My Ideal MMO: Ultimate PvP Sandbox Virtual World

Ideal MMO Combat
Combat would be real-time twitch based like Chivalry. Magic would be rare, and come with a huge burden.

Occasionally I come up with ideas for what my ideal MMORPG would be like.  Here’s a MMORPG I want to see made.  It’s very similar to a game I wrote about a few years ago.  I don’t even know what to call it.  It’s more than a sandbox, more than a virtual world, more than a PvP game.  It’s like the ultimate PvP sandbox for virtual world enthusiasts.   It’s not about grinding, it’s not about beating the game, it’s about living in the world and fulfilling a function as part of a greater community of players.

  • SWG Crafting, Skills, and Housing
  • DAoC style RvR
  • Elder Scrolls / Mount & Blade: Warband / Chivalry real time combat

The whole game would take place in a massive open world that players can colonize, create their own Kingdoms, and begin governing.  Settlements can be constructed around massive castles, and some pre-made settlements would exist with NPC governors.  Players could choose between living in the NPC Kingdom, or venturing out to create their own. Players could attack each other, take over other Kingdoms, and live within a sandbox world where players govern themselves.  The further out from the NPC kingdoms you go, the more you have to rely on the player-driven world.

MMO Desert environment
The world would be so large that desert, snow, corrupted, plains, and other environments would be inhabitable.

The goal of the game would be to continually develop your character to make a living.  Crafting would be at the center of the game because everything would degrade.

Players would have to take on the role of blacksmith and other crafting positions in order to have anything made. The best crafters wouldn’t be able to specialize into combat, so this creates a real sense of specialization, importance, and uniqueness for crafters.

Combat would be the hardest part.  I think current tech doesn’t allow for ideal real time twitch combat, but some day it’ll get there.  I think Darkfall shows we’re fairly close.

Vast MMO World Governed by the players
The world be be enormous. The further out you go, the more you witness the effects of a player-governed world. Players could find an area and begin their own settlement.

Gear would be important, but dieing would mean losing your gear and using it would degrade it anyway.  It needs to be like the medieval times when there could be a special sword you value, but if you lose it you can pick up most any other sword and still be able to fight because YOU are the weapon.

The world would have to be ginormous.  I mean literally huge.  Economies would develop in certain regions that would make economies in other parts of the world feel entirely alien.  There would be desert regions, regions dominated by water, grassy plains, tainted lands, and all sorts of environments.  This also plays into the crafting, as certain resources are only available in certain parts of the world.  Players would have to adapt their skills to the region to help them survive.

I know it’s outrageously ambitious and likely impossible, but this is the foundation for my vision of an ideal virtual world.  I welcome your input on how you would improve or change the idea to be more ideal for you.

  • I dont know how SWG crafting or housing is/was so cant speak to that. As for TES combat mechanics? Nope not for me, It would have to be some sort of hybrid of skill/hotbar for me to even be interested (Limited hotbar). Nothing is worse as a player, IMO then only having access to 2 clicks of the mouse for combat. I prefer some oomph if you will, and although I dont begrudge those who prefer that simplistic mouse based combat I just dont think it would work intodays MMO landscape.

    Call me wierd if you must, but I just love GW2’s real immersive, semi actiony style combat and it appears Elder Scrolls Online is following suit, although taking it up a notch.

    As for DAoC’s style RvR? I absolutely love it, but for a sandbox I would prefer a more old school way of doing PvP. By following Asherons Call model of having white servers (with optional PK flagging) and Red FFA Full Loot PvP.

  • As for Housing, I love the Asherons Call, open world, limited plot availability for housing. With AC’s style and the fact that monthly maintenance is tied to specific “limited” housing items called “Writs of Refuge” it opens up another stable and dynamic economy.

    Also my personal preference is to have a dynamic loot system in the mold of an Asherons Call, it and housing is the only reason why I still have a sub to that game to this day, 14 years later.

  • Like I said I never played, doesnt clutter up the landscape? I can see people griefing by putting housing near choke points and things like that.

    I like it but I heard to many bad stories of UO which had a similar system. I still prefer AC’s style more, open world houses but set up all over the world in pre-determined plots. Instead of allowin g every tom, dick and harry to own a house, it made housing very valuable and offered progression other then gear.

  • Sounds magnificent. Like a cross between the just-hyped Everquest Next and the upcoming Darkfall II reboot.

  • @Zederok: It does clutter the landscape, but it makes it look lived in. Choke points and areas of griefing potential aren’t buildable in SWG. I’d imagine one could do the same for any game.

    @Umberhill: Yeah, that’s the general idea.

  • @Bernard: Here’s my opinion on business models. If the game is good enough, the subscription isn’t an issue that keeps people away. There is irrefutable proof of concept there.

