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Player Housing

Posted by vajuras Wednesday June 18 2008 at 1:54AM
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Was reading a good blog here on this one:

Personally what I prefer is old school style housing whereas players can drop them down pretty much everywhere. There can be some order to it but for the most part I'm a big fan of the sandbox approach to this.

Here are somethings  really liked about old school approach to housing (UO style MMO) :

1) Houses can be put down almost anywhere. This way players can build a town. Contrary to what some skeptics might think- building a House is not really a hardcore activity. It's actually a very creative outlet akin to designing a costume (City of Heroes) or dying armor (Guild Wars, etc)

2) Player Run Quests Can Thrive Here. Would be interesting if players could somehow create quests around their house. Obviously, you would need a Sandbox MMO to provide a suitable atmosphere to fully exploit this.

3) Nice place to display trophies. Achievements are a big part of Games in general. You will be hard pressed to find any game that doesn't award you with titles, scoreboards, or what have you. Houses can be a nice place to display gear and belongings. In UO there was an overhead view that allowed you to see into other people's houses. This was cool

Reference: Ultima Online House Design


4) Very pleasant distraction. Would keep players busy maintaining their house populating it with furniture, etc

5) Very nice meeting place for Guilds to hold Events. In most games you see Guilds try to establish an area to hold an event. If Guilds could congregate at a house this gives them a meeting place. Also, they can sort of naturally expand to build an entire city and coexist there assuming the game is sandboxy enough to provide localized entertainment in that area.

6) Houses are persistent state. That is the one interesting thing about a House- it stays online even after I log off.

The powerful sandbox component that Player Housing introduces it actually gives players the ability to create their own towns naturally w/o developer assistance. The bad- obviously it can be a big pain dealing with the litter and congestion that housing brings. EVE Online assess taxes of a sort to maintain your House. I believe you have to purchase a Charter to establish a POS (player owned structure) in Empire and pay taxes for the extra security. In City of Heroes, the player run bases also were assessed a tax

City of Heroes did something interesting with the supergroup bases. You could also have base raids whereas two guilds agree to fight at the supergroup base. This was very interesting. First, we sent out our scouts to look around (stealth / stalkers). Once we learned the terrain, we would begin the attack in earnest. The supergroup bases were somewhat relevant to the game via the Teleport devices and group banks you could have. This was great stuff.

Back to EVE Online what they did was a full blown implementation. Alliances can takeover space and 'rent' out this space to their partners and allies. Everyone in this Alliance coexist locally in space and cooperate to protect it. In Regions like Providence, you will find that the Alliance there has a no-shoot-neutral policy. It is interesting how the players have taken over this part of 0.0 and created a player enforced order.

So this brings me to my final point- Player Housing will empower players to create virtual online communities. Like minded players will perhaps be attracted to these communities and settle down there.

A good example of this exists in the title Second Life. At Midgar (player run city), you see a very impressive recreation of Final Fantasy. The owners of the sim have rented out space to tenants to run shops and business that actually market apparel that sell for real world $$. Second Life is another form of a player run housing but its pretty impressive what they have done

Reference: New World Notes

I think LordAltay wrote a great blog on this already but felt I should try to cover some examples from games I've played. Anyway I really think any blog that discusses this topic should for sure portray examples of games that employed them already. There are some really cool MMOs worth checking out if you want to see this in action.

The Immersion Breakers

Posted by vajuras Tuesday June 17 2008 at 11:20AM
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Been playing a Theme Park MMORPG alongside EVE Online lately. I enjoy Quests these theme parks offer somewhat but there is still one thing that rubs me wrong. They are sooooo static. Undoubtably this makes things simple for devs. You can hire an army of Scripters and have them all write all these static Quests.

I guess there is a roleplayer inside of me that gets deeply offended when I complete a Quest only to discover the player beside me has turned it in as well. There is no impact, no change.

I realize I am probably a serious minority but this is really, really killing PVE for me. In single player RPGs, like Mass Effect / Elder Scrolls, SW: KOTR, etc- when I complete a Quest I feel like I've really made an impact. I see change in my environment. Gaining XP or that next level is so secondary. Sure, I do enjoy getting new items like the next guy perhaps but I really, really enjoy being immersed in my environment. Perhaps what I'd like to see is games offering a different sort of PVE whatever form that might take.

Maybe my opinion will change later- but I think I can deal with Level grinds, Classes, and so forth even though this all gets reused with little deviation. But it's the immersion factor that's missing for me in PVE.

