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Weekly Random Meaningful Blabber

A blog about anything MMO related. I suppose I could have confined it to more specific things...but I dislike losing my freedom!

Author: Gishgeron

The Gish take on sandbox ideals

Posted by Gishgeron Thursday March 27 2008 at 11:55PM
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  I've talked a lot about these types of games...and what I think should go in them.  For once, I'm gonna compile some of those very basic concepts into this blog so some of you can read over it and MAYBE even enjoy it.  Hope you like it!


  First, lets tackle my game fundamentals.  PvP is going to be built around Factional combat.  I would have two zone types.  One is a normal zone, where PvP can only occur between people whom have assigned themselves to a guild (or faction...semantics really) .  I might allow FFA PvP, but in these zones I would place very harsh penalties for spree-killings.  In such a case, players are created with an "Innocent" tag.  Killing innocents grants the player a permanent flag which denies him access to any NPC function what-so-whoever, until which time he has done enough to revoke it. 

  The second zone is a typical "open" zone, where I will place the best resources and most ideal rewards for players to attain.  There shall be less landmass dedicated to these zones than normal ones.  Mostly, because I want the prime resources to be heavily controlled.  I also want these areas to be heavily contested.  Limiting the landspace for them ensures that more players actively seek them and are more likely to encounter each other for them.

  I will not have full loot PvP.  At least...not in the way we know it.  One ideal I have has simply to severely limit personal player inventory (to mimic actual reality), thus forcing players to use warehouses to store their things.  Warehouses would be a thing that only exist in player cities.  These are also locations which can be destroyed and looted.  What this serves is to place a form of player looting in the game which also encourages factional combat to claim these warehouses.  My other ideal was a kind of transitional thing...where killing the player merely removed item durability and returned it to the killer as the base resource used to make it.  The player still has his stuff...for awhile...and the killer is rewarded.

I will move on now, though I may tie PvP into other things.

  Crafting will be the name of the game.  Items WILL decay.  This decay will occur more rapidly as the item is used more.  Furthermore, resource nodes will have actual limits on them.  Once drained, they will remain empty until they reset...a thing I plan to make either weekly or monthly.  My plan is to make it so that basic use will make most items and building wear out enough over the week or month to use up the resources that exist.  These nodes will be placed in locations that never change.  If you find a mine that has 10,000 ore in it...that mine will always be where you found it.  This is crucial in creating territory for guilds to placing cities near these nodes will be key in defending them. 

  All items will need to be crafted.  I do not want NPC vendors.  Players must run this game, in all of its elements.  I realize that a lack of crafters could cause an issue early on.  To correct this, the basic level crafting skills shall be available to everyone and allow production of bone and wood weapons.  I also hope to make the skill limits broad enough that most people can embrace a large area of character skills to allow for both combat, crafting, and some other just fun ones, like brewing.  Also....its important to note that I will not have massive power differences between qualities of gear.  I intend to locate most of the players "power" in the players skills.  Items are just to be extensions of that power with some very minor bonuses for quality. 

  I would also want my players to be able to decorate both their cities and themselves well.  Several crafting skills will exist for things like clothes and furniture and just basic decoration to bring color and life into the world.  Moving on now....


  Mini-games.  I want to take some of the more recreational (and sometimes gathering) type of activities and make them more fun.  Take fishing, I think that the current "cast and click" model is dumb.  Lets add some real fishing elements to it...make it play like you bought a fishing game for your PS3.  Heck, for giggles lets turn building construction into a tetris style mini-game.  I don't mean...lets make em OWN at that kind of game to make stuff...just throw some nice durability bonuses in there for those that really rock the tetris out.  Turn potion-making into a game of reflexes and timing (which REAL chemical mixing can be)  The options are endless, and if you make the mini-games load only for the client side until the completion results are adds nothing to lag at all.  Picking herbs can't be something crazy...but being able to take the seeds and have some Harvest Moon style farming happen would rock for the planters of the world.

  I actually want to remove dull gathering from my game entirely.  I would have hire-able NPCs for people to use for mining and such.  I guess I could turn mining into a about bomberman?  Bah, who knows.  I'll TAKE suggestions for it.

  Next up:  Set amounts of gold.  There is a predetermined amount of currency in the game.  If you pay Bob the toolman for something, he always has that cash until someone else gets it.  Even NPCs.  This amount would scale based on accounts with players on a server.  Not by much...a few basic units per player.  Point is, its limited...bad.  No goldfarmers here....ain't nothing to farm.  You won't find them at resource nodes either...because THOSE are gonna be constantly contested and protected by their guilds.

  Chugging right along....FACTIONS!  TO begin, I want to have lots of stuff for factions to do.  Starting with factional leaders.  I want them to have a nearly RTS/Sim like control when adjusting cities.  I want factional leaders to be able to place their own NPCS...and even build their own quests.  I want a fluid and functional UI for them to use to actively communicate with other members, and even other divisions of leadership inside the faction.  I even want them to have reputation meters.  Yup, leaders can set up reputation increases with their NPCs and even grant rep to players on their own.  This information is a simplified way for faction members to visually see their place in the faction...and to perceive others whom are friendly to it.  Leaders can even set up increased city quest rewards based on rep.

  But there is MORE.  I want to have a statistical representation of a factions when using skills near a faction city or capital...I will have bonuses granted to the player.  That means better crafted goods...better combat performance, ect.  One could even suggest tying rep into offering lower bonuses to those whom have good rep with you...but not actually members of your faction.  This supports the more diplomatic side to factional interaction.  Not everything has to be about war, after all.  Sometimes it might be good to have a buddy faction...just for the skill buffs.

