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

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76 posts found
  Ortwig

Novice Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1048

 
OP  1/09/13 6:14:52 PM#1

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?

  moosecatlol

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/25/10
Posts: 1176

1/09/13 6:32:19 PM#2

I'd like to believe that in the future someone will be able to pull of an openworld content generator. Think minecraft sized exploration combined with an amazing visual engine.

 

The early days of SWG were much like this, where many people did not have the experience/gear/combat experience to handle themselves on harder planets like Dathomir or Endor. So instead they would travel in groups, exploring caves and underground facilities, sometimes even finding a chest or two. CoH also had such a system with their hazard zones.

 

The problem with these early forms of exploration is that time was the ultimate destroyer of this content. As more people explored every inch of a map, the wonderment of exploring things for yourself was lost.

However if anyone were to be able to add something like a world generator to their triple A game, well the thought alone will leave one with lofty imagination full of glee.

 

Of course Ravnicor has no idea the amount of work that he asking to be done with the words "Throw together a zone."

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

1/09/13 10:31:32 PM#3

Hidden content systems I've seen run into two problems:

1. google spoils any pre-scripted mystery

2. player-created add-ons datamining any information the server gives the client to cut through the mystery and highlighting any points of interest.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12381

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Project Gorgon, and Combat Arms

1/09/13 10:41:33 PM#4
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.

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12381

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Project Gorgon, and Combat Arms

1/09/13 10:43:16 PM#5
Originally posted by moosecatlol

I'd like to believe that in the future someone will be able to pull of an openworld content generator. Think minecraft sized exploration combined with an amazing visual engine.

Looking forward to that day, as well.

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Ortwig

Novice Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1048

 
OP  1/09/13 10:46:03 PM#6
Originally posted by maplestone

Hidden content systems I've seen run into two problems:

1. google spoils any pre-scripted mystery

2. player-created add-ons datamining any information the server gives the client to cut through the mystery and highlighting any points of interest.

But isn't that a problem with every game?  If Google destroys any fun or challenge the game might have,  would it not be an incentive to try figuring things out before Googling?  Part of the onus here would seem to be with the player, especially if he or she is looking for fun and challenge.  I hate higher level dudes "walking me through" dungeons, too.

Not sure if randomness might help in this situation as well -- perhaps the event or discovery doesn't happen in the same place every time?

  Ortwig

Novice Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1048

 
OP  1/09/13 10:55:20 PM#7
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.

  User Deleted
1/09/13 10:57:32 PM#8
Exploration should just be built into the game, rather than regulating certain zones for it.
  Ortwig

Novice Member

Joined: 4/20/12
Posts: 1048

 
OP  1/09/13 11:01:20 PM#9
Originally posted by asmkm22
Exploration should just be built into the game, rather than regulating certain zones for it.

Absolutely, and I think every game should have an exploration element.  I think the suggestion here is that at higher difficulties, there might be an especially challenging zone that would require teamwork (and possibly competition) to explore.  I can certainly explore my neighborhood pretty easily by myself.  But exploring Antarctica, or the Moon or Atlantis would require a group effort.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12381

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Project Gorgon, and Combat Arms

1/09/13 11:15:48 PM#10
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.

So then we're looking at either phased content or instanced content, correct?

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

1/09/13 11:25:57 PM#11
Originally posted by Ortwig

If Google destroys any fun or challenge the game might have,  would it not be an incentive to try figuring things out before Googling?

Sure, and I've sometimes argued that people seeking harder game experiences should be handicapping themselves rather than waiting for developers to do it for them.  But let's face it, willingly ignoring information does make a qualitative difference.

( er .. that came out sounding a little more negative than I intended; I actually do like your idea )

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13470

1/10/13 12:15:12 AM#12
Originally posted by moosecatlol

I'd like to believe that in the future someone will be able to pull of an openworld content generator. Think minecraft sized exploration combined with an amazing visual engine.

Randomly generated content that is as good as hand-generated content, or at least not all that much worse than hand-generated content, is the holy grail of MMORPG game design.

It's actually a rather stupid thing for an AAA game to even try, as if you try and fail, your whole game is garbage.  An indie game could try it on a smaller budget as a way to avoid having to hand-design massive amounts of content.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13470

1/10/13 12:16:44 AM#13
Originally posted by Ortwig

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.

