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BadSpock's Logical Conclusions.

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

Author: BadSpock

Dynamic vs. Random

Posted by BadSpock Thursday October 18 2007 at 11:00AM
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  • This is in response to Vajuras' excellent post. Please read at

    Is the way Hellgate:London and Dungeon Runners operate truly dynamic or is it merely random?

    Let's say you have a level range for an encounter/instance. Let's say it's 7-10. So, the "randomness" occurs as follows. All enemies within the encounter are assigned point values. The total point value for all enemies in the encounter has to add up to a certain number. That magic number is based off of what a level 7-10 player should be able to defeat.

    So one time through you may have tons of level 7 mobs but only a few level 10. Next time it could be less total mobs, but more of them towards the level 9-10 range.

    Get what I'm saying? Is that truly dynamic or just controlled randomness?

    To me, "dynamic" means that it alters the encounter based off of your character's build, your group compisition and size, the level range of your group members/your own level, the mean level of your equipment, etc.

    Only level 7 but have twinked out uber level 7 gear? Have a "optimized" high DPS build? Have 3 people in your group instead of 4?

    A truly "dynamic" encounter would be able to collect allllll of these variables and alter the difficulty and symantecs accordingly.

    Is this possible? I think it definetely is, but it would require a lot of programmer leg work.

    So why do it? Because then the game wouldn't require optimal builds and maxed out stats etc. but instead be custom tailored to your character/group and you'd win based off of your skill, coordination, and effort... You'd have to use what you have to the best possible advantage instead of pre-loading your group for success. 

    Not because you "prepared" enough before hand by farming the "right" equipment, finding the "right" group members, and using the "right" build.

    This way, every encounter and every instance run would be different. No optimization and memorization. That's all WoW raiding is, trust me. Optimizing your party layouts and configurations, optimizing your stats/talent build to fit your role, then memorizing and repeating the content. Over and over.

    But what if it was different every time? No longer would you have to call a raid off because you don't have enough of X class or somebody of Y class is the wrong build.

    But why stop there?

    Make the encounter different if you run it during the game's day cycle then if you ran it during the night.

    Make different difficulty levels, where the "magic number" the game tweaks the encounter to is set to a different lowest common denomenator. So from our previous 7-10 level range encounter, "easy" mode is based off an average level of 7, "standard" mode is based off an average level of 8-9, and "hard" mode based off a level 10 average.

    Games like WoW have done random events and situations in raids. Like the final boss of Karazahn, the Prince guy, where his Infernals that fall from the sky land in random locations. Sometimes, this random spawning can and will destroy even the best raiding group. That's no fun. You can't over come that kind of randomness.

    Dungeon Runners is all random dungeons. Not a bad start. From what I hear, Hellgate: London is very much the same way.

    But why stop at random?

    Why not make them truly dynamic.

  • vajuras writes:

    At the moment I'm for both Random + Dynamic. It needs to be "random" so that diverse groups will find that they can handle encounters better then specialized groups. Dynamic is needed for level adjustments. City of Heroes did a good job at this for what it was however since the spawns were consistent- Damage and Healing reign supreme

    I'm more interested in seeing PVE handled like PVP. In City of Heroes during Guild Vs Guild we saw succcessful guilds cover their "holes" so they had no weakness. So, what I would like to see is random spawns get created no matter the group composition (note- I'm not talking about difficulty adjustment in which games like City of Heroes already handle superbly).

    For instance- sonic defenders can give players protection from DArkness. Empaths can cast Clarity giving you protection from mezzes. Bubble Defenders can increase resistance. All 3 archetypes would possibly be required if we dynamically spawned encounters that would require this role.

    This way we see all roles have high demand because the most successful groups will be merely more diverse

    Thu Oct 18 2007 1:24PM Report
    BadSpock writes:

    I understand what you are saying...

    but I'm talking about not having to bring certain builds that can protect from X or increase Y.

    Having them would be nice for those situations yes, but you shouldn't ever "need" to have someone who can do a specific thing.

    All abilities a player brings to the table should come at the cost of the abilities they don't have. Sure, you can bring person Y with X ability, but then you don't bring person Z with C ability. How will this effect the group?

