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The Ultimate MMORPG

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the has-to-have-bunnies dept.

Editorial 76 has up an editorial looking at one man's vision of the perfect Massively Multiplayer Game. From the article: "I have read about the new games on the horizon, and they seem to all have one thing in common: They focus on a few key features, and leave out brilliant concepts that have already made it in to modern games. That means that in order for the players to get all the features they enjoy in a game, they would have to play more than one MMORPG, if not many MMORPGs. I do not know about you, but I struggle with playing one at a time."

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Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13118955)

More than one, if not many?

I prefer to play less than one, if not zero.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13121584)

... also a great example of what happens to you when you make the effort to play more than one (if not many) MMORPGs during the same time frame.

Player1: Hey, how many mobs are there?!

Player2: Hell, I dunno... more than one, if not many.

Player1: WTFBBQ?

Rather than make the "Best" mmorpg (4, Interesting)

hobotron (891379) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119054)

Why dont you concentrate on things that make all mmorpgs suck?

SomethingAwful [] has a hilarious yet very insightful look at your typical mmorpg.

Obligatory (-1, Offtopic)

AntipodeanJim (848881) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119066)

Yes, but will it run on Linux?

No sh*t Einstein (2, Insightful)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119131)

He makes some good points but nothing groundbreaking. Common sense would dictate that if u took all the best traits from many similar games and combined them (correctly) it would make a great game.

Also something tells me if it was that simple to make the perfect MMORPG someone would have done it.

Some things such as his comments about classes i just plain disagree with. If people were allowed to train in any skill they wanted then everyone would be running around endgame as masters in all fields. Although if they used some sort of point system to ensure you couldn't max out everything then it may work.

Anyway bottom line this guy just typed up what anyone that plays MMORPG's has thought about now and then. Nothing more.

Re:No sh*t Einstein (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119311)

They should make a "Time Traveling" MMORPG. That way you combine the

best of the past... knights and medieval garbage
best of present... WWII, Bush wars
best of the future... military cyborgs.

Re:No sh*t Einstein (1)

Meph_the_Balrog (796101) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119360)

Some things such as his comments about classes i just plain disagree with.

While in complete agreement with the parent post, it just goes to show that one person's idea of perfect isn't necessarily someone elses.

Classless games already exist (1)

Rhys (96510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124187)

Asheron's Call, PlanetSide, and to a lesser degree City of Heroes (broad classes, but lots of choices available within each - tho originally in beta it didn't have classes but people gimped themselves so they added classes so people "couldn't")

Asheron's Call, for any fault you may have with it, has a very well put together character creation system. Nowdays they've even fixed most (not all) balance problems and you can excel in the game as a pure-melee (only item magic), pure mage (item, critter, life, and war), or something in between. I've even heard of people doing true hybrids quite successfully where they took a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, and war magic and used whatever was appropriate to what they were hunting.

Re:No sh*t Einstein (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124914)

> If people were allowed to train in any skill they wanted then everyone would be running around endgame as masters in all fields.

That's a fallacy, as UO proved.

Secondarily, if someone wanted in invest ALL that time, why should they prevented from doing so?

Classes are ass backwards -- your class defines what you can and can't do.
The player's skill *should* define what he can and can't do.

That said, class based games, can be quite fun, as they provide a focus for char development. I enjoy DnD, D2, WoW precisely because they are class based -- and hate them for the same reason -- they don't give me the freedom to custom "design" a character with the skills that I find fun.

Re:No sh*t Einstein (1)

Gravedigger3 (888675) | more than 9 years ago | (#13125442)

Well im just going from what i know. The only 2 MMORPG's I have ever played are EQ and WOW. Although i would love to be able to let my druid wear mail and swing a sword it would suck a lot of fun out of the game if every player 50+ could run around and do everything.

What fun would it be playing a priest if the warrior in your group could just instant heal himself whenever he gets low. What if a mage could go stealth and stab you in the back.

The fun of WoW is that every class has their own skills and talents that they contribute to a group. So although being able to master everything is great in 1 player RPG's like Elder Scrolls it would really take the fun out of games like WoW.

But again this is just from my point of view. There may be ways to properly implement this but I have never seen it.

Such limited vision (3, Insightful)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119229)

Ok, so according to TFA, here are the main ingredients:

Character Customization
Player Housing

You know, when I was keeping up with info on the *new upcoming gaming genre* of UO (back in 96), I had all kinds of visions of what an MMORPG was supposed to mean. I wanted to see an actual thriving world with actual thriving NPC's (with some semblance of an AI)running it. I expected to see AI driven dragons roaming around the Far East Plains, and I expected to see AI critters stay far far away from the Far East Plains as the dragons will summarily eat anything that crosses it's path. I wanted to see in-game AI driven politics between in-game AI driven factions (that we can participate in and possibly manipulate).

I wanted to see an actual world. A living breathing city filled with NPC's with a some kind of reason for it's existence, whether it's making food or forging armor or growing crops. A city where NPC watchmen come out at night at 6pm and start lighting the street lamps. A city where a sudden drop in player subscriptions will NOT affect the economy and outlook of a city. A place where players can truly build their own citys, with NPCs slowly populating it.

Sadly, I got none of that.

Instead, we have games where the R in RPG does not stand for 'ROLE,' but instead stands for ROLL (you know, like as in rolling the dice? I crack myself up). MMORPGS have turned into nothing but a numbers game, with higher end content requiring nothing more than the cooperation and coordination of multiple players juggling the right numbers at the right time simultaneously.

I have yet to see an MMORPG I've truly thought of as a role playing game. :-(

Re:Such limited vision (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119597)

Very well said. For me, UO is still the pinnacle of MMORPGs. Nearly everything after has been "Everquest with more shiny things". I want a game that's fun, not merely addictive.

Re:Such limited vision (1)

briancnorton (586947) | more than 9 years ago | (#13128561)

I hear you. Not one game to date (that I know of) even bothers asking the simple question "why do we have rules in this game?" Why can't I sneak up and assassinate the king? Why can't I form a revolution to topple him from power? Why can't I change the landscape by damming this river? Simple stuff like this. All it would take is a creative and fair-minded writing/programming staff that can react to player actions.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13119261)

Obviously a list of wants from someone who plays the current crop of MMORPG's. They all suck and his suggestions are are just modifications to the existing crapfest.

I have some ideas for a fun game system. In fact, I'm working on it right now so I can't release any details yet. Lets just say it will change what people think of as a MMORPG.

I'm actually a little leary of releasing this thing to the public because I'm affraid it will be much more addictive and time consuming than the current games. I'm having a bit of a moral dilima because I think people waste too much of their lives playing with this fake stuff.

Re:LOL (1)

nc_yori (870325) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121441)

Yeah..yeah, me too. I am also working on something. It really will change the way people think about things forever. I can't tell you anything about it, or when it might be ready, or what it is...or who I am...but it's totally gonna rock!

Innovations (1)

NBarnes (586109) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119507)

It's a small thing, but the thing that most impressed me recently in MMORPG design was City of Heros' boss/lieutenant/minion breakdown of the mobs in a group, along with populating each group with, rather than the 1, 2, or 3 or so mobs common to the EQ paradigm, 6 or 10 or 15. Minions were little trashy things, no match at all for the PCs and only dangerous in large groups (which would occasionally be provided), while bosses were nearly a PC's equal or more. It was a very nice change from the pacing of many MMORPGs, where you daren't pull more than one or two mobs at a time. It seemed much more 'heroic' to me to engage large groups of foes and triumph. I think it could work very well for a fantasy or S/F-themed MMORPG just as well as it does for City of Heroes.

The "Pulling" Paradigm (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120146)

I think the whole "mob" concept needs to be drastically reworked. The idea that I can be 51 yards away from something and it can't see me, but if I move one yard closer he and all his buddies charge at me is LUDICROUS.

How about a real AI system? How about mobs with actual line of sight and knowledge of their surroundings and tactics?

I think challenging and intelligent AI would go a long way to alleviating "the grind".

Re:The "Pulling" Paradigm (1)

NBarnes (586109) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120524)

Feel free to present a panel on practical AI programming techniques to achieve this result at the next GDC.

