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MMORPG Game Concepts  » I'd like to co-design a game...

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135 posts found
  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/15/13 8:12:00 PM#81

Proposed Recruitment Message, for gamedev, deviantart, other suggestions welcome

(please critique or approve, this is not yet as organized or clear as possible :) )


Are you interested in helping design and/or develop an MMO?  Specifically it will be a solo-friendly, casual-friendly MMO which has optional interactive-story quest lines, lots of sandbox play including player-constructed housing and crafting appliances, and PvP which can be entered right at the beginning of the game and played with your friends without any need to level up via PvE.  (There would be plenty of PvE to do, but it would be mainly for solo players who want to quest, capture pets, or drophunt crafting ingredients.)  Minigames will also be in there somewhere, possibly including multiplayer minigames as another way to play with your friends regardless of how far through the game's questing you are.  Most likely this will be a 3D game with a cheerful but not childish anime-influenced style, aimed at players ages 16 and up.

 

If this sounds like something you are interested, please come visit the thread where a group has been assembling itself over at mmorpg.com.  No team roles are finalized yet, we'd like to hear from everyone interested what kind of role you think you have the skills and personality to do well.  (I'm personally going to be involved in the design staff somewhere, though I will not be the leader of the project.)

http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/400967/Id-like-to-codesign-a-game.html

 In about a week we are going to have our first major meet-up, tentatively assign positions and first tasks for all team members, and start making permanent design decisions beyond the vague description above.  No one is an official team member until they complete a task, so don't bother coming if you're not up for doing any actual work.  But if you're willing to work we will find something useful for you to do that fits your skills, whether they are coding, drawing, modeling/animating, writing, music, webpages, secretarial work, managerial work, fundraising, or even cheerleading and giving pet-talks to other team members. :)


  User Deleted
12/15/13 8:22:00 PM#82
Originally posted by sunandshadow
What I originally wanted was to collaborate with 2 or 3 other designers to playfully create only the writing and concept art portion of an MMO design.  The rest of this happened pretty much without any pushing from me, I'm just going along with it because it seems fun.

 

I'm here because in another thread you mentioned wanting to talk in 'developers' about design.  I was thinking you were into a TES-like direction, which is something I've always found interesting.

 

Back in my LAN party days, one incredibly strong impression I had was "If only Morrowind had cooperative multiplayer".  That was what, 2003?  I'm still banging on that idea.

 

Not that I'm obsessive or anything :-)

 

  User Deleted
12/15/13 9:10:44 PM#83

An alternative format, that should be close to identical in message:

 

Start-up MMORPG Seeks Development Participants

Target game includes:
 * solo-friendly PVE
 * casual-friendly progression
 * storyline questing
 * sandboxy housing and crafting
 * PVP playable at any level
 * stylish anime inspired characters

Sound interesting?  Let' talk!
 * Organizational structure forming
 * Team roles open in design, art, programming, etc.
 * Currently meeting on MMORPG.com

http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/400967

Only seriously interested people with ability to
volunteer time and work need make contact.
 

...

 

Not to be antagonistic or anything, but if I'd read this, I'd pass it over.  Guessing that I'm missing something significant in the bullet points I scraped, but it sounds like an anime styled LOTRO with PVP.

 

  neonaka

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/04/05
Posts: 807

12/15/13 11:34:04 PM#84
Originally posted by ZombieKen
Originally posted by sunandshadow
What I originally wanted was to collaborate with 2 or 3 other designers to playfully create only the writing and concept art portion of an MMO design.  The rest of this happened pretty much without any pushing from me, I'm just going along with it because it seems fun.

 

I'm here because in another thread you mentioned wanting to talk in 'developers' about design.  I was thinking you were into a TES-like direction, which is something I've always found interesting.

 

Back in my LAN party days, one incredibly strong impression I had was "If only Morrowind had cooperative multiplayer".  That was what, 2003?  I'm still banging on that idea.

 

Not that I'm obsessive or anything :-)

 

And in all honesty , this is what we really should be attempting as an out of the gate MMO start-up team, because I know what it takes to complete a project, Ken you definitely know what it takes to complete a project and I am hoping SandS does.

I feel like we already have a disconnect in everything you have been explaining server/shard wise and what Sun is interpreting it as.

For example having servers split based off age was not really what you were trying to get her to realize. I also think it's unrealistic/un-needed to split servers based off age. What is the point exactly, when you build a game you are marketing it to a demographic, T for Teen, M for mature, on up the line.

Is there something in a 18+ server that someone below 18 shouldn't see? and if so, then are you are implying you are writing and developing two very different games in the same package? Not sure I am following. If you are just wanting to keep adults to one server and teeny boppers locked down to another, let me assure you this will never happen. If you ever wonder why no development team in the history of MMO's has tried it, that would be because it is impossible. I will also add, just like alcohol and tobacco,  you tell a teen they can't have something and somehow, someway they will find a way around those restrictions and do it anyway. The more you try and restrict something by age, it just makes the restricted even that more eager to find a way in, because they think they are missing all the action in the cool club.

 

There are other pieces that I am not sure I am following on so far that you would need to elaborate on. One example would be the "packaging" of a players property/house ect and moving it around with them, specially from server/server or shard to shard.

