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The State of MMO's

MMO's are currently always in development, but the discussion around them is a maelstrom. I want to sort out some of the ideas and give some of my own. This industry definitely needs improvement.

Author: lifesbrink

Skilling up Issues & Solutions

Posted by lifesbrink Tuesday March 10 2009 at 1:44AM
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The worst things you see in any game through skilling up are macros or repetitive movements that level skills. This destroys the whole idea of skilling up altogether, but can easily be fixed. Most games have soft caps on anything that levels, and any game could do something similar but allow for a system that prevents abuse at all. Hence we have degrading of skills on the basis that they were skilled too much. Example as follows:

Jumping is essentially a skill, in a sense, but it is tied very heavily to strength, stamina, endurance and agility. So to skill up jumping, you are essentially working to be able to jump higher and farther with less stamina loss. Typically, though, you could have a player macro jumping, go next to a wall, and come back hours later to have maxed jumping. Reality can be applied though, and this can be remedied. In the real world, if you were to jump in one spot for hours, you wouldn’t get very far. Further, you couldn't max in a day either.

So to compensate in-game, we add two scripts. One ties jumping skill-ups to distance traveled, combined with factors of speed used throughout, and how tired you were. The second script would enact so that over time, if you jumped too much, you would start losing skill, and your stats would temporarily suffer. In the end with this situation, you would have gained nothing at all. This should be a generous amount, generally, like 6 hours of mostly jumping, a number that would increase at least, as the skill level and stamina levels approached superior statuses.   This idea could easily be applied in different ways to other skills, such as losing skill or stats with other physical skills, or simply putting a soft cap on intelligence-related skills.

Of course, this merely puts a cap on a bursting bottle, and doesn't truly remedy the issue. To do that, games need to have skills be interesting to level. To some extent, battling skills are inevitably tied to the combat system, so if your combat system is weak, so shall the skill leveling be tiresome. Crafting though, is another issue, for in real life, learning a craft is not very exciting either. So in essence, the key here is to keep it somewhat dynamic to maintain interest, as well as make a true crafting system that really rewards the MMO world as a whole.

Dynamic is not always easy though, as evidenced by the failure to really do so by any MMO out there. I would say it is still fairly simple though: let us take being a lumberjack, for example. Currently in any game you walk up to a pile of wood or a tree, and hit your gather key. This gets fairly boring fast.

Solution? Enable a combo mini-game, where timing certain clicks could give you bonus "swings" and thus remove time from harvesting. Also, making all trees harvestable would add a dynamic of placement with your harvesting, lest you depopulate the area too quickly. Crafting also commonly uses too much material, and with materials being able to be reused and less used overall, the system can stabilize a bit more.

This article will tie in to a future article that will be tied to how a world economy should work and what ideas should be done to prevent it from becoming boring or collapsing.

dcostello writes:

 Why would running too much cause the player to lose skill?

Tue Mar 10 2009 9:47AM Report
lifesbrink writes:

Have you ever ran for about 16 hours straight or so?  Unless a human is in peak shape (IE Ironman competition status), running for so long, in heavy armor, no less, would be enough to tear the muscles.  I guess running would be a bad example of a skill though, as it is more a result of strength, agility, and stamina.  But assuming it was, then the example in my blog follows.  I will change it though.

Tue Mar 10 2009 12:10PM Report
dcostello writes:

 I mean I understand that you can get hurt, but you wouldn't lose your running ability.  You might tear a muscle or break a bone, but it won't decrease your strength, endurance or running skill.

Tue Mar 10 2009 4:43PM Report
lifesbrink writes:

Actually tearing a muscle or breaking a bone would decrease your strength, both temporarily but also from atrophy, as you wouldnt be using the muscle for a while.  At the very least, the amount of time would decrease your skill too, by a bit.

Thu Mar 12 2009 1:13PM Report
gunsmack writes:

I was looking at your profile to try and discern where your expertise comes from and I was greatly relieved to find none. You see the problem with what you have presented is two fold. Firstly games are not supposed to mimic real life because insofar as they are games and not simulations it is inherant in their nature. Secondly real life is not fun! A video games core function is to entertain (and perhaps teach to some extent) but when you include things like tearng of muscles and realisitic leveling you are bastardizing the essence of a videogame into some simulation with absurd textures. Thirdly your little combo bit at the end would work great if server speeds could be maintained consitantly, unfortunatly peoples internet speeds differ and this is why reali time combat/combo systems have not been done yet. In conclusion creating a realistic mmo would bankrupt the comapny making it for failing to make a product people would actually want to pay for.

Fri Mar 20 2009 6:47PM Report
lifesbrink writes:

Apparently you don't think of the future much in terms of things improving do you?

Admittedly, you have some vaguely good points, but ultimately you fail to realize there is a large group of people out there that do like the idea of forming their own stories in a virtual world.  I know I am not alone in this, as one of the more popular bloggers (Teala) talks of these same ideas. 

So, for yourself, the ideas may seem lame, but as you seem to be totally insensitive to the idea of opinions other than yours, why even bother commenting when these blogs are meant to faciitate constructive criticism.

Also, since when do games have to follow certain rules?

Sun Mar 22 2009 9:57PM Report writes:
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