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Author Topic: Tabula Rasa Previewed at GameSpy  (Read 17299 times)
Venkman
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on: May 07, 2004, 03:00:31 PM

GameSpy's preview of Tabula Rasa. Some good info, but really only what Richard Garriot and Starr Long felt comfortable presenting. Notable by their absence was any talk of crafting or an economy, which may mean their exclusion from the game or their relative incompleteness.

In case anyone's interested, I've posted my thoughts. The thing got deadly long (yea, that's a shocker), so I cross-post it here for those who prefer the BBcode formatting here over the HTML formatting at Grimwell.

Some consider Richard Garriot the father of modern fantasy RPGs. I feel "fantasy" is too limiting though. I literally grew up with the Ultima series, both by playing the games themselves and by seeing features that other games replicated or improved upon.

We have all read stories about the transition of the Ultima brand from Origin to Electronic Arts, and Garriot's departure thereafter. We have seen what has become of the flagship title and, when we heard Garriot had joined NC Soft, we expected big things from Lineage 2. Then we started hearing rumours about a new title, code-named "Tabula Rasa".

It is a code-name no more.

Interestingly, the first topic of GameSpy's preview of Tabula Rasa involves the name.
Quote
"Tabula Rasa was initially just a working title - a way of codifying our design goals," Garriott said as I sat down in the Austin, Texas conference room of NCSoft, Tabula Rasa's publisher. "We needed to wipe the slate clean - go back to the drawing board and figure what exactly made MMOs fun and what made them, well, not."

However, the article involves a lot more about the game, and the thought processes behind the concept.

Methodologies

I personally can think of no better example of a game designer who has been-there and done-that. However, much time has passed since Garriot has designed a game from the ground up. Even in his current position, he joined NC Soft when a huge hit was being ported over to a new market. And, while he probably had a great many thoughts on the sequel, the premises, play styles and target gamer all inhibit open-ended pure creativity..

Tabula Rasa is Garriot's "clean slate". This may be the first time in two decades where he is not bound by anything but "what is fun" and profit goals.

So what does he think of the genre he helped popularize?

The article at GameSpy goes into some appreciable depth on this topic, filtered as it is throughout the write up of various game concepts derived from other games. Suffice to say that we have all mentioned the very things Destination Games is attempting to solve, or at least design around.

As to the game concept itself, key highlights are both known and revealed in this preview. My personal interests are below:

Instancing

The game will make liberal use of instancing. There will be common areas, instanced zones for groups and instanced zones for housing. If you're unfamiliar with instancing, a description is available in this write-up regarding instancing in Everquest.

Housing

Everyone starts with a plot of land automatically. They are called "player estates". Relegated as they are to instanced zones, this solves the urban sprawl oft-condemned in games like UO and SWG. Post-launch, Destination Games plans to introduce "Town Squares" that can link various player estates.

Characters earn a "monthly stipend" of money they can use to purchase goods, particularly house decorations.

Group Sizes

Group sizes will be 4-6 people, with Guilds more about linked squads than which require any form of Raiding.

Missions (Quests)

There are three primary instanced mission systems.

[list=1][*]Battlefields- These are PvE battlefields, where players are thrust into what sounds like a middle of a war or large battle. The preview specifically mentions the lack of "rat killing" in the early game in describing battlefields.
[*]Wargame- These are PvP type environments, with elements like capture-the-flag, dueling arenas and team-based objective missions. This type of mission will have a "bragging rights" back end in the form of public scoring.
[*]Missions- These sound like traditional dungeon romps with primary and secondary objectives. Each can be resolved in a variety of ways. The description provided sounds similar to EQ's Adventure System and the missions in City of Heroes. Additionally, it was specifically mentioned that some quests can be multi-step series of missions that could take many nights to complete.[/list:o]

World Size and Traveling

One of their goals was to reduce travel time. A lot.
Quote
"If you play a standard MMO and a friend comes on line, how do you adventure together if you're a half hour away from each other?" Garriott asks. "Then you're another half hour away from the dungeon you want to explore? You're going to waste an hour before you even get to something good." Thus, one of the first elements added to the game was the ability to teleport to a friend - not as a power, but merely as an ability inherent to anyone in the world.

The preview also mentions that the world is simply smaller than some MMOs that seem to have a stated goal of sprawling into infinity.

City of Heroes feels similar to me in this regard. The world is not especially huge. Running, Jumping or Flying from one corner of the Paragon City map to another would probably take no more than 35 minutes, including time to zone and time to avoid bad guys. Everquest it is not.

However, in CoH, instanced missions can double or triple the size of the perceptual world. Sure, a trip from Atlas Park to Skyway City might be a few minutes by tram. But that same trip along which players cover five missions in warehouses, sewers and caverns makes the world feel much larger.

In effect, the CoH outdoor environments are traditional Everquest-like static-content zones. Mob-spawn points might migrate a bit, but what spawns in what zone is pretty much set. Most of the doors on the buildings are locked, requiring "keys" to open (missions activated at NPCs). So that big rectangular block with the rendered windows is actually full of bad guys you can zone into and attack if you have the right key.

It has the "feel" of being smaller on the one hand, because without activated missions, those buildings are just rectangular mountains with different textures. However, with missions, the entirety of CoH's virtual world landscape is significantly larger.

