Where’s My Game

My thoughts about what a MMORPG should be.

The Rathe Travel Agency

Camping mobs is an all too familiar aspect of EQ.  My longest one ever was playing my bard camping Gorenaire for its acursed white dragon scale.  I camped that dragon for no less than 36 straight hours.  It finally popped and I got my group over there sort of, we logged in one of my friends warriors who solo’d it for me.  After that 36 hours you’d think I’d have gotten something good for it.  Nope, I got a horn maybe and some other junk, but there was no white scale to be found.  I think I might have cried a little bit.  This doesn’t really have all that much to do with my post, but I figured it was a good place to tell that story.

If you didn’t play on The Rathe Server then you probably have no idea what The Rathe Travel Agency is.  The short of it is a group of people that ran a site that controlled the rotations of all the major mobs in the game.  Basically if you were part of a guild that qualified to kill these mobs your guild got put into the rotation.   So like every week or something your guild would have a chance to kill say Rallos Zek.  So on Tuesday at 8 pm, your guild was able to kill that mob without having to camp it for a week and without worry that another guild or group or raid was going to come and steal your mob.  If you couldn’t kill it after like three wipes, I do not remember the exact number or the exact rules, but there was something in effect so that the mob wouldn’t be wasted, the next guild had a shot at it.  Camping mobs as most know is not a fun thing to do.  It is time consuming, boring, and there is always a good shot that another person will come KS you and then run off laughing.

More games need to have this in place, or at least more servers need to have this in place.  It brought order to the game and helped to smooth out some of the chaos.  Let me know what you think about this regulation.  Is it good?  Bad?  What would you change or improve about it.

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Maps

Maps are a big part of any game. With the size of worlds in most games it is near impossible to keep track of yourself all the time and knowing where you need to go. Some games have sign posts, some have landmarks or other indicators of where you are and need to go. EQ didn’t have any maps unless you used a third party program. At least I don’t remember too many maps and if there were any they were player created and not always overly good. EQ2 had maps but I do not remember if they were for all zones and I do not remember if they were overly good either. AoC had maps straight out of the box for almost all areas if not all areas. I think that maps should always be part of a game, but I think they should be handled a little differently.

Maps should have to be earned. You should start out with a map of your starting location and that’s it. Now all maps will have been created by the developers and will be available either by buying them or a preferred method by crafting them or questing for them. It would be cool to have quests to get the maps you need. Maps for big worlds, maps for dungeons, maps of buildings.

Picture this. You assemble your group and inform them to meet at your house at 10:00 p.m. You all show up and crowd around a table. You, the party leader, whip out a map from your backpack ( shown graphically by the way on your back ) and unroll the plans of a castle you want to siege. It shows guard rotations, loot chambers, more important mobs, and you would have the ability to find weak points in order to get into the castle.

Games need to be more immersive. I want to be so fully engrossed in a game that I never want to leave and would never have a reason to leave.

Let me know what you think.

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Game Information

I have always admired the people who play the game initially and figure out where all of the items needed to complete a quest are found. My greatest example is the epic quests from EQ. There were some that were ridiculously long that required crazy amounts of killing and item hunting. I do not really know how these people figured things out like that. I always start out with great intentions of doing all my quests without the help of ogaming.com ( may it rest in peace or whatever happened to it ), Allakazham, and the likes of sites that offer questing information as well as other information that is pertinent to the game. There have been a few different approaches to where you can get information about whatever particular task that you are working on. The first is to offer up nothing in way of in game information. You might have a very minor hint from the quest giver, but that is about where it ends. EQ I think did it like that, there wasn’t very much information given in game and you just sort of hoped that you would stumble along until you found what you are looking for. Then there is the let’s give you so much information that you do not need to provide any of your own thought processes we are just going to do it for you. AoC comes to mind as there were indicators on the map for everything. It showed you the direction of each quest step, it marked the NPC location for the current step, and it showed where you needed to go to return your items or information or anything else that you needed to return. The sort of in between I think was EQ2. It didn’t give you all the information, but it pointed you in a semi right direction and it marked it’s NPCs for you once you got into range.

In game information is a delicate balance like anything else in a MMORPG. Too much information and the game is too easy. Too little information and people will say it is too hard. Not only that but people will spend the majority of their time out of game trying to look up the next step in the quest.

