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Author Topic: Levels of Separation Conclusion  (Read 6734 times)
HaemishM
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Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
on: April 09, 2004, 05:49:43 PM


WayAbvPar
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Reply #1 on: April 09, 2004, 06:26:53 PM

Good followup. Did you break any blood vessels trying to keep it clean?

When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it's full of urine. HaemishM

Always wear clean underwear because you never know when a Tory Government is going to fuck you.- Ironwood

Libertarians make fun of everyone because they can't see beyond the event horizons of their own assholes Surlyboi
schmoo
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Reply #2 on: April 09, 2004, 08:33:55 PM

Nicely written.

No profanity??  Jeebus.

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ajax34i
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Reply #3 on: April 10, 2004, 12:50:31 AM

I thought there were two reasons why MMOG worlds are unchanging:

1.  Difficult to code with the current engines, none of which allow the devs to remodel an area (make a forest burn, for example) online.

2.  Impossible to control what the player base will do.  The main reason to implement a changing world is to support a story line of some sort (player-generated content sucks, let's face it).  But you can't make a world interactive AND have it follow the story line (even in general terms) at the same time.

As for the level grinds, yes, it is the one method used to trickle content.  Keyed zones, and expansions, also work towards that end.

MMOG's follow the CRPG formula of presenting the content slowly to the player over time.  BG2 is like that.  Morrowind is NOT like that.  Interestingly, Morrowind feels more grindy (like a MMOG) than BG2.

I think a MMOG with  a zoneless system where certain regions/caves/spots could kill you but everything is certainly available could be made.  Also, mobs of appropriate level could be spawned in the vicinity of traveling players or parties...  example, an area has low level pups but if a higher group moves in and stays a bit, trolls start coming out of the woodwork and attack them.

Then they can let levelling be a hobby, with access to some quests as the reward.
Margalis
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Reply #4 on: April 10, 2004, 06:06:21 AM

Two unrelated thoughts in this post:

Quote from: ajax34i
I thought there were two reasons why MMOG worlds are unchanging:
...


A lot of players will ask for the stars, but be happy with a new lite-brite. The goal may be some crazy, super-dynamic world, but you can take baby steps. The Orcs will invade and destroy so and so town unless the player base as a whole can kill 10 billion Orcs in 2 days...

I don't think being able to remodel a world on the fly has much to do with it. Maybe add a few destructable items like bridges, forts, etc. I mean, the real world doesn't get remodelled all that much either. If the Orcs take over the town maybe you swap in some destroyed bridge graphics and new textures on some stuff...

You don't have to be able to create giant craters in random fields. That might be the eventual goal, but you don't have to do that right away. You could just have a series of monthly hardcoded events, that would be a start. ("Next month - zombies rise from the grave!")

---
Quote

What will keep players playing a game they’ve long since mastered the
mechanics of besides tons of expensive new content?


What does it mean to master the mechanics? How long can you play Tetris for? Tetris has zero content, and a lot of people play it single-player. And the rules are dead simple.

Tetris and Counterstrike are similar in that there is the element of real skill and challenge. Nearly any competitive game requires some skill and challenge, but that's possible with non-competitive, single player games as well.

Single player RPGs generally don't take much skill. MMORPGs generally take even less. You can have a lot of content or a lot of gameplay, but for a game that is supposed to last months or years "a lot of content" is "40 million dollars of content." But so little is being done on the gameplay aspect....improving gameplay is cheap compared to content!

Unless you are afraid that having any skill requirement at all will drive people away...which I can see for a game like the Sims but it obviously isn't hurting FPS games. I think a game that caters to a hardcore crowd can ask for some skill without it being a barrier.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Daeven
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Reply #5 on: April 10, 2004, 09:22:16 AM

It all comes back to fundamental Game Theory. In any given situation, how many actions are available to the player to effect an outcome? In a game like chess, a single board configuration may only have a very few combinations of moves. But more importantly, the likelyhood of any two games ending up in the same state is very small. The end result is that player skill and an ability to plan a strategy ahead of time can effect an outcome. And mroe importantly, the actions of both players can produce unexpected outcomes for both parties. The need to overcome these unexpected outcomes is what makes chess fun.
 
