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Stuff, Mainly Ryzom

Thus, I don't have to rewrite my explanations and opinions of stuff because of losing them to the bowels of the forum.

Author: katriell

My list of sandboxes

Posted by katriell Wednesday November 4 2009 at 6:11PM
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This list is subjective, bossily opinionated, non-exhaustive, and covers only 3D MMOs.  It focuses on current and playable titles.

 

1. Ryzom
Read my other blog posts.

Join a guild; almost all of them can be described as "mature and friendly."
Unfortunately there are no RP guilds anymore.  They died off due to the failures of the game's former owner Gameforge, the release of Vanguard, and a virally marketed heavy-RP MUD.  Connect with individual roleplayers: Marelli, Lomilmalia, Suibom, maybe Zyratuan; Pero and Riveit are good for political conversation; Drakfot is a famous storyteller; Sherkalyn, Rikutatis (who runs a nice, active Atysian newspaper) and a few others are part-time RPers; there are others I haven't met or who have returned without my knowledge.

(Updated on May 8, 2010.)

 

2. EVE Online
The premier sandbox. If you're one of those people who are put off by the lack of a human avatar, play anyway. Incarna a.k.a. Ambulation a.k.a. Walking In Stations is coming within a year or two and that gives you plenty of time to integrate into the community, develop your skills, and amass some wealth. If you're a roleplayer, look on the official forum for RP chat channels and join them.

 

3. Myst Online
The most story-driven and social-centric MMO in history, I kid you not. It's not actually playable right now, because it sort of died, but t's going to return eventually as an open-source project.

Update: Now it is playable.  There is no fee to do so, but if you appreciate the game, please put your money where your mouth is by donating.

 

4. Wurm Online
I have little praise for this one. There's no RP, unless that has changed since last I played. Actions like mining take about 45 seconds, which is frustratingly just long enough to make you realise you're wasting moments of your life but just short enough that you can't web-browse or read a book meanwhile - kind of like Istaria's harvesting. Some of the textures are atrociously unprofessional beyond all belief and there's no third person camera, but...somehow, the environmental atmosphere is realistic and relaxing. You can make your mark on the world uniquely with terraforming, semi-freeform construction, farming, arborism and woodcutting, et cetera.

 

5. Fallen Earth

A post-apocalyptic sandbox that just released. I haven't been following it closely and I have only played its Halloween trial, so I can offer little comment. Heard that it pulled a somewhat Vanguard-style launch and my experience (plus a glance at the game's forum) corroborates that.  Don't let that daunt you, however, because between the rough edges is a proper skill-based craft-centric sandbox, and it continues to be polished.

 

6. Planeshift

Indie, open-source, RP encouraged.  Definitely not your average bear.

 

7. Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted (formerly "Horizons: Empire of Istaria")
Don't let the fanboys fool you, the crafting system sucks compared to Ryzom's. It may be broader but it has the depth of a pancake and the the grind is mind-numbingly horrific.
But the game is a sandbox, more or less. There is even non-instanced construction.
AND YOU CAN PLAY A GIANT FLYING FIRE-BREATHING LAIR-DIGGING DRAGON. Plus ten biped races.

Ranked last because of strange management.  Virtrium isn't at all fraudulent, just arrogant and annoying.  Your mileage may vary.

A non-exhaustive list of Ryzom's distinctive features

Posted by katriell Saturday May 9 2009 at 1:49PM
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Origin: www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/1959486/thread/175665#1959486


- System of customising actions and spells themselves using "stanzas." For example, you can create a spell that combines Fire and Electricity offensive elemental "options" on the Atysian Double Missile template, and balance these options with credits (Sap/MP, HP, casting time, spell range, etc) until their cost is equalled or exceeded by the total value of the credits. The farther you exceed the cost, the larger bonus you get to the action's success rate.

- Crafting system where your choice of materials of different types, qualities, grades, and ecosystem origins directly affects the statistics of the item you're making, as well as its colour. Materials also affect each other, so a set of materials you'd expect to be great might not work so well. It's about experimentation and personal knowledge, not so much about character's skill level.

Furthermore, crafting is extremely important because there is no equipment looting except on a very few bosses, and missions only reward with faction/race/tribe fame gain (except on the newbie island, but all the rewards there are below the higher standards of what can be crafted).

- Harvesting is pretty much a minigame where you have to monitor the stability and health of the material source, using "care plan" actions to increase these statistics when they get low to avoid the source exploding or dying prematurely.