Most games of the past have always had separate shards/instances for players property or housing. DAoC did this by pre-building an entire instance with plots that would allow players to build certain house types, but also restrict them to a specific plot of purchase.

Star Wars Galaxies allowed players to build pretty much anywhere on a planet from what I remember. Problem with this model is, you end up with very scattered, messy ghost towns when the population drops.

EQ2 handled this with certain "houses" scattered through-out the city with doors that would lead each player to their own unique property inside. Though from the outside everyone used the same doorway in.

I feel like what you are proposing is something perhaps I have never seen inside of an MMO with a player being able to uproot their property and just take it along with them like a turtle. You will need to explain the system more, as right now I am not even sure how feasible or possible that would be.

It is great to have an ideal MMO in your head and the motivation to try and create it, but you can also only build what is in the range and scope of what is currently available in technology and resources.

:)

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 2:23:26 AM#85

@zombieken - Yeah that's a lot more quick and easy to read, lol. ^_^;

@neonaka There are definitely MMOs which have restricted servers.  I played one where you could start at f2p on one server only, you had to be a subscriber to play on any of the others.  I played a different MMO where you had to be 18 to play at all, and a third one where you were defaulted to "protective settings for young teens" unless and until you put in a credit card number and marked yourself as an adult in your account settings.  So this is not something unheard of.  Sure some people under 18 are going to sneak in with the adults, but if they use deception to get there it removes our legal liability to protect them from swearing and cybering.  The purpose of such a server or shard split would not literally be about age, it would be about social environment.  The adults who wanted to avoid swearing and cybering would also be encouraged to stay in the under-18 server, as well as any adults who wanted to play alongside their child.  The point would be to allow us with minimal customization to hit 2 target markets rather than restricting ourselves only to the 18+ market.  (I'm profoundly not interested in creating or playing a game aimed primarily at teens.  I'm vaguely hoping that no one on the development team turns out to be under 18, but at least the legal complexities of employing an underage worker wouldn't be my responsibility, I'm fine with someone else being willing to jump through those hoops.)

As for the rest of the stuff about shards and channels and stuff, did you think I needed to comment more on it?  I have played MMOs with various structures - I don't like channels, but while I'm not fond of sharding I can see how it might be the difference between a game being playable and being unplayable on peak days or in the game's 'capital city' (peak-use location).  I just figured the basics were obvious so there wasn't any real need to comment on them.

I am certainly interested in doing an MMO adaptation of Elder Scrolls-style questing, and that in fact is what putting all of the data into the player files and none of it into a persistent world is about, as well as the portable housing.  And yes, the portable housing is something you've never seen in an MMO before! ^_^  But it's quite feasible, it's something building games have been doing for several generations now.  I'm not insisting that it be in the game we make, but I think it's superior to any existing system, so I'd be surprised if there was a good reason to use some other housing system instead.  I'll get back to how the portability works in a bit.

TES-like games.  As people were commenting in that thread where someone wanted to make a Skyrim-like MMO, there are multiple big challenges of adapting a Skyrim-like game for an MMO structure.  The economy is one, but the bigger one is the way the world of Skyrim revolves around the player.  That's not possible in an MMO.  Some people want to go the direction of making all the players equally able to affect the world, but I think that causes more displeasing results than pleasing ones.  Ghost towns and abandoned constructions are definitely a problem in any sandbox MMO with a persistent world.  So are thefts, territory battles, and griefing by building stupid stuff specifically to interfere with others, make a mess, spell out profanity, etc.  Portable housing is my answer to preventing abandoned constructions.  Portable housing allows players to build right in the world but doesn't conflict with traditional quest-based progression through different PvE areas of the game by tying players to one place, and also doesn't allow players to build anywhere but their own territory, because they have no need to.  Territory expansions are going to make a great quest reward too.  Also since the primary purpose of the player's territory is crafting and storage, the player would be greatly inconvenienced if it weren't easy to access from the PvE areas where crafting resources are gathered, and I HATED the carry speed penalty in Skyrim - I basically played the whole game overloaded by 1000%.  Had no idea what the problem was when I encountered a jumping puzzle that could only be done unencumbered.  First time I looked at mods I was startled and sad that couldn't find the two I really wanted - put my horse on the monster radar so I can find the stupid thing, and remove the penalty for being overloaded.

Err yes, that's more than enough ranting.  Here's how portable housing would work.  The game world as a whole has a square grid.  This grid would be used in tactical combat between pets if that feature is included in the final game.  For each major location in the game there would be one or more open grassy fields or beaches.  They could have monsters there, but killing one or two would leave the area clear long enough to unfold your property.  What unfolding means is that the player's personal territory is overlaid onto that rectangular section of the game world, kind of like setting up a tent.  The personal territory has a border that keeps monsters out, and they don't spawn inside the border.  Similarly gatherables don't spawn inside the border.  The player's property can only be unfolded like this when the player is online and nearby, thus no abandoned buildings are possible.  Buildings, appliances, crops, etc. placed inside the territory by the player stay where they are placed relative to the borders of the territory through the process of the territory being packed up at one location and unpacked at another location, maybe with hours or days having passed in between.  Other players can't place anything into the property while it is unfolded, except that the player can enable a public storage box which would allow a friend to place items into the player's storage; items 'mailed' to the player by other players or by the auction house would appear in the same place.  So, any questions on how any of that works?  There would also be some possibility of having empty game locations where a player could set up an estate as a player-created dungeon, probably this would be a pay-extra-for-it feature if it existed.

