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In My Humble Opinion

My ramblings on where the MMO's of tomorrow are going to have to go to keep us all interested...

Author: Melf_Himself

Travelling in MMORPG's

Posted by Melf_Himself Sunday May 11 2008 at 7:43PM
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I’ve decided I am a big fan of taking other people’s ideas, reworking them slightly, and then passing them off as my own work :p

I read the above blog by vajuras from a couple of months back. In it he talks about long travel times (ie no or limited teleportation) being a good feature for MMO’s in 3 different ways:

 A) In RvR, imagine 2 sides fighting over control of res shrines. By taking over all the res shrines, you can gain control over a particular area, since the other team will have to run a long way to get back to fight you. It creates a natural territory-based PvP victory condition.

B) Localized economies. If there is a particular area with good access to some resource, and other areas with no access, you can create some really interesting trade opportunities for players, as well as whole new professions such as haulers etc.

C) Makes the world feel bigger, since you have to run for quite a while to get anywhere.

An important comment was added by heerobya, which was that it sucks for somebody interested only in PvE for their res shrines to be taken over by a PvP army, and have their game negatively impacted.


On to my opinion.

I think point C kind of blows because I really don’t want to spend half an hour traveling to get somewhere. But points A and B are just so much fun, so I’d love to see a game implement them without having point C to bog us down, and without players who don’t want to participate being negatively effected.

I think the problem could be solved with a combination of ideas:

Point A (PvP): I picture the RvR as having large NPC armies, who will admittedly be somewhat cannon fodder, but there would be lots of them. These are accompanied by players, who accomplish the real objectives and direct the NPC armies (maybe players get small npc squads to control based on their rank with the faction).

As vajuras said, have special resurrection shrines that are static and capturable. When you die, if there is nobody around to res you, you res at the nearest shrine owned currently by your faction. Let’s space them a modest amount apart (say, a 5 minute corpse run).

But, have the NPC army ALSO include special npc "resbots". When you die, if you are closer to a “resbot” than to a res shrine, the closest resbot will resurrect you, which teleports you to them. They do this after a short delay (max 30 seconds) as long as they aren't being directly threatened. BUT they consume XXX amount of some finite resource to do so. That way, if a force wants to invade, they will need to equip a LARGE amount of these guys as a kind of supply train (which will make PvE resource gathering an important part of the war effort, as well as hiring mercenaries and buying weapons/armor for npc's). They would be an important tactical conflict point, as the other team would want to take them out, and you would want to defend them very hard.

Both teams would have their little group of resbots to protect, and so you'll have to choose between defending your own and trying to sabotage the enemy's. They shouldn’t be the only point of interest in the landscape though - for example there could also be shrines that when held give your entire force within a particular radius various buffs (offensive/defensive buff/debuff shrines, shrines that alter the amount of time between enemy/ally respawns, etc), as well as resource nodes where you can recharge your "resbots" somewhat.

So, PvP could be kept fairly fast paced but still heaps and heaps of room for tactical play, and it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake and die, because you’ll be coming up again really soon.

But what about teleportation? How do you get to the battle front in the first place? It would be easy enough to have teleport waypoints located in the various cities. When you click on the waypoint, a map can be brought up showing the locations of all your faction’s resbots, as well as your res shrines. You can teleport to either of these from the city, again at a cost of some limited resource.

But what if, as heero said, Joe PvE is getting his res shrines messed around with when he wants nothing to do with PvP? My solution to this is what I’d call a “tiered resource” approach.

ie the “resource nodes” (whether these are mines or uber dungeons or whatever) with the greatest output would be located in the areas of greatest conflict, eg half way between 2 rival factions. There would be other resource nodes stretching all the way back to home base for either team, but with diminishing returns, so that the resource node closest to home base is the weakest.

So Joe PvE and pals would need to choose where to adventure – if their faction is successful, they get the greatest node “hotspot” to adventure in.

Now, you might say, that’s unfair, what if Joe PvE’s alliance has lousy PvP’ers, meaning Joe PvE can only ever do lousy resource collecting? In answer to that, I’d say it should all be tied in together. If his faction are losing the war effort, Joe PvE should gather more resources for the army, and hunt down more monsters so that the army can divert more attention towards the opposite faction.

Point B (localized economy): Obviously, teleportation to and from the “battle front” and to other cities would have to be limited in what you can carry with you, to prevent “taxi-ing” of items.

I think the best option would be to make teleportation more expensive the more items you have on you. You could make “strong magic interfere with the teleportation” (more expensive magic items cost more to teleport), as well as large amounts of weight (carrying lots of, say, steel ingots) or volume (carrying large amounts of, I don’t know, wool :p).

Another (some may say unrealistic) way to do it would be to make items “bind on teleport”. ie if you’ve teleported with an item, you can no longer trade it. A warning box would pop up saying: “Your items will no longer be tradeable if you teleport with them… continue?”

Another way to do it would be to make all items “bind on equip”, and not make inventories able to be teleported. I like the “bind on teleport” way better personally, and the simple scaling of cost with quality/number of items idea better again.

Regardless of the option chosen, I’d allow people to teleport back from PvE land to the closest town if they’re within a certain distance of it… Nobody wants to run an eternity back to town through an area cleared of monsters. Once back in town, if they want to sell their items elsewhere, they can form a merchant caravan to start their way off to another town, or (even cooler), they could subcontract it out to a professional “hauler” who does that sort of thing full time and really enjoys it.

Throw in some border taxes on the main roads and the increasing ability to rob said merchant caravan the further it gets from the main roads, and you’ve got yourself some extremely fun professions added to the mix – bodyguards, bandits and smugglers!