Pfft. (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120756)

Far be it for a consumer or end-user to request a feature.

Semi-Intelligent AI has been done for years in first-person shooters and real-time strategy with steady improvements through the years... why is it so hard to assume any of that would trickle down in to larger networked games like MMORPGS?

MMORPGS have been using the same basic AI since the 1990's.

You explain to me why it's not possible first, then I'll get to work on my GDC panel, mmkay?

Re:Pfft. (1)

arkanes (521690) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122790)


a) FPS AI is often not much more advanced than what you're describing.

b) The resource contraints of an MMO are *vastly* higher than an FPS - Try getting UT2k4 to play with 7000 bots. I've read reports that pathfinding alone eats something like 30% of the CPU in an MMO server.

Re:The "Pulling" Paradigm (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13123039)

The point for that is that if all mobs behaved like one large, coordinated army they'd simply annihilate the PC population.

I already hate it that when you attack one of certain mob classes you have to deal with an entire group of them, having the entire group hunt players and spot them on the entire map (e.g. you run around a corner suddently ten groups of five wolves each run at you, tearing you to pieces before you've taken down one of them) is nasty. The mobs outnumber the players and if the players want some decent experience they're probably fighting mobs that are almost as powerful as they are.

, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Grind (5, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119569)

I personally completely disagree with the article. The articles argument is basically that in order to build the ultimate MMORPG, you just need to combine all the best points of the current MMORPGs. This is complete and utter crap.

MMORPGs are currently suffering from unoriginality. No, I am not talking about the setting. I am talking about core game play. MMORPGs boil down to one thing. If you don't think watching your levels go up and collecting better equipment is awesome, you are going to hate any MMORPG, even a combination of them all, in a few months, if not weeks. What MMORPGs need are some fresh ideas. The sad truth is that to this day UO has a monopoly on originality. How can a game nearly a decade old have more originality then all the current crop of MMORPGs combined?

What MMORPGs need are some real changes. I suggest the following.

Kill the exponential power curve: What kills 99% of most MMORPG content? The power curve. The fact that a level 50 could go to sleep and a level 5 couldn't even land a hit destroys the ability to produce content, slaughters the enjoyment of casual players, renders PvP impossible for anyone not at the cap, and results in a content being completely inaccessible to most players. Further, the exponential power curve really is just a substitute for content. You drive players forward to mindlessly kill NPCs because they think they are working their way up the curve. Kill the curve and find another way to entertain your players.

Dynamic Worlds:
No, I do NOT mean monthly or even weekly events. I don't mean GM run stories. I mean true living and breathing worlds. Start an undead army in the artic of your world and have it march south into inhabited regions. Have it physically march. Have it set up camp at dawn, and march at night. If it comes to a city, have it lay siege. If it runs across a corpse, have it raise the corpse into another soldier. The army might not be completely running on auto polite. A GM might lay out way points for it follow each week. From that point on though, the army moves on its own. Make it a long term event. So, at any point, you could ride out from your city, kill some forward scouts, then run off. If someone tries to 'camp' the army, make it behave realistically and swarm. If people in small groups are only willing to do hit and runs, then you did something right.

Build the world to be as dynamic as possible. This should be priority number one. Build it so that GMs can jump in and tweak things, but the real goal is build a world that naturally constantly changes. This in it of itself should do a lot of content building for you.

Let Us Lose:
You know the worst thing about MMORPGs? The absolute inability to lose. If you play for a month in any MMORPG, at the end of the month, you will be better and more powerful then you were the month before. This translates into two things. First, you degrade any sense of accomplishment. Second, you condition the player to go absolutely nuts whenever he does lose. Imagine the army of undead scenario again. What if the army kept marching and took over city after city? What if it boiled down to just a few cities left and they were forced to pool their resources to make a last ditch stand? What if they could actually lose and have the entire world taken over and the force the game to reset? That would surely suck, but I bet most people would kill themselves to be apart of the final battle to save the world, and I bet they would feel pretty damn good if they actually won. Any real sense of accomplishment is lost in MMORPGs due to the inability to actually lose. Let people lose.

Politics, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Dear God, Anything But Grinding:
Build a game with TRUE content. Arenas for PvP, politics for socialites, trade empires for merchants, and some mundane hunting to fill in the niches. If people run off to go kill stuff to get exp and l00t, something is deeply wrong with your game. Build a game with content.

Hunting: Populate the world with beast with hides. Let hunters stalk the land for skins, utilizing stealth and knowledge of the forest. If you have killed the power curve, this makes the entire equation easy. Some small little fluffy animal might have a valuable hide, but it might live in an area with beasts that have utterly worthless hides. The goal isn't to kill the strongest creature, it is to survive the strongest creatures to snag the creatures with worthwhile pelts.

Trader/Merchants: Construct some real trade. Create true supply and demand, and let people fill the niches. Let trade be more then whacking stuff in a dungeon and selling the l00t. Let people buy low and sell high, or make their own goods. Let people push carts and have horses pull wagons.

Raiders: Let the murders of society form raider bans to pray on the traders and merchants. Maybe they are NPCs, maybe they are PCs, depending upon the PvP environment you want.

Mercenaries: If you want to be a bad ass warrior, let people be bad ass warriors with a purpose. Let them defend merchants and hunt down raiders. Instead of slaughtering orcs "just because", slaughter them to protect trade. Burn their village and never let it rebuild again. Further still, let mercenaries train with each other. Mercenary life is about living with mercenaries, in addition to plundering.

Politics: Let people come to power. Maybe the top guy in some places is a GM, but there is plenty of room for social little underlings. Maybe your average CS nut isn't going to take this job, but someone who likes Sims might.

Soldiers: What is the point of politics without violence to back it up? The CS nuts will feel at home as they get positioned by politicians to fight wars, go on raids, and keep the peace.

Look, I am not saying MMORPGs need all, or even a fraction of this. What they DO need though is a change. A drastic change. They need to recapture the creativity MMORPGs first promised. They need to take some risks and offer ANYTHING other then this horrible grindfest. I don't want A Tale in the Desert. That game is fun for somebody, but it isn't me. I like wars, blood, violence, and all the hallmarks of an MMORPG. I just want someone to grow a pair and take it a step further. Customizing my hair color is fun and all, but that is hardly innovation. MMORPGs desperately need innovation.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Alkaiser (114022) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119665)

*High five*

These are good. I think the point about losing is a significant thing that people don't actually think about enough.

I want the world to actually be affected by the events of the game...hence the persistant universe, not just a persistent character.

If I put Villain X behind bars, he should be there for at least a week. Not something where in another 5 minutes he's back at full strength, base, minions, etc, included.

Until an MMORPG can wrap their heads around that concept, count me out for a while. I feel no need to plunk down a monthly fee for a game experience that's less fun than what I can get offline.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119683)

This translates into two things. First, you degrade any sense of accomplishment.


Instead, we have games where the R in RPG does not stand for 'ROLE,' but instead stands for ROLL (you know, like as in rolling the dice? I crack myself up). MMORPGS have turned into nothing but a numbers game, with higher end content requiring nothing more than the cooperation and coordination of multiple players juggling the right numbers at the right time simultaneously.

These statements embody the problems with the current MMORPG's. The design of these games now revolve around achievement and not accomplishment. When you achieve something, it can be numerically compared to someone elses achievements. What level are you? How much do you hit for? How much can you heal? How much gold do you have? When you accomplish something, it can be compared to others accomplishments, but only in the respect of how the player feels about it. There is no definitive superior. If the designers could some how tap into that emotion, they would have a killer title on their hands.

I will concede that this really is A LOT to ask for. It is relatively simple to employ open, non-linear gameplay for the purpose of instilling the feeling of accomplishment in a single player game as opposed to in a MMORPG. Yet, if this aspect was held to a higher regard it would yield a superior product.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13119703)

Unfortunately, none of these things are viable for any commercial MMORPG's. Implementing living, breathing worlds would 'require too many resources' and killing the curve kills their profit.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Lewisham (239493) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120086)

Dude, I read this, and I wanted to scream "HALLELUJAH!"

