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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Asynchronous Interaction and Faux NPCs

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  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 11:16:18 AM#1

I would have put this in the Sandbox Subforum, except the administration couldn't spend 5 minutes to make one...

I am primarily looking for feedback from Sandbox leaning players, both in relation to my game and about this type of thing in general. I think it would allow for some great socializing and infact add incentives to socialize to gain access to these features as well as making it possible to defend and attack and do economic things even at non peak hours.

I guess I can't stop themepark players from coming here but I will ask that they try not to derail, or flame sandbox games and things like that.

 

If you read any of my posts you know how I feel about so called "persistent worlds" and "MMOs" of the themepark style and how they are really just coop RPGs with graphical lobbies instead of text lobbies.

As part of my game project I have been trying to create a truly persistent world style. I want characters actions to have permanent or really semi permanent effects on the world like killing creatures and having them gone for ever and having non instanced housing and having creatures launch real time raids on player made settlements.

One of the problems is that dynamic content can be missed and that a raid could happen while a lot of players were offline.

I have also been on a quest to add REAL social functions to games. Not just stupid world chats. World chats and seeing other players in the graphical lobby as you run by while neither of you perform an action which actually effects the other person are not massively multiplayer features.

Since the possibility for synchronus interaction in the game world is limited because people have lives I have been forced to attempt to come up with forms of asychronous association.

This is one of my efforts in that direction. Faux NPCs. Faux NPCs cover many different features that I have integrated into one overarching structure.

I want to make a game with no NPCs. None. Screw that. No premade towns and shops. No quest givers. No town guards.

How do Faux NPCs fit into this framework? Aren't they NPCs? Didn't you just say you want games with no NPCs? How do "NPCs" fit into any sort of social system?

The answer is simple. The "NPCs" in the Faux NPC system are players. Just players that are offline.

The Faux NPC system covers many different features:

 

Player shops. This system is designed for Fantasy games, so no we do not have robo servitors to run shops. Shops can only be interacted with in a few ways:

Listservs. This is a pun, god. The permissions systems including storage and guilds and kingdoms and such are managed with lists. These lists provide both access to chat channels, and every single chat channel in the game was created by players except the worldgate chat where players spawn, and these lists can be used to set permissions. For instance a guild is composed of a series of lists:

Main guild chat- Every player on the guild is on this list and may chat here. This list is assigned to guild strorage and buildings based on what the leaders want to be accessible to the rank and file. For instance it may be used to permit access to a guild hall or let you use guild crafting capital or for a chest containing basic gear so that every member of the guild can start with half decent stuff.

Any number of specialized chats-This can include the guild leader and/or a guild council chat/permissions list, maybe you have an elite group in the guild lower than council but higher than member. You can have as many tiers of positions as you like. Maybe the crafters in the guild have a private channel just for themselves to organize.

The way this functions with shops is that you can set storage facilities in your shop to allow people to take items and put an amount of gold in another storage device. In this way you can have say a box for each of your most loyal customers and when you finish a custom order for them you leave it there and they put in the purchase price in gold in return.

Similarly you might keep a supply of lower level gear for sale as public or guild storage. This may not be the safest thing but its a sandbox so do as you please.

I call these system listservs because you have a permission list and you can serve those people without actually being there if you think they can be trusted.

 

That is one thing you can do with shops. There is another and this is the part which is actually a Faux NPC feature. When you log off the game your character is not logged out. Ever. Come on guys, truly persistent worlds need a truly persistent populace. You can set orders for your offline character. For instance you may want them to travel back to the worldgate because its a sort of safezone. But that isn't the real purpose of the system.

 

The real goal of Faux NPCs in shops is this:

You can set your character to travel to your shop while you are offline. A Faux NPC can perform many of the actions of a real player. You can sell goods with the merchant system Essentially you set items in the store to a price and any player who wants the item opens the merchant dialogue. They then pay the cost and receive the item just like an NPC shop interaction.

Similarly a player can put in a crafting order with the Faux NPC. Then that NPC can craft that item as if you were actually online to do it. You would have to set the orders for this and a price for items. You would get the same crafting experience as if you crafted the item yourself.

A note here: If I create the crafting minigame system I want insted of a click to craft system, you may lose a % of efficiency in the result of the crafting since you aren't online. The computer will act as if you had been on and crafted at say, 70% efficiency or something. I haven't worked this all out yet. Some crafting functions like enchantments may not have a minigame and should perform at 100%.

 

Faux NPCs are not only shopkeepers. They can perform any other actions.

 

You can set your character to have battle orders of many kinds with different triggers. If monsters raid the city while you are offline you can have your orders set so that your character protects the town. You can allow for an automated defense script or you can customize the actions of your character in battle.

You could have them man the walls or defensive implacements or cast spells if they are a mage or join other Faux NPCs in archery from the walls. Bascially anything you could do normally but without being as smart about it.

 

I have an idea about a thief functonality which I think about for entertainment purposes but which probably won't go in the game. Essentially players can try to rob other players, and you can set magic and physical, traps and have walls and chests and locks and such. And you can set your character to defend your property or even circle the town and try to stop theives, sort of like a guild or town police force.

 

One of the other really interesting aspects involves guilds and friends. You can set your character to be controllable to a degree by any other player using the list permission system. For instance if your guild is doing a raid and you aren't online they can follow the guild and assist them in combat missions as a Faux NPC.

On a more personal level you could allow guild explorers or research gatherers to bring your character along to help protect them while they are gathering resources. You could carry resoureces for them also.