  I'll add more to this in my next blog maybe.  I'm tired...and just ran out of steam for the night...sorry :(  Work sucks, its iron-fisted control of my life and its time demands are the very bane of my existence.  Tell me what you think, good or bad.  I DO have more...I just can't think at the moment.  I should have wrote this crap down better....let that be a lesson to me.  NEVER rely on my memory 100%.

vajuras writes:

"Killing innocents grants the player a permanent flag which denies him access to any NPC function what-so-whoever, until which time he has done enough to revoke it. "

Nice, nice you didnt clarify earlier so far we look identical basically. Interesting....

" I will not have full loot PvP.  At least...not in the way we know it.  One ideal I have has simply to severely limit personal player ...."

Interesting, such an ideal has a good shot at mass appeal. I've thought along such lines as well I know what you mean. Good, good, ideas. Beauty

" I intend to locate most of the players "power" in the players skills.  Items are just to be extensions of that power with some very minor bonuses for quality. "

Nice, nice all great ideas so far. I gotta lay it down but will return... Looks great so far....

Fri Mar 28 2008 2:09AM Report
Gishgeron writes:

One of the biggest hurdles is just simply doing all the math for resources.  Trying to first decide what average decay should be designed for...and thus setting resource weekly limits to just a pinch over that is long.  Especially when you have to factor in the probability that you won't have player city building decay at first.

So, to make that aspect fair...there is no way to avoid an initial "boom" economy as many players will have extra resources until factions start forming and really working toward securing cities (which will have building decay and repairs from sieges).  The best angle I imagined for such is to have "tiered" which the secure zones have low-count nodes whereas the FFA zones will have the mother loads.

Another initial problem comes from the warehouses...which won't be around at first since players won't have cities (which, by the way, you will be able to build in the secure zones as well).   I've made a two-part solution to it.  First, "tiered" building types based on what resource is used to make it.  Some much smaller and weaker warehouses will take very little to build...and only require the far less contested "wood" types of resource.  Second, NPC town warehouses that come with pretty high weekly tax on them.

Both help speed the move to cities along, and the NPC warehouse helps players until they start accumulating enough to build anything.  I do not want to overly limit the NPC warehouse just because it won't be attackable (I might even MAKE it attackable...for the criminals.)  I DO want the tax to be high...forcing players who use it to store resources to USE those resources quickly.   My first feeling is a rock solid 20% loss each week of player stock.  That should be high enough to make them plan ahead and really be sure they are working toward something before investing a lot INTO the safe warehouse.  Factions won't use them because at that level of resource management, 20% is gonna be a TON of their stock...and they will want to keep every grain of ore and wood for repairs after sieges.

I really wanted to move away from full loot PvP because it discourages new players...and for ANY game like this to succeed you need a large and healthy playerbase.  I want to also bring in players from more PvE games to at least give the sandbox/faction thing a shot...and having them constantly be naked deters that.  My alternative still lets the PvPers take loot...but on a much larger scale and in a way that brings a community together, rather than tear it apart.

I should also explain the "player power" comment in more depth.  I do not mean statistical power.  I do not want huge growth in that area from ANYTHING.  It divides noobs and vets, and I'm against that.  I want new players able to jump into the fray and become a part of the world...rather than grind into it.  The skills you earn will most often NOT be statistic improvements...but merely more combat options.  I'll want a more active targetting (but not an FPS demand level of aim) and would use a large hitbox targeting reticule. 

That opens up combat moves...because being able to roll to the side, or trip an opponent will have more effect.   The large reticule will be a blend of active attack and hit-checks...similar to what Exsteel uses.  The emphasis will be on the active attack, but I will incorporate some minor "roll" systems to account for small combat moves you just can't make an MMO deal with on a large scale yet.  Like turning slightly to the side to dodge ONE of a small volley of would be silly to tie such a move into a skill when its really more about luck in REAL life anyway.


Fri Mar 28 2008 10:04AM Report
Meltdown writes:

As always you have lots of very good ideas. I like everything you have said about the sandbox ideals, and my only comment is that with a constant amount of currency in the game-world and with basically an unlimited amount of resources (given enough time) wouldn't that drive prices down infinitely? Really, money is the rare resource and trading may become a giant bartering system (no complaints there though).

Either way I like a lot of your ideas and reminds me a lot of the better parts of UO I remember. Actually perhaps the "warehouse" idea could take UO's Banking idea, where when starting out it is more than enough room for your resources and items, but as you progress there just isn't enough room and people are forced to store things in their houses/castles.

Fri Mar 28 2008 3:57PM Report
Gishgeron writes:


The solution to your resource question is as easy as making sure everything has a hefty base upkeep cost.  This forces natural decay on any crafted item (buildings, weapons).  The resources aren't unlimited...there are strict limits on how many spawn each month at each node.    There MAY be some left over each month...but that is okay.  Due to the sheer amount of players wanting cities and the sieges that will wreck them...those bonus resources will be eaten alive quickly as players begin fighting over territory in the open zones...which will ALSO have the largest nodes.

Besides also have to take into account the harsh 20% inventory loss people using secure zone warehouses will have...and how well that will deal with early leftover resources to begin with.  Later on the constant attacks will take care of the rest.  Even if there is STILL some leftover each month...its easy enough to adjust upkeep costs once the game balances out later on, or simply add more things for players to build inside their cities to eat up even more upkeep.

i am always a fan of more stuff, so I'd try the second option LONG before "nerfing" upkeep costs and burdening players who already have established towns with more overhead.

Fri Mar 28 2008 8:02PM Report writes:
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