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Socoder -> Concept/Design -> The MMORPG Design Thread

Tue, 01 Jan 2008, 04:35
Afr0
Put simply;

What concepts/ideas would you like to see realized in an MMORPG that haven't already been realized before?

Also;

If you can, post ways to take away the grinding of MMORPGs and replace it with something more... constructive.

-=-=-
Afr0 Games

Project Dollhouse on Github - Please fork!
Tue, 01 Jan 2008, 04:44
JL235
A concept I'd like to see introduced would be an MMORPG without a subscription fee.

Seriously though, I'd like to see something involving more construction with real expansion. So many MMORPGs are based on the idea of you a person in the world. You go to x place, you fight, you do this, you do that. It's all about you as a character in the world. I'd rather see something which approaches it differently like a strategy-MMORPG (MMORTS?). For example you are in charge of x empire/army/island/planet and you can so fight, expand and conquer other places.

I'd also like to mention Eve online because that is different to other MMORPGs because you can build and own territory.
Tue, 01 Jan 2008, 11:59
Edmund
On the concept of level grinding, I believe the key to "level" grinding is the "level". So by removing levels, one removes level grinding. But another factor must be implemented to ensure that there is a direct relationship of "skill advancement"/"play time". Now, this may all seem obvious but upon careful analyzation, there comes many important things to be noted.

I believe, it is important for MMOs to remain RPGs or similar to RPGs because skill advancement in MMOs (for obvious reasons) cannot be based on proficiency in twitch-time play like fighting games or FPS. MMOs must be based more on experience and knowledge of game play elements. With this in mind, we see that a MMORPG is really much like a RTS. Because the player is expected to manage resources in both. In the case of the RTS, the resource is minerals but in the MMORPG's case, the resource is time invested in play. As a player in an RTS gains more resources, they build better units; the deployment of these units is the key to victory. The skill of the game, however, lies in knowing "which" units to build and at "what time" to use them. An experienced player with little resources could easily overcome a player with vast resources simply by cunning and knowledge of the game play elements.

Now on to how this applies to MMORPGs. Level grinding is like being forced to build the same units and victory is based exclusively on superior numbers. The Class system is like each player choosing to build one type of unit "spell caster" "air" or "ground" and being forced to build the same unit type for the rest of the game and relying on other players to support them with units they don't have. The key to a complex game is giving the player the freedom to choose what type of units they want to build while retaining a focused strategy.

In conclusion, by studying RTS one can find a better way to build MMORPGs. While many major MMOs already implement the elements suggested earlier, I believe they did so unconsciously. So by focusing on the study of RTS playing styles, I believe a superior MMORPG could be constructed.
Wed, 02 Jan 2008, 01:56
Toaster
Just a quick reminder for some people who are putting RPG and MMO together. MMO means massively multiplayer online it does not mean its only RPG and certain never will never be only RPG. Think about what massively multiplayer online means it has nothing to do with skills! I've personal seen other games which are MMO's with out the RPG genre. Really alot of games made already could be made MMO's with a few changes to the structure. Think about halflife 2 with a few modifications the next eps or half life 3 could be a MMO. While still retaining the FPS envoriment but having characters fill in the NPC's and adding a store/upgrades. You could even have evil/dark sides while staying in the FPS area of gameplay. As of now I dont think the technology is there yet. Simply because it takes alot to manage 3000+ players on a server not only that it would be in FPS which is even more of a hassle which is why most online FPS games are 30-40 players max. I think over the next few years we'll see this limit broken and some great games will come out of it. Look at this for example:
www.ageofconan.com
It looks to be a very promising MMO(FPS/RPG). I personally hate point and click games. I love interaction. But this is just my two cents alot of people have different opinions.

-Toaster
Wed, 02 Jan 2008, 02:13
Afr0
Hm... I'm not personally a huge fan of FPSs myself, and I did ask for input on the MMORPG genre! But the general concept of maybe mixing in some other genres there sounds intriguing!

Thanks for the input so far guys!
Keep 'em coming!

-=-=-
Afr0 Games

Project Dollhouse on Github - Please fork!
Wed, 02 Jan 2008, 09:54
Edmund
Toaster is certainly correct. There are a number of MMOGs that involve twitch action play. But do recall that Auto Assault, a high profile MMO action game, was shut down in April due to lack of subscribers. It is true that direct interaction in play makes for a more personal world (riddick, elders scrolls) but I believe, as far as an online FPS goes, games like Planet Side have about the perfect formula.

I believe there are two main factors that make MMO (and I don't mean the 200 players that many FPS can host at the same time now a days) action play a very hard (though perhaps inevitable) transition.

An FPS takes the player from looking at a character, to being the character. The game suddenly becomes much more personal. This would, in a way, be a good thing since it makes for a more immersive experience but it comes with a number of (perhaps unwanted) side effects.

1) The level design must be done in great detail. Imagine a scene from WoW, it would be an absolute disaster to see the 12 polygon desk in first person. Looking at an ant colony from outside the glass is completely different from being an ant. An ant sees all the dust and imperfections in the tunnels, while the observer on the outside sees little but ants running around. It is not only a change of literal perspective but of a psychological one. The expectations for detail would be much increased. Further more, though an FPS like half life where players interact with any item they see in the environment would be interesting in a MMO setting, the complications brought by it would be enormous. Not being able to move a plate on a table is a much much bigger annoyance in a FPS than in a 3rd person click-and-go adventure. From a technical aspect. The fact that all these things will have to be taken into account and designed to be more realistic and interactive could be a disaster for an open ended environment. And with Afr0's project being (likely) low budget, it would be very difficult.

2) Now on to a completely different perspective. While FPS/action play would be interesting in a MMOG, I have slight doubts for it. What a player seeks when buying an FPS/action game is adrenaline pumping fast action play, "pwning n00bs", etc. etc. What a player seeks when buying an MMO, however, is a community experience where being more "1337" does not simply mean "pwning n00bs" but fulfilling a social need to be wanted by being a likable and important individual in the games' population (though communities and "clans" exist in action games, they are generally "pwning noobs" oriented). The question arises of "why not combine the two, best of both worlds". While this is a promising route, there are design hurdles to overcome. A fundamental difference I see in many market FPS and market MMOGs is that a MMOG is a persistent environment where the player does all their activities, whether it be chatting or killing;it is a world where your actions can have a significant impact. An FPS is a world that is only instanced in one situation: competition. Once you're in the world, you have one singular duty: 00T (own the other team). This constant aggression is often times (though not always) incompatible with the active, supportive, and virtual world based communities in MMOGs. It is the difference (since I know Afr0 is familar with this type of things) between a one night stand and a long term relationship. In the first case (FPS/ONS) you want to get the most "bang" for the buck and you don't have to worry about ramifications unless you really mess up and your buddies make fun of you. In the other case, however, (MMOG/LTR) you become familiar with your surroundings and you really have to be a responsible individual and represent "yourself" and not just "who you feel like being that day".

Now the above two (very long) issues could (and perhaps inevitably would) be resolved. I'm not posting them as stop signs but as obstacles to overcome.