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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Exploration Zones: an alternative to Raiding?

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  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10377

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/10/13 8:55:25 PM#61


Originally posted by Loktofeit

Originally posted by lizardbones  

Originally posted by Loktofeit

Originally posted by lizardbones If the content is instanced, it's pretty easy. It would be a lot like current dungeons and raids work now. Players would go to the entrance, or queue up and go.

That's how this part of the conversation started. :)  I presented that it would require phased or instanced content to do what the OP wanted. Quizzical then went on about procedurally generated terrain. There's a lot more to world building and game design  - especially, one with features the OP is suggesting - than the randomized content and the map it all sits on. If open zones are the choice, then as players move through the area, new zones are added at the edge of existing zones. As the puzzles are completed, zones gain a fast travel system, so that players aren't walking through 100 "cleared" zones to get to new territory. Maybe give players the ability to own the generated zones and fight over ownership of zones.
But at that point, aren't you getting into a disjointed patch of levels in some puzzle game and moving further away from the OP's interest in exploring a world?  
 
Stitching the zones together would be a challenge, but I don't think it would be the biggest challenge.
Agreed. It's not a challenge.  Not a challenge or even a concern compared the the greater task of managing the continuity and gameplay experience of a persistent multiplayer world. That's what I'm trying to tell you but you keep going back to drawing terrain. That is the simplest and least worrisome part.



I assumed that a consistent narrative or storyline was out of the question. If developers could do that procedurally, they would be doing it now. The point would be to see what else gets generated, and what new stuff the developers add as you explored new zones. Perhaps claiming new zones and getting the mining rights for the zones would be part of the reward. A consistent story or narrative to tie all of them together might be asking a bit much.

The best* you could do is have some islands of planned and designed developer content interspersed with the procedural content. The islands of planned content move a story along, provide quests and possible a direction for the player to move in

If the player goes West, they'll find a series of sand people villages, ruins of ancient snake people, ghost towns and various random Western stuff until they get to the next island of scripted or directed content to continue the narrative of Western expansion. If the player goes North, they find bear people and villages, mountains and cave systems with mines and various random Northern stuff until they get to the next island of scripted or directed content to continue the narrative of Northern expansion.

* This isn't actually the best you can do. This is just an example of what could be done to add some narrative to the open world. It's late though, and I don't feel like rewording that bit of text.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  Ortwig

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1032

 
OP  1/10/13 9:21:55 PM#62
Originally posted by lizardbones

 


Originally posted by Loktofeit

Originally posted by lizardbones  

Originally posted by Loktofeit

Originally posted by lizardbones If the content is instanced, it's pretty easy. It would be a lot like current dungeons and raids work now. Players would go to the entrance, or queue up and go.

That's how this part of the conversation started. :)  I presented that it would require phased or instanced content to do what the OP wanted. Quizzical then went on about procedurally generated terrain. There's a lot more to world building and game design  - especially, one with features the OP is suggesting - than the randomized content and the map it all sits on. If open zones are the choice, then as players move through the area, new zones are added at the edge of existing zones. As the puzzles are completed, zones gain a fast travel system, so that players aren't walking through 100 "cleared" zones to get to new territory. Maybe give players the ability to own the generated zones and fight over ownership of zones.
But at that point, aren't you getting into a disjointed patch of levels in some puzzle game and moving further away from the OP's interest in exploring a world?  
 
Stitching the zones together would be a challenge, but I don't think it would be the biggest challenge.
Agreed. It's not a challenge.  Not a challenge or even a concern compared the the greater task of managing the continuity and gameplay experience of a persistent multiplayer world. That's what I'm trying to tell you but you keep going back to drawing terrain. That is the simplest and least worrisome part.


I assumed that a consistent narrative or storyline was out of the question. If developers could do that procedurally, they would be doing it now. The point would be to see what else gets generated, and what new stuff the developers add as you explored new zones. Perhaps claiming new zones and getting the mining rights for the zones would be part of the reward. A consistent story or narrative to tie all of them together might be asking a bit much.

The best* you could do is have some islands of planned and designed developer content interspersed with the procedural content. The islands of planned content move a story along, provide quests and possible a direction for the player to move in

If the player goes West, they'll find a series of sand people villages, ruins of ancient snake people, ghost towns and various random Western stuff until they get to the next island of scripted or directed content to continue the narrative of Western expansion. If the player goes North, they find bear people and villages, mountains and cave systems with mines and various random Northern stuff until they get to the next island of scripted or directed content to continue the narrative of Northern expansion.

* This isn't actually the best you can do. This is just an example of what could be done to add some narrative to the open world. It's late though, and I don't feel like rewording that bit of text.

