Author Topic: An idea for the next generation of MMO  (Read 5377 times)

Offline winkio

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An idea for the next generation of MMO
« on: March 31, 2014, 07:44:45 AM »
We have all heard some common complaints about MMO's

  • they are just a race to the finish
  • there is little reward for creativity or uniqueness
  • it's just a grind for the top gear
  • too much focus on being "the best" in terms of skills/builds/etc.

Now I am not naive enough to think that adding in the latest gimmick will solve any of these problems, whether it be motion controls or higher resolution graphics or virtual reality.  In fact, my idea draws on some very old-school concepts from tabletop games such as D&D:

At the core of the game is an AI that can control everything from what quests are offered, to environment design, to NPC interaction, to enemy spawns and characteristics, and even game mechanics.  This AI is constantly receiving information from all the players connected to the game such as how quickly quests are completed, how many players are in a person's friend's list, and when players die.  This information is used to make decisions that affect future gameplay for all players connected to the server, and in a way that is much more sophisticated than simply buffing/nerfing classes and weapons.  For example, if there is an area of the world that is not often traveled, a new outpost and dungeon can be added in order to attract more players.  If certain players are progressing through the game very quickly, the game may send extremely difficult quests their way.  If other players are spending most of their time traveling, they may receive a quest line that allows them to be the first to explore an expansive new wilderness.  If yet others are into crafting, they may unlock a new crafting mechanic that greatly expands the types and qualities of items that they can craft.

The game rewards the players for playing the game in a unique way that is meaningful to the player, but does not give them a global advantage.  In doing so, the game also diversifies the player base, as no matter how much a single person plays on any number of accounts, it will be impossible for them to be an expert on all aspects of the game.

But it doesn't stop there.  Quests can be made that handpick a certain group of individuals that must work together, providing easy opportunities to meet new players and grow and maintain a list of friends.  Clans can be set up to compete for a huge sum of prize money, or forced into an alliance to raid a new dungeon filled with monstrous creatures.  Consequences of player choices can be generated in real time, instead of following a preset story branch.  Every new character would experience a completely unique story that takes place in the same game world, although they may have some shared experiences with other players.

So at this point, people are probably taking a step back and saying "well that's a cool idea, but that AI is a few decades away at the very least."  And if you were to make a fully capable AI before releasing the game, I might agree.  But if instead, you only partially design the AI, and then use the gameplay data from the users to tweak it bit by bit until it is fully formed, I think it could feasibly be developed right now.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2014, 08:02:46 AM »
Relevant:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otAkP5VjIv8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur6GQp5mCYs

I think that these ideas are a step in the right direction.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2014, 08:42:29 AM »
I don't know, a lot of those ideas in the videos rely on player effort, and on the player's mind aligning with the developers' minds.  To me it just seems like another gimmick that people would get bored with after some time.

My idea doesn't so much rely on how clever the developers are at setting up the world, but rather on the freedom that the game world offers, and the diversity of approaches that players will take.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2014, 09:25:43 AM »
There is only so much freedom you can offer in a game. Fact is that too much freedom will bore the players as well. Sure, there are exceptions like Minecraft where you can do whatever you want. But in general games without some sort of goal or purpose can be problematic to both make it to be fun and having fun while playing.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2014, 09:32:55 AM »
I'm talking about the freedom offered by a tabletop game compared to a modern RPG.  In a tabletop, whoever is running the game is creating the story as they go, and incorporates the player's characters and actions, making unique situations and challenges.  This is directly opposite the rigid quest lines of many RPGs.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2014, 10:03:52 AM »
I understand that, but I am arguing the complexity this brings with it for players, dungeon masters and developers. You would have to make a game that supports custom dungeons which can be set up by dungeon masters so that the players can play. This is what I meant with freedom. Dungeon masters would almost have to be able to make games within the game.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2014, 04:41:36 PM »
I think what MMO's should do is stop trying to be WoW.
Not as in "stop cloning WoW" but rather, stop trying to have that level of broad appeal.

WoW was an accident really, it happened at the perfectly right time when videogames and MMO's were just picking up steam.  It had a critical mass of interest, brand recognition, and it was a HUGE improvement over Everquest to the point where some of the most famous EQ guilds jumped to WoW during the beta.

If another MMO is going to hit it big like that, it won't be by design.

I think MMO's should shoot for strong, individual niches.  Guild Wars 2, EVE Online, and Final Fantasy XIV are strong examples of MMO's that launched ( or re-launched ) with the intent to serve a focused audience; not the entire gaming population.  They have their identities, they stick with them, and if you have noticed...2 of the 3 launched with monthly fees, and have yet to go F2P due to lack of interest.

I could go on for hours about game mechanics, design, and content, and how gameplay itself evolves due to copying and copy-improvements and etc... but now is not the time or the place.

Basically, I think there is a place in our market for themepark MMO's like WoW, or Final Fantasy XIV ( though arguably this game contains a measure of sandbox mechanics that most themepark games do not ) and also a place for things like EVE Online, where the players control everything.