You have to "prospect" to make sources appear on the ground, but they aren't randomly located, they're arranged in nodes around certain areas, so this is another aspect of the game where knowledge and experimentation is important.

There are several types of stanzas you can use in your prospecting action to affect what you find and how you find it. There are also several types of stanzas for your digging action, affecting the volatility of the sources you use it on, how many materials you can get per source, and the quality of the materials you get.

Seasons and weather affect the locations and contents of some sources; on a rainy winter night you may find Supreme Enola Sap and on a fair autumn afternoon you may find Excellent Motega Wood.

- No monsters, just animals who are part of ecosystems. Carnivores attack herbivores, sometimes as a pack and sometimes alone, and after the kill may stand over the corpse with an eating animation, then after returning to their pack one of their fellows might come to the corpse to eat as well. Spawn locations change with the seasons and other factors, and sometimes you can see herds migrating. Herbivores notice players and sniff them and peer at them cautiously or boldly; the weakest animals, called Yubo, even beg for food and pee on your shoe. Carnivores have varying aggro ranges from about 25 to 40 metres depending on species. Some species of herbivore come to the aid of their attacked fellows, some do not, and some aid other species.

- The enemy NPC race, giant insects called Kitin (like "chitin," not "kitten") used to attack in massive invasion forces that players had to fight off. Sometimes these invasions took place in the wildernesses, sometimes they got into capital cities. The Kitin also have nests in some places, which can be attacked and cleared out with great effort to reach the valuable materials deep inside.

- Invasions weren't the only events. There were also frequent storyline events, mostly minor and some major, but all interestingly interconnected and never to be repeated. The storylines and political climates differ between servers.

- Ryzom's story takes place on an planet called Atys, essentially a giant spherical tree in space. Everything on its surface is organic - no rocks or metals. Harvested and looted materials are organic, and so are the items they are made into. Cities are made of wood, adobe, manipulated plants, etc. In the sky, the gigantic branches of the Canopy can be seen. Several of the explorable regions are part of the underground Prime Roots, vast dark caverns formed by pockets in the less dense upper layers of the planet. There, the ecosystem resembles that of deep ocean, with pale animals, luminescent plants, and floating microlife.

The only metal the player-characters ("homins," of which there are four races: Fyros, Matis, Tryker, Zoraï) see is the ships and devices of the Karavan, a group of technological humanoids who try to rule homins with the religion of the goddess Jena. The other main faction is the Kami, a group of magical creatures claiming to be nature preservers and the manifestations of the planet's godlike life energy, Ma-Duk. They also vie for control of the homins. Somewhere in the middle is Elias Tryton, a mysterious person who may be equal to the other higher powers, but who recently disappeared into the deep roots of Atys in search of something. The game nechanics allow player-characters to side with Kami, Karavan, or Neutral, without any racial restrictions. Thus, a wide range of factional beliefs and leanings exists, leading to complex politics and roleplay.

- The Ryzom Ring allows players to construct "scenarios" using existing assets, including creatures, flora, microlife, environmental effects, maps, objects, small buildings, and so on. Factional NPCs can be used, as well as NPCs of every race with body and face features as customisable as player-characters and selectable weapon specialty, armour, and skill level. With the Ring's WYSIWYG-like interface, which includes behaviour, routes, occurrences and etcetera setup, a player can design something as complex as a quest or dungeon, or as simple as a place to explore and socialise. I've seen it used to impressive effect as an RP platform. To be honest it's buggy and it doesn't allow scenarios to remain online unless the host remains inside their scenario, which led to the whole thing being seldom used, but there is nothing like it anywhere else in the MMORPG industry.

How crafting in Ryzom works

Posted by katriell Saturday May 9 2009 at 1:38PM
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Origin: www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/1996149/thread/178490#1996149


Ryzom has the best crafting, IMO.

It depends more on the player's skill and knowledge in experimenting to achieve the best combinations of various materials, ergo the best item stats, than on level.  There is a balanced item durability/wear-out mechanic.

There are several categories of materials, and within each of those are several types, and for each type there are five grades: Basic, Fine, Choice, Excellent, and Supreme. Supreme materials' stats usually look good, but in practice they aren't always the best choice. Materials react to each other, resulting in unpredicted combination effects, so to bring out the best aspects of one material you may have to use other materials of types and grades you wouldn't have expected.

The ecosystem a material is harvested from, along with its grade, determines its colour; the amount and grades of the materials of a particular colour you use determine whether the resultant item will be that colour, or the colour of other materials you're using.