MMOG's don't model this. In a MMOG the only real determinate is time played. Oh sure, people may change the equation via cheating, or numbers of players, but on the whole /played determines the winner.

And this is why MMOG's are on the whole failures. Extensive amounts of time and effort are devoted to implementing fluff, while failing to give the player any means to really effect the outcome on the whole.

Therefore, the only way to expand the decision matrices thereby increasing the 'fiun' is to get rid of autoattack and marganilizing time played as much as possible.

"The only way to win is not to play" describes MMOG's perfectly.

"There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. That term is idiot." -SMStirling

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Arnold
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Reply #6 on: April 10, 2004, 12:07:40 PM

Quote from: Margalis

I don't think being able to remodel a world on the fly has much to do with it. Maybe add a few destructable items like bridges, forts, etc. I mean, the real world doesn't get remodelled all that much either. If the Orcs take over the town maybe you swap in some destroyed bridge graphics and new textures on some stuff...

You don't have to be able to create giant craters in random fields. That might be the eventual goal, but you don't have to do that right away. You could just have a series of monthly hardcoded events, that would be a start. ("Next month - zombies rise from the grave!")



Interestingly, Asheron's Call 1 already sort of did this, although it was part of a monthly update.  They took the most popular town in the game, which had drawn to it the dregs of society, and turned it into a huge, steaming crater.  I can't remember the story, but I think a meteor hit it or something.  It was funny as hell to read the boards and heard, "WTF AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITHOUT ARWIC??!!!?!"
Shmtur
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Reply #7 on: April 10, 2004, 09:46:33 PM

I think there is one exception to your rule.  Not much of one, but it does count.

The FFXI competition between cities.  If Bastok is ranked third, the shops there don't sell as many items, players can't get signet casted upon them in outdoor areas because the zone is owned by other cities (and they also have to pay to get their bind point set there).  And so on and so forth.

The players have an affect on the world without attacking each other directly, the consequences are noticeable but neither permanent nor horribly damaging to the point that once behind a city is unable to catch up.  And players have something to work for beyond upgrading their numbers so that they may upgrade their numbers some more.
Krakrok
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WWW
Reply #8 on: April 11, 2004, 04:59:42 PM

Quote from: ajax34i
1.  Difficult to code with the current engines, none of which allow the devs to remodel an area (make a forest burn, for example) online.


This is totally false. Having a forest fire which turned Warlisk Woods into a charcoal pit would seem to me to be relatively simple. Same goes for a meteor hit that takes out a town. One example of this is in the game Sacrifice (and it is 4 years old). You could cast a volcano spell which caused the terrain to uplift and spew fire and lava.

DAOC would seem to be adding some of this with their destroyable castle walls in the Frontiers expansion.

Bottom line: swapping model A for model B should not be hard (and isn't from what I know of 3D programming). Deforming terrain should not be hard and isn't. Both the EQ and SWG engines would seem to have a harder time deforming terrain downward but not upward.

eldaec
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Reply #9 on: April 11, 2004, 05:55:58 PM

Quote from: ajax34i
I thought there were two reasons why MMOG worlds are unchanging:

1.  Difficult to code with the current engines, none of which allow the devs to remodel an area (make a forest burn, for example) online.

2.  Impossible to control what the player base will do.  The main reason to implement a changing world is to support a story line of some sort (player-generated content sucks, let's face it).  But you can't make a world interactive AND have it follow the story line (even in general terms) at the same time.


Number 1 is not as hard as all that if you plan for it in advance. And it's incredibly easy if it's limited to moving NPCs around.

Burning forests would be nice, but few MMOGs even get as far as swapping the lizard men for skeltons every now and again (with appropriate backstory). Even fewer dare allow that kind of change to have any significant effect on the players.

As for number 2, while I take your point in the longer term (though ATITD is a great counter-example), in the short term a simple setup where a zone has two or three possible states, and player action (typically killing everything) switches the zones between those states, would be a good start.

