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MMORPG Game Concepts  » My take on unified and horizontal progression

9 posts found
  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

 
OP  12/05/10 2:35:48 AM#1

I'll start with the obvious disclaimers.  This is going to be long, it cannot be helped as I'll have to describe not just the idea but also its design impacts on many systems.  Second this is completely a WiP with many details unresolved.  Finally, this won't be for everyone or work for every world- I've made my peace with that.

I start with an almost unholy simplicity at the core of this idea, every positive is balanced by a negative.  Easy enough to say, but the application I intend is pretty deep.  Let's start with attributes, every player has a fixed pool.  Currently I envision 6 attributes: strength, stamina, agility, intellect, will power, and recovery, with a fixed pool of 200.  These would all be assigned automatically with 10 assigned to each attribute except recovery which would contain the 150 points remaining when you start.  Honestly, that sucks as a setup but the high recovery allow you some protection (you almost have to be one shot to die) and the ability to use abilities constantly (although the small pools will severly limit your options).

Maybe I should've started at creation, but now feels like a better time.  At creation you'd have your standard race selection (as applicable), a host of appearance options and finally a base element.  Personally, I'm not a fan of predetermined classes or the traditional trinity (More on this later).  I bring this up now, because your introduction into playing the game is tied to your element.  The very first "quest" is to raise the cap on 1 of the 5 attributes that started at 10 and I'm thinking I might tie that to the player's base element.  The second part would to re-assign points to that attribute, unlocking a skill fragment (I'll get to this next).  After this little tutorial you no longer are forced to assign points up to your cap.

Abilities

I extend that core philosophy to abilities, and one-up most systems by allowing nearly total player control.  This is where skill fragments come in, each is a part used to build abilities.  There are many sources and fairly few restrictions for their combinations (mostly prereqs).  The interface for assembling and tuning the parts would allow for tuning them (with a balance feature).  So, if you were to take a fireball (just an example) and add a DoT feature it's duration would impact the base cost, cast time or strength of effect.  BTW all skills require an element, even physical skills require an elemental force to initiate.

Elements

The working count is 6 elements, of which I intend to allow players access to use 3 in their builds.  I'm using Earth, Wind, water, fire, light and dark.  These will all exist in some portion as a local resource (BTW no area is entirely devoid of any of them).  They serve as an ability modifier for abilities.  The abilities have 3 modes I couldn't really cover before introducing this part, they can create, be neutral to or use up the local elemental force.  This is essentially an advanced version of the field effect from Chrono Cross, and it would impact near by players and mobs alike.  Create and use element would be options to add to abilities and generally impact cast time or costs.

Weapons and armor

As always these are all about the give and take.  Every weapon will have a primary damage mode and likely a secondary mode out of 3 options.  Physical attacks will have 3 modes, slash, pierce and bash.  Armor will offer defense for each of the 9 possible damage types individually.  Of course defense against one type comes at the expense of others, full immunity to one type of damage will leave you very vulnerable to any other type.

Trinkets and consumables

In this world most trinkets would have a small personal impact on the field effect, although some could impact social standing (I picture rep being very localized not a global thing).  Consumables would have a larger effect on the field along with replenishing HP, energy and tweeking focus (the 3 player pools).

Bored yet?

Combat

Solo combat is pretty familiar, the only wrinkle being the field effect.  Most creatures use a single element, which you could use up and limit their abilities.  More difficult creatures might generate more of an element (much like you can), however they do face similar limitations as the players (as they are built very similarly).

The group side is far more interesting.  I mentioned my dislike of the traditional trinity, so now I'll offer the alternative.  Every player has a base element (just to remind you of that point), it rears it's head here.  That base element is also something you are nearly immune to.  This makes any player, depending on the encounter a prime tanking candidate.  Status effects (which boss mobs will dole out plenty) can only be healed by a counter element leading to healing being more by committee.  Likewise with DPS.  Essentially, the trinity exists within the encounter (although flexibly as some bosses would feature phase changes where their element switches) but party roles aren't fixed (at least not in an optimal sense).

