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Weekly Random Meaningful Blabber

A blog about anything MMO related. I suppose I could have confined it to more specific things...but I dislike losing my freedom!

Author: Gishgeron

The Gish take on sandbox ideals

Posted by Gishgeron Thursday March 27 2008 at 11:55PM
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  I've talked a lot about these types of games...and what I think should go in them.  For once, I'm gonna compile some of those very basic concepts into this blog so some of you can read over it and MAYBE even enjoy it.  Hope you like it!

 

  First, lets tackle my game fundamentals.  PvP is going to be built around Factional combat.  I would have two zone types.  One is a normal zone, where PvP can only occur between people whom have assigned themselves to a guild (or faction...semantics really) .  I might allow FFA PvP, but in these zones I would place very harsh penalties for spree-killings.  In such a case, players are created with an "Innocent" tag.  Killing innocents grants the player a permanent flag which denies him access to any NPC function what-so-whoever, until which time he has done enough to revoke it. 

  The second zone is a typical "open" zone, where I will place the best resources and most ideal rewards for players to attain.  There shall be less landmass dedicated to these zones than normal ones.  Mostly, because I want the prime resources to be heavily controlled.  I also want these areas to be heavily contested.  Limiting the landspace for them ensures that more players actively seek them and are more likely to encounter each other for them.

  I will not have full loot PvP.  At least...not in the way we know it.  One ideal I have has simply to severely limit personal player inventory (to mimic actual reality), thus forcing players to use warehouses to store their things.  Warehouses would be a thing that only exist in player cities.  These are also locations which can be destroyed and looted.  What this serves is to place a form of player looting in the game which also encourages factional combat to claim these warehouses.  My other ideal was a kind of transitional thing...where killing the player merely removed item durability and returned it to the killer as the base resource used to make it.  The player still has his stuff...for awhile...and the killer is rewarded.

I will move on now, though I may tie PvP into other things.

  Crafting will be the name of the game.  Items WILL decay.  This decay will occur more rapidly as the item is used more.  Furthermore, resource nodes will have actual limits on them.  Once drained, they will remain empty until they reset...a thing I plan to make either weekly or monthly.  My plan is to make it so that basic use will make most items and building wear out enough over the week or month to use up the resources that exist.  These nodes will be placed in locations that never change.  If you find a mine that has 10,000 ore in it...that mine will always be where you found it.  This is crucial in creating territory for guilds to control....as placing cities near these nodes will be key in defending them. 

  All items will need to be crafted.  I do not want NPC vendors.  Players must run this game, in all of its elements.  I realize that a lack of crafters could cause an issue early on.  To correct this, the basic level crafting skills shall be available to everyone and allow production of bone and wood weapons.  I also hope to make the skill limits broad enough that most people can embrace a large area of character skills to allow for both combat, crafting, and some other just fun ones, like brewing.  Also....its important to note that I will not have massive power differences between qualities of gear.  I intend to locate most of the players "power" in the players skills.  Items are just to be extensions of that power with some very minor bonuses for quality. 

  I would also want my players to be able to decorate both their cities and themselves well.  Several crafting skills will exist for things like clothes and furniture and just basic decoration to bring color and life into the world.  Moving on now....

 

  Mini-games.  I want to take some of the more recreational (and sometimes gathering) type of activities and make them more fun.  Take fishing, I think that the current "cast and click" model is dumb.  Lets add some real fishing elements to it...make it play like you bought a fishing game for your PS3.  Heck, for giggles lets turn building construction into a tetris style mini-game.  I don't mean...lets make em OWN at that kind of game to make stuff...just throw some nice durability bonuses in there for those that really rock the tetris out.  Turn potion-making into a game of reflexes and timing (which REAL chemical mixing can be)  The options are endless, and if you make the mini-games load only for the client side until the completion results are done...it adds nothing to lag at all.  Picking herbs can't be something crazy...but being able to take the seeds and have some Harvest Moon style farming happen would rock for the planters of the world.

  I actually want to remove dull gathering from my game entirely.  I would have hire-able NPCs for people to use for mining and such.  I guess I could turn mining into a mingame.....how about bomberman?  Bah, who knows.  I'll TAKE suggestions for it.

  Next up:  Set amounts of gold.  There is a predetermined amount of currency in the game.  If you pay Bob the toolman for something, he always has that cash until someone else gets it.  Even NPCs.  This amount would scale based on accounts with players on a server.  Not by much...a few basic units per player.  Point is, its limited...bad.  No goldfarmers here....ain't nothing to farm.  You won't find them at resource nodes either...because THOSE are gonna be constantly contested and protected by their guilds.

