I keep tinkering with game design / programming stuff but get side tracked all the time by too many ideas. I'm going to make a few posts of ideas that I'm not going to pursue but which are taking up room in my only modestly sized brain.
None of these are my ideas exactly - I picked them up from various places and I'm just applying the concept to an MMORPG.
Warhammer 40K meets Planetside
PvP is very much a love it or hate it thing imo and after playing UO and on various Everquest PvP servers I mainly hated it. However the WAR trial converted me to the idea that RvR games could potentially be a lot of fun if they were done right. I think a mainstream "casual" type RvR game needs:
-- large battles
------ large battles dilute the effect of hacks and general gankerage which you always get with PvP
------ large battles are fun
-- lots of large battles requires lots of players which for a casual PvP game requires (imo):
------ team-based so people know they're not going to be ganked by their own side
------ pretty low death penalty to maximize the numbers of potential players
------ all progression through PvP: exp, gear everything
------ no tiers, design it so the battles contain everyone from lvl 1 to lvl 50
------ channeling so players are pushed into large battles
-- terriotorial control
------ the battles and leveling may be fun but eventually it will get old without some underlying narrative
------ there has to be terriotorial control and the possibility of actually winning the war
-- winning the war should be difficult
------ three sided RvR has a built in balancing mechanism
------ capitals should have a fairly huge built-in defensive advantage but not impregnable
I think Warhammer 40K would suit this very well.
Instead of a single world i'd make the meta game be a star field with a bunch of planets including various homeworlds.
I'd take the 40K races and try to fit them into three sides - the humans would be an obvious choice for one side with Imperial Guard and Space Marines.
The game would make all the decisions about which planets were attacked and who was invading and who defending. The battles themselves would be like a mixture of scenarios / battlegrounds and linked RTS maps. So the scenario battles would have an actual consequence - they'd decide if the invasion was successful or not - but the mechanic of scenarios would be used to collect lots of players and through them into a battle.
The scenarios would be linked also i.e the game decides the humans are attacking an orc-chaos team held planet so the first map is a space assault where the humans are landing from space in shuttles or pods or whatever. If the humans win then it moves to the second map which is a straight fight starting from opposite ends and if the humans win that then there's a third map where they assault a base representing the planet's capital. They'd need to win all three maps to capture the planet.
The game would constantly be creating attack-defend pairs across the star field depending on player numbers with ideally something like 100 vs 100 battles.
Making the PvP less hardcore to attract numbers would be compensated for by making it fast and furious - you'd log on, walk into your side's lobby which would look like the interior of a space station with a fleet of ships out of window and then without any warning you're strapped into one of five shuttles with 20 other players in each heading for a planet fall. The door of the shuttle opens and you might be in a desert, a jungle, a swamp or many other potential maps and explosions are going off everywhere.
No PvE to speak of except as a a kind of added problem. All levelling would come from being in the battles. The maps might include stampeding dinosaurs or giant beetles that come out of the ground disturbed by the fighting but they'd be there as an added worry rather than an alternative way of levelling. You'd get exp if your side won the battle and less if you lost and that would be it. As you leveled you unlocked standard gear or abilities so your level 1 grunt ended up as space marine chaplain.
Throwing 1-50 in together.
Players would have "hits", armor would have "hits" and weapons would have "hits".
Say there were six armor slots and every weapon that hit (without a sniper weapon) randomly struck one of the six slots. Say space marine armor could take six hits. Players might start with one "hit" (maybe two) and get one extra every ten levels.
So twenty level one grunts with no armor and a pew pew gun that did one "hit" vs a level 50 space marine in six "hit" armor, flamethrower in one hand and grenade launcher in the other. Assume everyone hits.
First round - space marine loses 20 hits worth of armor scattered around the six slots but he kills 8 level 1s.
Second round - space marine takes another 12 hits worth of armor but kills another 6. Depending on chance he may have lost 1-2 less points of armor and lost 1-2 of his six body "hits" instead.
Third round - very 50/50 now, the space marine maybe has 4-6 points of armor left in various slots and 4-6 body hits and still has six level 1s to kill and they're spread out not so his AOE is less effective. He might just make it or maybe not.
That would be one way of doing it - you'd need to decide what number of level 1s you wanted to equal one level 50 and build your weapons and armor around that.
Another aspect of throwing all the levels in together is handicapping the victory totals - the battles are unlikely to be ever be completely even so you might total the players x levels of the stronger side and subtract the weaker and give that point total as a bonus to the weaker side. Winning the battles might take 5000 points for example and the weaker side might get 500 free points as the battle starts.
I think that could be a lot of fun especially with the 40K IP as visually seeing space marines battling 12 foot chaos demons would be a blast.
I'd make the levelling be like a tree where you could branch out in different directions to pick up different skills - so you could switch between infantry, medic, engineer, tanks, aircraft etc. You'd only have one character but eventually they could unlock the whole tree for their side.
Levels 1-30 might be unlocking all the Imperial Guard stuff and you'd be available to start going up the space marine / witch hunter / daemon hunter trees from around 30.
One of the other teams might involve a main orc tree going from 1-30 with an alternative chaos demon branch going off at level 20 and chaos marines starting at 30.
I'd have a neutral mercenary faction as well that just went to level 10 and i'd make it F2P. These players could be added to whichever side was outnumbered as and when neccessary.
Level 1-10 gear unlocks might go something like:
1: pewpew gun
2: first armor, one "hit" protection over 2 out of the 6 slots, 50/50 protection on one other
3: armor repair kit that repairs one armor "hit"
4: boots, 50/50 protection on legs slot
5: smoke grenade
6: shoulders and gloves, 50/50 protection on arms slot
7: Explosive grenade
8: full basic armor, one "hit" protection over all 6 slots
9: night vision goggles
10: +1 body "hit", medikit that heals one "hit"
etc etc eventually unlocking all the 40K gear, vehicles and abilities or at least the stuff that fits in well.