Back to TES, arguably the most important part of Skyrim is the interactive story quality of the way the world alters in response to the player's actions.  Now in an MMO we should not alter the whole world in response to one player's actions because that could be unfair to all the other players.  But we can definitely alter how an individual player sees the world.  For example, one player sees sick monsters because they haven't don't the quest to cure the plague, while a player who has done he quest sees healthy monsters, simply by changing which texture the player's client displays.  We can also definitely alter how NPCs react to that individual player; a courtable NPC allied with faction A, for example, will refuse to flirt with a player more than halfway up the ranks of A's enemy faction, but will offer sales discounts and additional quests to a player who a player who has good reputation with faction A, and will be willing to move to the estate *cough*harem*cough* of a player who has completed all of that NPC's quests and/or given them presents to gain their favor.  (Presents would be PvP rewards so PvP players could court NPCs without questing if they wanted.)

  gobla

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1414

C'est la vie.

12/16/13 3:42:36 AM#86
Originally posted by sunandshadow

Err yes, that's more than enough ranting.  Here's how portable housing would work.  The game world as a whole has a square grid.  This grid would be used in tactical combat between pets if that feature is included in the final game.  For each major location in the game there would be one or more open grassy fields or beaches.  They could have monsters there, but killing one or two would leave the area clear long enough to unfold your property.  What unfolding means is that the player's personal territory is overlaid onto that rectangular section of the game world, kind of like setting up a tent.  The personal territory has a border that keeps monsters out, and they don't spawn inside the border.  Similarly gatherables don't spawn inside the border.  The player's property can only be unfolded like this when the player is online and nearby, thus no abandoned buildings are possible.  Buildings, appliances, crops, etc. placed inside the territory by the player stay where they are placed relative to the borders of the territory through the process of the territory being packed up at one location and unpacked at another location, maybe with hours or days having passed in between.  Other players can't place anything into the property while it is unfolded, except that the player can enable a public storage box which would allow a friend to place items into the player's storage; items 'mailed' to the player by other players or by the auction house would appear in the same place.  So, any questions on how any of that works?  There would also be some possibility of having empty game locations where a player could set up an estate as a player-created dungeon, probably this would be a pay-extra-for-it feature if it existed.

On the housing bit,

Wouldn't it be a lot more fun and immersive if you literally had a portable house instead of this type of tent property?

What I mean by this is that I think having, for example, an actual farm appearing and disappearing at will would probably feel floaty and likely somewhat fake. Not to mention annoyances of finding a great scenic spot to make your dream house, and then when you log back in you find someone else has set up there and you have to wait for them to log out again so their house disappears. I think your house will lack a lot of solidity, feeling as if it's not really part of the game world.

On the other hand having a house that's literally portable. Be it a flying ship of some sort with acual rooms inside, a small house mounted on the back of a giant turtle, some sort of variant on Howl's moving castle etc. would I imagine feel much more a part of the world whilst still preventing ghost towns or requiring endless completely empty spaces in the game world.

Granted, it would probably take a whole lot more effort to do it like that but the system would be able to double up for mounts and perhaps allow for much less quest-hub centric design since you'd be able to take your home just about everywhere so you no longer need a full assortment of vendors, mail boxes, flight masters etc. in every single zone.

We are the bunny.
Resistance is futile.
''/\/\'''''/\/\''''''/\/\
( o.o) ( o.o) ( o.o)
(")("),,(")("),(")(")

  User Deleted
12/16/13 11:53:59 AM#87

What a classy game would look like to me,

also known as:

You're Not Playing it Right *

 

NOTE: this doesn't really have anything to do with SunAndShadow's group that's forming.  I just wanted to share a concept idea that I've been kicking around.  I think the root of any decent game is a great concept.  I'm not saying that this one is great, but it is a concept.  :-)   From what I've got in my head, I don't think this wold be a pure MMORPG.  At best it would be a hybrid of single player, coop multiplayer, and maybe some open world.

 

The World

A world the size and layout of Oblivion.  It is completely non-linear, just random towns, farms, shops, and homes scattered around in an overland that is otherwise wilderness.  The wilderness is dotted with areas for activity, things like forts, caves, ancient ruins, derelict castles, cemeteries, bandit camps, etc.

 

There is no war on native soil, no massive armies are encroaching.  However, the world outside of the cities is seldom safe.  Several criminal organizations exist as rivals, seeking dominance in theft, gambling and drug trafficking.  Multiple religious factions are present ranging from pious to the demonic, each with their own agenda on taking control of the land.  Ethnic political groups struggle against each other for control of wealth and commerce, often with criminal and religious connections. 

 

The Activity

Activity in-game is free-roaming, choose your own adventure.  NPCs have faction ties and hints to exploration, but do not offer conventional quests.  Clicking 'Interesting Places' on an NPC dialog might have them tell you about a cave southwest of town.  Clicking 'I want something' on an NPC could tell you that they want to buy certain items that exist in the world.  However, NPC interaction is not required and it's just as easy to play the game by exploring feature locations around the world.

