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MMORPG Methodone

First post explains the reason :)

Author: tupodawg999

Class vs Skills Part 2

Posted by tupodawg999 Thursday January 8 2009 at 11:03AM
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Further thoughts on the class vs skills debate after trying a bit of prototyping.

I decided to try and do quick and dirty prototypes of various of these design ideas separately to get an idea of how difficult they'd be to code fully. I think this is a good way of stopping yourself going down blind alleys. I started off trying to build a little standalone thing using Visual Basic that displayed all the skill trees I had in mind on separate tabs with the code for requirements ( the code that for example stops you selecting "Master Swordsman" unless you already have 24 warrior skills including "Expert Swordsman" ). It didn't take very long before I had skills and tabs out the wazoo and it was all getting a bit too complicated. I could code my first idea eventually but the fact that it turned out to be overly complicated to code made me step back a bit and think harder about why I'd automatically picked a skill based system.

What's wrong with classes?

After thinking about it I came up with three things that bugged me.

1) Freedom within a class:

You start a game and decide to play a warrior. You're okay with playing a class with restrictions etc--you can't heal, can't use spells etc and that's ok. You decide in your head that you want him to be a big dumb guy who uses a two-handed hammer but you can't because the fighter class in the game doesn't work that way. So it can be quite minor like wanting to use a 2H hammer but the game making you use axes.

2) Hybrid, but not my hybrid.

There are archetypes and a class is usually either an archetype or a hybrid of two archetypes. Some of theses hybrids are almost standard, like the fighter/priest paladin hybrid, but some aren't, so a particular game might not have *your* fave hybrid. Games with multi-classing can get round this to a certain extent but even then it might not be enough for some e.g one player might want a hybrid that was 2/3 fighter and 1/3 scout while another wanted 2/3 scout and 1/3 fighter.

3) Right name, wrong hybrid.

With the standard MMO combat system you have the set roles, CC, Melee DPS, tanking, healing, ranged DPS etc and over time (it seems to me) games have become increasingly focused on slotting a particular class into one of those roles. That can cause a conflict sometimes if the role doesn't fit how a player sees a class. For example in most games now a ranger is ranged DPS for group fighting whereas my kind of ranger class would involve lots of non-combat skills that made it easier to explore without dying. So there can sometimes be a mismatch between the game's definition of a particular fantasy archetype and an individual player's definition of that archetype.

So, at least partly... class vs skills is actually a spectrum rather than a clear divide and the spectrum is how much player freedom there is when it comes to customizing the abilities of their character and how much a lack of freedom bothers individual players. My first thought was to have (almost) complete freedom where a player could learn any skill up to a maximum number of skills. But that first prototyping made me stop and think about it more.

So what I'm thinking now is:

1) Freedom within a pure class i.e a warrior talent tree where you pick the individual skills you want as you level / skill up. Or a wizard skill tree with different lines of spells and you pick the upgrades that suit your preferred style.

2) A multi-classing system that lets you make the hybrid you want. One way would be divide skills into categories with a self-contained upgrade tree and then allow players to pick the three categories they wanted. For example a player who wanted a pure fighter would pick the general, basic melee and advanced melee categories while a player that wanted a priest would pick the general skills, basic melee and priest skill categories. You'd build your own class from selecting 3-5 skill trees that each contained a bundle of related skills.

This could be quite a good way to do things even if you wanted to have pre-set classes. By writing the code around a game class being a collection of 3-5 skill trees you could easily create a new class around a different collection of skill trees.

This sort of system might also help with point 3) above with one collection of skill trees suiting a player that wanted to be ranged DPS and another being better suited to exploring.

So, back to the drawing board for me but it does show how useful prototyping can be in getting a clearer picture of what you want.

Edit: Forgot to mention: after having a quick dabble I can see how classes are preferable from a coding point of view. Classes may or may not not be technically easier to code than a skill system but they are conceptually easier to code because they are inherently modular. So I think there's a definite balance to strike between player freedom and ease of coding especially if you have limited resources. Decisions, decisions.

Death Penalty

Posted by tupodawg999 Tuesday January 6 2009 at 5:42PM
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Harsh death penalties suck but...