 

I think I get you -- the narrative need not follow a linear path.  You can create story in chunks, "randomly", like pieces in a puzzle and then slowly have the narrative become apparent as everything comes together as  a whole.  This is actually a completey valid method of stoytelling -- there might be some linearity within a chunk of content, but even then you can add random elements within those small chunks, and even they need not play out exactly the same as long as that chunk "makes sense."

 

Another thing here, and a bit of a tangent -- these story chunks can just be "what's happening" in a particular areas, and have objects -- rope, picks, flashlights -- basically all the stuff you might need to complete an objective.  But leave it up to the players as to exactly how to use those objects to complete the objective.  Leave the objective up the players -- how do they react to the situation within that particualar area?  Maybe there's a person gone missing.  They can decide to follow or not, but how that chunk gets "resolved" depends on what the players do.

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10377

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/10/13 9:32:51 PM#63

The "filler" could be something like this:

* As players travel, when they get to the edge of a zone, a new zone is created procedurally.

* Zones are not necessarily square, and not all zones have content. Some might just be "farming" zones.

* Non-farming zones have a dominant species of intelligent life. Humans, dwarfs, elves, gnomes, guinea pigs, giant insects and probably fuzzy cat/bear/dog things.

* When the player enters a zone, they can interact with the dominant species, earning their trust or ire. This would be in the form of resource gathering or perhaps building towns and such.

* The player could also earn a races trust by destroying races in neighboring zones.

* The player's reputation follows them to nearby zones, but it would not be infinite. If the player is hated by Elves in zone A, by the time they get to the elves in zone G, they've never heard of the player so the player is neutral to those elves.

* Players are the only way for resources to get from zone to zone.

* Players are the only way for the species in one zone to interact with the species in another zone at all.

* It should be possible for the player to eventually own one or more zones, collecting the resources and defending the zone against neighboring zones and most especially against players in neighboring zones.

All of this would be in addition to the exploration content, archeology and perhaps scientific discovery of ancient technologies. Perhaps the player has to unlock a zone before they can participate in the ongoing struggles with the different species and they have to reach a certain level of trust with the dominant species before they can own a zone.

Maybe this would all go in a completely different game. It's late. Goodnight all.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  cutech

Novice Member

Joined: 4/01/10
Posts: 4

1/10/13 9:43:30 PM#64

My myriad of deaths online are equal parts fatfingering in a pinch, and what makes for an actuarialist's nightmares, death by envronment.

I usually look for the tallest point on the map and, Onward Ho! Even in the most dog eat dog slice of PvP madness (Mortal Online) I know now where to get the mountain flowers. The deepest underground aquifer and darkest back alley mushroom patch is where I find my stride. From ledge to ledge, even the occasional off-creature bounce. The only thing that I have yet to encounter is the elusive procedural explore. I've played Nethack since the early 90s and still cant get past the realm of the vampire lord. Go figure.

  bamdorf

Novice Member

Joined: 6/09/09
Posts: 150

1/10/13 10:00:38 PM#65

If you are going to generate unique content for each player or team, how is that different from a single-player instanced game like Modern Warfare 2 (except for more variety in the maps, of course) and many others?

 

If the content is somehow persistent, then it would seem that it will suffer google death.

 

I can't see a way around these two ideas.   Maybe I just need more imagination, LOL.

 

 

 

---------------------------
Rose-lipped maidens,
Light-foot lads...

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19158

1/11/13 12:37:22 AM#66
Originally posted by Ortwig
 

I think the term "exploration" refers to traversing unknown terrain.  Unknown in the sense that you're not sure from encounter to encounter what challenge you will run into.

If you put "exploration" in that context, it is no difference than a random dungeon that you explore. In that case, if the "fun" is the discovery of treasure, defend, or attack combat, or steath, then the "site seeing" part of the space is just irrevelant, and may as well give them a dungeon layout (unknown to them), and ask them to either a) find the treasure, b) defend a place, or c) attack and kill some stuff.

The traveling part is not relevant. I suppose in that context, exploration is ok. My beef is with the kind of exploration that requires 10 min of hiking, looking at generic mountains, before something interesting (like an encounter) would happen.

  User Deleted
1/11/13 12:46:48 AM#67
Originally posted by nariusseldon
 

My beef is with the kind of exploration that requires 10 min of hiking, looking at generic mountains, before something interesting (like an encounter) would happen.

 

I think the key point is "something interesting".  I agree that huge worlds aren't much value of there's nothing there.  Oblivion is a great example of a large world where there's always something a few hundred meters off.  A cave, a fort, some wierdo NPC lost in the woods, or a remote inn are examples.

