|6 posts found|
General: The Way Back Machine: My Ultimate MMORPG
News & Features Discussion « General Discussion
3/03/11 8:01:38 PM
From the sounds of things, the MMORPGs everybody wants now fall under the Open-world/Sandbox category. Or, in other words, instead of more WoWs we want more UOs (Ultima Online). I agree, a new Ultima Online would be the most awesome thing to happen to the genre. Sadly, those aren't exactly the easiest MMORPGs to develop, most likely because the style hasn't been prodded enough to be determined successful for MMORPGs. Ironically, you may say games like UO helped make the MMORPG genre potentially successful using a P2P system (and soon I predict they will all be heading towards F2P), people looked towards the way Everquest did things because it was a competitor at the time, and it was percieved to be more addicting/fun/clingy than UO.
Ever since Everquest, the linear progression system used in many MMORPGs today, including WoW, has dominated because it was predictable. P2P subscription systems have determined that players who played over the course of months during their subscription would grant more profit and maintenence fees for workers, servers, and content for the developing company of an MMORPG. And adding to the potential cost to resources and time to develop an MMORPG (and it gets very, very expensive), most companies will want a guaranteed return on this investment and thus need to lower the unpredictability of the result. To do that, you develop a game that uses what people have grown accustomed to (why change what isn't broke?), design the progression in the game so that it takes a considerable amount of time to reach the end, but interesting enough to keep a player playing, and finally the hooks that can potentially keep most players around even after seeing the current "end game" content (usually PvP is effective for this). The Linear Progressive formula seen in Everquest, WoW, and dozens of other MMORPGs is considered the most viable, mainly because of WoW's big success.
Personally, I believe you can't actually dethrone the "king" by imitating him. If I were to design an MMORPG I would go in a different direction. My marketing goal is to pick up the players who fall through the cracks and can't get into games like WoW, as those players desire a different gaming experience. That population should be large enough to compensate for the expenses of the game development in the long run. However, things will get a lot cheaper once we can get some 3rd party MMORPG engines out there, as those will cut down the game development time by tons. Until then, it is still like joining the Yacth club and buying a boat all in one sitting.
Thinking about coming back when Stygian Abyss hits.
Britannia Tavern (General) « Ultima Online
7/17/09 5:50:17 AM
I used to play this game around the time Renaissance was about, and I played it up until Mondain's Legacy (sorry, but Elves in an Ultima game just killed it for me. There is a reason the Avatar didn't encounter any elves Ultima 4 and beyond. Richard pretty much retconned them from the game). However, upon hearing about Stygian Abyss, and checking out the website, I finally decided that Electronic Arts is now attempting to make Ultima Online feel more like an Ultima game by including something that actually exists in the series (i.e. Giant underground world, gargoyles, some nostalgic music). So I'm thinking about coming back when the expansion hits.
So, what am I going to expect when I come back to this game? Are there going to be any players running around? Do players still dye their armor in the way similar to what a neon rainbow's throw up looks like? Are Elves still capable of wearing "every" piece of equipment while humans can only wear equipment that is not elven. How many kinds of mounts are stomping about now? Can I still herd sheep? If I cooked a roll, would I get any benefit from eating it besides being notified that I feel full(er)? I'm guessing there are no house spots now? Is PvP still borked? Did they balance Insurance by making equipment cost variable amounts of money based on how good it is? Is the economy still super inflated? Do people actually group up anymore? I assume I don't have to make a Bard or Tamer to make money at the get go anymore?
If I think of anymore questions, I'll post them.
How do you stay motivated to keep playing your games?
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
7/15/09 1:01:18 AM
To avoid sounding too pessimistic (but I think I'm too funny) I'll share what I used to help me stick to games longer. I'd have to agree the best way to stick into an MMORPG would probably be goals.
Whether it's a sandbox or a theme park MMORPG, give yourself some goals to work towards. Never make outrageous goals like being a server first, those tend to happen when they happen and usually within the first day of whatever new content was released. Pick goals that you can do, and pick more than one goal that coincides or can be attained along the way.
For example, if you're playing WoW:
Leveling - Make it a goal to get to a certain level. Use milestones like level 20, level 40, level 60, level 70, and level 80. Along the way you'll get rewards like the ability to use mounts at level 20 (when the 3.2 patch hits, that is).
Guild - Make it a goal to join a guild and actually help it achieve greatness. Some players join guilds that do well enough, but they become frustrated at the content they are equipped to do. Maybe you can make it a goal to push them harder.
L2P - Make it a goal to actually know what the heck you're doing. You are the special one out of group who doesn't rely heavily and cheap tactics or abused strategies in PvP. You want to be entirely independent when it comes to manning your character in combat. Nerfs to your class simply become "changes" to your gameplay.
Achievements - Blizzard added these with Wrath of the Lich King, and they are pretty simple to understand. Maybe make it a goal to push to completing as many achievements with a character (or multiple characters) as you can. Strive to complete harder ones, or seasonal ones.