Death Penalty and Character Advancement

There appears to be almost no death penalty at all. One of the team's philosophies is that "just putting time into a game is worthy of a reward."
Quote
Should a player die in the course of a mission, they have the option of starting over from the beginning or continuing where they left off at a cost of a 10% reduction in the experience reward

Character Advancement sounds like a combination of Shadowbane and UO. Players start by choosing a race and sex and then choose archetypes and powers along their character's life. However, and most importantly (to me), is the concept of "save points".
Quote
At any point, a player can freeze a character. Should they not like the way their current character is progressing, they can return to the earlier point in their character's development and take a different path.

Here's the kicker, though: each of these separate paths that a character chooses remain accessible. In essence, one character becomes five or fifteen different characters (the number of save points is still under debate), all of which are instantly accessible. If you're not having luck on a mission with your Body warrior, or your group is short on Spirit skills, you simply choose a different "character expression"

Combat

The combat mechanic described sounds like a cross between Combat Styles and Powers, with the addition of a "chi" meter that is built up by switching attacks often. Once full enough, a player can activate a "devastating super-attack". The designer of this system took inspiration from titles such as Soul Calibur II.

Theme

The back story is described on page 5 and is worth a read. Like much of Tabula Rasa, the theme and setting are evocative of stories told in other games and other forms of entertainment.

An advanced Race seeks contact with other advanced races and failing that decides to gift their technology to still emerging ones. Eventually they guess wrong and a burgeoning race begins a war of conquest that must be quelled. The police action takes its toll on the advanced Race ("The Benefactors"), and an ensuing civil war forces the "good guys" into hiding. The bad guys now sit back and monitor races for potential future threats, subjugating them and ignoring the rest. Earth has been largely ignored. Until now.

While there are echoes of this concept in every license from Star Trek to Stargate, it's a creative combination of elements that allow for the quick acceptance of ingame elements like player teleporting and Spirit powers. In the passed few years, the "story" of an MMOG has been less important than the game play mechanics. Instead of "wasting money" on developing a new story, Garriot et al could have simply pilfered an existing one and probably been ok.

But they didn't. Hopefully this means the story will be relevant to actually playing a game.

Crafting and Economy

If you've read the preview before reading this write-up, you may be wondering why there's a section for Crafting and Economy here at all. Well, they're noteworthy in their absence.

Thoughts

For years MMOGers have been conditioned to accept XP loss or debt on death, corpse recoveries, long periods of sedentary downtime and unmanageably-huge groups of people that need to work quickly together towards a large goal. Each of these features has contributed to a good deal of "culture" in the games where they are prevalent. Each of these features appeals to something less than the total amount of online gamers out there. Trying to explain to a non-MMOGer why staring at a spell book for 20 minutes is "fun" is as difficult as explaining the joy of that no longer being a requirement.

Tabula Rasa  has some very intriguing concepts. Some gamers might feel disappointed by anything less than a purely revolutionary title including elements never before tried. However, innovation also involves improving and flat-out repairing damage done by mistakes passed.

Last year, I only stumbled upon the NC Soft booth by pure accident. I walked away absolutely impressed by the diversity of their product line. Knowing what those products and adding those that are coming, this is the booth to which I plan to visit first.
schild
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Reply #1 on: May 07, 2004, 03:05:37 PM

Motherfucker. I just typed all of that out to Soulflame and Sonic Purge and now you have it all posted here. Sigh, I should have just made a post myself.
schild
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Reply #2 on: May 07, 2004, 03:08:31 PM

There is no absence in crafting. They said in the gamespy article (without quoting) that you get a monthly stipend to craft various things for your house and that youll find other decorations in the world.

On that note, I'm sure the only economy will be trade and purchasing from stores. It seems Garriot knows player economies suck massive donkey nuts.
WayAbvPar
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Reply #3 on: May 07, 2004, 03:10:27 PM

Some interesting ideas. Instancing may be too common a theme; but we won't be able to tell until there is a build to see.

I am having trouble wrapping my head around Lord British doing a science ficttion theme- FWIW, I have always loved Britannia and the backstory that Garriott gave it. Not sure I can get the same warm fuzzies from sci-fi (and even if I could, can he deliver another great world?).

I like the idea of player estates, and a monthly stipend for decorating same. That is a fun idea that adds value to some playstyles without sacrificing anything vital to the other players.

As for World size/Travel- as long as the world is interesting, I don't mind long travel times. Things like EQ boat rides were a bit extreme, but they really hammered home the point that I was traveling a long distance. The world FELT big and scary.  If the world is soulless and empty, then the travel gets dull. Ideally a character could spend most of his life exploring the world a little piece at a time (instead of being forced all over the map by missions or other factors). I don't want to feel like I am static, and the world is coming to me (which is how too much instancing feels to me).

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
schild
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Reply #4 on: May 07, 2004, 03:12:29 PM

Well, Tabula Rasa's travel sounds like the reverse of CoH. Heroes had A HUGE CITY with super fast travel speeds once you hit 14 (when you really start needing them - though Kinetics can get them at 8 or 10 (depending on Defender or Controller) with siphon speed.

So what's worse? Huge World/Super Fast travel or Small World/Little travel needed? Either one is fine with me.

EDIT: Oh, and it's easier to add content to a small world - and it's more noticeable.
HaemishM
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Reply #5 on: May 07, 2004, 03:37:16 PM

Ok, my interest is officially piqued, more so than it would be just because Garriot was involved. He can still lay a rotten egg.

