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Midare's disarray...

Thoughts on my brainchild. Although I'm torn between talking about my ideal on the internet or keeping it all a secret. I cannot very well get any feedback without talking out loud, can I?

Author: Midare

Immersion and building worlds...

Posted by Midare Wednesday December 30 2009 at 11:31PM
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Bouncing about reading posts, I believe it was Unsub who had a list of 10 types of quests and how every quest is a variation or combination of those 10 types. Their repetition becomes rather transparant after a short time and as such affect immersion negatively. As do things like hte "humanoid kiosk" quest givers, or receiving quests that are ill suited to the nature of your character.

 

One idea that struck me was that last point... beinging to mind the apparent loss of the PnP RPG concept of alignment. Outside of Fable, and reputation with factions or unlocking things via quest chains there doens't seem to be much impact your behaviour has on what you can do in game. Much like the branching quests that Unsub was discussing, this would reinforce an illusion of affecting the world around you. If certain choices push you more one way or the other on two scales it would affect how you progress and what quests you are offered.

 

If all characters start out True Neutral they can then go out and take on quests, occationally a "curve ball" or AI element will pop up. Say some of hte bandits you attack run for it, and you chase one of them down. If randomly some of them turn to fight, others may have ran for a farm house and taken a hostage, and others may throw down their weapons asking for mercy... play action from there push you in different directions.

 

Some actions may only be on the topic of good/evil while others may be lawful/chaotic, and many could give points to both scales. Killing the surrendering bandit may add to lawful and to evil at the same time, killing the hostage taker or the bandit who stopped and fought back adds lawful and good. The choice made will depend on what the AI in the mob shifted to. Meaning, these random AI events could have all sorts of things they could turn into rather than just another brigand. Some may try to bribe you, or offer you other information... and you may even get to take the information then kill him anyway to become more Chaotic Evil for betraying them.

 

Such a set up could occur on a number of levels, low grade brigends, or be a rare outcome to some boss fights against officers of factions.

 

This may not be on the same plane as players being able to destroy whole cities, personaly destruction of major cities I think is best reserved for speacial in-world events or as an opt in PVP element for players who want to get involved in war games. However, having alignment affect which quests pop up for you... if things like word of your actions is implied through text as having gotten back to townsfolk it may change their reaction around you. I don't think this would make sense until you've gotten into the more extreme levels of the alignment. You get to a certain level of lawfulness and the guards in cities are more polite to you, options to do more military associated quests come in. Getting to a known level of good means common folk are more apt to chat you up... jovial types may even offer you free things now and then (especially if you also have high rating with their faction). If you've gone evil the townsfolk may shy from you in streets, some may whisper about you and only the dregs of their community will offer you quests... or others with high evil ratings like evil guard captains or sneaky polticians. 

 

No it isn't being able to destroy the town's annoying bell tower permentantly... but it does mean the world "changes" around you based off your actions. Putting more emphasis on the social elements of your role in the game world.  

Melee class talk...

Posted by Midare Monday December 28 2009 at 10:41PM
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To assuage the fears of the melee "fanbois" who seem to take the idea that everyone starts out with the same base HP to mean that the casters are being built up to match melee levels let me clarify. The design I am hammering out is not a level based progression. I'm sure we're all familiar with how if you compare a newb tank and newb caster the caster is weaker than the tank... but then if you compare the news tank to an endgame caster the caster often has more HP than the newb tank.

The way I approach things is I do not see why the caster's HP should be improving at all. They're not doing training for that, they're learning spells and buying frilly robes, not resistance training! For this reason I instead start everyone off at the HP level I would expect is likely for an end-game extreme caster. They are likely not to build up their attributes to become brutes at the expense of points they could put toward their magics. Will some? Yes, but they will not be the strongest caster compared to others if they do. A battle mage would be possible, but a pure caster would still out DPS them.

 

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Could any of these 9 types step up and take part in melee if they wanted? Not really.

Even maxing out the value of their 1 physical energy block to a full 100 points would not make a type 9 robust enough to do much strenous actvity. If running or jumping uses 1 point of energy each step/jump they'll be lucky if they make it across a city before they trigger the "exhausted" debuff on themselves and have to stagger the rest of the way.

