MMORPG thoughts

Rant time:

So I’ve now spent a little while playing Eath and Beyond. It is fun, in an explore-the-galaxy, loot-the-asteroids & kill-the-baddies kindof way. However, it is a classic example of something that really bothers me about MMORPGs, which is skewed timelines. For each player, there is a sort of central storyline that has been coded in. This gives each player missions to help them advance, and I suppose, should advance the storyline. It is the ‘central’ story of the MMORPG. However, this means that different players are in a sense, on different timelines. While ShakaZulu is off delivering the egg to the dude at the dojo, MrClean is killing the dragon (that ShakaZulu just killed) to get the egg, to give to the dude at the dojo. How many dragons are there, and how many eggs does the guy need (note: this is just an example, and AFAIK. not part of Earth and Beyond)? Essentially, these 2 characters, who can interact, are not part of the same timeline. It is a conceit common to all the MMORPGs. I would much rather that the system allow missions to take place only once. It would mean a race between various players to complete the mission, but whatever. Once one person has completed the mission, *anyone* could take up the next part, perhaps. The repetition (and encountering 20 other players, all harvesting Tazeron Crystals for someone’s experiment) really irks me, in that it destroys all semblance of the online ‘world’ being self-sufficient, that it just exists, and you happen to be interacting with it.

On ElendorMUSH, the mush I inhabited for quite a while, this universal continuum existed – once a mission was complete, that was it, no one else could do it. Obviously, some missions can be repeated – trade missions, re-securing a cave-complex after orcs/goblins/bears move in, etc, but events that would effect a permanent change, did. It meant that only certain characters were able to do somethings, but that made it extra special when you got to be involved. If you weren’t directly involved, almost invariably, you could become involved in a tertiary manner, perhaps as a random encounter for the main characters, for example.

Someone on [dim-sum] told me about a new MMORPG that will feature a real economic system (and don’t get me started about what that might be) – but how can there be one unless there is a consistent timeline in the game? If anyone can do the mission to go to the cave and spelunk to retrieve the diamonds lady Guinevere lost when the bandits attacked her carriage and she ran into there to escape them, then diamonds are essentially infinite in supply, and would have no real value – rather than these incredibly hard to get, highly valuable commodities – because at some point, virtually *everyone* will have those specific diamons.

4 Replies to “MMORPG thoughts”

  1. Of course what happened on Elendor was that for those that had the time it was a blast where you could totaly get in on TP’s and the rest of the RPing. But for the casual person it was a real bore because standing guard at minas tirith’s gates isn’t exactly the most exciting thing to do 99% of the time. The answer is either to have more people, less space, or to have some sort of hard coding…. Do you have some ideas on this?

  2. Of course what happened on Elendor was that for those that had the time it was a blast where you could totaly get in on TP’s and the rest of the RPing. But for the casual person it was a real bore because standing guard at minas tirith’s gates isn’t exactly the most exciting thing to do 99% of the time. The answer is either to have more people, less space, or to have some sort of hard coding…. Do you have some ideas on this?

  3. yeah – that is indeed true. Day mentioned last night that to have a true timeline, they might need as many people running the game as playing it, which is clearly not possible (unless players are willing to fork over a couple grand a month in salary for a personal gm). This is where system intelligence comes in – a reasonable AI could probably generate from a give list of options some decent quuests for the game, especially if seeded by a human controlling an over-arching storyline. Most of these MMORPGS have stories that are truly epic, affecting everyone in the game, so adventure generators should be able to tap into that to create some interesting things to do for a character of every level at any point. Not easy, certainly, but I don’t think that it would be impossible to do.

  4. yeah – that is indeed true. Day mentioned last night that to have a true timeline, they might need as many people running the game as playing it, which is clearly not possible (unless players are willing to fork over a couple grand a month in salary for a personal gm). This is where system intelligence comes in – a reasonable AI could probably generate from a give list of options some decent quuests for the game, especially if seeded by a human controlling an over-arching storyline. Most of these MMORPGS have stories that are truly epic, affecting everyone in the game, so adventure generators should be able to tap into that to create some interesting things to do for a character of every level at any point. Not easy, certainly, but I don't think that it would be impossible to do.

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