Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taking a chapter from the FPS book

Here's my game pitch:

Take Team Fortress 2 and swap all the classes for classic fantasy style classes (i.e. sorcerer, rogue, priest etc.). Add some PvE with a killer story line and set it in a Tolkien style universe. You now have yourself one hell of an awesome MMO.

Why you ask?

These are the following attributes that TF2 brings to the table, that MMORPGs have been failing to do for years:
  • Excellent physics engine
  • Balanced classes (and a large variety)
  • Large scale battles up 32 vs 32
  • Fast paced and stable combat
  • New items are obtained through achievement unlocks
  • Automatic battle balancing
  • The ability to call for healing when you need it ("Medic!")
  • Fun and enjoyable PvP with a very low learning curve
  • The ability to choose your own server at will
  • A friends list independent of the game
  • Can view statistics and achievements of yourself and others online
  • User created PvP maps
This is where I ask:

If an FPS can have all these features then why can't an MMORPG?

Is it because it's not feasible? If no, then why not?

Should these features not apply to MMORPG? Again... why not?

I believe that if an existing MMORPG implemented only three features from the above list, it would do extremely well. I worry that today's MMO game companies aren't looking outside the square when designing their games. All they want to do is make a better WoW clone. Well maybe it's about time they took a chapter from of the FPS book...

16 comments:

Chappo said...

I think there have been a few mmorpgs which had fps elements (Tabula Rasa, Fury???) but they didn't go too well, it would be hard to get I good balance between the two I reckon.

Melf_Himself said...

Ahhh but my friend, MMO's are all about persistent characters interacting in a big gay roleplay world together.

This means that class-swapping to facilitate balance in PvP is a no-no, since people want to cling to their precious avatar (I assume you can swap classes during a match in TF2, I haven't actually played it).

As for 32v32 battles, well, WAR manages these and maybe a little bigger without many problems. However often it's hard to FIND a battle, which is because we're all running around in a big open world, as opposed to TF2 where people are put into instances to fight each other.

Re: the fast paced combat: Melee is kind of the basis for fantasy settings, and melee sucks in an FPS context (you can't really see what you're doing, and there's no way you can aim sword blows etc because of lag. And bunny hopping sucks). They really need a targetting system with combat animations to make melee work (see Assassin's Creed).

What do you mean by "automatic battle balancing"? I assume part of it is putting equal numbers on both teams - again, if there's a big persistent world people are usually on one side or another and it ruins their whole immersion thing if they get swapped around a lot (probably, I'm not a PvE nub).

Re: viewing stats, doesn't WoW have this with the armory thing?

Re: user created maps.... would definitely love to see it, but again it's obviously going to be instanced so people will cry.

Good points that could be added to MMO's that you said were:

- Learning curve (they really need to put about 10 times fewer skills into MMO's)
- Calling for help (Guild Wars kind of has this since you can ping your health bar easily, not that anyone pays attention)
- Choosing server. Stupid money grubbing MMO companies!
- Independent friends list. Forget being independent of the game, I just want an account-wide friends list, is that too much too ask?


So yeah, MMO's have persistent roleplay stuff going on that gets in the way of the ability to exploit fun elements of game design as in TF2.

Crimson Starfire said...

Certain MMOs already have some of the features on the list, but they only implement one or two. I would like to see the entire list of FPS features implemented in an MMO. If an FPS can do it, so can an MMORPG.

Re: "automatic battle balancing". It works by taking the best player on the winning team and swapping it with the worst player on the losing team. This would only work on instanced PvP maps where factions were not involved.

@Chappo
I'm not talking about an FPS MMO, I'm talking about an MMORPG with FPS game features and attributes. No guns at all.

Pete said...

Playing devil's advocate...

First of all, melee-based FPS has never done well (aside from the odd chainsaw thrown into games like Gears of War).

Second, Planetside comes pretty close to what you're talking about, and that never did well.

MMO devs make the games they make because those are the games that sell. Devs that step outside the box lose money. A sad truth that EA has learned this year...

Pete said...

(That said, if someone DID make the game you propose, I'd sure be interested in checking it out!)

Pvt Teer said...

Criminy! You just keep hitting idea after idea that I've already had (but not expressed.) Good on you for getting it out first. A couple of days ago, I thought to myself, "What if Team Fortress 2 was made into a roleplaying engine and put into RvR? What kind of MMO would it be like? That's the most awesome idea I've had all day."

And it was the best idea I had all day, possibly all week. So far, anyway, there's still a few days left for me to top it. Really, it wouldn't be difficult to pull off. You've got the Heavy, who is the Tank, the soldier for AoE, Pyro for continuing damage, Sniper for big-hit damage, the Scout for capping points, possibly giving him a few new abilities to make him more useful in combat, like tagging enemies to make them easier to hit (Like, a buffer class, you know?)

