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The State of MMO's

MMO's are currently always in development, but the discussion around them is a maelstrom. I want to sort out some of the ideas and give some of my own. This industry definitely needs improvement.

Author: lifesbrink

Finite Resources in MMO's

Posted by lifesbrink Thursday March 29 2012 at 6:39PM
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So the basics of how this system would work, both garnered from previous points and my own thoughts:

1.  Said resources should dwindle slowly, i.e. several years, not a few months.

2.  Resources that are finite should never EVER fade out of game in any way, but rather change forms.

3.  Accounts that hold any finite resource that cease to log in should start losing resources at some rate through least valuable resources first to the most valuable in the end.  People who choose to use this to troll by holding a ton of resources hostage but login only periodically should lose them all if discovered to be doing this (Community ALWAYS figures people like this out, trolls smell too much)

4.  As resources become harder to get, alternate means of resources should be discoverable to make up for it all.

5.  Players ingame should be able to have their resources stolen somehow.  This way, those players who try to run a server by withholding all the resources and basically acting like moguls are not impervious to attack.

6.  Again, it should be impossible to destroy a finite resource off the server.

7.  Nothing is soulbound.

8.  Profit?

Measure of Difficulty in MMOs

Posted by lifesbrink Thursday March 29 2012 at 6:38PM
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There IS a way to objectively categorize  difficulty in gaming, and measuring it per MMO is rather easy, if you feel like putting in a lot of time to do so.

There are 3 categories of Difficulty:

Patience / Persistence - Out of the 3, this leans towards more of a trait, really, because a person in any situation can weigh the rewards and subjectively decide whether they feel like putting in the time for what they are receiving.

Strategy - This is how effectively a player can plan any given action to achieve a result in the game.  Ex. A player knows that taking Orcs A and B out first are necessary to take out Orc C.  Alternatively, using skills X, Y, and then Z in a row are needed to kill the enemy within XX minutes.

Reflexes /  Reaction Time - Commonly referred to as "twitch" skills, this is a player's ability to react in a timely manner within a situation that requires any timeset, or can also mean being able to aim and press the correct keys/buttons at the precise time.

As of this current time, I believe that the first difficulty is the one most widely used in any given MMO, followed by the second, and then the third.  Of course, this changes if we are talking about MMOFPS or MMORPS, among others.  

Much of what is being mentioned now is the death penalty, which largely ties into the 1st difficulty.  Obviously, many of you are expressing many different viewpoints on what kind of death penalty should be in a game.  Personally, I remember only ever being scared of dying in Lineage 2, which gives a chance of you dropping a weapon when you died, so that if you did, you ran like hell back to your grave to recover the item before someone else picked it up.  Given how expensive said weapon was, it could be a terrible loss.

Of course, that is still merely a loss of time.  But as of now, until games create timesinks that are meaningful, like the ability to really change the world with persistent and laborious actions, timesinks like death penalties shall continue to exist.  I will say, one effective and meaningful death penalty would be permadeath, because in no way would you ever be guaranteed to make it to the last level.  But I will agree with gestalt11 that it mainly changes tactics in games that delete your character.

I want games that test more of our twitch skills and strategy.  I want to be able to get into encounters with NPC's where I need to attack from a certan spot, use the environment to my advantage, use certain abilities to ensure success at certain times, and then, when I am ready to execute the plan, I want the siutation demand I be quick on my virtual feet and solve each part of the problem fast enough to ensure my success. 

I think mainly a good point of why time and patience is used most is that it ensures even the most unskilled players can get the best gear and rewards at the end of the game, whereas if quick thinking and strategy were more important, not everyone would ever end up with the same rewards or even the best rewards.  I realize there are many of you out there who don't have the means to always have twitch skills, but honestly, there could be some middle ground.  Or perhaps, games just need to experience more of a shift.

Also, I feel leveling is a culprit here, because in most games, you can simply outlevel or outgear a challenge.  But I should note, these are all my opinions, and I only speak for some portion of the population that feels the same about games.

Lord of the Rings Online: Cosmetics (+)

Posted by lifesbrink Monday March 5 2012 at 8:31PM
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Cosmetics

This is a system in the game that definitely shines.  Each character created can have various cosmetic outfits that overwrite the armor that is currently being worn.  There are purely cosmetic pieces, but characters can use other pieces of armor or clothing to create whatever kind of outfit they desire.  Further accenting this system is the dye mechanic, where any item that is shown on a character can be dyed with a wonderful array of colors, which are increasing in number as expansions come along.

This system allows a character to have a very identifiable look and not come out as a cookie-cutter model of every other member of their race and class.  There are pretty good websites devoted to showing off some of the best combinations of clothing.

Also, cosmetics lends to role-playing, giving many character the chance to have various looks for stories they might create.

Lord of the Rings Online: Where it Succeeds

Posted by lifesbrink Monday March 5 2012 at 8:30PM
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Since the beta I have been off and on playing Lord of the Rings.  Having bought myself a Lifetime account, this was an easy thing to do, flitting in and out.  Given the game's success and failures, I had reasons to drop it and come back.  Of course, I loved the model here, as not subscribing led me to my first experience where I did not feel I needed to play.

This blog that I have started also was of the purpose of pointing out what is wrong with MMO's today, as well as inspirational ideas of what is already present, and what could be present, or at the very least developed in the future.  For a long time, I have stopped writing, but I want to come back and show this site people other than Teala can write.  This particular post will be about Lord of the Rings online and where it succeeds, as well as where it falls short.

Firstly, I would like to point out some of the high points of the series, things that keep me and likely many others coming back.  However, LOTRO also has a good amount of failures, and this is where I offer thoughts of where it could get better.  These ideas also follow my philosophy of MMO's in general.

 

Story

LOTRO places your character within the setting of Middle-Earth during the time of the War of the Ring.  It starts near to when Frodo and companions left the Shire, and in a way your character journeys with them.  Over time, you reach branching story lines where you are indirectly helping decide the fate of Middle-Earth.

The characters you meet along the way vary between familiar and new.  You will run into the 9 companions and other historical figures such as Glorfindel the Elf or many of the Rangers, like Halbarad.  The dialogue is excellent, and you will find the best quests are part of the epic storyline.  This storyline, as of March, 2012, takes you from the lands of Ered Luin up to Angmar, through the Misty Mountains and later into the depths of Moria and finally to Isengard as of this time.

Eventually, the lands of Mordor will likely be open to players within some alternate quest lines that follow the Companions in their quest to destroy the One Ring.

As of now, quests will open up much of Middle-Earth's lore to players and show them many diverse characters that are mentioned by Tolkien.