Seriously, this is what it should be. Pretty much everything you said revolved around making a world, and then handing it over. Persistance is killing MMOs right now. As you rightly pointed out, when you achieve nothing but a number, you really just achieve nothing.

I love the idea of giving the player's something to lose, and something to risk. Use the politics system, put it to a vote! "Do we march on [enemy city]? Our losses could be grave, and our resources depleted, but the threat is imminent" Resources could well be the bargining chip here; if you fail, you lose a lot of vendor goods from your town, as you used them all up in the assault, leaving you open to counter-attack. Increase the chance of success of defence the further beaten back you are (ie make the final city something massively strong), make the game a to-and-fro of sweet victory and terrible defeat. The raids that go on in WoW are simply stupid, and players just kicking around looking for something to do.

Someone will make this game. I'm thinking NC Soft, seeing as they seem to have some of the mechanics named here, like politics, or it's going to need one of the industries visionaries; maybe Will Wright, maybe Peter Molyneux (provided these two guys don't lose sight of the game). However, first we have to get through the WoW "me-too" phase, as everyone plays "catch up" (not that there's a lot to catch up to, just a very polished gameplay turd. There's not even the old bastion of when an RPG gets boring, a story to keep you going). That will be painful, and protracted, because of the extended turnaround of these games.

MMOs are going to wither in the next three or four years, and then experience a rebirth, perhaps on the consoles.

If there is one game that gets closest to these qualities, I'm thinking of Zelda, or even Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. A living world, that's simply handed to you, and you're told "Do something about it." In Zelda, you help the township, open the portals, fight Ganon, whatever. But Miyamoto-san always pays careful attention to making sure whatever you do always has a physical effect on the world at hand; the people are happy, the skies darken, the castle starts to look more ominous. GTA lets you shape the world in your vision. Grab that low-rider, pimp it out, and take your ho through all the hoods you've conquered. Why? Because you can, because it's yours. GTA gives you ownership of a world like few other games.

MMOs are little more than quest-giving playgrounds. Until these "worlds" become worlds, and not talking heads giving you money for menial tasks, we aren't going to escape this rut.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120127)

Consider this from the perspective of someone who is NOT in the game 20 hours a day. If you've got six hours to play per week, and you diligently grind your way to level 15, then find your character doesn't exist one day because a force you hadn't even heard about and couldn't have stopped any more than you could spit out a hurricane has crashed the server, are you more likely to feel like a hero in a fantasy epic or like "#$&"#$"#&#$&' Why the #"$%#$'"#$"#%&#"$ am I playing this game?" Multiply that reaction times ten thousand players and you'll see why this is not a feasible idea for an MMORPG. This is like the permadeath debate -- lots of people love the idea because it engages them on some weird intellectual level but if they lost their characters they'd be screaming bloody murder.

Ditto any content which can be consumed once and then is never seen again (burnable orc villages, for example). Your power-gamers are going to Play to Crush regardless of what you do and will consume all content available within hours of release, faster than ANY team can possibly hope to crank it out. Either you go with algorithmic content generation (which, because you can't trust your computer to be a human, is likely just going to be a random-number generator and a script which produces content not much more dynamic than your existing spawn system) or you do things the respawnable way.

RE:Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Grind (1)

Meneudo (661337) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120869)

Really, they need to set specific times for events/ village raids/ plundering to ensure it working. Otherwise, it turns in to people waiting for everyone else to log so they can destroy. Just make sure to set some of these specific times at the same time (so a single clan cannot destroy all villages) and make sure that time for other events (such as the march of whatnot) doesn't interfere with other events.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

killeena (794394) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124230)

I think a good possible solution to this may be to have a seperate server/realm/shard/whatever that you can copy your character to. Blizzard/OSI/whoever sets up a server that is completely handed to the players. With their copied players, they try to take over towns and cities, but with the threat of permadeath and resource loss looming. This way, they still have their character on their normal server, but can have fun in a totally consumable world.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13131952)

"Consider this from the perspective of someone who is NOT in the game 20 hours a day. If you've got six hours to play per week, and you diligently grind your way to level 15, then find your character doesn't exist one day..."

First, kill grinding and that one sense of 'loss' can be elminated.

As to the crux of your point, there are ways around it. Not wanting to make characters disappear doesn't have to be a show stopper. If the evil undead army sacks your town while you are out, have everyone who had quit in the area pop up in the next closest city. Unless your game is broken, cities shouldn't be being sacked every day. When it does happen a GM can take the time to snap a few choice moments from the battle and slice them into a cut scen. Everyone who had to be moved gets to watch the cut scene when they log in next. They get the highlights of the battle and be explained the things they should know about what happened. Finish up the cut scene with show how they fled in a wagon or what not.

You don't want to punish players when they are not around, but there are ways around that. It just takes a little imagination.

"Ditto any content which can be consumed once and then is never seen again (burnable orc villages, for example)."

You need a dynamic game, and part of being dynamic is a way to regenerate. Lets say you build an Orc city. This is premium content that some builder had to put together by hand. If players destroy it every three days, you are going to have suicidal builders. Okay, build the city like a city. Give it defenses. No, not uber guards. REAL defenses. The most obvious one would be having guards actually call for help and respond to the fact that a horde of 200 players are preparing to raid.

An Orc city might realistically have 5,000 full time soldiers. Now, you don't really want 5,000 orcs on screen all the time, as it will kill your servers. But, if a 200 players show up, there is nothing wrong with the game recognizing that 200 players have suddenly shown up in the area and having the orc barracks start spitting out orc soldiers which run to the gates like it is going out of style. So, when the horde of players get to the gates, they find the doors are closed and a horde bigger then their horde is raining down arrows. Further, every time an orc dies, another is spit out from the barracks. The result is that no one is going to raze the city any time soon.

Now, you might think this unfair, but this is just regeneration of content at work. So, an orc city might be next to invulnerable, but the outposts and the scouting parties that it constantly sets out are not. Nor are the smaller villages that it spawns. The idea is this, as you get closer to the orc city, the tougher the opposition you are going to face. There will always be small orc scouting and raiding parties being sent forth. There will always be lightly defended watch towers, moderately defended outposts, and heavily defended villages constantly spilling forth. Let it go unchecked, and you will find your home city surrounded by a grown force of orcs that will eventually attack. Send our mercenaries and soldiers to burn an outposts and raze the occasional village and you can keep the horde at bay. If you find content is being destroyed too quickly or growing too fast, just tweak the rates at which it expands.

Think of it like playing a RTS. Peons under guard are sent out and start building. The building takes time (RL days) and resources. You can disrupt the building with raids, or stop it completely if you gather enough people to completely over take the guards. The closer you are to the orc city, the more guards are with the peons, and the faster the city can send help. Then just tweak how fast things are build, how well protect the buildings are, and how quickly help arrives.

Finally, offer something more then all or nothing. Your six man party will stand no chance to destroy an orc village filled with soldiers. But, your six man raiding party might be perfectly capable of sneaking into the village under the cover of darkness, destroying supplies the village needs to grow quickly, and escaping before the orcs can muster up enough soldiers to kill you.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

jjhlk (678725) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120299)

Imo, this stuff will be done in muds, if they haven't been already. I too like the idea of killing the curve which locks content and empowers veterns versus newbs. However, I think it might be hard to do, since people expect it, and it kills a nice definable goal (which isn't to say that it can't be replaced). Bartle has discussed the idea of changing features, and he said it's a bit doomed. So financially, it might not be very good, and mmorpgs will avoid it.

But the muds don't have to.

I like the idea of starting the player out with combat, which leads to economic power, which leads to politics. There are a number of different power struggles then, on different levels. There are lots of other ideas that haven't been tried though...

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (4, Insightful)

E-prospero (30242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120321)

Kill the exponential power curve: What kills 99% of most MMORPG content? The power curve.

Can't agree more with this one. Interestingly enough, it's also true of pen & paper RPG's.

One of the reasons I always preferred games like Shadowrun over D&D (ignoring genre differences) was the combat/leveling system. Shadowrun wasn't unique - other games had similar systems.