Those most interested in pure melee would be best served taking on one of the first 3 types, then further boosting their HP and phsysical resistance if they want to tank... or HP, damage and agility for DPS. It is the player's call as to if they'll hybrid or min/max in their playstyle.

The commenter, Jixx, on my prior post was concerned apparently that melee would just be walking targets... I thought I had mentioned magic resistances that even the type one had access to. As mentioned previously, there are 7 main elements planned: Water, Air, Wood, Fire, Earth, Light, and Dark (plus two unnamed elements restricted to type 4, 8, and 9 due to lore).

Each type, has the ability to slot an element matching their number (coincides with the number of mana blocks they have) so a type 1 can carry one element, type 2 can carry two, etc. These give a basic low level resistance (reduce damage by say 1% passively) for each equipped element, but there would also be toggle skills a player could learn to resist like damage at the cost of EP instead of HP. Some resistance skills would also work against whatever element is weak to the one you have equipped, but may not reduce damage by as much as being inherently resistant to your own element does. Such as a type one with water alignment having good resistance against water damage... perhaps as high as a 50% reduction on damage... but only having a 25% resistance to fire damage. Since such a skill would burn off EP it isn't as useful to casters who would burn through it quickly and be hit with a debuff for bottoming out their EP. Alt one can learn more than one of these toggle abilities, turning one on turns off any others that may be on at the time, so although higher types can load more elements and use more of these skills, they have less EP to burn and can never stack this power.

WATER>FIRE>WOOD>EARTH>AIR>WATER

LIGHT><DARK

As to how one builds their melee fighter into something they really enjoy; players still have access to first of all the elements just like the casters do... but are likely to spend more time focusing on unlocking weapons on the weapon skill tree. Your damage and speed with a particular type of weapon depends on your skill level with that type of weapon, although damage is influenced by the strength of the character as well. The weapon itself really only has a durability rating tied to it... which decides how much damage it takes before it needs repairs or falls apart. Unlocking/building skills in weapons, collecting the skills for each from the given weapons trainers or working towards your favourite weapon is another way to set yourself apart as a melee fighter.

The final skill that draws fromthe EP power set is Martial arts.

 

I'm toying with having 12 martial arts styles, each would be primarily a style of unarmed combat but would have some unique weapon skills that you could only learn by reaching high levels in the martial arts. A player could study in all 12 schools but can only have so many skills on screen at a time, unable to swap out moves or weapons while in combat. People would be encouraged to mix and match as they see fit... in order to build their own way of fighting. Fist ighting influenced, kick-boxing, crazy Jackie Chan shit... these would each be affected by your stats choices: some needing more dedication to speed and agility, others to strength and resilience.

 

Melee as a useful role would be supported especially by having magic-resistant mobs, and by  impressive moves requiring high EP much as high end spells require high MP. Even with maxed value to the EP blocks for a "caster" type will never manage to have the amounts of Energy that a lower mana type can stack for themselves. At best a person starting at one of the extremes (type 1 or type 9) could push themselves closer to the middle, never all the way to the opposite end, against the nature of their starting type.

Caster class-talk...

Posted by Midare Monday December 28 2009 at 7:16AM
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Hope everyone has had or is having a happy holiday. I have the heebee-jeebees... I got bite marks last weekend, and subsiquently hid in my bathtub for sleeping the past week. I have finally caught a little vermin in a ziplock bag. Hopefully now the Landlord will hire exterminators like I asked a week ago. Damn this ancient apartment building, it was only a matter of time before a neighbour's bedbugs made it to me.

 

Anyway. I'd like to revisit my "soft class" form of classless character building... with VISUAL AIDES.

As I mentioned about a month ago, the starter race I have in mind lets you choose between 9 divisions for your character's mana/energy. These are in a sense "classes" and are relevant to the lore of the stories I've been slowly working on. This initial choice pushes someone toward either melee (physical energy) or caster (mana) as a dominant form. I'm going  focus more on the caster-types but I may deal with the melee ideas again on my next post.

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<- Here is a rough example of what I mean. At onset, every character of the starter race has the same HP, but depending on what is choses they can have more or less mana for spells, or energy for physical attacks. Energy is also used for running, and jumping; so people are discouraged from running everywhere or bouncing around like retards.

 

They would all have at least SOME mana or energy for the base race characters.