This sort of functionality will make the game a much more social experience and allow players with social or guild connections to essentially "find a group" even though there are no NPCs and no stupid LF tools.

It allows for you to help protect group assets even if you can't be one, so that you don't feel so pressured to log in all the time if you have a life. This will allow casuals to contribute to the game. Indeed players will be able to level fighting skills and gain map information and level crafting and such without being online.

There will be some restrictions like people not being able to steal your gear and screw you over and such.

What do you guys think?

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11925

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/26/12 11:33:08 AM#2

Definitely sounds good on paper. I'd say try it out and see how it goes.

 

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 11:38:29 AM#3
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Definitely sounds good on paper. I'd say try it out and see how it goes.

 

Thats the extent of your feedback? Well thanks for the support at least, I probably wouldn't spend hours analyzing someone else's wall of text either.

Can you try and think of some examples of exploits or problems if you have some spare time? Although the best ideas are part of a distinctive vision being totally in absence of criticism is still bad.

  Castillle

Forum Bunny

Joined: 10/24/10
Posts: 2681

1/26/12 11:50:47 AM#4
How will you handle alts? You said each npc is an offline player so will the game e built with a 1 char per player mindset?

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  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11925

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/26/12 11:51:38 AM#5
Originally posted by Cuathon
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Definitely sounds good on paper. I'd say try it out and see how it goes.

Thats the extent of your feedback? Well thanks for the support at least, I probably wouldn't spend hours analyzing someone else's wall of text either.

Can you try and think of some examples of exploits or problems if you have some spare time? Although the best ideas are part of a distinctive vision being totally in absence of criticism is still bad.

Actually, i can't think of any exploit issues. That's not because I don't think it's possible, but because what you present has a great amount of depth and it ties into so many aspects of the game world (economics, PVE, PVP, crafting) that there's no way to tell whether something is good, bad, broken or otherwise without seeing it in motion in relation to the other components of the game.

Overall, though, it seems like a really interesting feature ot have in a game. Controlling a set of meaningful minions is something that seems rather lacking in MMOs.

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 11:53:26 AM#6
Originally posted by Castillle
How will you handle alts? You said each npc is an offline player so will the game e built with a 1 char per player mindset?

Yes you will be restricted to one character per player. I mean its possible to dodge that in theory and probably practice but its going to be pretty obvious to the staff and if you do it and then I delete all your characters you will probably feel pretty stupid.

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 11:55:08 AM#7
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Cuathon
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Definitely sounds good on paper. I'd say try it out and see how it goes.

Thats the extent of your feedback? Well thanks for the support at least, I probably wouldn't spend hours analyzing someone else's wall of text either.

Can you try and think of some examples of exploits or problems if you have some spare time? Although the best ideas are part of a distinctive vision being totally in absence of criticism is still bad.

Actually, i can't think of any exploit issues. That's not because I don't think it's possible, but because what you present has a great amount of depth and it ties into so many aspects of the game world (economics, PVE, PVP, crafting) that there's no way to tell whether something is good, bad, broken or otherwise without seeing it in motion in relation to the other components of the game.

Overall, though, it seems like a really interesting feature ot have in a game. Controlling a set of meaningful minions is something that seems rather lacking in MMOs.


I think its possible to find obvious problems in any idea even just from the concept but I agree that there will be some bugs that will make it into the game that will need to be play tested out as well.

I guess I will take it as a compliment that you can't just look at it and say "omg how did you not see such and such bug???"

 

Meaningful minions in MMOs are impossible because themepark. I think guildwars did the best minion implementation. But it is really pure combat so economics and crafting and exploring and crap can't be explored in depth with their minions.

  Tablix

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/03/10
Posts: 25

1/26/12 12:55:06 PM#8

Personally I would make this "offline" systems a set of predetermined scripts that can be accessed only via player house, faction building or community hub,  This would leave all "offline" players in a drone state in preset locations.  For example in public places such as a trade hub you could set your player to any one of a number of presets, such as offline buyer, offline seller, offline merchant, offline crafter.  Allow players more functionality if they are using a player constructed building such as a house of guildhall, for example the ability to buy several types of material or sell several items, or even work as an offline crafter "bot" for other players to access.  By using UI systems that are carefully planned and "forcing" players to log off in these locations to use the ability then you can manage griefing and abuse far more tightly.  I have only really skimmed your post but its an interesting idea.  You could possibly set up systems for players that log out in  "non designated areas" such as a disconect to port that player to a localised spawn point with a setting of inactive. 

 

While above suggestions dont really pick any holes, for abuse/exploitantion, I have only really had a brief read through.  I am impressed with the concept however and can see its value.  The only stumbling block I can see is when you consider server capacity, these drones will still be utilising resource in terms of database access so you "may" be reducing your capacity/performance in certain locations.

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 1:05:04 PM#9
Originally posted by Tablix

Personally I would make this "offline" systems a set of predetermined scripts that can be accessed only via player house, faction building or community hub,  This would leave all "offline" players in a drone state in preset locations.  For example in public places such as a trade hub you could set your player to any one of a number of presets, such as offline buyer, offline seller, offline merchant, offline crafter.  Allow players more functionality if they are using a player constructed building such as a house of guildhall, for example the ability to buy several types of material or sell several items, or even work as an offline crafter "bot" for other players to access.  By using UI systems that are carefully planned and "forcing" players to log off in these locations to use the ability then you can manage griefing and abuse far more tightly.  I have only really skimmed your post but its an interesting idea.  You could possibly set up systems for players that log out in  "non designated areas" such as a disconect to port that player to a localised spawn point with a setting of inactive. 

