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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

My random thoughts about MMORPGs. A bit of critique, suggestion, debate, and insanity. Enjoy.

Author: BadSpock

My perfect MMORPG - Part 7: PVE (Part 2)

Posted by BadSpock Monday September 24 2007 at 1:46PM
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First off let's talk dungeons.

In my perfect MMORPG, there will be two types of dungeons; open-world crawl dungeons and instanced dungeons.

The open-world crawl dungeons are a throw back to the glory days of UO. Big dungeons with no instancing, and different "levels" or areas of ever increasing difficulty. You simply walk in and start killing stuff. The further into the dungeon you get, the more difficult and numerous the enemies become. Why is this? I want crawl dungeons to be accessible by everyone. Solo players or small groups should be able to handle the first couple of areas, with the deeper areas being more difficult and designed for larger groups and even full raids.

High respawn rates, ownership of enemies going to whoever attacks them first. Very classic, old school, competitive PVE gameplay. Sure, you'll end up with campers and people who try and steal kills, even uber groups farming the spawn of some powerful named "boss" enemy...

But that's what classic MMOs are all about. Because of the way gear works, groups won't have to farm big named bosses for item drops, if your group gets ownership and kills the enemy, everyone in the group is rewarded. That way you don't have to farm ten times in a row to get some special drop for each group/raid member. If you can get to the boss, and kill him, you deserve to get a reward. Plain and simple. 

Why have this in game? It's fun going on an old school dungeon crawl, it's open world, it's competitive PVE gameplay, and it's WAY easier to create then fully scripted and perfectly balanced instanced dungeons.

But you still have to have balanced and instanced dungeons. Yes, just like in WoW, but with a few differences I want to add to make them unique.

First off, the group size for a dungeon will not be a hard cap. Your typical 5-man dungeon could be completed with 3-7 players, and the instance will know how many players you have and adjust mob difficulty / population accordingly. Because of the way the other game systems work, it's must more about skill then level and gear, you won't have instances for level 20-25 and 40-45 for example. Instead, the dungeons will be organized into layers.

Think of layers like a difficulty scale. Other modern MMOs have different wings or branches, but they are all catered to the exact same group size and level range. Not in my perfect MMO.

The first layer will be the easiest, for the low level players and will include the fewest number of scripted encounters and the mob difficulty and population will scale itself to a lowest common denominator. The more advanced layers will be much more difficult, there will be more mobs with higher skills and better coordination, more scripted encounters like mini-bosses and events. Pretty much it'll still scale to the size and level of the player group, but will set to the highest common denominator rather then lowest.

This way you can do an instance once and get everything out of that layer that is possible. No farming over and over again for drops, if you go into the dungeon and kill some boss or complete some event, you'll be rewarded. You'll then repeat the instance later, but not the same layer. You'll move into the second layer and it'll be more difficult and of course give better reward, take longer to complete, etc.

It's kind of like the basic idea WoW had with the heroic difficulty dungeons. But I want to have each dungeon with 4-5 layers that are not all just the same exact area/content but more difficult, but rather each layer opens up new wing/branch of the instance. All of course culminating in some great uber boss battle that will take players of high skill, level, coordination, and courage.

Throw in "save points" at the end of each layer. That way you don't have to repeat the earlier content if you don't want to, and only will have to if one of the players in your group hasn't yet completed the earlier layer. No grinding for reputation to unlock the different difficulties, if you beat one you unlock the next in the chain. Plain and simple.

This way, you can make a single instance dungeon feel more like 4-5 separate instances. You remove the hard cap on group size to allow more flexibility, you eliminate the need to run the same instance over and over and over. You spread out the content so players come back and revisit the location instead of just completing and moving on.

So you complete every layer of the instance, get your rewards, what motivation do you have to come back? Not much, but that's OK. You can help friends who haven't done it of course, but I'd rather have really good content you complete once or twice and move on to the next thing then grind the same instance 40 times in a row for reputation or some special item drop.

This also doesn't keep content "stuck" at the end-game or trivialize earlier game content. The first layer of the dungeon you did at level 15 with 3 people, but you couldn't complete the final layer and end boss until you hit level 40 and brought 6 people.

Raids will work in the exact same way as the instance dungeons, but allow for more players. Still variable numbers, not set in stone at 10 people or 20 people etc. In terms of group size vs. loot quality, the game isn't all about gear so there is no comparison. Raids are for larger groups of players then dungeons. Plain and simple. The difficulty comparison between raids and dungeons is dependent on the layer you are doing, and the organizational level of the group.

That being said, the initial layers of a raid won't be just for end game, because they scale to player level and group size you can really do them at any time. The harder layers will scale to the highest common denominator, so you will have to advanced your character much further to have the skills to complete the challenges.

So why raid instead of just do the instance dungeons? The loot isn't any better, it takes more people thus making it more challenging, so what's the point? The point is that because they are designed for a larger group of players there will be more content, larger areas, more enemies, difficult challenges, and different varied rewards and titles for raiding.

People may have a hard time with the idea that the 5-man dungeons are not practice for 10-man raids, 10-man raids are not warm up for 25-man raids, 40 person raids are not the "end" of the end-game... instead of a linear progression from one to the next, it's a radial progression.

Get more players together, go do something really cool and fun, get rewarded. I don't say loot because it's not about loot, it's about the reward of completing a difficult task with your friends and guildmates, about bragging rights and titles, and it's about having fun. Even between the different raids there won't be a progression where raid A is first then once you clear it you move onto raid B etc. etc.

Get your guild/friends together and go raid this cool place, finish all the challenges of that layer and then move on to the next layer, or go to another raid area and complete a layer of that raid dungeon.

Without uber l337 gear and Tier X item sets and what not from raiding, I do admit that the motivation for raiding isn't as strong as it is in gear dependent games like WoW or EQ2. But I find that to be a good thing. I'd rather give players SO many things to do that the idea of running the same raid every night four nights a week for five hours straight week after week is just ridiculous.

I'd rather make raiding and running instanced dungeons more casual and laid back. Got enough people online in your guild? Group up, form a raid, and go tackle the next layer of a raid dungeon. Not enough people? Hop into a smaller dungeon, or get some people and go do a dungeon crawl, go PVP, run some trade routes, participate in the PVE siege warfare...

It's a game and should be about fun, not a second job. If you and your guild go and complete some epic and difficult raid, everyone on the server will know through the titles you and your guild can display and you'll still have the bragging rights. They'll all know you came together and completed something really difficult. Only difference is you won't have 4/5 set pieces of Tier X raid gear like 50% of the people the same class as you also have.

(If you can't tell I'm a very jaded ex-WoW raider!)

PVE siege warfare... coming next post!

My perfect MMORPG - Part 7: PVE (Part 1)

Posted by BadSpock Friday September 21 2007 at 11:00AM
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So I've covered a LOT of the different aspects of what would be my perfect MMORPG. Still a lot to cover, thanks for reading and commenting! I will go back and update the overview with links to the various sections as I go, please be patient!

On that note...

Player versus Environment. PVE.

So I aim to create this amazing world with awesome character advancement, sweet PVP systems and crafting, a focus on the character and your play style rather then gear, etc.

But what will you be able to do in game?

The first part of PVE I already introduced in the crafting and the economy sections; the Trade Routes system. A mix of combat (if you wish) travel, economics, and crafting. I think my Trade Routes system as an evolutionary step in the right direction to provide repeatable, worthwhile, fun and profitable content without becoming a grind.

I want a storyline that actually matters. Similar to that which we find in single player RPGs that is complete with awesome characters, and a plot filled with twists and turns, character growth and intrigue, and epic struggle.

The only way to pull this off in an MMORPG is through instancing. LOTRO is doing a really good job in regards to crafting that story for the player, with a nice mix of cut scenes, instanced action, plot development and world-changing events. I'd like to follow a similar route.

When you play through the main story arc, most of the play will take you to instanced location for you and even a few friends if you so choose. Players who have already completed the part of the story you are on, or are at the same point will be able to join you in your instanced story elements, but not players who haven't gotten that far yet. You don't want to skip any important story elements because it'll dilute and convolute the story for that player.

It's hard to do a good, character driven story in a MMORPG because every player character is different. So you focus the story on a group of NPC characters and events, villains and objectives that are important to the NPC characters you make the story revolve around. The player becomes a participant observer in the story, playing a key role in all plot developments, but the story must revolve around the NPC characters in order for it to work. Just like LOTRO is doing.

