say about that.

When Lilac entered his office she could immediately see Hagner's awareness was raised and all his senses heightened. Not the least because of the brown leather bag she was oddly hiding her left arm in.
- you know professor, ... erm.. that book you lent me. You were right. It wasn't to be messed with.

She took her arm out or what was supposed to be one out of the leather bag and flaunted her newest, proud limb. The tentacled growth swirled left and right - almost as if frightened by the rendezvous with Hagner and his big, crowded beard. And if one looked really closely one could almost discern little scared eyes a mere two inches from the tip of the tentacle.

Hagner squinted his eyes in half curiousity and half disbelief.
- Looks like this Sunday is not going to be like any other Sunday, he said.

 

 

 

(to be continued ........ maybe)

(can also be viewed here)

Top must haves in futures mmos

Posted by Draccan Saturday August 29 2009 at 5:39PM
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Draccan's choice (in random order) for the bread and butter components of good mmo development:

1. Player housing
Player housing is not about house decorating. While fun for some in SWG. It is about creating a persistent world that is worth populating. A persistent world with player housing means yet another reason you want to go by the game, to check up your inventory, to feel you aren't not just playing yet another combaf game. Player housing makes sense.

2. Non-combat "classes" (or focus)Non-combat classes actually adds to the game. They attract players to a game that wouldn't otherwise play. This means fighters will feel more unique and more like heroes, it also opens up the game for more interaction when the fighter visit the crafter.

3. Abolish auction houseIntroduce player vendors (and some system to find goods from far away). It allows characters to interact and socialize more, even bargain directly with the crafter.

4. Great ressource system and focus on crafting
Crafting is key to a persistent world. And combined with that is a good ressource system. Ressources have to be shifting. There need to be balance. Some ressources should be fought over. And there need to be long term reason for ressources to fought over - if there is no reason to have them it destroys the balance, if they are too hard to get or only top guilds can sit on it forever it is bad too.

5. A flexible class system focused on skills
I believe the best system is flexible class system. "Iconic" classes like in Bioware's upcoming mmo is plain boring. Aion is not much better. SWG did it pretty well. On the other hand is Darkfall a great example of the problems of a true 100% skillbased system (where many tend to be nuking mages now). Some sacrifices have to be made, some direction. Again, SWG did this well. It could be even better with more nuances and choices. In fact it can be much better.

6. Death penalty
No death penalty means the constant never-ending zerg. There has to be consequences. Games these days seem to go for either light or no penalty or the extreme ffa loot (Darkfall, Eve, Mortal Online, Dawntide). FFA loot is problematic - scares people away, makes ganking highly profitable, and uber guilds possible.
I propose a mixed system with random factors. Make death unpredictable. Example of what I would like to see:
A) a slight loss to your ability to raise skills for a while. Maybe a COH'esque style where it makes it slower to progress for a while.
B) a random chance about 10-20% to lose ONE random of your top ten most valuable possessions.
C) Item decay when you die (5-10% max). Higher for items you didn't insure.

7. No duo-factions anymore
Minimum three factions pr. game. Preferably five. More factions means more chances to ally and make good politics over ressources. Also there must be a faction system. WAR and WoW are great example of why duo-factional pvp gameplay is stale.

8. Overt / covert pvp system
It is great to have a pvp system like in SWG where you could go overt when you want and covert when you want. This means that you can choose not to pvp for a while but also go back in the swing when you want. Some parts of the could be automatic pvp. Others are consensual (50% would be good). This allows for some areas to hold special rewards and ressources to fight over without being incognito.

9. Player-driven economy
Any mmo developer with respect for itself should hire an economist to figure out the macro and micro economy of the game. It is hugely important. SWG did for a while in the beginning. So does EVE.
A good game will be 80% player driven and the remaining 20% is in there to spice things up and to regulate the economy. Things should be built and crafted. And great loot should half the time or more be recipes. You should even be able to create recipees based on your existing ones. Invent new stuff. Buildings, Guild Houses, Player Cities, garrisons, watch towers. NPC strongholds working for you should all be craftable.

10. Combat
Combat is hard to nail down. But I personally like a mix of twitch and traditional RPGs. SWG did quite well before SOE broke it. AoC is very close to perfection, but have problems with fatalities and combos. These are both premises to work on. SW ToR seems to introduce some goodies in form of a Smuggler cover system. Ambition is important here!

11. Instances and raids
As few instances as possible. And as few raids. I am tired of RAID centric games. RAID and mini-games take away from the game world. Raids might be fun for some. But if 80% of what you guild does is go into a raid to fight some npc's why not make a non-RPG about it. Really!
Players should be kept in a living-breathing world, not playing in smaller solo groups. Find revolutionary new gameplay.

12. Animations and graphical style
I prefer AoC over Aion. Why? I can't stand the (hundreds of youtube videos I have seen of) Aion combat. Why? Sure the graphics have polish, but way to many particle effects and disco lights. I can't stand my mmo to look like an 1980s disco music video. I was a teenager in the 80s, that's enough for me. AoC offered a beautiful mmo, that is unparalleled in beauty for any mmo. Great standard that art director Didrik Trollesen set there. And no more manga-cutie-elfy-elves, thanks! 

13. Servers and technology
Most games launch big - WAR and AoC sold easily 1 million boxes and retained about 100K players. Cool. But they way servers were crying to be merged three months later. But most developers don't care about this, so they don't create the suitable server transfers before many months later, sometimes a year before they get around to it. I demand new ways of creating a world. And not solving it by sharding and instances alone. Why not created several versions of the same content, so you can have one server like in Eve?
With one server you could have more of the same content, two or three similar bosses. And implement a system where the less players there are, the more likely your missions or quests take place closer to the others playing. That means the whole wide world is reachable and can be visited, but your questing takes place closer to people a larger portion of the time, so players won't be too spreaded out.

14. Dynamic content
We need genuine dynamic content.
Wandering surprises. NPCs fighting and rebelling against each other. 50% of an mmo's development should be about dynamic content. In SWG Vader should all of the sudden attack a local town. In AoC you should spot Conan doing things, not theme park all these events. Also there should be 60% quests that are events or happenings not of your standard bring this there or kill X of these. Guild Wars II is promising something along these lines. Can they deliver?

 

_____________

 

That's it for now! I will expand, change, ninja-update this whenever I have time!

Draccan