 

Tasks are item based.  Picking up an ancient silver sword does not start a conventional quest.  The item is a weapon and can be equipped and used as such.  Clicking "Inspect" on an item might reveal that the sword has marking with a name "GW Marshall of Calendril" indicating that someone in Calendril might be interested in the sword.  Not all items are unique in this way.  'Inspect' on most items yields 'Nothing special'.

 

Activity locations can be setup so they are dynamically populated.  If one clears a cave infested with snakes / deadly spiders then leaves, one might return to find the cave populated with vampires.

 

Content Gating

Some activity locations can only be entered if the player character has the appropriate 'key'.  Finding a ruby scarab in a cave might result in an 'inspect' that mentions that it looks like some sort of key.  A wall in an ancient ruin could have a slot that looks like a scarab, and using the scarab in the slot would open a secret passage.

 

This mechanism allows storyline arcs, plus provides a way to keep low level characters out of high level content.  In the above example, if one was capable of killing the vampires in order to get the ruby scarab, they are also ready to enter the secret passage.

 

Not all areas are gated.  A low level (low skill values, crappy gear) might explore their way into a high level content area only to be stomped by whatever populates it.  I consider this appropriate because it adds a balance of risk versus reward into exploration gameplay.

 

...

TO BE CONTINUED

...

 

* Why do I call it, "You're not playing it right"?

Simple answer:  Modern PVE themeparks discourage self-directed gameplay.  The kind of gameplay where I go where I want, and do what I want, because I want to do it, NOT because some NPC wants me to slay 10 rats.

 

However, it's not impossible to play a PVE themepark as if it was a Free-Roaming Adventure.  I do it all the time.  When I tell others how I play, they tell me "You're not playing it right".  They are correct, I'm not.  I'm playing it how I want to play it.

 

Anyway, that's how I came up with YNPIR.  Ugh, what a horrid acronym.  :-)

 

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 2:43:20 PM#88
@Gobla I think learning the "magical pocket dimension" spell and then, as one gets stronger, being able to maintain a larger "pocket" with your magic, could be an immersive part of a fantasy world.  But other kinds of portable houses are also fun.  I don't understand how it would prevent ghost towns if they don't despawn when the player logs out, though.
  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 2:56:09 PM#89
@ZombieKen I'm not sure I'd have the patience to play in a world like that.  Though, I don't have the patience to play Sims games or Minecraft, so my personal requirement to have the game present me with some goals I can pursue says nothing about the quality of games I can't get into because they are goalless.  The no-war part is nice, but I'm kind of tired of encountering crime in fiction and games (one of my least-favorite parts of Skyrim, after all the horror-themed stuff), and I personally like flashier, more romanticized settings.  But I can see why that kind of game would have a ton of replay value.  Seems like it would work well with a historical or faux historical setting, something other than the medieval european culture everyone's seen so many times.  I'm not 100% sure what the player's goals would be while playing; in completely non-linear games the only goals I tend to come up with on my own are saving up to buy something or collecting crafting materials to craft something.  Exploring only interests me if I'm going to find pieces of story or if I'm trying to complete some collection/remove all the unknown areas from my map.
  gobla

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1414

C'est la vie.

12/16/13 3:17:52 PM#90
Originally posted by sunandshadow
@Gobla I think learning the "magical pocket dimension" spell and then, as one gets stronger, being able to maintain a larger "pocket" with your magic, could be an immersive part of a fantasy world.  But other kinds of portable houses are also fun.  I don't understand how it would prevent ghost towns if they don't despawn when the player logs out, though.

Depending on the exact nature of the portable house you could just have them keep moving or flying around.

Build a house atop a turtle, when you log off your turtle will wander off to start grazing or something. When you log back on you can whistle it back or summon it.

Certainly you'd probably want to make them despawn if their owner hasn't logged on for a week or so, but even there their portable nature works in their favor. They're expected to move.

A static farmhouse being there today and gone without a trace tomorrow is weird. A house atop a turtle being there today and gone without a trace tomorrow is completely natural, easy to assume the turtle just wandered off.

Certainly the whole idea isn't without it's disadvantages, can't really do very big buildings and keep them portable in most settings. And much less of a sense of settling down most like.

We are the bunny.
Resistance is futile.
''/\/\'''''/\/\''''''/\/\
( o.o) ( o.o) ( o.o)
(")("),,(")("),(")(")

  User Deleted
12/16/13 3:31:57 PM#91

I sort of see it as a full-world easter egg hunt.  Both in the literal sense of exploring to find reward, and in the sense that developers hide content and you have to search to find it.  I agree, it's definitely a niche concept.  I know my GF despises unstructured gameplay, and excels at completing tasks, while I complete tasks only out of necessity and enjoy unstructured.

 

One other thing hit me while drawing up the start of the document.  Damn, that would be one huge pile of work to plan and plant all those easter eggs.  For any decent longevity, there would need to be a hundred or so of each kind of activity location.  Develop a small arc story, place the objects, place the clues and rewards on NPCs.  It works out to be an insanely large task.  Several hundred items and thousands of lines of NPC dialog.

 

Oh well, off to look at alternatives.  Bored and speeding my ass off, I have to do something or I'll fidget myself to death.  *sigh*

 

By the way.  If I may ask, would you consider doing a concept document for what you have in mind?  I'm of the opinion that it could be helpful in establishing a consensus on target.  Also for recruiting, people who find the concept as a positive would be more likely to sign-on.

 

  gobla

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/30/07
Posts: 1414

C'est la vie.