So while I'm talking about actually MAKING TF2 an MMO, the discussion is about implementing FPS elements into MMOs. Tabula Rasa had beautiful gameplay. It could have had some more depth, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Honestly, though, I think Fable's gameplay would work better for MMO's, because it is both dice AND skill based, moreso than TR.

I'm going to use WAR as an example on how some of these ideas might work, just because I'm excited about playing WAR at one point (I know some of you aren't, if not most.) In RvR, it's hard to find a good fight, from what I hear, because there's so much to explore, right? Well, Team Fortress 2 has a map called Hydro. Personally, I hate Hydro, but that's because of the way it's designed, not because of the premise behind it, which is seamless and beautiful.

Anyway, if WAR's RvR was like Hydro, then different areas of the RvR would be instanced, where an indefinite (or large) number of people could be fighting in an area. So battlefield objectives, like points and even Keeps would be open instances, and only the places that are contested are open to fight in, so you won't have people sitting on their hands on the border of the PvE areas. You go to the RvR places, and you can pick (or be placed if you can never decide, like myself) which of these frontlines to fight in. You can jump from instance to instance that's active, and when they're finished you move onto the next one, or the players get spread among the other instances.

It would not only do away with much of the need for scenarios, as most of the RvR areas would have objectives to tug-of-war over, but it would also bring you strait into the action, instead of spreading it out over such a large area.

And as for balancing, instead of switching players to the other side when they want to fight for the faction they chose, instead, should one side have more players than the other, then the game places NPCs to make up the difference until someone joins in to take their place, and kicks them for being idle. One fo the biggest irks I had about TR is that I never saw any character that was really cool, or a hero, like Sara or General British. Here, a hero character that you might see in town would be fighting beside you as an NPC, and you could actually see why they were such hot shit, you get what I'm saying?

Openedge1 said...

Chronicles of Spellborn?

Pretty close in my opinion...

Too bad Acclaim has the US/AU/UK rights (Spain also I heard or any territory that is not mention on the TCoS site)

Thallian said...

not a bad idea. I like the class swapping mechanic. I'm tired of the big gay role playing world anyways. Basically you could make it so that you had battle areas with rounds and if you win you can move on or stay put if you like to fight new groups. Fast paced combat with actual terrain progression and some well done seige weaponry, (no placement platforms.. whoever thought of that was a stupid head), built by engineers who have to move fast or they get shot to death.

Danshir said...

Very nice post. I would love to some of those elements slapped into the MMORPG scene, but I doubt it will happen. Too many players will fight it just for the simple fact it is change.

And why can't I have a gun in a fantasy mmo..Why.

mbp said...

I think the recently announced demise of Tabula Rasa has probably ensured we won't see many mmo designers trying to incorporate FPS elements into their games in the near future sadly.

On a more positive note many more fps titles are introducing rpg elements. COD4 multiplayer does this particularly well with new weapons and abilities that are unlocked as you progress. They aren't any more powerful they just give you more variety in how you play.

Crimson Starfire said...

@mdb
I agree. We are more likely to see an FPS evolve into an RPG than we are to see an RPG become an FPS.

@danshir
And why can't I have a gun in a fantasy mmo..Why.
It kind of steals away from the fantasy, unless it's set current day. If the MMO was set present or future, there is a good chance it would have guns. I would love to see a sci-fi games where you could run around on space ships in FPS mode with futuristic style guns.

@Thallian
Yeah siege platforms were a really dumb idea. I think it's funny how you can carry a siege engine around in your pocket...

@Openedge
Haven't actually played Chronicles of Spellborn yet. If it gets a review rating above 85, I'll purchase it. Sounds good though.

@Pvp Teer
Tobold used to do the same to me. I'd have this great idea for a post, and then hours before I wrote it up, it would appear on Tobold's blog. Can be annoying sometimes. Great idea for the balancing. Extra NPCs or players to help a losing side. Brilliant!

@Pete
First of all, melee-based FPS has never done well
True. It kinda works in TF2, but only because you use melee so rarely. Any RPG that pulls off effective melee combat will definitely be 3rd person view.

I also agree that devs are afraid to step outside the box. Innovation is risky, and it's often better to take a proven formula and polish it.

Pvt Teer said...

Well, fill-in NPCs just seemed to be the only logical solution to population problems, as switching them would simply not work. Now, it wouldn't fill it up to the man, but it would keep them within a 10% difference or something.