I also want the main story line to NOT be level specific, because it is instanced and "private" to your character, it's easy enough to cater the experience around whatever level your character happens to be. And if you remember from my character advancement section, it's more about skills then level in my game anyway.

You can divide the story into a few books, and each book into different chapters. This way, you can have major events occur at the end of books that change the world, and all players still within that book will see the same locations in the world. Guild Wars did it with Ascalon, with the before and after the apocalypse. LOTRO did the same thing with the starting city (can't remember the name) that is burned down during an attack.

This way, you can create world changing story elements without messing up the game for other players that are not yet at that point in the story. So if players don't want to do the main story line, they don't have to, they'll just always see the world as it was before any of the story events. Obviously you WANT people to participate in the story and "advance" the world, so you give incentive to change the world by going through the story: they don't become "stuck" in the old world areas as they existed before the story elements that change them.

Make sense?

Besides the main story line (which of course has an ending) you have side story arcs. These side story arcs are more specific to the area or individuals who initiate the story, and will be handled like your typical MMO standard-fair questing. I don't want "go to x and kill y" just for the sake of doing it. Every quest will be part of a story arc. So instead of 1,000 random quests and 50 quest-chain mini story arcs, every quest will be part of a chain that will form it's own side story arc. For instance, you travel to a new village and all the quests in that village are part of the same story arc. All leading to a big, epic "end" quest for that arc that will close up all the loose ends, and probably lead you to another area for another story arc.

Of course quests will grant you XP and money for completing them. You'll also gain skills for any activity you do that uses your skills. Also, each story arc will be tied to a specific faction or reputation. There will be NO grind. If you complete all the quests for a particular story arc, you will have the maximum reputation with that group or faction. Simple. No grinding for reputation turn ins. If you do everything they ask of you, they will love you. Reputation will grant you titles and various bonuses from vendors/traders from that within that faction/group.

Also, you will have an overarching "Infamy" rating. The only way to advance your Infamy rating will be to complete story arcs for different groups / factions. Your infamy will grant you specific titles much like what we saw in Ultima Online. Things like "The Well Known" to "The Infamous" so and so. Infamy will help you with every faction and every group. You're reputation will precede you, even if you've never been to an area before.

The side story arcs will also grant you the ability to change your Morality. Morality will function as a measure of "good vs. evil" and will open and close some doors for you, leading to additional story arcs and Morality specific content. Through the course of story arcs you'll be able to make choices as to how you wish to accomplish a specific task. These won't be "black and white" choices most of the time, as any choice will have consequences. Whether you are good or evil will not effect your standing with the various factions/groups, as they will praise you for getting the job done. It will also have no effect on your Infamy.

Besides the main plot line and story arcs, you will have missions available to you. These are meant to be for a quick bit of experience, money, and skill advancement. These will be like the missions we saw in SWG, repeatable, quick, and without all too much variation. The missions are designed for the player who doesn't have much time to play and just wants to do something quick and profitable. These are NOT meant for constant grinding, though, you can if you want to of course.

Also I want to have Guild tasks. Not player Guilds, but NPC Guilds such as a Mage's Guild, Adventurer's Guild, Warrior's Guild, Assassin's Guild etc. These will be kind of like side-side story arcs, focusing on proving your merit to the Guild by completing tasks associated with that Guild's desires. Guild membership will grant you access to further challenges, riches, and titles. These are completely optional but a fun way to advance your character further. Getting high enough ranking within the Guild will grant you access to more Guild specific advancement options.

You can imagine typical examples of tasks a Guild will have for you. The Mage's Guild might send you to find a cure to a plague infesting some town, the Warrior's Guild may have you dispatch some bandits, the Adventurer's Guild might have you explore some forgotten ruins... that kind of stuff.

Also there will be Crafting Guilds. Crafting Guild tasks will be stuff like filling our orders for specific items, delivering goods to different locations through the Trade Routes system, that kind of stuff. You'll gain access to Crafter specific titles and recipes.

Pretty much with Guilds, it's stuff you'd kind of being doing anyway, but you get a little more reward and "direction" for doing it. I never want players to have nothing to do, so having these Guilds will be a good way to point you in the right direction towards something interesting and fun.

That is enough for a typical MMORPG all by itself, but I want more.

Next post will cover dungeons, raids, crawl-dungeons, and the PVE conquest system. Thanks for reading! Please comment!


My Perfect MMORPG - Part 6: Crafting and the Economy (Part 3)

Posted by BadSpock Thursday September 20 2007 at 11:08AM
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First, a repeat from a previous post-

So the first thing I want to do is make it so all recipes and all resources are used throughout the life of the game and at all levels of game play. But how is this done? Easy.

Say a low skill level crafter wants to make a bronze shield. So they gather up some bronze ore, melt it into bars, then heat and shape those bars into the shape of a shield. Add a leather strap or something, and you're done.

Now say a higher level crafting wants to make a bronze shield. But he knows bronze is a little softer then iron, so he gets some iron ore and melts it with the bronze to fortify the metal, and then created an iron spike to attach to the face of the shield for some added "ouch" to his/her enemies. They also know that the leather handle tends to weaken and break, so they cure the leather to increase its strength and durability.

Then we have a very high level crafter who wants to make a really nice bronze shield. They do everything their less skilled crafting friends do, but adds some mithril to the metal to further strength in, and inscribes the face of the shield with Runes to grant magical bonuses to the wielder. Our high level crafter then takes the shield to their alchemist friend, who dips the shield into a magical brew that make the shield feel magically lighter and easier to carry/use in combat...

So you see, I want a crafting system where more advanced gear is made from a lot more base components. Not just higher end resources, but the SAME resources PLUS the higher end stuff. That way, the lower level crafter can sell their resources and crafts to higher level crafters to use as base components, and nothing goes to waste or becomes obsolete. The higher level crafters will still need the same resources as the lower level crafters, so the market for them will never die.

But how will the actual crafting mechanics work?

I liked the crafting mechanics of SWG, and just got into crafting in Everquest 2. I like crafting that requires you to participate, to deal with different variables, and requires a certain degree of skill.

I'm not going to lie that I want to propose anything evolutionary or revolutionary with this part of the game, but instead would rather break the trend a lot of new MMOs are going for: which is to over simplify and trivialize crafting.

Get materials, hit button. Wait. Done.

Too easy, too boring, and no real point to it.

I think that during the crafting process, not matter which crafting profession, there should be events that occur that require the player to choose which actions to take to correct the problem. It's hard to go into specific details without using examples completely ripped off from other games crafting systems, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Again, I'd rather use "what works" with systems like we saw/see in EQ2 and SWG then downgrade and stupify crafting like WoW and other games has.

I guess then the "main" difference in my crafting system vs. that of other games is that all craftable items are usable and necessary at all levels of gameplay / crafting so that no items are used simply as "grinding tools" for leveling and are worthless.

Sorry this one is short, and sorry it's been a while since I wrote another blog post, but I've been busy at work! Haha

That's about it for crafting and the economy, next section will probably deal with travel options in the game.

After that, I'll get into PVE options, combat, and the interface (though combat/interface will probably be rolled together into one, multi section part.

Thanks for reading!

My perfect MMORPG - Part 6: Crafting and Economy (Part 2)

Posted by BadSpock Thursday September 13 2007 at 10:26AM
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Thanks for reading!

This post will cover the specifics of crafting, give a little more detail on the resource gathering as discussed before, and introduce the Trade Routes system.

So a little more on resource gathering first. You'll be able to hold as much of a resource as your inventory space allows you when you are at a resource gathering site. I haven't gotten any specifics on inventory size yet, but I think it's sufficient to say that you will have bags of varying sizes that you get through questing, item drops, crafting them, etc. just like in any other MMORPG.

That being said, you'll also be able to purchase carts, pack mules, and other beasts of burden. These creatures/carts can hold nothing but crafting resources, and will come with varying inventory space. When you go to a resource gathering site, you can bring your pack mule, fill it up with resources, and go about your business. 

You'll then have to escort/push your mule/cart from the resource gathering site to whatever town/city to refine/enhance and/or use in crafting/sale. I'm thinking that all the resource sites will have facilities there to refine/etc the raw materials into the usable units for crafting if you wish. For example mining sites will have an area with forges for smelting the ores into bars and such. 