In D&D, your hit points just keep increasing as you level up. A level 1 warrior didn't stand a chance against a level 20 warrior, no matter how many lucky rolls you got. When you only have 10 hit points and a 1d6 short sword, a gentle breeze can kill you; what chance do you have against an opponent with 200 hit points, 3 attacks per round, with a weapon that does 1d12+5?

Shadowrun acknowledges that this is not how the world is. Every human is pretty much the same - hit them on the leg with a sword, and the leg will be damaged. Hit it hard enough, and it will fall off. What makes the difference is experience - an experienced warrior will know how to use a sword to make sure that the sword hits well (or conversely, to deflect the blow). Therefore, everyone had a set, small number of hit points. Lose 1, and you are lightly wounded. Lose 3, and you have a bad injury that is probably affecting your ability to fight. Lose 5 and you're in a come. 7 and you're dead. (might be off with the exact numbers here; it's been a while). And two minor wounds don't equal a major wound - none of this 'pecked to death by ducks' stuff that D&D promotes.

Development of experience became extremely important. Experience (plus a little luck) was what determined whether your attack defeated their defence. Experience could become very specific - you could develop experience in the use of a class of weapon, or skill in a specific type of weapon, or in the use of a particular instance of weapon; the more specific your experience, the better the bonuses, but the harder it is to get the experience, and the greater the penalties at using a different weapon. You could get a bonus if you aimed your weapon, at the cost of the time it took to aim.

As a result, a level 1 player could reasonably attack a level 20 player with expectation of victory if they were feeling lucky, or if they were clever about their attack (eg sneaking, sniping, etc). One hit can be fatal, if applied correctly and not defended.

This approach to hit points/power also helps to encourage non-combat alternatives to gaming. When you have a hundred hit points, going into battle becomes 'just one of those things'. If you lose a few hit points, who cares. If things start looking bad, then you run away. And since you have so many hit points, you have plenty of time to make that decision. However, if a single lucky/experienced shot can kill you, you start looking at alternatives to battle, unless you are certain you can win, or you are certain you are much better than your opponent.

The simple 'level up, get hit points, become invincible' rules of D&D seem to be adhered to by all the MMORPGs that I have seen. I can't wait until game developers learn from the lessons that old pen & paper guys learned years ago.

Russ %-)

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (3, Insightful)

Reapy (688651) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124842)

Well said, and I'd like to expand on this a bit.

The most ideal mmo that would allow a developer complete freedom to do as they wish within the world, would involve no levels and no "skills" or "experience" or what ever you want to call it.

You have to develop these things within the player, and not the avatar.

If you want to use a sword, the player has to learn how to use a sword. In an unlimited bandwith situation, using a sword would involve learning attack sequences and defense techniques and moves to agument the attack, perhaps similar to jedi outcast or any kind of fighting game.

But in the real world, this can involve the sword having different styles and techniques, strengths and weaknesses. Combat could be a branching path of a puzzle game, where each player would choose an attack, see it animated, and choose their next move. In this way you could almost script fights, but being victorious would invovle playing to your weapons strengths against the opponents, and understanding the combat system overall.

Importantly though, when a player picks up this weapon, he should have access to it's full abilities.

Now the developer can create tons of new weapons with different advantages and disadvantages to use. It is important here if access to weapons are limited, that none of the difficult to obtain weapons are significantly more powerful then the starter weapons.

So now there is a system in place where, given access to most weapons, a PLAYER who knows the combat system backwards and fowards, can get into the game and start defeating players and monsters within a few minutes.

What this means is that a player can die and start again with no equipment, or create a new character, and still be a strong player.

A player should never fear losing a character, or 300 hours of "work" put into their character. If they carry that skill in their head, it can never be taken from them.

If you remove level and skill restrictions, all content is accessable to every character as soon as they enter the game.

Moving on to roleplay, I know people have this ideal of rpgs where everyone is in character, pretending they are within a game world. When getting online, this is not the truth, and is a very rare case when people want to behave this way.

The reality of the situation is that players want to persue goals and achieve in a game. In a mmo, this usually involves acheiving goals that makes the person stand out from other players.

So when you put something like a rank in a game, or a hard to achieve goal, everyone is going to persue it.

The only way to acheive roleplaying, therefore, is to create a reward system based on it. A way to do this would be a rank system based on how well you behave as a typical member of your race.

Example: Dwarves drink a lot, swear a lot, hate gnomes, and perfer using axes.

Let the players know these rules and how they are judged. Let them know a player can gain one point ever hour, and one point only.

So if a dwarf wants to be more dwarf, he'll curse a bit, stop by the inn for some ale, grab an axe, and start chopping a gnome pc's running around.

The reward for being more dwarf should offer a small small combat advantange, and larger pestigue values. In this way the people looking to become a stronger fighters persue being more dwarf, and at the same time get a small prestigue bonus from it. We still want the beginner to be able to achieve victory given they know the combat system though, so again careful balance must be made.

So for each race there would be wildly different behaviors that would reward the players, which would make the game world very interesting. It would lead to a gnomb pc running by a tavern, a crowd of dwarves there getting their drinking on, would spot it, yell out Maggotpie GNOME, and chase it down and attempt to kill it. They were drinking, used "foul language", and killed a gnome. They are all set for the hour.

Using these rules you could create an interesting game world where these rewards play off of each other, and you'd start to see most dwarves act the same way, breathing life into the game world.

So those are some ideas, but only ideas, and I defintly see the design nightmare of working out a combat system as described above that would keep players coming back for more.

So I'll keep dreaming and hope one day we'll see something like this. Guild wars was a huge step in the right direction, hopefully we'll start to see some clones that build upon its formula.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

dracocat (554744) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120393)

Where do I sign up? Both to code and to play. No, seriously. You have my money and time.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

name773 (696972) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121460)

you need a lot more than one person unless you're just that good ;)

i suppose you could start a web page to recruit people to write this thing if you really feel it is worthwhile and feasible

The market does not support innovation (4, Insightful)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120468)

Let me explain why online RPGs aren't so easy to develop. In essence, players don't know what they really want. I know this is going to piss off a lot of people, but let me explain.

Let Us Lose

See, you say you want to be able to lose. The problem is most players don't want to lose. In my own game, Meridian 59 [] , you can lose. If you die you drop your inventory and lose a percent in a variety of your skills. This means that if you die repeatedly, you can actually go backwards in character progression. Luckily, the game isn't quite as equipment-focused as other games are, so losing your inventory isn't as bad as it might be in other games. Plus, the monsters are dumb and it's fairly easy to get out of a bad situation if you are smart about playing, so multiple deaths isn't all that common.

Yet, when people look at this they cringe. They don't want to be "punished" by the game. Many will complain that they don't want to "lose" the "work" they put into their character. They want to gain power then enforce that power on other people without consequence. I have to admit, this is a compelling argument. It sucks to have a limited amount of time to play these types of games and it kinda sucks to have to spend a lot of your limited time rebuilding from your previous losses. It doesn't feel "fun" to rebuild, even though it is part of the a game that is fun because there's the risk of meaningful loss.

And this is just one issue like this. There are multiple other issues like this that keep developers from experimenting too much. Frankly, people are used to the way the games currently are, and until people are willing to pay for other types of games we'll see more and more clones made.

And, this is what it really boils down to: what will the market support? We already have people trying cool and innovative games, but they fall to the wayside. Meridian 59 has a very well-balanced and unique character development system in an original world. But, I suspect that most people clamoring for "innovation" won't be able to look past the outdated graphics long enough to see the cool PvP system at the core. It's all well and good to hope that one of the high-budget games will do something innovative, but let me put it this way: If I were given a budget of $30 million and told to make an online game, I would do the safest game possible. I would take almost no real risks, because it's my job and reputation on the line if the game doesn't make back its investment.

And, frankly, this is the smart thing to do. World of Warcraft followed the usual Blizzard technique of synthesizing the good parts of other games, polishing the gameplay and presentation to an amazing degree (ignoring issues like stability for now), and releasing a fun but hardly original game. World of Warcraft now boasts 3.5 million players worldwide (1.5 million of those Chinese), and is the most successful western online RPG ever. They followed the safe road and were rewarded for it. Unlike half a dozen other games I could mention that offered more innovation and have essentially faded into oblivion.

