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Cathal's Blog

Well, I was sitting around one day and I figured, I may as well start up a blog. Were you expecting something more?

Author: Cathalaode

Revitalized Dream MMO Pt2: Abilities.

Posted by Cathalaode Wednesday August 12 2009 at 6:28AM
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Who really likes the traditional formula of auto attack, special, wait, special, wait, special, special, next? It's all just math, my attack vs their defense, and vice versa. Whoever's better at addition wins. I mean, it'll do. I'll admit it's not my biggest problem with MMOs today, but why settle for alright, when better is just as simple.

Part 1: Combat.
If you've played mount and blade, just skim this. The basic idea is that holding the left mouse button charges the melee attack (releasing fires the attack), and holding the right mouse button hold up your block. The direction you're moving will give you an attacking direction. Blocking with a shield, and parrying with a weapon are very different affairs, and they have their up's and downs. With a shield, you will block from any direction, and making a successful block will not lower your guard. Additionally, the act of blocking in itself costs less stamina, but it costs extra stamina to both raise your guard, and hold your guard up. Parrying on the other hand, is very stamina efficient, but every time you successfully block an attack, or are hit, your guard goes down, but just for a second. Also, in order to parry successfully, you must initiate your parry after the attacker pulls back his weapon to swing, and before he hits you. Parrying is faster, and costs very little stamina to pull up your guard, but it costs a fair amount of stamina every time you successfully parry an attack.
To bunnyhoppers: Just as a countermeasure, there will be a stamina drain while running in combat. And also, natural movement will be switched to walking. Press shift to run in combat. Simple as that. But you will gain a damage buff for attacking while running.

Armor: Armor will, instead of reducing damage, act as a kind of automatic shield. Blocking an attack with armor will hurt stamina more than health. Instead of a plain armor rating, it will have a few stats. Armor coverage, Armor protection, and Protection type. Armor coverage is how likely your armor is to block oncoming damage, for simplicity's sake, this is just added together with all your other equipment to make one general pool of coverage. Protection type is what kind of damage your armor covers, chain covers slashing, quilted leather covers peircing, plate covers everything, etc. Chainmail will offer minimum protection against archers, but is great in hand to hand combat. Armor protection, is how much your armor will protect you against it's protected damage type. This, again, is pooled together with all peices of armor of the same type. Also, all armor will offer a fraction of it's protection against foreign damage types.
Weapons: Weapons will also be more complex than usual. Primarily, there will be a major difference between weapon types. Damage from one type of weapon will not be the same as damage from another type. Swords will be faster at countering, and will have decent damage in both slashing and peircing. Daggers will be unable to parry, but will be very fast at attacking, and will have decent damage. Axes will be good at dealing damage through armor. Polearms will have a very long reach, and will be able to attack with the sheild up with proper skill, but are slow, ineffective in closer range, and cost a fair amount of stamina. Wrapping up the melee weapons are the clubs, they will be very good at dealing damage through armor, and will cost the enemy's stamina greatly.

Combat Stances: One you train a combat skill over level 50/100 you will gain a specialized combat stance specifically for that skill. Each stance will have a set of abilities that can be used while in that stance. It is important to note, that you cannot use an ability unless you are in the correct stance. You will be able to select any two abilities that are available for your stance as Active Abilities. While you are in your combat stance, pressing "E" will trigger the first Selected Skill, and holding it will ready you for your second Selected Skill.

Mage Spells: Magic will be broken down between schools. Fire Magic, Earth Magic, etc. These schools will act somewhat like a combat stance. Each school will hold a plethora of spells, of which 2 will be chosen as Active Spells. One strong Active Spell, and one basic Active Spell. Just like in the game TESIV: Oblivion, "C" will be the button that does all of the casting. If you tap the casting button, you will cast the basic spell, and if you hold it, you will charge up the powerful spell. For example, you might have Fire Magic activated with you basic spell being a fireball, and your powerful spell being a cone of fire. The basic spell will be faster, and drain less mana than the faster one, but will have a smaller effect. Schools can be changed in a fight, but the Active Spells cannot.

Priest Spells: Priest spells are used identically to Mage spells, and only differ in their function. Pretty simple.

Now that the functioning of combat, and the use of abilities is done, I propose that we move on to the integration/obtaining of abilities, and the customization of them. Assuming that there are no significant objections then... This bit is more important than it may seem, because of the leveling system I have implemented. For a very brief summary: a player class will be created by the guild, and all guild members will become a part of said class. As such, every player within the same guild will, obviously, be the same class. Since you're average player will often group with members of their own guild, there has to be a way to stand out substantially from the other members of your guild. Any skills below the non-guild cap do not need any customization, and as such, all of this will take place after the non-guild cap has been breached.

Obtaining Abilities/Spells: Once a player passes their non-guild cap on any skill that offers abilities, an ability tree will become available. This tree will be somewhat similar to the weapon customization trees in Dead Space, but larger (And clearly it has abilities as well on it). For those of you that haven't played Dead Space, it's a pretty simple mechanic: There is a branching tree that is composed of slots, most of the slots are blank, but some of the them have upgrades (in this case abilities) that you obtain by reaching them. Every time a player increases his skill in that field, he is able to fill in one slot. Spells and abilities are gained the same. (The purpose of this is to make sure that not everyone uses the same abilities).