    I think you are talking about having enough diversity where any build will be important and needed. So the group with more variety does better.

    I'm talking about even if everyone has the exact same build, let's say everyone is a nuker so you have NO healing or tanking or buffing or anything, I want a game that adapts to that and that group can be just as successful the if the group is very diverse

    Thu Oct 18 2007 1:37PM Report
    Flungmuk writes:

    So tailor the instance mobs to the group dynamic. I like that idea.

    It could also be used t make easy some dungeons easier, or harder based on the group.

    If the script that spwned the mobs looked at all the group variables such as level, indavidual and group dps, mana and HP. So a level 20ish group of new players will see diferent things than a group of level 20ish twinks. The thwink group would have a more diverse range of mobs to handle, not higher level, but it would take resists and other factors into account. Mobs with more HP and mana to use, because the twinks would have more mana, ac and HPs.

    I was in a LDoN group with my rogue alt ages ago. Being a cheep-o, I had spent a whopping 100pp on gear for my rogue, the others....Thousands of plat. We would finish assassin and even clear all missions in 15ish min. I dont think my backstab ever refreshed on the same mob.

    Something like your suggestion would make this virtually imposible. Because it was fun the 1st run, but by the 3rd, running through was ultra boreing. Coin was good though. :)

    Thu Oct 18 2007 5:44PM Report
    soulwynd writes:

    Your constantly quoted dynamic in this case is simply random. There's only so much you can take away from randomness before it becomes almost static. But yes, any encounter system can take everything in accord to create a perfectly matching foe or group thereof, and no, it doesn't take as much leg work as you'd think, can be programmed in a single day given your system generation methods.

    But keep in mind that the more static variables you take as source when creating something, the more predetermined it will be. To explain more kindly, a level 7 mage wont change much until it reaches level 8, so unless they do something drastic like changing some piece of twink gear, it's likely that they would be encountering the same old crap if you took all their statistics as seed for the generator. Of course, you can always deviate, but if a player if forced into too many encounters, he will quickly see the pattern.

    Fri Oct 19 2007 7:49AM Report
    BadSpock writes:

    True, it's not so much about the gear or difference between level 7 characters. They have not yet had enough time to develope and change.

    It's more about changing because you have A mage or two mages etc.

    It's more for the "high end" stuff where people have developed their characters further and really specialized their build / play style one way or the other.

    Why? Becuase things don't get "boring" and "static" until end-game, when it's a LOT more of the rinse and repeat, replay and replay etc.

    Fri Oct 19 2007 10:12AM Report
    soulwynd writes:

    Well, I play rogue-likes. In most of them, everything is randomly generated and even so, it becomes repetitive. They are fun, but I can't do them for too long before getting bored. The only reason I actually try mmorpgs, or other online games, is that once in a while, people will change something.

    There's no way a game wont be repetitive. Unless it's a self-programming AI that wants to dominate the world by making people play games, sort of thing.

    Sat Oct 20 2007 11:10AM Report
    vajuras writes:

    only way to escape the repetition is embrace player generated content. We don't have to let them have full control like in Second Life but we can let them do fun stuff within the boundaries of our games

    Sat Oct 20 2007 12:44PM Report
    vajuras writes:

    of course to play devil's advocate to myself- I am having a lot of fun in Oblivion lately. no doubt over 100 hours. So I guess its possible to overwhelm the gamer with developer created content

    Of course Oblivion has a storyline and other factors I have not yet identified that keeps everything totally brand new and fresh. I guess the skill based system helps a lot too

    Also remember FF7 capturing the magic for me like this too. But I've seen even FF7 get listed as a 'sandbox' on wikipedia tho

    Sat Oct 20 2007 12:57PM Report
    grimfall writes:

    To me this proposal smacks of two things:

    1. Encouraging players to build PVP chars because there will be no consequences in the PVE environment.

    2. 'dumbing down' the game by making content easier.

    I don't really see the benefits of the proposal.  If you go into an instance with an unbalanced group, it should be more difficult.

    Sun Oct 21 2007 2:26AM Report writes:
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