Depending on what additional races are added for people to unlock/earn most would fall somewhere on this same scale... with some limitations that the main race does not have, and some perks that likewise are absent from the starter race. This makes the additional races jsut "perks" and not something any given player needs to acquire for alts.

For each bar of mana that a character has, they can assign an element to it... this doesn't limit the mana in that bar for use toward spells of that element but it does affect the types of spells that can be cast overall. Meaning that for "class" one who only has one bar of mana, they can only spec one element... and as such can only use very low cost and low level spells for that element. These would be like warriors who can do a basic weapons buff on their main weapon, or who may have an inate resistance to that given magic type.

The opposite extreme is type nine, who can either stack many of the same element and thus access higher level spells of that type, or can diversify and thus have a more versatile set of options even though they  may not be able to cast the highest grade spell of all those elements. Depending how many you need though, they may be able to "max out" an element and still have some extra room for side elements. That would need number crunching. I think you'd need to have at least 5 of a given element in order to use their highest ranking spell... since type 5 and higher are seen as the more "caster" types and also so that even type 9 cannot max out more than one element.

Example elements I'm weighing in on are: Air, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Light, and Dark, as well as two which are "class" specific due to lore elements. One of those special elements is tied to type 4, and one is tied to types 8 and 9, which I'll not bother getting into the details of at this time.

I've also considered having a cast done using one element cause a cool down on a player's spells from the element that is weak to the first element. So: casting a FIRE spell causes a short cool down on all your WOOD element spells. This may be an interesting mechanic to make casting a more mentally challenging role. I sometimes worry that casters are too OP the way I have them planned. Even if they DO get winded easily by running around using up their green physical energy bar.

If used I'd say Light and Dark mutually cause one another cool downs, representing Yang and Yin respectively, so the caster has trouble switching aspects too quickly.  Loosely I'd say the main elements would arrange thus: Water>Fire>Wood>Earth>Air>Water

The two restricted elements, unnamed, would not cause cool downs... as they're elementally neutral. Light/Dark would not interfere with the 5 main elements either... in many instances they blend for combination spells: Wood+Dark making poison effects, for example. I think if dual element spells are made with conflicting elements they would register as the second element in the sequence...

"Root bind" would be wood+earth but register as "earth" and affect air spells.

"Sandstorm" would be earth+air but register as "air" thus causing a cool down on water spells.

Both these examples would require the caster to have both the needed elements slotted, though.

I can see how certain combinations of elements would be favoured over others... PvP casters would likely focus on Fire and Earth... the first for high damage spells, the second for resilliance. They may throw in Light for flash heals and holy damage... and those three elements do not interfere with one another to cause additional cool downs.  Alternatively, healer-types would probably most often combine Water for mana regeneration boosts, Wood and Light for healing, with light also giving some offensive spells... again none of those three interfere with each other and would esstentially re-create the trinity's healer class.

 

Certainly seems like a plausible way of dealing with casters. Rather free form... and allows people to build their characters either to simulate known classes they've played and enjoyed, or to forge something entirely new for themselves.

You look FABULOUS!

Posted by Midare Saturday December 12 2009 at 1:04AM
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That title makes me sound like the biggest holiday fruitcake, I know. My browser ate my post once already, must be a sign to ramble less.

Let's talk clothes. Specifically, let us address how much I hate the "look like everyone else" effect that WoW has. WoW would be the worst prom ever, all the BE mages would arrive in the same robe... a catfight then ensues. Scrunchies would be flying everywhere!

The armor system lacks customization, which was already pretty bad in their characters. Hell, you cannot even improve the stats on older gear which you may have taken a liking too. No, instead you move into the next area after an expansion and usually wind up wearing a "clownsuit" of miss-matched gear. It makes the RPers weep... and not a few of my female gamer friends are very upset when their character looks like a hobo. Especially female RPer friends, they do not like looking like crap.

I'm going to drop my own idea, which I'd want to see rolled out into a game. Yes, my examples will use Asian-looking templates, mostly because well... that's the setting inspiration in my head. This should be something which can work in other settings though. The cuts of the clothing would change, as would the designs "embroidered" onto cloth... "tooled" onto leather, and applied as "filigree" on metal.

I'm going to use cloth robes in my examples, because I snagged a simple example image off wikipedia anyway.