Also another immersion killer is character custimization. Love it or Hate it- City of Heroes made us all feel unique- at least visibly. I never ever found another player that looked like me. I really don't feel too unique in the average MMORPG. I even appreciate the little character portraits we have in EVE Online. I feel that character custimization can help players feel more unique and bind with their virtual avatar. Again, perhaps it's the roleplayer inside of me. I want to be immersed.

Guild Wars actually did something with their instances whereas you do quests with your group (WoW did something similar in their dungeons). This was fun the first time through or what have you but it all falls down after you do it more then once. So the Immersion Breaker here is when you run through the instance more then once. City of Heroes tried to do something interesting here. They randomly generate the missions. CoH actually made good uses of their instances and they were indeed repeatable. Of course, we were split off from the world.

I do admit Instances ironically- does provide some level of immersion. Perhaps higher then Open worlds due to the way they handle Quests. Still, I do yearn for open world PVE/PVP.

Anyway I think I will summarize the Immersion Breakers in a List. This is just my own personal list:

1. [PvP] Instances sort of break Immersion because we get pushed into the same instance. So here we are staring at the same ground/terrain over and over. If only the terrain could 'change' then maybe it wouldn't be such an immersion breaker. In FPS games we can choose different maps. Granted, I suppose in GTA IV we do stare at the same city a lot but the area is SOOOOO VAST! That makes it more repeatable. I realize there are reasons you Devs don't do it but really what could it hurt to at least have a huge Instance with 100 x 100 *IF* your tech supports it

2. [PVE] Mobs spawn right ontop of us out of nowhere. Yeah, yeah, I am aware of the reasons why Devs do this. I am not sure but I think in EVE Online  the 'rats' warp into the area you are. That is one way to maintain immersion

3. [PVE] Quests break immersion in a bad way when I turn in a Quest and see another person also get the exact same 'animation' from the NPC. Most notably, I recall when I was a noob in WoW when I turned on a Quest where I retrieved some reageants for a Shaman. He did the exact same animation and sequence for everywhere. So when I first turned in the Quest I felt special. But then afterward I didnt

4. [PVE] Instances whereas the dungeon remains the exact same and we get exact same results everytime we go in. For instance, the first time we visited Wailing Caverns was cool [WoW]. But then after helping the 'sleeper' multiple times it got a bit dull.

5. [Social] Inability to dye our clothes and personalize our avatar. Now, I guess it makes sense if we are all 'soldiers' that's fine. But if possible dye would at least be greatly appreciated. Guild Wars had this and it was fun looking at all the interesting armor combos and dye. I suppose GW has the edge though since it's not a strongly stat driven game at least when I last played.

6. [PVP] Instances that use the same terrain. I can actually rationalize 'Arenas' but what breaks immersion is fighting over Alterac Valley over and over

7. [PVE/PVP] Contested terriority in WoW. When I was a noob, I actually believed the lands would change hands. Imagine my horror when we first took over a Contested land and nothing ever happened. No one could actually occupy the fort. I think WAR (Warhammer Online) will at least be a step in the right direction. Even though Instances will be heavily employed (guess) we will still make a difference. And I read on Mythic's features page when we turn in quests we help the area to grow.

8. [PVE] Tabula Rasa. You guys presented an infinite war against the Bane. I couldnt help but wonder why was I needed. It seemed like a never ending war that would go on whether I was there or not. WAR looks more appealing to most gamers because the war (RvR) appears to be player driven. Our personal efforts will eventually (we hope) lead to us taking a Capital city. That appeals to us Achiever/PvP types


Games that maintained Immersion to a Level:

1. [PVE] Everquest II. We LOVED that newbie Isle. We loved it. It felt like a real struggle / war. The only reason it fell down at somepoint was when us newbs realized this struggle would never end. Never change. That is when it became fake for me

2. [PVE] EQ2 the dungeons were pretty fun (at least the Level 20ish ones that we did). The dungeons were 'shared' so you saw other noobs and made groups that. I think they would spawn the final boss in an instance but being noobs I cant recall ever finding one

3. [PVE] EQ2 had actual academies where you could learn magic.