EG.
State 1) Lizard men occupy town, undead are sieging it.
State 2) Undead occupy town, lizard men are sieging it.
You switch from state 1 to state 2 and vice versa by killing the current mayor and triggering invasion, if the sieging army defeats the incumbents, they take over.

This sort of thing isn't unheard of, unfortunately when it does happen - 99% of the player base ignore it or complain about it. You could argue this isn't surprising since the level structure continually makes players feel they should be doing something else.

"People will not assume that what they read on the internet is trustworthy or that it carries any particular ­assurance or accuracy" - Lord Leveson
"Hyperbole is a cancer" - Lakov Sanite
Thorongil
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Reply #10 on: April 11, 2004, 07:53:31 PM

Best thing I've seen you write yet, Haemish, precisely because it can't be dismissed because of the expletives.

Yeah, what would players do without levels?
Aslan
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Reply #11 on: April 12, 2004, 09:46:16 AM

Fuck.  Well SOMEBODY had to swear in this thread.
Xilren's Twin
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Posts: 1648


Reply #12 on: April 12, 2004, 11:19:29 AM

Thank you Haemish.  Very well written and I agree wholeheartedly.

It is somewhat ironic that in the last 3 weeks we have seen both the worst aspect of the genre (Lineage2) and what appears to be the best (City of Heroes), which are being published by the same company.  Just when I thought I'd be jaded for at least 10 more years, a breath a fresh air.  From a quick overview, there doesnt appear to be much difference between them, both are pve mmorpg's with a level curve and skills you can't select as you go,  In fact, L2 would seem to have an advantage b/c they also offer pvp and tradeskills.  But as they say, the devils in the details and oh what a difference those details make.

To steal a Shakespeare line "the (game)play's the thing".

Now that easter weekend is over, back to CoH for some bad guy ass whoopin'.

Xilren

"..but I'm by no means normal." - Schild
ajax34i
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Reply #13 on: April 12, 2004, 11:45:33 AM

Quote from: Xilren's Twin
It is somewhat ironic that in the last 3 weeks we have seen both the worst aspect of the genre (Lineage2) and what appears to be the best (City of Heroes), which are being published by the same company.


You haven't seen the "best" and "worst", you've just seen what the western MMOG playerbase does and doesn't like in these games.  It's just that we're typical westerners.  Go to Asia and it's backwards.

The fact that they're both being published by the same company shows that they know how to pick 'em in order to maximize their profits.
HaemishM
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Posts: 41057

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
Reply #14 on: April 12, 2004, 12:16:53 PM

I would say that is City of Heroes is anywhere NEAR the type of hit it deserves to be based on gameplay, NCSoft will be the new 400-pound gorilla in the International MMOG market. I say international, because I don't think CoH will get EQ-type numbers, but I do think with Lineage 1 and 2 and CoH under the NCSoft umbrella, these guys will have the money to make a bigger impact with something like Tabula Rasa.

Mr_PeaCH
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Reply #15 on: April 12, 2004, 12:28:01 PM

Quote from: ajax34i
The fact that they're both being published by the same company shows that they know how to pick 'em in order to maximize their profits.


Yeah that!  (and how!)

On point to Haemish's follow-up.  One thing that occurred to me... and Haemish brushes on it.  "How much do the inherent limitations of technology play a part?" (in particular, latency factor even in home broadband access) but moreso "Even if/when we conquered THAT element; couldn't/wouldn't we still find something to bitch about?"

Seems to me it's a vicious circle where what was new and innovative becomes tired and cliche'd, and so on and so on.  I mean, I bet we could solve a lot of 'what's wrong' with today's MMO gaming or questing or PvP fighting or even PvE AI... and there's no guarantee that we'll be having more fun in a year after that.  Nature of the beast I suppose.  Like drug addicts trying to recapture that elusive first best high.

***************

COME ON YOU SPURS!
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 41057

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
Reply #16 on: April 12, 2004, 01:22:19 PM

One thing about latency... CoH seems to put to rest the idea that you can't make an Internet game that requires input on every attack in combat. Since you have to trigger a power or you just stand there like an idiot (unless you set up 1 power as your auto attack), either they have to have some good netcode or have decided latency is not a good enough reason to make gameplay boring.

