MMORPG style

What kind of MMORPG would you prefer

Unending
2
29%
Ending
3
43%
Other (Explain)
2
29%
 
Total votes : 7

MMORPG style

Postby shacknetisp » 26 Dec 2013, 15:43

Note: I am fully aware that undertaking a MMORPG project is a huge commitment. You don't have to discuss that.

I was wondering if people would prefer a MMORPG that has level caps, like most out today, or a unending MMORPG which had no caps. Of course, this would also be acompanied with automatic map/monster generation to accomidate rising levels.

So, what are your thoughts?
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Re: MMORPG style

Postby Evropi » 26 Dec 2013, 18:28

Very good post! I enjoy indulging in a bit of ludology, so here goes my opinion on this matter:

Ending.

Firstly, I recently finished this book which has highlighted to me the importance of a narrative. Creating a narrative with good pacing (which in games means having a decent amount of time between gameplay and story development -- usually cutscenes or text) is much easier when there are strict caps. It would also improve the gameplay because the power curve (i.e. character growth) can make sense and the ants you were fighting at the start of the game won't be suddenly able to swing like Joe Louis.

This profound book also illustrated -- empirically -- that mostly (or fully) player-driven narratives are not ideal for all players, but more surprisingly, that Interactive Traditional Stories (stories without any branching paths or multiple endings) tend to be better received than Multiple Ending Stories (Mass Effect, Chrono Trigger) and Branching Path Stories (Fate/Zero). Also, while many players stated a preference for games with more 'player-driven' narratives, their choices for good game narratives were almost always Interactive Traditional Stories with relatively nonlinear gameplay, such as Metal Gear Solid 4 (which allows the player to approach a situation in lots of ways). This fine link between gameplay and narrative is one that Guild Wars 2 approached very well, and it's why it's the standout MMO of this generation.

Secondly, the automatic map/monster generation (with corresponding skill levels) that you speak of has been tried before and is most prominently used in The Elder Scrolls series following the release of TES IV: Oblivion. It has generally gotten a bad reception. One defining characteristic of this series is how the entire (or most of) the game world is almost immediately available for you to explore, instead of seeing yourself effectively restricted to a few areas as you are in traditional MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft. Bethesda's approach has led to criticism that it leaves disparate plot threads hanging and complaints that it leads to 'generic heroes'. In my opinion, what's really lacking in MMOs right now is a good story, which is the next area of development for the genre.

A system like TES's wherein you're matched up may work well for a single player, single character game, but what if you're in a party of several players of diverse experience and skills? How would it work out then? I'm sure there's a way to work it out algorithmically but that doesn't mean the algorithm scales to any situation. There is also no guarantee that it will produce good gameplay.

To summarise, I feel that MMORPGs with endings are superior on the grounds of:
  • preserving narrative integrity
  • creating more powerful narratives, without compromising gameplay (as is commonly believed)
  • keeping the power curve, and by extension, combat, more sensible
  • giving players clear goals, which ties into the player-driven narrative (beyond the story the game offers; Sim games and Minecraft are a good examples of largely player-built narratives).
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Re: MMORPG style

Postby Julius » 27 Dec 2013, 13:22

I voted "other" because I feel the entire argument is based on the premise of the abomination that are current commercial MMORPGs (disclaimer: I don't play them at all because of that).
Their entire game-design is not around making a fun game, but rather "gaming" their customers to continue paying the monthly fee or to invest in in-game purchases if the MMORPG happens to be F2P.
One central point in all this is character progression (and small constant improvements to trigger the brain's reward mechanism), and level caps were basically introduced to make this entire sham less obvious or at least less game-braking to other players.

Thus I would challenge you to come up with a game design without any significant character progression at all, and then the issue asked about in the poll simply ceases to exist ;)
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Re: MMORPG style

Postby NaN » 27 Dec 2013, 16:35

Nothing wrong with either 1 or 2 if you are going for another generic mmorpg.

Personally I'd love to see more sandboxy gameplay in multiplayer games in general.

Replace leveling with skill specialization (fixed skill points pool). Replace gear upgrades with gear wearout/repair/crafting. Add some micromanagement, consumable goods (food, medics, etc).

Story wise try to stay away from generic fetch/kill quests (god I hate them so much). I think some dynamic global threat system could work (adaptive to player count). Survival (zombie/infection even if overused nowadays), ongoing large scale conflict (war front), or occupation/resistance are some scenarios I can think of. NPCs could take over the story component (carismatic leader, dodgy smuggler, defectors/spies) to setup the scope of action, introduce player into the world, break up possible war fatigue...

Anyway, enough ranting from me. :)

PS:
MMORPGs I've tried out recently (but lost interest after a few hours): Rift, STO, SWTOR
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