Progression

Most of the progression is horizontal, at least from a combat perspective.  Any power growth is specific and causes a deficiency somewhere else.  Horizontally, you might be able to shift crazy amounts of attribute points around and build abilities from dozens of skill fragments but, you are stuck with what you brought to the fight.  Something I hadn't mentioned until now is that those fragments can come from many places: the temples dedicated to an element, weapon trainers/experts, crafting, or various other organizations.

Vertical progression, is focused on social/economic matters.  Whether it is membership in some order/society or a title of nobility, these would matter.  I'm big on evolving worlds politically or otherwise.  Maybe a rank member of the Order of Empirical Merchants can manipulate the comodity market, or a General can push invasion plans.  I want those options and more to be availible to those that pursue them.

I know this is crazy long, and maybe just plain crazy, I'll leave that to you.  Although if you'll allow the further imposition, any thoughts?

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2326

12/05/10 12:05:23 PM#2

Alright, so you removed the trinity of tank, healer, dps and now have elements and counter elements. What type of characters will players play though? Everone is a wizzard or battlemage? Are you going to keep element's abilites more or less the same or are some elements like earth going to have more defensive abilities? Just something to think about.

I was thinking it may be even better to invent your own elements so there aren't already limitations, assuming fire its primarily for burning(damage) and light is for holy acts(healing). If you made your own you may be able to break free from this but on the other hand they won't be easily recognizable.

Also, the elements wouldn't have to have clear polar opposites would they? The could have opposites and be super effective on them but also be partially effective on one or two others.

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

"blocked nariusseldon since forever"

  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

 
OP  12/05/10 9:56:52 PM#3

Players would have the ability to build many familiar classes with the tools.  A warrior will likely focus attribute points on strength, stamina and agility gearing themselves for close combat (heavier focus on physical damage mitigation), sacrificing intelligence and will power (which is mostly a casting attribute).  Depending on their play style (smaller skills often or bigger skills less often), they would then build/tune abilities to match.  It's probably best to think of this more as a classless skill based game (even though I don't rule out classes as a possible option for achievement).

Elements are a challange (and the names are sort of arbitrary, I just used familiar termonology), as they are different and sort of the same.  They'd all have similar uses, but the application/effect would be different.  I'll use a fortify shield ability- that is it imbues the shield with an elemental property for a given time.  Earth would increase resistance against slashing and blunt damage w/ a smaller bonus against all elements except wind.  Water would increase resistance against slashing and piercing damage w/ a smaller against all elements except fire.  Fire and wind function differently, they would offer larger elemental protection (excluding their opposite) and rebound a % of physical damage.  Light and dark only offer a small tweeks to the hit% (dropping your enemies and increasing yours).  This part is sort of design on the fly, but IMO it walks the "same but different" conceptualization I had for the elements.

Healing is a bit simplier, they all have a healing property.  Debuffs cannot be cleansed, but they do provide an opportunity.  A bleed effect (DoT) is also a modifier that increases the effect of fire based healing on the affected target.  It's likely that these debuffs won't be entirely evenly distributed making an element or 2 a bit better for healing (more opportunities for enhanced healing), but it would remain situational.

On the damage side, polar opposites are always the best as they are your enemies natural weakness.  However, the remaining 4 elements would all remain effective. 

  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

12/06/10 2:21:56 PM#4
Originally posted by ghstwolf

Character Creation

My only beef is tying stats to a specific element. It should work fine since there are 6 and 6, but this in essence *does* reinforce the trinity, just under different terminology. What I find interesting though is starting off with a high recovery stat, which seems like it would pretty much give the fresh player a weak output, but extremely high surviveability. Am I correct that you can swap points out of that at any time towards the other stats? Or does that remain a constant as other stats raise slowly, and it even slower?