I was reading an interesting article about in game information. They talked about having sages or librarians in game that for a fee could give you information about your quest. I think that is a great idea. Let’s say I have a quest where I need to find someone with a bountiful harvest. I would have no idea what that means. Instead of going out of the game and looking up the information it would be cool to be able to run to the library or a monastery or a school or some other tower or building that housed a sage, seer, librarian, knowledge keeper, book lore, or some person that would be able to give you the information about the current quest. Another thought is I spend hours and hours and hours and hours looking for an upgrade to any thing I own, weapons, armor, spells, you name it I wanted an upgrade for it. So what do I do? I go to my broker or trader or whatever the game has for a marketplace and I enter in my search criteria. Level 20 to 30 chest piece that has agility on it and costs between 1g and 20g. Enter. No results. This scene is all too familiar. The problem with this method is that a player needs to be selling this item, that it needs to be sellable, and the item needs to be discovered. How cool would it be to go to an arms dealer and he/she would know your level, your class, and your race and at first talk would offer you information that he just received from the city about a new shipment of weapons that just came in. Intrigued I would want more information. The NPC would take a step forward lower his head and look around before standing up and whispering, for 10 silver pieces I’ll tell you what city the shipment is going to and the time. Paying him my 10 silver pieces because I want a new weapon, he would slip the 10 silver pieces into his pocket and slide me a piece of paper with the information. That would be awesome. A game that I can be totally engrossed in where I wouldn’t have to leave the game for anything ever.

Let me know what you think, and cruise on over to Tobold’s MMORPG Blog, I’ve only read a couple posts but it seems worth the time.

July 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Animations

Animations of SBAs have always been sort of hit or miss for me.  EQ2 had some really cool animations for fighting that was a big step up from what I saw in EQ.  AoC had some impressive animations for the majority of its actions as I am pretty sure that most or all of them were motion captured.  With the way games are progressing and the hundreds and thousands of motion capture animations that games are using now, mocap should be the rule and not the exception when it comes to animations in MMORPGs.  Prince of Persia had some of the coolest moves I have ever seen in a game.  I remember a couple of times when I was watching/playing the game and a kill animation happened and I was just dumb founded by how fluid and graceful it looked.  I do not think that I have had the same reaction to any animation of an MMORPG.  Now I know that there is a very distinct difference in what can be done in a set single player game with no other variables to contend with, but this is what I want in a MMORPG, not what is necessarily possible in a MMORPG.  Animation numbers should be into the thousands.  All classes should have a multitude of class/gender specific moves as well as a set of general animations for all characters.  Animations rank right up there in importance as anything else and there should be no end to the amount of mocaps that are used in a game.

Let me know what you think about animations in a game, what you like about them, what you don’t.  What was the coolest animation/move that you have ever seen or done in a game.

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quiver Graphic And Why I Can Never See It

AoC might have been the first and only game that I have ever played where I get an actual quiver graphic.  I have seen guards and other NPCs with quivers but alas I have never really got to have one showing.  The AoC quivers were a nice step in the right direction but some where small looking and they weren’t very many options.  All games should have a quiver graphic no exception.  They should be proportionate to the rest of my character and there should be an animation showing my character taking an arrow out of my quiver and notching it before being fired.  There are some downfalls to that one, but I will talk about that in a different post.

Let me know what you think about the quiver graphic.  What games actually have it, and what games do it well?  What games don’t do it well?

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shot On The Run

Should a ranger be allowed to shoot and run at the same time.  Everquest thought that it should be an AA ability.  AoC thinks it shouldn’t happen.  I think that it should be allowed at the very least.  Maybe it does need to be a skill.  Maybe something like this…

Level one you receive Shot On The Run.  You are able to shoot while running but it slows down your movement speed, your accuracy sucks, and your damage is very limited.

Level two your movement speed increases.  Level three your accuracy increases.  Level four your damage increases.  Every level I would want to have either a set skill increase or the option to increase any of the skill.  Three skills, movement speed, accuracy, and damage.  Every level I would get say three skill points.  If I wanted to be able to run faster up until I get all the way to my normal run speed, then I would just put all my points into that skill.  If I wanted to increase my accuracy than I would do the same as my run speed and so on.  Maybe we hit the normal level of run speed, accuracy, and damage at say level 40.  I think that is a good base, after that to increase it any more, well maybe not run speed, have the skills cost double or triple the usual amount to bring  your skill up past your normal level.  That might not be very plausible, to increase your damage or accuracy to be higher than if you were standing still, but it’s just a thought.

Kiting mobs is one of the abilities of a ranger.  I do not know if it is part of the original plan of the ranger, but over the years it is what has happened.  A good kiting ranger takes practice, skill, and a little bit of luck.  Maybe we should make kiting an actual ability.  You could go into a kiting stance or mode where you get the slow ability on all of your shots, run speed buff, shot on the run buff, and then you would lose say a percentage of experience, or something else make it a longer reuse or make it only last a certain amount of time.

Let me know what you think about a ranger being able to shoot while running

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Ranger Abilities

There are two things that I want a ranger to be able to do.  The first is to be able to use an arrow as a weapon.  The second is to be able to split my bow in two and use it as a melee weapon.

