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Qombi's MMORPG Design Fantasies (Venture inside a tiny gnome's mind)

I have day dreamed about MMORPG design since I seen the first text based MUD in action. I have been always critical of things different games could have done differently or imagined my own design. This will be a blog to share these design ideas.

Author: qombi

Wizards! Wizards! Wizards! Welcome to my world.

Posted by qombi Wednesday January 21 2009 at 6:32PM
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Hiyoodin folks!

Where has the powerful Wizard gone? What do you think of when you think Wizard? KABLOOEY GIGANTUOUS NUKES!? Me too!

Let's make a Wizard a Wizard. I am going to delve into my Wizard now, hold on to something! When I envision a Wizard I picture a very large battle turning blazing fireball, a single zinging powerful lightning strike, or a bone chilling freezing cold ice blast. You heard me right .. one! One is all it should take, I am a Wizard right?! Err hum .. You may be asking how would that be balanced? He wants to be a almighty God of mob sizzling.

Here is where my design comes in. Where balance comes in is preparation. Preparing an exploding bomb of pure magic of this size takes time. In my system a wizard in a group would start preparation of his particular spell of choice depending on monster resist at the start of a battle.

To assist you in picturing my Wizard correctly I will need to reveal a little information about my game mechanics. In my game world the group encounters would consist of very large mobs, that would take three to four minutes each to bring to their demise depending on importance of the mob in question. As you can see, preparation time would be feasible in my world unlike some game worlds today where battles are about fighting multiple mobs at the same time. Encounters would not be boring because of this by no means. I didn't say only one monster would be visiting you at a time, only that it would be wise not to fight more than one at the same time. That may be very painful in Qombi's world if attempted. There would be crowd control but that is for another post. I digressed ...

At the start of a battle my Wizard would start preparing his spell. The other group members would be doing their works which I will go into at a later date during this process. The way this preparation mechanic would work will now be described. You would create your chosen spell by combining "words" together. When you start your Wizard he starts out knowing all the words, which would be able to be arranged any way you choose on your hotbar. As you gain levels you learn more combination for words to chant to produce more spells.

Chanting words can be thought of similar to channeling a spell, if you are hit during the process there is a strong chance it will be interrupted. Also remember my game world getting touched as a Wizard would be a big no no. The Wizard would be the most fragile class in the game, second most fragile would be the rogue (That will be for a later time!). All you are wearing is a robe. One to three hits is all you can withstand from a group classified monster. Don't worry in Qombi's world as a Wizard you would have methods of releasing mob hate off of yourself and ways of sticking naughty monsters to the ground to where they can not reach you, though not always reliable. Also if you are playing properly you should not gain agro as the Wizard because after your one nuke the monster should be a sizzling pile of ashes. Again there are those emergency spells there in place for the occasion you do not time your nuke properly to kill your poor victim though risky.

There would be some smaller chants available, requiring only one up to three word combinations to produce non damaging spells such as your root, invisibility, levitate, teleport and other wizardry utilities! The long chants would be your damaging spells which would grow in strength as you get spell upgrades. The word combinations would not change on a spell upgrade just the strength of the spell to be effective against current level monsters of solo an group strength appropiately. Don't worry folks, in my game I would make it challenging but not overly complicated. I wouldn't make it like memerozing war and peace!

There would be monsters designated for solo, I wouldn't want folks to be tied to a group if they did not want to be or there would be times you may care to wander alone! How would a Wizard solo being this fragile and spells taking this long to prepare? Very simple, thanks for asking! (I know you didn't ask but go with it.) Solo designated monsters should be destroyed in one to two nukes and can be rooted via the Wizards chanted root spell. Solo designated mobs have little resistance to chanted spells such as root, slow, etc.

The most common solo battle would begin with either a chanted root spell or a chanted nuke depending on the situation. Was the Wizard spotted? Wizards will most likely want to be the one catching the monster off guard. There are tools provided to help the Wizard such as the invisibility chant which could allow the Wizard to choose his ideal location to start the confrontation. Chanting another spell would break invisibility though, becareful!  A Wizard and a Rogue would bring a foe to his demise ultimately in the same amount of time the difference being the Wizard will have large preparation times and a absurdely large single damaging hit (A great class for the folks who love big numbers) while the rogue would have no preparation time with small fast attacks. (Still not delving into my Rogue at this time!)