Materials also have a numeric "quality" from 1 to 250, but this only affects what numeric quality an item using them will be, which determines the maximum values of its stats and its equipping requirements.

For each craftable item there are three or four versions of the crafting plan: basic, "Medium Quality," and "High Quality," and some have an extra with a special visual effect. For example, a basic Matis two-handed sword is called Slathe, and it's brownish. A medium-quality one is called Modi-Slathe and is beige with patterned greenish highlights. A high-quality one is called Kara-Slathe and is silver. The special one is called Living Slathe and drips green poison. Despite the reference to quality in the names of these crafting plans, they don't directly affect the stats of items produced via them - that's still up to the player. They do however require progressively more materials, so with the high-quality and special plans the player has more room to toy with combinations of materials.

Ryzom's crafting is independent of combat in this way: Your combat levels have no effect on your crafting levels, so a crafter never needs to fight. On the other hand, a player can choose to do only combat, but they have to rely on items made by crafters because mobs only drop craftable materials, in general, and those very few that don't either drop specialised equipment of one particular type, keeping 99% of crafting unaffected, or their drops must be assembled by a crafter. NPC-sold items are total junk, and expensive at that. Quests only reward fame with tribes, races, and/or factions. Materials dropped by named creatures and bosses tend to be desirable, and drops from lesser creatures can also be useful, so even if a crafter doesn't fight, they may need to procure such materials from players who do. This creates a reciprocal dependence between crafters and fighters.

Though Ryzom's unlimited skill system allows players the freedom to do anything and everything, including being both master crafter and master fighter, crafting must be levelled through use just like any other skill. Therefore not everyone pursues it. Of those who do, fewer have obtained all the crafting plans and reached the level-250 max that lets them craft the highest numerical quality (to meet the needs of players with high-level skills) in multiple craft skill branches. Of those who've done that, even fewer have the player skill to become truly notable for creating not only great items, but items with whatever particular strengths the buyer requests.

the craft window for armour   the craft window for a magic amplifier   the craft window for a melee weapon

the craft window for gun ammunition   the craft window for jewelry

The harvesting system, though on a separate skill tree, goes hand-in-hand with the crafting system and delivers its own complexities. Scattered around the world are "nodes" of material sources; the vast majority of these are hidden and must be brought to light by prospecting...

To explain what I'm about to say, I point out that Ryzom lets you customise your actions and spells with a system of "stanzas." You buy various action components from trainers with Skill Points garnered from gaining levels in corresponding skill trees, as well as action credits. Then you right-click on your hotkey bar and select Create New Action. Now you're faced with a window where you choose a basic template for your action, i.e. healing spell, melee attack, crafting, material extraction, prospecting, etc. After making that choice, you add actions to change the methods and effects, then add credits to pay off the total value of the actions by expending HP, MP (called "Sap" in Ryzom), stamina, or focus (a pool used only by harvesting and crafting). Or, in the case of spells, increasing casting time and/or diminishing spell range.

...Anyway, you can customise your prospecting to fit different situations or achieve different effects. Harvesting in the desert? Add a stanza that provides a bonus to your success rate in the desert. Want to see the names of the materials in a source before you go over to that source and start digging at it? Add the "Knowledge 1" stanza. Want to find Supreme materials but don't know exactly where to look? Add "Supreme Only" and "500m Tracking" to turn your prospecting into tracking that can lead you to the nearest active Supreme node within five hundred metres.

The availability of some materials is affected by season, weather, and time of day. In a given place you may find Choice Motega Wood most of the time, but on a clear night in autumn find Excellent and Supreme Motega Wood. Everywhere but in the underground caverns called the Prime Roots, which constitute one of the five ecosystems in Ryzom (the others are Desert, Forest, Jungle, and Lakelands), Basic, Fine, and Choice materials are always available, with Excellent and Supreme being the only ones subject to season/weather/time conditions. In the PR Choice is also subject.

While you extract/dig materials out of a source, you have some bars to look after:
- One represents the tolerance of the religious-factional nature entities called the Kami, who as self-proclaimed preservers of the planet, will kill harvesters who dig too aggressively for too long in a concentrated area. This used to actually happen sometimes to large groups of harvesters, but at some point the Kami tolerance was raised so it can hardly ever happen anymore.
- The amount of time left before the source disappears. This is about a minute by default, but can be raised if you use certain stanzas in your prospecting.
- The number of materials left in the source.
- Source life. If this bar reaches zero, the source disappears prematurely and there's a chance the node will be depleted prematurely as well. This brings us to the third type of harvesting action: Care Plan. One of the stanzas available to the careplan action template is Resource Preservation, which, when used, increases the source life bar.
- Source stability. If this reaches zero, the source either explodes, causing immediate damage, or releases a toxic cloud that causes damage over time. The careplan stanza Ground Stability increases this bar.