Customizing Abilities/Spells: (Again, abilities and spells work the same, it's just easier to say ability than Ability/Spell/Whatnot every time) Once a player obtains an ability, a customization screen will become available for it. Abilities are customized by increasing it's power in a number of fields. When an ability is used, it will gain levels. Every time a level is gained in an ability, the player will receive a point they can spend on one of it's customization fields. Abilities have a maximum level though, and will only be able to fill just over a quarter of their available slots. For example: a player is customizing their Fireball spell, There are 4 fields in which they can advance their spell, Damage, Duration, Range, and Mana Cost. If each field is out of 100, then the spell will be able to gain a maximum of 150 levels. (This is important to further distinguish players within the same guild)

The Skeleton in the Sandbox. Leveling

Posted by Cathalaode Wednesday August 12 2009 at 2:43AM
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If you just want to get to the point, skip this wall of text right here, because it's really just an introduction. But if intro's are your thing, or you just want to see where I'm coming from read it. I won't judge.

From what I've heard on this website, the general concensus is that people want their MMO sandbox flavoured. The people are saying that they're tired of linear, class based leveling. They're tired of restrictive, and funneled gameplay that promises stellar endgame content, and then builds an entire game to keep the players away from it. Instanced zones that are meant to cut the world into easy to swallow chunks, because who wants to explore a massive world if there's no carefully lined out content in it? I do. It seems to me that MMO developers have forgotten something important about MMOs. They've forgotten why we play them. We don't come to play them because they have carefully written story lines, carefully crafted worlds, or even just for the PvP, because frankly, MMOs don't have a great track record in any of those fields... If I wanted a story, I'd play a game like Mass Effect, or if I wanted PvP I'd play CoD4. We come here to interact with other players, and to build a world. An MMO's strongest point is that it's interactivity makes it unpredictable; You can be wandering around, killing monsters and run into an enemy player. Name one other kind of game that can happen in. Name one other kind of game where a guild can build a city, raise an army and wage war on another guild. Name one other kind of game with an economy that evolves in real time, or one other kind of game where a player can do anything he or she wants to do. A game should have less rules, and more decisions.
So let's get right down to it here. I'm planning an MMO, but I don't have the resources to make it. I'm just hoping that somewhere in the 7 or so readers I'll get for this someone will change the way they look at MMOs. And in this post, I want to get right down bones of my idea. I've never been great with following my own orders though, so wherever it ends up is up in the air right now.

Feel Free to skip passed this too, this is just the rationale.
Since in a sandbox a player should be able to define himself by his actions, and a guild should be able to shape the world, inherent factions have no place, and as such, races have no real importance at this point, we'll move right on to the class system. Afterall, the most important part of the game is the player, so we may as well start with them. Now, we want the player to be able to be whatever he wants to be, so classes are out. At the same time we still want him to develop his character, so the obvious alternative is a skill based system. Personally I'm not a huge fan of the standard skill based system, as they are rife with flaws. Every player turns out to be a Stealthy Battlemage, who also rocks at crafting. It's just that the logical path to go down is every single one at the same time. But I've found a way to keep variety in the game, and it also has the bonus, of allowing a player to respec his character into any class he wants. That system is a guild based progression.

Let's say that there are 100 possible levels to every skill. Naturally a player can bring them up to level 50 regardless of their guild, with the exception being magical skills, which can go up to 15, just because I think that magic should be more of a rarity. Now, a guild would get to chose what kind of Archetype they'd like to train their members in: Fighter, Rogue, Priest, Mage, Craftsman. From here they choose any 4 skills from their Archetype and 1 skill from any list they want. These skills can be maxed out. So if me and my friends start a guild, we might pick the skills Heavy Armor, One Handed Sword, Sheild, One Handed Axe, and Dark Magic. There you've essentially created the Dark Templar from AoC. That's the player essentially making the same content Funcom spent a month on in 30 seconds. And if the player wanted they could swap out Heavy Armor for Light Armor, and maybe instead of Dark Magic they pick Poisons, or maybe even Stealth. You can make whatever you want, and keep the variety in the gameplay. To respec, all you need to do is join a new guild. For all effects and purposes your skills would drop down to their new maximum. In case you regret your decision, your old skills would be remembered, but they would degrade over time. For example if you switch guilds and your new guild doesn't have the sheild skill selected, you would perform as if you were still at level 50 shield, but your skill would still be at 100, and tommorow it'd be 75, then the next day it'd be at 50. And that pretty much covers leveling.

I am Cathal, come back from the dead. Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all.

Posted by Cathalaode Wednesday August 12 2009 at 12:27AM
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Hey, hows it going. Long time no see. What's it been, like 2 years? ...Well, I figured that I have some more time on my hands, and I've gotten a tighter grasp on my brain. I guess you could say I've grown up a little. You'd be wrong, but you could say that. Anyways, getting to the point here, I've finally gotten back around to all of this MMORPG business. And just for a little recap on who I am incase we've never met, or if you've forgotten me (Don't worry, I'm not offended.) this is who I am.

I've been an gamer for as long as I can remember. Since I was in diapers actually. I've always had a fascination with the rules of games, and I've been making and altering them since pre-school. Most kids use lego to make little houses, I used it to make game boards. I got into MMOs when WoW came out (But don't hold that against me.), and there have been a number of MMO's that I've played; WoW (Obviously), Guild Wars, EQ2, LoTRO (Briefly), AoC, and pretty much every 10 day trial in between. The only thing that they've all had in common is that they've all left me wanting something more. Since then I figured that, although I clearly do not have the ability to develop my own MMO, I would post my ideas on here hoping that someone who does have the ability will read them. And now, I'm going into university, still as interested in games as I was when I was trying to figure out how to work my Sega Pico.

But the real reason that I'm on here isn't just because I have more time on my hands. I spent most of the time I was away playing MMOs, and further expanding and revising my ideas. I think I've thought up an MMO that goes deeper than the traditional MMO. And now my plan is to show it to you. Stay tuned, and if you have any feedback on my future posts, feel free to speak up. No plan is perfect.