A lot of ex EQ players will have clear, strong memories of the buzz you could get from things like surviving your first Qeynos-Freeport run. The death penalty in EQ was harsh and was the source of much grief but at the same time without that kind of harsh penalty you don't get the big rush of pleasure when you survive a close fight at the bottom of a dungeon where you really don't want to die. So by taking away the lows of a severe death penalty you also take away the highs you can get when you *just* avoid it.

So in my ideal game there'd be an extreme death penalty. In my ideal game there'd be perma-death, except...

in a normal game perma-death would suck 99% of the time and only be really cool 1% of the time i.e when you avoided it or when you died but in a cool way i.e being rearguard for the rest of your group to escape.

It would suck because too much of the time you'd die in stupid ways e.g lag deaths, disconnections, the doorbell rings and while you're away the level 4 psycho-rabbit gnaws you to death one hitpoint at a time.

So if you still want a perma-death game (which I do) then the game has to be designed around it.

Some players, almost certainly the vast majority, would absolutely hate perma-death so games with it would need to be designed around being able to avoid dying by cautious play. Games with low penalties can have fights that take 12 wipes to figure out but games with PD need to have lots of "run!!!!!" options built in.

I think even that is probably not enough. My current thought is there has to be a choice. There has to be decision to risk perma-death. Also this can't be a one-off decision at character creation there needs to be a decision each time. Otherwise you could have situations where a player (me for example) chose perma-death at creation but then one day they're having bad lag spikes but it's the weekend and they're craving finishing some quest and so they can't wait and so they die from lag. No fun.

My current idea is....

Base the game around the idea of hubs and the risk of perma-death being based on your distance from the nearest friendly hub. So your starter town would be your first hub, the place you're bound with no chance of perma-death there at all. The risk of perma-death would go up with each zone further away from your hub. The adjacent zones would also be safe from PD -- so your race's version of Qeynos Hills or Northshire would be safe too. There'd be a death penalty (still quite a harsh one in my ideal game) but no chance perma-death.

I'd have some kind of point score system where each overland zone away from a friendly base you were would add one point to the risk and going into a dungeon would be two points so for example going into a dungeon two zones away from your base would be a risk of 4 points. The chance of PD would come when you went above a certain number. So basically you'd never *have* to risk perma-death. You could always play within the safe range.

(Also there could be ways of reducing the point score e.g grouping. The numbers of ppl you were grouped with could subtract points maybe.)

So there could be a human city and a bunch of zones away a dwarf city. At game start the two races are neutral. A human player could safely travel east a couple of zones, safe as in no PD if they die, but to reach the dwarf place they'd have to cross a zone that pushed the PD points over the threshold. You wouldn't have to do it. But some players could accept diplomacy type quests to the dwarf city. They'd risk the PD and get the buzz (and a nice reward) for the risk.

If you were bound at a friendly hub the safe range would be higher than if it was neutral. So the human player could bind at the dwarf city and do quests that raised dwarf faction. Eventually they'd get friendly or whatever and then the journey would become safe *for them* because they had a friendly hub at each end of the journey. If enough players did the diplo quests then the dwarves and humans make an alliance and the journey becomes non-PD for all the human and dwarf players.

I'd also have PD for certain heroic and epic quests. The very last fight you'd have to risk PD. I'd make all the very best gear in the game like that. You wouldn't have to do it but the bragging rights would be cool.

ps The idea behind the system is that if you die in the game you don't really die. You were just badly wounded but managed to get back to base somehow or you were found wounded by a trader and he brought you back on his wagon. So the closer you are to a base the more likely that is. That's why there'd be no corpse run. You'd respawn back at base badly wounded and gear smashed up as if you'd been dragged back unconscious somehow.

pps Some mobs could have a higher chance of PD and others less. For example, mobs that would eat you might add a point to your PD score. Mobs that wouldn't neccessarily care about killing you might subtract a point. For example, if you died to bandits in a PD zone you might not end up perma-dead, instead they'd strip all your gear and you'd respawn back at your hub. For a lot of players that might be even worse :p

In a case like that you could have the bandits put all the player's gear in a chest and sell onje piece per game day so the player has a chance of getting it back.

ppps Another option could be if you had a PD death fighting dark elf slavers you'd end up in a slave pit in their city with a chance of escape.

pppps As I'd want the option of factional PvP (with no level restrictions) in my perfect MMORPG this is also how I'd stop high levels of one faction griefing low levels of another faction. I'd make it so being in the home city of an enemy faction was automatic PD if you got killed.