Some very interesting concepts going on with this one. It does sound a lot like a cross between CoH and the instance-heavy D&D world that cevik had talked about over on WT.O so long ago. Hubs that link players together as common areas, leading to instanced mission-based content. Not having to create ginormous outdoor zones may be a big help in keeping up with the massive amounts of content that will be needed to keep this game interesting for long. Just like CoH, their biggest hurdle will be satisfying the insatiable need for more more more content that MMOG audiences have. But the ability to provide both long and short duration content will hook both the casual and the hardcore gamer if it's good.

The fact that they are taking hints from console games like Soul Caliber II and other very interaction-heavy games like BF1942 says they hopefully will have involving combat. It sounds a bit like a mixture of CoH combat with WoW's "Rage" meter.

I really dig the story concept. With the whole sci-fi Star Trekky atmosphere, and heavy use of instancing, they can focus on creating LOTS of diverse worlds to visit. Again, keeping up with content demand will be tough. It's nice to know they won't be doing yet another Tolkien-esque medieval fantasy game. I'm also happy they'll be doing misson-based PVP areas. Double plus gud if the combat is fun.

Crafting and economy, I give not a shit. If the other stuff ain't fun, that won't save it, only make it suck more.

I really, REALLY like the concept of using clothing as opposed to armor. It sounds to me like the clothing will work like CoH's powers, get the look you want, then slot enhancements in it to make it do what you want. Very good concept, we'll see if it works.

I'm a bit concerned about the lack of ability to customize your character's appearance from the start. I'm also turned off by the screenshots, mainly because they are heavy on the anime-ghey, and light on anything else.

Whoever goes to E3, make sure you get some looks at NCSoft's entire booth. They are the publisher to watch in the MMOG game.

EDIT: Don't forget, Garriot actually did have some sci-fi bits in some of the Ultima games. After all, in U6, wasn't the avatar just a normal person in our world pulled to Brittania by the moongates?

Venkman
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Reply #6 on: May 07, 2004, 03:47:33 PM

Quote from: schild
There is no absence in crafting. They said in the gamespy article (without quoting) that you get a monthly stipend to craft various things for your house and that youll find other decorations in the world.


Quote from: Article
Players also receive a monthly stipend that they can use to decorate their homes, buy craft materials, create furniture and draperies, and set up their own inviting social spaces


There is an absence of any mention of how the crafting system works. It could mean anything from "it's just the click-to-combine of DAoC's crafting system" to "we're not going to talk about this revolutionary crafting system designed to make EQ2 cry" :)

As to Travel, yea, CoH is pretty easy to navigate. Most of my groups seem to have one or two Recall Friend Teleporters too. Nothing cuts down travel time better. Between the tram, Recall Friend, Super Speed, Fly and Teleportation, the cities become just something to traverse quickly on the way to a goal, even if that goal is in the city.

I like the built-in Recall Friend of TR. It makes sense and just continues driving towards the universal genre goal of not requiring players to invest five consecutive freakin' hours of gaming, four of which is spent waiting for shit to catch up.

Quote from: Haemish
I really, REALLY like the concept of using clothing as opposed to armor. It sounds to me like the clothing will work like CoH's powers, get the look you want, then slot enhancements in it to make it do what you want.  


CoH does a pretty good job of showing characters as they are affected by their own powered buffs. Like a Fire Blaster who has hands aflame for the duration of their Hasten effect, or a Tanker actually rendered wearing Stone Skin. I hate Buff Windows. Like chat windows and target windows, buff windows remove the eye from where it wants to be: on the freakin' action.

Quote from: Haemish
Whoever goes to E3, make sure you get some looks at NCSoft's entire booth. They are the publisher to watch in the MMOG game.

Couldn't agree more. They're my first stop.
daveNYC
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Reply #7 on: May 07, 2004, 03:59:09 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
EDIT: Don't forget, Garriot actually did have some sci-fi bits in some of the Ultima games. After all, in U6, wasn't the avatar just a normal person in our world pulled to Brittania by the moongates?

Thought U1 had a rocket ship, and Exodous from U3 was a mainframe.


Garriot rocks.
WayAbvPar
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Reply #8 on: May 07, 2004, 04:06:48 PM

Just for reference sake- my favorite Ultima game was IV, so that is the world I am basing my comments on. Mixing sci fi and fantasy just feels wrong to me (I hated the D&D module with power armor and stupid shit like that- Barrier Peaks? for instance. I think the Wizardry series devolved into a mishmash of sci fi and high fantasy as well).

Quote
I really dig the story concept. With the whole sci-fi Star Trekky atmosphere, and heavy use of instancing, they can focus on creating LOTS of diverse worlds to visit.


That is a good point- sci fi allows VERY diverse settings for each mission if so desired, so a point in favor of sci fi.

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
Venkman
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Reply #9 on: May 07, 2004, 04:14:38 PM

Sci-fi having been done so very wrong so very many ways doesn't necessarily doom TR. But I agree it's a concern.

I want good Sci-fi. I don't want this retarded corporate-exec driven crap they've pushed down the throats of Trekkies. I haven't seen an Enterprise episode that didn't look like it fell off of some CFO's desk memo pad. Just. So. Bland. Hard. To. Care. I'm also sick and tired of every non-licensed sci-fi movie having to be horror too just to given the pencil necks out of their wallets.

I want Fifth Element. I want Stargate (the first half). I want Peter K. Hamiltons Reality Dysfunction or Dan Simmons' Endymion. Heck, I'd even take the early early days of the Wheel of Time universe, which was based in a combination of technology and fantasy.