How severe explosions and toxic clouds are, how quickly certain bars decrease, etc. is affected by the source mode, which changes occasionally and is displayed in the system info window. Though you can't change the source mode, you can directly affect the same factors it affects by choosing the stanzas in your harvesting action wisely. To calm a volatile source, you can use a higher ratio of Gentle stanzas. To take advantage of an already-stable source, you can use a higher ratio of Harmful stanzas to get more materials faster for less Focus drainage. Alternatively, you can have another player careplan the sources you dig, so all you have to worry about is digging and you can do so more aggressively because the careplanning is now constant instead of intermittent. With a careplanner or two, you have more room to experiment with prospecting and harvesting stanzas to squeeze the most out of every source.

I've probably neglected some details, but this post is long enough and I'm done typing. xD

How Ryzom creates the sense of a living world

Posted by katriell Saturday May 9 2009 at 1:21PM
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Origin (Participle is me): www.onrpg.com/boards/100645-5/#post1236444 


 - Seasons, day/night cycle, and weather. All of which have actual effects on the world and its inhabitants.

- The animals are herbivores and carnivores, not undead and grotesque monsters. The only things that could be considered monsters are Kitin, giant insects who are the enemy of the playable races and can be considered a non-playable race.

The animals and Kitins interact with each other: carnivores and Kitins hunt herbivores; some herbivores defend each other or even other species of herbivores and some run away when a fellow is attacked; when attacked by another mob, sometimes a creature stands and fights and sometimes it tries to run away.

Animals also interact with players: a curious herbivore may target a player and run up to them to sniff them. The Yubo is a particularly interactive animal, begging at players and peeing on their shoes.

Nothing just stands around waiting to be killed...well, unless it's one of several combatant plant species, in which case it can't move. Anyway, there are migrations depending on season, which makes travel challenging because you need to figure out a safe route through a given region for each season. Animals have assorted idle animations that add realism and liveliness to their behaviour, including sleeping, eating, etc.

- There are no stealth abilities, so travel is a real challenge. Especially in regions with dense high-level aggro, it is thrilling and interesting to wend your way between packs, watch out for predators being dragged into your area by fleeing herbivores, and bear in mind that different carnivore species have slightly different aggro ranges. Using offensive and/or defensive abilities in these circumstances is a crutch liable to get you killed unless you're in a group. On that note, sometimes there are large treks composed of multiple teams, traveling between all four capital cities to escort new players collecting teleportation pacts.

- What resources can be harvested in a given location depends on the season, weather, and time of day/night. The resources' quality is also determined by that.

- In harvesting, the planet itself fights against you.

First you have to find a place where resources exist, using knowledge imparted by other players, or by using a tracking ability. Then you have to make one or more resource nodes spawn by using a prospecting action.

There are several bars displayed over a resource node, and you must monitor them: the time until the node disappears, the amount of resources left in it, Source Life, and Extraction Risk. There is also Kami Tolerance, but it isn't really relevant at this point.

If Source Life reaches 0%, the node disappears prematurely and may cause the area to be temporarily depleted of the resource you were harvesting. If Extraction Risk reaches 0%, the node either explodes (direct damage to you) or releases a toxic gas cloud (damage over time).

These bars can be raised by the abilities Resource Preservation and Ground Stability, respectively. Thanks to Ryzom's stanza system of ability customisation you can combine those and raise both bars at once.

Depending on the source mode (displayed in System Info), one bar may lower faster than the other, and the damage caused by an explosion or toxic cloud may be significantly more or less severe.

- Many details and environmental effects in the world make it seem alive. Trees and grass sway in the wind, small patches of fog form, insects flit around, spores drift up from the ground - some of them beautifully luminescent, and much more. Grass isn't the only microvegetation, nor is microvegetation evenly distributed; in some places flowers abound, and in others, a diversity of ground cover is scattered around. The lore is full of mystery, and the world reflects this with runes carved in half-buried desert roads, pictograms covering the buildings of the Zoraï race waiting to be deciphered, ruins deep in the jungle and abandoned campsites, a whole forest of strange trees that burn in summer amid an ever-present layer of ash and blossom with leaves and grapes in winter...