I think it was in Lord of the Rings that Legolas used one of his arrows to stab the eye out of an orc and then turned right around and shot a different orc.  On that same note I should be able to pull an arrow out of the ground or out of a dead body and use it again.  That is if you have to keep ammo on you.

I do not remember where I saw someone break their bow in half and use it to fight with, maybe it was Smash Brothers, at any rate, that was awesome.  The use of your bow as a melee weapon would satisfy my want to always use a ranged weapon to fight with.  Granted I am not shooting my bow, but I am still using my bow to fight with.  I imagine stealthing to lay a trap down or like a bomb and running away, bomb/trap goes off and mob comes running after me.  I turn quickly and fire a couple of shots off slowing the mob down just a little bit.  I stop and turn firing off more arrows until the mob finally reaches me.  I split my bow in two doing a 360 turn slicing at their knees and chest until I finally bring the mob down.  Maybe it sounds like a Prince of Persia move or some single player canned animation move, but who’s to say that I can’t have something cool like that in my MMORPG.

Let me know what you think about those two abilities.  What would you add to them or take away from them?

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Rangers Perpetual Problem

I love the ranger class.  The art of the bow, ranged combat, has always been something that I have loved about RPGs.  There has always been one fundamental problem that has plagued games when ranged combat is used.  Let me paint you a picture.  We will use Legolas from The Lord of the Rings.  I remember a scene where he was surrounded by orcs and was just pulling out arrows from his quiver and mowing down enemies left and right and it wasn’t until the battle got really crazy that he finally had to pull out his swords to start doing some melee.  Ranged combat has always been short sided by one common problem.  Enemies do not die in one shot.  If that was the case then everyone would be a ranger and there would be no use for any other class.  In any given ranged combat fight I would probably get in maybe two good shots with my bow, maybe three if I can get a slow or a root in on the mob.  It is inevitable that I will have to do melee as some games will give you a message that says you are too close to do ranged damage.  AoC let you shoot a bow at any range, though I think that when you got into a certain distance your damage output went down.  I think that is crap.  I should be able to be all ranged all the time no matter where the mob is distance wise.  The flip side problem to that is, if the mob never is able to reach me then I will never die.  Here in lies the problem with the ranged combat.  Make it too good and the class is over powered and people will complain and the class will get nerfed.  Make it not good enough and people will bitch and then the class will become overpowered and here we are caught in that perpetual death loop where no one is happy.  I stated in a different post that devs need to stick to their plan and not always cater to the masses.  There should always be player feedback and input, but not to the point of all the complaining that bogs down every single forum that I have ever read.  I do propose a few things to make ranged combat more fun.

Give rangers an innate ability to have every shot slow the mob.  Or have a bow that can do it, or a buff that can do it, or a potion that can do it, or an arrow that can do it, or anything that will give rangers the ability to slow a mob on every shot, or at least the first shot that pulls the mob.  That way it will give rangers a chance to kill a mob from ranged combat.  Maybe to offset this slow ability if a mob breaks the slow or the slow wears off the mob can be enraged to do more damage when it finally gets to the mob, or give it a regen bonus or something that makes the mob more powerful.  Now I know for anyone who might read this that this will unbalance a lot of things.  Rangers defense isn’t always that good so if a more powerful mob gets to the ranger the ranger will probably die.  The only reason for this particular post is to put my ideas out there about rangers.

AoC and some other games I’m sure have let a ranger use traps.  I think DDO did it too.  When I first thought about using any trap for anything I thought it was boring and just a hassle and I never would want or try to use a trap.  In AoC I played a ranger and I used the trap and let me tell you, it was a lot better than I ever would have thought.  The problem is that it was kind of buggy and I only got one trap.  It was cool to stealth up to a mob, lay a trap and then sneak away.  I’d fire a shot and the mob would come running only to get tangled by my trap while I lobbed arrows at the mob.  Rangers should get more traps, and different kinds of traps.  Some that might root them, burn them, poison them, and/or freeze them.  Traps I do not think have ever had a big role in any game.  I think now is as good a time as any to incorporate more of them.

Let me know what you think about the state of ranged combat in games and what you would want to see more of or less of, or any thoughts you have about the ranger class in general.