  Chugging right along....FACTIONS!  TO begin, I want to have lots of stuff for factions to do.  Starting with factional leaders.  I want them to have a nearly RTS/Sim like control when adjusting cities.  I want factional leaders to be able to place their own NPCS...and even build their own quests.  I want a fluid and functional UI for them to use to actively communicate with other members, and even other divisions of leadership inside the faction.  I even want them to have reputation meters.  Yup, leaders can set up reputation increases with their NPCs and even grant rep to players on their own.  This information is a simplified way for faction members to visually see their place in the faction...and to perceive others whom are friendly to it.  Leaders can even set up increased city quest rewards based on rep.

  But there is MORE.  I want to have a statistical representation of a factions unity...so when using skills near a faction city or capital...I will have bonuses granted to the player.  That means better crafted goods...better combat performance, ect.  One could even suggest tying rep into this...by offering lower bonuses to those whom have good rep with you...but not actually members of your faction.  This supports the more diplomatic side to factional interaction.  Not everything has to be about war, after all.  Sometimes it might be good to have a buddy faction...just for the skill buffs.

  I'll add more to this in my next blog maybe.  I'm tired...and just ran out of steam for the night...sorry :(  Work sucks, its iron-fisted control of my life and its time demands are the very bane of my existence.  Tell me what you think, good or bad.  I DO have more...I just can't think at the moment.  I should have wrote this crap down better....let that be a lesson to me.  NEVER rely on my memory 100%.

The great disconnect.

Posted by Gishgeron Friday March 21 2008 at 10:10AM
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  Hello all, and welcome to what I hope will be a weekly installment of my new blog.  Before I begin, let me start by saying that I will try very hard to keep up with any and all replies and will do my very best to create a solid environment for good discussion.

 

  Now, on to the show.

 

  Lately, I've taken special note at the amazing amount of drama that has been plaguing this genre between the people who make and run the games....and those whom play them.  I've seen countless threads about WHY this happens, and how to fix it.  Today, I'm going to address what I feel is really behind this disconnect.  Its something I feel hasn't been really considered well when really approaching the subject.

 

  For me, I honestly think that this separation is not so much between developers and players....but between the ideal and structure of a one-time purchase versus a constant online fee.  I believe that the game developers still have not truly moved their mindset away from those single-buy games....which involve a very different customer/creator relationship.  In those games, all that needs to occur is that the creator tell us what he is making, and make exactly that.  There is no need to be firmly invested in your fans or community...because the structure of the purchase is based around ONLY the CD sale.  So, for the ones making games, they still take a mostly hands-off approach to their community and how THEY apply to the very structure of their dream game.

 

  That isn't to say these companies are stupid.  No, they DO employ PR people to deal with the MMO communities.  The issue is, it shouldn't be about "dealing" with us....or even controlling us.  Realistically, it should be the goal of each MMO team to fully use the flowering community to strengthen their games.  An MMO is very much like a food chain, they both survive by winning over new customers and ensuring their return business.  The MMO is not just about its own name, and the public response to it, but also the name of the company which made it.  This serves as a brand name for the whole team...and the good and bad effects of the community falls on IT. 

 

  So, much like the food chains, I think its time these MMO guys really sit down and devote the time they need to in order to make sure they create great communities.  Not just some PR suits either...the whole team needs to get in on it.  I've noticed that Blizzard already does this on their own forums (which are ALSO not overly moderated).  The MMO team needs a relaxed atmosphere in-house about interacting with the community as well....there needs to be less iron-fist control over them about what they can and cannot do.  Once we get the whole team involved....then its important they treat us as any respectable business would in such a situation.   They should treat us like our unified voice is king over their lands...because it is.   There needs to be an understanding that an MMO is not a normal PC or console game....it is a community game.  That means that sometimes....you sacrifice your ideal of the game to bring it more in line with what your fans ideal of the game is.

 

  MMO"s are not pretty art projects that we all view in a museum and discuss.  They are public hotspots, and need to be catered to their public.  That does NOT mean making every game like WoW either.  That means making more, and more interesting, types of hotspots to cater to more diverse crowds.  Most of all...those crowds need to have SOME input in what happens in their hotspot.  This isn't Fable you are making guys....you NEED the return consumer in this field.  Lets make these games more about the players than some dev dream.

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