Once again, the developers do what the market tells them to do. They will provide the type of games that people will pay for and that will make a profit. Until the people who want innovation show themselves to be a large enough force with enough money to make a difference, we'll continue to see the types of games we have previously.

Listen, personally I agree with you, but people haven't been falling over themselves to financially reward my company for running a game that tries to buck the trend. And, if you're not supporting my current title with a bit of innovation, I'm not going to have the resources to do any other titles with more innovation. Hell, I'd love to do a game full of politics and set in something but a medieval fantasy setting, but I don't have the resources to do that anytime soon. And if you're waiting for one of those $30 million budget games to do something innovative so you can have your pretty graphics, too, you're going to be waiting a long, LONG time.

My thoughts,

Re:The market does not support innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13121721)

I've got to respect the fact that you're always painfully honest about these things.

Re:The market does not support innovation (1)

kafka47 (801886) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122243)

When I was at DiGRA [] I had the opportunity to be somewhat of a fly-on-the-wall with many game developers, academics, fanboi, and the like, listening intently to their opinions about innovation, story, humour, gameplay, balance and all of the multitudinous things that revolve around making good games.

The concept of Innovation was a pervasive shadow lurking beneath all of the interesting discourse. "Oh innovation, where hast thou gone?" "Oh woe and woe, the big media have spit us out!" And its no less true in cyberspace, where people are clamouring [] for more risk and innovation, decrying the PC as dead, a place with no innovation.

And so I listened, and nodded, and said, "Yes, oh yes" at the appropriate times. And then I'd ask the dire purveyors, "So what about Doom?".

"Oh. Doom. Yeah, the days of Doom are over."

And by Doom, I mean, that upstart, brilliant, independant developer that came up, and changed the course of the industry.

Sure. Those days are over, and the big media have taken over. Catering their watered, weighed and shellacked offerrings to audiences that obviously "don't know any better". You are so right - Warcraft isn't innovation - its distillation. A product of archaic online phenomenon that found its roots in Moira (with its central town shoppes instead of Nethack's inline dungeon vendors), then Diablo, then EQ and perhaps a host of nods and bows to countless other carefully researched RPGs before it... all of it composed while pouring huge buckets of money all over it.

Yep, you are so right. It is a bit of a wash isn't it? WoW is exremely successful (at least today), but remember that WoW was designed and executed less with savvy PC MMORPG gamers in mind, and more for relative neophytes, and as essentially an answer to the mosnter that is EQ. And it did it sparklingly and staringly well. 100% on execution, there is no doubt about that.

But there are glimmers for the smaller and fainter among us. Look at the GTA.

"Oh GTA? Yeah. Oh well, that was a somewhat special case."

Were they particularly safe? I think the first thing in game design and particularly MMORPGs is to know your audience. Bake your game to your niche. Perhaps, if done right, that niche boils over into the mainstream. Rockstar knew that there were no games that catered to a "hiphop/eighties/mobster" sensibility. Their execution was nearly flawless. In other words, they innovated.

And for innumerable more reasons I'm convinced that this mysterious beast, the upstart developer, still exists. I think audience and execution are important pieces of the puzzle (surely not the only pieces, but you catch my drift). You say safe? I say audience. You say money? I say innovation. You say publisher? I say march in and show them what you can do. Put a veritable gun to their head and march them to signing that cheque. In essence they'd have to when faced with the prospect that you'd take your creation to their competitors.


Re:The market does not support innovation (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 9 years ago | (#13123205)

I am a WoW player. I'd never played a MMORPG before, nor had I shown much interest in them. But I liked Blizzard's previous games (Diablo being the most relevant one) and thought I'd try WoW. Now that I have, I like it but I recognise that it's not perfect. Now that I've tried a MMORPG I'm more interested in the alternatives and keep a watchful eye on what people say about other games for when I stop playing WoW, so that I might transition across.

I think what could end up happening is that WoW provides a boost to the MMORPG sector as people look around for something similar. At the moment I am doubtful however as what I keep reading is "SWG/EQ2/UO/Matrix etc is good, but WoW is better because it solves most of the annoyances with the game". For someone seeing the annoyances in WoW, I'm not tempted to try the others that seem to be described as worse. Still, being without a MMORPG would probably not be a bad thing in terms of time regained!

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - You are pretty close (1)

wattimus (617494) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121024)

You are pretty close, but you are missing a few key features/ideas. Though I do sincerely appreciate your position. The idea of the dynamic world is close, but not quite ultimate/ideal. (I won't explain why or how) From my personal experience, the problem with MMORPGs that prevent Role Playing is that no one truly has a role in the outcome of the environment/world. This should be the basis of everything, no matter your "level". If the user cannot affect his surroundings, he/she is not reaching the true objective.

Speaking of level caps (1)

roystgnr (4015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121284)

There needs to be some way on Slashdot to moderate the occasional, ultra-exceptional post up to about +10, give the post it's own front-page article, something to distinguish it from the hundreds of "ordinary" +5, Insightfuls that get rated every day.

I can't give you any more points, so I'll just reply with this pointlessly wordy "me too" - this is such a post.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

mbius (890083) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121787)

Would also be a hell of an RTS or Civ-type game depending on what elements were PC controlled and what was farmed out to a good tech tree. Heck, it would make a good scaled-up / persistent world Tribes-type game.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (2, Interesting)

willnz (900398) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122167)

i'm building a proof-of-concept game (FOUND Desert Island) [] for casual gamers.

the whole idea is to do away with grinding, in fact grinding will hurt the gameplay, and it does seem to address few of your points, like:

1. the island regrows/heals itself based on player's involvement

2. everyone dies, sooner or later

3. besides the normal hunting/gathering, players can reproduce offsprings

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 9 years ago | (#13123262)

Nice theoretical presentation, and compelling reading -- probably more compelling than any implementation of such a game will be.

First off, innovation is well and good, but innovating is not the same as entertaining. So the statement "the market doesn't support innovation" isn't quite accurate. The fact is that innovations that are also entertaining are few compared to the innovations that just don't work game-wise.

Second, current MMORPGs base their success on two principles: A) every player gets the feeling of doing something exceptional. Sure, there are those long boring bits of slaving away doing whatever boring crap it is, but everyone needs their moment of achievement. MMORPGs are like kindergarten science fairs: everybody gets a prize. After all, these are games built around addiction, and who's gonna play or pay for a game they're no good at, and in which they see no progress? In the real world, that's called a "day job" for most people, and they get paid to do it.
B) MMORPGs have a heavy social element. It's an online game, and you play with other people. Social interaction needs to occur.

Okay, now let's inject the idea of a "realistic" as opposed to a "canned" environment.

You're talking about lots of expense. On the one hand, like TFAs "simple ideas", were looking at a much more complicated core design. Yes, TFAs "player houses" are a cool idea, but you just made parts of the world dynamic and in need of an update everytime every player enters a region. Thats a lot more bandwidth, and a lot more complex code to deal with, all of it fundamentally MP. And debugging MP code is time-consuming and costly. A dynamic world is even worse. These things can and have been done, but not on the scale being suggested here; these implementations are always costly and usually buggy. In this case, we need folks who know quite a bit about economics, social structures, ecology and related fields to make a sustainable environment: Otherwise your pelts will go extinct in a hurry and shopkeepers will starve. Worst of all, all this complexity has nothing to do with the user experience in sense A) or B).
In fact, I'd argue that such a "realistic world" approach detracts from the user appeal of such a game. According to A), everybody's gotta be special, at least at something, or they ain't gonna play. But a realistic world model won't support a world full of superspecial people, as Thoreau found out. For something truly epic to occur, 10,000 other people need to have mundane experiences. So you're committed to making AI characters, most of which are less competent than your average home user. But per a real world model, you'll need a lot of NPCs for each human. Now we get to B). How are the humans going to interact?
I've got an idea: let's have canned 'quests' and a basic combat system!

