This evening I randomly stumbled upon the UO soundtrack.
I was working on something entirely different (not this post) when this music came on. I had to stop and come write these thoughts down. Forgive my stream of consciousness as I try and make sense of it.
In my mind's eye I suddenly had images of playing a brand new newbie character and wandering around a large capital city. The world of this game is unfamiliar to me, but it's a feeling I had before of wandering around a city looking for potion shops or somewhere to find a shop keeper.
I'm reminded of asking people in local (not global or region) chat channels for directions, and having to figure things out together. I don't recall this being an actual memory, but I wandered into a group of players sitting around a camp fire waiting for day before leaving the safety of the city walls.
Slower... yes, it's a slower feeling.
The worlds today are rushed, hectic, and we're always going somewhere because we know where we have to go. We know what we have to do. We have micro objectives. Everything is prescribed, known, expected.
My nostalgic rush reminds me of days where the entire experience was so slow that logging in and walking around was itself an adventure.
The feelings are almost emotional in a way. It brought back those feelings of not knowing anything and feeling so small, lost, and insignificant in a virtual world. Yet at the same time it was (is) a glorious feeling to have no idea what the future holds.
I feel a huge nostalgia rush coming over me lately. There's an enormous pull to go play games that feel more like virtual worlds again. Tonight's 'episode' and almost day-dream vision of staring off into space while listening to these midis only fuels that desire.
There's Agnarr, the upcoming Everquest time-locked progression server. I've also been looking at Legends of Aria which has components of NWN and UO.
Perhaps Agnarr will be a good place to start once again, but I'm open to your ideas. I can't be the only one who slips into these daydreams and experiences such powerful feeling simply from memories. Am I?
P.S. Which do you like better, the Midi above or this version below?
P.P.S. I felt a picture of The Realm was entirely fitting for a featured image. Those who played as long as I did will remember it hits quite a few of these notes.
I’m always analyzing what makes players behave a certain way or more accurately the way in which people play MMOs. My latest thought process brought me to this idea of Roleplay vs. Ruleplay.
Players these days tend to follow rules laid out for them. Players are told to level up so they do. They are told to grind dungeons for gear then move on to the next dungeon, and so they do. Players are told to be the combative hero and center of attention. MMOs tell the player exactly how to play the game. There are parameters — defined parameters — controlling the extent to which a player can exercise conscious thought about what it is they are doing and why.
Older MMOs had fewer parameters or rules. Older MMOs required the player to imagine their own parameters, create their own rules, and the community created the way in which everyone jointly played together.
Throw an average player today into a game roleplay situation and their response will be, “What am I supposed to do?” People haven’t become less intelligent or less creative in the past 10 years. Humanity hasn’t seen a decline that drastic that quickly. The problem rests on the games and the ecosystem which has been created and fostered by developers/publishers looking to stamp our McMMO franchises. Start to change the games and the players will adapt to their surroundings.
When a player can choose their path, choose how to play that path, and have the freedom to cross paths back and forth, the entire experience becomes more organic and dynamic. Constrain the player to one path with every other player on the same route toward one goal or objective and much of that is lost.
I want to stop there because this topic can now split into several specific topics about specific ways in which players are encourage to Roleplay vs. Ruleplay. For now, think about the ways in which you as a player are being confined to a set path and how you might do things differently if given the choice of freedom. What role would you play, and how? Suddenly the game world becomes a virtual world full of possibilities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We had a discussion today and some intriguing ideas came up about player psychology. We started talking about how just because players can do something doesn’t mean they should. We ended up theorizing ways in which virtual worlds, not necessarily “games”, could be constructed to facilitate a deep and meaningful experience.
In Open-PvP when players come across one another it is common to instantly try and kill each other. I start thinking about game theory; Will that person attack me? What if I don’t attack them first and they get the drop on me? In almost every game I don’t think about anything beyond the act of engaging in PvP. What if the consequences for being bad really did alter the way the game played out? What if I had to think even further about what my actions would mean for how I would be allowed to continue participating in the society or community of that virtual world? Suddenly we’re talking about more than the choice of being bad — we see a choice to be good.
In a virtual world you could have people that attack anyone and steal their stuff, but there would be a real consequence for those players to avoid. Then the criminal players have to either be really competent and savvy, or pay the price. A bounty might be set on their head. Guards might get called. There might even be a player jail or penal colony island the players are sent to if they are caught. A simpler system might banish that player from territories owned by the faction the good player belonged to, and the criminal player would become shunned. I see a faction system like EQ working well with that system.
The hardest part is getting players to understand the system, recognize the consequences and risks are in place to create a purpose for the opposite side to exist. This isn’t about making something less fun, but making something real. Being a “Rogue” can have more meaning than “I use daggers.”
I get really excited when I think about virtual worlds and how there’s more to them than high scores, what items you have, or winning at something. When I create scenarios for people to actually participate in the lifeblood of a game my imagination takes me places I wish modern games could go.
The consensus seems to be that Dr. Richard Garriott has lost his marbles. Some call(ed) him the father of online gaming. Some only know him for the failure of Tabula Rasa. Some know him as Lord British, the creator of one of best (if not the ultimate) massively multiplayer online role playing games. Despite thinking he may have been replaced by some alien (hence his reasons for wanting to go into space), I feel some loyalty to him; some inexplicable duty to respect him, to tip my hat, and to pay attention when he actually writes something that makes sense.
I read Richard Garriott’s ‘Ultimate RPG Defined‘
novel biography article. He basically walks the reader through the history of Ultima. Throughout the piece are these nuggets of wisdom that read like a list of ingredients for what makes the ultimate RPG. Some of them are out there; actually, some of them are crazy and made me chuckle. But some of them are truisms and some are statements that I believe are not given enough thought from the industry at large.
I’ve included almost all of them below. Read on! Continue reading