Those are some examples of goals. Some like L2P are slightly more abstract, and abstract goals tend to be harder to achieve because it's hard to draw a definitive line.
Even in sandbox games can have goals, I developed some in Ultima Online:
Buy a Castle - Or any house, this is a major step in this game so it's a pretty good goal to have. The bigger the house you can land, the more room and stuff you can lock down. You can make these houses look very nice or use them for functionality.
GM a skill - This is another no brainer, get your skills to 100.0.
Become a Dyed Freakshow - Apparantly this is a popular goal for players in the game now, for some reason. Grab a neon dye tub, find various artifacts, and don't stop until you look like a rainbow threw up onto a neon sign.
Solo the Lethal Monsters with a Template not Suited for Them - I remember when taking on a dragon with a sword and board was considered suicidal, but kind of awesome. Now it's less of an achievement as anyone can do it, but there are plenty of things in the game that will murder anyone stupid enough to get close to it.
Those are just some examples. Sandbox MMOs tend to be far harder for players to get into because of the lack of an actual direction, so goals help.
How do you stay motivated to keep playing your games?
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
7/14/09 8:15:51 AM
I'm not sure why I still play MMOs. The best MMO I will ever play came out in 1997 and so far nothing ever came close to Ultima Online. Star Wars Galaxies was pretty close, but it took Sony Online Entertainment even less time to screw up what they had than it took Electronic Arts with Ultima Online. However, I can't change the past without causing a population explosion among flesh eating ape demons in the world, although tempting it may be, so I have to roll along with the lesser... uh new generation MMOs.
I think what keeps me playing these games is information. I'm heading into the video game industry at some point, and knowing what the competition is going to be like is pretty helpful. Although, it doesn't look like I'll have to try too hard to get a good legging into the market at this point, I can only pray that big business pushes the look-alike contests for 3 or 4 more years so I can emasculate them with some originality. Sure, it may not be a WoW killer, but I'm not going for a ginormous subscription base, I'm going for the furtherment of MMO technology. You don't have to make a ton of money to enjoy what you do.
Secondly, I guess boredom is a key reason to play these games. It's slightly like alcohol, in that it guzzles your wallet, your time, and your IQ, and sometimes you spend all night doing it. All-nighters aren't a good sign, I think that's like 5 on the list of addictive symptoms. Though, sometimes you got to pull them off if you want to see what the big boys do on weekends at the level cap. It wouldn't have been too bad if these games never had a sense of forced efficiency on players. I'd like to play the way I want to play, but if I did then I'd never have access to end game content, be competitive in PvP, and guilds will call me derogative words and pour laxitive in my coffee. Ultima Online never had this as a problem, the game wasn't about efficiency but about being what you wanted to be. I mean, they had a herding skill. Even I think that's useless, but you know someone had to have spent time working on it and that's ok, it's his cup of goat lactose.
Thirdly, false hope. I always wonder when the Ultima Online 2.0 will spring up. If ever. I don't know why these companies fear the superiority of the sandbox MMORPG. I think I have the formula down to making a simple and great sandbox game. Not the coding of course, that crud is hard, I'll make other people do the coding. I won't be expecting someone to make an Oblivion MMO, but the concepts are out there and they can work. Of course you won't make a ton of money, which may be the tie breaker for these companies. I don't have any hate for how the free market works, but everyone will flock to what makes money, and sometimes that means actual progress in the genre will slow down. However, all it will take is some indie developer to make something golden and neuter whatever pride other developers had in making MMOs. Then the companies will bow to their god-like superior and bake them cookies and brownies for the next 25 years which will be their reign of dominance. Of course that's how I think it should work.
Anyways, I'm probably going to drop World of Warcraft, as I have not nearly enough time to devote to stroking my e-go. Lord of the Rings Online I'll stick to for a little while longer, it was good so far until Mines of Moria released. If they don't bring things around soon, I may have to look for a new MMO. Or maybe I will get started on my own.
What property would you most like to see made into an MMO?
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
7/13/09 3:25:45 AM
Hmm, well I always had a couple of what-ifs.
One would be a Quest for Glory MMORPG. Players can complete hero school, and wander around Spielsburg and other locations and be the hero they think they are. But only to die in some obvious and humiliating, yet, humorous way, possibily involving some innuendo *nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more* or a purple saurus. Also, x-ray glasses. I'm sure many players won't become paladins anytime soon.
Or maybe a Zork MMO (if one doesn't already exist). I can only imagine how it would be done, maybe something close to Uru. Besides, it's pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
Death penalties in mmorpgs: Are they becoming less punishing?
The Pub at MMORPG.COM « General Discussion
7/13/09 2:18:52 AM
Dieing in an MMORPG. Teeth have to bite and claws must rake. Sometimes feeling the pain is a part of the gain. However, I'd have to say that MMOs are slowly ditching the pain and focusing entirely on the gain. When players complain about getting ganked on their World of Warcraft PvP server, they have no idea how much worse it could have been if the designers went with a system akin to Ultima Online's. I have had several experiences with MMO death systems.