More "basic" and "common" resource sites will be close to the towns/cities and heavily patrolled by NPC guards, making the risk of bandits/raiders very, very low. This will also make transportation much quicker. More rare and valuable resources will be farther away from civilization and in more treacherous areas. This is a difficult compromise, because I don't want to "force" crafters to fight in combat if they don't want to. So I've brainstormed a bit, and this is what I've come up with. 

From these more rare and uncommon resource sites, the trip back to town will be more treacherous and difficult. So, every hour on the hour, NPC caravans of traders and NPC guards will leave and make for the nearest city/town. Players can join these caravans for the protection they offer, so crafters don't have to fight if they have no interest in combat. (dunno about hour time rule, it's debatable.)   

Also, players will be able to "sign up" to work as combat escorts to these caravans, providing further security in case of a pirate/raider/bandit attack, and be paid for their services.

And this, my friends, brings us into the Trade Routes system. These runs from resource sites to civilization will be the first type of Trade Route. The crafters will get experience for doing the resource gathering, refinement, and then either get money for the sale of the goods or use them to craft and gain experience. The combat players will get experience and skill gains in battle and get money and experience for escorting the caravan safely.

The next part of the Trade Routes system involves trade between towns/cities. There will be trade vendors in every town/city that will sell specialty goods. These goods will sell for varying amounts of profit at other cities/towns around the game world. Just like in Earth and Beyond and Fable, you buy goods in one location, bring them to another location and sell them, and gain profit. How much profit is gained is based upon the danger involved in the route, the distance, and supply/demand factors. If tons of players are doing the same Trade Routes, the profit from those routes will fall as more and more goods are delivered. So what routes make the most profit will be constantly shifting and changing, required the smart business player to seek out the best deals and best profits.

NPC caravans will leave these locations and certain intervals of times, and players can purchase the specialty goods and join these caravans for the added protection from bandits/raiders that the NPC guards provide. Also, players will be able to sign up as hired mercs to escort and provide protection like before, but these players won't be able to gain profit for goods sold, they are just there for protection, but are getting paid for it, so the profit made by the caravan effects their own pay.

Pack mules/carts and such can be used to transport more goods, of course, but will slow down the travel speed of the caravan.

Also, players will be able to form their own trade caravans. They will be responsible for their own protection, but won't have to stick to the "common path" that the NPC caravans take. They are free to find there own way to the destination, which can bring a faster trip, but also more danger. All trade caravan trips (*not the trips from the resource gathering sites*) will be timed. The faster the trip, the more profit. So you have to find a balance between the amount of goods carried (pack mules or not?) and the speed in which you get there. Protection of NPC routes or your own path? More goods = more profit, faster time = more profit. The trade off is up to you.

If you are attacked by bandits/raiders, they will not only try to kill the players/NPCs but will attack the transport animals (if any are there), which will destroy some of the goods. It won't be possible to lose everything, so you lose money, but you will definitely be able to lose enough to make zero profit.

You'll gain XP for these trade routes, again based off of how fast you complete the route and the quantity of goods sold. If an escort, you'll gain your XP and money based off the time of the trip and what quantity of goods was lost to bandits/raiders.

It's very important to know, that you will NOT be able to use any fast travel options during a Trade Route. No hearthstones or recall scrolls or whatever, no flight points or teleporters (more to come on travel options later.) You'll be able to ride your mount, which can make things much faster, but if you have carts/pack mules you'll have to go slow enough for them to keep up.

So are all the roads going to be filled with caravans? Both NPC and player? Maybe. What prevents hundreds of players from joining the NPC caravans? What prevents entire Guilds from running their own huge Trade Routes? Nothing. It's just another option for players. More content. Much more interesting then grinding mobs for money right? I plan to have a very large world, with many, many high profit and dangerous Trade Routes. The larger the caravan, the more likely to be attacked by pirates/raiders/bandits. A few, players on mounts moving quickly over the roads will have a good chance of making the run without conflict, but the profit won't be as high as if they had brought pack mules. But it was faster and safer. Again, it's all about making choices.

So yeah, this is way too long and I haven't gotten into actual crafting at all yet hahah. Next blog post, part 3: CRAFTING! I promise!


My perfect MMORPG - Part 6: Crafting and Economy (Part 1)

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday September 12 2007 at 3:49PM
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Crafting and the economy. Two very important aspects to a successful MMORPG. Mess up both of them and you can still have a playable and enjoyable game, but it certainly takes a lot away from the overall experience.

Many modern MMOs have put crafting into their games as an after though, generally speaking, just another means to acquire the next piece of "uber loot." Another grind with very little reward. Other games in the past such as SWG have made crafting an essential part of the game, and in my opinion it was too essential.

Player run economies have their ups and downs, as players tend to be greedy. We see massive inflation and business practices that would make Enron flinch. However too much focus on economic "systems" of control and we see economies overly dependent on currency, and the byproduct is grinding endlessly for money to keep playing and advancing your character, especially at "end game."

I am no economists, but I know there has to be a better way.

I've decided to combine these posts because they are essentially linked and co-dependent. You can't make one work without making the other work.

First off, I like one number to look at to see how much cash I have. No breaking into gold, platinum, bronze, silver etc... just one number please, one currency.

My biggest problem with crafting in many games is that as you level your crafting skills, the stuff you made before as well as the materials to make them becomes absolutely worthless. In a player run economy, this is a very bad things because it creates an artificial stratification of players, much like typical character leveling systems do. Once you get past the "copper ore" phase, you never need copper ore again. So all the copper ore floating around in the economy becomes either A) useless and of little value or B) over priced for twinks looking to power level crafting professions. Option A helps new players leveling their crafting professions naturally, and is not a bad thing, but option B kills crafting for those new players. The older a game gets, the more likely it is to see option B.

So the first thing I want to do is make it so all recipes and all resources are used throughout the life of the game and at all levels of game play. But how is this done? Easy.

Say a low skill level crafter wants to make a bronze shield. So they gather up some bronze ore, melt it into bars, then heat and shape those bars into the shape of a shield. Add a leather strap or something, and you're done.

Now say a higher level crafting wants to make a bronze shield. But he knows bronze is a little softer then iron, so he gets some iron ore and melts it with the bronze to fortify the metal, and then created an iron spike to attach to the face of the shield for some added "ouch" to his/her enemies. They also know that the leather handle tends to weaken and break, so they cure the leather to increase its strength and durability.

Then we have a very high level crafter who wants to make a really nice bronze shield. They do everything their less skilled crafting friends do, but adds some mithril to the metal to further strength in, and inscribes the face of the shield with Runes to grant magical bonuses to the wielder. Our high level crafter then takes the shield to their alchemist friend, who dips the shield into a magical brew that make the shield feel magically lighter and easier to carry/use in combat...

So you see, I want a crafting system where more advanced gear is made from a lot more base components. Not just higher end resources, but the SAME resources PLUS the higher end stuff. That way, the lower level crafter can sell their resources and crafts to higher level crafters to use as base components, and nothing goes to waste or becomes obsolete. The higher level crafters will still need the same resources as the lower level crafters, so the market for them will never die.

But how then do you prevent the prices from becoming inflated and skewed toward the more wealthy, higher level crafters? Thus "pushing out" the lower level crafters? The answer on that is hard caps on all crafting resources and finished products.

As I've said in previous posts, all craftable items will have quality ratings. These are effected by the skill of the crafter, as well as the Stats of the character as I've said before. I propose to put price maximums on all craftable items and resources so that inflation can never push items so far above their actual worth that lower level crafters and players are pushed out of the market. Natural forces of supply and demand, and smart business practices with further even out the price. The higher level crafter may want to charge the maximum price for his copper ore, but the lower level crafter will undercut his price. Things are generally cheaper in the early game so the lower level crafter can undercut the price without facing financial burden.

So how then does crafting work?

I want the crafting game to be more about crafting then about resource management and acquisition. That was my major beef with SWG was that to be a great crafter, you needed factories and harvesters and all of that. It wasn't about skill, it was about resource management. I'll save that for RTS games thank you very much.

That being said, first I'll talk about resource gathering. You won't wander around looking for "nodes" or "spawns" of different resources like you do in many MMOs. If you want to mine you'll go to the mines. If you want wood you'll go to the lumber yard, etc. These will be pre-existing areas/structures in the PVE world that players can go and essentially "work." There will be different mines for different metals and ores, different lumber yards for different tree types etc. I know what you are thinking, "there will be hundreds of players at the same place and they'll dominate all the spawns!" Not true. These areas will run on "limited instances" in accordance to the demand for that resource.

