Tobold's Blog
Sunday, July 13, 2008
 
Open Sunday Thread

Here it is again: The traditional Open Sunday Thread, where you can propose subjects for discussion, or discuss whatever you like.
Comments:
Well, Flagship Studios appears to have gone under. Another reminder that releasing your product too soon can have devastating consequences. How many of these failures must the industry suffer before they get the message.

It's the employees that I feel sorry for. Once again, they bear the brunt of mistakes made by management.

What makes this such an absolute bummer is that HGL clearly had potential, but potential isn't enough; development time is what turns potential into reality, and the reality is that HGL was rushed, unpolished, and undeserving of the optional monthly fee or even a box sale.
 
Have you tried Wizard 101? It's a kids MMO, but it's pretty fun, and has some interesting CCG-based mechanics.
 
Have you tried Wizard 101?

Yes, I'm in the beta. The beta has an NDA. 'nuff said.
 
Yes, I'm in the beta. The beta has an NDA. 'nuff said.

Heh, here's an idea for a post: what do you think of NDA'd Betas in general?

My initial thought is that if you have a good game, an NDA will cut down on the amount of hype or positive publicity you can generate. If you have a bad game, people are going to ignore your NDA and post anyways, as the only repercussion is getting kicked out of the Beta/game.
 
I'm in the beta too. I'm enjoying it. Look me up as Evan Iceheart. :D
 
The discussion last week about whether an MMORPG had to have an economy to work led me to think about an interesting topic of discussion. What other standard features that everybody "knows" an MMORPG needs aren't really necessary for them to work?

Let me start with an example. Nearly all MMORPGs use some kind of aggro-based system for determining who gets attacked in combat. Why? Could we replace it with something else, such as requiring tanks to block the route between mobs and their more fragile friends to protect them?
 
what do you think of NDA'd Betas in general?

They are there for a reason; at that stage of the game what you see in the beta may not reflect what will be released, both in terms of quality and features included. You may have some features in beta that they will cut out before release, perhaps to include later.

If you get people that are happy to spill the guts just because the game is not working well in a beta stage, then they have picked the wrong people to test the game. People who are serious about their beta test role will not be doing that.
 
The discussion last week about whether an MMORPG had to have an economy to work led me to think about an interesting topic of discussion. What other standard features that everybody "knows" an MMORPG needs aren't really necessary for them to work?

Just about everything in my opinion, but here are some bigger ones:

Power based character progression (Levelling, better loot, skilling up crafting, etc.):

For PvP oriented games, certainly, having "character progression" effect the power of the character causes a lot of balance problems unless dealt with well.

In PvE, avoiding power based progression makes it easier to find groups, play with friends, reexplore older areas in a fun way, etc.

(The main issue to overcome with this is probably players who have an expectation built up of getting new shiny things as they play, as well as coming up with interesting stuff to do.)

Combat as the basis for the game:

In the real world, more people do things besides combat than combat, and there are a lot of non MMO gamesthat involve non-combat activities as the major or only part of what they are about, yet most MMO's use combat as the main element, and other activities become side activities.

crafting, or other "tacked on features"

Crafting is one of those features that sometimes seems like it was tasked on just to fill expectations, where it creates a bunch of balance headaches when people try to make it useful. (arenas on WoW and titles in Guild Wars are another couple of these "tacked on features" created ot fill some character expectation or other that don't otherwise fit in the game too well.)
 
In PvE, avoiding power based progression makes it easier to find groups, play with friends, reexplore older areas in a fun way, etc.

(The main issue to overcome with this is probably players who have an expectation built up of getting new shiny things as they play, as well as coming up with interesting stuff to do.)


Well the problem is that all achievers like to have measurable achievements. How do you have rewarding achievements without level based play. And just consider Giving out better gear is exactly the same as level based play. At some point your gear gets so good its pointless to play with your friends in starting gear. I think downranking is the best idea i've seen for letting friends play together. But MMO's just by thier very nature stratify into those who've played longer and those who haven't. I'd love to see a good solution but I have yet to hear any idea that I think will solve the problems
 
Well the problem is that all achievers like to have measurable achievements. How do you have rewarding achievements without level based play. And just consider Giving out better gear is exactly the same as level based play.

The "power progression" described above includes gear increases as well as level increases. (Anything where you play longer and your character's statistics get higher would be considered "power progreession" above.)

Some differences between people who have played longer will be unavoidable, due to playing longer getting people more skilled. It seems to me that, gameplay wise, recording records for character achievement, fluff progression, and "sideways" improvements in characters (allowing for more flexibility, but individual character roles don't get more powerful), could cover for giving the "achievement" sense, but runs into the obstacle of many long term players and game designers being used to a power progression system and not wanting to break that expectation.

Some games may also be made to downgrade the "achiever" side for other sides which aren't dependent on power progression, and may not be done as well in other games.
 
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