At the onset, everyone would have at least access to "light" armor for the most basic of that class' gear. Light being basically "cloth"... since we've all got to be somewhere and everyone should at least be able to wear basic robes, shirts, trousers, etc.

There can be more than one style for each of these items... some small base difference like the way these robes fold. Despite the aesthetic difference, if these were both "basic linen robes" these would have the same durability and armor rating. Durability and armor would increase if these same styles of robes were made from stronger materials: wool, silk, spider silk, etc.

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So, you select a "style" of robe at the beginning, likely during character creation, and at the same time you could choose a colour. Say you go with red, unlike the above example your starter robe would be all red... the example is two-tone to show the cuffs and such more easily.

The colour you choose would not make a difference in your stats, but means that even from the start you won't be dressed identical to the other noob rezzing in beside you for the tutorial. Especially if you can choose boots versus shoes, long loose pants under the robe vs capri-looking things... and on and on... 

Clothing should be mostly (if not exclusly) from crafting sources, my earlier blog post about account tiering addressed the economy somewhat, but for the most part: plain undyed armor would be in NPC stores and their price/supply would depend on people completing profession-based quests or from people who are "land owners" paying the NPC goverment tithes with crafted goods. Crafters may also sell pre-dyed or enhanced items at market stalls or the auctions.

So, you can buy plain armor from the NPC shops, and dye produced by alchemists (in stock or from auctions) then seek out a taylor who has learned to dye and embroider clothing.

I prefer to harbor a use for crafters than have everyone run to an NPC for everything they need. For those who do not want to rely on others, this is why I'm not a supporter of limiting how many professions one can learn.

Anyway, you get the dye you need... and have the taylor dye your clothing. A robe would likely need 3 vials of dye, 2 for the body (must match) and 1 for the detailing. You could leave the body white and just dye the detailing... you could use 3 of the same dye and make a solid colour robe. You could use 2 different colours of your preference.

These 4 different looks in the example would, again, all have the same statistics to them. These are just aesthetics for player fun.

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How are stats adjusted on armor?

Well, rather than "enchanting" which changes stats but makes no outward change to the items... I would think (in the case of cloth) you could embroider runes, hanzi, symbols, or patterns onto the items that embue them with benefits. Also, if you want the stats but do not want the pattern to be visible to other players... just dye your embroidery thread the same colour as the cloth under it! It would blend in then.

The "look" of the lower level items should always be recreatable on the higher grade items... but higher grade "patterns" be they the new robe style or the more ornate patterns of embroidery... should not be managed in linen robes. This means if you loved your beginner robes, you can still increase your armor's strength but keep the same look you had earlier on. While someone not improving their armor skills cannot dress in that fancier cut of robe that doesn't exist as a linen option. There would still be plenty of options for them that exst as linen looks, but there should be some aesthetic "reward" for increasing your skill.

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Depending on the colours you take for the embroidery you may be able to pull off interesting looks, ignoring my thick outlines on the hem... you could blend your hem and embroidery together. Use something just a touch off the underlaying robe colour (I'm inclined to having 3 shades of each main colour: Dark, True, and Pale).

Linen clothing would use bold designs, geometric shapes and patterns. Higher levels may have more interlocking repeating patterns, and the highest levels may have detailed embroidery of more than one colour... perhaps showing stylized animals or the like. If you see someone with very fancy looking clothing, chances are they've worked on maxing out that armor field. Yet, in a sandbox-type game... that doesn't mean they're not killable.

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This does mean there would be a whole load of texture results that would be applied basedoff what a crafter does with the item, but there are already so many essentially wasted textures made in MMORPGs for all that gear that amounts to nothing but clown suits. I would sooner spend time producing an array of options people can choose between because they WANT it to look that way, than stick people with ugly things they don't like. What a waste of a texture.

If you start out with a lot of options, and only introduce a few new ones in each tier [of armor quality], many of your early textures will continue to be reused as people move from linen to wool and onward. Releasing new embroidery patterns or clothing styles would be a viable "new content" option to do every few months... giving the crafters and clothing collectors something new to persue.

One server, two server. Red server, blue server?

Posted by Midare Friday December 11 2009 at 5:52PM
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Sometimes you're pleased to find out a co-worker or classmate plays the same MMO as you do, only to find out they run on another server and that in order to play together you'd have to either re-roll or transfer. If you're both in established guilds this makes things even more of a dilemma, since neither of you may want to pack up and leave your established group for someone you may not ultimately play well with.

