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Cleffy Blog

With the experience of many mmos and years of experience I come to you investigating the inner workings of multiplayer environments.

Author: Cleffy

Cleffy's dream mmo design

Posted by Cleffy Saturday February 28 2009 at 11:01PM
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I hope to change the focus of this blog to my dream mmo game design bible.  Every blog entry I hope to nip away at the inner workings of this bible and hopefully maybe 1 day have the several hundred page document complete with player input.

This first entry will be a basic summary of what the game.  I am not trying to get investors so I won't phrase it in ways its similiar to other games.

The Engine

Probably the worst part in mmo creation are the limits of the game engine.  Just getting the engine is millions of lines of code and getting many different things like rendering, audio, physics and gameplay elements to work together.  Finding 1 bug in the code takes weeks.  Sometimes you hear stories of games that clean-up and rewrite the core engine.  Its a very time consuming process and probably isnt needed.  Especially at the detriment of the player as the only way to add a new gameplay feature is to add it into the engine.

The goal of this engine is to have it modular where there is a list of modules the engine calls upon, and adding a new programing set is as simple as putting in another module and updating the list of modules.  Using this system it would also be able to seperate out the rendering engine as a seperate process so the player will be able to choose which type of rendering engine they wish to use.  This way the engine would be much easier to update and add new features onto.

Having such an easy to update and add upon to engine is the most crucial part of this game, and all the other programming features are not necessary if this isn't achieved since if it is they can be added at a later date.

Timed Combo Based Combat System

If you look at the train of thought in live combat.  Its about knowing what the next move is and how to react to it.  The person thinking enough moves ahead is usually the victor.  This is what I hoped to achieve with this combat system.

Combat is broken up into combos.  Each move in the combo has its own name and you can train to learn them.  Each move also comes with its own balance.  You chain these moves into a combo and save it for combat.  You can store a total of 4 combos to switch between.

For balance each move has an intended power, the more powerful the move, the less you can chain.  They also come with different speeds, force, start point, and end point.  The next move in the combo must start at the previous moves end point.  When the combo is finished there is a slight delay before you can act again.

What makes this about timing is because you can dodge.  If you saw your oponent use a chain of attacks and they don't switch combos you know their attacks.  In the game you can dodge or block in several directions using various keys and mouse position.  This would leave an opening for attack.

The magic system is similiar except instead of each combo doing damage, when you complete a combo you use the spell.  Obviously the longer the combo the more powerful the spell.  If the combo is broken then the spell fails.

Focused Class System

Unlike some other games that offer a dozen classes that don't offer any focus.  This game will offer 5 with vast specialization within those classes and rethought specialties.  The moves you learn are seperate from the class system.  You may have warriors casting spells if they skilled up right.  The skills you learn in your class give access to learn moves.  Such as if you got Fire Mastery 1, you can learn the signs for basic fire techniques.  If you learned Orion Style Sword combat, then you would have access to those particular moves.

Martial Artist- Martial Artists are masters of combat and have access to all the fighting moves.  Whether its a sword or a gun, martial artists use it in their persuit to perfect their form of combat.  They're endurance to combat and high damage make them ideal for fighting 1 opponent.  However, the lack of area based attacks makes them weak to being mobbed.

Doctor- Doctors understand the good and bad of medicine.  They have the most access to drugs and holistic medicine to replenish your team.  However, don't think of all doctors as compassionate healers.  They also use medicine for other purposes like poisoning, or enhancing their senses to find someone.

Rogue- Rogues are deviant socialites.  They are the people you converse to in the streets, but maybe only to steal your wallet.  Rogues can steal, inspire people, creep around unnoticed, and set up traps.

Warlock/Witch- Spellcasters are outcasts in society for researching the dark ways.  They have access to all magical moves.  They can cause devastation to a wide area, but often are inept to their surroundings while doing it.

Engineer- Engineers are crafters who develop machines or augmentations for combat.  They may not be as brutal in hand to hand as a martial artists, but they have many more hands or machines to attack with.

Transportation System

The idea behind the transportation system is to make the player feel like the vehicle they use is theirs.  There are no horses in this game.  Instead there are motorcycles, cars, and airships with the limitations you would expect these to come with.  You can swap out the parts in these vehicles for various benefits, and in the future use them for combat.  Some vehicles will be too much for 1 person to create and multiple people or guilds can create them for use by them.

Mini-Game System

The idea behind the modular based engine is so that various mini games can be added like a trading card game, or arcade games to break up monotony.

Script Based Art Assets

The art will be done differently then any game in the past.  Instead of thousands of static art assets being done, scripts will be done instead that builds the asset.  With a script based system, the player can control how many polies a character is, how many bones they have, how smooth the animation is, and how dense the texture is by adjusting simple values.  The maximum polies for this is limitless truly making the graphics ageless.  Although its much much harder to make a scripted model, the pay off will last for years.  I would rather hire 5 people who can script models, then 1000 people who cannot.

Script Based Quests

Lets face it all quests in game are generic are pretty much the same.  Why can't these type of quests be generated from a script and have various NPCs give them out only in certain conditions.  It will offer a full range of content and allow focus on to more important gameplay features.

With script based questing you can even have moving caravans that need protection, invasions, and dynamic gameplay.

Problem with new mmo's, and what to target with a new mmo.

Posted by Cleffy Thursday October 16 2008 at 4:44AM
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First blog, and I will be blunt so people don't see a lengthy wall of text.  All mmos are failing today except WoW because they concentrate too much on PVE content.  PVE content in its current incarnation is a waste of time and resources.  Its also the leading cost of high budget mmos.

Its been said, 1st time mmo developers underestimate the problems of mmo development and why it takes so long.  Content/story based games have difficulty because a player can play through the content of a single player game in 48 hours or less.  Its fine for a game they paid $50 for, but for mmos the revenue comes for attracting them for months.  Its a constant uphill failing battle to try and offer compelling content for your users month after month.  This is practically creating 5 single player games a month.

My solution is simple, and I will break it down to execution. 

1st you want look at whats been successful at capturing the players attention for long periods of playtime yet offer very little in the form of effort.  This aspect can be seen in competitive multiplayer games like Counter Strike and Starcraft.  When competing against other players to achieve a goal players tend to be interested for longer periods of time.  This is evident in mmos with games like Lineage II and Ragnarok Online maintaining its popularity through guild owned castles and sieges.  So what you want to do is make a PVP-centric game.

2nd is you want to expand on this.  Castle Sieges are a good start, but its something that only happens on a weekly basis and doesn't really offer the variety people want in a game.  I think good avenues of exploration for PVP based competition are expanding trade in the game.  Political systems.  Town Raids and protection systems, Mini-games such as card games and racing.  All of which has the possiblity for addition by freeing production time and costs by knixing generic PVE content.

3rd.  Although I have been critical of PVE Content.  There hasn't been an mmo made that has had success without having to knock a few AI heads.  However, what you shouldn't do is waste the time with static monsters and generic quests its wasteful and time consuming.  You should concentrate on scripted events such as protecting villages from monster attacks, getting a princess back from a raid boss who kidnapped here, and protecting trade caravans from brigands as they travel around.  Maybe sometimes encounter that hungry bear who wonders the forest.