12/16/13 4:07:54 PM#92
Originally posted by ZombieKen

One other thing hit me while drawing up the start of the document.  Damn, that would be one huge pile of work to plan and plant all those easter eggs.  For any decent longevity, there would need to be a hundred or so of each kind of activity location.  Develop a small arc story, place the objects, place the clues and rewards on NPCs.  It works out to be an insanely large task.  Several hundred items and thousands of lines of NPC dialog.

Could try to procedurally generate it, would even help even more with longevity.

Generate random factions from a pool of preset motives, backgrounds, equipment preferences and skills. Have them hole up in a random dungeon, changing decorations inside to match their background, equipment and skills. Then generate various related missions for players to complete. Keep some things vague intentionally so players can imagine and fill in the fine details themselves.

With enough pools to draw from and each of them with enough variety and you can easily generate a huge amount of different content. Certainly patterns would eventually emerge, but that's really also the case with hand-written quests, I mean how often have bandits kidnapped relatives and wild animals eaten precious heirlooms by now?

We are the bunny.
Resistance is futile.
''/\/\'''''/\/\''''''/\/\
( o.o) ( o.o) ( o.o)
(")("),,(")("),(")(")

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 5:23:54 PM#93

@gobla given that my rough story concept has an ecology theme, and that I also had an idea for an enlarging spell to be the way a bred pet monster is converted into a mount, do you think it would be satisfying to have the personal farm be in a terrarium or dollhouse which is usually carried in the backpack and then enlarged when the player wants to enter it.

But I do think it's a good thing to restrict the maximum size of what players can build to a house with fields and outbuildings.  Players won't emotionally connect to an NPC village as their home town if they can build their own equivalent of a village.  Identifying with an NPC village as a chosen home could be a strong ingredient in one's faction identity. :)

 

@zombieken Yes I can make a concept document, though I'm not sure I would want to use it for recruiting.  I want to draw a clear line between the clear core that isn't negotiable and all this stuff like story and housing which is negotiable and a good place for fresh ideas to be injected by others.  I want to say clearly that even though I have been using my WildWright story and gameplay concept as my starting point, I am willing to set it aside and come up with something completely different, as long as it could be the same _type_ of MMO.

But, perhaps a concept document for WildWright could serve as a prompt for people to respond to (or respond against) in the first or second big meeting?  Now I'm the one thinking out loud.  @neonaka I want your opinion on this too - do you think we should be developing alternate concepts, like for a game where the animalistic ingredient takes the gameplay form of shapeshifting instead of pet taming?  @monocrome you too, I was wondering if you disliked the fantasy setting of WildWright and would like to suggest an alternative?

Anyway, be back later with a document describing WildWright.  If nothing else it will be useful as a template to generate more concept documents for alternate concepts.

  User Deleted
12/16/13 6:02:22 PM#94
Originally posted by gobla
Originally posted by ZombieKen

One other thing hit me while drawing up the start of the document.  Damn, that would be one huge pile of work to plan and plant all those easter eggs.[...]

Could try to procedurally generate it, would even help even more with longevity.

 

[...]

but that's really also the case with hand-written quests, I mean how often have bandits kidnapped relatives and wild animals eaten precious heirlooms by now?

 

I've had good luck with procedurally generating databases in the past.  I have to kick that around.

 

Another thing I've been thinking of is optimization through minimalization.  Sort of like how far can I strip down the system before it is no longer a system.  I keep coming back to simulation versus game.  If I can provide enough activity through mechanics, do I even need to say WHY an NPC wants something?  After all many people don't read quest text anyway.  Couldn't it be enough to add the name and location of the NPC who wants an item, and leave it at that?

 

Item Dropped:  'a fine antique silver sword'

/use gem of identification

Identification:  'an heirloom sword, take to JD Marshall, Blacksmith in Anandamide'

 

You take it to the guy, who replies with an obligatory thank-you, a reward and maybe a breadcrumb to something or somewhere else.

 

Generating these procedurally would be fast.  In parallel do dungeon population and decoration based on round-robin from a set of templates.  Does it matter if the sword drops from a boss spider or boss vampire in a cave?  As long as it only drops once and in the right place, who cares?

 

...

 

Animals eating precious heirlooms  :-)  Yeah, I've seen that a few times.

 

 

  User Deleted
12/16/13 6:09:26 PM#95

@ SunAndShadow:  Cool deal.  I didn't know you had a story.  Looking forward to seeing what you have in mind.

 

I see my value to the group as more technical than design.  I'm pretty much just hanging out until the time comes when someone asks 'How can that be built?'.  Hoping to be helpful then, along with a couple others who seem to be quite in touch with the tech side of things.

 

In retrospect, it's sort of amazing how many facets the term "design" has with MMORPGs.  To one it's world and story, to another it's models and textures for armor, to another it is networking and database creation.  Yet in language we lump these all together as if they were one thing.  Communication is an odd animal.

 

 

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 9:52:08 PM#96

@zombieken I would personally define design as "Envisioning, then clearly describing in writing and/or diagrams, something one wants to create; this process inherently involves lots of decisionmaking to solve problems, so design may also be equated to problem-solving decisionmaking."  So the thing one wants to create can be any element of a game, including graphics, gameplay, story, server structure, etc.  Or of course design also happens in fields unrelated to gaming.