 

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19158

1/11/13 1:22:05 AM#68
Originally posted by XAPGames
Originally posted by nariusseldon
 

My beef is with the kind of exploration that requires 10 min of hiking, looking at generic mountains, before something interesting (like an encounter) would happen.

 

I think the key point is "something interesting".  I agree that huge worlds aren't much value of there's nothing there.  Oblivion is a great example of a large world where there's always something a few hundred meters off.  A cave, a fort, some wierdo NPC lost in the woods, or a remote inn are examples.

 

Actually i am sick of SKYRIM (i play SKYRIM a bi tmore than Obl .. and i assume they are similar). Too much running around. Too many generic cave. Main story quest stuff is 100 miles apart. Too much walking around.

I would like it a lot better if it is more focused.

  Jemcrystal

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/02/08
Posts: 1259

Let em put a slave ring thru u're nose u're prob not going to like where they're taking you. Think.

1/11/13 1:37:51 AM#69
Originally posted by Ortwig
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Ortwig

So, I saw the thread on end game content here, and it reminded me of a post I saw over on the TSW forums that got a lot of interest.  So an idea about what SPECIFIC kinds of things could be designed instead of, in addition to, or encompassing raids, that would be more interesting (and possibly more story based, and aimed at factions, groups and PvP) than simple gear grinding.  Posted below -- I though there was a lot of opportunity with the idea, and got many more ideas going...  thoughts?  flames?  nukes?  ;)

Posted by: ravnicor

Ok, so a lot of flak has been flying around about raids lately. Most of it has been along the lines of "herp derp raids are dumb/awesome". But the nay sayers don't really give a lot in the way of an alternative to raids other than "more missions please". Which is fine, but it isn't the time sink required to keep an mmo running for end game content.

So, here is a time sink option for the non raiding community. I lay no claim to this idea, funcom may user or ignore this as they please.

Exploration Zones. Throw together a zone with a crap ton of hidden lore and places to explore. We'll start with an artic zone as the first example:

Three small camps, one for each faction. Camps have a small number of repeatable quests that give you tokens. Spend tokens on exploration gear. Like flashlights, batteries, explosives to clear blocked tunnels, flares and markers. Don't allow maps or coordinates in the zone. Have a stacking timed debuff (like the wind gave you in Hell Fallen, but takes a good 10 minutes to kill you). Slow the debuff with winter gear, clear it with thermal packs. Have PBAOE items to encourage group exploration. Now, imagine investigation or archeology quests in this place. Exploring tunnels in the frozen mountains, finding ruins and broken cities in the deep places of the earth. Finding shards of lore that can be assembled with special crafting kits to learn unspeakable knowledge. Maybe a rare spawn mob or two. 

Think about it. Near infinite progression.

Explore the Hell Dimensions.
Agartha.
The Dream Scape.
The Artic Tundra (ala Mountains of Madness)
Maybe even explore Astral Space (like the animanaught last boss in Facility)

The possibilities are quite literally endless.

So, does anyone want to go exploring with me?

I'll go exploring with you as long as we're the first ones through, otherwise it's a waste of time.

 

When you come up with these ideas, don't walk through them in your head as the first person there. Walk through them as the 50,000th person who is also cognzanto of two things

  • - what the 50k before him did
  • - what the 50k after him will be able to experience
 
You didn't think your cleared paths and discovered ruins through.

Exactly.  So instead of building a static map with set locations and events, you build a POOL of locations and mobs and events that can appear in any particular instance or time.  That will reside there for a particular team as they travel through, and will be "sticky" with that team.

Omg, it's like you people read my mind!!!  I was so thinking that the other day.

  Rydeson

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3132

1/11/13 3:40:26 AM#70

     I've always thought that game devs missed the boat on making limited zones dynamic and fun..  Having static zones is ok for the most part as it gives the game a sense of stability..  When I travel thru Ohio for example it's pretty much the same and never changes besides the weather ( dammit, bring back day/night cycles and weather).. However, the same doesn't hold true for little pockets such as a cave..  Who controls the cave today, may not always be the case tomorrow..  This is what i'm missing and would like to see in a MMO

     Using EQ as an example.. How many of us remember zone in areas like Blackburrow or Splitpaw?  When and if a true raid is successful, is it safe to say that new habitants might move in?  Sure it could be another pack of gnolls, (slightly different), or maybe dervs? or bandits? or whoever.. Since back in the day when raiding was open world, if a 50+ raid group was successful in killing the boss when he spawns, within a week the zone will start to repopulate with a mixure of new mobs... Each month the zone changes a little more towards the direction of the next occupiers (not wall street).. lol  I would set it up that it would take 4 months before the new occupiers take it completely over and call it home, then randomly the big boss spawns and the cycle repeats all over again..  This gives the dev team plenty of time to play with and change the game from year to year..

