Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 03, 2009
Dungeons of Dransik

I can understand that you are probably not interested in an isometric 2D Free2Play generic fantasy MMORPG. I'm not playing it either. But Ashen Empires just announced their Dungeons of Dransik expansion, in which players will be able to design dungeons, which can then be played through by other players in the MMO. Quote:
When released, Dungeons of Dransik will utilize a free, downloadable editor called the Ashen Empires Content Creator. Players will be able to make their own custom dungeon-crawl adventures and then share them in game.

The Content Creator is a light download with intuitive controls that make it easy to design a variety of interesting dungeon adventures without knowledge of scripting or coding. Several art packs will be available to purchase for Dungeons of Dransik, which comes with a large set of free artwork. The Ashen Empires Content Creator allows for infinite game-play possibilities by giving users tools to place NPC's, triggers, objects, teleporters, and traps on their highly customized maps. Content Creators can also set names and level ranges for creatures on their maps to further customize their creations.

After creating a custom map, players will purchase space to upload their maps to the game server. Iron Will Games will also offer the option to bind it to exclusive and scenic locations. Others can then access and play user-created maps at no cost. Dungeons can be named, rated by others, and tagged with a difficulty level.
As an idea I find that very interesting. Of course there are tons of problems involved, starting from Sturgeon's Law, which is the bane of user-created content in Web 2.0 ideas like this. But maybe the creators having to purchase server space will eliminate the worst free creations. So kudos for the innovation, even I'm still not going to play Ashen Empires.
This is something I've wanted to see for a long time. It seems to me that user-created content is the only way out of the "we can't make content fast enough" blind that Blizzard et al find themselves in. One need only look at the quality of some of the user-generated addons out there to see what could be achieved.

Lots of people out there design their own scenarios for pen & paper games that are easily as good as the paid-for equivalents, so there's no obvious reason why the same couldn't be true of their online equivalents. I'd suggest confining them to special test servers, with the company having the option to purchase them and introduce them to the main servers if well-received. That way there is a route for the talented designers to receive an income for their work.
Maybe it's not an issue based on the way the game works, but the first thing I look at is where can players exploit a system.

If this is an MMO and it has loot drops, and monsters drop loot, and the players decide what monsters are in their dungeons and in what situations... then what is to stop players exploiting this by creating dungeons purely as a Monty Haul scenario? Dragons in cages that can't damage players? Monsters that drop good loot, but that are in easy to kill situations with no adds and so forth?

Also, unrelated though, but I've never been able to post to this blog using my google account if I'm using the google chrome browser. Every time I try to post it gives me the error: "Your request could not be processed. Please try again."

I have to open up Mozilla Firefox whenever I want to post a comment. Any idea where the problem may lie?
Every time I try to post it gives me the error: "Your request could not be processed. Please try again."

I get the same error from time to time with Internet Explorer. Surprisingly the suggested solution of "Please try again" works for me. I just need to hit the Post Comment button a second time.
@Plastic Rat, I use Chrome, too. If this happens, just press "Post Comment" again. But I also had this happen in Internet Explorer, it does not seem to be related exclusively to Chrome. You might also consider switching to the Dev Channel and get Chrome 2.x. Read up on the various Chrome blogs how to do this.

Ashen Empire looks a bit like Ultima Online. I might give it a try later, but I also just signed up for the new ZORK ONLINE today, some kind of browser game.
@Plastic rat

I agree that exploits are a potential problem, which is why these things should be tested on PTR type servers first, before being allowed into the "real" game. The top rated content could then go through proper quality contol before going live.
The City of Heroes/Villains equivalent of this is currently in open-beta on the test server.

There's an alternative rewards system instead of drops (like badges of X in WoW I guess) tho' you get XP and influence as usual, but that you do get XP and inf is probably a factor in why they don't allow to edit the standard spawn positions on whichever map you've chosen, instead you get to setup particular (chainable) objectives placed at the 'front', 'middle' or 'back', and whether it's a Boss group, patrol, escort, rescue or whatever and the game allocates one of the pre-positioned enemy spawns to be used as that group. That usually leaves a bunch of spawns left over which will appear in the mission selected from your chosen enemy group.

Enemy groups can be one of the games current standard ones, one you've made by selecting existing enemies and stuffing them in your own group, or a completely one custom where you've created a bunch of minions, LTs and Bosses with Elite Bosses and Archvillains possible, where you've selected the powers and costumes.

Destructible, defendable and collect items work on a different set of spawn point I believe, so they don't take up the enemy spawns.

Main problems seem to be, size limits put in to keep server memory usage sane are hampering what a lot of people are wanting to do with custom enemies especialy given that the costume storage format seems to take silly amounts of space, client crash bugs in the editor (which they *are* steadily squashing), and every beta patch seemingly mucking up the internal storage format for text in mission -- critter descriptions, clues, mission briefings etc. -- in a new and exciting way.

However the biggest problem when it goes live is almost certainly going to be finding the story arc you want to play somewhere among the humungous pile of stuff. It was already 10-20,0000 arcs *on test* last time a looked, which was a few days ago. Yes there is a search engine, a set of criteria you can set to restrict, and a rating system, but there no real category or tagging system.
AECC is too powerful as an ability and will be nerfed.

And skapusniak is right, you need a good crap sorter to let the good stuff float to the top for something like this.
In text-based MUD / MUSH games, the content was completely created by the player base. With enough game experience, players were allowed to upgrade their characters to "content creators and maintainers". There was a hierarchy of content creators with extensive review cycles. The outcome was really good, and exploits quickly removed when found.
@plastic rat: There is no way to get high level content through the dungeons.
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