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MMORPG Game Concepts  » How hard can it be to implement different rule-sets on a game?

16 posts found
  SchroesCat

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 44

 
OP  2/28/13 5:42:03 PM#1

I am curious. There's a lot of whining, begging and ranting going on about two key-concepts in MMORPGs:

  1. Overall harshness (xp-progression speed, death-settings, Loot-mechanics: Do you drop everything, free-to-loot.. or not, or how much, etc.)
  2. To cater to the RP-community ... or to not to cater to them.
From a developper point of view. I would think the main work is to get the engine running, to get the art in, and all that stuff. How hard would it be to just alter some of the "numbers" and maybe a bit more tweaking to the death-system.
How hard is it to have basically the same game running under two or three different rulesets, if by rule-set I mean:
  • different xp-progression
  • different death-mechanics (e.g. no vanilla-respawn, but something along the good ol' old-school lines, maybe even something a bit more sophisticated, e.g.: you need to get dragged to a priest to respawn. For a fee, of course.)
  • Full-Lootable player corpses, or when players are "downed.
This is not to start (yet) another debate about which play-style is preferable. I would just like to know what the sages of the binaries have to say on something like that.
 
Cheers,
 
S_Cat
 
 
Edit to add: Just to be clear: I am not talking about reverse engineering or modding an existing game. I mean it as a concept for a gaming company, to release the same game under different rulesets (and probably on different servers?).
 
  xeniar

Novice Member

Joined: 11/09/06
Posts: 817

2/28/13 5:52:16 PM#2

From a laymans point of vieuw it does not seem to hard.

a game like RF online has Alot of diffrent xp rates depending on wich server you play on.

i doubt the other things are hard to program.

  waynejr2

Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3881

RIP City of Heroes!

2/28/13 5:53:38 PM#3
Originally posted by SchroesCat

I am curious. There's a lot of whining, begging and ranting going on about two key-concepts in MMORPGs:

  1. Overall harshness (xp-progression speed, death-settings, Loot-mechanics: Do you drop everything, free-to-loot.. or not, or how much, etc.)
  2. To cater to the RP-community ... or to not to cater to them.
From a developper point of view. I would think the main work is to get the engine running, to get the art in, and all that stuff. How hard would it be to just alter some of the "numbers" and maybe a bit more tweaking to the death-system.
How hard is it to have basically the same game running under two or three different rulesets, if by rule-set I mean:
  • different xp-progression
  • different death-mechanics (e.g. no vanilla-respawn, but something along the good ol' old-school lines, maybe even something a bit more sophisticated, e.g.: you need to get dragged to a priest to respawn. For a fee, of course.)
  • Full-Lootable player corpses, or when players are "downed.
This is not to start (yet) another debate about which play-style is preferable. I would just like to know what the sages of the binaries have to say on something like that.
 
Cheers,
 
S_Cat
 
 
Edit to add: Just to be clear: I am not talking about reverse engineering or modding an existing game. I mean it as a concept for a gaming company, to release the same game under different rulesets (and probably on different servers?).
 

 Well there is something you are missing on all of this.   You want different versions to make people with different preferences happy.  How do you know that your different ruleset will make people happy?  Say you have a PVE game and there is a cry for PVP ruleset server.   How likely are you going to be able to create one PVP ruleset to make those PVPers happy?  zero I would guess as there are many different opinions on what makes a good PVP mmorpg. 

So what do you do, create many different PVP server rulesets?  IF you are trying to make them happy by providing different servers to met their wants it seems consistant to do just that.  Do you know your costs to make all this vs how much money this will bring in?  It seems like a poor ROI imo.

  Benedikt

Tipster

Joined: 12/12/04
Posts: 1376

We live for The One, we die for The One.

2/28/13 6:07:52 PM#4

if you put them on the same server, people will always choose the one with least "work" and "risc" involved (path of least resistance) - even those who at the first place cried the game is too easy and they would like challenge/old-school gameplay - "but we have to play the easiest way otherwise we would be in serious disadvantage and would not be able to compete"

 

if you put them on different servers, its a lot better, but unless you have really big player base and put those servers up from the start, you are splitting playerbase.

 

btw, did you ever heard of Trammel? :)

  SchroesCat

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 44

 
OP  2/28/13 6:09:47 PM#5
Originally posted by waynejr2

 Well there is something you are missing on all of this.   You want different versions to make people with different preferences happy.  How do you know that your different ruleset will make people happy?  Say you have a PVE game and there is a cry for PVP ruleset server.   How likely are you going to be able to create one PVP ruleset to make those PVPers happy?  zero I would guess as there are many different opinions on what makes a good PVP mmorpg. 

So what do you do, create many different PVP server rulesets?  IF you are trying to make them happy by providing different servers to met their wants it seems consistant to do just that.  Do you know your costs to make all this vs how much money this will bring in?  It seems like a poor ROI imo.