    I’m not against the business model of buying just the box and then subsequent expansions, but that decision doesn’t impact game design — just finances.

    I’m totally 100% against a cash shop in any form, which means F2P is out. Any cash shop impacts gameplay. They’re on their way out.

    I think a megaserver would be awesome — but no instancing. If tech allowed, everyone would be on the same server so that events could happen globally.

  • That seems is pretty much the ideal MMO many people want. I think one of the main thing it suffers from is a brain drain where many of the skilled developers who could implement such a game go to work for AAA titles instead. This leaves indie developers, many of which dont have the resources and many cases the skills (darkfall and Mortal) to implement it.

    I would also like to see some kind of mission system and events system (not hearts). I think both those would add to the immersion of the game without getting in the way of the economy.

    Darkfall could implement all this stuff, but they have shown very little interest in making the game about anything more than city conquering.

  • Keen, I don’t think the tech is there yet to handle a single shard fantasy world without instancing.

    EVE Online can only get away with it because it’s set in space. There is basically no environment to interact with, just other players (ships). Also, being a space game allows them to build a huge universe at low cost (individual star systems don’t require many art assets), so the population can be spread out geographically, easing the load. Making a fantasy world of equivalent scale would likely cost hundreds of millions (perhaps billions?) of dollars. Unless someone with Blizzard’s level of resources does it, that kind of scale is just not going to happen.

    And even with all those things in their favour, large fleet battles in EVE are still a huge lagfest. They literally have to slow down time to handle them.

    On a single shard you WILL end up with thousands of people in one place unless you artificially constrain how many can be in a given area. You can either use overflow instances or simply block players from entering. Out of those two options, I’d choose instances.

  • Seems like the Sandbox PVP where you can attack each other and take over kingdoms would conflict with DAOC style RVR.

    With DAOC style RVR I would expect a “safe” PvE experience but fighting another faction in a specifically dedicated area.

    I like the “place your house anywhere” a la UO as it is more about freedom…as a mechanism to avoid clutter…you can have a special housing council in each kingdom that takes applications (and bribes) and let’s the players decide if a house can be placed somewhere. Introduce bureaucracy into the kingdom because it gives people power and they feel like they are making a difference. You can extend to that many things…put the power into the player’s hands.

  • That look like a lot Syncaine’s perfect game !

    Except for the PvP part, but I feel that Syncaine has changed about that…

    As a casual, I am not sure this game would be for me, but I would gladly follow other adventures in this world. The combat seems to be the worst part, I dislikes both Skyrim AND Mount&Blade combats 😉 I prefer more tactical combat that skills one, even if I like FPS one.

    About business model : my own dislike is about renting game, so sub games are out for me.

  • How would you handle pvp griefing? This is the problem I have with FFA pvp games, there are no consequences to just indiscriminately murdering anyone. If there was some kind of law system where PKers were punished I would be more interested in FFA.

  • @Argorious: The safe PvE area is something I included in a previous “my ideal MMO”. It could work in this too. A portion of the world could be a PvE haven.

    @Fuzzy: Maybe one day tech will be there. Until then, I choose more servers over instancing. Instancing would destroy a sandbox.

    @Imem: There either has to be a faction based system or enough social ramifications to keep people from ganking each other.

  • @Idunaz: No. Darkfall lacks this type of housing, players constructing their own settlements, this type of crafting, the skill system, and the focus on the economy to just name a few.

    Darkfall is a medieval-themed sandbox PvP game, but it is focused entirely on the combat and lacks crucial elements to be more than a combat simulator or action game.

  • With the NPC kingdoms and the RvR system do you think those two different system could work side by side or would dilute each other?

    For instance darkfall had a race system and a free form system. The end result was the race system being made obsolete.

  • @Wufiavelli: I think they can work side by side. Players having a kingdom would be a massive undertaking and require the cooperation of many, many players. No individual could ever run a kingdom.

    I think the NPC kingdom could be the PvE area. The massive world ruled by the players could be further out. Players could consciously choose to venture forth into other kingdoms.

    This is where the DAOC RvR feel comes in, but instead of 3 factions the players themselves get to create the factions.

  • aaah ok sorry misread thought you meant 3 factions and then a free form eve style pvp system.

  • Wow, I feel out of place. I don’t think you could pay me to play a game like that for more than a week or two (I’m a progression whore, without a stream of level-up like rewards for the first few weeks, I can’t get over the hump).

    Honestly, Keen’s description sounds a lot like Medieval Planetside 2 but with crafting.

  • @Shutter: Sounds more like SWG mixed with DAOC, UO, and Elder Scrolls to me. 😉 I respect that for some people the ideal MMO is tiered pve progression.

