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We Will Revolutionize MMO Mining

Two days ago I made a post about the MMO I want to make one day. From that post a ton of ideas have started to pour in about how certain features would work. I have been frantically taking notes as you guys expand upon my thoughts and even take the simple notes I posted and run with them in the exact direction I was wanting to go in-game.

One of our readers named Gringar hit the nail on the head with how I want mining to work.  I mentioned that I want miners to actually have to go into caves and mine, and he already jumped to where my mind was going: Vast cave networks!  Imagine if mining was done in massive mountains with tunnels and the deeper you go the better the resources you can find.  I started thinking more on the idea.

I’m not big into the idea of this voxel stuff where the world itself actually breaks. I don’t like WoW’s (and all modern themeparks’) style of nodes either. I think I would stick to something a little more like UO where you you can interact with various surfaces of the cave and resources can dry up and randomly replenish and rotate.  If you didn’t play UO, think like SWG.

These caves would be glorious to behold. I’m talking massive caverns, crystals, rare metals, super rare artifacts to uncover to be used by crafters to enhance weapons, etc.  The better your mining skills the deeper in the caverns you’ll be able to go.

Here’s where it can get interesting. Imagine how deep these caves can go… in the words of Saruman: “You fear to go into those mines. The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum… shadow and flame. “

Yep! I want there to be awesome enemies to stand in the way, traps and obstacles to overcome, and other horrors to frighten even the strongest miners away. What if certain areas of the cave could randomly be uncovered as a certain amount of ore or stone was withdrawn from deep enough in the caverns.  Imagine after a few weeks the caves have been mined deep enough that suddenly a door appears at the bottom with glowing runes.

The miners open the door and a massive winged abomination comes crashing through.  Adventurers would have to come and save the miners, or else the miners would have to retreat to a less deep and less rewarding tier of the cave.  That might be a neat way to get both gatherers and miners working together since the adventurers want what the demon guards, and the miners want the resources.

So many awesome ways to take simple systems like gathering and make them into a huge features. Keep the ideas coming  guys, this is great!

I want to make this MMO

Occasionally I ask myself what kind of MMO I would make if given the opportunity to lead a team and design something I want to play. In the past I’ve created long-winded paragraph heavy posts about the MMO I want to see made, but I realized all of that can be distilled into simple ideas. I started making a list in a document on my desktop when I realized… heck, why not share this with you guys?

Fantasy setting

Graphics are stylized realism

Sandbox with guidelines

No PvP at launch. Just PvE.

Magic is powerful and somewhat difficult, expensive, and/or rare to use

The world is dangerous, unforgiving, and not something to be adventured out into lightly

The world is massive and players form communities out of necessity for survival as well as human companionship

Cities are a place people come back to at the end of the day to relax and stock up for tomorrow’s adventure, not a place to “hang out” all day

No “quick” travel of any kind

NPC merchants sell useful items, but players can make much better versions

Items are tools, not character progression

Monsters drop appropriate loot

There are no “raids”

There are no instances or phases

Dungeons are open-world

Quests exist as massive undertakings and aren’t for the weak or faint-hearted

Resources aren’t random. Mining in caves and mountains yields ores and precious metals. Farming yields plants and crops. Trees yield wood.

Resources have quality scores that randomly rotate every few days or a week at random intervals meaning you can’t mine the same quality of resource twice in one place

Players can specialize in crafting and harvesting to the point where that’s all they do when they play

Housing is open-world

Night time changes the world significantly in both appearance and threat. Do not travel at night.

Monster camps are a thing

Downtime must be managed or given thought

Classes are clearly defined into roles with little to no overlap

Death = experience loss and going back to your bind point (oh yeah, bind points)

No Bind on Equip unless special bonuses are crafted into the gear at which point there becomes user-affinity and the item works only for the original owner

That’s my short list. I’ll expand on each feature eventually and most likely grow this into a formal design document.  I’m just about done waiting for the people making and designing the games in this industry to get their acts together.  If I win the lottery, I’m making this MMO.

Feel free to comment with your own lists or critique mine.

My First WildStar Dungeon Impressions

I was finally able to do one of the dungeons in WildStar.  Thanks to the mentoring system, everyone in our group was scaled down to the appropriate level and we were able to experience this dungeon in all its glory.

For the last two weeks all I’ve heard is how difficult or hard the dungeons are in WildStar.  That statement is a little inaccurate.  Dungeons in WildStar are… exact.  They really aren’t difficult at all if you press the right buttons.  Don’t stand in bad telegraphs (red spots on the floor), interrupt when you need to, and have a decent understanding of your class with appropriate gear and technically… technically… the dungeon should go off without a hitch.