     PS.. for this to be successful a new game would have to adopt leveling options like GW2 has done, so that older higher level toons don't go back to a changing lower level zone and zerg it..  Today's technology gives us the freedom to never allow us to outlevel older zones..  The benefit of gaining levels is the ability to enjoy MORE zones, not just simply add a couple at the same time avoiding a couple because they became trivial..

  Scot

Elite Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5097

1/11/13 5:02:16 AM#71

To get the best gameplay a combination of exploring and combat would be the most engaging. Anyone remember exploring the planet maps on ME1?

Exploring on its own is fine as long as there was some other end game like a raid that was combat based. But then you get balance issues, what is giving the best type of reward and how often? So to avoid that, do the two types of gameplay together.

  Ortwig

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1032

 
OP  1/11/13 7:32:44 AM#72
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Ortwig
 

I think the term "exploration" refers to traversing unknown terrain.  Unknown in the sense that you're not sure from encounter to encounter what challenge you will run into.

If you put "exploration" in that context, it is no difference than a random dungeon that you explore. In that case, if the "fun" is the discovery of treasure, defend, or attack combat, or steath, then the "site seeing" part of the space is just irrevelant, and may as well give them a dungeon layout (unknown to them), and ask them to either a) find the treasure, b) defend a place, or c) attack and kill some stuff.

The traveling part is not relevant. I suppose in that context, exploration is ok. My beef is with the kind of exploration that requires 10 min of hiking, looking at generic mountains, before something interesting (like an encounter) would happen.

Well it's 100% random if you throw just a bunch of junk in to the point where it's nothing but a grab bag (garbage in garbage out).  What I believe we're saying is that if you work in tailored, well-thought out content that makes sense in the context of the setting and world, that you can build an actual narrative.  I don't think anyone here is recommending the former.  I think the only time terrain really comes into it is as a container for an location, encounter or event, or where the terrain itself becomes the encounter. (e.g; find a way through the mountain pass or over a wide river while defending against marauders, etc.).

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 16945

1/11/13 7:34:26 AM#73
Originally posted by nariusseldon
 

 

The traveling part is not relevant. I suppose in that context, exploration is ok. My beef is with the kind of exploration that requires 10 min of hiking, looking at generic mountains, before something interesting (like an encounter) would happen.

hmmm, that's the type that i like.

  Siveria

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/11/11
Posts: 1143

1/11/13 7:50:00 AM#74
I don't mind raiding but these devs really need to give the players something touse the gear for after raiding. As it is you raid and its pretty much a waste of your time since the gear serves no purpose. I was thinking a daoc style frontier zone thing.

Being a pessimist is a win-win pattern of thinking. If you're a pessimist (I'll admit that I am!) you're either:

A. Proven right (if something bad happens)

or

B. Pleasantly surprised (if something good happens)

Either way, you can't lose! Try it out sometime!

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11845

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/11/13 7:57:16 AM#75
Originally posted by Ortwig

The hard part would be creating chunks of content that make sense together.  Random map making is not really the full idea, but rather varied *rational* content within the context of the world at hand.  I'm thinking you would place together a module/chunk/node -- it could be a village, a piece of challenging terrain, a weather event, a puzzle, a raid or dungeon, a mob encounter.  But the various pieces within that module is where the variation would take place.  These pieces could be the kinds of things that get updated in a DLC with new challenges and could always be mixed and matched to create challenges that aren't the same every time.  The hard part is getting that rational piece down so it's not just, as you say, a random terrain generator.

  Lucioon

Novice Member

Joined: 1/12/06
Posts: 840

1/11/13 12:49:17 PM#76

What I think would work would be just like what the title suggested. But like an ant farm, multiple path in the dungeon, the problem is that certain paths leads to lair of Big Bosses that is invincible, that means once someone triggers it, it will hunt down every player in the zone.

 And each boss lair is random.

So what is happening would be that first when you get to the zone with 20~40 players, you split up as you get to a fork, then as you explore and finding treasures you get deeper and deeper to the dungeon zone. Once somone triggers the Boss lair, its a race to the beginning or the end, depending on where you run. If you are caught, you are out.

If you are caught, you get 1/4 of the gold, if you escape you get the total amount your teams have gathered.

Add some traps, some tactical mechanics, and i think that would be a very fun activity.

Life is a Maze, so make sure you bring your GPS incase you get lost in it.

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