  • @Keen Tiered progression isn’t a pve-only idea, I’d say something like Battlefield has a tiered progression system, which is purely pvp.

    That said, I’ll admit that describing something as sandbox is the easiest way to chase me away. It always makes me think of devs that think GTA/Elder Scrolls style unstructured dicking around is a good replacement for real narrative structure.

    But I’m biased 😉

  • @Shutter: I’m curious to know if you’ve tried SWG or UO. You’re referencing single-player RPG’s. Have you tried a MMORPG like UO where it’s less about dicking around and more about progressing your character while living in a world?

  • @Skuishe: Not at all!

    EVE doesn’t have player housing.
    EVE doesn’t have this skill system.
    EVE is a little more FFA than I envision the system.
    EVE doesn’t have the contiguous world.
    EVE isn’t about setting up kingdoms as much as it is about controlling sectors of space.

    Those are what could think of right off.

  • @keen You could argue being able to build POS’s and Spacestations in 0.0 is kinda like player housing :p

  • At risk of arguing semantics because this is after all your vision,

    Player housing/kingdom: I guess I see them the same way. Isn’t a kingdom just controlling a sector of land where you have dominion over the resources and access/travel? And housing a place for you to call home and store all your stuff?

    Skills: I’m not familiar with the SWG system, but I do like the EVE one, and it certainly satisfies your requirement for not having characters be both combat capable and crafters. ie your average toon has to specialize.

    Contiguous world: I mean you can’t burn between systems but you still basically treat them as contiguous at a system level. Generally fleet action is going to take part across multiple systems and it’s a very differently strategic layer that works in space.

    tl;dr: Come play EVE until this dream game of yours materializes =D

  • @Skuishe: I stare at spreadsheets enough as it is man, I can’t bring myself to do it in game. 😉

    In all seriousness, I get that EVE is a sandbox and a good one at that. But it’s not at all like the game I, and others, are envisioning.

  • @keen

    obviously way too ambitious.. but

    I do not think RvR fit into this at all. For RvR you need 3 sides with each faction having certain distinct mythology, art and feel that players identify with, it is really key. For example see what they are trying to do with Elder scrolls mmo this trailer basically says it all

  • @ZugZug: I was thinking it could be more like Elder Scrolls where there are regions of the world that players can begin the game identifying themselves with, and fighting for, but can ultimately break away and form their own kingdoms. Still the sense of RvR territory, castle taking, and pride in your victory.

    And yeah, it’s definitely ambitious.

  • I just want to go in an MMO crack skulls and help in conquest. I want to be in a group jump a group. Or go out alone and stalk who I have declared an in-game blood feud with. Only to to talk with that same person later on on how the great job was done catching the other person off guard and by her/his self.

    The problem I have is time consumption. When you get into house and kingdom degrading then what time would I have to spend in the outside world. How much time would I have to dedicate to the game. I want to be able to go in once or twice a week and not feel like “damn it everyone is 20 levels higher than I am”. I hate having to level anything. I want to spend hours and hours of my limited time in game with combat and talking/exploring. And not mess around in arenas, battlegrounds, or any other type of pvp sports.

    I prefer the type of combat skills of you know when to block and strike. I do not like melee/ranged non-magical combat where I have to swing a weapon X number of times to become effective. One the issues I have with Skyrim and Darkfall regardless of how “fast” it is to level up skills. I should be able to choose any weapon I want and use it right away. I can not stand locked from a weapon or a vehicle/mount because I have not met the level/skill requirement(s). An issue I have with MMOs and First Person Shooters.

    My goal in game is to support my friends in game in a combat role, help them take land, and route out anyone who attacks them. Even if I have to avenge my friend by going across the entire game world to find that individual before that person logs off for the night/morning.

    Combat should be about Goals>Strategy>Operations>Tactics>Individual Skill.

    Oh and a trophy system to place my weapon/armor up before it degrades entirely. The trophy system should allow for writing a story and maybe some pictures taken in game to tell tales of the weapon/armor.

    All of that should be thrown into the game.

  • Keen, you described my favorite game of all times. 😛
    I’m waiting for a great MMORPG with skill-based combat for years now, ever since I begang playing Mount&Blade. I feel you could take M&B’s combat directly and put it in any MMORPG.
    Now with Chivalry combat in such a game excites my even more. I would be so great to have this stlye of combat and a real purpose and giant world to fight in.

    I think Mortal Online is the closest thing we got to it so far. Sadly it doesn’t play out good at all.
    Darkfall is too much energy shooting for my taste. I just want classic medieval-esque sword fighting.

    Let’s hope that Elder Scrolls Online will not fuck it up entirely and combat will be any fun. But it will certainly not what I’m hoping for.