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Reader Comments (9)

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 11:58AM Aganazer said

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I am really enjoying these entries that get more into game design. Keep them coming. I seem to be seeing a stronger interest across the whole MMOG community about the direction of the genre and how to improve it.

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 1:04PM (Unverified) said

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Pay people who have designed quests their whole life like Table Top/Pen And Paper Dungeon and Game Masters to write quests. Just a thought...

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 1:53PM Kalex716 said

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I like your idea. I really think an injection of real writers into game design is always a good decision.

That being said, whats the point if 70% of your playerbase just skips through pages and pages of the writing just to get to the part where they are able to press the "complete" button.

MMO's have to be built around redundancy, otherwise they will never ever be shippable. This is why we have the same kill quests, the same fed ex quests over and over. Generating unique features for each and every quest costs to much to develop.

In my opinion, real changes in the genre are going to have to come from extremely innovative tool sets at the architecture level, this way designers can really express and be creative on the production floor in terms of generating content. Additionally, the game needs to enable the community as well to somehow create emergent and unique forms of content all the while so they are able to stay interested while waiting for development cycles to release new patches and expansions.
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Posted: Oct 23rd 2009 8:06PM Psychochild said

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Quite a few of us developers are avid pen and paper gamers and have run several campaigns. Unfortunately, a lot of these elements don't translate over to MMOs very well. The biggest issue is that the amount of content you have to create for a single big-budget MMO is much higher than what you put into even a few dozen modules. A better skill set might be world building, but few people have outstanding experience in that area.

Not to say that experienced people aren't a true asset. When we were able to afford a events manager for Meridian 59, we hired someone who ran LARPs. He was able to run wonderful events involving lots of players because he had done it in the offline world before.

As for the article itself, I never wrote in my original blog post that we had to throw out everything. My approach has always been to question the fundamentals and see where the cracks in the foundation are. Hopefully that will lead to us making better games.
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Posted: Oct 20th 2009 1:08PM (Unverified) said

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Yeah I agree, I love these types of entries. Game design theory is something that affects all players no matter what the game. Regarding the article, something I always enjoyed about DAOC was that when you finally hit 50 you embarked on an epic questline that took you all over the world and required the help of friends to complete. Though now, I think they craft stuff better than the epics, but we need to bring stuff like that back into the game. Or better yet, what about having standard quests PLUS a sort of randomized epic questline that starts at level 1. Each step would be different for each player, as no one lives the same life as someone else. NPCs would react to you based on quests you have completed, even reference them in conversation.. "Hey, you're that guy that slayed the dragon!." That kind of stuff goes a long way for me.

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 1:42PM esarphie said

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What's missing is very simple... the feeling that anything you do matters.

Sure, you do a quest to save someone, but the guy you're grouping with already saved that person and a bunch of other people are lining up behind you to save them 30 seconds after you do.

In some games you can take over a fortress, or an entire zone... but it will just reset at midnight, or be taken back as soon as more folks on the other side log in.

In overpopulated games like WoW, you can strive for glory by being the first group to accomplish some new task after an expansion, but in most cases, by the time you even get close some other group has not only done it, but they've produced a professional quality movie showing how they did it and offering strategy tips along with a link to their special "do the new thing" mod for the UI they've coded.

You just don't get that feeling of being a pioneer, or hero... instead you're Warrior #12,480 on server #42, following the fairly consistant chain of Warriors doing the exact same things. Maybe this little indy "Love" game has the right idea: separating servers and letting them all go their different ways, guided by their populations.

Somehow adding in accomplishments that matter... that's what I think is needed.

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 7:48PM lizardbones said

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How about actual dynamic content. In 2nd Life, you could have little blobs that would hug avatars to get energy. With enough energy, they could procreate with random mutations. Avatars could kill the blobs, especially if they procreated too much and got annoying. Some of the blobs were transparent, and some were really small, so they usually survived to start the cycle all over again. Why aren't there dynamic populations of critters that once they got out of control had a bounty on their heads for awhile? This is a really simplistic example, but it's more dynamic than anything happening in MMO's right now.

The blob example from 2nd Life is real btw - a college professor set it up and the transparent blobs surprised him...he didn't specifically put that in there.

Posted: Oct 20th 2009 8:24PM esarphie said

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Wow, never thought I'd hear of something potentially useful coming out of Second Life. That sort of thing sounds perfect for an MMO. It would be so much better to have a living world to adventure in, than the Wax Museum norm with creatures all standing in their appointed places waiting for someone to come in range.

Posted: Oct 21st 2009 3:58AM adamb said

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I always thought it would great to have a game were if you die, you die. And you have to start again from lvl 01, most games have abandoned any real 'debt' to dieing and therefore no consequences.

The best gaming time i had was getting a LOTRs hunter up to level 20 without dieing - now that was exciting!

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