There are other cool MMOG models out there, but for any one of them, the way to start is with the user experience and work to design. The worst way to proceed is go from "what an ideal reality would be" and make technology and player experience take a back seat to an overarching, compelling bit of intellectual masturbation.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Jakeypants (860350) | more than 9 years ago | (#13123968)

"The army might not be completely running on auto polite."

That'd be good, otherwise it wouldn't be particularly exciting.

"Pardon me, if I may trouble you for just a moment... we're an undead army on a quest to destroy all living creatures. Would you mind if we killed you and stole your soul to fight alongside us? I don't want to be a bother..."

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

Paolomania (160098) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124066)

I think you are looking for something like Shadowbane [] , but I don't think you really want what you think you are looking for.

What you describe is a system where you personally have the ability the change the face of the world, but the implication of this is that all players have the ability to change the world - including people with way more time on their hands than you, and people with far more miscievous intent than you. I imagine such a game would devlove into a wasteland ruled over by roving gangs, where the majority of fun-minded plpayers are driven off by constant harassment. Perhaps players could eventually organize and establish warring city-states, but this type of activity is probably not what the vast majority of fun-minded casual players are interested in.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (1)

mrjimorg (557309) | more than 9 years ago | (#13126847)

They should have posted this reply instead of the mindless drivel that was in the article - he posted complaints and a lot of SWG love, but nothing new and no alternatives. Your post is pretty well written. From my perspective, what I'd like to see done: 1. I'd like to see an MMORPG framework created that would allow people to create servers themselves and would be able to set rules, download and install mods, maps, etc and charge what they want for people to connect. This way a lot of rules, etc can be tried, tested, changed to help create the perfect combination that players like best. This also seperates the developers from the artists who as skilled at making things 'fun'. The framework would have to be really flexible to allow for all the different kinds of modules that independant developers might want to create. 'Core' decisions about the game would be implemented using these modules. For instance, tradeskilling, the fighting system, loot, spells, terrain generation, etc. Several modules would be released with the framework that would already allow for a basic game to be set up from the get-go. The framework would also allow for servers to 'juxtapose' other servers, allowing players to move their characters between servers if the server maintainers agree to this. This would not normally be allowed because someone could create a new server where everything drops tons of cash and loot and then transition to another server and ruin his economy. An instance of the framework might have the following: 1. An auto-balancing feature that reduces the loot on over-farmed mobs, reduces the effects of over-used spells, and gives you bonuses of various types for using unusual tactics or hunting in lands farther from 'safe villages'. 2. When you gain enough experience you would gain a 'token'. These tokens can be used to improve your character slightly. For instance, increasing your mana pool, hps, dodge ability. Or by decreasing casting times, increasing spell effects, or gaining new spells. None of these new abilities would make you exponentially more powerful than others, but would instead provide an incremental benefit. For instance: 3 tokens to increase your Hps by 2%, then 6 more to increase by another 3%, then 20 to increase it 5% more, giving you 10% more hps than other players. 20 tokens would be a TON of exp, but might be worth it for people who like to tank. 5 tokens might allow someone to increase their odds of hitting with a bow, or allow them to shoot fire arrows. 3. A fighting that be based on twitch, but instead is based on tactics, and involves playing off of others in your group. If people are able to easily write an AI to play your character for you then you've failed. Puzzle pirates had an interesting system for sword-fighting, a good MMORPG should have even better. 4. You could follow the path of several classes, however could only act in the capacity of one class at a time. For instance, lighter armor helped with magic and heaver armor hindered it. So, you go to town to change into your robes to play the group healer or into plate to play the tank. 5. Tradeskills tend to just be 'tacked on' to MMORPGs, and usually this creates a problem. If the items produced are useful and easy to make then the market will be flooded with them. If they're tought to find ingredience for then it becomes too difficult to get your skill up. If the items created aren't useful then its a waste of time. So, the best fix would be to make a tradeskilling system where making the item was the game. If creating an item took as much time as, and was fun as performing a quest was, then you have a balanced system. A well done tradeskill system should allow someone to play the tradeskill game as much as someone else might play the hunting/questing part of the game and return similar, though different results. And there should be a mutually beneficial relationship between questers and tradeskillers - the questers collecting skills and other supplies through player-created collection quests, or provide protection for tradeskillers who are traveling between cities and tradeskillers paying the adventurers with equipment or cash.

Build Your Own MMORPG (1)

Shihar (153932) | more than 9 years ago | (#13130309)

Your idea gave me an idea. Imagine this: Similar to what you said, offer an MMORPG where players could create their own content and rules. Hell, this is what NWN is. I am not sure if you were implying this or not, but the next step is to house the actual servers at the MMORPG makers location.

So, basically, the "product" the MMORPG maker is making is a tool to build MMORPGs, and scalable servers. So, Joe six pack could build his own rule set and invite his friends. There are never more then 30 people in his world. His world is small, simple, and really just a place for he and his friends to hang out. A group of dedicated players, or even professionals on the other hand could make 'real' MMORPG plush with content and its own rule system. They might attract so many people that they have thousands of people on at one time.

Hell, even give them a cut of the profits. Chop up the time people spend on each server per month, then divvy out 5% (or whatever) of the fees. So, if a person spends 50% of his time in one world, and the fee is $10 per month, then the owners of the world where he spent 50% of his time gets $10*5%*50%. That is 25 cents per month for that player. Get 6000 people spend all of their time on your server and that is $1500 per month. That isn't enough to quit your day job, but it is a pretty nice incentive to lead a project and create a world that people like.

Next, make then entire thing open source. If you see something you like in one world and want to copy it, go for it. You have solved a number of problems all at once. First, you have created a massive amount of diversity in games. You can have your perm death RP servers right next to your all PvP all the time servers, next to your grinding only server. Next, you have made it easy to build off success. No need to start from scratch. Take the entire source of a server you like and start building your own. This allows content to expand exponentially by making it so that people never need to start from scratch if they don't want to. You also throw the door wide open to letting small contributors add content. In my favorite world I might decide that they need a dungeon, an improved law code, or NPC wolves in the forest. I can make the code and submit it to the owners of the world. Your entire user bases suddenly becomes potential assets. Finally, this system will be the best damn interview you could ever give. If someone manages to create a wildly successful world you can contact them about a job so as to make it full time.

There are some challenges to this system.

First, you need to build everything scalable. You would probably want some sort of scaling curve for the resources you hand out to each world to be based on the number of players. So, if you have a world with just 4 people, you will get just enough resources to run a game with so few people. On the other hand, if you have 10,000 people in your world, you will get resources approaching what a standard MMORPG server farm eats. Further, you need to build it in such a way that one idiot with bad code can't bring down a dozen other worlds.

Second, you really want building tools that scale to the complexity that the user asks for. So, any idiot should be able to fiddle with the stats of a stock NPC or make a simple dungeon, but a dedicated programmer should also be able to build complex law code, GMing tools, a whole new combat engine, or a completely redesigned user interface. You want the maximum amount of customizability possible, but at the same time want it so that any n00b can make minor content additions.

With the right pricing system you could likely make a killing. Offer the building tools for free, even before the game is released. Offer access to the service and the server farm for a monthly fee (whatever is competitive). The monthly fee lets you play in any of the created worlds and lets you build your own. Next, let people buy more resources. If I decide I am serious about building the ultimate world and decide that I need more resources then what is allotted for my user base, I can simply buy more. Or, even better, charge a premium for the use of my service to pay for the extra resources. So, some guy who has reworked the combat engine to be action based might decide he needs more bandwidth then what is allotted normally per player. He sets it up such that the first hour or two of play is free to try the game out, but then you need to pay an extra premium of 2 dollars a month or 10 cents an hour to keep playing. All of that extra money is collected into an account which can be used to buy more bandwidth per player. Hell, he could even dip into that account and take a few dollars profit if he wanted to.

The net result is the developer of this MMORPG only needs coders to keep the building tool up to date and add new features and a pile of people ensuring that the servers are in working order. You don't need to ask pasty coders with absolutely no literary ability to develop content. Your own player base will do it for you. You have also created something of a laboratory. If someone does an exceptional job making a world, hire him and use the principles that he used to make his successful world to build a stand alone MMORPG. The wealth of information you could collect on how to build a good MMORPG alone would be staggering.