Abilities

Very Ryzomesque, I love it. There's a lot to think about with that game's ability system, and I think it needs to catch on elsewhere. I would add negatives to every positive though, so you can't just load up a super ability that could drain all your juice in one blow. So if you have a melee ability that does a knockback, have it lower critical chance. If there's a DoT additive, have it lower stun chances. If it adds damage, lessen the cooldown or something. Could kind of run in a circle within these terms; DMG > CD > CC > Crit > DoT > DMG (example)

Elements

While reading it I got a slight spark of an idea, and namely because I'm not a fan of the esoteric 'traditional' pantheon of elements (water, fire, etc). Have you ever thought about "alchemical magic" that would be tied to actual elements on the periodic table? Or maybe just ones that are found in the human body? Picture a carbon or sulfur wizard, that could harden himself (tank) or make fireballs and poison gasses (Dmg/CC) respectively?

Probably not suiting your concept, but I figured I'd throw that out there since it's fresh in my head. I may even run with it on one of my older concepts.

Weapons and armor

Immunity to secondary sources of damage is fine, but never allow it for a primary. If you do melee, then your primary would be S/P/B damage, and it could be rendered completely useless. Melee should always have an edge though, no matter how small, just for the risk of closing ground in order to do damage in the first place. Magic would be rendered somewhat useless, but then you can add those 3 melee damage types to the spell attacks themselves, so that they can still consist of what would now be secondary damage (and far lessened).

Trinkets and consumables

I kind of liked how UWO had a "formality" stat, where you had to wear the right clothes for some NPCs to even speak to you. This could work well for you if you move the idea into different areas, like; Formality, Notoriety and Beauty. Some NPCs would only speak with you if your Formality was high or low enough (based on social castes). Notoriety could effect opening quest chains by wearing an item gained from a prior part of it ("I see you have the Garthog's head hanging from your belt. Perhaps you can handle what I have in store for you") in a Fable's trophy system kind of way. Beauty could effect how both the same and opposite gendered NPCs react to you during some 'investigative' parts of a quest (where you must coerce info out of one to progress) and would work conversely depending on your gender. I.E., dudes don't want to talk to a pretty boy, but chicks would.

Combat

My problem with this is that most areas feature like-enemies, so you'll find that nobody would want a fire-element player in the volcano zone, no matter how badly he needs it done. He'd be rendered useless. Unless you had some kind of 'origin' system in place, where those of a certain element come from the very area that features these mobs and quests in droves, and then they would not be asked to do any of it, and instead asked to venture out to other places - then it could work. Still though, you'd find that based on whether the other areas are based on a certain level in general, an element my only find it's worth to a group in mid-to-end game someplace, and nowhere else.

I guess as long as you have *one* antithesis element character on hand to drain the enemies resistances through the field effect though, it may work fine, but you still end up relying on one of them to actually *be there* to help.

Progression

So no levels I take it? That may work best with what you have in mind. As long as there is progression in terms of reputation, which then leads to harder and harder content, nobody will know the difference... so long as there is still the unlocking of abilities to some extent. Should have to travel far and wide to collect them all, and therefore you may need to have some additive ability perks be element-specific. Like a bash dmg additive that only works for fire, and is found in the fire areas, etc.

Writer / Musician / Game Designer

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  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

 
OP  12/08/10 1:27:26 AM#5

To answer some of those concerns:

Character creation

The stat-element link would only exist as a one time tutorial.  It would move a single stat's allotment cap from 10 to 15.  I was thinking about tying the tutorial's stat to the given element's start area but that would be as far as it went.  Earth for example, which would typically either be tied to strength or stamina would offer missions to raise the cap for all stats that started at 10.  That is those options would be there after the tutorial questline (it takes you step by step through the whole process of raising a stat's cap and allotting the points, which is why I'm taking this little shortcut).

Swapping the points around is pretty much on demand, the one limitation would be where you could do it.  I'd limit those swaps to specific areas (inns/taverns or similar), otherwise the idea loses a lot of what I'm going for.