In short, I want someone to take a chance at writing good sci-fi in a way that matches up with some of the better stories written for fantasy games. KOTOR is a good example. That's a solid story. Even stripping out the license, it'd still be a solid story set in a tech universe.

I'm hoping they toss some money at a lore-writer for TR.
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Reply #10 on: May 07, 2004, 04:30:19 PM

Are panty shots a requirement at NCSoft for all new games?

I like the concepts, and what I can see of the screenshots looks like they are concentrating like CoH on the action actually fucking happening on SCREEN and not in the damn chat window.
Krakrok
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Reply #11 on: May 07, 2004, 11:59:02 PM

I don't know if I would give them to much credit for originality. It sounds like they janked the story straight from Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds. The story sounds almost exactly the same as the backstory that is revealed during the coarse of this book. I don't have my copy handy but "The Benefactors" (and the whole theme down to a T in fact) sounds all too familiar.


The rest of it sounds a lot like Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast (not that that is a bad thing). Instancing, teleport to your friend, battlefields-wargames-missions, is this an MMORPG or does it just have a graphical matching service and persistant characters? In PSO everyone was on a single space station orbitting a planet. The space station was basically the matching area where you would chat, outfit your character, and setup a group. Once in a group (or solo) you would enter an instance down on the planet for leveling up. Repeat.


Quote from: Darniaq
Theme

While there are echoes of this concept in every license from Star Trek to Stargate, it's a creative combination of elements that allow for the quick acceptance of ingame elements like player teleporting and Spirit powers. In the passed few years, the "story" of an MMOG has been less important than the game play mechanics. Instead of "wasting money" on developing a new story, Garriot et al could have simply pilfered an existing one and probably been ok.

But they didn't. Hopefully this means the story will be relevant to actually playing a game.
UnSub
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Reply #12 on: May 08, 2004, 02:01:33 AM

Quote from: daveNYC

Thought U1 had a rocket ship, and Exodous from U3 was a mainframe.


U1 has a space ship and a vital part of the game was for you to travel into space at lvl 8 (max game lvl was 9), kill 20 alien ships before your fuel ran out, then rescue a princess who would then tell you about a time machine.

Possibly the first game I ever played. Ahh, memories...

murf
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Reply #13 on: May 10, 2004, 02:24:13 AM

Why is this a MMOG?  It looks like you could make it a take-home multiplayer game like NWN or Diablo and not change a thing about the core concept.  In CoH, you can affect the game world, if only to a limited extent, as heavily patrolled areas get cleaned up while unpatrolled streets sprout graffiti and such.  And even thatís rather lame, when you stop and think about it.

If every adventure is instanced in its own mini-world, is it possible to affect the game world as a whole?  Especially since the only truly shared world appears to be the hub, which doesnít sound like itís going to be very big at all.  Without a player economy or resources or anything like that, Iím not sure why I should care that there are a gazillion other players in the world with me.  I might enjoy playing with them in the battlefields or against them in the wargames, but I can get that at a LAN party running Battlefield or some other similar game.    

Iím seeing this as a disturbing trend in MMOGs.  There really doesnít appear to be a reason to pay the monthly fee, since thereís nothing about them that actively takes advantage of the persistent nature of the world.  I can already get persistent characters with Diablo and NWN.  I can only make and keep up with so many friends, so past the first forty or so, why does it matter to me that thousands are on my server?  Especially if Iím going to teleport over to my friends so we can disappear into our own mini-universe of instanced adventure, just as if we were playing the latest Tom Clancy FPS?  In short, why should I pay extra cash for the same or less gameplay than I can get out of networked games of Diablo, NWN, or similar titles?

Confused and disheartened,
Brian
HaemishM
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Reply #14 on: May 10, 2004, 11:27:14 AM

Quote from: murf
If every adventure is instanced in its own mini-world, is it possible to affect the game world as a whole?  

...

I can only make and keep up with so many friends, so past the first forty or so, why does it matter to me that thousands are on my server?


If the latter is true, making the game instanced should make achieving the former EASIER to do for both the player and the developer. Even if it's only illusory, that won't matter to most of the people who play a game.

The difference between NWN (and Diablo) and this model is that an MMOG is supposed to bring you 1) security, 2) a cheat-scarce environment, 3) more server stability and uptime. YMMV

Alluvian
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Reply #15 on: May 10, 2004, 02:42:27 PM

People used to ask my why I paid for Planetside, and besides the occasional HUGE battle that floored me, most of the reason was that it was just a lot easier to log in and find a good fight in the MMOG world than hunting for a server that I liked in Tribes 2 or whatever non mmog game.  I hate server hunting.  Mainly because FPS are something that I play sparingly.  I get the urge, play an hour or two then take a few days off.  I don't want that time eaten up by server hopping.

In that case the MMOG was like buying bread at the gas station to me.  Sure I can get it cheaper at the supermarket but I will pay abit for convenience sometimes.

I don't currently subscribe to planetside, but I suspect every few months I will subscribe for another month to get my pvp fps fix.
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Reply #16 on: May 10, 2004, 04:00:08 PM

Quote from: HaemishM

If the latter is true, making the game instanced should make achieving the former EASIER to do for both the player and the developer. Even if it's only illusory, that won't matter to most of the people who play a game.


