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Paragus Rants

Rants, reviews, and interviews from an MMO veteran and guild leader.

Author: Paragus1

Rant: In-Game Events

Posted by Paragus1 Tuesday June 12 2007 at 6:47PM
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Rant: In-Game Events

MMO Developers will often spend millions of dollars and years of hard work creating virtual worlds that will seem full of life to keep us playing.  One thing that seems to be overlooked a good bit is the use of In-Game Events as a tool to add a dynamic feel to the daily life of the worlds that we play in.  When I think back at all the MMO worlds I have passed through in my travels, some of the times that stand out in my mind the most are some of the in-game events I have had the fortune to experience.

The problem is that this aspect of MMO's is often not given the attention it deserves.  I do however understand the fact that from a developers point of view, in-game events can often be timely to code in, and in many cases only ever get to be experienced once, and often times by only a hand full of players.  Or do they?

Starting at Everquest 1, I think I can only remember ever seeing or hearing about 1 or 2 events going on in the game while I was playing.   I believe one had something to do with a lot of undead running wild in the Commonlands, and the other had some giants scattered around the world dropping Rubicite armor.  Now maybe there are some EQ1 players out there who have seen more then I did, but in my years in Norrath I never saw much dynamic content.  I heard Mayong Mistmoore of castle Mistmoore only appeared as a GM played mob, but I personally never saw him.

I remember in Anarchy Online coming back from a series of missions and finding Cyborgs marching through the streets hosing people down.  I didn't know why they were there, but honestly it didn't matter to me.   The town was a war zone with mass combat and people dying everywhere and it was fun as all hell.

One of my most memorable times in World of Warcraft was during the Valentine's Day event.   Me and some of my buddies were bored on a Saturday afternoon, and there was a teleporter in the town that took you off to Moonglade.   Upon arrival in Moonglade a giant two-headed dog named Omen was going totally apeshit rampaging all over the zone killing everyone on both teams.    Alliance and Horde were both trying to kill him and killing each other in the process.

Final Fantasy 11 introduced "Besieged" in their ToAU expansion pack.  Beseiged was basically a periodic event that would trigger a massive invasion of the expansion packs major city.  When the trigger went off, 1 or more of the 3 tribes of beastmen would form up an army complete with generals and bosses would travel out of their lair in a formation towards the town.   Players EXPing outside often times will see the army walking across the world heading for the town at which time the event begins.  A massive bloodbath usually ensues with people fighting everywhere in the towns main square and the monsters try to kill the players, capture the NPCs, and try to steal the artifact from the center of town.   Captured NPCs would be taken back to the monster's dungeon and locked up in a cell until freed by adventurers.  There was a considerable amount of lag, but at the end of the day it did prove to be a lot of fun and added a real dynamic to the world that says these AI mobs aren't just standing around waiting to be killed, they are coming for you!

Finally, probably the one of the oldest and most legendary in-game events I have ever seen was in Asheron's Call 1.   AC1 had a massive backstory that unfolded through monthly updates and lore which was continually being built on.   Monthly content would usually be related in some way to the events of the month which could range from a variety of horrors.

One day, the Dark God in Asheron's Call (The Hopeslayer) actually appeared in the world.   He wasn't at the bottom of some dungeon, and he wasn't in an outer plane, he was literally walking around the countryside looking for towns and people to kill.  As far as I understand it, this guy was controlled by an actual person working for the game company.   He would walk and fly around the games massive overworld and visit towns.   Upon arrival he would shower the towns with fireballs, death and destruction, leaving the bodies of players in his wake.  it was up to the players on these servers to find a way to stop him from terrorizing the game world. 

To this day, I do not think any game has ever outdone the events that Asheron's Call 1 has set in motion.   Players would log in after a monthly update to find a certain popular town had been destroyed, and watch it build up slowly again over the course of the coming months.  I remember towns being attacked by monsters on several occasions, as well as other human controlled villains making their presence known.