Of course you can't make everybody happy. But why aim always exclusively at the main stream? All players get spoon-fed exactly one version. With luck (and much begging) they get a server labelled "RP".

If engine, general coding, art, is the main work. Why not experiment some with it? To me it seems like someone inventing a completely new vehicle, with a new and expensive-to-develop new drive-system, with unique features - and then selling it only with one single version of motor, color, seats and extras. The one version that market research shows will have most success.

(And while a good market research surely will show that by painting it pink, with exactly 99 kW, electric window-openers and no cigarette lighter will attract the biggest crowd... why not also sell it in blue. And with a cigarette lighter, for those that want that? Surely those little gimmicks are a tiny fraction of the costs to develop the entire vehicle. And who knows? Maybe your market research just missed the fact, that if you sell it with strawberry-interior-scent it will attract a huge crowd that you never thought of?)

I just don't get it. If the main work is done. Why not experiment some? Test different stuff. See where players flock. Let reality and the results on the server numbers determine what works. Not preconceived notions.

The only explanation I have why this is not done, is that it must be insanely costly. But I somehow doubt it would be. But then, I am not an MMORPG Guru. That is why I ask.

  SchroesCat

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 44

 
OP  2/28/13 6:18:16 PM#6
Originally posted by Benedikt

if you put them on the same server, people will always choose the one with least "work" and "risc" involved (path of least resistance) - even those who at the first place cried the game is too easy and they would like challenge/old-school gameplay - "but we have to play the easiest way otherwise we would be in serious disadvantage and would not be able to compete" 

if you put them on different servers, its a lot better, but unless you have really big player base and put those servers up from the start, you are splitting playerbase.

 I am not even entirely sure about the "least resistance". Maybe, maybe not. I think there would be ways. But yes, I think that different servers - or a virtual separation (shards, or whatever) would be a good and obvious solution.

btw, did you ever heard of Trammel? :)

I looked "Trammel" up, but don't see the connection (blame the late hour, or my slow thinking). Which "trammel"? The horse steering tool? The Trammel of Archimedes? The fishing net? ... or yet another Trammel?

 

  Benedikt

Tipster

Joined: 12/12/04
Posts: 1376

We live for The One, we die for The One.

2/28/13 6:39:57 PM#7
Originally posted by SchroesCat
Originally posted by Benedikt

btw, did you ever heard of Trammel? :)

I looked "Trammel" up, but don't see the connection (blame the late hour, or my slow thinking). Which "trammel"? The horse steering tool? The Trammel of Archimedes? The fishing net? ... or yet another Trammel?

 

trammel is a non-ffa-pvp server which was added into ultima online and a lot of pre-trammel players (mostly the pvp ones) blames its addition for "destroying UO". why? because when the "path of least resistance" (consensual pvp server) appeared, a lot of people went for it.

PS: this doesn't mean I agree with the "destroying UO" statement

 

edit: btw this didnt happend only in UO, e.g. Wurm was at the beginning ment as a FFA PVP game, but when non-PVP server/s was/were added, cca 5 out of 6 players played on non-PVP server. (not sure how epic cluster affected those numbers, didnt checked current numbers).

  Homitu

Novice Member

Joined: 10/01/09
Posts: 2045

2/28/13 6:40:35 PM#8

I preface this post by saying I also know nothing about game coding.  But one thing I know about game development is that there are always so many great ideas tossed around during the iteration process, many of which attempt to get implemented, some of which do not.  Even of the features that pass implementation and are worked on by passionate developers, the tremendous pressure to complete projects under tight deadlines almost inevitably means sacrifices must be made with certain features.  Check out this article to see what I mean.  

The main point I'm getting at is that even if this is a moderately accessible feature, it's almost sure to be one of hundreds of similarly accessible features that could be implemented to improve the game for some people but are currently on development backorder because there's just so much other stuff constantly consuming their 70 hour work week's time.  

If that's the case, is the solution more employees?  That obviously increases costs and poses an obstacle.  But even that's not necessarily a feasible solution.  You can employ thousands of people to sit around and draft up ideas, but when it comes to the coding and programming of those ideas, (i think) only a very few people can be working on it at any given time.  I don't totally know how that process works, so I'm with you in wondering, but I do know that there is a definite ebb and flow with various positions in game development because there are times when certain devs are done with their own part of a project and must wait for others to finish their part.  

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12406

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

2/28/13 6:46:16 PM#9
Originally posted by SchroesCat

If engine, general coding, art, is the main work. Why not experiment some with it? To me it seems like someone inventing a completely new vehicle, with a new and expensive-to-develop new drive-system, with unique features - and then selling it only with one single version of motor, color, seats and extras. The one version that market research shows will have most success.