True, and I myself might be satisfied if instances created for my character reflect past actions of my character and his friends.  But that's no reason to make me pay a monthly fee.  You can get the same thing from a good single-player RPG right now.  Throw in lots of randomized quests and take out the single-player end-game, and you've got Tabula Rasa.

Quote
The difference between NWN (and Diablo) and this model is that an MMOG is supposed to bring you 1) security, 2) a cheat-scarce environment, 3) more server stability and uptime. YMMV


That makes sense, though it's very, very sad.  I suspect you can also include the greater difficulty of pirating a game that can only be played by logging into a company's server, plus all the phat lewt that rolls in every month in units of 15.  As a player, I hardly care about that, but I can certainly see the appeal for a publisher.

However, I haven't noticed a real problem with security, cheating, or stability with NWN.  The persistent world of Avlis was very stable, secure, and cheat-scarce when I was playing in it, though I must admit that was some time ago.  A lot of that had to do with the firm policing of the admin staff and the "mere" handful hundred players they had to watch over.  As you say, YMMV.

It makes me sad to think that the promise of persistent-environment games is dead outside the efforts of hobbyists and text-based games.  I'm not horribly surprised, mind you.  If the focus is on slot-machine style dings or power-fantasy eye candy and combat , anything that invokes consequences or cause-and-effect mechanics is evil.  Alterations to the landscape, especially those that impact advancement and monster-mugging, can only be detrimental to the experience of the majority.  As a player, however, I have to question the value Iím getting for my money.  I mean, shouldnít stability, security, and a cheat-free environment come in the box?  If thatís all Iím getting, and Iím not even getting that, Iíd do much better to stay off the companyís network and enjoying my own LAN party games.  

- Brian
(edited because I can't spell worth squat)
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Reply #17 on: May 10, 2004, 05:33:32 PM

Brian, FWIW, I think that online worlds offer more than that. And there's things that they offer that instancing cannot.

As a small example: Nobody likes urban sprawl in these games. But people DO like having a house as opposed to a virtual apartment. People do like having a view out the front, they like having a garden, they like the possibilities inherent in player cities, and they daydream about the possibilities for worlds where cities matter and are vibrant places to hold, to conquer, to play in.

Instancing has its place. But it inherently works contrary to the basic promise and premise of online worlds, which is that of a WORLD. And if that's the part of the concept you fell in love with in the first place, then it doesn't matter to you whether you interact with the 1000 other players who live over the next mountain chain--you just like knowing that they are there.
Dark_MadMax
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Reply #18 on: May 10, 2004, 09:15:00 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
Quote from: murf
If every adventure is instanced in its own mini-world, is it possible to affect the game world as a whole?  

...

If the latter is true, making the game instanced should make achieving the former EASIER to do for both the player and the developer. Even if it's only illusory, that won't matter to most of the people who play a game.


 If its illusory its not achievement .Period. -  No one cares about others illusions.

Quote

The difference between NWN (and Diablo) and this model is that an MMOG is supposed to bring you 1) security, 2) a cheat-scarce environment, 3) more server stability and uptime. YMMV



 MMOG are supposed to bring MASSIVE  player interaction and persistent world.  Thats the main and only thing I pay subscr fee. I didnt even bother buying Planetside as in beta I found that PS has absolutely nothing to offer over generic FPS such as UT ,CS ,BF1942.- Au contraire it was more laggy ,more downtime , less pretty , less features and on top required a fee.

 Instanced in MMOG? -bleh I could get that in NWN already.

 trule massive worlds and players shaping this world is the future of MMOG. When do we see the game like that it will be another revolution similar to first generation mmog , but for now  we haave to cope with clones and rehashes of treadmills .
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Reply #19 on: May 10, 2004, 09:32:09 PM

Quote
trule massive worlds and players shaping this world is the future of MMOG. When do we see the game like that it will be another revolution similar to first generation mmog , but for now we haave to cope with clones and rehashes of treadmills


Yeah, and it will be slightly after the alien invasion in 2035 and the failed second coming of christ in 2028.   :)
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Reply #20 on: May 11, 2004, 02:24:06 AM

Quote from: Raph

Instancing has its place. But it inherently works contrary to the basic promise and premise of online worlds, which is that of a WORLD. And if that's the part of the concept you fell in love with in the first place, then it doesn't matter to you whether you interact with the 1000 other players who live over the next mountain chain--you just like knowing that they are there.


Yes, Iíll agree with what you say about the promise and premise of online worlds.  Iím not sure, however, that itís enough just to know the other folks are out there.  If a tree falls in a forest and crushes a mime, and Iím building pyramids in the desert, why should I care?  Especially in world like Tabula Rasa where respawning is so cheap?  If the mime is harvesting wood for my pyramid building enterprise, Iíll care a lot.  If heís hunting mob spawns, then he might as well not be there for all I care or can tell.  

I think at heart this comes to a question about what MMOGs are.  Chess is a two-player game.  Itís great I can go on the net and find millions of opponents to test my skills against, but itís still a two-player game.  It doesnít matter that I can log into a certain server and have thousands of chess games going on beside me, even if I can watch a few of them play while my game is going on.  Chess is still a two-player game.