 

Crafting

Posted by tupodawg999 Monday January 5 2009 at 3:16PM
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There's an interesting site, http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/  with lots research on what motivates ppl to play these MMORPGs. As most ppl who've played them for a while know there's a lot of different niche play styles. It's hard for a game to satisfy all the niches especially as some are incompatible e.g total PvE vs total PvP. Games can aim to create a compromise between these niche play styles or instead try to set up sections of the game that appeal very strongly to each niche. I think crafting is a good example of this conflict.

One group of players *really* like crafting. A second group enjoy crafting *a bit*. A large group, maybe a majority *really* dislike it. If I had to make a wild guess I'd say the percentages would be around 10%, 20%, and 70%. A lot of the current games seem to think that the best way to do crafting is to dumb it down to the point where the 70% of ppl who *really* dislike crafting can just about stand doing it. I think this is the wrong way round. The crafters hate it and the ppl who don't enjoy crafting still don't enjoy it when it's dumbed down, they just hate it a bit less. I think, where possible, games designers should aim to give different player-styles their own niche and crafting is one of them.

So i think the crafting system in games should be designed around what crafting fans like--or rather, the dividing line should be set at the point where players who only like crafting *a bit* are right on the edge of being ok with the system. Players who don't like crafting shouldn't feel any need to get any more involved with crafting than gathering materials. On the other hand I don't really like completely player-driven economies in MMORPGs so I'd want a different kind of compromise. The crafting system would be designed around what crafting fans like but crafting itself would be no more than half of the economy.

I think almost everything in the game should be craftable but I don't think everything in the game should be crafted. I'd want NPC merchants as otherwise the world wouldn't feel right to me but everything they sold would have a recipe and could be made. (A few objects might not have a recipe e.g items that come direct from a God or something but almost everything else would.)

Mob drops are fun. One of the buzzes in these games is getting that item from a particular mob. (Personally, I think random loot lists spoil the fun and i prefer to know a particular type of mob drops a particular item.) So there needs to be a compromise between mob dropped items and crafted items. One is to just have mobs drop crafting materials but that is very boring. I prefer "beast" type mobs to just drop materials--boars dropping swords feels stupid to me, whereas a beetle dropping an antenna that can be crafted into a sword is fun. But humanoid type creatures *only* dropping crafting materials is boring imo.

The other problem with all gear being crafted (or all the best gear) is that it drives players who hate crafting into crafting. They don't enjoy it, it spoils the market for crafters and eventually the whines about crafting being too hard get the system nerfed to the point where crafters no longer enjoy it either.

My compromise would be something like:
1) I'd separate gear into imaginary tiers and then divide up the equipment slots in each tier so some of the best gear for that slot was mob dropped and some crafted.
2) I'd try and have crafted consumable items at various skill levels for each trade that sold easily to players..
3) I'd make crafting and selling to NPCs profitable. If a player of a certain level could bash monsters for an hour and gain 4 gold I'd want a crafter of a comparable craft level to be able to gather materials for an hour, craft for half an hour and also gain four gold even if it's just selling to NPCs.

4) I'd make crafting tie in with gear drops from mobs, for example:
A certain dungeon has goblin mobs that drop "blackened iron armour" pieces.
At the bottom of the dungeon there's some mining nodes that produce "blackened iron ore".
There's a goblin blacksmith that drops a book on "blackened iron armour".
A player with enough blacksmith skill can read the book and get the recipes for making blackened iron armour from the ore.
They also get some kind of research quest where they can learn how to improve the blackened iron armour into "burnished iron armour" (or something).
So crafters can learn how to improve the mob dropped armour.

