Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some PvP Insight

Recently while reading an article on Slashdot about Massively's article on PvP systems I gained some minor insight. The insight didn't come from the article, but instead from one of the comments near the bottom. Here it is:

The problem in my opinion is that players have the "Diablo" mentality where they want to level every 30 minutes and constantly get new, godly equipment.

The only way that I really see PvP working correctly is to have a system where leveling isn't the goal, but is a factor. For example, after you complete so many dungeons, explore so many places in the world, have more personal experience playing the game rather than "xp points"...then you advance a level. The level's wouldn't increase your hit points, mana point, etc. Rather they would allow for new, more difficult game content to be unlocked and possibly alter enemy AI to be more difficult and loot to be scaled to be suitable for new encounters. Of course, you would also be able to learn new abilities at the new level that wouldn't necessarily raise your power to a huge degree over the previous levels spells but, instead, would increase your utility and efficiency.

The key thing that the new levels would do would be to protect low level opponents from being attacked by much higher level opponents. The game would also have to be much more strategy oriented than current games.

I'm not really sure how relevant the comments are to PvP systems, but it does describe a 'better' core MMORPG system.

I built my blog in a hope that I could eventually nut out 'what makes the perfect MMORPG'. MMO Game Design is still a baby in the world, and it will be at least another 15 years before they work out the formula for the ultimate MMORPG, but it's insight like this that helps to move things along.


Tesh said...

MMOs are creatures of contradiction.

They are effectively a social gaming service, but the subscription model that a service would seem to match has all but gutted game design by embracing grind and addictive gambling mechanics. (Usually to pad out the "game" and extend the subscription periods to take in more sub money.)

MMOs are meant to be interesting, dynamic alternate universes for people to experience, but they thrive by being as static as possible to reduce maintenance costs and the chance of alienating people who don't like change.

Gamers usually play games as a way to escape real life, but the anonymity of the internet brings out the stupid in people that populate online games.

Gamers often want to be heroes in their games, again as a contrast to their real lives, but MMOs don't really have any breakout heroes, they have a weird sort of "everyone is a hero" mentality.

RPGs in particular thrive on story, but MMORPGs can't really tell strong stories because they are so static.

Players like to feel that they are making progress, but if that progress is paced too quickly and/or over a large enough power band, veteran players can't play with new players easily, thus defeating the social aspects of the genre.

Is it impossible to make a good MMO? Not at all, but they really can't live up to their potential without resolving some of these conflicts.

Crimson Starfire said...

I totally agree.

I'm a Software Engineer by trade and I have a book on code design patterns sitting next me on my desk. Each pattern in the book describes a solution to a problem faced in programming. The patterns weren't just 'invented', they came about from years of facing the same problem in disguise and solving it multiple times.

One day there will be an MMO game design pattern book written, which describes all the potential problems with online games and gives solutions. Unfortunately the genre is way to young and is still encountering different problems with each year. Progress is slow, but ultimately each MMO is solving one more problem than the last.