DM
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Reply #17 on: April 12, 2004, 01:24:49 PM

Very nice article.

I agree on nearly all counts, and in the time since I've come to Mutable Realms (Wish) have been working hard to address things like "treadmills", "your actions not mattering", "being the hero", etc. The work we are doing as we approach E3 and beyond should break some ground in these areas.

We've redone the method in which monsters enter the world. They will spawn based on land type (wolves in hills, forests, etc.), and level (newbie monsters near towns, etc.). This has created an experience whereby when you go out to hunt, you actually hunt monsters and don't just wander blindly up to your favorite camping spot. It has also allowed players to clear areas of monsters. Finally, this taps into the "hero" area of things. Players feel like they matter if they actually accomplish something. Ever hunted ants in your kitchen and no matter how many you killed they never went away. Its frustrating. We'd like to avoid that in what is supposed to be a game.

The hero issue cannot really stop there though. Quests in Wish are also finite. We are going with Live Story, which basically means we will have a full time staff of puppetmasters controlling quests and other content. For example, if a Dragon plagues a town, he will not plague the town forever being slain by anyone who walks by and needs to slay him based on a walkthrough they found on the net. Instead, once killed he is dead. Add to that the player who killed him is promoted through a myriad of ways. The hope is that both NPCs and other players will be able to recognize a player who has done something important.

Treadmills are also an issue of MMOs. We are going with the more Ultima-esque style of advancement (skills, usage based not experience). Look at your D&D experiences, or even your single player RPG experiences. Where MMOs fall apart is that something that was incidental to the game (character advancement) has become the focus of the game (XP). We want to reverse that and return to the roots, where people get better as a result of having fun playing the game and experiencing the world. A stark contrast to games where players get better and grind their way up so that fun is possible.

To us, all this was the next logical step of a one world philosophy. Sharded games have the three-fold problem that (1) players on one shard don't care about the next, (2) the shards generally need to remain consistant, thus having an impact is impossible and (3) staffing a large live story team over 10-30 shards is more than a touch too expensive. One-world, while neat, is nothing more than a gimmick unless we take full advantage of it. The above are just a couple of the ways we are doing that.


Dana Massey
'Wish' World Designer
Mutable Realms, Inc.
http://www.wishgame.com/
WayAbvPar
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Reply #18 on: April 12, 2004, 01:47:47 PM

Quote
We've redone the method in which monsters enter the world. They will spawn based on land type (wolves in hills, forests, etc.), and level (newbie monsters near towns, etc.).


I like this. Couple this with the concept of 'clearing the roads' between towns that came up earlier in the beta, and you give world a tangible feel to it.

When speaking of the MMOG industry, the glass may be half full, but it's full of urine. HaemishM

Always wear clean underwear because you never know when a Tory Government is going to fuck you.- Ironwood

Libertarians make fun of everyone because they can't see beyond the event horizons of their own assholes Surlyboi
Xilren's Twin
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Reply #19 on: April 12, 2004, 02:27:43 PM

Quote from: DM
Very nice article.

I agree on nearly all counts, and in the time since I've come to Mutable Realms (Wish) have been working hard to address things like "treadmills", "your actions not mattering", "being the hero", etc. The work we are doing as we approach E3 and beyond should break some ground in these areas.


No offense Dana but from what I saw of Wish in my admittly very short beta experience last phase, you are putting the cart way before the horse.  The monster spawning and quests being non repeatable is nice and all, but if the basic gameplay is still as boring as it was when I saw it, it wont matter.  Your game play has to hook people from hour 1, and it was the same ole hit auto attack and chase rats/spiders for a while yawn fest of past games.  And whoever's idea it was to make chickens run from you while you repeated chase them around town as a good method to introduce people to your gameworld needs to be flogged.  Hey look, auto attack is back, only now you can Tame Goats too!  

Improve on THAT, then we;ll talk.