 

Server divisions seem to have their purpose, by all means, as I understand they take pressure off the game's hardware, and also allow for more people to use the same name. Not that it seems to reduce the number of  "Killer45467"s I encounter. WoW's floating city would have sunk like an over-burdened ship if it was one-server. People would be packed in there like Japanese sararimen on Monday's first bullet train.

 

Server splitting also allows for different servers to have tweaked settings... PvP or PvE, despite having "RP" servers they actually seem like a moot point to me. I think that giving people unlimited ignore lists, including global (account level) ignore, and an RP chat channel with some sort of automated ability to mute people who chat in it OOCly based off other players requesting it may be more useful. Even if tools have the potential to be abused, it doesn't change the fact that most people on an RP server are nto RPing anyway. Would I still consider having RP servers? Certainly, maybe two of them. i'd want to be able to flag repeat RP breeching accounts from being able to log onto those particular servers, though.

 

Preventing them from accessing two particular servers doesn't deny them the ability to play, in my opinion, if they still have access to the other servers. To clarify, I support the idea of being able to travel to other servers after character creation. So even if someone rolls initially on a PvE server does not need to pay or re-roll to go to a PvP server, and if after trying PvP for a day or two they decide they hate it... they're not stung again with transfer fees or the like in order to go back to PvE.

I think a method like this would also allow friends who have different preferences to still hook up and play together... without re-rolling etc... for things like holiday events and other social elements. It also considers the boyfriend/girlfriend issue... where by if one partner is an avid PvP player they can do that and "come home" to relax on a non PvP server with their partner who may be more interested in crafting. (I'm not saying which partner is which, my own gamer girl friends were damn blood thirsty) 

I don't think this will stop different servers from developing their own "feel", as people will still gravitate and frequent areas where the community suits them the best. They would be more like neighbourhoods you can drive between than completely seperate entities.

 

So seperate servers but not isolated from each other. I wouldn't have people toggling between worlds where-ever and whenever, mind you. If already in-combat you wouldn't be able to jump, so no cut-and-run bull shit when you've started some PvP... most likely you'd click on a cross-road post or a border gate sign and select to change servers from there.

 

I'm a huge dork and would likely colour-code the servers based on the type of rules they had. "Warm" colours would be PvP and "cool" colours for PvE. I'll explain the difference between how I see "full loot" and 10% loot, plus explain my take on safe zones after my Rainbow Brite episode passes.

RED: PvP Full loot, no "safe zones"

ORANGE: PvP Full loot, has safe zones

YELLOW: PvP 10% loot, has safe zones

-

GREEN: PvE Full loot (occurs only if killed in optional PvP)

BLUE: PvE 10% loot (again, cannot be looted if killed by Mobs, only players)

INDIGO: RP Full loot

VIOLET: RP 10% loot

Wasn't that pretty? Pfft.

The only ones who can loot you is the player or group of players who killed you. PvE mobs cannot rob you of items... although I do think an NPC thief should be able to steal per the 10% rules.

 

"Full loot" means that for those few seconds before you can release and go revive, the player(s) who took you down can pull items out of your bags, or off your body to either dump them on the ground to take their time with stuffing in their bags, or to pocket immediately. They can also completely empty your coin purse. Clearly, this means I don't think it should take too long for the dead to release. Just a few seconds, makes the act of looting a challenge in itself.

 

"10% loot" means they can only take from your on-person cash, anything you've banked is obviously safe, they can only take 10% of the cash you're carrying. Only 1 person can take the funds, in a party that would be determined by whatever their group loot setting is.

 

"Safe zones" on an PvP server would merely be areas where you can toggle off your PvP flag and take a break. Major cities, or inns, basically.

 

The difference between PvE and RP worlds would, I think, mostly come down to chat differences. RP servers would not support City-chat or zone-chat features, no broadcasting "LFG" or the like. Accounts which have been flagged a certain number of times for breech of RP standards would be barred from accessing the RP servers. Such a restriction is no reason to demand a refund if they are a paying subscriber, they still have two other PvE servers they can access so their use of the game has not been denied.

 

Science fiction, double feature... Combat methods, stats leveling.