Let's say that each "instance" of a mine will allow 20 players into that mine. Those players will then go through the mine with a NPC supplied cart/mule and find shiny mineral nodes, click on them and mine the node. Respawns will be fast and nodes will be plentiful. If 40 players want to mine that mineral, there will be two instances. The more players are at a particular resource location, it will have an impact on the maximum allowed price for that resource. If only 5 people are mining copper ore, the price they can sell that ore at will be higher. If 200 people are mining copper ore, the maximum price will go down. This way we see a system enforced "supply and demand" curve that is totally dependent on player participation. The best of both worlds if you ask me!

I want resource gathering to be an equal investment to the time spent doing it. Sit and mine for two hours, your going to get a lot of ore and gain a lot of mining skill.

The quantity and Quality of the resources you gather will be dependent upon your characters skill gathering that resource. The higher the skill, the more you can gather per (amount of time) and the higher quality it will be.

But then won't the best crafters just sell the best resources and the lower level crafters without as much skill only sell crappy stuff no one will buy!? No. Lower quality resources can be made into higher quality building materials based off of the skill of the crafter. That way, the crafter can decide to buy the cheap stuff and enhance it, or spend the money for the "good stuff." Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

So what about the crafting itself? What can we craft and how?

Well, you'll get new and more complex recipes that use more resources of greater variety as you level your crafting skills. You level your crafting skills by making stuff. *Important note* You will gain experience toward your base level from crafting and resource gathering. You will also gain stats (str/dex/int/wis) from different crafting skills.

Crafted gear will be on par with the best and most varied gear available from PVP Triumph Point purchases, as well as PVE quests and mob/npc loot. It's a question of if you want to take the effort to make it, take the effort to make the money to pay someone else to make it, earn it through PVE, or earn it through PVP. I want all options to have an equal outcome, that way personal play styles are not affected. Do what you want to do, do it well, and get rewarded.

Besides weapons, armor, cloths, etc. players will also craft things for their guilds, for their cities, and for their homes. More to come on some of that stuff with the PVE section(s) to come later, but yes you will be able to make your own cities and towns, you will have instanced housing available in cities (like in EQ2 and FFXI) that you can furnish, and you will be able to make cool Guild only stuff.

Also, you will be able to fish in game and cook your fish to make food. I don't want food to play as big of a role as it does in other games, but food will have its pros and cons. I want food and drink to give temporary buffs if you use them, but too much use will cause debuffs. You'll have to choose when you really want the bonus food and drink gives instead of having constant buffs like in other games if you have the time/resources to keep a steady supply.

Another of the resource gathering professions I want to have is Farming and raising Livestock. Same as before, you go to an instanced farm area with certain crops/animals and you "work" there, acquiring resources and skill the more you are there. As with all crafting and resources, the products of this work will be used in a wide range of other crafting professions, and used to make food and drink.

One thing I want to be made clear. Can you just collect resources all day? You said you can get XP right? Yes and no. The longer you spend resource gathering, NOT crafting, the slower and less frequent the gains to your skill and experience gain is. Also, you get diminishing returns on the amount of resources per (amount of time) after a while. I'd say something along the lines of an hour per day is fair. You can gather resources longer, but it'll be slower and slower and you'll gain less and less skill / XP after that first hour per day. Now, this cap is resource specific. So you can go mine copper for an ore, then silver for an hour, then mithril... etc. if you want to. This way, no single player can completely dominated the market all too much with an abundance of under-priced, over stocked goods.

This post is getting pretty long, so I'm going to cut it short. Part 2 will cover the actual crafting process and details, and more on the economy and what controls and freedoms will be in place. Enjoy!

Please comment!

My perfect MMORPG - Part X: Overview

Posted by BadSpock Monday September 10 2007 at 5:05PM
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I've realized I should have started with a list of features put in very short, general terms rather then diving straight in. So here it is! The short list of features in my Perfect MMO. *note* many of these ideas aren't yet fully thought out yet, so be gentle!

---Character Creation and Customization:

-more choices and options for creating characters to make your avatar truly "unique" right from the start, and able to stay that way throughout the game if you choose to

-tons of options in game to alter your characters appearance, including customizable armor/weapons, hair cuts and dyes plus more

-many options for Guilds to express their individuality and stand out from the rest

-racial choices purely aesthetic, no limit on availability of skill sets/statistics based off of race


-less reliance on gear, more on player skill and choice

-fully customizable gear that is more about making choices that fit your character / play style then min/maxing stats

-gear that levels with your character to to prevent gear becoming obsolete

-emphasis that crafting, PVP, and PVE options all allow acquisition of equal gear


-more player skill involved in crafting including "mini-games"

-no obsolete "leveling" crafting pieces, you won't make items just to level your crafting skills, as all recipes will be used and reused as parts of more advanced recipes

-focus on crafting not resource gathering / management

-able to gain XP and money in order for crafting to be a viable leveling alternative


-limit on number of "money sinks"

-focus on player run economy

-hard rules and caps in effect to limit price gouging and inflated markets

-focus that no player should ever have to be broke or ever have massive stockpiles of un-used currency

-Trade Routes system where players can buy and trade goods between different parts of the world for varying levels of profit, where travel risks and dangers play into rewards


-player created cities complete with ruling bodies and political intrigue

-economy and crafting supported social structures (such as Trade Route system) to to create reliance on other players, yet not limit availability

-excellent and expansive Guild system, including declarations of war and also allegiances with other guilds

-return of more "social" MMORPG concepts such as music and dance

-city building and other social systems will earn XP and money in order to create viable "alternative" leveling


-engrossing storyline more similar to single player console RPG

-instanced encounters for main storyline where player choices effect outcomes

-dynamic focus on story characters and their relationships to each other and to the player


-quick and easy travel to major locations and social hubs

-many travel options, including mounts, airships, and naval vessels, all available to players at any point in the game, not reserved for "end game"

-fast travel to previously visited locations

-reward for exploration and discovery

-Integrated Trade Routes system for competitive exploration and social engagement

-XP and money rewards, players will even be able to serve as Guides to bring players to new areas and receive rewards

---Character Advancement

-hybrid of level and skill based system

-players chose their own combinations of skill groups and abilities to create their own ideal class and play style

-highly customizable and focused on personal advancement using the Focus Web, not reaching an "end game"

-about making choices and compromises rather then min/maxing stats

-freedom to swap skills in and out without losing progress

-extensive number of Titles for role-playing and/or showcasing personal achievements


-focus on skill and tactical choices, not on gear

-deeply integrated with character advancement to allow freedom of specialization into whatever role(s) you wish for your character

-dynamic "Counters" and combo system relying on both offensive and defensive maneuvers, but not "twitch" based in a classic sense

-all combat oriented characters will use melee, magic, and ranged combat in varying ways according to their play style and skill choices

-Stance system for maximizing control of situations for all characters

-Momentum system for increased combat efficiency, tied closely with counter/combo system and stances

-dynamic and evolving mob/npc AI that will react to tactical choices made by players in battle, as well as use advanced formations and strategies

-full collision detection for both PVP and PVE

-mounted and on-foot combat, each with advantages and disadvantages

---PVE Content

-epic and engrossing RPG storyline

-bountiful supply of side story arcs in traditional quest format

-repeatable kill/collect missions

-full capability to avoid all story/quests and grind at comparable pace if you so choose

-advanced enemy AI faction that will attack cities and lay siege, a true war between players and this enemy AI faction, including full siege warfare, territory control and expansion

-instanced small group dungeons and large raid encounters will varying levels of difficulty, timed objectives, custom loot, multi-layered and winged with save points, and dynamically altered for your group size. "soft" limits on group size. also will have multiple strategies and approaches rather then forcing "holy trinity" of tanks, dps, healers.

-open world "dungeon crawls" for competitive PVE game play, featuring some "reserved" bosses for progressive groups/solo players that have proved their dominance of the encounter

-no mobs/npcs that simply "wander around in paths waiting to die" but instead will act naturally with "needs" system similar to what is found in The Sims allowing player actions to effect the environment around them. example: If many bears are slaughtered they will retreat from open lands and become fiercely defensive of their homes, bandits will pack up an d move their camps, herds will move from sources of water, predators will stalk prey when hungry etc.

