Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 20, 2007
Changing rulesets

= # # = (don't ask me to pronounce that) wrote me to tell me about the latest Everquest producer letter. Among other things the EQ producers report that their progression servers, where you can play EQ as it was before all the expansion came out, were a big success. And that prompted some unfinished thinking about other variations of the ruleset.

I think that this is a good idea for major games with lots of servers. Why should all the servers have the same rules? Why not have for example a special original WoW server for people who never bought the expansion? Instead of being lonely at level 60, players could move to that original server and start organizing Molten Core raids again. But classic servers, like EQ and DAoC already have are just one possible variations of the ruleset.

One idea dear to my heart would be making easier and harder servers than normal. Just like many single-player games have several difficulty settings, a game like WoW should have easy, normal, and hard servers. And how about an iron man server with either permadeath or at least a significnt xp penalty on death? Not that I'd play on that one, but it would stop those people from complaining who think WoW is too easy.

Servers with different rule sets already exist in the form of PvP and normal servers. Many games also have roleplaying servers, although those often have exactly the same ruleset, and it is up to the players to live the label. The more expansions a game has, the more likely it is to get a classic server of some kind. But all this is just the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. What other rulesets would you like to see?
If it's becoming harder to find low and mid level groups in WoW, then perhaps a newbie server should be created, where all new characters have the option of starting. Then once a higher level is attained, you'd be able to transfer back (for free) to your main server.

As for EQ, I'd like to see a classic server (with kunark and vel); with transfers out but never in.
Actually i would like to see "Vows" on normal Servers. You chose some during character creation and try to keep them .. like never to kill any human or like never to wear any weapons or the like .. and each vow comes with a certain buff that get's stronger with each level .. "permadeath" could be one of the vows giving a buff like "+3% health to entire raid" or the like ... a rogue can vow to be vegan and never wear leather :)

Is it not more expensive for a MMORPG to have multiple servers running multiple rulesets? I know little of game design, does this mean that they have to make actual changes in code, or are they just changing some (or a lot) of values in their back-end databases?

If it's not expensive for an MMORPG to have two widely different sets of rules on two different servers, then why not have a PvP server where the game is tweaked and balanced specifically for PvP? As in, items are nerfed or buffed, spells are nerfed or buffed, abilities, etc, specifically with the effect this will all have on PvP in mind?

And likewise, you could near near pure PvE servers in which you don't give a flip about PvP balance, your only concern there is if an item, spell, skill or ability would be fun in PvE.

Any reason an MMORPG couldn't do what I've described above?
I would like to see a PK server added. The server would have the same rule-set as the current PvP servers, but would allow killing of same faction players. The unprovoked killing of a member of the same faction would result in a murder count, and after a certain amount - we'll say five - the player would turn into a PK (Player Killer).

Here's the catch...

The PK's would lose the ability to communicate with their own faction, but would be able to communicate with other murderers. This would lead to groups of murderous Gnomes & Tauren running in packs!

It's amazing how nice people are on servers where death can come from anyone / anywhere!
Both of my changes concern WoW. One is a gripe, the other is just an idea for the AH system.

I would like to see better access restrictions to the instances. Right now you can gain heroic access by simply farming trash without actually learning anything. This leads to a large group of horrible players joining heroic instance pugs. I would like to see blizz go one step further. Chain all the instances as progressions checks. You can't do this with obsolete instances, and it doesn't stop a weak player from getting drug through the earlier instances, but It would be nice to know that I'm going into The Arcatraz with players that have successfully finished Mechanar and Botanica. :)

My second concerns the AH. WHy hasn't Blizzard given us the ability to post an item we WANT with a buyout? If I can click on an item to exchange my gold with a player, why can't I go there and click on a players gold to exchange my item?
Hmm... coincidently, one of my guildies was mentioning to me about his friend to went to an WoW RP server.

Apparently, the Kara instance is tune down so much that they're able to complete it in greens.

Although which server it was, it wasn't mention.
wena there is no difference in rules in WoW, on RP servers Kara is just as hard as on other servers.

One person's experience doesn't mean much.

Maybe his friends are just good? RP servers on average are older players who don't put up with crap, and are more laid back. Therefore raids go more smoothly, less drama, and more success for the time they put in. That's been my experience.
If you think about it, with heroic instances they've already upped the difficulty. It may be a possiblity to see different 'difficulty levels' in other content in the game as well. With the eventuality of servers with different levels. I won't hold my breath though.
Is it not more expensive for a MMORPG to have multiple servers running multiple rulesets? I know little of game design, does this mean that they have to make actual changes in code, or are they just changing some (or a lot) of values in their back-end databases?

That depends if they designed the game with that in mind from the beginning or not. And "ruleset" is a rather broad and vague term actually, so the answer would be "it depends" also...
I don't see why people complain WoW is too easy. If you break it down into PvE and PvP, then each one basically has scaling difficulty based on what you want to do. (10-man and 25-man raids zones, 2000+ arena competition).

I would content that most people who complain about the lack of difficulty are also not choosing to experience the more difficult aspects of the game. I don't see many posts saying how easy it is to keep a team top5 in a competitive battlegroup.

I do think setting up 'Progression' Servers on WoW would be interesting, where each boss must actually be killed to unlock the next raid zone, although as the EQ model showed, modern gear, talent improvements, and just sheer experience tend to trivialise the actual encounters, so the challenge becomes more of a timetrial, seeing how fast you can do it, and with how few resources.
I'd like to see a lvl 70 only server. So long insane wait times for 70 dungeons :D
WoW in particular could benefit from severs based on level.

This would allow so many refreshments to game and content.

ex. level 1-10 training limited map enemy npc only

level 11 -20 older map new quests new npcs limited contact with enemy players etc etc would be possible to craft always changing game long term interest
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