I was thinking about how to explain my WildWright design, and I was remembering your earlier mention of layers of design, and I realized that it would probably be more helpful if I separated the high-level parts of WildWright's design, which apply to pretty much any MMO I would want to help design and develop, from the mid-level ones specific to WildWright, which I could replace with some other concept and still be happy.

So here are my three high-level concepts that underlie a lot of my MMO design philosophy and opinions/choices:

1. Starfish-shaped game:

Philosophy: Players shouldn't be pushed or forced to do anything in an MMO.  This specifically includes: group gameplay, PvP, PvE, questing, and any case where it's necessary to do one type of gameplay before being allowed to do a completely different type of gameplay, or to be able to continue doing a completely different type of gameplay that you have been interrupted from by a requirement to do something different from what you were already happily doing.

Design response: An MMO should include diverse types of gameplay; this is good for players to not get bored of the game because they can switch up what they are doing according to their mood, and also contributes to all players feeling that the game world is realistic and big.  Though players enter the game in a standardized location and story context (the center of the starfish, the tutorials for basic gameplay) they should immediately be able to go start progressing in a type of gameplay they are interested in (an arm of the starfish) without being required to do other types of gameplay (the other arms of the starfish).

2. Interactive story core, sandbox peripherals:

Philosophy: Full sandbox games always feel dissatisfying and empty because the meaninglessness of the contents of the game world makes the players' actions within the game world also feel meaningless.  Full linear themepark games feel dissatisfying because the non-interactability of the world and the lack of choice makes players feel railroaded and, again, like their actions within the game world are meaningless because they are not making choices that express their personalities and opinions, nor is the game world reacting to them as an individual.  In an MMO it additionally becomes necessary to make sure each player has as much freedom as they can be given without being able to use that freedom to sabotage other players' activities withing the game.  Players need to not only have "freedom to" but also "freedom from".  Freedom to exercise their creativity and individuality, but freedom from harassment, theft, and having their creations defaced or destroyed.

Design response: The only way to give players a meaningful experience in an MMO is through interactive story.  Players should be given philosophically meaningful choices about how to develop their character within the world, rather than rigid pre-game choices that have no interactive consequences within the game.  In other words, players should absolutely not be presented with an array of rigid classes to choose from, nor should visual character customization or customization by spending stat points happen before the game begins.  Once within the game players should be given neither a rigid linear storyline nor a lack of story; instead players need to be invited repeatedly, throughout the game, to make choices that express their personality, and then the game needs to recognize the choices that the player has made via responding to the player in an individualized way.  Mechanisms of responding to the player's choices include tracking the avatar's reputation with NPC factions, tracking the avatar's friendly and romantic relationships with individual NPCs, and displaying a different-looking game world to a player whose actions logically should have altered the game's appearance.  This sequences of choices and responses is the heart of the game that gives the play experience meaning.  That's the interactive story core part.

The sandbox peripherals part involves giving the player one or more sandboxes to creatively build things in, with the caveat that these sandboxes must be protected from other players to preserve a positive gameplay experience.  Referring back to the starfish concept, players should be able to play exclusively in their sandbox area if they prefer not to pursue the game's interactive story, or should be able to exclusively pursue the game's interactive story if they are not interested in the sandbox(es).  The "coreness" of the interactive story vs. the "peripheralness" of the sandbox(es) describes the structure of the game's design only, these terms are not intended to indicate that the interactive story portion should be more important or a larger percentage of available gameplay than other portions of the design.

3. Ease: Economic, Communication, Transportation, Matchmaking, Collecting, and Showing Off

Ease is in general about enabling players to do what they want to do (without annoyances, delays, or lack of in-game support) and thus builds on the starfish concept that players shouldn't be forced to do things they don't want to do.

Economic Ease: An MMO should always have a global marketplace, never player shops.  If the game has a cash-shop currency it should be tradable through this marketplace.  This marketplace should be accessible from the game GUI/menu, not specific physical locations withing the game.  Items being should through the marketplace should be sortable in specific ways, specifically including price per unit.  There should be seller-helper features to automate listing multiple copies of the same lot, and tracking what price the player previously listed the same lot for, as well as what the current lowest price for one of that lot is in the marketplace.  If the game has bartering, barter-lots should be searchable through the same global interface.  In-person trades should be done through a safe interface where both players have to approve the whole trade while being able to examine the details of all items being traded.

Communication Ease: Players should be encouraged to converse with each other in one or more public chat channels or message boards/forums within the game, as well as given the ability to create private versions of these and manage which other players are allowed to enter them.  Global chat should not be restricted with cash-shop items.

Transportation Ease: For cases where players are expected to play together, such as team PvP, the game should make it automatic for avatars to be transported into the PvP arena when a match begins and returned to where they were in the game world when the match ends.  Minigames also should be payable from anywhere in the world, if the player has unlocked them or posses the token necessary to play that game, etc.  Building the physical game universe around a central capital city would also maximize ease of travel between the area and successive PvE areas, which could be located in a 2D circle or 3D sphere around this central capital city.  Restrictions on entering higher-level PvE areas are fine, but there should generally not be restrictions on returning.  (A potential exception: a gameplay mechanic where an avatar is placed in jail by a law enforcement NPC or held captive by a villain NPC.)