Abilities

I don't really object to the extreme all-or-nothing skills.  I'm going for a very dangerous world where there are no guaranteed wins.  Maybe such a skill assures a win, but it leaves you so weak afterward that anything/anyone will kill you easily.  I have a few thoughs on how to do this, but nothing complete enough to even try to explain.

Combat

I don't tend to follow convention, a volcano area would have the fire beasties but also considerable amounts of Earth creatures and maybe a few dark creatues too (in the caves).  Even without that though, fire element players (primary element because they'd have access to up to 3 elements) have a very good natural immunity to fire based attacks.  Fire might not be all that effective against the enemies, but using it could be a good way  to sap those enemies (attacking them through the field effect system by using up their prefered resource).

Progression

While there are great arguments for big power curves, but IMO their are equally strong arguments against them too.  The big power curves are great for telling a story, but IMO bad for really driving the story (sort of an actor vs writer situation).  Especially early on my vision of progression is about gaining greater control of your character (the stat cap raising quests and obtaining various parts to make abilities) and while that never entirely goes away (as you seek rare and hard to get skill parts) you will always have the ability to tweek and experiment with that character in an attempt to find "perfection".

On the reputation side, for some reason I've always pictured a ladder ranking system as part of influencing the server's direction.  I'll have to untangle that idea from it's original world (my take on Mechwarrior) and translate it to a fantasy setting.  But yes it always seems to lead to much harder content.

 

To what I skipped:  The vast majority of weapons offer 2 dmg modes, especially melee.  Swords can slash and thrust (piercing), mace and hammers are bash weapons but offer piercing (at the same time).  To fully protect against one melee, the other 2 would be wide open and elemental defenses would suffer greatly too.

The element thing, as fantasy inspired as it is I'm pretty sure I could translate it into any world I desire.  I could for example talk about nano-assemblers that draw material from the ground the mech is standing on.  There's a certain familiarity in describing it how I did though, which allows me to skim over certain bits.

  Cactus-Man

Novice Member

Joined: 4/30/10
Posts: 573

12/12/10 11:28:17 PM#6

I think the whole stat business is too confusing.  I mean stats are automatically distributed, one is higher than the others then you do some stuff, raise the cap on one then redistribute the stats.  That is just too roundabout.

At the beginging just give players a boost to health and mana regen, forget about the recovery to 150 thing for the moment.  If recovery cannot be changed or affected at this time, then don't mention it, it is just extra information the player does not need to know.

Rather, start the game, all stats are at 10, do a quest pick which one you want to increase, done.

 

Abilities

Be careful, these types of systems are hard to balance.  Also think about a way to let other players know what a character can do, so they know if they want to team with them.

Elements

You know I never liked light and dark as elements, because they really are not about light and darkness, which would be the same element, rather they are holy and unholy, good and evil.

Anywho, it seems like certain elements could have a clear adantage in certain areas.  Earth is everywhere, as is air.  Water guys would be boned in the desert.  Light is good during the daytime?  Darkness at night?

Weapons and Armor

Again, be careful with this concept, people don't want to be put in a situation where they feel they can't win due to not having the right element or damage type.

 

I think these systems tend to walk a fine line, and could be unbalanced very easily, so you have to be extra vigilant if you want to use them.

Combat

It sounds like grouping is really the only way to go.  If you were by yourself, you could run into a monster that uses the exact element that you suck against.  Having a group of 6, one for each element, seems like the safest way to fight.  SO I take it this is really group heavy?

All men think they're fascinating. In my case, it's justified

  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

 
OP  12/14/10 1:58:28 AM#7
Originally posted by Cactus-Man

I think the whole stat business is too confusing.  I mean stats are automatically distributed, one is higher than the others then you do some stuff, raise the cap on one then redistribute the stats.  That is just too roundabout.

At the beginging just give players a boost to health and mana regen, forget about the recovery to 150 thing for the moment.  If recovery cannot be changed or affected at this time, then don't mention it, it is just extra information the player does not need to know.

Rather, start the game, all stats are at 10, do a quest pick which one you want to increase, done.