Obviously it's difficult to get this sort of thing right over all crafts and all skill levels but i think the above is a good compromise to aim for. A crafting *system* designed in the way crafting fans like but with crafting as a whole slotting in with other players liking to get gear drops off mobs. Crafting should produce a decent amount of money even if just selling to NPCs while also producing various bits of gear that are valuable to players. The profits from crafting and the difference between crafted gear and mob-dropped gear shouldn't be so high that it makes ppl who hate crafting take up crafting.

Also, I think crafting should be woven into the backdrop of the game purely for immersion reasons. For example:

Option A)
- village quest giver wanting "ten random whatevers".

Option B)
- cooking recipe that turns "deer meat" into "dried dear meat", food vendor that sells "dried deer meat", vendor gives quest for ten deer meat.
- tailor recipe that turns "deer hide" into leather armour, village tailor sells leather armour, tailor gives quest for ten deer hide.
- blacksmith recipe uses "deer horn" for dagger handles, village blacksmith sells "horn daggers", blacksmith gives quest for ten deer horn.

The quests are still the same really, kill 10 whatevers and bring back 10 whatevers but to me they are more enjoyable when they fit into the world somehow.

Similarly a mage player going to a mage NPC to learn a new spell school and the mage NPC says go get me ten blue lizard bloods. If the blue lizard blood was the main component in the ink needed to write magic scrolls then it would fit neatly and for me that makes the quests better. Plus, if you have a mass of recipes and you make collecting components for various recipes be the reason for the quest then it gets very easy to make as many as you want. That leaves most of the big story-tellling type quests for the more heroic and epic type rewards.

Something else that I think is partly related to this is I don't think there should be any items in the game that are only junk. Every game item should have a purpose even the junk. So for example, "crappy goblin sword that no player would ever use" could be melted down into metal bits for blacksmithing.

Lastly, you should be able to craft something useful straight away. It doesn't have to be uber just useful. In a lot of games, if you only like crafting a bit then by the time you can craft anything useful you've already got something better. So for example the crafting progression of the lowest tier of gear should go something like:

--> Tattered leather (uses same materials as leather but low crafter skill, less protection than leather armour but better than nothing)
--> Leather armour (standard gear, sold by merchant NPCs but also craftable with a bit more skill)
--> Reinforced leather armour (improved version of leather armour, crafted, could use either the merchant, mob dropped or crafted version of leather armour because they'd all be the same)
--> etc etc up the tiers.

--> Rough hunting bow (uses same materials as hunting bow but low fletching skill)
--> Hunting bow (standard version, same materials as rough version but more skill, sold my vendors)
--> Quality hunting bow (crafted, improved version of the standard hunting bow) etc etc

Very lastly, I think sci-fi is better suited to a completely player-made economy. In fantasy games you want Chief Bluglug to drop a cool sword.

 

Random Encounters

Posted by tupodawg999 Saturday January 3 2009 at 7:36PM
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I miss random encounters from my long ago D&D days.

Some examples of what I'd like:

Scout char gets a mission from their faction leader to check out a frontier zone with four waypoints to travel to and click. With each waypoint there's a 1 in 6 chance of an encounter from a list e.g orc hunting party, or wolf pack come down from the mountains or whatever. When the scout approached the waypoint the die would roll and if successful the mobs would spawn at the waypoint. At this point the mission would change and instead of travelling to the other waypoints the mission would be to go back to faction leader and tell them about the mobs. When you tell them this triggers a mission / quest to kill those mobs. The scout char wouldn't have to take this mission it would just be a new one available that players could get off that quest giver. The scouting mission would go inactive until those mobs were cleared so the scout char might at least want to OOC that this new mission was available.

(My standard method for clearing these kinds of events is going to be once the encounter is triggered the mobs respawn normally on a timer unless all the mobs involved are dead at once i.e if there were four orcs in the hunting party then the encounter would clear if all four were dead at once.)

With random events like this you could have the same mission be different every time a player did it. Also once you had the mechanism and a list of possible random encounter tables you could always add a few more into the list to keep players surprised.

