RPG Mechanics?

Discussion in 'MMO Design and Virtual Worlds' started by Trevor, Aug 27, 2009.

  1. Trevor

    Trevor Member

    What I want from Massively Multiplayer Online Games:

    • "Single player" gameplay; "challenges" like raids and dungeons, campaigns of these that are done over multiple play sessions.
    • Co-op gameplay. Play with my girlfriend, my little brother, with my friends. Play with a group that practices together every night in order to try and win the big cash prize tournament. Any combination of these things.
    • Competitive gameplay. Direct competition, or 'who can do this raid better', or both. Team competitions. Competitions not focused on combat; why not races as well?
    • Ability to play with strangers; make friends and enemies.
    • Ability to play with friends *instead* of strangers. Or a mix of both.
    • Ability to play alone.
    • Highly customizable character. And have this not be moot in favor of the 'best' character.
    • Lots of activities to do. Not all of them have to have some sort of reward, they just have to be fun. They don't even have to all be fun to everyone. Allow players to pick the parts they enjoy, buffet style.
    • This all takes place in a shared world.

    Do any of these require RPG mechanics?

    Do RPG mechanics work against any of these things?

    Is carefully rationing out the content of your game (through level requirements, is the conventional way) so that players don't finish it "too fast" or "out of order" integral to any of these things?

    EDIT: How do various MMOs meet these goals, if at all?

    Some discussion with a friend:

     
  2. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    Racing games (Motor City Online anyone?) have typically flopped. You can't simply take the 'mainstream' genres and put them on as an MMO. If you try what you are going to find, I think, is that the players of those genres aren't willing to pay for a subscription or microtransactions while MMOs players aren't interested in that type of gameplay.

    I don't think MMOs have any real tie to the RPG genre. I think the biggest reason you see them stick towards RPGs is because it's logistically easier to implement. The RPG style of play is inherently good at stringing players along by providing incremental rewards and clearly obtainable future goals.

    For what it's worth my MMO wants (well demands now) are:
    -Single Shard
    -Free form political structures. Guild vs guild rather than forced arenas or fractional warfare though those can co-exist and I'm fine with that
    -Emphasis on Horizontal Progression rather than vertical (if any progression at all)
    -Limited 'soft' or social rules. Discrete bans on bugs that are planned to be patched but not hotfixed are acceptable but anything really beyond that isn't.
    -A functioning economy. I don't expect perfect but there shouldn't be rampant inflation
    -Lasting consequences. Things like losing territory, loss of items/gear/money and such need to be present to allow for players to have a lasting impact on the gameworld rather than a zerg-rush deathmatch.
    -No Stats that only apply to PvE or PvP. All stats should function for both purposes.
     
  3. Trevor

    Trevor Member

    I was thinking more like, a chocobo race minigame that multiple players can join. Same character, same world, different activities.

    This is really the most important thing here, I think. RPGs are really good at carrot-on-a-stick, and more importantly, carefully rationing content so it takes *months* to get through, without making it "difficult". It only seems difficult... Your victory is inevitable. And that's not a bad thing, that's the beauty of RPG mechanics. You can just sort of stay at whatever difficulty level is comfortable for you, and still make progress.

    These sound similar to things I've looked for for a while. I've talked before about dividing the gameworld up into regions that are fought over by guilds, but still treating it like a big season/year long game. Politics and stuff are going to pop up *anyway*, especially if you have rivalry between groups. You just have to allow it to happen.

    As for economy, so far the only MMO economy I've read about that seemed like it actually worked was old Star Wars Galaxies. Player made items were easily the best available, but all items decayed after a few weeks of real world time. And the steps to create these items were too involved (exploring for minable areas, which changed, mining, shipping stuff back to refineries, refining, gathering those materials, crafting the items) for every player to be self sufficient and make their own.

    So everyone focused on one step. Additional steps of "ship these goods to the people doing the next step" arose. And in the end, everyone made out better because a larger volume of crafted items were being made through this sort of emergent teamwork.

    That sounds great on paper! And apparently it was pretty fun in practice.

    So far it seems like EVE meets all these goals the best, but I haven't played it. From outside—and this may be wrong, I've never played it—it seems like it falters though because the majority of players aren't high up in corporations or rich moguls, or even in the important Corporations. Most players are mere peons in the gameworld.

    All the epic, galaxy-spanning war stuff that's so fun to read about seems to not even involve a lot of the playerbase. Or does it?
     
  4. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    EvE online is the closest to many of these. I don't play EvE Online but that's mostly because I don't wish to invest the time into it at this point more so than any gameplay reason. It also features an economy like you describe for SWG.


    The problems from my understanding tend more towards the combat mechanics (boring for some people), the emptiness of space, and you can spend inordinate amounts of time doing rather mundane things if you so choose (which many people do because they don't want to risk loss).

    It doesn't really take all that long to seek out a corp from what I hear if you are willing to be proactive about it.
     
  5. Trevor

    Trevor Member

    I'm going to try and answer my own question and see if people agree with my reasoning.

    "Do RPG mechanics hinder any of these things?"

    Easy. RPGs are basically tailor made for this experience. Most other genres can do it really well also. Not a difficult area, with a couple good designers and interesting lore to draw from.

    Ehhhhh, MMORPGs hit and miss with this. I *can* play with my girlfriend, but we're not going to be able tog et at most of the game on our own.

    Easy to do with RPG mechanics, as well as basically any other type of game. Indeed, it's difficult (impossible?) to make something it's impossible to compete at. People compete at Tetris.

    MMORPGs have this covered. Sure, needing to find someone the same level as me restricts my options a little, but there are plenty of players.

    This is where it gets a little trickier. If my friends (or girlfriend) are not the same level as me, too bad. Quickest way to play together in this case is usually for you to both start a new character and level together.

    Hit and miss. There seems to be some sort of aversion to letting peple solo things.

    City of Heroes is far and away the clear winner here, and the thing my Ideal MMO would copy. WoW has lots of options for gear with a harder to define 'best' loadout, but it's nothing like CoH.

    Most of the fun I had in CoH was ignoring the missions and just goofing off. That's great and should be encouraged. Think of the MMO as a big playground rather than a series of quests to 'finish' and then wait patiently for (read: demand) more.

    Easy right? I think the basic idea here is you're always *aware* of other players around you, without them being able to actually engage you and alter your game without your permission. Like, imagine you're in an arcade, ganking would be like some guy just following you around and beating you at every game you tried to play until you got fed up and left. (For the proper effect, imagine that none of the games rely on skill, he just automatically wins because he spends more time in the arcade.)

    But presumably you're at the arcade to play with other people (or just around other people), so there you go. There they are. Pick out some strangers and see if they're fun to play with.
     

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