Tabula Rasa appears to be a four to twelve player game.  My team of four to six players hunts spawns or goes on quests or challenges another team of similar number to a contest.  Whatever we do, itíll have no impact on the game at large or on the thousands of fellow players on our server.  Again, I can do this with NWN or Rogue Spear.  (And yes, I do realize Iím making presumptions about a game I havenít played yet.  I could be completely wrong.  I wonít complain if I am.  It certainly wonít be the first time Iíve had to eat my words. ;) )  It just seems to me that a game called ďmassively multiplayerĒ ought to be about the interactions of massive numbers of people.  How you do this without making the individual feel insignificant is not something I can answer, unfortunately.    Iím not entirely sure I know what such a game might look like, though I think the stock market is one potential model.  Iím not sure itís a good one, mind you, but it is at least influenced noticeably by the choices of thousands.  

I do know that the model we see in MMOGs now seems backwards.  Rather than focusing on interaction, there seems to be a push to insulate the players from each other, making them focus not on their fellow players but on their own characters.  The quest for personal advancement has trumped all else, and designers are left to scratch their heads, wondering how they can coerce the players into interacting, usually through requiring resting or refreshing in some way.

Iím not taking pot-shots at you, Raph, or anyone else here.  Iím not explaining myself very elegantly either, because Iím grasping at things that are still very amorphous in my own mind.  It just seems to me that a game thatís supposed to be played by huge numbers of people should actively involve interactions on a massive scale.  Players should not have to be coerced into playing with others.  That should be what the whole game is about.

Of course, thatís a gaming ideal.  The virtual world ideal is a different beastie all together.  I know virtual worlds were your holy grail for a while, Raph, if theyíre not still your dream.  Iím not sure how to wrap my brain around those, either.  I think assumptions about advancement and personal achievement need to be questioned, but Iím not sure what the answers should be.  But I canít help but think the entire industry is heading down a dead-end road, and thereís too much potential here for me to be happy about it.

- Brian
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Reply #21 on: May 11, 2004, 07:42:04 AM

Quote from: murf

It makes me sad to think that the promise of persistent-environment games is dead outside the efforts of hobbyists and text-based games.


I don't think it's dead, but I think the model is being questioned because other models draw more players and more money. It would be nice to see some developer work toward a persistent-environment game. Actually, I think Second Life may be closest and yet it is far from what people want. The truth is that these things are never the same on paper. I notice you linked Skotos and I agree that they are quality, but when playing Castle Marrach, I have noticed that the castle itself has not changed. It is a persistent world, but the player has no permanent effect on the environment itself. Certainly, the players drive the story, but the environment itself never changes. Always winter, always the castle and if I hack a hole in the wall with a pickaxe, that hole never appears and if someone is not there to see it, they wouldn't know it was there. A lot of that game lies in the imagination, and I do enjoy that game.

A true persistent world would be interesting to behold, and we're getting ever closer, but the industry fluctuates and now it is fluctuating with the attitude of the crowd who grew up with M59 and UO and EQ and who are now maturing into the less time intensive, more action oriented gaming preference. But rest assured that the industry has not dropped the idea of a virtual world. Lineage 2, EQ2, WoW are all working on that model even though the latter two will have some instanced content. If you are looking for no instanced content, check out Horizons, Saga of Ryzom, Dark and Light and Dragon Empires. One of which gave players a direct way to expand their world and the other three being very ambitious projects with a major focus on their ecosystems.

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Reply #22 on: May 11, 2004, 08:57:01 AM

Quote
 trule massive worlds and players shaping this world is the future of MMOG.

Set down the pipe, son.
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Tabula Rasa appears to be a four to twelve player game.  My team of four to six players hunts spawns or goes on quests or challenges another team of similar number to a contest.  Whatever we do, itíll have no impact on the game at large or on the thousands of fellow players on our server.

What impact on the game at large is there in a game like EQ? Hording contested resources so others can't get them?

Instancing is the current vogue because people don't want to stand in line to access content. I failed to see the fun when logging into Guk on saturday night and finding every named mob in the zone camped. In an instance-capable engine, this is no longer a problem.

But I guess the nature of freeways is to pack as many people on them as possible, because traffic jams are exciting. Oh wait, it's to move people through as efficiently as possible without bottlenecks. Woops.

Can we just let the 'Why should I buy 'xxx' when I can do that in game 'yyy'' thing just die. If you don't understand, just shut the hell up and buy 'yyy', the sales figures will settle everything unto its place. Especially if you aren't providing any alternatives, because, you know, making games is HARD.

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Thats the main and only thing I pay subscr fee. I didnt even bother buying Planetside as in beta I found that PS has absolutely nothing to offer over generic FPS such as UT ,CS ,BF1942.

Err...yeah. Sure.

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Reply #23 on: May 11, 2004, 09:47:40 AM

Quote from: Dark_MadMax
MMOG are supposed to bring MASSIVE  player interaction and persistent world.  Thats the main and only thing I pay subscr fee. I didnt even bother buying Planetside as in beta I found that PS has absolutely nothing to offer over generic FPS such as UT ,CS ,BF1942.- Au contraire it was more laggy ,more downtime , less pretty , less features and on top required a fee.


How many people in RL do you interact with on a daily basis? 30? 50? I mean really interact with. How many of those do you get to know? How many people do you get to know that you actually spend more than 20 minutes with in your entire life? A few thousand, maybe?

Massive sounds SOOOOOOO good, until you start thinking logically about it. If there are 3000 people in the world, and I only interact with say 30 in the course of a year of game play, those other 2970 are window dressing. In an MMOG, especially a 'world' type MMOG with PVP, not only does that window dressing have the ability to fuck with every single person in the game (magnifying the effect one jackass can have), I rarely have the ability to control his access to me. In the Real World, I can lock my door. In MMOG's, I can /ignore him. And while I understand that people I don't like will have an effect on me in MMOG's, Joe Six-Pack did not come here to be griefed by Johnny Rottencrotch, especially not to pay for it.