Re:, Wars, Survival, Wealth - Anything But The Gri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13130461)

I agree with you that MMORPGs need to change (if they ever want to get me as a player -- I've seen friends do the grind, it doesn't interest me), but these suggestions, while good, aren't all that drastic. Here are some of my own suggestions:

1- Yes, a dynamic persistent world is needed. A basic example: When you have an open field, the paths across it should reflect where the traffic is actually walking, not where the designer has decided it should walk. Those of us who go outside have noticed how people cut corners and take the straightest route across an opening, and when it's common enough a path forms. Don't stop there though, the entire world has to be capable of reacting. If I blow up a boulder (and I must be able to blow up any boulder, given enough TNT), it stays blown up and its chunks stay where they fall (until blown up again). Let me cut down any tree I can see, and let trees make more trees.

2- Do away with as many numbers as possible. Sure, you'll want to know how much gold you have, but keeping track of levels and such will always make it a numbers game. In the real world any guy with a basic gun (level 1) can kill anyone regardless of their skills, given the opportunity. Maybe 99 times in a 100 that guy will be stopped or fail, but sometimes he'll get a headshot on that cop/mayor/celebrity. That's not even including the going-postal thing, where your average level 1 real world human can kill a lot of people if he surprises them and uses weapons/explosives rather easy to acquire or make. You wanted the chance to lose, right?

3- Why do PCs have to be human/oid? Where are the MMORPGs where you play as animals, real or alien, in the wild? Spore is heading in the right direction, except it forces this idea into the overall conceit that your goal should be to start a civilization. Abstract avatars, anyone?

4- Scarcity. Why is this field constantly full of rabbits, when thousands are killed every day? We should be able to hunt them to extinction. This is part of the reacting world of #1, but goes more towards the value of things. You say there's a Rare Jewel in the Forbidden Dungeon over there? I'll just go get that! So will everyone else, apparently, and we'll all find it and all bring it back as if we were the only one.

5- Aren't there enough fantasy games yet? Come on, there are entire genres out there not based on The Hobbit.

6- Let me kill people. That bank teller NPC being a pain in the ass, or just an obstacle in the way of your crime spree? You should be able to lodge an arrow in his face just like you would any PC.

KOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13119646)

All you need is Kingdom of Loathing []

These games are so dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13119698)

They just need to start giving players more control over the world like building walls and houses and like roads and whatever. And if they are worried about the world getting filled with crap then just make it all breakable by the players. Building random crap = fun. Breaking other peoples random crap = FUN. Also would force players to group together to make cities and stuff for mutual defense.

The Best MMORPG... (3, Funny)

rlbond86 (874974) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119715)

Progress Quest []

Re:The Best MMORPG... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13120081)

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Unable to connect

Re:The Best MMORPG... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#13126184)

See? It does everything WoW does.

He's wrong about one thing (1)

theclam159 (833616) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119728)

The answer is to let characters develop free from classes and restrictions. Let people call themselves whatever they want, and let them earn the skills to back up their chosen title. Do you want to be a swordsman? You had better start swinging your long sword around and gaining skill with it.

I have played games with this system and it's boring. In the real world, it ends up being not much different than a dual class system.

You end up getting stuck with your choices. If you're level 73 and you want to try using a sword for the first time, you'll have to go back to easy mobs and grind for hours and hours. And then, once you get it up to a decent level, you may find out that you don't like it. If swords get nerfed in a patch, then all that time will be wasted and you'll have to switch to something else.

I much prefer games (like Guild Wars, for example), where you have the freedom to change around your skill/talent/attribute/stat points, within limits, to adapt your strategies to counter your opponent's strategies. Plus, if you get bored with the same boring combo that you use all the time (Fireblast, Fireball, Pyroblast, Fireblast, Fireball, Fireball, Fireball, repeat), you can try out something new without having to waste dozens of hours leveling up your skill.

MMOGs are very hard to keep balanced (2, Interesting)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 9 years ago | (#13119960)

The hardest problem in online gaming today is to create a system where players can be continuously rewarded for their time but maintain game balance so that certain player types don't become overpowered. Unfortunately these two forces are counteracting.

WoW did a great job of creating balance, but a lousy job of fostering player growth(60+ game sucks). Everquest did a decent job of finding a happy median between the two, but the high level game became very very slow.

Expert gamers are all about finding exploits to increase their power, a good MMOG must reward savvy players, but at the same time protect other players and the economy from being exploited...usually it's the stuff designers never considered or intended that end up causing the most problems. All in all it's a very difficult problem to address.

That means that in order for the players to get all the features they enjoy in a game, they would have to play more than one MMORPG, if not many MMORPGs.

Ultimately, more features == more exploits.

The Solution, IMO... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13119988) to allow PvP to take place anywhere, and to make it where clans/alliances/teamwork are important, but the solo player is still able to thrive.

The first way to do this is to create locations that are valuable to own. Make huge mines, which can be owned by a clan, and allow the clan to make money - IF they are able to hold their own against other clans who desire the resources. Allow the hiring of NPC guards and building of gates to reinforce your mining camps (of course, maybe assigned siege times, in order to ensure players are there to defend; maybe 2 sieges a week, 1 PC, 1 NPC) Of course, make small, scattered mines around the world to ensure that the solo player is not cut out by monopolies.

On the larger scale, make clans able to own cities (starting at small villages, and moving up to castle towns) However, let the single player buy lots and construct houses, or buy premade houses. Allow clans to take over these villages, either razing and plundering them, or putting them under new ownership.

Crafting should be fun as well, with race-exculsive crafts. Smelting should take the place of more expensive weapons requiring 10x of the same resources.

Also, get rid of the grind...

Just a few of my ideas (inspired, of course, by the MMO's I have played)

Article Summary for the lazy (1)

DoctaWatson (38667) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120254)

-Character Customization, Crafting, Player Cities/Housing, and Class/Skill System from Star Wars Galaxies

-Combat system from Neocron

-Quest system from World of Warcraft

Eh... it would probably be a good game. I'd personally like to see all that with a seamless world, a dynamic monthly story arc and unique flora and fauna like Asheron's Call (no elves or orcs, please), decent NPC AI, a realistic economy (limited supply, anyone?).

Oh yeah and gameplay good enough to justify paying another monthly bill.

The man who creates a massively multiplayer persistent counterstrike is going to make millions.

Re:Article Summary for the lazy (1)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120433)

It's fairly obvious the author has only played three or maybe four MMPORGs. He certainly appears to be in no position write an article about them, let along have it referenced on /..

There is no perfect MMORPG (1)

SteroidG (609799) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120511)

The fact that people have different opinions and an MMORPG is composed of people, means that there is no such thing as a perfect MMORPG.

I present.... (2, Insightful)

Dr. GeneMachine (720233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13120725)

EVE online []

I receive... Boredom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13125072)

Most boring game ever *yawn*

Great though if you want to watch your ship flying through space doing nothing for hours on end.

Why does he hate MMRPG's so? (1)

terpl (897171) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121287)

It's interesting that virtually all the things he picked for the ultimate RPG's come from the bottom of the barrel.

He had love for: SWG, Neocron, Shadowbane.

He had no love for: WoW, EQ 1/2, CoH.

Strange that the subscription numbers for the games he has no love for are far superior to those that he does like.

Ok, so a bad game can have good elements, but come on, doesn't WoW do at least one thing right (2 mill. subscribers would tend to say yes)?

honestly I think all of his ideas are, at best, perks. And the problem with perks is the more perks the developers are working on the less core elements are being perfected.

WoW perfects the core elements(combat quests environments)and eschews the perks (char customization, housing). End result? WoW rocks and SWG sucks.

We might see someone trancend the classic do quest - level up model, but until then WoW wins.

I agree with him entirely (1)

@madeus (24818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122720)

I've played them all, with the exception of Shadowbane, and I think he is absolutely spot on, and I think most of my friends (the ones that have played at least WoW, SWG and EQ at least) would agree.