Ease of Matchmaking: PvP should be supported by a smart matchmaking function, as well as auto-assigning handicaps when pairing players of unequal level.  Players waiting to be matched should be able to continue playing in the world as usual while waiting, though they might be barred from starting a minigame.  If a game has party-requiring dungeons at all, it should also have a function to matchmake parties for specific dungeons and auto-transport people into and out of the dungeon the same way PvP works.

Ease of Collecting and Showing Off: One of the largest sources of value in playing an MMO rather than a single-player game is the social interaction of viewing other's possessions and accomplishments, forming personal goals based on what one has seen, then receiving comments on one's own possessions and accomplishments.  Many players enjoy collecting, but most games fail to give players any way to display their collections to each other, such as mannequins which can display an outfit the player isn't currently wearing, display cases of collected items such as weapons/plushies/gemstones/vases/statues, or some kind of stable/paddock/fishtank/garden where a collection of pets/mounts/plants can be displayed.  All of these should be provided to encourage collectors, and should be accessible to other players by clicking on an avatar's name or on the avatar itself.  A gazette and associated achievements are also elements that should be included to encourage completists and collectors.  A gazette is a multi-functional part of a game's infrastructure that can be used by the game itself to figure out when achievements are achieved, customize NPC dialogue to match an avatar's past actions, and generate pseudo-random rare drops (in many cases preferable to true random rare drops).

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/16/13 11:41:01 PM#97

WildWright specific concept:

Story genre: Biofantasy adventure.  Mostly cheerful with romance and humor elements.  The player begins the game as a teenage WildWright (nature-elemental magical humanoid species, only playable race).  The player earns recognition as an adult by completing a survival test (set of tutorials for the game's basic types of gameplay including combat and crafting).  So the first part of the game should convey the popular "setting off on your pokemon journey" feeling.  By doing the quests that make up the game's interactive story the player's avatar can mature into a rich powerful, basically immortal mage who is admired as a hero by the NPCs of their culture and has a whole harem of NPC love interests living at their self-built mansion.  (You can stick to one love interest or none if you prefer.)  A fairly standard bildungsroman progression from "you have no stuff" to "you win at life".  It's also possible to take a 'dark' path through the game to become a supervillain-like figure instead.  And the whole quest-based story is optional; players who prefer to PvP or race mounts or play minigames all day can take a role of mercenary, celebrity gladiator, pro gambler, pro jockey, or no role at all.  The basic 'good' alignment favors increasing life/diversity, and also favors balance.  The two 'bad' alignments favor stasis on the one extreme and chaos on the other extreme.  These alignments help add roleplay flavor to PvP as well as the PvE portions of the game.

Setting: The universe of WildWright is a "space-ocean" filled with breathable atmosphere called the Airsea.  Floating throughout The Airsea are asteroid reefs, airfish and other flying/swimming creatures including dragons and pegasi, and most importantly fragmilands.  Fragmilands are islands which resemble mini flat-earths.  People (Wildwrights, there are no humans in this setting) live in one village per each large fragmiland; the rest of the island is wild territory where monsters live, crafting ingredients can be gathered, and player housing can be placed, plus an instanced dungeon or two.  Fragmilands have an upper cliff and cloud layer accessible by flying mount.  Most WildWright villages have a unique culture and an NPC faction using that village as its home base; players are encouraged to join one or more of these factions, work their way up the ranks, and consider the home village of that faction their own home village.  Players can travel between fragmilands by riding flying wooden sailing ships run by NPCs, or by riding a flying mount (this is the only way to explore the asteroid reefs).  The starting area is the central capital of the universe; it is a faction-neutral fragmiland devoted to creating a safe place for childrearing and education, and has also grown into a center of trade and entertainment (pvp arena, racing, minigames).

The art style of all this is colorful, beautiful, and anime-influenced.  Presumably 3D, and the world is built on a square grid (8-directional functionality).

Specific Gameplay Chosen To Fit The Story and World: A major benefit of biomagic is appearance customization.  Player avatars start out rather boring looking, as young WildWrights are basically humans until they learn to use their nature magic.  But as they master their magic (or earn PvP/minigame rewards such as appearance-customization services from an NPC skilled in magic) players can customize their character's appearance to an extreme degree, such as adding wings and tails, changing skin color, changing hair color, changing hair styles, adding tattoos, etc.

Players who master crafting (or earn money from PvP/minigames to buy from crafters) can customize their clothing, mount, and personal property as well.  Crafting is done primarily on the player's personal property (except drop-hunting from monsters).  [Description of portable housing omitted here because I just explained it a few posts ago.]  Crafting includes growing crops which are then used as crafting materials, building appliances which unlock new crafting operations, and pet breeding which requires nests and stables or paddocks.  Crafting is also related to minigame playing; some crafting operations are carried out by playing a minigame, which determines the quality of the resulting craft.  All clothing and gear in the game is crafted, it does not drop from monsters.  Though patterns can sometimes be bought from NPCs or received as PvP rewards.  Clothing and gear in general are bind-on-equip.