While I went a little into grouping earlier, I will conclude with a grouping scenario now. The Wizard will want to time his nukes carefully unless he wants the task of trying to deal with a mob that is angry as a hornet and wants Wizzy for breakfast. (Remember how fragile Wizards are!) Ultimately the Wizard will want to time his attacks to land when the group mob's health is at fifty percent to complete the kill. This is also taking in consideration they Wizard is using the correct spell type according to mob resistance. The preparation time would probably take up to around two minutes to complete. If you noticed I have mentioned group designated mobs would take aproximately three to four minutes to kill, which is longer than the time it takes a Wizard to cast a spell ..what gives? Remember the Wizard is about preparation and timing! At the beginning of the battle you would most likely not want to start chanting your damaging nuke. You would be more likely to be chanting spells to reduce mob resistance to certain magic schools which would be the Wizard's secondary role.

I have typed enough. I hope you enjoyed the read. I like constructive criticsm, who knows maybe you thought of something that could make my fireball chucker better or problems with my ideas that I have not thought of. Though I do realize my Wizard would have very different limitiations than my other classes but that is they way I would want my game. I would want sharp glaring difference in all my classes! I have enjoyed presenting this to you!

fansede writes:

 Thank you for your interesting blog. A few comments. What MMOs have you enjoyed to date? What single player RPGs you enjoyed?

I love the idea of preparation for MMOS. All too often preparation for MMOs ends up being reading a walkthrough site like Allakazams or Thottbot.
Your price may be too steep for players to enjoy your wizard though. Age of Conan weaved the fable that casters could create fantastic effects through channeling, though the risk to channelling could be ending the casters life and thrown into hell. How that fell through the cracks.. sigh..
Anyways, the idea seemed intriguing - buildup for massive damage, but risk is involved. Warhammer Online took this idea for bright wizards and Sorceresses.
Not chanting for a massive effect, but the buildup rises via using common abilities. The reward is critical damage, not a new spell per se.
The reason it works in WAR because you are actively contributing to the effort with you other abilities. You are not standing there chanting hoping your party survives
until you land the deathblow.
Another thing to tweak your model is the fragility of your wizard. We all know they are glass cannons, but how fragile are you going to make them? Will they die from 
a small fall? Will they be so fragile that they cannot be kept up by a healer? Will a high level wizard need to be worried from those tutorial monsters?
In single player RPG, Pen and paper RPGs, preparation adds to the story. Perhaps the wizard is gathering components and mixing materials to unleash his powers,
Maybe the wizard studies lore from scrolls or books to learn ancient power words which are memorized. Maybe the wizard undergoes some trial to unlock powerful
names of beings, and so on. Bottom line is that the Wizard invests a lot of time learning and his reward is damage dealing that is unparalled.
In MMOs this is tougher to implement. Namely because of a few things. Your game design has to account for thousands of wizard players. How do you keep the game
fun for thousands of players who revel in pyrotechnics and big numbers in every battle? Your MMO monsters are accessible
and need be challenging to other professions in the game, but not so powerful that a non wizard can't overcome without a raid.
So the game has to have balance to be fun. Why play a tank when you can mow down all adversaries with a snap, albeit as long as you get the spell off first.
In todays MMOs,monsters rarely get the first hit. Especially monsters of the common variety. All one of your wizard has to do is chant the moment a creature is 
in range then take em. Assuming your wizards has area of effect, he could take out entire camps.
Ok maybe your cannon has no AOE skills yet. He is a Count Dooku with a nastee electical strike. So multiple mobs may be 
need for you to party up. Does your nuke generate hate? Will the party be able to get the monster (or his buddies) attention off you
after your preemptive strike?
How long do you think your players will enjoy standing still for several minutes to let off a blast? 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times?
I wonder if the game will be so imbalanced that the players goal is simply to protect the walking nuclear god so they overcome 
Wed Jan 21 2009 8:56PM Report
Death1942 writes:

sounds a lot like DnD (a damn good system)


anyway i dont mind not hauling all powerful spells so long as the effects are giganitc.

i dont know how  many times i have been put off playing a wizard because the 'fireball' is a tiny sphere of flame hardly bigger than a soccer ball.  WoW's pyroblast is still one of my all time favourite spells so far and wish more were like that (huge, long to cast but deal massive damage)

Thu Jan 22 2009 4:06AM Report
qombi writes:

Thank you both for your comments. It was fun typing up my first blog delving into some design ideas I have had. My ideas are a rough draft that would evolve over time.

To answer some of your questions Fansede, one of my favorite MMOs was Everquest to date. I have played World of Warcraft, Vanguard, LOTRO, Rubies of Eventide, and a few others not worth mentioning.

I healer would indeed not be able to heal a Wizard most likely in my world unless the heal was already a precaution that was started before the Wizard has gotten a mob's attention. Oh the price we pay for such powerful damage.