 

While above suggestions dont really pick any holes, for abuse/exploitantion, I have only really had a brief read through.  I am impressed with the concept however and can see its value.  The only stumbling block I can see is when you consider server capacity, these drones will still be utilising resource in terms of database access so you "may" be reducing your capacity/performance in certain locations.

What you are describing is essentially what happens.

Players will have access to a part of the UI to "program" their characters offline behvaior. The orders I refer to in the post. You can set quite complex behavior as well. So if you are in your player shop doing merchant stuff you can decide things like, if a customer comes in stop crafting, or if the town is attacked leave the shop to defend. Basically you assign sets of priorities.

Shop, but if attack, defend, but if guildie or friend needs help, follow/support. Or you can not set up the follow/support if you are more interested in the crafting and shop aspect. Or if you don't own a shop or do much crafting, you can set the guildhall as the target point so other guild members will know your character is available for minion orders.

 

I am aware of the hardware/software limitations and I do think about, but I am probably never going to actually program and publish and entire MMO so I am more focused on the ideas for the game. I may have demos and prototypes for stuff for demonstration purposes but they will mainly clarify and support the ideas as opposed to be used in an actual game that I actually have a chance to distribute.

  Naucano

Novice Member

Joined: 12/09/11
Posts: 79

1/26/12 1:56:06 PM#10

I am not sure if I am quite with you on the faux NPC. You want to make every character playercontrolled, but if he is logged out, it will stil perform tasks ? Alot depends of what it does as task or what you let it do.

It sounds easy, but it does not seem so to me. Give it too much and it will be like those toys with play on their own, you will be wondering if you need to be online anyway , since the "thing" does everything on its own. Give it too less and it won't matter if you are online or offline, so why bother to give it task ? Balancing that looks like a challenge.

It all seems to come down to some pet system. You try to make the static NPC redundant by making the dynamic NPC more important.

And how will you establish a world to start with then? You wil not have any players and as such no faux NPC, what is the purpose, the goal of these initial players who "log in" ? Would  they all play against eachother from start ? To what end ? Property ? You don't have a themepark, no story,  no "main" quest. But you do need to give players something to aim for, to go for, some purpose in their virtual life.

So, what's the plan ?

 

Rated M for Mature - May contain content inappropriate for children

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 2:48:02 PM#11
Originally posted by Naucano

I am not sure if I am quite with you on the faux NPC. You want to make every character playercontrolled, but if he is logged out, it will stil perform tasks ? Alot depends of what it does as task or what you let it do.

It sounds easy, but it does not seem so to me. Give it too much and it will be like those toys with play on their own, you will be wondering if you need to be online anyway , since the "thing" does everything on its own. Give it too less and it won't matter if you are online or offline, so why bother to give it task ? Balancing that looks like a challenge.

It all seems to come down to some pet system. You try to make the static NPC redundant by making the dynamic NPC more important.

And how will you establish a world to start with then? You wil not have any players and as such no faux NPC, what is the purpose, the goal of these initial players who "log in" ? Would  they all play against eachother from start ? To what end ? Property ? You don't have a themepark, no story,  no "main" quest. But you do need to give players something to aim for, to go for, some purpose in their virtual life.

So, what's the plan ?

 


The game is a player driven economy. All the buildings and cities and items will be forged by players. There are no NPCs in the world. There are no premade cities or shops. This is a sandbox game for serious players. You get a basic item set of minimal quality and you have to either craft your own items or pay others to craft some of them. Faux NPCs aren't replacing NPCs. They are fighting the problem of virtual worlds not having a captive audience like real life. You can't log out of real life and come back.

Towns will be getting attacked by monsters and if everyone is offline then who defends the town? Should they have no chance to survive because they had to sleep?

The character cannot perform as well as a player can, and there are limited functions they can perform. Ideally players would join and never log off. This is why you can save and pause RTS and TBS and SRPG games. Because all players can't be on all the time. But virtual worlds are persistent and you have to deal with players playing at different times. This is just to ameliorate some of the problems.

Also the Faux NPCs can only be utilized by players with permission. The player can have a list of who can do things like recruit them for adventures.

The character can't go on a raid by itself, or gather ingredients by itself. It can't explore by itself. All of its behavior has to be triggered by other players or rampaging monsters. And there are c rafting minigames that the npc can't play as well as a player. It can't build buildings or make complex decisions.

This is just one tiny system in a huge complex of systems. Its not the entirety of the game. If you haven't read many of my other threads it may be quite confusing I guess.

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 4:16:27 PM#12

I'm trying to think of some other similar stuff. I made a thread earlier about an app that lets you access chat from your mobile devices and do some other simple stuff. I am trying to think of some other ways to deal with asyncronous interaction but I think I may have gone as far as I can with it. I guess I have plenty of other issues to hash out in other parts of the game.

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2300

1/26/12 5:04:22 PM#13

I read the entire OP. You're welcome.

Ok, to start of I'll talk some about your ideas that need to be tweaked. You said Faux NPC crafting xp gains are the same as if you were playing online. I think they should be significaltly lower than doing it yourself especially if their effectiveness will be lower than a player would be doing the minigame. IMO All xp gains should be really low in any offline progression. Players should want to play the game and not let it play itself. More MMO, less ProgressQuest.

Two major problems I foresee is: Population with difference in timezone and AI limitations.