To say either end of the spectrum is inferior is just a flawed statement, as they are intended to serve different audiences.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2014, 04:48:52 PM »
You make a pretty good point.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 10:33:05 AM »
I agree with a lot of winkio shared. I also agree with Blizz and NAMK in that it depends on the type of audience that the developers want to meet. Take my tastes, for example. Even though I usually stick to single player games, I've found that I do really enjoy the COOPERATIVE aspect on online games. I like the feeling of having someone else's back and them having yours, and the sense that the group would fall apart without any one of you as you face more and more difficult challenges and grow stronger together in order to face mightier foes and all of that kind of thing.

However, I strongly dislike the COMPETITIVE aspect of online games (or anything else, really; I know that life tends to be a competition, but that doesn't mean I have to like it :P.) I almost always downright refuse to do anything that is directly player-versus-player, and I sigh at the inevitable comparisons made even in cooperative groups - someone always has to be "the best."

A few other random bits: I love a sense of progression; this is probably one reason I like RPGs so much. It's one of those funny things that's kind of hard to explain. Take, for example, level scaling. I hate level scaling. I despite it with a passion. I even dislike it when you're killing dragons for 30,000 experience, and you run across a kobold, and it doesn't give you the 4 experience that it gave you back when 4 experience meant something, though this is something that I can let slide as long as I can still laugh at how easy my lowly kobold foes have become.
From a strict game-play perspective, level scaling SHOULD make the game more fun - it means that you don't have to wade through useless, time-wasting encounters, and it means that you have to use actual strategy even in the simplest of fights against enemies from a long time ago. But it doesn't, for me, at least. I've never liked it. Again, I'm not really quite sure why I don't like it, but to me, it kind of breaks the magic of the game. Of course, level scaling in an MMO is a bit of a different beast on its own, but I'm starting to get off on a tangent here.
On a slightly similar note, I like open world exploration, but it still needs to have direction. I could never really get into Minecraft for that very reason. Grand Theft Auto, in addition to just being the type of game that I wouldn't find interesting whatever the case, suffered from those same problems when I tried it - there are a million and one things to do, but there's not really any point to doing them.

All progress in games is an illusion anyway, since you're just manipulating bytes on a computer somewhere while staring at a screen, but on some level, there is that imaginary sense of progress, and a sense that your character is really developing through your actions, and to me, that's what makes it fun.

I actually think WoW is a pretty decent game. It's far from perfect, and it's far from being the best game out there, but it does have a lot of good aspects that sometimes I feel are discounted on account of "LOL it's WoW." Yes, it suffers from the majority of issues that winkio mentioned (and is the epitome of some of them, such as the whole race to the finish idea. And don't get me started on the toxic community....) However, as I think I mentioned somewhere around here before at some point, if you play it with a group of people you know and with your own agenda, it can be a blast, despite its flaws.

TL;DR / Conclusion: Riding off the ideas that many of the rest of you have mentioned, my ideal MMO would have characters that need to work together in order to accomplish goals - and not just through numbers (eg, challenges that need three people to beat simply to arbitrarily require three people,) but through cooperation of synergizing skills and abilities, coupled, to some extent, with player skill. These characters, however, also shouldn't just fit into cookie cutter builds, (ie: classes are either a "healer," "damage dealer,“  or whatever, and it doesn't matter who you have in your group as long as they fit the necessary cookie-cutter role,) but should allow players to customize their character is such a way that they don't ever feel exactly the same as someone else, especially someone else with a largely different skillset. Somehow, these groups would go out to explore the world and have adventures, gaining virtual wealth and power, while at the same time, making it feel like a joint effort, and not a competition to be wealthier or more powerful than others. This is where a lot of winkio's ideas about an AI driven "story" of sorts would come into play. I know that what I have in mind is probably not exactly the same as what he or anyone else has in mind, but I figured I'd share.





That was way more than I meant to write; this is something that I always find interesting to talk about, though, so I figured I'd throw out my two cents. I don't blame you if you just skimmed the whole thing. XD
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 10:34:53 AM by WhiteRose »

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 11:33:25 AM »
I personally have nothing against a bit of friendly competition with friends in a game (Soldat, UT, Worms, etc.), but I dislike highly competitive games and games that were exclusively made to be competitive on a small scale (Starcraft, LoL, DOTA, CoD, etc.) and this usually includes online play. I think this is why I stopped playing League of Legends. It just got tedious. It wasn't fun anymore, it was work. And I could care less about "working" to get good at a game if I'm not planning to go pro and earn a living with it. I did have fun playing War Thunder for a short time, but only because I played with friends together in a larger team against another team (in a scale of 15v15 or 20v20).
« Last Edit: April 02, 2014, 11:34:36 AM by Blizzard »
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 02:36:27 PM »
One of the reasons I have stuck with some of the games that I have, such as Diablo II, is the co-operative nature of them. D2 has a little bit of a competitive streak to it in a way, with the ladder ranking system, but it's not required that you place on it. I've made friends on there, and we rush-level characters for each other, instead of worry about placing high on a ranking board. Once you get into hell mode, most people are there to help each other too, since that's kind of the only way to survive, unless you have a godly character.. Trading is a big part of the game too, and adds another layer of gameplay with each other in a friendly way :)   I know D2 isn't the only game like this.. Just seemed like a good example..
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2014, 08:11:15 PM »
I want more MMOs to stop using fake combat (sorry, I'm calling it that, because the game attacking for me is the most absolute boring thing ever).
I want more MMOs using real-time, action-y combat. More of them are doing it, but... I want them ALL to do it.