Posted by Midare Sunday November 29 2009 at 4:41AM
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Not necessarily science fiction, I just have that RHPS song stuck in my head.

 

It occurs to me that there are 3 main types of combat actions in MMORPGs: Weapon, Unarmed, and Magical.  The first two would be physical traits, possibly augmented by magic-based buffs, while magical combat moves are... well, "magical".

 

It it for this reason that I usually think of my "soft classes" as having 9 different splits between physical energy and magical energy. Stamina-power and Mana-power or SP/MP, basically. Imagine a mana bar divided into 10 even segments... the most physically inclined of the default race would have 1 blue block on their bar (mana for spells) and 9 gold blocks (stamina for fighting/running/jumping). While at the opposite end of the spectrum the most magically inclined would have 1 block stamina to their 9 blocks of mana. There would be 7 steps between them, a total of 9 options. I call these "soft" classes because what type of magic or skills the player wants to focus on isn't really dictated by your starting point. It would be unwise to make a character with onyl 1 bar of mana and then try to make a mage of him, but if you wanted to you could try. All of these have at least SOME Stamina, since as I said... jumping or running would use physical energy. (Yes, in hopes of reducing those annoying bouncing players.)

 

Until players choose to add points to their base stats each stamina block and mana block would have the same value. Stats could be adjusted each time a player's XP bar filled, adding a point either to base stats or to profession/armor-class/combat stats as a boost in those areas. Base stats can affect things like: total HP, value of each Stamina block, value of each Mana block (to increase stamina or mana pool).

- Although outwardly "level free" I do think there would have to be a cap to how many points a player can put in their Base Stats, a cap which falls short of the combined "maxed out" point for that group of stats. Not doing so means that all players would just max out everything in base stats, leaving little varyiation in the player base. Being able to only put in say... 80 points out of a possible say 100 means players need to consider what attributes are most useful to themselves. In that sense one could say there are "80 levels" but people needn't put their first 80 points into their base stats at all. Instead, they can choose to speed up development in their other skill areas if they feel those give more advantage at that time.

A non-base stat area people may find worth putting points into would be armor-class. Light, Medium, and Heavy armor, basically. A player more focused on aestetics than on PvP or PvE, say a crafter, may want to unlock the ability to wear all the ligh armor... or ALL the armor... and focus on aquiring clothing to build a unique looking character before getting into other areas of the game where maxed out HP and the like would be more important.

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As to combat methods, having the weapons skills in the form of unlockable trees seems like it would give a focus for "advancement" in place of the usual levels. Having several starting weapons, some of which aid a player in unlocking subsequent weapons provides tangible rewards for practicing weapons skills.

"Unarmed" isn't quite the right word for how I would approach the other combat path, since each "fighting style" would also include some weapon moves that one could not learn unless you've built skills in the hand to hand area. Sort of like learning a style of kung fu, a mastery quest would have you learn speacialty weapon moves. I'd want ot shoot for 12 "styles" having each style have say 2 weapons it carries moves for, some overlap of weapons between styles would be fine imo.

Magic, I had reasoned out as using elemental-based magics. Each character can carry as many elements as they have blocks of MP on their Stamina-Mana bar. Fighter types at the extreme could only learn one "type" of magic, mage types could hold up to nine elements. Mage players could choose between putting "all their eggs in one basket" or diversifying, which would have an effect as to what spells they could employ.  Each element has a "style" of magic... fire doing high damage with some damage over time, lightning able to do massive damage or flash "holy" healing (but may be a mana hog), wood element does healing over time, things of that nature.

 

I think from the start the game would encourage players, perhaps in the starter area or tutorial, to at least dabble in all three areas. If the game includes situations where you have to stow your weapons in your bag to execute a task, like carrying items too large for your bag, then having the ability to fight unarmed is  important and useful.

On playable races and pets or minions...

Posted by Midare Sunday November 29 2009 at 3:00AM
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While 'the grind' is loathed by all, it is defined by every person slightly differently. All games will have varying amounts of repitition, it is just a matter of if there are enough PREFERRED tasks for one to repeat in order for any given player to have at least a few they can alternate between and thus keep things from going stale for them.