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skills, Buffs, And Abilities

I would say with any class in 80 levels there is maybe 20 good skills/buffs/abilities (SBA) that are worthwhile.  All the others are just junk that devs put in because they wanted you to reach level 80.  I want all my SBAs to be awesome.  I want at least one new SBA every level, and I want them to be useful.  There have been many many times that I get a new SBA and I’m like, what the fuck do I do with this.  It only works on one type of mob and I have never even seen this mob ever.  Most games have alternate abilities to help to make your character more unique.  While this is done with good intentions, it never quite works out well.  The great majority of the time all you get is the same characters just with more of the same identical SBAs.  In EQ there was no limit to how many AAs you could have so eventually all people in the class will be the same.  In EQ2 there were limited amounts of AAs you could earn and so therefore you had to choose what SBAs you wanted to get with your AA points.  My dream is I want the choices to be so hard that you have to stop playing the game and sleep on your decision because every option is so intriguing.  Using EQ2 as an example, there were like five or six trees that you could go down.  Basically you could get all the way down on three of the trees.  Usually for each class there was a set of three trees for offense and a set of three trees for defense.  The other two or three trees never got touched unless a person just wanted to be different.  If I was using trees I would want them to be setup in a way that you had to put some real thought into what tree you would advance down.  Even in the trees that you wanted there were always one or two SBAs that sucked that you just took because the end result is what you were after.  I wouldn’t want that.  I would want to sit down and really figure out what it is that is useful and that people would want.  I want the choice to be tough.  In later posts I plan on writing down my thoughts on what SBAs I would want for my classes.  I should probably write down what classes I would want to.

Let me know what you think about the SBAs.  What have been your favorite ones, what would you want included in your game?

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Assassin

The assassin is one of the best and worst classes that any one has ever created.  On the best side you have the sheer awesomeness that an assassin brings.  Sneaking through the dark, coming up behind your unwitting foe and slitting his through in one motion.  On the worst side is all the hype and all the crap that people want an assassin to be able to do.  I think all assassin classes start out with good intentions but eventually get so distorted by the whining and bitching that players do that developers would rather cater to the whims of the people in fear that they might quit playing, then stick to their guns and make the class that they have always wanted.  So what is an assassin?  I think most can agree that assassins are skilled, crafty, and sneaky.  Here is my rambling on what I think an assassin in a video game should be.

Assassins need to be able to sneak and hide period.  Maybe they should be the only class that can sneak and hide with the exception of maybe the ranger.  I am not talking about invis that casters get, but being able to sneak through the shadows through no other means than being able to blend in with their surroundings and being lite on their feet.  I want to be able to sneak up behind someone and cut their throat in the middle of a group and then being able to stealth all in one move without alerting the people that are standing a foot away from them.  I want a kill shot at close range.  I want sneaking to mean something and have it not just be an ability that they have given to me.  If you can get exp for killing something, I want exp for sneaking past a mob and not killing them.  I want to be able to pick locks.  I don’t want it to be some stupid ass skill that never gets used.  Having all chests locked and needing a rogue type to pick it is sort of cool, but I want more than that.  And on the chest thing, if it’s locked, it should give something better.  If you have to bust it open then you should lose something, or it should have traps on it, but only when the loot is good, not the trash that you get from low mobs.  Just on big bosses and things where it matters.  On the lock picking here’s the scenario I want.  I want to be crawling through a dungeon and get to a point where you can go one of two ways.  Path A leads to the dungeon boss.  Path B leads to a treasury full of stuff.  Path B is locked.  I want the assassin or rogue in my group to have to be good at picking locks and will have to pick it in order to get the riches.  Everquest did this a little bit, but I don’t think it was very well received and therefore was never used.  I do not really ever remember a time where it was crucial that we had a rogue in our group to pick that lock.  There are two sides to that one, but I will talk about that later.  I want my assassin to be disguises.  I think in EQ2 there were so many ways to cast an illusion on yourself that it didn’t mean shit.  I am talking about actual disguises.  I want to be able to kill one guard to the castle, steal his gear and then try to walk around the courtyard free reign as long as I pass all of the disguise checks or whatever is in place so that I can’t always walk around wherever I want.  I want my assassin to be able to throw things.  A lot of emphasis is placed on range combat but only with bows or xbows.  I think thrown weapons can be just as cool and effective as bows if developers want them to be.  Why can’t I have poison dipped throwing darts, or be able to aim at a mobs foot and root them with my doubled edged throwing knife?  Why aren’t there more skills or abilities associated with throwing weapons.  I would want my assassin to be able to throw a few ninja stars at a guard pin him to a wall, run up to him and shank him in his side and then run off laughing as he bleeds to death hanging to a wall.  I want languages to mean something.  EQ had tons of languages to learn but it was very rare that it meant anything other than it was cool to know elder dragon.  Using my disguise I would want to learn say orc, steal an orc disguise, and be able to talk to the shop keepers in an orc village.  Or something along those lines that make these skills worthwhile.

That seemed like a lot of words so I will end it there.  I am sure I will be back to talk about assassins more as I think the potential is more than there to make something really great.  Let me know what you think about assassins or the rogue class.

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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