Any MMO that doesn't do this just isn't worth my time.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2014, 08:26:25 PM »
One of the reasons why fake combat became the standard is that with 20+ people all participating in combat, there is going to be significant and noticeable delay from networking, so fast-paced combat would be very inaccurate/buggy/difficult.  What games have recently started to do is simplify the combat systems (less spells / animations / extra effects) in order to speed up the pace without bogging down the network.  There are games in other genres that have much less actually happening (FPS for example) that manage to network 20-30 players with fast-paced action no problem, but they have very simple combat and have somewhat sophisticated prediction algorithms.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2014, 08:40:12 PM »
I want more MMOs to stop using fake combat (sorry, I'm calling it that, because the game attacking for me is the most absolute boring thing ever).
I want more MMOs using real-time, action-y combat. More of them are doing it, but... I want them ALL to do it.

Any MMO that doesn't do this just isn't worth my time.

Bolded the part I'm replying to.

Obviously MMO's without realtime combat aren't searching for you as part of their target audience then.  You can play the ones that do appeal to you, that's how it works.

All but demanding that ALL MMO's should cater to your whims is just harmful.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2014, 08:43:24 PM »
I want more MMOs to stop using fake combat (sorry, I'm calling it that, because the game attacking for me is the most absolute boring thing ever).
I want more MMOs using real-time, action-y combat. More of them are doing it, but... I want them ALL to do it.

Any MMO that doesn't do this just isn't worth my time.

Bolded the part I'm replying to.

Obviously MMO's without realtime combat aren't searching for you as part of their target audience then.  You can play the ones that do appeal to you, that's how it works.

All but demanding that ALL MMO's should cater to your whims is just harmful.

There's a difference between wanting and demanding, and I'd expect you to know that.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with a gamer wanting a certain genre to go in a specific direction, and it's absolutely not "demanding".

@winkio:
Thanks for the constructive post. I didn't think of it that way.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2014, 08:55:49 PM »
One of the reasons why fake combat became the standard is that with 20+ people all participating in combat, there is going to be significant and noticeable delay from networking, so fast-paced combat would be very inaccurate/buggy/difficult.  What games have recently started to do is simplify the combat systems (less spells / animations / extra effects) in order to speed up the pace without bogging down the network.  There are games in other genres that have much less actually happening (FPS for example) that manage to network 20-30 players with fast-paced action no problem, but they have very simple combat and have somewhat sophisticated prediction algorithms.

I was going to literally say the same thing until I realized that I'm a lazy ass.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2014, 08:59:19 PM »
Yeah, like I said, I didn't really think of it that way (or, shit, I honestly didn't even know).

I mean, I wasn't demanding it, or anything.
Just saying I want it to go in that direction, since I would assume at this point, it's perfectly viable.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2014, 09:26:12 PM »
Lol, it's cool. I just wanted to say that I was going to say the same thing. So partially it's a technical reason.
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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2014, 09:52:49 PM »
Word up, brodiggle.

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Re: An idea for the next generation of MMO
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2014, 10:59:52 PM »
One of the reasons I have stuck with some of the games that I have, such as Diablo II, is the co-operative nature of them. D2 has a little bit of a competitive streak to it in a way, with the ladder ranking system, but it's not required that you place on it. I've made friends on there, and we rush-level characters for each other, instead of worry about placing high on a ranking board. Once you get into hell mode, most people are there to help each other too, since that's kind of the only way to survive, unless you have a godly character.. Trading is a big part of the game too, and adds another layer of gameplay with each other in a friendly way :)   I know D2 isn't the only game like this.. Just seemed like a good example..

That is a great example, and I completely agree with you. I really like Diablo II; it does have a little bit of competition, but, exactly as you mentioned, by the time you get to hell, the majority of players have stopped worrying about being better than one another because they have to work together just to progress in the game. Diablo II was a great game. :)

Diablo III actually misses out on a lot of this due to level scaled monsters regardless of difficulty setting, and a greater dependence on player gear in order to even survive. This pushes the online competition just a little too far for me, to the point that I only play single player. However, it does have some really great ideas, and I find the single player to be quite a bit of fun - enough so, in fact, that I'm willing to forgive it that it uses level scaling. One feature that I think is really awesome is the Paragon leveling system. You can literally level up your character infinitely, but after level 60, the level bonuses are only very tiny. (Monsters stop scaling at 60, as well, so maybe that's why I can forgive it the scaling. Haha.)