A second example could be a standard cave dungeon mission to kill chief bluglug with five caves joined by tunnels and with the first, third and last cave containing fixed groups of mobs with the toughest in the last cave. The second and fourth caves however could be random from a list e.g a die roll of 4-6 would be nothing and the cave would be empty, a roll of 2-3 would be 1-6 goblins and a roll of 1 would 2-12 goblins and a leader. The leader would be just a bigger goblin unless a second roll was also a 1 in which case he'd be a shaman unless a third roll was also a 1 in which case the leader would be a shaman plus a cave troll would come lumbering out of a shadowy bit of the cave a minute or so after the fight started :p

I'd love to be in a game fight like that where you're watching the group chat and suddenly someone says "oh **** they've got a cave troll!" lol

A third example could be crafting related e.g you have a mine with various shafts where players go to mine ore. Each time some ore was mined there'd be a low random chance of a rock elemental spawning through the wall. It would be easy enough for the mining player to get away but no one could mine there until the elemental was dealt with. I'd also have a rare random daily chance of some kind of goblin eruption. A model that looked like a tunnel entrance would be made visible in the mine and a load of goblins would come out. Again, mining would be messed up until the goblins were cleared.

These sort of things would make the world more interesting and i don't think they'd be particularly hard to code. In most cases they'd just be inactive spawn points that were triggered and closed via flags.

Adding randomness to the world would make it seem more alive.

Group or Solo

Posted by tupodawg999 Saturday January 3 2009 at 7:32PM
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I think MMORPGs should be designed around encouraging grouping but not forcing it and that's a tricky balance. I'm mostly a solo player myself in the sense that for most of the time my *thing* in these games is exploring around with a ranger type char and that tends to be a solo occupation but I like a good group dungeon crawl now and then but they don't seem to happen as much in the current games. I also like the immersive aspect of these games so I'd want solo missions that fitted certain character types, for example:

Scouts getting missions to patrol the frontier.

Rogues getting sneaking missions.

Mages going to a famous library to do some research.

Priests getting a mission to bless a shrine in a village.

So I'd have solo missions like that but anything that would involve a lot of fighting would be more designed for groups. Warrior type chars might have a chance of soloing those but it would be very risky and much easier with backup. I also think dungeons should have sections for both. They should have sections that can be soloed and a deeper dungeon crawl bit with a boss for groups. It's important for dungeons to have soloable sections of the same level range as the dungeon. That way individual players will go there knowing they can solo but LFG when they get there.

The trouble with grouping is that the good thing about it is other people but the bad thing about it is also other people :)

This can be erm... pretty finely balanced a lot of the time so I think the game design needs to avoid any extra disincentives, for example:

Experience:
Each player should get exactly the same exp from a mob solo or grouped. If a mob is a 100 exp then one player gets 100 exp and six grouped players get 100 each.

Loot:
Each player gets to loot. The mob doesn't drop x and the first to loot gets it. Each player can loot the mob once and there's a random roll for each player. Exact same chance of getting loot from a mob solo or grouped. Except of course you couldn't have killed it solo ;)

I think loot is particularly important as not only does it stop some ppl wanting to group for practical reasons; they'd rather have a 30% chance of killing a mob with a 100% chance of the loot, than a 100% chance of killing a mob but with only 15% chance of getting the loot. But also loot-greed is one of the reasons ppl behave badly and ppl behaving badly is one of the reasons for not grouping. So reducing the loot-greed will improve ppl's behaviour in groups imo.

Quest updates:
In cases where players have to kill a specific mob then all players should get the quest updated and not have to kill the mob multiple times. Of course this would already be covered by the loot rule if the mob always dropped "chief blugblug's ear" for each player when it died but in any cases that weren't covered by that then everyone should get the update.

Logistics:
The formation of groups should be as convenient as possible. One thing would be for the group leader to have a "warp to group" option so if there were three players in a dungeon and someone logged on LFG then the leader could bring them to where the group was. Generally the better and more convenient the LFG tools are the better.

Too many quests:

This may be just me but I find with the current games you get to a hub and pick up 20 quests at once and I start to get obsessive about trying to clear some of them because there's so many. I won't talk to anyone until I've cleared a few.I think I'd have it so you had one active mission at a time. You could have a solo mission and then join a group one and your solo mission would gray out till it was over.

Interdependence:

I think it's a mistake to make certain types of char neccessary in groups and especially to have multiple neccessary char types in each group. I think it would be easier to encourage grouping if almost any group was viable. I'd have it so that groups generally needed one warrior as a minimum but that would be the only condition and some priests / wizards could provide that via a pet.