 I know how wierd my idea is, but IMO it serves a real purpose.  I want to offer a taste of RPG progression (raising the stat caps) but maintain a high degree of competitiveness between launch day players and people joining much later.  What seems a bit roundabout at first is important later, as you can have every stat with a cap of 100-150 eventually but will still be limited to the  200 point pool.  Sure the stats could be tied to quests directly, but personally I think it would lead to a certain tediousness in shifting the points around to better suit the frequently needed changes in setup (gear, abilities).

Abilities

Be careful, these types of systems are hard to balance.  Also think about a way to let other players know what a character can do, so they know if they want to team with them.

Striking a "good" balance is always hard, but I'm not a fan of the results that come from "easier" systems.  I'm a bit less worried about the communication issue as I have a loose plan that lets people do "everything".  I intend a certain automated flexibility to the system using a friend/foe check.  A "fireball" will try to damage enemies but (however unintuitive) will try to heal friends.  A player selected switch would likewise exist for attaching an elemental effect to either the weapon or armor.  A big part of this concept is flexible roles (fight to fight, or even phase to phase for bosses) so the main concerns would be element(s), prefered range and setup style (front or back loaded abilities, and spammer vs nuker).

Elements

You know I never liked light and dark as elements, because they really are not about light and darkness, which would be the same element, rather they are holy and unholy, good and evil.

Anywho, it seems like certain elements could have a clear adantage in certain areas.  Earth is everywhere, as is air.  Water guys would be boned in the desert.  Light is good during the daytime?  Darkness at night?

Light vs Dark- it's cliche, but yes I was thinking bright areas would favor light w/ dark favoring the dim.  I'd try to keep good and evil out of them, likely weakening them a bit as damage elements and instead make them strong buff/debuff elements (big on messing with hit% and short stuns).

Water guys would face a challenge in the desert, they would lack a natural supply on their element.  Spells that "create" the energy in use would be more expensive, but there would also be regents and charms to aid this as well.  Having a mix of create/summon element spells and using primarily neutral use spells (element neither created or destroyed)  would go a long way.

Weapons and Armor

Again, be careful with this concept, people don't want to be put in a situation where they feel they can't win due to not having the right element or damage type.

 I think these systems tend to walk a fine line, and could be unbalanced very easily, so you have to be extra vigilant if you want to use them.

Balance is a major concern of mine, I just want to take a different path than paper /rock/ scissors.  With 2 or 3 potential elements per character and (almost always) 2 forms of physical damage per weapon it would take an amazing bout of bad luck (or complete inattention) to find an enemy that is immune to all your attacks (could be impossible if armor is done right).  Something is certain to get through, although some fights would be harder than others.

Combat

It sounds like grouping is really the only way to go.  If you were by yourself, you could run into a monster that uses the exact element that you suck against.  Having a group of 6, one for each element, seems like the safest way to fight.  SO I take it this is really group heavy?

 

It might not sound it, but it is fairly solo friendly.  Some monsters will be much harder and would have you at a disadvantage, it would probably be best to seek out others in such cases. 

  jasimon

Novice Member

Joined: 10/06/10
Posts: 87

12/21/10 11:17:06 AM#8
Originally posted by ghstwolf

 

Elements

The working count is 6 elements, of which I intend to allow players access to use 3 in their builds.  I'm using Earth, Wind, water, fire, light and dark.  These will all exist in some portion as a local resource (BTW no area is entirely devoid of any of them).  They serve as an ability modifier for abilities.  The abilities have 3 modes I couldn't really cover before introducing this part, they can create, be neutral to or use up the local elemental force.  This is essentially an advanced version of the field effect from Chrono Cross, and it would impact near by players and mobs alike.  Create and use element would be options to add to abilities and generally impact cast time or costs.

I really like the ideas behind this.  I have some thoughts for a system that is similar in many ways, but you brought up a few very interesting concepts.