The idea of massive is great. The implementation, not so much. Developers throw out massive as some sort of panacea for shitty gameplay, and it isn't. More is not necessarily better.

The casual, time-starved player is more likely to pay for a more-tailored boutique entertainment experience than he is to pay for a world with 10,000 other players, 9,970 of which don't mean shit to now, and never will.

EDIT: Massive multiplayer doesn't mean you WILL interact with massive numbers. It means the potential exists for interaction with massive numbers of people. That's the promise. It's still up to the player whether or not they WANT to interact with that many people. That's where this generation of games is going. The player, the individual creating the experience he wants, instead of being shoehorned into the role the developer says he is supposed to have.

You don't shoehorn communities, they build of their own volition, resistant to prodding. As I've said before, FPS games, with absolutely no community-building or cooperative mechanics whatsoever (Quake) created MASSIVE communities of people. The community built itself despite having no prodding from the game itself.

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Reply #24 on: May 11, 2004, 10:15:45 AM

I heart you hammy.

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Reply #25 on: May 16, 2004, 06:50:22 PM

Quote from: HaemishM
How many people in RL do you interact with on a daily basis? 30? 50? I mean really interact with. How many of those do you get to know?

How many people do you get to know that you actually spend more than 20 minutes with in your entire life? A few thousand, maybe?




 it depends what do you mean by interaction . how many people you see passing by on  highway? In subway? Flying on a plane? You know that people who live in big cities meet daily more people than  a villager?

 Yes its true I don't know even names of majority of people I see everyday  ,but its still matter. I grow up in 15  mln ppl city and believe me life there is much much different than a village I used to spent my summer time in school .

 I traveled a lot of places in my country and a bit of other countries too - thats a perk of Rl being massive.

 You intercat with peopl directly and indirectly - by consuming merchandise they produce, by reading stories about events in newspaper ,etc etc. -  when you limited to 100 people interaction it is very boring  . Instanced mmorpg could be compared to a village ,while true mmorpg  - to  vibrant  and intense life of megapolis..


Quote

Massive sounds SOOOOOOO good, until you start thinking logically about it. If there are 3000 people in the world, and I only interact with say 30 in the course of a year of game play, those other 2970 are window dressing. In an MMOG, especially a 'world' type MMOG with PVP, not only does that window dressing have the ability to fuck with every single person in the game (magnifying the effect one jackass can have), I rarely have the ability to control his access to me.




 Its the point of pvp mmorpg-  adventure and risk.   I do not need "control" their abilty to access to me -as thats what I play those games for . meeting a robber in a middle of nowhere (or being this robber) is much better than passin by empty landscapes and encountering only scripted mobs.



Quote


The idea of massive is great. The implementation, not so much. Developers throw out massive as some sort of panacea for shitty gameplay, and it isn't. More is not necessarily better.



 just being massive of course is not the answer to everything. But being massive is prerequisite for MMOG .- it mayeb a good game without it  (like GW) -but it will not have the features I crave for in MMOGs  ,thus I will not pay monthly fee for it as well.



Quote


The casual, time-starved player is more likely to pay for a more-tailored boutique entertainment experience than he is to pay for a world with 10,000 other players, 9,970 of which don't mean shit to now, and never will.


 If game is desinged in such way that 9.970 peopl out of 10k mean shit to other player its just bad design.

 it may not mater for me fat of elf 524 ,but it should matter to me that ther is a land  full of elves ,who can have direct impact on my land ,who I can trade with ,whoIi can wage war with , whose lands I can travel inot and whom I can compete with. If you have instanced world where I never meet thsoe elves it will truely mean jack shit to em whether there is 100k people playing the game or 1000- I will never meet them anyways.

 In true MMORPG I meet majority of ppl in one way or another ,I have possiblity to do this -and that matters to me.  


Quote


EDIT: Massive multiplayer doesn't mean you WILL interact with massive numbers. It means the potential exists for interaction with massive numbers of people. That's the promise. It's still up to the player whether or not they WANT to interact with that many people. That's where this generation of games is going. The player, the individual creating the experience he wants, instead of being shoehorned into the role the developer says he is supposed to have.

You don't shoehorn communities, they build of their own volition, resistant to prodding.


 Nope . You desing the game having in mind player built communities if you want to control them and act predictably - if nto its jsut the anarchic communites built by few enthusiast.  If you don't care about Joe Casual to integrate seamlessly in game community from start -  he won't . EQ uber guilds are good example.

 So far any sort of in game communites even in MOMRPG are only for "uber" -for the "elite" . casuals have hard time integrating into it- becuase devs never ever cared about this question .





Quote


As I've said before, FPS games, with absolutely no community-building or cooperative mechanics whatsoever (Quake) created MASSIVE communities of people. The community built itself despite having no prodding from the game itself.


 Community ? Of course -as any hobby out there . Anything intersting to more than 1 person can have a following , but that doesnt mean that games that are tailored to social interaction shouldnt try to create the community with in-game tools .

 Point here is that quake is not game about community - thus it doesnt matter that maybe only 1 out of 10 people who bought the game plays online , only 1 out of those participates in teh community in any way (read forums or whatever) , and only 1 out of those 10 ever get into a clan.