Devs of future MMO's should definitely be sure to not forget this aspect of the game if they want the players to truly feel the world is alive and dynamic.   It may be a worthy investment to hire people who are able to enter the world as story related heroes and villains to help further the story and help involved players.  Then you have the recurring events like FFXI, which while may seem repetitive at a glance, helps build a immersion.   This is especially important for a PvE game.    PvP games are often driven by the actions and wars of the players.   PvE games are a turn off to a lot of people because they are often time viewed as the game where the monster stands there waiting to be killed.   Is it realistic that we want to kill the dragon, but he has never attacked the town?   Bring on the dragons, bring on the monsters, and bring on the chaos. 

Sure players may whine about getting killed by things they have little chance of winning against, but they will forgive you at the end of the day with more time subscribed because you will have given the gamer what he wants, a world that feels truly alive.

Co-Leader of Inquisition

Daedren writes: Good article, Paragus. You're snatching all the fun subjects! Funny thing, I was actually in a GM event in EQ. I even got a unique cloak for roleplaying. Sad thing is though, while the cloak was awesome, it got added as a drop later and it wasn't so unique. Still pretty cool though. My thoughts, as a developer, are that GM events are absolutely necessary for a MMOG. I mean you have 3000ish paying customers on one server, all paying 10+ $ a month. That's roughly 30k a month for one server. The LEAST you could do is pay some guy 1/10 of that to run some serious events on the server. The lack of this in current MMOG's is actually quite sad. Thu Jun 14 2007 2:27AM Report
Paragus1 writes: That's exactly the point I was trying to make. The problem can arrive though in games with a lot of servers. WoW for example has so many servers that it may be hard to hire enough people to keep things going. These events do a lot though to add to the world coming alive. FFXI's event is completely automated with no GMs. I would love to have the job to be a guy who plays a villain for the story, and I'm sure there are thousands of others as well. Thu Jun 14 2007 9:27AM Report
neschria writes: I saw a few GM events of different sorts in my years in EQ1, other than the scripted spawn ones. One involved a GM roleplaying that he'd lost his sick bear or something in Misty Thicket, and what I really recall from that (and other similar events) was that the GM didn't seem prepared or able to react appropriately to the attempts of players to RP in ways that fell outside "the plan" or what they had anticipated people would do. It would seem that you really need sharp, creative people in those positions who can think on their feet a little better than that. I've been thinking about how gameplay could be more dynamic without creating a huge work burden, and GM Events seem to be one of the things that can be done. Thu Jun 14 2007 3:06PM Report
Paragus1 writes: Well at the end of the day we have to remember that we are all human, still a funny story! I'm sure the criteria for someone to fit to play a role requires an in depth screening process on the part of the devs. They are placing the world's lore in the hands of these people and trusting them to help tell the story of their world. Thu Jun 14 2007 3:33PM Report
Sykomyke writes:

I belive events like these were done by certain people in WoW who would kite certain mobs (Lord Kazzak) to towns (Stormwind) and then chaos ensued until the Dev's reset the server (fun but overall in the end even you would get tired of getting killed that many times)

Sat Sep 08 2007 12:36PM Report
beauxaj writes:

Ahhhh,   AC1.  I have to say That it is the king of in game Events.   Even in the Beta when the meteor was coming and the towns were being destroyed, the portal system was down and I spent 3 hours real time just running from Hebien- to the north to meet my guild so we could stand on a mountain and watch it wipe us all out.   The day I logged on to find snow covering the entire world, Asheron himself fighting Bael, The Olthoi invasions the bloody Tumerocs!!!!   Oy man they knew what the hell they were doing... oh the SPIRES!!!!  Each and every event requiring the players themselves to figure out what was happening and how to stop it.  I don't think there will ever be another game that does things like that again.  The fact that you had to figure out spells on your own using reagents etc, sure it eventually became known but it was a real knowledge quest for a while especially since the more people who used a spell the less powerful it was.

Tue Aug 05 2008 11:29AM Report
Gravarg writes:

Before Asheron's Call, I played a little game called Dransik.  They used to always have town raids of Talazar (head honcho evil guy) and his demon minions.  Talazar was actually controlled by the lead dev (I think he just was looking for something fun to do and added it in really).  Still the most memorable times I've ever had in any MMO ever was fighting off a helpless onslaught of minions from hell, and trying to kill Talazar, who would 1 hit kill just about anyone.  Oh the humanity! Great times, Great times!

Mon Dec 08 2008 5:07PM Report writes:
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