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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

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.