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My PvE Version of Darkness Falls

I’m developing this idea of a Darkness Falls type dungeon based entirely around PvE factions instead of how player realms are doing in some PvP/RvR/AvA type system.  First, I think a quick primer on what I mean by factions is required.

In this MMORPG I’m concocting in my head there are no predetermined sides.  You’re not joining the Alliance or the Horde or the Good guys vs bad guys. My world’s factions functions much in the same way the original EverQuest worked.  Every race has its own faction, and relationships are fluid based on actions taken by the player. If you are a Dark Elf and you kill Dark Elf NPCs you are going to be hated by your own people, but the Humans might start to like you more.  Killing certain monsters can bring faction hits or gains. An Ogre could work for a real year to gain enough faction to enter the Elven City.

Some of the work associated with factions can be done quickly. Depending on the race someone chooses, there will be predetermined dispositions. For example, Humans will have an easier time accepting a Dark Elf than an Ogre in their city. Some faction changes can be seen in a day, some a week, some might even take the player over a real year to accomplish.

Darkness Falls

Are you familiar with Darkness Falls? It was a dungeon in Dark Age of Camelot that would be unlocked for the realm (group of pre-determined allied races) who owned the most keeps in the realm vs. realm war going on in the frontier.  As soon as another group was winning, the dungeon entrance would lock for those who had it, and unlock for the other realm.  The other realm could then enter and kill the other players.

Darkness Falls in DAoC was an awesome PvE zone.  Great loot, great places to group, great PvP when purging the enemy, and all around a great place to be. It encouraged people to PvP.  People wanted this place.

My PvE Version of Darkness Falls

I’m still figuring out the entire idea, but I want to work a version of this type of open-world dungeon into my world.  I’m thinking about making it a dynamic dungeon that adapts to how various NPC factions are being treated by the players.  Imagine if the dungeon was centralized in an area where the orcs and the kobolds were naturally having a dispute — these would be NPCs.  If players in the area were killing more orcs than kobolds then the dungeon may be infested with Kobolds. If players were working especially hard to vanquish both of these NPC factions then another type of faction might actually move on and lay claim to the area.

What I don’t want is for the idea to devolve into some stupid public quest type feeling. I actually hate public quests and events because of how developers now rely on them to fake a dynamic and “changing” world. Bull crap people.  Take those lies to someone who believes them because they ain’t workin’ over here.

If this is ever going to work then the change has to be gradual, and the players almost have to be unable to perceive the change.  I don’t know, thoughts? I’m trying to work this faction system into impacting the world and I think this is one potential opportunity.  Whichever faction controls the dungeon would determine the mobs.  Think about how that can impact people based on what I said previous.

If I’m working really hard on my faction with the Elves and suddenly a faction of Fairies takes over the dungeon… I’m not going to hunt those fairies and take a faction hit.  In a sense I’ll have to work to influence the world in some other way to decrease the power the fairies have in the world.  If I can’t do that by killing fairies, I’ll probably have to kill the enemy of their enemy so that their enemy can overtake them.  It can add an interesting dynamic to how players thinking about factions.

As always your thoughts are wanted.

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.

Haven’t seen you in a few millennia. Give me some tassel!

I’m back from my mini-vacation / leave of absence from the computer, and I wanted to just kick things back off with a good ole fashioned rambling.  Before I begin I want to first say that I missed blogging.  Occasionally I’ll take a day or two off from posting, but I haven’t gone this long away from the blog both mentally and physically in some time.  There are times when I question whether or not blogs are a medium worth continuing in this niche, but in the end I know that I enjoy spilling the digital ink of my thoughts here for you all to see way too much to ever stop.

I’ve been to Disneyland more in the last few weeks than I have in the last 20+ years. The experience as an adult has been quite different than those I remember from being a child.  Everything is smaller, simpler, and slightly less magical.  As a child the walls of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle towered above me.  Now, I can see the facade.  I can see the green mesh on the walls hiding the chain-link fences.  A boy on his father’s shoulders screamed at the site of one of his favorite characters during the parade pleading for that character to give notice.  I looked and saw a guy in his 20s wearing a costume performing a choreographed and generic wave.  Although one illusion is destroyed, others do remain.

The park as an adult still has an atmosphere.  I appreciate the smells, the visual beauty, and the quality Disney has put in to making the park look and behave a certain way.  Attention to detail is key.  From almost any direction you look while standing in the park, Disney has thought of creating an experience.  That’s why I can go to Disneyland and still enjoy myself.  Sure, the rides are fun and I love the Disney properties, but those aren’t as fun as sitting down at a restaurant in New Orleans Square and taking it all in.  Now whether that’s worth paying $96 a trip (or buying a pass) is sometimes hard to swallow…

See the comparison I’m trying to draw?

I found myself comparing the experiences I’ve had at Disneyland as a kid vs. an adult to those experiences found in MMOs.  There will always be that ‘first’ MMO. There will always be the magic of MMOs from days past, and as much as I reminisce about those days they are most likely going to remain fond memories.  However, unlike Disneyland, MMOs are failing to keep that feeling consistent throughout time.  Disneyland for that little boy I mentioned earlier is just as magical or more so for him today as it was for me 25 years ago.  MMOs aren’t better today, nor do they maintain that level of experience or magical wonder and immersion for first-time players.

There isn’t enough attention being given to the entire experience in modern MMOs.  Developers are pushing hard to make the best rides possible or manipulate the ticket price.  They care more about pushing people through the ‘park’ to get them on the rides now than they do letting the players roam freely and consume the ‘park’ as they choose.  Someone like me can go to Disneyland one day and want to ride Indiana Jones, but tomorrow I might go back and wish to simply partake of good food and see shows.  My experience doing so at Disney is always going to be exceptional.  Those choices don’t exist in most MMOs, and when they do they rarely offer the same level of satisfaction.

I’ve had some good thoughts and experiences lately that I’m eager to put to the test in MMOs that I play.  I hope to drum up some great conversations soon — after I get back to playing some games.

Space Engineers: When Ships Turn Against You

We’ve had a “blast” in Space Engineers lately.  A few days ago we started a second save file / server for our friends to join us on which really upped the enjoyment.  Space Engineers is absolutely meant to be played with other people.  Having three people on a platform all building stuff or going out and gathering resources adds to how dynamic the experience can be for everyone.

Last night Graev was working on his new mining ship design.  The goal was to create the ship in multiple parts by combining a ‘Large’ ship with a ‘Small’ ship (mechanics built into the game).  The large ship portion would be thrusters and main components for navigation with a rotor designed to spin the drill bit. The drill bit would actually be a self-sustained vessel unto itself that would lock into place via landing gear.  The idea, on paper, was fantastic.

In practice…

It didn’t turn out so well. I think naming the ship ‘Godzilla’ (one of our live stream viewers requested the name) was a curse. Graev and I had fun yelling at each other.  Me: “What did you do?!”  Graev: “I didn’t do anything!”  Me: “Turn off your engines!”  Graev: “This thing has a mind of its own!”  My stomach was hurting from laughing so hard.

We quickly learned that there are issues with connecting ships in this fashion. We still can’t figure out what might have caused the two ships to conflict so much and cause each other to spiral out of control. You can find more of our night’s disasters on our forums.

I can’t wait until more functionality is added to the game.  I’d love to have buttons, levers, etc., to create even more fully functional designs.  Right now we are limited by rotors as our main tool.  It’s getting there!

Once we have a dedicated server set up, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out without the ability to save and reload.