- NPCs go about their own business. Civilians wander the cities, hawkers and prospectors and hunters and so on traverse the wilderness, tribes patrol, and bandits attack anyone who approaches their camps.

- Breathing. Everything breathes - player characters, NPCs, animals, Kitin, and even the planet itself in its own way.

- A unique world. Atys. It's a planet consisting of a giant spherical plant, teeming with alien life and growing. According to its slow growth pattern, the surface is just beneath the newest layer of branches (the Canopy). The branches comprising the surface have, for the most part, grown massive and close, their bark becoming ostensibly similar to the crust of a normal planet. Beneath that, there are many layers of roots, the highest of which is known as the Prime Roots. There, the animals are pale and the flora is often bioluminescent.

Ryzom is science-fantasy. The two main factions are the Kami, magical entities who claim to be the avatars of Atys's pervasive life energy Ma-Duk and preservers of nature, and the Karavan, high-technological bipeds who always wear suits that completely cover their bodies and faces. The Karavan preach of a goddess called Jena, and a legend that Homins (the collective term for all four playable races) came from another planet as slaves to a "dragon", but were rescued from that dragon by Jena.

The Homins are in the process of recovering from the Kitins' Great Swarming, which destroyed their cities and almost their civilisations. Many of them fled from the continent(s) where that happened, taking refuge in the Prime Roots for a while, then resurfacing in their current location. Having lost much knowledge in the Swarming, the Homins are apt to rely on the Karavan and Kami for their history and because those factions ostensibly provide teleportation and resurrection. The Kami and Karavan also both fought against the Kitin during the two years Homins hid in the Prime Roots. But their accounts of Homin origins and history differ. With both vying for the faith of Hominity, just how manipulative are they being, and what is the truth they hide? What is the Dragon, if it exists at all, and what does the legend mean when it prophesies that the Dragon will eventually reawaken and consume Atys? What relationship do the Kitin have with Atys? What about the Goo, an infectious material that has overtaken swaths of the surface, diseasing the bark - what caused it, and can it be cleared away as the Kami wish to do but cannot? Who is Elias Tryton, a person who opposes both Kami and Karavan and descended into the deeper Roots in search of something that could make that opposition effective, and will he return?

The mysteries of Atys are not to be answered in static, fake-epic quests. Rather, when Nevrax owned Ryzom, there were live events that advanced the storyline by varying amounts. Things happened that were only witnessed, participated in, and influenced by the players who were there; truly epic stories were created from unique experiences. I and others hope that Ryzom's new owner will continue that.

Why Ryzom's first and second eras failed

Posted by katriell Monday August 4 2008 at 6:46PM
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Note, in case anyone gets the wrong idea from the blog entry title: Ryzom does not have game resets.  "First era" refers to the time it was owned by Nevrax, and "second era" refers to the time it was owned by Gameforge.

 

Origin (Participle is me): www.onrpg.com/boards/93654-9/#post1212346

This is oriented toward explaining why Ryzom's pay-to-play model was not at fault for its financial failures.  It is also more current in context than my original post (see link below) on the subject of the actual reasons for those difficulties.


There were several factors in Ryzom's demises, none of which involved the payment model.

- Bad management. For a third of its lifetime, Ryzom was owned by Gameforge, who severely dropped the ball, doing almost nothing of any sort with the game. For the other two thirds, it was owned by Nevrax, who while better than Gameforge were also not good enough at managing and developing the game:
--- Poor communication and little evidence of listening.
--- Inadequate marketing. Advertisements aren't the only way to increase awareness of a game. They could've improved their performance in this area by simply notifying multiple MMO websites about every patch, announcement, etc. and doing interviews.
--- Development decisions that didn't correspond to the basic nature of the game and drove away sizeable portions of the community, while perfectly suitable and desirable mechanics/content was half-finished and left to rot for years.
--- The free trial island represents a game that is very different from the real game.
--- The Ryzom Ring, an extremely innovative expansion, was somewhat ruined by lacking some necessary features and being ridden with bugs.

- Debts and an oversized development/management team. Both of these problems were mandatorily carried over to Gameforge's tenure. They probably don't exist for the new owner, and that is a major reason why Ryzom has a chance to succeed this time.

- Read this for further explication:
http://mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/1851160#1851160

Looking at the fact that it was P2P and concluding that it can only succeed F2P is like saying a marriage - between people who had little in common and no idea how to handle a relationship - failed because one of them wore shoes of Brand A and the other wore Brand B.