---Player Vs. Player:

-auto-level normalization system for fair fights

-anti-griefing and ganking mechanics

-money and XP gained from PVP so it's a complete leveling alternative

-instanced, fair and fun scenarios/battlegrounds

-progressive Coliseum system for dueling, 2vs2, 3vs3, 5vs5 as well as 10vs10 and 25vs25 guild vs. guild matches

-faction based open world PVP with real risk/reward, controllable outposts and structures featuring siege warfare and dynamic territory control/expansion

-sacking of cities

-PK vs. Anti-PK factions for FFA "good vs. evil"



that's all I can come up with now... this is probably in desperate need of editing, so I apologize

My perfect MMORPG - Part 5: PVP (section 3: Open World PVP)

Posted by BadSpock Friday September 7 2007 at 3:12PM
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Section three, the big one.. This will cover my ideas for open world PVP, and a quick snippet on instanced battleground/scenario type play.

First off, a quick snippet on battleground/scenario PVP. At different points throughout the PVE world, you will find camps set up for some faction in the game. These will be factions independant of the factions used for the open PVP game. When you go to these camps, you'll be able to sign up for and participate in instanced, even team PVP matches.

Again, not going in to too much detail because we all know how these work. WAR has them, WoW has them. Things like capture the flag games, king of the hill / territories types, kill counters, etc. Even teams, time limits, made for quick, fun, objective based PVP. As you win you gain reputation with the faction, which allows you new titles, emblems, and other visual flair. You gain XP and gold for each kill, and for completing objectives such as flag capture, holding points, etc. At the end all players get Triumph points based off of their participation. Get very few kills, no objective captures, but lots of deaths? At least you still participated, and will get Triumph points. Sat there AFK the whole match, very, very few if any points awarded. Pretty standard stuff. As discussed before, Triumph points can be used to buy gear/runes, etc.

Ok, that's the easy stuff. Why put it in? It's become one of the new "standards" for MMORPGs to have these type of games. Between this and the Coliseum, tons of "casual" PVP options for players. Throw in the capturable Guild structures and you've already got lots of PVP options, more so then many games.

But I want more.

Open World PVP should NOT be an afterthought. More then just "throw a few control points here and there" kind of deal, a LOT more.

So this is what I propose...

All the PVP options I've listed before exist in the PVE world. I say PVE world because the PVP world is seperate. Like an alternate universe. Throughout the game world (both sides) there will be portals that allow you to travel between the PVE and PVP world. The PVE world is where you'll find all the quests and storyline and monsters and dungeons etc.

The PVP world will be mostly devoid of monsters, all the dungeons closed off, no quests that don't pertain to PVP, and no real "storyline." This alternate world is strictly for war between players.

First off, I imagine there will be three different factions. Players must choose to join up with one of these three factions, and will fight for that "team." There will be mechanics in place to allow players to switch factions, but not often, and not without consequence.

Each faction will have a "home city." This home city will contain a "safe zone" for players who have just traveled to the PVP world. Why? You don't want people zerging fresh recruits "just off the boat."

The entire city, of course, will not be safe. Not at all.

In addition to the 3 faction cities, there will be a number of structure, a nice odd (non-prime) number like 11 or 13 outposts. Things like forts, and other structures scattered about the PVP world. These will ALL be capturable by players. The same kind of siege mechanics that I discussed in the Guild structures post will be at play here. Throne rooms, layers of defense, siege weapons, etc. A fort or keep will have more defenses and be harder to capture then a tower or town or village,

Difference is, there is no player limit as it's NOT instanced. Also, you won't be able to "hire" player or NPC mercs because everyone will be part of one of the three factions (kind of.) The three factions are obviously at a state of war with each other, and a player of faction A will be able to freely attack and be attacked by players of faction B and C.

The capital cities won't be capturable, as each side needs a "rally point" but they can be sacked and sieged, just not controlled.

So players will pick their faction and fight in open PVP against the other two factions for control of these points. Players will be awarded gold and experience for PVP kills, and Triumph points for sieges and seige defenses. If you are fighting in and around the area that is under siege, you will get points. Because this is not instanced, and there is no time limit unlike the Guild battles, sieges can last for a long time, or be over very quickly. So the mechanics have to be a little different. You'll slowly accumulate Triumph points for fighting in and around the control points. If the outpost switches hands, if your faction ends up taking control of the outpost that you have recently been fighting in and around, you will gain extra experience, gold, and Triumph points. The defending faction will start to accumulate Triumph points faster as the siege beings to last longer and longer. That way, the attacking faction gets extra points for successfully capturing an enemy outpost, and the defense gains more for successfully holding off the attack for an extended period of time. 

The Triumph points you get in this open world PVP will be the same as those from the Coliseum, from the battlegrounds/scenariors, and from Guild sieges (obviously not the Guild specifici points.) Why? I want players to be able to choose how they want to PVP. I don't want people to be forced into any of the different "flavors" of PVP. That being said, the open world PVP is the most hectic, dangerous, and difficult, given the fact that there are very few rules and it's a three way war. For that reason, you will receieve the most Triumph points (in comparison to other PVP methods) for open world PVP. For instance, an hour of Coliseum or battleground play may net you.. I dunno.. 500 Triumph points, where as an hour of open world PVP might get you 600. Not too much of a difference, but enough reward to justify the added danger.

As you gain Triumph points in open world PVP, you gain Rank in your faction. There will be many levels of Rank within the faction, with their own bonuses. The lower Ranks will grant you more asthetic things such as banners and emblems and crests, but the middle and high Ranks will grant you much more.

First off, players will receive an area of effect (AOE) buff to all their faction members around them based off of their rank. This buff will aid you and your comrades in combat. The higher the Rank, the better the buff and the larger the AOE. The highes Ranks will be able to deploy the factions Battle Standard (flag) to the field of battle you find yourself on, for an even greater buff to their faction members. This will be very useful and reflect on important combat stats like Momentum (more to come in combat section, and yes, it's different then WARs lol.) 

As you gain higher Ranks not only does it require more and more Triumph points to achieve the next rank, but you will earn less per "tick" when fighting in and around control points. 

So why the AOE buffs? It's like a leadership system, kind of like "hey, that guy is pretty high rank, I'm going to follow him!" Also, there will be a global chat channel for your faction, and only players with high enough rank can post in it. Because buffs from people of the same Rank do NOT stack, it'll be important for a faction to spread out their "leadership" to different areas of battle, to different outposts, in order to maximize the armies effectiveness. Hence, why only the towards-the-top ranks are allowed to talk on the global faction channel, to coordinate the battle effort. But, all member of the faction can see the chat so faction wide messages and order can be relayed.

Also, depending on your Rank, you will be able to spend Triumph points from the entire Factions "pool" of points. Every time the faction gains control of a new outpost, a certain number of Triumph points goes into the "faction bank" depending on the size of the outpost captured. Certain higher Ranks will allow players to spend from this faction-wide pool on things like siege weapons, defensive structures, and NPC defenders for your outposts.

So how is it controlled? How do you prevent these higher Rank players from wasting all the Triumph points from the Faction-wide pool? All purchases have to be approved by others of the same rank for one. Also, players of lower rank can initiate votes of "no confidence" that every faction member can vote on. This way they can vote out a bad "leader."

But why? To bring some control and democracy, as well as some leadership and responsibility to the open world PVP. War and politics are often intertwined.

An important note, is that all armor/weapons/gear is available to players of any and all Ranks. Rank doesn't determine the quality or Rune capability of your gear, Rank only effects the leadership, direction, and battlefield cohesion. Why? Because sometimes in order to lead, you have to follow. More then often it's the actions of a handful of talented soldiers, not their commanders, that turn the tide of battle. So you can't "gimp" anyone in terms of gear.

But what's the point? Mostly fun, and dominance. It's a constantly moving and adapting war, with outposts falling and being recaptured all the time. It's never the same "get flag A, run to B" that you see in the battlegrounds/scenarios. Some people enjoy doing that kind of stuff over and over, some do not. I'm just out to give choices.

The "end" objective is to dominate enough of the map to stage an assault on the enemy factions capital city. Same kind of siege mechanics, defenses and siege weapons etc, and you will have to assault the Throne Room in the same type of way as in the Guild battles. It's just things are much more chaotic and crazy because there is no time limit, nor limit on number of players that can participate. When you successfully siege an enemy faction's castle, you get the "best" available loot from the open world PVP game, though of course only marginally better then anything else you can get, but you also get the most Triumph points and gold and experience.