A lot of levels in Spiral Knights are like that.  While they do get a fair bit of mileage out of it, once you've seen the same map chunk several times, it doesn't seem very random anymore.

  Quizzical

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1/10/13 12:21:18 AM#14
Originally posted by Loktofeit

So then we're looking at either phased content or instanced content, correct?

Not necessarily.

If you have a good way to randomly generate a zone, then you could make it instanced, where you go to the entrance of the random zone generator, it creates a zone for you, and you have your own instanced zone to explore.

Or if a million different random seeds will give you a million substantially different zones, you could make an enormous open world with those million different zones stitched together.  Or billion.

Storage space for those million zones actually isn't a problem, as the server would only need to store a million random seeds, not the full data for a million completely built zones.  A random seed will likely be 4 or 8 bytes, so even a billion zones wouldn't be much of a burden on server storage.  It would only have to load into memory zones that actually have someone in or near them, which is no worse than it would be if it were completely instanced.  The client wouldn't have to contain any zones at all, but the server could send a random seed to players as they get close.

The hard part is how to come up with a good way to randomly generate a zone.

  laokoko

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1/10/13 12:50:27 AM#15

Sounds very good on paper.  In reality it don't work.  Explore means going place you never been before.  If you alerady been there once there's probably not many reason to go back.

Only way it works is for random generated or player generated content which change everytime you go.

And the grind for token thing before you can explore and do things you want is just a way to annoy the hell out of player.  You meant to tell me you have to grind content you don't want just to do content you want to do?  Ya that will be the players answer.

  Novusod

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1/10/13 2:41:35 AM#16
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by moosecatlol

I'd like to believe that in the future someone will be able to pull of an openworld content generator. Think minecraft sized exploration combined with an amazing visual engine.

Randomly generated content that is as good as hand-generated content, or at least not all that much worse than hand-generated content, is the holy grail of MMORPG game design.

It's actually a rather stupid thing for an AAA game to even try, as if you try and fail, your whole game is garbage.  An indie game could try it on a smaller budget as a way to avoid having to hand-design massive amounts of content.

Generally that is not how major innovations are created. The random generated content engin would be developed without a game attached to it and then after it was made to work well a AAA game would be built on top of the new technology.

  ZombieKen

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1/10/13 2:54:09 AM#17

I'm a huge fan of exploration in general and I like it as an alternative to endgame questing.  It sure beats doing dailies over and over.

 

However I would see it best applied in addition to raiding as an endgame activity.  I think endgames get dull because of lack of variety.  The more options, the better.

 

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  Scot

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1/10/13 4:36:52 AM#18
Random 'zone' generation can be done well, look at Elite. But I am not sure how easy it would be to apply those principles to a MMO.
  Loktofeit

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1/10/13 5:14:06 AM#19
Originally posted by Quizzical
Originally posted by Loktofeit

So then we're looking at either phased content or instanced content, correct?

Not necessarily.

If you have a good way to randomly generate a zone, then you could make it instanced, where you go to the entrance of the random zone generator, it creates a zone for you, and you have your own instanced zone to explore.

Or if a million different random seeds will give you a million substantially different zones, you could make an enormous open world with those million different zones stitched together.  Or billion.

Storage space for those million zones actually isn't a problem, as the server would only need to store a million random seeds, not the full data for a million completely built zones.  A random seed will likely be 4 or 8 bytes, so even a billion zones wouldn't be much of a burden on server storage.  It would only have to load into memory zones that actually have someone in or near them, which is no worse than it would be if it were completely instanced.  The client wouldn't have to contain any zones at all, but the server could send a random seed to players as they get close.

The hard part is how to come up with a good way to randomly generate a zone.

Ya think?  ;) 

 

So, to recap your post,  it wouldn't necessarily be instanced, just instanced. And storage would be only 4 to 8 bytes per zone, because we never plan on having the person return to this zone, alter this zone or share this zone with others.

 

Guys, walk through these things at least once, not as a one-off single-player snapshot but as a multiplayer persistent environment.

 

 

 

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  laokoko

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Posts: 1923

1/10/13 5:42:34 AM#20

I definately think it'll work. 

The way it work is the map isn't a "fixed" map.  when people wonder around they will see blizzard or fog or something like that, and they move around and voila new zone. 

So for example if you keep moving in one direction from a camp you won't always go to the same area.  Make sense?  Since there is fog and blizzard everywhere, you are kind of lost in a sense, and you stumple to another area. 

 

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