Storyline Implementation

Posted by katriell Friday July 18 2008 at 8:32PM
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Origin: mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/186994/page/1

 

My opinion is that "storyline" quests and roleplaying don't mix. Storyline quests usually only make sense if just one person ever does them. But the reality is that thousands of people save the same town over and over again. They get the same speeches, the same experiences, and the same gratitude. Storyline quests are for single-player games, not MMORPGs...at least, not MMORPGs that actually care about roleplay-conducive consistency and logic.

This opinion might not be understandable unless one places it on the foundation of a particular definition of roleplaying: in a massively multiplayer online environment, playing a role is not sufficient - instead, in-character interaction between players, the game world, and each other is the primary factor.

In replacement of "storyline" quests, I suggest live storyline events that have persistent effects on lore that evolves over the course of the game's existence. This isn't a new idea, it's been done in Horizons/Istaria and Ryzom, just to name two (there have been others no doubt, but I'm less familiar with them).
In Istaria, for example, two playable races and a racial capital city were unlocked in events.
The lore on Ryzom's website depicts the playable races' perspectives on what they think they know about their world, not necessarily the truth of the backstory. From there, that lore would've been updated to reflect the state of the races' knowledge as they uncovered fragments of their past, understanding of their present, and inklings of their future. Furthermore, the lore progress would differ between servers.

With live storyline events, your character has unique experiences that they can tell stories about to their metaphorical (or literal) grandchildren. Epicness is justified and genuine, requiring no exorbitant suspension of disbelief. Though not everyone gets to participate in every event, there are always more to look forward to (unless, as in the cases of Ryzom and Istaria, bad companies take over and neglect the game; note however that Istaria is now under the care of a fine company who are already getting their feet wet in running events, releasing more lore, and providing lore-grounded explanations for mechanics changes).

Ultimately, what I want, as a roleplayer and a sandbox enjoyer, is a storyline implementation that fits in the persistent massively-multiplayer environment instead of being an ill-conceived port from the single-player realm.

Why Ryzom Newcomers Aren't Disadvantaged Or Excluded

Posted by katriell Thursday July 3 2008 at 7:04AM
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Origin: http://mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/186724/page/3

 

- addendum (wasn't in the original but should've been): The community is high-quality, many of its members being more interested in helping newcomers than advancing themselves.

- addendum (blog edit for clarification and context): Any given player, even one who has mastered many skills, still has some skills that are low- or mid-level.  They can use a low skill in a group fighting low opponents without nerfing exp' , for example, or (see last point) they can use their higher skills on high opponents with a group of players ranging from newbies with only level 20 skills to three-month-old players with a couple of mid-level skills to masters working their low, mid, or high skills.

- No one ever mastered all of the skills, and due to the sheer time commitment it would require, likely no one ever will.

- An individual can't be entirely self-sufficient (unless they're dual-wielding accounts, and even then the upcoming point about crafting remains true):

=--- Healing spells absolutely do not work on self, leaving only the Self Heal action which has a long cooldown timer. Other defensive actions, such as Melee Protection Aura, have even longer cooldowns.

=--- The casting time/range/cost penalty on heavy armour, coupled with the time it takes to switch out a full set of gear, makes changing roles from melee to caster in the middle of combat impractical. Conversely, changing from caster to melee without switching from your light armour is going to make you a liability more than anything, unless the odds are in your favour and/or you know what you're doing.

If you have highly specialised magic amplifiers, changing between magic types isn't going to be optimally effective, but it works. With relatively generalist amps, casting different magic types is admittedly quite easy and effective.

=--- It used to be said that you can't really solo in Ryzom. You can, with most skills (healing is exclusively group-oriented; the debuff skills must be coupled with similar-level offensive skills, halving the progression rate). But, as the very existence of that rumour/myth demonstrates, it's more difficult than grouping, and at some level ranges for some skills, much moreso.

- Mastering enough crafting and harvesting trees to equip oneself fully with whatever armour or weapons one wants is extremely time-consuming, so most people go to other people for their crafting needs.

- Most of the groups I experienced did set up roles, mainly according to what skills the group members wanted to train at the given time, but at least a healer and a tank and/or damage dealer were always needed. The guilds I have been in mingled level 20s with level 200s, and not only as healers - as long as the higher tanks were doing their jobs, the lowbies could do anything they wanted. At times I saw amazing exercises in player skill, efficiency, and effectiveness.