 

Atop that there is the need to "progress", and since I think I mentioned that I'd want to avoid the level-based treadmill game focus... that does mean there would need to be other goals available for players. The one I am most fond of is the idea of unlocking playable races. We unlock playable characters in arcade mode on console games, and if the success of pokémon is any indication then the urge to collect things/characters is very strong in us. (How to unlock races would likely need both combat and non-combat options... again, to avoid forcing players into game play they dislike or find to be a "grind".)

 

Of course this would mean that the default starting race would need to be the most versitile race in the game. One which you could build up to fill any role you may want to pursue. This means that no player is outright FORCED to take up the "collect the races" goal if they are not interested in it. The number of character slots an account has should be equal to the total number of playable races, imo. It would only be polite to make sure a player has enough slots for 1 of each race plus one extra for a pet/minion.

- The one extra slot is because I'm of the inclination to say pets should fill slots as well. Meaning, if you make your first character, and go the Ranger w/ pets angle you could stick different pet/minions in your character slots instead of alts. If you're the type to only bother with one character and would rather collect pets, that would be an option. Playing as one of the animals now and then may be entertaining, although likely with far more limitations than a playable race character would have. (No speech options, no bags, no money, etc.) Yet, I can see how running around biting people could be amusing for some people.

- Pets filling slots is less weird if taking into account that I do rather support the mechanic I've seen toyed with in some other games... where a player can use more than 1 character at a time. Sword of the New World comes to mind, where you can play 3 characters at once... and Allode's Gibberlings are played as a trio as well. I mainly support this for the sake of people I know who would like to be able to "solo" but still tackle group quests if they're able to play multiple characters. I've had friends who would dual account and play their DPS and Healer side by side in real time.  I think being able to play up to 3 characters at a time would be nostalgic of console RPG games, and add interesting options.

On RMT, Subscription tiers, and Ad Revenue...

Posted by Midare Wednesday November 25 2009 at 7:56PM
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Hairy topics, all of them, yet as someone who has been laid off during this ugly economic downturn... I have to say that having options that would allow me to keep that $15/mo for use toward groceries is nice.

On RMT, I have to say I'm firmly in the camp that doesn't mind cosmetic items which give no advantage to game play. These are especially acceptable things to offer in a F2P game, and provided they are just "extras" and not required to advance in game content they do nto inhibit P2P subscribers. Examples would be clothing which is stats-wise identical to something in-game but which may have a unique look, vanity pets, rare mounts (which offer the same travel speeds/abilities as regular mounts but just look different). I would even go so far as to say to sell profession skills for say "hairdressers", taylors, and the like... provided that the skill's subsequent item held no over-powered advantage when compared to other items at the same level.

Some people feel that no one will pay for things that do not offer advantage, but considering that people will do so to get things as basic as a no-stat "Power Ranger" costume in some games, I disagree. I do not think such sales would fully support the game, but I for one do not see the harm in offering a monthly or quarterly "special item". Especially if their is a max number of them available to be sold. This is in part to assure they do not swamp the market, and also to take advantage of that marketing ploy of "supplies are limited: act now".

If the worst argument is the "slippery slope" idea, where by these items inevitably lead to potions/epic pay-items, then the game in question has some weak people at the helm.

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Subscription tiers, another ugly word to many people. Coupled with Advertising revenue on the lower or lowest (F2P) tier means all customers are "paying" customers. I do not agree with providing a differing customer suppoert experience based on what sort of plan a person is on. Having worked for many years in the customer service industry, I know that isn't right. Flat out.

The way I would ideally lay out a tiering plan would be to have a F2P tier supported by advertising viewed on load screens. Those always struck me as a sheer waste of space, and would be better applied by posting up a still image akin to a full page colour advert. Rather than having the ad include a launch-in-browser button I would have a "request information" button where the game company sends an email to the requesting player that includes more info, a direct link, and the requisite warnings to use AV scan on any links before following them as we can never guarantee the security of a 3rd party site. This method means the game company need never give out their customer's email address as that "details" email would be sent from the game company itself. Still image ads seem less difficult to impliment, as well.

Second tier and third tier would likely only be $5 apart from one another, if that turned out to be $5-$10 or $10-$15 would depend on the market at the time of launch, I suppose. I would, personally, prefer the lower range of second tier being $5 and third tier at $10 in order to under-cut the majority of main line P2P subscriptions.