There are also many titles only available through open world PVP game play.

So what prevents a single faction from steam-rolling the rest? Not much. This is on purpose. There will be soft "caps" on the number of players that can join each faction. Just like in Factions PVP system from UO. If you are in a "full" faction, you can switch for free to one of the less populated factions. However, only up to a certain number of people can switch for free in order to keep things as balanced as possible. Otherwise, you can switch factions if you wish to but only a certain number of times, like once a month or once every 3 weeks or something. When you switch (if it's not a population issue and thus free) you lose part of you Rank. Not any of your Triumph points, but you wall fall in Rank. The higher the Rank you are when you switch, the more your Rank will fall if you switch. If you are low in Rank and switch, you will not fall in Rank far, or at all.

The factions themselves are "ranked" based off of the number of outposts they control, the faction with the most controlled outposts receives a tiny buff to the amount of gold they get for kills and successful sieges. The faction in last place will receive a slight experience and Triumph point bonus for all actions. The faction in second place will receive a slight buff to the amount of Triumph points they get for all actions. I believe this will help to make things more competitive.

Also, each time a capital city is successfully sieged, the attacking faction that successfully sacks the enemy city with receive a Conquest point. After one of the factions receives enough Conquest points, they have "won" the war and every member of that faction will receive nice bonuses, experience, gold, Triumph points and more for the amount of time they have been in that faction. This is so new comers don't get as much as the people that have stuck with the faction throughout the war.

After this happens, the map resets and it starts all over. Players that are on the 'winning' side of the war enough times will receive very unique titles and armor/weapon models so that all can see how awesome they are. No uber weapons or armor or any other gear, the focus is on fun and bragging rights more then uber gear.

That's all I can think of now, I haven't editted or even spell / grammer checked this, so be kind! Please comment, and thanks for reading.

My perfect MMORPG - Part 5: PVP (section 2)

Posted by BadSpock Thursday September 6 2007 at 3:15PM
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Section 2 is going to cover Guild owned castles, keeps, and towers.

These buildings will be in the PVE world also. There are many reasons for this, and all will be explained.


The castles, keeps, and towers will be spread about the PVE world and available for capture and control by player Guilds. The towers will be the smallest structure, then keeps, and the castles will be the biggest.

The initial acquisition of these structures will be a two fold process. The money a guild earns from the Coliseum battles will go into a guild account. This money cannot be given to members of the guild to use as regular currency, and can only be used for guild related functions. Guild leaders will be able to set up rules allowing guild members of different ranks to have access at different levels to these funds. This will be independant from the Triumph points a guild builds up through Coliseum play, as those points are used towards guild rank, titles, and purchasing special decorations and emblems with their guild logo.

For initial acquisition, the guild must have the appropriate number of active players (not including alts) and the appropriate amount of guild funds saved up. The towers will only require 15 active guild members and the smallest sum of cash, the keeps 25 guild members and more cash then the towers take, and the castles will require 50 active members and the most gold. Then, the first guild to travel to the structure that meets the requirements will pay the fine and acquire the structure. The structure will display the Guild's banner and NPCs will even dress in the controlling guild's colors.

Now, why is this in the PVE world? The reason is that these Guild owned structures will be placed throughout the PVE map in locations that offer convenient access to popular locations such as dungeons, crawl dungeons, PVE siege locations, and other hot spots. (More to come on all of these in the PVE content post to come at some point in the future.)

The reason is that other players will be able to travel to the Guilds structure as a means to get close to the locations they are going. It'll be like visiting a NPC town in the game, complete with vendors and crafting stations and travel points. More on all of these later :) I hate having to keep saying "more on this later" but as I've said multiple times, it's all connected to the big picture, the game as a whole.

A portion of the money spent by players to travel to the Guild structure and purchases from vendors there will go towards the Guild fund account. Of course, Guild crafters will be able to display and sell their wares, and a portion of funds from those sales will go to the crafter, and a portion to the guild (as controlled by guild leadership/those with access to guild fund control.)

The Guild fund account can then be used to pay for repairs and defenses, as well as hire player mercenaries. Yes, I know the hiring of mercs is directly ripped off from Age of Conan, but only because it is an amazingly good idea. 

So how do sieges work? 

A rival guild  places a challenge to the Guild in control of the tower/keep/castle. As with the Coliseum challenges, a time and date must be agreed upon by both parties. The different structures will have a different "max" number of players that can participate in the siege on either side. This way guilds can hire mercs to help attack/defend without things becoming terribly unbalanced. For arguements sake, let's say the siege player maximum for a tower is 25, a keep 40, and a castle 70.  

So what keeps a Guild from rejecting all challenges and keeping the structure forever? After a certain period of time after a guild claims ownership of the structure, let's say a week or so... the challenges become "open" challenges. The defending Guild can no longer reject the offers after this time, so the time of the battle is entirely up to the challenger. This is done so that defending guilds need to make a choice as to when they want to make their stand, otherwise, it's all down to luck. If you have the players online for the defense or not. If they agree on a challenge time and date, they can plan and prepare accordingly. Of course, the guild will have a few days time or so that they cannot be challenged once they acquire the structure, in order to have some time to be gauranteed to raise funds for their Guild Account.

Challenging guilds can use their funds to purchase siege weapons, hire player mercs, and hire NPC mercs to help in their assault. Defending guilds can purchase defensive structures, and hire both NPC and player mercs.

At the time and date of the agreed upon siege, the immediate area surrounding the structure becomes instanced for the fight. Players not involved can still travel to the site in the open world, outside the instanced fight, so that they can still travel and speak with NPCs and such. All money made from these transactions while a siege is going on in an instanced version of the area will be split evenly between the defending guild and attacking guild's fund account.

During the siege, the objective is to break through any outer defenses, with castles having the most "layers" and towers the fewest, and once through you'll assault the throne room of the structure. The throne room is where defeated defending players will respawn on death. As the attackers move through the defenses towards the Throne room, the respawn time for defending players will become shorter. Once the attackers reach the Throne room, all dead defenders will instantly respawn in the Throne Room to make their final stand. They will not respawn when killed while there are still attackers in the Throne Room. If the Throne room defends succesfully, the dead defenders will respawn again. Attackers killed in the Throne Room will respawn slower then normal. Attackers will respawn at a "camp" outside of the structure.

The siege will be on a time limit. With varying times for each type of structure. For arguements sake, let's say 20 minutes for a tower, 40 for a keep, and an hour for a castle. If the defenders can hold off the attack for that period of time, the siege fails and the defenders remain in control of the structure. If the attackers are able to defeat the defending guild in the Throne Room and take control, the siege is successful and the structure transfers ownership to the new guild. At this point, all the banners of the previous guild burn and the NPCs run around screaming like mad, flailing their arms in the air. The attackers can then slaughter all the NPCs, or just wait for a timer, say 5 minutes to expire and the NPCs will be replaced by NPCs clothed in the new Guilds colors, and of course the new banners will appear too.

As with all PVP, you gain experience for all of your kills, and experience for any NPC defenders/attackers killed. You also gain skills during combat like normal.

At the end of the siege, all players receive a experience bonus and gold bonus, with more going to whoever wins, the attackers or defenders. The Guilds involved also receive a bonus to their guild fund account, and Guild Triumph points. Again, the guild who wins the siege gets a lot more then the losing guild.

This way, the Guild controlled structures all about PVP, but it's semi consensual with systems in place to encourage the defenders to seek a fair fight. That's why there are rules on player limits and such. Also, each structure type will have a maximum "allowance" for guild funds that can be used to purchase siege weapons, defenders, player merc etc. That way the better funded guild isn't always the victor.

With the locations of these structures in the PVE world, players will be traveling and conducting business at these locations throughout their adventures.

But it sounds like all the advantages are given to the defenders? Yes and no. The defenders will be forced to choose a time and date to defend from attacking guilds, or they'll enter the "open challenge" phase and not really know when it's coming. Also, attackers will have powerful tools such as catapults and balistas and door-rams, while defenders will not have as many options.

What do ya'll think? I know, two parts in one day, please make sure to check out the previous post on the Coliseum PVP !!! Thanks for reading!

My perfect MMORPG - Part 5: PVP (section 1)

Posted by BadSpock Thursday September 6 2007 at 11:52AM
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Player versus player. A very hot topic indeed. This is the first section of the PVP system. I'm dividing the PVP post into section so it isn't such an eye strain to read all at once.