You will absolutely have to have a single shard server that connects to hundreds... thousands of players all of the world. Why? So everyone isn't offline at the same time with all the little Faux NPCs running around doing their thing while nobody there to see it or even need their services. So lets say you have a single server. There still may be a imbalance in population from one timezone to another. I don't know, you'd just have to hope for the best.

You said that the Faux NPCs would benefit a guild by granting access to them but I see a conflict. You joined the guild because you are in the same timezone as they are so you can play together but the use of a Faux is used. Do you intend guilds to function the best because they have players from all different timezones?(and little socializing between the players) I can see it maybe working only if players don't play at regular times but casuals will. Over all, it doesn't improve much as far as socializing goes. Socializing comes from communicating and interacting with players not so much thier Faux NPC pet.. thingy.

The AI is going to freak out over your concept. Having them path to and from areas all over the world, doing ad hoc tasks on the way... I don't know if you mean for them to literally walk all over the place to attack and defend locations or to "go do those things" But I just can't see an AI in an MMO perform those things intellegently for hundreds of other players too without them glitching up and bugging out. Uppon log in this is what you will think... *Where the hell am I??? What the hell happened to my character???*

 

Is it really socializing when you are playing and interacting with an automated Faux NPC? I wouldn't say it is but the perks of having them go do things that you don't want or helping someone else when offline is kinda nice. I'd rather it be person.

 

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

  Flex1

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/29/06
Posts: 409

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”The Hausa of Nigeria

1/26/12 5:22:56 PM#14

How will you cover monsters in the game?

Will each monster type have its own sort of intelligence?

Social structure, breeding habits, etc

 

You said you wanted them to be more permanent, they die they dont respawn back. This is like in Two Worlds 1/2. To cover the very real problem of not having any more monsters how long do their "grown up" cycles last, that is if they breed.

 

Would the availability of monsters increase or decrease the monster attacks(raids) on player towns?

 

Animals and Monsters: Mmos never add any kind of behaviors to them. They either attack on sight or not. Will you add them behaviors? Hunt in packs, retreat when outnumbered or when losing, make surprise attacks when possible, cancel the raid because many humans present. Night time creatures, etc.

Persistent World. In a mmo the world never changes, an expansion can come that changes it but only if you buy it and only to players that bought it. This creates a rift between players. The post expansion players who have the changed world and pre expansion players who didnt buy it.

 

How would you deal with this? Say a big army with many wizards bombarded a capital city, destroying it instead of conquering it. Will all players then always see the city ruins or whatever was left?

 

 


  GTwander

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/09
Posts: 6125

LARPer Hunter

1/26/12 5:42:47 PM#15
Originally posted by Cuathon

Going over the points that interest me bit-by-bit. It's a long read, and hard to keep from derailing my thoughts on it.

As part of my game project I have been trying to create a truly persistent world style. I want characters actions to have permanent or really semi permanent effects on the world like killing creatures and having them gone for ever and having non instanced housing and having creatures launch real time raids on player made settlements.

It's a bad precedent, because the only time it's worked (well enough) is on unique raid mobs in the field that don't come back. I think Darkfall hsa it, but I know Wurm Online does too. It means that if you miss the boat, it's gone for good, and while it's not gamebreaking for most people - it would be if all the antelope were gone, or the badgers.

You basically can't guarantee that the entire world can be made barren, because murphy's law will kick your f**king ass. Why? Because a simple argument amongst players can spark a drive to prove one side correct (the extinction angle), in order to get the devs to "wise up", as they always do.

Coming from a guy who ran with this idea long ago, in a 'conservational MMO', the conclusion was that you have to add the factor of them springing back from nothing. When they are gone, they are gone, and your game actually loses it's value because of it.


How do Faux NPCs fit into this framework? Aren't they NPCs? Didn't you just say you want games with no NPCs? How do "NPCs" fit into any sort of social system?

The answer is simple. The "NPCs" in the Faux NPC system are players. Just players that are offline.

Without going the extra step and scripting these offline-players to act as if they were really controlled, the illusion falls flat. Hate to bring up .Hack, but that's a perfect example of how an offline-player in your presence should act. Otherwise they serve the same utility as any NPC companion used to date. Nuff said.

Consider a way to macro slogans that Players can input. Perhaps disquised as litmus test asking various questions, who'se answer will lead to what is used. Example;

Q - It's the world moment of your life, what do you shout?

A - Why is this happening to me?!?!?

Then those answers can tabulate to in-game outcomes while not-being played. The above answer might pop out with a chance variable at death or something, stuff like that. The problem, though, is if people don't understand the nature of this upfront, and get some goofy outcomes... or the occasionally universal answer "penis".

Player shops. This system is designed for Fantasy games, so no we do not have robo servitors to run shops. Shops can only be interacted with in a few ways:

Listservs. This is a pun, god. The permissions systems including storage and guilds and kingdoms and such are managed with lists. These lists provide both access to chat channels, and every single chat channel in the game was created by players except the worldgate chat where players spawn, and these lists can be used to set permissions. For instance a guild is composed of a series of lists:

Main guild chat- Every player on the guild is on this list and may chat here. This list is assigned to guild strorage and buildings based on what the leaders want to be accessible to the rank and file. For instance it may be used to permit access to a guild hall or let you use guild crafting capital or for a chest containing basic gear so that every member of the guild can start with half decent stuff.

Any number of specialized chats-This can include the guild leader and/or a guild council chat/permissions list, maybe you have an elite group in the guild lower than council but higher than member. You can have as many tiers of positions as you like. Maybe the crafters in the guild have a private channel just for themselves to organize.