Pet taming is another major benefit of biomagic, and can be considered a sub-type of crafting, since it is the source of wild monsters which are the raw material for pet breeding.  Players can collect one of every monster type in the universe, and breed for hybrids that cannot be found in the universe.  (All monsters in the game are assembled from a standard array of approximately 50 3D monster parts, and all come in a standard array of colors plus a smaller standard array of patterns.  The 'genetics' of a monster describes the set of parts they are made out of plus the color they are; it is not a realistic genetic system, because those aren't very fun as gameplay.  Monsters do not have gender; any monster can be bred to any other monster, and there are no inbreeding restrictions or tracking of family trees.  All monsters lay eggs, even mammals.)  Tamed pets are the units with which tactical combat is fought.  Pets can be converted into mounts with a growth spell that makes them big enough to ride.

 

I swear these get longer in between when I finish writing them and when they appear in the thread! lol.  Anyway I had some other fragmentary ideas about this WildWright concept, but this is everything that is pretty firm and not an irrelevantly small detail, like the specific tutorial tasks.  Hope your eyes didn't glaze over too much from the wall of text. ^_^;

  User Deleted
12/17/13 10:41:48 AM#98

Very unique.  Closest I've seen to this would be SMT:Imagine, mostly from the pet breeding side.  My mind's eye visualization of the world artwork feels like a cross between Aika (bright colorful world) and Allods Online (floating islands, flying ships), with a touch of Zentia (anime meets disney) for architecture.  I imagine character art similar to Final Fantasy XIV.

 

You mentioned weapons, and tactical pet combat.  Is there player character combat?

 

From a tech standpoint, it's going to need a very strong character system to handle all the customization and pets.  Torque, that I work with, isn't even remotely capable of doing half as much.

 

  sunandshadow

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/13
Posts: 605

 
OP  12/17/13 5:52:28 PM#99
Originally posted by ZombieKen

Very unique.  Closest I've seen to this would be SMT:Imagine, mostly from the pet breeding side.  My mind's eye visualization of the world artwork feels like a cross between Aika (bright colorful world) and Allods Online (floating islands, flying ships), with a touch of Zentia (anime meets disney) for architecture.  I imagine character art similar to Final Fantasy XIV.

 

You mentioned weapons, and tactical pet combat.  Is there player character combat?

 

From a tech standpoint, it's going to need a very strong character system to handle all the customization and pets.  Torque, that I work with, isn't even remotely capable of doing half as much.

Allods is a pretty good example of what I had in mind; FFXIV is too realistic.  What does a character system consist on in this context?  Because my first interpretation was (ability to connect 3D models together to assemble pets and clothe characters, but I wasn't sure if you meant that side of it).

With combat, I did think it would be ideal to have two different combat systems: one that's real-time and give players adrenaline thrills; that would be the avatar one.  The other that's turn-based but the slow pace and terrain as a factor make more complex and interesting tactics possible; that would be the pet monster one.  But then I wasn't convinced the amount of development effort would really be worth it.  Both would have both PvP and PvE uses.  That's exactly what I need other team members critiquing my design ideas for; because an MMO is something that's going to involve a lot of development work, but it's hard to tell where to draw a line because it's too much.

  User Deleted
12/17/13 6:50:56 PM#100
Originally posted by sunandshadow
What does a character system consist on in this context?  Because my first interpretation was (ability to connect 3D models together to assemble pets and clothe characters, but I wasn't sure if you meant that side of it).

 

Yep, you have it.  Roughly defined as "engine C++ that prepares and presents character art in a 3D environment".

 

In general, the more flexible the customization, the more difficult the character system.

 

Character art and customization has become a huge thing in MMORPGs, because games use this as a strong selling point for people who want to heavily personalize their avatar(s).  In the last 10 years this has pushed tech that was previously only used in CGI into games.  Before that, customization was pretty much limited to swapping textures and maybe a couple mount points on the model for weapon, hair, shoulders, etc.

 

Now we're looking at morph targets (mesh deformation for body shape changes), mesh hiding (clothing that stays on the model but hides when not in use), conforming clothing (clothing rigged as character art that renders after the character has been drawn), texture blending (tinting), and texture layering (tatoos) to name a few.

 

Add in relief mapping (ultra high geometry resolution faked in rendering), specularity mapping (certain parts shiny), and then animating all of this, it's quite a load on the system.  (not to mention the art department  )

 

...

 

One side unique to your design is the snap together pets.  I have my doubts that this is achievable on the fly.  More than likely every possible pet combination will need to be assembled manually, with a file name based on the combination of genetics used for the animal.  Then at run-time, when a pet is needed, the name calculated based on genetics and then the model loaded as an art asset for rendering.

 

Unless the identical skeleton is used for every combination (not likely) then each will also need a set of matching animations based on how it is expected to move in game.  They will also need their own textures.

 

Even if the base genetics is option A + option B = Pet, if there are 50 of each option that's 2,500 pet models.  With animation and textures, and figuring each is worth about $1,000 USD, that's two and a half million dollars worth of work to generate pets.

 

I'm hoping someone with experience in high end character art and/or systems can chime in, but I don't think I'm too far off reality on this.  If my math is off, for example it's only 50 possible pet combinations, then it's not nearly as labor intensive.

 

...

 

No opinion on the combat system(s).  I'm familiar with real-time tab target and real-time projectile (as in FPS), but not turn based, and I've never seen a pet battle system other than hunter pets in tab-target.

 

Overall I haven't found that combat coding is very difficult (outside of FPS style conversion from tab-target).  Having multiple forms of combat in a platform doesn't seem unrealistic.

 

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