Innovation may be risky, but it's the only way to prevent stagnation in anything. If enough players demand it, developers will attempt to deliver. They're not always successful, often focusing on only one aspect (like WoW focusing on PvE, WAR focusing on PvP) but eventually they'll polish and combine to the point that they'll get the best of both worlds. That's what I see in any game, really.

I don't really see why melee doesn't work in FPS's. I've thought of a brilliant way it could be implemented: When two (or more) characters are in a fight (assuming friendly fire is on) they'll be too close to risk for their allies to shoot the other guy.

Now, assume they have nothing but bare fists. Right click is swing right fist, left click is swing left fist. You use the mouse to aim where your fists go. Their movement is impeded so they're focused on fighting one another. Crouch is duck, space is dodge. Then you would have 'Q' for block, then click which hand to block with. If you use 'Q' and you don't block, you can grab your enemy, like his arm, his hair, an ear, or something like that. Shift would allow you to kick or otherwise use your legs.

Then using a weapon, whether a knife or your gun, would add a whole new dimension to the game. With today's technology, it isn't all that inconceivable to pull something off like that, even in multiplayer. Games like the upcoming Space Marine, which is a third person shooter, is a step in the right direction, as it focuses mostly on melee combat, but the system, from what I've seen, is choreographed, and you just sort of activate the moves rather than creating them. At least when the soldier in TF2 is swinging his trenching tool, he's creating the moves, however limited they are (Swing.

Melee combat has yet to be truly explored in this fashion, yet I think that it's the future of ALL games. At least violent ones.

Danshir said...

=(

I was being sarcastic Crimson Starfire.

Ixobelle said...

while it would be interesting to see this implemented for battlegrounds and the like, it doesn't have the lasting carrot on a stick that MMOs have.

While you could slap this kind of system directly on top of (to use an example) WoW's battlegrounds, about the only thing that would be different would be the unlocks / class persistence.

Physics? yeah, that could work, I guess... have fireballs arc, you need to lob them to hit a far target... that would actually be pretty friggin sweet, and give ranged DPS something else to consider instead of "pure distance" (30 yards, no matter if it's uphill or down).

Unlocks thru honor earned is pretty much standard fare, and I really doubt anyone would even notice if suddenly humans and orcs were on the same team at this point.

The one thing that stands out is the lack of any PVE. While there are those that play the game primarily for PVP, they still have to level to the cap, and 'run the dungeons' for choice drops. therein lies one of the biggest 'things' that separates MMO and FPS. running the same map over and over is common in both genres, but not in a co-op 5 man team versus the computer for FPSes. I personally prefer running heroics, and especially raiding, over any of the pvp implementations. organizing a 25 vs 25 raid could work, i guess, but keep sieges in warhammer were executed when no one was there to defend, and my exposure thus far to wintergrasp in WoW is that it's just... dumb.

Anton said...

Guns in RPG's...Yeah, can't do that because WoW doesn't...And neither does Final Fantasy...

I think a game is great in its execution, not in its concept...These ideas could work, but you have to pull it off right.

I also think a game being great has only a partial bearing on a game being successful.

As for Tabula Rasa, I finally just went to see some video of what exactly that game is. After watching some gameplay and cinematics, I think I would have loved that game. There are probably dozens of games I would love to play but just don't have time for.

I've been playing WoW almost 2 years...It's the first MMO I've played, and I'm not quite ready to move on to something else. Perhaps in another year I will be ready for a different kind of MMO. Maybe Tabula Rasa just came out too early for some people.

Pvt Teer said...

I felt that there was no war in Tabula Rasa. It had excellent environments that really got the feel, but after a few weeks of playing Tabula Rasa, I realized that I would have more fun beating Half-Life 2. Again. I would get more help that way while playing! I couldn't find anyone to do quests with, and while the environments were excellent, the storyline was excellent, and the gameplay was tubular (yeah I went there), the PvP content, which could have been SO RIGHT, was SO WRONG.

If Tabula Rasa was an actual war between two factions, fought by the players, it would have lasted longer. Instead, I have to kill these bloody boars. And there really wasn't even a continuing storyline, it was just different battlefields with quests. But if players could fight on the Bane's side of the war, from the start of the game, and there was some good, dynamic PvP, and captured CP's were more than just a nuisance but an actual threat, THEN we would have a killer MMORPG.

That said, its gameplay is still far more user-friendly and very easy to pick up than every MMO I have ever played. If I could get a team and that game's engine, oh, my mouth waters at the thought. Seriously, all Sci-Fi MMORPGs should use Tabula Rasa's gameplay. It's a near-perfect union of RPG and shooter, in my mind.