We wiped several times while running through the dungeon despite having level 50s with experience in the place (on both normal and veteran) scaled down to help us.  The cause of every wipe was positioning or not interrupting fast enough.

Veteran dungeons are simply these same places on steroids.  You’ll need to kill fast and be more exact while completing additional objectives.  That is certainly a challenge until you meet the requirements.

To me this is quite different from dungeons I’ve experienced in past games where I felt the difficulty was measured by danger.  For example, in WildStar the difficulty of a boss is interrupting him and staying out of red circles–obeying mechanics.  In EverQuest the difficulty of a dungeon was knowing you COULD die, maybe have a corpse recovery with experience loss, and have to work your way back into the dungeon.  Difficulty in EverQuest was avoiding death with 100% certainty and taking into consideration the dynamics of random “oh crap” moments as well as factoring in other groups. Dungeons were there to give you the experience of playing in rather than playing through, which only added to the danger and difficulty. Slight difference there, maybe somewhat semantics, but to me it really does make a huge difference on how the game plays.

Overall, WildStar’s first dungeon is certainly the most challenging first dungeon I’ve played through in a themepark.  Very straight forward–kill trash, kill boss, obey the mechanics, etc,. but worth doing for anyone looking to experience a taste of what end-game might be like in WildStar.

Monster Diversity

Today’s post came to me while I was browsing game art for EverQuest Next.  I noticed a picture of a dragon–I like dragons so I clicked on it.  Upon seeing the various types of dragon-like monsters, I was originally thinking that I might simply write about my favorite type of dragon.  Massive dragons are AWESOME to fight in a MMORPG.  I started thinking about which of the dragons in this image would best match my favorite type (easy to choose, it’s the big one with wings and spikes) when I realized my answer: All of them.

EQ-Dragons

Mob/Monster diversity is sorely lacking in modern MMOs.  Worst of all is the lack of monster types.  Now’days we fight humanoids and animals resembling common mammals. We fight the same monsters with different skins over, and over, and over.  When they really want to change things up they make the bigger or smaller.  I want TONS of different TYPES of monsters, but I also want tons of diversity beyond just skins.

I want entirely different types, animations, abilities, dangers, dynamics, etc.  I want some dragons in the sky, others burrowing below my feet, some running fast, etc.  I want massive monsters lumbering around castles and I want small or hidden creatures waiting to strike.

Visuals are important to me, but not in a graphics snob kind of way.  I can go back to the original EverQuest and the graphics don’t phase me.  Something they’ve done visually makes it all work.  I like diversity.  If everything starts to look the same then I start to get bored quickly.

I was running around WildStar last night and suddenly became overwhelmed with boredom.  I realized it was because for the first time I had reached and area of the game that felt mundane and all the same for over an hour of play.  The mobs were the same, the terrain was the same, the doodas in the world were the same.  WildStar typically feels well put-together but this area was not. It took only two deaths in a row for me to log out.  I largely blame the visuals and mob diversity for boring me to the breaking point.

This goes back to the idea of having a world that inspires, immerses, and captures the mind and heart of the player.  Monster diversity is a major ingredient.

Back in the Saddle Again: Leveling in WildStar

I’m settling back into my gaming routine now that I have a few weeks of extra time.  I jumped into WildStar last night to finally dig in my heels and level up.  My Warrior gained two levels last night (15-17) and completed a solid chunk of the second zone.  About two hours into playing I started to get really, really burned out on the whole questing thing.  Having 10 quests at a time to run around in circles was actually making me experience motion sickness.  I found a solution!

I asked in guild chat about whether or not the tasks were necessary.  Tasks are like the lowest form of bottom-dwelling quests — they are aptly called tasks. According to one of my guildies I can skip doing the tasks and just focus on the world and zone stories.  I gave it a go for another hour and gained more experience than I had the previous two hours combined.  One of the people in my guild actually leveled entirely 1-50 on just the zone stories and said that the worst thing you’ll experience is the mobs might eventually get 1-2 levels ahead of you.  I’m cool with that!

After I had my fill of questing we formed a group to head into the first adventure.  It went remarkably smooth, but that’s what happens when you bring a level 50 (even if they mentor down) and everyone else has been there before.  My first takeaway: Telegraphs are annoying and I will be turning them off for other players.  My second takeaway: EXP was great and I wish doing this type of grouping to level was the norm — I miss this play-style so, so much.

I think I’m going to shoot for level 20 tonight.  I’ll keep you all posted on how the first official “dungeon” (not adventure) goes and whether or not I’m able to muster up the courage to try tanking.  So far my verdict on WildStar will remain that it’s a well-made themepark capable of holding most for at least 3 months. How accessible and fun the end-game is will determine the rest.