It sounds like you're ditching a generic global line for a system of directories that lead to specialized inquiries. I've used something similar, but more in terms of role definition. The class structure determined role, and therefore classes share a unified chat line. Players could start guilds and take part in up to 3, adding those lines and aiding in getting specific class-help from the previous one. Then there is a heritage chat, which is specific to this particular concept, as you choose a bloodline to start with certain skills, and other players that are your kin will have access to that chat (interesting outcomes, methinks).

Either way, the idea is to attach utility to a channel. If people need help, they will hit the necessary chatlines up. If they wanna blab, there are ones for that too. Not a total mess, as current systems employ, because the general rule is that the laziest player uses the widest chatrange for whatever stupid reason.

The way this functions with shops is that you can set storage facilities in your shop to allow people to take items and put an amount of gold in another storage device. In this way you can have say a box for each of your most loyal customers and when you finish a custom order for them you leave it there and they put in the purchase price in gold in return.

This almost seems like it could be done with a set of permissions, but the idea of having a private inventory per-client is interesting - but would still require a system of permissions anyway.

A note here: If I create the crafting minigame system I want insted of a click to craft system, you may lose a % of efficiency in the result of the crafting since you aren't online. The computer will act as if you had been on and crafted at say, 70% efficiency or something. I haven't worked this all out yet. Some crafting functions like enchantments may not have a minigame and should perform at 100%.

 Nobody would use automated craft if there is a 100% guarantee of lessened outcomes, that is, unless they are grinding - which conflicts with offline crafting to begin with...

I would keep in mind a system of prototyping. The minigame creates a unique version of an item with stats comparable to your success. Then people would only play it in order to improve on their last version, rather than because they had to. The prototypes themselves can then be used for mass-production while on/offline, and each creation tick has a chance to be either a full intended outcome, or lessened product. I would set the bar high on that success ratio, though. Like 1/12 being a perfect outcome, and another 1/12 being the worst. Then find a sweet spot with only a few tiers of variance.


You can set your character to have battle orders of many kinds with different triggers. If monsters raid the city while you are offline you can have your orders set so that your character protects the town. You can allow for an automated defense script or you can customize the actions of your character in battle.

You could have them man the walls or defensive implacements or cast spells if they are a mage or join other Faux NPCs in archery from the walls. Bascially anything you could do normally but without being as smart about it.

__________________________________________________________________________

One of the other really interesting aspects involves guilds and friends. You can set your character to be controllable to a degree by any other player using the list permission system. For instance if your guild is doing a raid and you aren't online they can follow the guild and assist them in combat missions as a Faux NPC.

On a more personal level you could allow guild explorers or research gatherers to bring your character along to help protect them while they are gathering resources. You could carry resoureces for them also.

 I want to say it's a good idea to mesh the two sides above, but the obvious issue is that drawing them away for one activity prevents them from doing what may be intended. Say, a friend drags your character along for hunting, and while your char may get his cut from it all, his shop is unintended, or his crafts don't get made, or his town got raided and he couldn't be there to help defend it. The system is open to abuse because of it, but it really would be a sweet idea.

You'd just have to rely on *actual* NPCs, which is prolly against doctrine at this point.

I have an idea about a thief functonality which I think about for entertainment purposes but which probably won't go in the game. Essentially players can try to rob other players, and you can set magic and physical, traps and have walls and chests and locks and such. And you can set your character to defend your property or even circle the town and try to stop theives, sort of like a guild or town police force.

 Have you thought the traps vs infltration part through?

If traps can't be disarmed, it means they can only be activated, so something has to absorb it (likely a tank following a thief), and they will get in anyway. If traps can be disarmed, well, then they will be. It's really been an unituitive system in any game using it as such, but if a game could allow traps that recycle and literally catch you by surprise (like DDO), then it could be interesting. Again, though, a system with any kind of traps falls flat because they are always intended to be bypassed in some way (agility or dismantling, something), so it's always rendered moot for PvP beyond slowing someone down. They *will* get in (murphy!).

 

Writer / Musician / Game Designer

Now Playing: Skyrim, Wurm Online, Tropico 4
Waiting On: GW2, TSW, Archeage, The Rapture

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 5:47:25 PM#16
Originally posted by mmoguy43

I read the entire OP. You're welcome.

Ok, to start of I'll talk some about your ideas that need to be tweaked. You said Faux NPC crafting xp gains are the same as if you were playing online. I think they should be significaltly lower than doing it yourself especially if their effectiveness will be lower than a player would be doing the minigame. IMO All xp gains should be really low in any offline progression. Players should want to play the game and not let it play itself. More MMO, less ProgressQuest.

Two major problems I foresee is: Population with difference in timezone and AI limitations.

You will absolutely have to have a single shard server that connects to hundreds... thousands of players all of the world. Why? So everyone isn't offline at the same time with all the little Faux NPCs running around doing their thing while nobody there to see it or even need their services. So lets say you have a single server. There still may be a imbalance in population from one timezone to another. I don't know, you'd just have to hope for the best.

You said that the Faux NPCs would benefit a guild by granting access to them but I see a conflict. You joined the guild because you are in the same timezone as they are so you can play together but the use of a Faux is used. Do you intend guilds to function the best because they have players from all different timezones?(and little socializing between the players) I can see it maybe working only if players don't play at regular times but casuals will. Over all, it doesn't improve much as far as socializing goes. Socializing comes from communicating and interacting with players not so much thier Faux NPC pet.. thingy.