A car is a product. You pick it, buy it, and it never changes after that. An MMO is an evolving persistent service. Additionally, that evolution occurs while the customers are using it. There are few similarities in the development of the two.

That aside, maintaining separate codebases is a bitch.

As each codebase evolves, they drift further apart, meaning that every change or update the dev wants to add to the game requires searching through more and more branched code to make sure nothing is going to break as a result of the change. Also, what may work for one server may not work for the other, causing further divergence. Depending on the change or update, the dev could be doubling or tripling the work that needs to be done to implement it. 

 

"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

  anemo

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/24/10
Posts: 707

2/28/13 8:21:42 PM#10

Depending it can be really easy, or not.

Something like changing EXP rates, and Death Penalties can be as easy as changing a couple constants in a database.   In worse cases you're going to have to change actual logic in your game.  When you change actual logic you're going to have to test every possible scenrio you can...  Requiring lots and lots of manpower.

If you want PvP to separated into "Can't happen"/"happens but means nothing"/"happens for token reward"/"full loot"... You going to have very very different logic, and require a lot more testing.  Even for unrelated things(special gear conditions from PvE updates)

______

Also you aren't remembering the worse part, you aren't guaranteed to have a playerbase large enough to even support those rule sets.   Having such different rulesets won't increase your playerbase by much or anything, since players are also going to going for other core aspects in your game instead of "different rulesets of the same thing".   You could even end up fragmenting your playerbase too much, reducing your population.

Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

"There are still vast swaths of our planet's surface in which it's surprisingly easy to lose things. Even a ship the size of a large building." Richard Fisher

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13820

2/28/13 11:56:29 PM#11

How hard it is to do depends on what you want to do and on when you want to do it.  Some options that would be easy to implement if you have it in mind before the first line of code is written would be quite hard if you want to tack it on later and have to change a thousand things all over the code base.

A single formula applied in a zillion places tends to be easy to change.  For example, the amount of experience needed to level up.

Constants that are done separately for every mob in the game are much harder to do sensibly.  You could make a simple rule that mobs on this server will have double the health of mobs on that one, but doubling the health of some mobs will only make combat slower and not meaningfully harder, while for others, it could be the difference between the mob being easy and being nearly impossible.  Having to play-balance multiple rulesets for every single mob and skill in the game is a ton of work.

Even formulas that are easy to change aren't necessarily so easy to change intelligently.  In a typical theme park game, if you had one server give double the experience rate of another, then either you'd end up with people on one server skipping most of the content on their way to max level because they leveled past it so fast, or else people on the other server constantly running out of content and having to grind something stupid for a while to be high enough level for the next content.

It's easy to change the amount of damage that particular weapons or skills do.  It's hard to change it and keep it properly play-balanced, as changing one thing may force you to change a bunch of others to balance it.

-----

Even if you can have servers with multiple rulesets, there can be good reasons not to.  For starters, you probably want to make it so that people on one server ruleset can't transfer to another server ruleset.  If you have a bunch of different rulesets, then you split your community into a bunch of different pieces, which makes it so that most of the game's community might as well not exist.

Worse, what happens if you need to do server merges?  What if you have servers with 6 different rule sets, but only enough players to justify having three servers in total?  Do you leave some servers mostly dead?  Do you force people to switch to a different rule set?

  Kinchyle

Novice Member

Joined: 9/20/10
Posts: 286

3/01/13 12:00:43 AM#12
Not hard...make your own game. All three of you would be happy for days
  nilden

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/26/05
Posts: 997

3/01/13 12:22:31 AM#13

Not that hard look at Minecraft. http://minecraft-server-list.com/

 

How to post links.
LoveMinecraft. And check out my Youtube channel OhCanadaGamer

  waynejr2

Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3881

RIP City of Heroes!

3/01/13 12:23:12 AM#14
Originally posted by SchroesCat
Originally posted by waynejr2

 Well there is something you are missing on all of this.   You want different versions to make people with different preferences happy.  How do you know that your different ruleset will make people happy?  Say you have a PVE game and there is a cry for PVP ruleset server.   How likely are you going to be able to create one PVP ruleset to make those PVPers happy?  zero I would guess as there are many different opinions on what makes a good PVP mmorpg. 

So what do you do, create many different PVP server rulesets?  IF you are trying to make them happy by providing different servers to met their wants it seems consistant to do just that.  Do you know your costs to make all this vs how much money this will bring in?  It seems like a poor ROI imo.

Of course you can't make everybody happy. But why aim always exclusively at the main stream? All players get spoon-fed exactly one version. With luck (and much begging) they get a server labelled "RP".

If engine, general coding, art, is the main work. Why not experiment some with it? To me it seems like someone inventing a completely new vehicle, with a new and expensive-to-develop new drive-system, with unique features - and then selling it only with one single version of motor, color, seats and extras. The one version that market research shows will have most success.