More games on the horizon are not putting PVP on the backburner to PVE content; instead many are focusing on PVP like WAR and Fury. But how do you do PVP right?
Player versus Player combat is most intriguing to the "Killer" type of player. The thrill of victory against other players is the major attraction for any game with competitive multiplayer, be it an RTS, MMO, FPS or otherwise.
Doing PVP in RTS and FPS games is easy, everyone starts the same, and only the players skill, reflexes, and quick wit will bring victory. In a MMORPG it's much more difficult because of the RPG factor. Players have varying levels and varying gear. For open world PVP, it's extremely rare to have balanced teams and even competition. So lately developers have been focusing on things like WoW's battlegrounds or WAR's scenarios, which are short, objective based games with level restrictions, even teams, and many rules to make things as even and fair as possible for all sides.
Is this a bad thing? In a game like WoW, I think it is a necessary evil. WoW is SO level dependant, splitting the battlegrounds into tiers based off of level and forcing even teams (or close to it) must be done because of their gear/level systems. In WoW, I'd think it fair to say that it's 50% gear, 50% skill. Part of the skill 50% is having the right talent spec for PVP. I think WAR will be very, very similar. I have not yet played WAR, and I hope there is more skill involved and less gear dependency, but only time will tell.
I hinted at this before, but I believe that there should be an automatic balancing system in place for PVP. As I said before, if a level 50 player and a level 20 player fight, the 50 shouldn't have a guaranteed victory. The level 50 will have all the advantages, but sometimes David does beat Goliath. How? With the fixed stat/health/mana system I talked about before, and the skill based advancement, many of the balance problems are already removed. To take things one step further, an equation needs to be made to adjust the power of both players towards a more even middle ground. Say then that the 50 fights as if he/she were a 37 and the 20 fights as if he/she were a 33 or 34. That way, the level 50 still has all the advantages, but the 20 at least has a chance at victory.
What then if the number of players isn't even? Two level 20s versus a single level 50? The answer to this question falls into the combat system, and the multiple stances every character will have, and unfortunately that's all I can say now, as I haven't yet finalized the details for the combat system I wish to create. Basically, the level 50 in this situation will be able to select either an offensive or defensive stance (regardless of whatever skill sets they have, be it melee/magic/ranged) that performs better against multiple opponents rather then a different offensive/defensive stance that focuses on 1vs1 fights.
So we know about the skill set / level system, I've hinted at the combat system, we know about gear and how it works. So we can then assume the level 50 will have a further advantage because their inscribed Runes will be higher level then the level 20 character(s) and thus more powerful, and we know from the level/skill system that the level 50 will have more Focus Points spent into their Focus Web; so again we can say despite the level "balancing" the level 50 will still have the advantage.
I'm just trying to eliminate ganking, griefing, and 1-2 shot fights. PVP is suppose to be epic and fun, competitive and honorable, and I hope this system achieves that.
So what options for PVP to players have?
First off, it's important to say that players will gain experience as well as raise their skills from PVP.
Second, it's important to say that PVP and PVE will be totally separate, and both yes BOTH PVE and PVP are entirely optional. You can level your character and skill to max entirely in PVP or PVE at roughly the same rate. Obviously, this game doesn't exist and thus cannot be balance with hard data and coding, but ideally the leveling rates for full PVP, full PVE, and mixed play-styles will be balanced and equal.
The first part of PVP in my system is the Coliseums. Throughout the *PVE* world, there will be different coliseums. These will play host to a multitude of PVP options. There will be a coliseum for beginner PVP, and for intermediate and advanced PVP. Players will have to work their way through the different PVP game types at the beginner level before they can advance to the intermediate coliseum.
At the coliseums a player will be able to participate in ranked Dueling, 2vs2, 3vs3, and 5vs5 "last man standing" games, 10vs10 guild vs. guild games, and 25 vs. 25 guild games. The dueling, 2vs2, 3vs3, and 5vs5 games will use a matchmaking system similar to what we see in WoW. Why? It works. The game will keep track of how many wins and losses a player has in each category. You can join any of the types alone or in groups (except 1vs1 dueling of course.) If players wish to form their own teams and name them, they can, however membership in a team is not required, nor having the max number of players for that game type in your team required.

Once you win enough games in the beginner tier you can move up to the intermediate tier. As you go through the higher tiers, the rewards become greater for winning, but the losses from losing also become greater. After a certain number of wins in a tier you will not be allowed to fight in that tier anymore and must advance to the next tier.

There will be no punishment for death, as these are all "last man standing" games. So you only get one life, and if you die you'll become a "ghost observer" until the end of the match.

10 vs. 10 and 25 vs. 25 guild vs. guild battles will use a challenge system. The "leader" of the team must have the appropriate number of players, all from their guild, and issue a challenge to a member of another guild. That guild member then can accept or reject the challenge. There is no penalty for rejecting a challenge. If accepted, that guild member then needs to recruit the appropriate number of players from their guild for the game. The challenger requests a time and date for the challenge to take place which the challenged guild must accept or reject, if rejected they must offer a counter time and date. If no agreement on the time/date can be reached in a certain period of time, the challenge is cancelled and no battle takes place.
If all members of the guild team are not available at the time/date of the challenge, there are two options. It can be decided upon to add guild members to the team not listed in the challenge, or the team with more players has to kick members to match the number the other team has. Both guilds must agree upon these conditions or the challenge is cancelled.
Once the conditions have been met and the time and date arrive, all members are teleported from wherever they are to the Coliseum. After the game is over, the can chose to teleport back to where they were for free.
Players killed in any of the game types, guild or solo or small group, will drop money to be shared between the victors of the other team. The amount of gold is dependant upon the type of game, the number of players, and the total the winning team gets is reduced by the number of players from their team that died. The losing team gets the gold for the players they killed. In duels, the losing player doesn't get anything, but the winner player gets only a small amount of gold.

All players gain experience for participating in any of the game types, with much more experience going to the winning player/team. Skill is gained from using skills in combat, so as long as you are alive in a match you have the opportunity to fight and gain skills. Skill gain isn't rewarded to winners/losers it just happens as you battle naturally, just like in PVE in most games.

Also important to note, you will not be able to loot players bodies directly. And the gold you get will not come from the other players pocket. 

Each battle in all game types awards you with points. I'm not sure what to call them without stealing names from other games, so we'll just go with Triumph points for now. In the beginning tier of Coliseum play, both winner and loser will receive Triumph points, with the winner obviously getting more then the loser. In the intermediate tier, the winning player/team will get many more Triumph points for a win, and only a few points for a loss. In the advanced coliseum tier, the winning team/player will win the most Triumph points, while the losing team/player will only get a very small number.
This is important because everyone should be rewarded for trying; however the winners obviously need to get a lot more.
For guild vs. guild battles, the Triumph points will go towards the Guilds point total, and also be split between the individual players.
So what do you do with these Triumph points?
Individual player's points will keep adding up, and once they get to a certain level the player will gain new titles specific to the Coliseum circuits. Things such a Duelist, Gladiator, Champion etc. Points may also be spent to purchase gear, runes, and other items that will be very helpful in the Coliseum in all game types. Spent points will not count against your total points earned as it pertains to rank and titles. All points will be divided between the different game types you participate in, and grant different titles accordingly, but they will all add to the pool of points you can spend on gear/items/runes etc. So for instance you'll maybe have 500 points in the Duel circuit and get the title of Duelist, and 800 points in the 3vs3 circuit and get the title of Champion available to you, but you'll have 1,300 points to spend. And once you spend the points, you'll have 0 to spend but still retain you 500 and 800 in the two circuits. Make sense?
Guilds will be able to purchase special emblems to adorn their armor and clothing in battle, and the whole guild will go up in rank and gain titles, and the top guild's banners will hang from the walls of the Coliseum of the tier they are fighting in.
Statues of the top players in the dueling, 2vs2, 3vs3, and 5vs5 circuits will be featured in the Coliseums too. No, it won't look exactly like your character but it will be the right race and gender and the plaque at the base of the statue will read you characters name.
To eliminate a terrible grind in the Coliseum system, the points required for purchasing items and getting titles will be no where near is high as we see in other games like WoW. There will be multiple sets of gear and weapons with different looks and stats, runes of all level and types, and everything else. Most items will cost a combination of gold and Triumph points.