The AI is going to freak out over your concept. Having them path to and from areas all over the world, doing ad hoc tasks on the way... I don't know if you mean for them to literally walk all over the place to attack and defend locations or to "go do those things" But I just can't see an AI in an MMO perform those things intellegently for hundreds of other players too without them glitching up and bugging out. Uppon log in this is what you will think... *Where the hell am I??? What the hell happened to my character???*

 

Is it really socializing when you are playing and interacting with an automated Faux NPC? I wouldn't say it is but the perks of having them go do things that you don't want or helping someone else when offline is kinda nice. I'd rather it be person.

 


Faux NPCs cannot just go do things as I explained. They can allow portions of your shop to function while offline. They can FOLLOW ACTUAL PLAYERS when those players are doing tasks. They can't just run all over the map gathering things and they can't kill seek out and kill creatures. They can respond to assaults on their settlement. They can follow players and attack creatures who attack those players. They can hold things on gathering missions. They cannot as you seem to say run all over the world performing ad hoc tasks along the way. The game is an rpg/rts hybrid. So another player would be setting their actions to a slight degree. Follow/guard/buy/sell w/e.

The social bonus is that you have to socialize. Players who refuse to socialize won't have friends who will put them on offline lists. Also, there are rules. For instance, if the guild is doing a raid on a monster lair its probably planned out days in advance. So you will be like: "Okay I set him up to go on the raid. It won't be as good as if I was online but it should help. I will be on sometime next week after vacation."

Also there is a mobile device chat app so you will know what is going on. And again you will know who can do what with your guy. You won't just log in and have no idea where you are.

Its not replacing player gameplay its supplementing it. Maybe you just happen to have a date the day of the raid or you are out of town or something.

And selling items in the shop is a convenience feature.

You seem to have this idea that the system has features I never said it has.

As for exp EvE has a real time skill system which goes the same speed online or off. This is way less hands off than that.

I don't understand at all how you thought this was like progress quest.

And yes there is only one world that all the players in the game use.

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 5:51:27 PM#17
Originally posted by Flex1

How will you cover monsters in the game?

Will each monster type have its own sort of intelligence?

Social structure, breeding habits, etc

 

You said you wanted them to be more permanent, they die they dont respawn back. This is like in Two Worlds 1/2. To cover the very real problem of not having any more monsters how long do their "grown up" cycles last, that is if they breed.

 

Would the availability of monsters increase or decrease the monster attacks(raids) on player towns?

 

Animals and Monsters: Mmos never add any kind of behaviors to them. They either attack on sight or not. Will you add them behaviors? Hunt in packs, retreat when outnumbered or when losing, make surprise attacks when possible, cancel the raid because many humans present. Night time creatures, etc.

Persistent World. In a mmo the world never changes, an expansion can come that changes it but only if you buy it and only to players that bought it. This creates a rift between players. The post expansion players who have the changed world and pre expansion players who didnt buy it.

 

How would you deal with this? Say a big army with many wizards bombarded a capital city, destroying it instead of conquering it. Will all players then always see the city ruins or whatever was left?

 

 


This is way off topic for this thread. There is another thread somewhere that explains the PvE system. Persistent does not mean static. It just means its always there. I don't wanna derail this thread with off topic stuff.

  karter64

Novice Member

Joined: 11/13/05
Posts: 86

1/26/12 6:17:56 PM#18

I read your post, and admittedly much of it went right over my head, but what I grasp of it sure sounds a lot like the bots that took over Asherons Call.  Market Bots. Portal Bots, Buff Bots, Leveling Bots. Only thing I see different is using your main character for it instead of alts.

I like your thinking, but I think it's going to end up like Asherons Call.

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2300

1/26/12 6:19:43 PM#19
Originally posted by Cuathon
Originally posted by mmoguy43

I read the entire OP. You're welcome.

Ok, to start of I'll talk some about your ideas that need to be tweaked. You said Faux NPC crafting xp gains are the same as if you were playing online. I think they should be significaltly lower than doing it yourself especially if their effectiveness will be lower than a player would be doing the minigame. IMO All xp gains should be really low in any offline progression. Players should want to play the game and not let it play itself. More MMO, less ProgressQuest.

Two major problems I foresee is: Population with difference in timezone and AI limitations.

You will absolutely have to have a single shard server that connects to hundreds... thousands of players all of the world. Why? So everyone isn't offline at the same time with all the little Faux NPCs running around doing their thing while nobody there to see it or even need their services. So lets say you have a single server. There still may be a imbalance in population from one timezone to another. I don't know, you'd just have to hope for the best.

You said that the Faux NPCs would benefit a guild by granting access to them but I see a conflict. You joined the guild because you are in the same timezone as they are so you can play together but the use of a Faux is used. Do you intend guilds to function the best because they have players from all different timezones?(and little socializing between the players) I can see it maybe working only if players don't play at regular times but casuals will. Over all, it doesn't improve much as far as socializing goes. Socializing comes from communicating and interacting with players not so much thier Faux NPC pet.. thingy.

The AI is going to freak out over your concept. Having them path to and from areas all over the world, doing ad hoc tasks on the way... I don't know if you mean for them to literally walk all over the place to attack and defend locations or to "go do those things" But I just can't see an AI in an MMO perform those things intellegently for hundreds of other players too without them glitching up and bugging out. Uppon log in this is what you will think... *Where the hell am I??? What the hell happened to my character???*

 

Is it really socializing when you are playing and interacting with an automated Faux NPC? I wouldn't say it is but the perks of having them go do things that you don't want or helping someone else when offline is kinda nice. I'd rather it be person.