First/F2P tier = full access to the game as an adventurer: able to buy/sell (including use of small market stalls), join guilds, join fiefdom raids, have the same max character slots as the pay teirs; but cannot START a guild, rent a full house or shop building, or own/rent fief land.

Second/middle tier = full access to the game as an advanced adventurer/merchant: able to buy/sell (including use of small market stalls, or rental of full "shops"), join/start guilds, join fiefdom raids, have the same max character slots as the other two teirs, can rent a full house (for personal or guild use); but this level cannot cannot own/rent fief land. No longer sees load screen advertisments, or sees a reduced number of them.

Third/top tier = full access to the game, can join or create guilds, rent shops or market stalls, same max character slots as other players, but by default has at LEAST the base square of fief land to build or farm on. They can take part in and initiate or accept fief skirmishes, where by they can expand their territory (or if they lose they can lose a square down to them holding the minimum of 1)... alternatively they can accept quests from the NPC government officials to be deeded more land in peaceful ways.

I believe subscription tiering like this would accurately reflect a socio-economic class system, while still letting players interact and access all parts of the game. Even someone who opts to only stay on F2P can join a guild run by a landowner, and thus have access to the landowner's assets: mining nodes, plants, which appear on their blocks of land. If that guild/landowner takes part in fief wars, it also allows the F2P users to take part in these battles for experience and looting.

Yes, from an economic standpoint "landowners" have a distinct advantage, however, that is not an inaccurate reflection of a fantasy setting. Depending on other factors which could be included, such as the granting or loss of land by a landowner depending upon if they meet their government taxation, it could be used to help maintain balance in an economy.

Example: Any landowner with 2 or more areas of land owes X amount of grain/fish/ore/etc as goverment tithe. This inflow of resources can be used to stock the NPC vendors and whenever those have high stocks the cost of said resource is lower, when they have low stocks it is higher. Such control isn't what many would consider a "true" sandbox, however it seems like the most reasonable way to balance an in-game economy to me. Failure to meet tithe can cost a landowner a chunk of land (again, down to their minimum 1 square which is all their $10/mo guarantees to them).

My tinfoil hat comes off...

Posted by Midare Wednesday November 25 2009 at 4:05AM
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So, as the summary of my blog says... I'd love to talk about my game idea and get some feed back. While on the one hand this makes me paranoid that someone will steal my shitty ideas... I also realise that unless I speak with people outside my circle of friends I may never get much by way of actual feedback.

I'll admit outright that my ideal game would not be in anyway trying to dethrone the ol' gorilla, WoW, and would in many ways be targetting that "other" demographic. The one we most readily call a "female" demographic but which I personally know has members of both sexes in it. Ideally, it would be a game with more lateral expansion and avoiding focus on an overlaying "level" which then bars access to zones, or quests. However, one must recognize a need to track advancement in metrics... and for that reason you'd have skill levels in professions, weapon skills, martial arts skills, languages, armor class, and the dreaded "reputation" element which unlocks quests and dungeons.

In all honestly, the only reason I hated rep-grinds in WoW was because I was always needing to rush and keep up with my guild mates. This left me no time to enjoy the game and focus on areas enjoyable to me. Probably fuelling my ideas.

So overall, I would call my idea a sandbox with lateral expansion focused more on opening up new content that allows players to learn new skills, build new items and the like. While PvP would have its place, and be encouraged... it would not be made mandetory for advancement. I believe this is possible by letting players on a day by day basis choose if they want to log into a PvP server or not. Much like games where you can choose to access a different server to avoid high congestion even after you have established your character.

I know that raises the concern that people would just level in PvE servers tehn hit PvP servers to fight each other... but I fail to see how that is a problem. It allows those people ready and willing to fight each other to fight, and allows those people uninterested in fighting to avoid it. It also lets people go and TRY pvp without commiting to it if it turns out not to be their cup of tea, or allows a (girl/boy)friend who is not into PvP to still interact with their friend/partner who spends part of their game time on the PvP server ganking people... able to still play with them in group situations on the PvE side without there needing to be multiple characters levelled for the seperate tasks.

I toy witht he idea of there being an xp bonus on pvp servers, or that materials (plants, ore, etc) recovers faster there... but that is my sadistic side wanting to tempt gold farmers to their PvP deaths.

Yes, I do have specific ideas on the setting, races, and such... but that would warrant a post all its own.