 When we sell mmog we want every player be a part of the community -thus we should desgn the mechanisma and tools for that.
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Reply #26 on: May 17, 2004, 01:17:26 AM

Are there *any* MMORPGs where a player actually influences the world in a real, lasting way?

It isn't fair to compare actual games to imaginary ones.

In most MMORPGs you form a party and then any other person you run into is either nothing or an annoyance. Just the *feeling* of massiveness quickly wears off you realize it has no meaning.

It would certainly be possible to make a game where the massiveness made a huge difference, but few if any games do that. Usually massive just means overcrowding of popular XP spots.

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Reply #27 on: May 17, 2004, 04:34:06 AM

Quote

Are there *any* MMORPGs where a player actually influences the world in a real, lasting way?


ATITD I guess. Though you could argue it isn't massive.

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Reply #28 on: May 17, 2004, 04:53:05 AM

You could also argue that it's a virtual art gallery rather than an actual RPG.
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Reply #29 on: May 17, 2004, 12:07:34 PM

Quote from: Dark_MadMax
Point here is that quake is not game about community - thus it doesnt matter that maybe only 1 out of 10 people who bought the game plays online , only 1 out of those participates in teh community in any way (read forums or whatever) , and only 1 out of those 10 ever get into a clan.


Actually, you make my point for me. Quake is not a game about community, but the people who WANT to form a community around Quake do just that, with no help at all from the game. Meanwhile, the people who DON'T want to be part of a community feel no obligation to do so.

That's where Quake got it right and MMOG's got it wrong. FORCING people into a community drives away people who want nothing of the sort. MMOG's have to learn how to let the player create the experience they want, whether that experience is a solitary one or one filled with community involvement. The more a game of any sort allows the player to create the experience he wants, the better that game will be received. It's about giving the player options. Some nights he may want to be social, some nights he may not. Giving the player the ability to choose his style of play on any given night makes for more happy players.

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Reply #30 on: May 17, 2004, 12:35:21 PM

Quote from: murf
Tabula Rasa appears to be a four to twelve player game

Yep.

But just because instancing is being used in MMOGs doesn't mean persistence is dead. It just happens to be NC Soft's calling card at the moment. I don't know how much of Lineage 2 is instantiated, but it seems like none of it is. So really, it's Cryptic Studios (City of Heroes), ArenaNet (Auto Assault), NetDevil (Guild Wars) and Destination Games (Tabula Rasa) that are exploring half- to full-instancing.

The rest use it as a minor feature.

Also, keep in mind that no final monthly fee has yet been set for Tabula Rasa. They could pull a Guild Wars and just not have one, instead going for the revenue-by-boxed-expansion model.

As to forced interaction versus compelled, we all know that people will gravitate towards grouping with friends they brought to the game or who brought them. As such, the value of goals and achievements in a game only extend to that core group. Who gives a shit if some anonymous Monk gets their Epic? However, someone's friend getting their Epic, that matters.

Additionally, large-scale raiding just isn't the selling point it once was. That turns people away. They're coming back now for games that have 6-12 person groups as a cap. It's simply more manageable, by being more casual.

So in essence, instantiated dungeons just formalize what many folks were trying to do anyway.
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Reply #31 on: May 17, 2004, 01:41:29 PM

Quote from: Darniaq
... like none of it is. So really, it's Cryptic Studios (City of Heroes), NetDevil (Auto Assault), ArenaNet (Guild Wars) and Destination Games (Tabula Rasa) that are exploring half- to full-instancing.


Correction in Italics.
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Reply #32 on: May 17, 2004, 07:06:37 PM

Thanks Hat. Had the guys' cards sitting on my desk right in front of me too. Sucks being sick.
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Reply #33 on: May 18, 2004, 03:18:44 AM

Quote from: Darniaq
persistence


To me persistence is worthless until *my* actions persist.

The word's meaning has become perverted by time and EQ.

Persistent worlds were supposed to mean worlds that always existed and where your actions made small permanent changes.

It has come to mean 'a world that never changes'.

When I kill something, ideally, I want it to stay dead (endless respawning stormtroopers in an fps has been considered cheap for years, why do we accept it in a MMOG? and even if we accept it, why do we have no issue with it happening in front of a player's eyes in what is supposed to be a fricking RPG!). Bizarrely, instancing, the supposed nemesis of persistence, is currently just about the closest we can get to achieving this.

Examples of player persistence in MMOGs...

Some examples of player housing.
The sleeper in EQ.
Various landscape changing abilities in ATitD.

Examples of things people have tried to claim as player persistance but aren't...

Taking a keep in siege games (because the act of taking a keep causes other players to neutralise your action completely within a short period)
Epic raids with long respawn timers.


Of course, none of this talks to whether player action persistence is worth the trouble or makes the game in any way fun.

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Reply #34 on: May 18, 2004, 07:06:21 AM

The first problem of persistence in these onine game worlds would be extinction. Because the sole driving factor for leveling is often combat of the local wildlife, lack of respawn would lead to extinction of the mobs, especially if the developers went for a real life cycle that took time for more creatures to be born and grow, not necessarily in real time, but perhaps by game time which would still take some time. I think it would be an interesting experiment to do. Implement full PvP with it and see how long it would take for players to totally destroy the world. I'd put my money on a single day, a week tops.

"Life is no cabaret... we're inviting you anyway." ~Amanda Palmer
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"Les vrais paradis sont les paradis qu'on a perdus." ~Marcel Proust
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