 


Faux NPCs cannot just go do things as I explained. They can allow portions of your shop to function while offline. They can FOLLOW ACTUAL PLAYERS when those players are doing tasks. They can't just run all over the map gathering things and they can't kill seek out and kill creatures. They can respond to assaults on their settlement. They can follow players and attack creatures who attack those players. They can hold things on gathering missions. They cannot as you seem to say run all over the world performing ad hoc tasks along the way. The game is an rpg/rts hybrid. So another player would be setting their actions to a slight degree. Follow/guard/buy/sell w/e.

The social bonus is that you have to socialize. Players who refuse to socialize won't have friends who will put them on offline lists. Also, there are rules. For instance, if the guild is doing a raid on a monster lair its probably planned out days in advance. So you will be like: "Okay I set him up to go on the raid. It won't be as good as if I was online but it should help. I will be on sometime next week after vacation."

Also there is a mobile device chat app so you will know what is going on. And again you will know who can do what with your guy. You won't just log in and have no idea where you are.

Its not replacing player gameplay its supplementing it. Maybe you just happen to have a date the day of the raid or you are out of town or something.

And selling items in the shop is a convenience feature.

You seem to have this idea that the system has features I never said it has.

As for exp EvE has a real time skill system which goes the same speed online or off. This is way less hands off than that.

I don't understand at all how you thought this was like progress quest.

And yes there is only one world that all the players in the game use.


Ok, that's a relief. It sounded like it was bigger than it really was.

So in short It is, if you are Offline you have the choice to become either..

A controlable pet by others

Afk player shop/crafter

Or an NPC that stands at your fort (1 vs many I suppose)

It's a side feature that can get you to socialize a little to set up the arragent of use of your Faux NPC, got it.

Progress Quest.. you know if you were to constantly have your Faux NPC to kills stuff with another players, craft stuff, whatever to constantly gain xp and level up in the background while you never actually play the game.

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

  Cuathon

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/24/04
Posts: 2254

Draw Something is now an MMO. God has forsaken us.

 
OP  1/26/12 6:22:31 PM#20
Originally posted by GTwander
Originally posted by Cuathon

Going over the points that interest me bit-by-bit. It's a long read, and hard to keep from derailing my thoughts on it.

As part of my game project I have been trying to create a truly persistent world style. I want characters actions to have permanent or really semi permanent effects on the world like killing creatures and having them gone for ever and having non instanced housing and having creatures launch real time raids on player made settlements.

It's a bad precedent, because the only time it's worked (well enough) is on unique raid mobs in the field that don't come back. I think Darkfall hsa it, but I know Wurm Online does too. It means that if you miss the boat, it's gone for good, and while it's not gamebreaking for most people - it would be if all the antelope were gone, or the badgers.

You basically can't guarantee that the entire world can be made barren, because murphy's law will kick your f**king ass. Why? Because a simple argument amongst players can spark a drive to prove one side correct (the extinction angle), in order to get the devs to "wise up", as they always do.

Coming from a guy who ran with this idea long ago, in a 'conservational MMO', the conclusion was that you have to add the factor of them springing back from nothing. When they are gone, they are gone, and your game actually loses it's value because of it.

This part was not supposed to be a main point for this topic. My monsters are regenerated by a scaling rift system which I described in many other threads. They also breed but the rift system is the driving force.


How do Faux NPCs fit into this framework? Aren't they NPCs? Didn't you just say you want games with no NPCs? How do "NPCs" fit into any sort of social system?

The answer is simple. The "NPCs" in the Faux NPC system are players. Just players that are offline.

Without going the extra step and scripting these offline-players to act as if they were really controlled, the illusion falls flat. Hate to bring up .Hack, but that's a perfect example of how an offline-player in your presence should act. Otherwise they serve the same utility as any NPC companion used to date. Nuff said.

 They aren't supposed to appear real per say. I wanted all assets in the game to be destroyable by monsters. The world is persistent and players need to exist in it at all times. I also wanted to have offline shopping and crafting functions. So I figured I would integrate these aspects. I also wanted them to be there to help defend towns. The companion function is just an optional function, not the main purpose of the system. They will indeed act like GW style NPC companions.

Player shops. This system is designed for Fantasy games, so no we do not have robo servitors to run shops. Shops can only be interacted with in a few ways:

Listservs. This is a pun, god. The permissions systems including storage and guilds and kingdoms and such are managed with lists. These lists provide both access to chat channels, and every single chat channel in the game was created by players except the worldgate chat where players spawn, and these lists can be used to set permissions. For instance a guild is composed of a series of lists:

Main guild chat- Every player on the guild is on this list and may chat here. This list is assigned to guild strorage and buildings based on what the leaders want to be accessible to the rank and file. For instance it may be used to permit access to a guild hall or let you use guild crafting capital or for a chest containing basic gear so that every member of the guild can start with half decent stuff.

Any number of specialized chats-This can include the guild leader and/or a guild council chat/permissions list, maybe you have an elite group in the guild lower than council but higher than member. You can have as many tiers of positions as you like. Maybe the crafters in the guild have a private channel just for themselves to organize.