4. [PVE] EVE Online maintains Immersion to a high degree. I think they inherit this as a result of shunning Instancing. However, ironically, the actual PVE combat can get dull at somepoint (which is why I play single player RPGs for really good PVE anyway)

5. [PVE] City of Heroes, WoW, LOTRO, etc does have some level of immersion via the instancing. I am biased in this respect I warn you- I would rather see Dynamic PVE like I mention above but that appears to be many, many years away

6. [PVE] Champions Online promises a feature where you can 'create a villian nemesis to haunt you throughout your career'. That sounds kinda interesting. Not huge. Not earth shattering. But might be interesting

7. [PVE] Bios!!!! I love creating a bio. Thank you City of Heroes this really immersed me

8. [PVE] Class Based Quests! Thank you WoW, EQ2, Guild Wars, etc for giving us this!

9. [PVP] World PvP. Thank you Blizzard for a small time you were almost getting there. Right after you introduced honor system world pvp surged. It was fun. My friends still say its fun now and I believe them but back then World pvp was only way to get honor and you saw hundreds of people out there pking like no tomorrow!

10. [PVE] Cities where you can see the King, etc. Blizzard did this with their major cities. That was really cool

11. [PVE] Please CCP get that Ambulation Patch out! I would spend a lot of time designing my appearance.

12. [PVE] City of Heroes thank you for the awesome costume designing options that entertained me probably much, much more then combat. Too bad you didnt expand on this. should have let players create costumes for each other. We could have had 'tailoring' and it would have been a huge profession for you.

13. [PvP] EVE Online wins the medal here for now. The player driven politics out in 0.0 are a sight to see. The PVE Agent Missions maintain a certain level of immersion due to the way the stories are very generic. However, I actually felt stronger roleplay in theme park titles so I think CCP might have lost a bit there. Looking forward to trying out the Faction Warfare which might actually inject more roleplay and flavor

Crafting in EVE Online

Posted by vajuras Sunday June 1 2008 at 12:32PM
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One thing that shocked me about EVE Online is how expertly they have integrated young crafters into the metagame. In most MMO, items produced by a low level crafter is beyond worthless for high levels. These items are often of no value to veteran players. So, without an influx of new players this part of the economy fails utterly.

EVE Online/CCP created a system that thrives regardless. A few weeks ago I discovered Tech II items (items employed by vets) require their Tech I equivalents. So, let's say you are crafting a Tech II Helios covert ops ship. This tech 2 item requires the Hull of a Mavalas Tech I item. This means that the Tech II crafter will have to rely on products produced by low level crafters to create their item

Additionally, CCP seems to have applied this in all other areas of gameplay. For instance, even when you use your faction (loyalty points) to upgrade ammo to Faction quality you must buy the item from the market first. Then you hand this over to the NPC to upgrade for you.

I really thought this was a pretty interesting feature. I never realized this before but I guess I have always been a crafter. But because most MMO are so funneled I never really had the opportunity to fully explore my industrial side. I admit, it can be a bit boring if you have to hop in a hauler and jump a lot of gates to bring an item to a trade hub. But I enjoy the satisfaction of turning on my computer, log in to EVEMon, and seeing how much ISK I made through my efforts :)

I've been playing the game for awhile now but it pleased me greatly when I decided to drastically change my focus and start crafting that my items found a rich market to enjoy. I had to overcome some hurdles to get here though. I used to do a lot of my crafting in Empire and even though I now have a low quality Level 4 agent I found gathering all the resources somewhat tedious. It could take almost an hour to salvage all those little ships alone and I rarely came across Megacyte

So after growing frustrated with Empire I decided to pack my bags and move my operation to nullsec. So now I spend a little time killing Sansha rats and get consistent loot from those guys that reprocesses down to a wealth of ores. I've found it quite easy to stay alive in 0.0 through the careful use of my Local and Intel chat windows. So I make sure I watch out for pirates. And when they do come, I quickly POS up (safespot) and then grab my Recon ship and help provide Intel.

I usually accumulate over 5,000m3 of loot in bout a day or so. I then grab my Hauler and take this to a local station where I get great yield from reprocessing

My dilemma is that there are so many fun routes to explore: Trading, PVP, Hauling, Ratting. Right there we are looking at months of training time if I want to become the best. I've also started Exploration as well.

I only wish this time-based training could be sped up more but I guess they did what they had to do. I'm having a lot of fun though and everyday is a new experience where something new happens. Everyday is a struggle to survive out here- one wrong move and you can lose a lot of ISK. But that's what keeps my heart pumping and keeps everything dynamic and fun for me