Incentives:

Apart from trying to find and remove disincentives to grouping I'd also want to have incentives and preferably ones that fitted in with the game lore. So I'm thinking of basing most quests / missions around factions with ranks. So say you were lieutenant rank in the dwarf "Ironforge Guards" faction and you got a mission to go bash a dungeon somewhere. Your reward would be assigned something like:
600 exp for success
+200 exp if your group included a player with sergeant rank in your faction
+100 exp for each player in group from your faction or from an allied faction (like the dwarf temple)
+50 exp for mercenaries (any other player that wasn't in your faction or an allied faction)

The dwarf player could try and solo it (and if experienced enough they could maybe succeed) and get 600 exp or they could get a full group of six, all dwarves or players aligned to the dwarf factions, including a sergeant from their own faction and get 1200 exp or get five random players from other factions and get 850 exp. Other players would get a faction based incentive also e.g you'd get a higher exp reward for joining a mission led by a higher rank in your faction but regardless of faction you'd get more exp from group missions than solo ones.

 

Combat

Posted by tupodawg999 Thursday January 1 2009 at 5:06PM
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In my ideal MMORPG the fights would be like the cave troll fight in the Lord of the Rings film. The question is how.

I think you have to have collision detection on when fighting, switched on automatically when the fight starts and then off after it's over. I think you also need to get away from the tank and spank paradigm to one where a tank can only hold one mob, there's less crowd control available, and the AI cycles through player targets rather than all go for the nearest.

So option A)
Group enters cave, tank pulls,three orcs attack the tank, some CC, DPS attack the mob the tank has targeted, healer heals--blurgh. It's ok and was fun for a long time but nowadays--blurgh.

Option B)
Group enters cave, three warriors form a line near cave entrance and toughest one pulls somehow, the orc AI cycles through with the toughest one first, toughest one targets and charges the first warrior, 2nd orc goes for one of the flank warriors, 3rd orc goes for the third warrior. Rogue/Ranger slips round the side of the fighting looking to get a rear hit. Cleric focuses on some buff chant to help the warriors. Wizard stands at the back holding the torch.

I'd like the fights to be more melee centric. I'd like there to be far fewer fights but each one to last longer and be more tense and complex. I don't want to see stats that say 20,000 goblins killed. I'd like it if managing to kill three goblins without dying was pretty cool. No hitpoints. It would all revolve around not getting hit so blocking, parrying and dodging would be easier than hitting. If you did get hit you'd then have to get through the armour but armour could be broken. Any kind of wound would be bad news. Stamina would be involved so these longer, slower fights would gradually eat up your stamina. A lot of the fighting would revolve around group tactics.

Most games now have tactics when you fight in the sense that each class has a set of hotkeyed skills/spells and there's choice in how you select them plus it gives a bit more engagement than just hitting auto attack. Personally though I find this means you end up spending the whole fight staring at your hotbar. Somehow your attack choices need to show up in the centre of the screen around the mob you're fighting. Currently I'm thinking along the lines of an attack bar above the mob's head that fills depending on the speed of your weapon and when it's full there's a kind of circle of options displayed around the centre of the mob, one of which you click. A newbie char would maybe only have one option, "strike", while a higher skilled char would have a bunch. Having to click the option would keep you a bit more engaged with the fight while at the same time you'd actually be looking at the mob not at your hotbar. You could have these options only flash on briefly if you wanted a more twitchy game. Similarly when the mob's attack bar filled out they'd use one of their attacks and you'd get a circle of defensive options displayed around the mob to choose from. You'd have to click the defensive option quite fast. Ideally the skill choices would be such that there'd be strategy element in your choice.

Both players and mobs would be "locked on" i.e if a mob charges you they're locked on and you can't move normally except to turn a bit and back up slowly. You have to break the lock to move normally e.g with a shield bash skill or a flash of light spell. Similarly the Ranger seeing an orc heading to the cleric rushes it and locks it. Basically neither a player or a mob can ignore something trying to kill them at close range.

If you got three on you you could back into a corner where only two could attack.