SWG has the best crafting system, massive customisation and elements like the player housing and cities are the best bar none. However, the combat is poor and the classes are unbalanced, the skill tree system is so-so and a quest system is basically non existent (and the 3D engine is dubious).

He did compliment WoW's questing system, which is among the best by far, it's still quite repetitive though (not nearly as engaging or dynamic as something in a single player game like the outstanding Morrowind). The crafting system in WoW is very disappoint though (to the extent that other than some potions that are especially useful in PvP, it's largely pointless as drops are far better).

Wow is more popular because it's very 'main stream' and accessible, it's also selling of the back of a well known and respected franchise. The lack of customisation and character housing is not something that in itself add's or contributes to what makes it a good game (though indirectly, it's subsequent simplicity probably does contribute to it's main stream success).

Some of the most fun I've had in an MMORPG has been based around contributing to a player built city and environment and communities where people work together to build whole player cities and rebel and imperial bases, weaving their own story-line. Electing a mayor on policy basis, raising taxes to fund buying your own Shuttle Port for the town (which helped bring in business to the local stores), enduring Imperial player raids on your Rebel outpost (and choosing to join in and help defend).

Player customisation (something which SWG also excelled at), is something that can be underestimated - it really helps players feel more attached to their characters, something difficult in WoW when you keep bumping into dopplegangers.

Re:Why does he hate MMRPG's so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13123647)

The writer is a very biased Star Wars fan. If Plan 9 From Outerspace was set in the Star Wars universe he'd love it.

Simple Solution Using 1970s Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13121900)

Instead of whining about having some highly polished, multi-million dollar computer game that isn't programmed exactly to your liking, why not create your own open-ended PnP RPG (or find one of the many PnP RPGs out there already and tweak the rules) and find an IRC channel to go roleplay on?

BTW, I've got an article for's called "I'm an uncreative, unimaginitive, spoiled little shit polluting the Internet with trash about how things are going to be in 'my world.'"

In the end, if it worries you that much, go grab yourself a degree in CS and Graphic Design and get your lazy ass to work on your own MMORPG.

Uninspired, Unoriginal, Unattainable (1)

Hamled (742266) | more than 9 years ago | (#13121962)

It's one thing to write an article about how, if you put the best features of every game into one game, and made them all perfect, you'd have the best MMOG ever.

It's something else completely to reasonably expect any development team to be able to create such a design. It takes several years to make an MMOG that does just ONE of those features very well, let alone every feature under the sun.

None of this to mention that all the author does is select which games currently do the best at gameplay element X. He doesn't really posit a new system that might be better than the current "best" game's capabilities, nor does he mention any gameplay elements that aren't evident in major MMOGs right now.
It just seems to me that he would be the kind of designer that makes solely knock-off games, trying to take the best elements from earlier games, without really improving on them, figuring that they're good enough as it is. The best of the next generation MMOGs likely will not be rehashes of exactly what we are offered today, just cherry-picking the implimentations. Instead, games will offer new implimentations, and new gameplay elements (perhaps taken from MUDs or other genres entirely).

Frankly, I've seen the same exact stuff from a thousand "MMOG Design" IRC channels.

A game with all the features (1)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13122792)

"That means that in order for the players to get all the features they enjoy in a game, they would have to play more than one MMORPG, if not many MMORPGs. I do not know about you, but I struggle with playing one at a time."

Struggle no more, my friend. I have a game with all the features: economics, politics, sex, violence, war, crime, education, entertainment, sports, art, great music, every job imaginable, every object, thousands of players in every part of the map... You name it! It's called a life. You should try it sometimes. If, on the other hand, you prefer to spend all days alone in front of a cathode ray tube in your mother's basement, then must be prepared for at least some limitations. I know, hard to believe.

Re:A game with all the features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13123156)

We need more trolls that are mensa members, at least that way they write well.

The solution is simple (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 9 years ago | (#13123693)

It realy is a simple solution yet no one seems to get it. Separate PvE and PvP into two non-linked parts of the game, or loosely linked. Offer caps on PvP so that everyone can play and not just hardcore players so that skill is the main factor in a win, unlimit PvE so people can wander/hunt/farm/etc. till their hearts content with no direct impact on other players, do not try to "build" a world and cheesy quests... instead let the players manipulate the world. Instead of some gay quest, let me create a quest so it has some meaning to those who complete it. Example: I want 20 bear pelts or hyper-uber-sword. I state this and people are free to go hunt them down and return to me for a preset reward, say 1k gold. If my price is too low no one will do it, and both players get what they want and no lame quest was needed. Let people build houses, and inns, and whatnot... this type of content will always be more engaging and long lasting as the community makes it so.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13123769)

Take advantage of those blu-ray discs.

Use sattelite data, build a full size replica of the United States. Take it online to create a fully dynamic gang-war entrepenuering game concept. Allow virtual properties and street corners to be bought and sold online for real cash.

Hustle your street corner!
Re-enact its a mad, mad ,mad, mad world!

And reduce crime by having real gangs become virtual gangs.

My ideas... (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 9 years ago | (#13124484)

I want to end the constant upping of levels/abilitys (endgame inflation to end?).

I have two ideas that seem oxymoronic at first but I think in the end fit together nicely. One players need to make a mark in the game, they need to contribute to the landscape (phsycially and historically to the game). Two players need to die/be lost the server should be "reset" so that first adapters, and power players aren't always at the top sucking up time from developers (power inflation), don't disseminate all the uber-loot to down the chain (which ruins the game for newbies).

My solution (involves pvp)... Let there be multiple sides and multiple "endings." I say endings but its more like the end of an age. The server resets buts who/why/how the server resets influences the landscape the next time the server starts up (history- statues of the heroes? spells named after pc sages? grove of trees dedicated druids/rangers.., weapons of heros become magic).

Players could start the next age with the players children (family names to keep some continuity).
Additionally I would rather like to see certain things kept rare (maybe player races or certain classes). Only players that reached the level cap during a particular "age" (each age length is determined by server resets) would be eligible for certain "prestige" races (elves?gnomes?) or classes( insert whatever here). Possibly these races would be allowed to live more than one "age" (maybe 2 or 3, possibly have a progression here? playe a dwarf for 2 ages then play a gnome that lasts 5 ages). Ok I'm rambling...

Not enough freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13124613)

What MMORPGs nowadays are missing is something that used to exist in UO, the ability to misbehave. In my eyes, the best part about that game was the near total freedom. You could actually kill or be killed and with consequences. If you PK or steal, other plays can freely attack you. If you die, people can steal your shit. In current games you can work with players, but only against themif you have their consent. There are too many restrictions to protect the plays that just want to mine and make daggers all day. I feel like I'm only getting half of what's possible with a MMO game.

Puzzles vs Games (1)

Jaeph (710098) | more than 9 years ago | (#13125648)

There are two related forms of entertainment that often overlap: puzzles and games. People who like puzzles expect to put in time, potentially a long time, but eventually they want to solve the puzzle.

People who play games, otoh, are going to go in knowing that you win some, and you lose some.

MMORPGs right now try to cater to both, with the end result that puzzle solvers get frustrated if they "lose" and gamers get frustrated trying to "solve" the puzzle.

I hope the next big game to come out decreases the amount of puzzle and increases the amount of game.


As for the "dynamic world" argument; I agree in principle, but it's a lot harder to do in practice. The orc army will be destroyed through a slight exploit by a strong guild, or it'll be too strong for all but the most powerful players, or the lag will be too great for all but the most powerful machines. In the first case (powerful guild), the orc army is defeated, but it's a non-event to most of the population. That latter is a big whole in most "dynamic world" scenarios; the powergamers get to do the dynamic stuff, and the casual players get to read about it.


CoH Customization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13128035)

The character customization in City of Heroes far surpasses any other game and with City of Villians coming out the options will be even more extensive.

The best part is that when you choose a role, you're not locked into one "look" like in most games. Being stuck in a robe simple because I want to cast spells instead of fighting hand to hand is ridiculous

test (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153460)

plz don't mod down. I was banned for a month because my posts were modded down, and now I'm testing to see if I can post again. I picked an older article to do my test in, instead of a bran new article.
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