Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Julius » 18 May 2021, 13:27

So I am currently thinking about a game-play type that could be an interesting innovation:

Basically the idea is a FPS that plays in a giant near infinite sinkhole (a bit inspired by the Manga/Anime "Made in Abyss") and which has players progressing downward over a series of server instances. Movement could be enhanced with jet-packs and grappling hooks, but there can be also bridges and spider nets and giant fungi etc. to make the levels more diverse.

So it becomes a bit of a MMO, but without the massive server requirements as each slice (literal level) of the pit has maybe 64 players max or so.

An while there can be PvP etc. the main game-play would be PvE with some sort of spider creatures coming up from the bottom of the pit in waves.

The background is that I am wondering how to design a multiplayer game that suffers less from the empty / bot-only server problem we see in Xonotic/Unvanquished etc. So with the above it should be somewhat fun to play solo, but also in small groups as PvE, while also being able to seamlessly switch to PvP (Team deathmatch like) on more busy servers. Furthermore due to the natural progression in difficulty ("deeper" server instances are password protected, so only more experienced players that progressed down sufficiently have access), it would also somewhat solve some of the match-making issues.

Any further ideas how to refine this? Any major game-play issues I am overlooking that might make this less fun?
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby drummyfish » 18 May 2021, 14:06

The idea is very nice. Hack and slash Diablo RPGs maybe kind of resemble this by having very deep multilevel dungeons and by combining singleplayer and multiplayer PVE. In the end advancing through these increasingly more difficult levels/floors would be basically the same as advancing the increasingly more difficult zones in MMORPGs, so I think issues you'd encounter would be similar, e.g. strong players ascending up and raping noobs for fun (I'd actually allow it but many people see it as an issue -- anyway, it's solvable).

I'm not sure what kind of network model you have on mind, but you have a good point the empty server issue should be addressed. Could this all perhaps be a single decentralized (federated?) game world? I think that would be pretty innovative as I haven't seen such an MMO yet. But of course maybe that's because of the technical challenges, I am not sure if you could have a cheater-proof consistent world without an authoritative server. Nice idea to think about though.
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Julius » 18 May 2021, 15:02

Slaughtering (probably the more appropriate metaphor) noobs is indeed a problem on many games, but I agree that is is solvable to some extend. In the Manga/Anime I referenced above a major story point is about how you can not easily go upwards again, a bit similar to the pressure issues in scuba-driving.

As for federated servers, yes I thought about that too, but I think it wouldn't work well with a linear progression model kind of mandated by the pit idea. But in a more "hubs and spokes" world that might work better. I also think that in a non-RPG kind of game the server-level cheater problem is less pronounced as you can't build up any advantage though stats and gear.

But in general I am looking at it from the networking perspective of using existing FPS game engine and multiplayer code. So a bunch of semi-official servers running a level with some entry and exit points to switch servers at the top and bottom of the respective maps. Edit: there could of course be multiple "pits" run by different server owners and maybe even some horizontally connecting "tunnels".
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Lopy » 19 May 2021, 02:15

Your message felt a bit condensed, here is what I understood, with guesses to fill the gaps. I just want to make sure we are talking about the same thing.

Core gameplay loop:
  • FPS: low time to kill, primarily distance attacks, accuracy bonus.
  • The only enemies are spiders, melee and grounded.
  • Players have access to permissive movements, including jet-packs and grappling hooks.
  • Players can attack one another, although no reward is granted for killing others.

Match system:
  • Players fight a given amount of waves of spiders, then proceed to the next map.
  • When a map is beaten, the player receives a password to start from that depth on the next session.
  • When a map is beaten, players are asked to choose among servers with a map of the next depth open (the round might be started already).
  • No gameplay boost carries between maps.
  • Other players can chime in at any point, without invitation.

Map:
  • The map has procedural aspects in random bridges, spider nets (spawners?), giant fungi (bounce shrooms?).
  • Up 64 players can be on one map at the same (big map, solid networking).
  • The map has a lot of verticallity.


----

Focusing on a good PVE is a great idea if you do not have enough players, however, the interactions between players has to still be interesting, otherwise people might as well not bother and save bandwidth.
I don't see PVP working well with the wave system and match succession. Do players killing enough people descend, leaving others behind until the map is emptied enough for PVE to kick back in? That would reduce the opportunity for players to play together. Alternatively, you could let everyone pass, but then with enough friends and could kill farm right to the last depth.
Cooperation between players could be interesting, but under which form? If they simply have guns and the same targets, they will be playing alone next to one another. For cooperation to be interesting, you need players to have direct impact over one another's gameplay. However, it would be very hard to do that while keeping all abilities meaningfully in singleplayer.

The main idea concerning multiplayer seems to make PVE nearly as interesting as PVP, by making bots more engaging. This could be applied to more than just the game you mentioned.
A way I can see to have more people at once would be to incorporate a calendar into the game, for people to declare when and at what time they will be available. The important part being that players would have access to a heatmap of sorts, instead of just the schedule from people they know personally.

I do not think a progressive unlock would be the best matchmaking approach. People might be better in PVP or PVE, have favorite maps, etc, which could not be taken into account. Also, you need more than a full match worth of players queuing at once for matchmaking to be relevant anyway, which seems to be an issue already.
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Julius » 19 May 2021, 11:48

Good comments/ideas, mostly agreed although it is indeed not that fleshed out in the details yet and I think some of that would require some experimentation.

I am actually currently brainstorming to fork this off some rarely used Xonotic game-play modes (Overkill / Invasion) and use Unvanquished art assets for players and enemies. Game engine would be probably FTEQW as that can be made to run Xonotic's codebase. The modern Quake netcode in FTEQW is quite efficient I think, so 32 or maybe 64 players should be doable. It also has a build in multi-server mode, allowing to run several independent but linked maps on the same hardware easily.

Edit: Overkill has a "re-spawn near your team" feature, which would probably be helpful for this. Some sort of longer timer for re-spawning and some fixed team re-spawn points along the way would be needed though.

I agree that PvE should probably the bigger focus of this. I am more interested in a Left4Dead / Killingfloor kind of game-play, but with maps (and pits) large enough to allow multiple groups (or solo players) descending on the same servers simultaneously. This could lead to cooperation or sometimes also PvP. I could imagine including some sort of "fetch item to proceed" or "kill big boss enemy to get item to proceed" to the next level would foster some kind of random player cooperation and/or competition. But not sure what and how to do best to nudge players in that direction or if that is even desirable.
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Julius » 19 May 2021, 12:13

Lopy {l Wrote}:A way I can see to have more people at once would be to incorporate a calendar into the game, for people to declare when and at what time they will be available. The important part being that players would have access to a heatmap of sorts, instead of just the schedule from people they know personally.


This is an interesting thought I have also been contemplating about. Right now such efforts seem to not really work though, but something build into the game would probably improve that.
My current thinking is that this rather requires some sort of active management by the server admins, i.e. some sort of scheduled events that make players want to free some time and join the server for that event.
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Technopeasant » 06 Jun 2021, 22:52

This sounds interesting, although I would probably only play it if it has a single-player mode.
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Re: Pit exploration multiplayer game?

Postby Julius » 07 Jun 2021, 00:26

Like all multiplayer games with PvE you could of course just run your own server and connect to that. However, I wonder: wouldn't a playing solo on a internet server in such a game be more or less the same but better?
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