Why? I want player to be able to level and play entirely through PVP if possible. Though the Coliseum is only but a small part of the overall PVP system in game, it's an important one. So, you make gear and items from very, very cheap and easy to get up to really expensive and hard to get, and everything in between. Because of the way the gear system works, with the runes leveling themselves as your character's base level goes up, you're gear will continue to level as you advance. However, you have tons of options to purchase new styles and upgrades from your leveled gear. As an example you could say that "yeah, I know my Runes will level on their own, but I can buy a Rune of a different type that's already a level higher with my Triumph points and looted gold, so it's my choice if I want to save my points and gold or spend them to avoid having to wait for them to level naturally."

And for certain more expensive gear will be higher quality and/or have more Rune slots.

Revisions and additions to come I'm sure, and later, the rest of the sections on PVP. Please leave feedback and what you think about this part of the overall PVP system!
Thanks for reading!

My perfect MMORPG - Part 4: Gear

Posted by BadSpock Wednesday September 5 2007 at 3:22PM
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Thanks for continuing to read! I was very shocked when I saw this blog featured on the newsletter, and thanks to their link my last entry has over 1,200 views! I'll keep writing 'em if you keep reading 'em! Please leave comments!

The following are my views and opinions, as I do not work in the gaming industry.
Oh how we all love gear. MMORPGs like their offline RPG counterparts are all about gear. Getting to that next level to get that new piece of shiny gear, that next big upgrade. This simple idea has been the driving force for many a MMORPG and the gear progression "grind" has kept many subscribers paying and playing for months and years.
But is it enough? Should gear be the "end all" aspect of a game? For many developers, the answer to that question has been a loud and resounding "yes!" But is there a better way? Do players even want something different? From all my time on these forums and many other MMO fansites, and all my time playing MMOs over the years, I can say that many players (even me) have been all too tempted by the "follow the carrot on a stick" item progression we see in most modern MMORPGs.
But I propose something a little different. I only say "a little different" because with all things, I believe the best possible combination is a mixture of "what works" and new innovation. Gamers like systems that work, that are tried and true; however they also want something new and different, something innovative. I believe my idea for an item/gear system fits nicely into that idea of a mixture.
I hinted before that gear should level with the player. Why? Because I find it very annoying that most MMOs require you to swap out all or most of your gear every time your character levels. Gear only becomes a "part" of your character until the next upgrade comes along. Only when you reach the "end game" of items and gear do you ever stop chasing the carrot, at least until the next expansion or patch that adds new items and gear to pursue. The reason this is done is to keep players paying and playing, chasing after that new item set or gear piece. And when they get it? They push towards the next big set or upgrade, the next expansion. Thus, as I've said a few times already, they keep paying and keep playing.
But the game should be about more then just upgrading your gear. Should be more then min/maxing your stats. In that respect most MMOs are overly dependant on gear. They follow the philosophy that "gear makes the player great." I like to think differently, that the player should make their gear great.
But RPGs and fantasy stories like King Arthur and The Lord of the Rings are filled with special, magical swords and armor that greatly helps the characters. So for a game you *need* to have gear still matter to the player, not only as a motivational tool but as a point of pride, and even for bragging rights.
So how do you incorporate that into a MMO system that works?
This falls back to my idea that the gear should level with the player, and hits on the customization that I talked about in my last post. What I propose is that gear is without any base level; instead all gear is categorized into three levels of "quality." Let's use average, good, and excellent. Without level restrictions, any player of any level can use gear of all three qualities, and the different qualities will have only slight differences in their base statistics. Excellent quality gear will be more expensive, harder to find, yet have a small yet still distinct advantage over good and average quality gear.

The key difference and point of upgrades will be in the form of Runes. Once you reach a certain level, early on the game, level 5, you will be given the ability to inscribe Runes into your weapons, armor, and other gear. Runes will work like the Focus Points I described in previous posts. Runes will be categorized based off of the four stats I listed before, Strength, Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intellect. Like the Focus Points, they will have small yet meaningful effects on attributes such as +attack power or +mana regen. Weapons, items, and armor will have a different number of "slots" to attach Runes. Excellent quality gear from epic encounters like raids or world bosses and from high ranking PVP will have a chance to have additional Rune slots to make them even more powerful.

*Note* Average/Good quality items will have worse base "stats" but could have more Rune slots, thus making the player choose between quality/stats and customization. Excellent is not the "best" of the three, nor is Average the "worst." In fact I should probably rename the three quality ranks.. hmm... comment!

 The Runes themselves can be taken off of equipment and inscribed onto new pieces. Runes that are looted off of MOBs/NPCs and PVP loot will be tradable to other players as long as they haven't been inscribed onto an item before. Once you inscribe a Rune to a piece of equipment you own, that Rune will no longer be tradable to other players, but of course can still be transferred to other equipment you own. So in a familiar WoW way to put it, all weapons/items/equipment and Runes will be "bind on equip" instead of "bind on pick up" except for the previously mentioned "epic" items, and only before they've been inscribed with Runes. 
The Runes themselves will gain experience as your character does. As long as you have the Runes inscribed on your items, they will gain experience towards leveling as your character does. Runes will have 10 progressive ranks, and the maximum rank for your equipped Runes will correspond to your characters base level. With 50 character levels and 10 Rune levels, your character will be able to level their Runes up every 5 base character levels. Runes will level much slower then your characters base level; so that things will be balanced and you'll end up leveling your Runes about the same time you reach the new base level for your character.
So what this means is that players of all levels will have access to the different quality gear, and that these will have a varying number of Runes they can inscribe onto the gear. As they level their character, the Runes will also level making the items more powerful. If the player gets a new piece of loot they like, they can then transfer any Runes they have onto the new pieces.
What this does is eliminate the need to purchase new gear every time you level, as your gear will become more powerful naturally as your character levels. This also lets your specify and customize your gear to best fit your play style and career focus. Also, if you get new gear you want to use in the course of your adventures, you can transfer the Runes from your old gear so you don't lose anything for trying out new gear or changing your equipment.
I think this gives players "freedom" from the gear grind while still giving a vast amount of customization, all the while advancing your character and giving you something to work towards. You can choose the look and style of your gear, you can choose what stats and abilities you want to supplement or contribute to, and you still advance your character and become more powerful as you continue to play, all without falling into the same "gear grind" we see in other games. 

There is still "epic" gear with additional Rune slots available at the from raids, epic PVE encounters, and epic PVP (details on raids/dungeons/pve/pvp to come later) but it isn't a requirement or a barrier to entry for any content, just an additional boost to your character for completing something truly amazing. 

Even a level 5 "noobie" can get epic gear from PVE/PVP (details later) that is Excellent quality and has additional Rune slots, it's just that the maximum level for those Runes will be level 1, and can't become level 2 until the character's base level is up to 10. This way you are rewarded for what you do, what you participate in, instead of simply playing for an ungodly number of hours.

It may sound complicated, I've read it over ten times for editing and to make sure it makes sense.

Let me know what you think!

*To clarify a few things*

-Gear can be crafted, more on crafting later. Quality of crafted items very important.

-There will of course be melee and ranged weapons, and the magic system I will go into later. I can say now though, everyone who choses to participate in combat will have melee skills and abilities to some extent, use magic to some extent, and have the option to use ranged weapons. All players will have defenses against all three (melee/ranged/magic) too, more to come in combat section.

-There will be different types of weapons, from staves to swords and everything else. These will correspond to the different skill groups from the previous post. Each with strengths and weaknesses, no one type will be "best" or "worst."

-There will be different types of armor. Cloth, Plate, Chainmail, leather, etc. Each will have strengths and weaknesses. No armor type is "better" or "worse" just different.

-It'll be explained further in combat system section, but players will be able to set up multiple gear "sets" for different situations. Obviously, not able to change armor in the middle of a fight, but will be able to switch out weapons/shields.

-Most weapons (including staffs) are not 1-H or 2-H and set in stone one or the other, but instead can be used differently depending on factors including character's Strength and Dexterity, and will have distinct advantages/disadvantages if being used in different ways. Obviously daggers cannot be two handed weapons, as that would be silly, but only using a single 1-H dagger instead of dual wielding will have different advantages/disadvantages. Some weapons are simply too large and clumsy to use anything but 2-H, same as some weapons are too small to be anything but 1-H

probably more revisions to come later!