My idea to answer the need for tanks would be where the group content comes in. That job would be definitely needed. Without a tank there would be no way for the Wizard to survive. Remember that in my world roots would most likely resisted in group encounters. Yes a few Wizards could get together and may be able to kill one nasty monster .. but his friends would eat them alive. Darn those unreliable roots in group content! I don't think they will have time to chant another long two minute cast each before the monsters have killed them each in two swipes.

There would be reasons that every party member would be needed for a successful dungeon crawl experience. I will delve in to that further when I get to other classes. There may be other ways you can riskily get through encounters but it will never be as safe as a well balanced party.

In my world I mean to bring back sharp class distinctions, where Wizards do drastic damage but should be afraid to be hit. Warriors while doing a little damage can take hits from the worse of the worse. Your post also made me decide that my CC class would possess all the proper resistance debuffing spells that the Wizard would need to kill these group encounter monsters.

Without those resistance debuffs it would surely take the Wizard a lot more time to burn a  group intended monster to the ground. Also take in consideration that every class in my game would be able to solo, solo intended encounters. If you are unable to find a group at the time, there would be experience to be obtained with solo. Group experience and items would provide the best rewards but solo would be available.

I will go into later how other classes will solo and how I have designed each one to ultimately solo at the same speed but grouping would be a different story. More to come and thank you for your input!

Thu Jan 22 2009 7:33AM Report
fansede writes:

 Ok, I see where you are going with the role of tanks.  Will tanks be able to solo at all in your game? This might be a problem for players. While MMOs always designated tanks for the group role, the games of today do allow the fighters to stand on their own against most foes of the common variety. 

Resists always caused me to cuss like a sailor in EQ. Here I am trying to take down a mob that would follow you to the end of the zone and without a speed buff (Spirit of Wolf, etc)it meant i was dead, I still enjoyed it. I didn't post mega mega damage , but I also didn't spend five minutes chanting either to let loose. I rooted and nuked and the mob was down in less than a minute, provided those roots held.

Your game (as I translate it) would be for a common mob that I find a target, chant for five minutes and nuke it instantly. If it resists, I am dead. No room for strategy. If I am in a group, I can at least let the others gain hate, hope they survive while im chanting so I can kill them. What if the other party members kill it before I am done? Will party members look for wizards for common tasks or simply for boss encounters?

If your answer is, party members will be unable to take a common monster down in a timely manner without a wizard, then your game will likely have few subscribers. It will be labeled as "too hard" when it is really unbalanced.

If your answer is that the party mechanic is efficient enough to handle common targets, then the value of the wizard's role declines. in MMOs today the value of the glass cannon is : Damage Per Second. 

Your wizards would be relegated to group play only , maybe powerlevel services would be numerous in your game, because the wizard would be little use until end game raids or end game bosses.

As I said, the price may be too steep to play your damaging dealing  character.

Thu Jan 22 2009 8:42AM Report
fansede writes:

 Continuing in your post, I see you have placed a role in debuffing. A necessary component if resistance if going to be the counterbalance  of a successful encounter with your wizard. Good that you are thinking your wizards have limits and promote interdependence. You are now starting to balance your game. 

So another player (who plays a CC profession) must be necessary for a wizard to be an efficient hunter in your game. Would that be necessary at lvl 1?


Thu Jan 22 2009 8:51AM Report
qombi writes:

Thanks Fansede for your constructive criticism. I have made mention that there would be a distinction between solo and group encounters. In my world a player could level solo of any class via solo based encounters. Solo base encounters would not suffer from the resist issues that group encounters would.

A Wizard would not need another class nor would any other class to solo. I think yes this game would provide a different experience than the current crop of games, but that would be the point. I want all classes to feel unique and I want all classes to feel special and needed when in a group base encounter.

Don't worry when I delve into my Warrior at some point, I will describe how he can be a monster defensive wall in group encounters yet solo effectively against solo designed mobs. More to come! Oh and a Wizard definitely could be replaced in a group but it would be very beneficial to have a well balanced party makeup. I would have an alternative class for every archetype though.

A rogue could replace a Wizard in group for massive dps but they would both do it differently. A paladin type class could replace the warrior class for the tank role etc. My goal would be to design these classes very differently and uniquely yet have them fill the same role effectively. Solo encounters would be in the game to level on. Solo definitely wouldn't be the focus of the game.

Solo would be only in place in my game to give you something to do while looking for a group. This would definitely be a niche game for people who love challenging group oriented gaming. Thank you again for all your feedback!

Fri Jan 23 2009 7:38AM Report writes:
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