Trying to parry or block an ogre's attack would be pointless, anything that big would just send you flying through the air into the nearest wall. With anything that big it's dodge or die.

AOE damage would effect the party as well.

Range would near a clear path so a wizard *could* stand in the front line with their newbie fireball spell but that would have lots of sharp and pointy downsides so alternatively they could stand at the back holding the torch and powering a flame buff on the sword of one of the warriors.

No healing during the fight. Only afterwards. Or at least the wounded one needs to be sitting / lying and not doing anything while the healer tries to fix them up. In a long fight that might actually be more fun as the healer desperately tries to patch up a fighter to go back into the line.

Writing this has reminded me of playing table top D&D years ago witth the little miniatures so I guess that's sort of what I want in a MMORPG but real-time and with AI mobs. It should feel more physical.
 

PvP

Posted by tupodawg999 Thursday January 1 2009 at 4:56PM
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The trouble with PvP in MMORPGs is PvPers.

Just kidding :)

The trouble is RPGs are all designed around the idea of character progression; growing your char from ragged peasant armed with a pointy stick to uber Dreadlord is a large part of why people like these games. The trouble with that in regards to PvP is that it makes the gap between newbie and veteran so great that PvP = gankfest unless it is restricted in some way. So though I think PvP can be fun it almost always isn't unless you enjoy ganking.

The trouble is, if you're the sort of player who wants immersion in a world that's made as believable as possible then it's a bit silly if your human paladin bumps into a dark elf shadowknight in a dungeon and they don't fight. Personally I don't want a PvP game; I want an immersive RPG and i don't think you can have the perfect online RPG without factional PvP being a part of it. So in my ideal game I'd want open factional PvP with no artificial limits like level ranges as part of the game but without any ganking. This is a very hard thing to achieve imo.

As an aside, when I say ganking I don't mean being caught in a frontier zone, on your own, and with low health by a bunch of dark elves; that would be part of the "war". I mean twinks you can't beat, deleveled players you can't beat, newbies being ganked and corpse camped--all the stupid crap that makes up most PvP unless it's restricted in unrealistic ways.

I think gankers have a common trait. They want risk-free PvP. They want PvP where the other person has no chance *at all*. They don't like it if there's any chance of them losing. This is why they like PvP in MMORPGs because the level and gear progression elements gives them the chance of risk-free gankage. So I think a PvP design has to take that into account--there always has to be some risk *and* the attacker has to have the most somehow. There can't be a level / gear combo that makes you absolutely safe. On the other hand gear and level progression is a neccessary part of RPG fun so I'm currently thinking numbers is the key. The dark elf dreadlord prowling round the human newbie zone can easily kill *one* newbie but six will kill him easy. Basically if you outnumber the enemy you're fighting there'd be a bonus to hit and damage and those bonuses would be higher than the defensive bonuses you could get from gear and skill / level.

I'd also have another major element to risk but I'll talk about that when I get to death penalties.

As I'd want PvP mainly to increase the sense of reality and immersion I'd also want PvP to fit into the game "story". For example dark elves could get a quest to go raid a human farm. The quest would involve just killing the six NPCs on the farm and setting fire to it but if a human player or guard saw them on their journey then a zone wide message would go up and human players could go to the farm to try and stop them. The alarm being raised would trigger a timer for the elves to complete the mission.

Also I don't think twitch combat fits RPGs really. My newbie peasant with a pointy stick should be worse at fighting than my veteran dreadlord no matter how skilled the player was. On the other hand you do need some kind of skill involved to make it interesting, PvE or PvP. I think the aim needs to be more strategy game than twitch. I wouldn't want the fighting to actually be like a card game but that's sort of how I'd want it; where your skills would be like your deck of cards. A newbie would only have 2-3 options whereas a veteran would have 8-9 and the skill would be in knowing which option was best.

Obviously as what I'm developing is only going to be a single player game that's designed like a MMORPG there's zero chance of PvP but I want to design it with PvP in mind regardless. Just because.
 

I think that means the skills gap between the level one and the level fifty needs to be large for the RPG progression fun. The gear gap between the level one and the level fifty needs to be large for the RPG progression fun. But neither outweighs the disadvantage of being outnumbered.

That might work.

 

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