(And while a good market research surely will show that by painting it pink, with exactly 99 kW, electric window-openers and no cigarette lighter will attract the biggest crowd... why not also sell it in blue. And with a cigarette lighter, for those that want that? Surely those little gimmicks are a tiny fraction of the costs to develop the entire vehicle. And who knows? Maybe your market research just missed the fact, that if you sell it with strawberry-interior-scent it will attract a huge crowd that you never thought of?)

I just don't get it. If the main work is done. Why not experiment some? Test different stuff. See where players flock. Let reality and the results on the server numbers determine what works. Not preconceived notions.

The only explanation I have why this is not done, is that it must be insanely costly. But I somehow doubt it would be. But then, I am not an MMORPG Guru. That is why I ask.

 Well, it's easy for you from an armchair to imagine something is simple and easier that it might really be in real life.  You idea isn't new by a long shot, IF companies wanted to go that route it wouldn't be not knowing about variations that stopping them.  It's all about costs and earnings.

  SchroesCat

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/23/10
Posts: 44

 
OP  3/03/13 12:56:47 AM#15

Thanks for the feedback and opinions!

Good point: The difference between the "car" and the "evolving product" with evolving codes. I knew my analogy was daring (at best). While I acknowledge the differences, I still think that current MMORPGS waste potencial by not releasing / offering various versions.

I can also see the increased work with testing and bug-hunting.

As "quizzical" pointed out, I think many of these difficulties can be overcome by proper planning aforehand: with variables and constants - for the more sophisticated tweaks with proper "modularization" of sub-systems and careful planning of interfaces between the various subsystems. I mean, just look at Neverwinter Nights. There's a heap of sophisticated sub-systems that are compatible with the main code. And the fanbase tweaked far more, than what was originally envisioned by the creators of the game.

Game balance is also a good argument I think. Although - this is just my personal opinion - game balance is overrated in current MMORPGs. IMHO the high demands in regards to balance are a result of the very linear way of playing that is promoted by most MMORPGs. If a game is more open world, more focused on exploring, cooperation, interaction, roleplay, game balance becomes a bit less of an issue I would think. So some areas or bosses are overly difficult? Get more friends to succeed there. Only the boss is too difficult? Turn back when you see the boss (Run while you still can! - or after he has eaten the first half of your team. Then think of how to get them out of his stomach again). I know I had these situations. And they are among the most fond my gameing memories.

The community split: Is it really always necessary to condense all players into one spot, onto one server? People are different in their preferences and play-styles. There is also things like "overcrowded" which can break immersion for some folk at some point. It is a bit like the eternal debate about having seperate RP-servers or not.

My principal point is: Creating an MMORPG is such a heap of work and money. And then the developpers always cling to their initial choices. Why not experiment some? When the games age a bit, the only variation we see is going F2P, and/or additional content. Why not modified rulesets? Why not try what happens with altered rulesets?

There are minorities like the RP-Crowd, the Immersion-Crowd, the modding-Crowd, the "Hardcore" Crowd, which also have a common denominator that is far off the mainstream that most games are aiming for. Of course they are only a minority. But 1.8 million members of this site. attract a few percent for a game after it's prime as paying subbers or buyers of the toolset, or whatever other business model is attractive I would think.

I am not proposing (or maybe I just gave up proposing) to design a game from ground up for these smaller populations. But why not try to lure them by tweaking something that is already out there? I think there are good chances to attracting a decent crowd with little effort - little when compared to designing a new game. And it might just be what keeps a game apart and profitable among the crowd of elderly games that are on the decline.

Diversity and customization is power. I just feel that the gaming industry is surprisingly conservative and traditional in these regards.

 

 

 

 

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12406

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

3/03/13 1:09:46 AM#16
Originally posted by SchroesCat

As "quizzical" pointed out, I think many of these difficulties can be overcome by proper planning aforehand: with variables and constants - for the more sophisticated tweaks with proper "modularization" of sub-systems and careful planning of interfaces between the various subsystems. I mean, just look at Neverwinter Nights. There's a heap of sophisticated sub-systems that are compatible with the main code. And the fanbase tweaked far more, than what was originally envisioned by the creators of the game.

That's great in theory. Five or six years down the line the new team on the project, no matter how carefully all the previous teams adhered to best practice, still wants to bitchslap the shortsighted original team that though it would be a good idea to do that.

As for NWN, yes there are lots of mods. None of those mods have to be, among other things, on brand or serve a paying customer base. They also are, again, not intertwined. The original product ended and those mods are all divergent paths that never have to worry about what the other paths are doing, let alone any of the major business, marketing or branding concerns relevant to a commercial endeavour.

 

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