It sounds like you're ditching a generic global line for a system of directories that lead to specialized inquiries. I've used something similar, but more in terms of role definition. The class structure determined role, and therefore classes share a unified chat line. Players could start guilds and take part in up to 3, adding those lines and aiding in getting specific class-help from the previous one. Then there is a heritage chat, which is specific to this particular concept, as you choose a bloodline to start with certain skills, and other players that are your kin will have access to that chat (interesting outcomes, methinks).

Either way, the idea is to attach utility to a channel. If people need help, they will hit the necessary chatlines up. If they wanna blab, there are ones for that too. Not a total mess, as current systems employ, because the general rule is that the laziest player uses the widest chatrange for whatever stupid reason.

I described the chat system in detail in another thread. Chat is primarily for organizational purposes. Essentially the chat system works for both 1 to 1 chat and than any size beyond that. Player kingdoms will have a kingdom chat for instance that you can only hear if you were invited, same for guild chats. You can make a chat for basically anything.

The way this functions with shops is that you can set storage facilities in your shop to allow people to take items and put an amount of gold in another storage device. In this way you can have say a box for each of your most loyal customers and when you finish a custom order for them you leave it there and they put in the purchase price in gold in return.

This almost seems like it could be done with a set of permissions, but the idea of having a private inventory per-client is interesting - but would still require a system of permissions anyway.
The chat system IS the permission system. And the guild system, and the kingdom system. You can make trade chats also. There may be trade chats just for a kingdom or just for a guild or just a city or just some friends. In ATITD there was a  public works guild and a newbie guild and you could join many many guilds. You can do that here too. Because there are no preset premade cities or regions or w/e I can't know what kinds of chats players will need at the start of the game. The only built in chat is the worldgate chat because that is where new players spawn. Its local to the world gate region though.

A note here: If I create the crafting minigame system I want insted of a click to craft system, you may lose a % of efficiency in the result of the crafting since you aren't online. The computer will act as if you had been on and crafted at say, 70% efficiency or something. I haven't worked this all out yet. Some crafting functions like enchantments may not have a minigame and should perform at 100%.

 Nobody would use automated craft if there is a 100% guarantee of lessened outcomes, that is, unless they are grinding - which conflicts with offline crafting to begin with...

There is significant item decay. And if the option is crafting lesser things or not, why not craft some lesser gear to sell at lower prices to lower level or newer players. And yes it might be useful to have a little crafting to raise skills. You

I would keep in mind a system of prototyping. The minigame creates a unique version of an item with stats comparable to your success. Then people would only play it in order to improve on their last version, rather than because they had to. The prototypes themselves can then be used for mass-production while on/offline, and each creation tick has a chance to be either a full intended outcome, or lessened product. I would set the bar high on that success ratio, though. Like 1/12 being a perfect outcome, and another 1/12 being the worst. Then find a sweet spot with only a few tiers of variance.

I have heard of the prototype system in other games. My game doesn't have automated crafting like in EvE or SWG cause its a fantasy game. And its rare to have enough resources of the right types to make many exact copies of the same item in any case. No auto harveters like in SWG. I think a random chase to be better than base with offline crafting could work though.

You can set your character to have battle orders of many kinds with different triggers. If monsters raid the city while you are offline you can have your orders set so that your character protects the town. You can allow for an automated defense script or you can customize the actions of your character in battle.

You could have them man the walls or defensive implacements or cast spells if they are a mage or join other Faux NPCs in archery from the walls. Bascially anything you could do normally but without being as smart about it.

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One of the other really interesting aspects involves guilds and friends. You can set your character to be controllable to a degree by any other player using the list permission system. For instance if your guild is doing a raid and you aren't online they can follow the guild and assist them in combat missions as a Faux NPC.

On a more personal level you could allow guild explorers or research gatherers to bring your character along to help protect them while they are gathering resources. You could carry resoureces for them also.

 I want to say it's a good idea to mesh the two sides above, but the obvious issue is that drawing them away for one activity prevents them from doing what may be intended. Say, a friend drags your character along for hunting, and while your char may get his cut from it all, his shop is unintended, or his crafts don't get made, or his town got raided and he couldn't be there to help defend it. The system is open to abuse because of it, but it really would be a sweet idea.

You can choose not to allow the companion thing if you want. Its all about player choice. Also you can't queue up crafting projects. Its just if someone comes and makes an order you can set it for your character to make it. Otherwise they will just tend the shop. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Generally town attacks are known to be coming and you have time to prepare and so no one would take your guy away to hunt during one.

You'd just have to rely on *actual* NPCs, which is prolly against doctrine at this point.

You can't have NPCs, its a player driven economy. How would they even spawn? All the cities in the game are made by players.

I have an idea about a thief functonality which I think about for entertainment purposes but which probably won't go in the game. Essentially players can try to rob other players, and you can set magic and physical, traps and have walls and chests and locks and such. And you can set your character to defend your property or even circle the town and try to stop theives, sort of like a guild or town police force.

 Have you thought the traps vs infltration part through?

If traps can't be disarmed, it means they can only be activated, so something has to absorb it (likely a tank following a thief), and they will get in anyway. If traps can be disarmed, well, then they will be. It's really been an unituitive system in any game using it as such, but if a game could allow traps that recycle and literally catch you by surprise (like DDO), then it could be interesting. Again, though, a system with any kind of traps falls flat because they are always intended to be bypassed in some way (agility or dismantling, something), so it's always rendered moot for PvP beyond slowing someone down. They *will* get in (murphy!).

The trap thing won't be implemented its just fun to think about. Traps would deter low level thieves. ie if your trap maker or locksmith was better than the thief trying to get in the thief would fail.

 

So much to write.

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