 

Weapons and armor

As always these are all about the give and take.  Every weapon will have a primary damage mode and likely a secondary mode out of 3 options.  Physical attacks will have 3 modes, slash, pierce and bash.  Armor will offer defense for each of the 9 possible damage types individually.  Of course defense against one type comes at the expense of others, full immunity to one type of damage will leave you very vulnerable to any other type.

I also like this.  Reminds me of Asheron's Call.  Different armors have various strengths and weaknesses depending on their material.  That plate armor may give you great protection against physical attacks, but you're going to get eaten alive by elemental ones.

Combat

Solo combat is pretty familiar, the only wrinkle being the field effect.  Most creatures use a single element, which you could use up and limit their abilities.  More difficult creatures might generate more of an element (much like you can), however they do face similar limitations as the players (as they are built very similarly).

The group side is far more interesting.  I mentioned my dislike of the traditional trinity, so now I'll offer the alternative.  Every player has a base element (just to remind you of that point), it rears it's head here.  That base element is also something you are nearly immune to.  This makes any player, depending on the encounter a prime tanking candidate.  Status effects (which boss mobs will dole out plenty) can only be healed by a counter element leading to healing being more by committee.  Likewise with DPS.  Essentially, the trinity exists within the encounter (although flexibly as some bosses would feature phase changes where their element switches) but party roles aren't fixed (at least not in an optimal sense).

This adds an interesting dynamic.  I like a sort of rock-paper-scissors thing for combat, and having the roles shift depending on your element and the challenge you are facing means that everyone has to be on their toes and ready for shifts in combat depending on circumstances.

 

Progression

Most of the progression is horizontal, at least from a combat perspective.  Any power growth is specific and causes a deficiency somewhere else.  Horizontally, you might be able to shift crazy amounts of attribute points around and build abilities from dozens of skill fragments but, you are stuck with what you brought to the fight.  Something I hadn't mentioned until now is that those fragments can come from many places: the temples dedicated to an element, weapon trainers/experts, crafting, or various other organizations.

Vertical progression, is focused on social/economic matters.  Whether it is membership in some order/society or a title of nobility, these would matter.  I'm big on evolving worlds politically or otherwise.  Maybe a rank member of the Order of Empirical Merchants can manipulate the comodity market, or a General can push invasion plans.  I want those options and more to be availible to those that pursue them.

I'm also big on having both vertical and horizontal progression, with the former generally being focused on social/economic standing at the latter for combat prowess.  I think it opens things up a lot and gives everyone a relatively equal playing field.

Top MMOs: Asheron's Call, Shadowbane, EVE Online, Planetside
Played: Pretty much everything at one point or another

  ghstwolf

Novice Member

Joined: 3/21/08
Posts: 386

 
OP  1/02/11 1:45:48 AM#9
Originally posted by jasimon

I really like the ideas behind this.  I have some thoughts for a system that is similar in many ways, but you brought up a few very interesting concepts.

 For some reason the current magic systems never really set well with me.  So I considered all the nagging issues I had with them and came up with this.  One of my biggest objections is that it is as easy to conjure a fireball on a glacial mountain pass as it is in the middle of a volcano under most if not all of them.  Something about that just annoyed me at first, and it actually has gotten worse as I've explored this idea.  At first it was just the disconnection from any sort of rational (yeah yeah "it's magic"), but now its based on what I see as lazy and stupid design that is detrimental to gameplay.


This adds an interesting dynamic.  I like a sort of rock-paper-scissors thing for combat, and having the roles shift depending on your element and the challenge you are facing means that everyone has to be on their toes and ready for shifts in combat depending on circumstances.

I'm not entirely against having roles inside an engagement, it's the way things tend to breakdown (military stragegy is full of examples).  Mixing it up does 2 things though, first it limits how effectively a player can specialize (as they need to be ready to do anything) and second, it sort of eliminates the all too common shortages of healers and tanks.  Personally. I always enjoyed having dual roles in fights, it just creates memorable moments by giving people a chance to do something exceptional.