Xilren

"..but I'm by no means normal." - Schild
DM
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Reply #20 on: April 12, 2004, 03:04:45 PM

Quote from: Xilren's Twin
Quote from: DM
Very nice article.

I agree on nearly all counts, and in the time since I've come to Mutable Realms (Wish) have been working hard to address things like "treadmills", "your actions not mattering", "being the hero", etc. The work we are doing as we approach E3 and beyond should break some ground in these areas.


No offense Dana but from what I saw of Wish in my admittly very short beta experience last phase, you are putting the cart way before the horse.  The monster spawning and quests being non repeatable is nice and all, but if the basic gameplay is still as boring as it was when I saw it, it wont matter.  Your game play has to hook people from hour 1, and it was the same ole hit auto attack and chase rats/spiders for a while yawn fest of past games.  And whoever's idea it was to make chickens run from you while you repeated chase them around town as a good method to introduce people to your gameworld needs to be flogged.  Hey look, auto attack is back, only now you can Tame Goats too!  

Improve on THAT, then we;ll talk.

Xilren


Once again, I agree :P  The combat stunk in beta one, it wasn't complete beyond the "select and wait" level. The chicken thing was a mistake gotten out of hand, one we actually corrected in beta 1 (we started allowing new characters to start 1 skill level higher to avoid fighting chickens). However, long term that is not the correct solution. The chickens and sheep were supposed to be decorations. Unforunately they were the quickest way to advance. They will not be the focus of newbie adventure.

Combat has been redesigned fully. What you saw in beta one was basic playability while you stress tested the server. The game was functional, but lacking. The current phase of development is all about adding things. Combat, for all intents and purposes, has just been added now.

Look at it this way. In beta, we let you pick berries. Did anyone mistake that for our final crafting system? No. Then why would you think the ability to select a monster and watch your character swing at it was our final combat system?
HaemishM
Staff Emeritus
Posts: 41057

Prevent all damage that would be dealt to you and other troops you control.


WWW
Reply #21 on: April 12, 2004, 03:38:07 PM

Because it was as boring as every other released MMOG.

daveNYC
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Reply #22 on: April 12, 2004, 03:45:25 PM

Chickens?  What the hell?  Were you inspired by Rocky or something?
Mr_PeaCH
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Reply #23 on: April 12, 2004, 04:08:01 PM

Didn't Diablo II let you herd chickens in and around the starting act town?  I do believe people even had 'chicken races' and such.

Sorry... what were we talking about here?

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Morfiend
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Reply #24 on: April 12, 2004, 04:21:27 PM

Quote from: DM
Look at it this way. In beta, we let you pick berries. Did anyone mistake that for our final crafting system? No. Then why would you think the ability to select a monster and watch your character swing at it was our final combat system?


*cough*Lineage 2*cough*
Righ
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Teaching the world Google-fu one broken dream at a time.


Reply #25 on: April 12, 2004, 07:11:48 PM

You could make all the players chickens and let them fight NPC chickens all day if chicken fighting was actually engaging.

The camera adds a thousand barrels. - Steven Colbert
gith
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Reply #26 on: April 15, 2004, 04:24:52 AM

Quote from: Arnold
Quote from: Margalis

I don't think being able to remodel a world on the fly has much to do with it. Maybe add a few destructable items like bridges, forts, etc. I mean, the real world doesn't get remodelled all that much either. If the Orcs take over the town maybe you swap in some destroyed bridge graphics and new textures on some stuff...

You don't have to be able to create giant craters in random fields. That might be the eventual goal, but you don't have to do that right away. You could just have a series of monthly hardcoded events, that would be a start. ("Next month - zombies rise from the grave!")



Interestingly, Asheron's Call 1 already sort of did this, although it was part of a monthly update.  They took the most popular town in the game, which had drawn to it the dregs of society, and turned it into a huge, steaming crater.  I can't remember the story, but I think a meteor hit it or something.  It was funny as hell to read the boards and heard, "WTF AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITHOUT ARWIC??!!!?!"


they also did all of that offline, and on all servers... none of the players actions mattered.
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