Incoming somewhat long text.
Everquest had a good death system that was both penalizing and a nuisance. When a player died, his corpse, and all of his belongings are left at the spot of his death. The player returns to a location he last bound his soul to. Not only was he stock naked but his exp takes a dive. If the player can not get a ressurection from a friendly cleric or paladin he must run back to his corpse and loot it to recieve his gear again. (This is why my main was an Iksar Monk, feign death is a god-send) However, this has changed by the time I left the game. Expansions added Guild Halls that allowed players to summon their corpse back for a fee, where they can get the ressurection from the 50ish number of clerics that sat around in between raids and groups. I wouldn't mind the death system being eased a bit, but now death felt more like a slap on the wrist instead of a goblin's spear through the pancreas.
World of Warcraft offers a less punishing solution as well. At death, the most damage you recieve is to your gear. You can run back to your corpse and continue the fight (unless you are in an instance, in which case you have to work your way back to the spot you fell), and your equipment only takes a percentage of damage to durability. Of course, the player can choose to ressurect at the spirit healer, but accrue a large durability and exp penalty as well as a 5 minute ressurection sickness, debuffing your stats to the point where a meer rabbit looks daunting.
Lord of the Rings Online offers a middle ground in difficulty. Defeated players to wait until their morale is lifted by a friendly Minstrel, Captain, Lore-Master, or Rune-Keeper, or be forced to return to a nearby (or perhaps far) stone circle upon retreating. Recently, Turbine added an option to allow players to revive on the spot, but upon doing so they gain a debuff that prevents them from reviving again until it goes away. And upon reviving or retreating, players accrue a dread debuff that gets more severe with each set of levels. Eventually the dread debuff can quite literally halve the amount of morale (health) a player has, as well as hurting various other statistics until it disappates or a Minstrel relieves the dread from the player.
I believe Ultima Online had the largest difficulty reversal regarding death. It used to be the closest a game could get to the hardcore severity of a roguelike, without making anything truly permanent. Of course, depending on how you played the game, death was more or less severe.
For the average player, it was wise to avoid death when possible. Not only did a player lose all their items on their corpse (minus "newbified" items, or items that stay with the player even after death), but other players "could" loot their corpse. Now, they could because they had the option available, but also the consequence of turning criminal status, or "gray," and being freely attackable by anyone. However, that never stopped looters. After dieing, a player dons the ghost form and begins a trek to the nearest NPC Healer for a ressurection, or if he is lucky there might be a fellow player capable of a similar service through magic or the healing skill. However, most likely by the time he returns to his corpse, it will be picked dry of all his equipment, weaponry, reagents, and loot. Sometimes players will go as far as to take the clothes off his back.
Of course, this was nothing compared to what other players could be penaltalized with upon death. Players who are a part of a faction and die to an enemy factioneer would gain a skill penalty upon ressurection. Skills are some of the most vital gears that make an Ultima Online character function in the world, and with them reduced the player is effectively taken out of combat until the skills return to normalcy. Murderers, especially those who have many "long term murder counts" (I believe it was something like 24 hours of online time per count) would recieve a massive stat-loss upon ressurection. Murderers who die in combat had to remain a ghost to whittle away the stat-loss overtime by waiting out their long term counts. Essentially, their character was unplayable for a couple of days, and they had to be on the character for the time to count. No one said being a murderer would be easy.
However, death taught players valuable lessens in Ultima Online. Being prepared for any situation was vital to success. Players should always plan ahead for the worst case scenario. Put some extra sets of armor and some spare weapons into your bank box, should you fall in battle far from home. Put your gold in the bank as soon as you can. Pick up the hiding skill and train it just enough to effectively avoid close encounters with your friendly neighborhood PKs. Don't bet on close calls, when your low on health that lich over there loves to throw and explosion spell on you when you least expect it. Players played smarter overall because the game will only take away what they were willing to lose.
Sadly, ever since the dawning of the Age of Shadows expansion, death became far less of a nuisance. An insurance system was put in place to "temporarily" newbified weapons and equipment. When I say temporarily, I mean "so long as the player has lots and lots of gold in the bank." Stat-loss was also removed in hopes for players to once again PvP in Felucca, among other incentives. Of course, they added peerless monsters to the game, some of which can make corpses explode, losing whatever items they had on it permanently, but with the insurance system this implementation is more for show. Players love to play within the Trammel facet, so looters and PKs are no longer a part of the equation. Even pet deaths, which used to be permanent, are now brushed aside as pets can be ressurected once they "bond" to the tamer.
I don't really see why death penalties must be lessened. Making games easier may open them to a larger audience, but challenge makes it all more rewarding. I personally feel new MMOs need to consider penalties, if only to make the game challenging and players less suicidal.
Sorry if this is quite long, I tend to be very thorough.