Where’s My Game

My thoughts about what a MMORPG should be.

Are There Ever Enough Options?

When I first started playing Everquest I played nonstop. I loved every minute of it. I thought that the characters were good, the classes were awesome, and the look was good. I then started to play more and found out that in the end, most of the characters will eventually look exactly the same. That sucks. Everyone wants a character that is unique to them. A reflection of who they are and what they stand for both in game and out. I do not want to have to look like everyone else simply because that is what the best armor looks like. I want options. I remember playing my bard and was trying to pick out a couple of weapons for her to use. On the one hand I had two bad ass looking swords that looked awesome. On the other hand I had a blunt weapon and something else that while not as magnificent looking, had better stats. Form over function. I took the form part and chose the two swords. There in lies the problem that plagues a lot of people. I want a certain look that armor A gives me, but I want the stats that are on armor B. Everquest tried to remedy that with augments and things, but most of the augments sucked and so you still basically ended up with the same thing. Another concern was the helmet. It is rare unless you have a full set of something that you would actually want a helmet to be showing. Helmets traditionally in video games are never something to be proud of. Most are ugly and too big for your character and just plain suck. There were a handful of graphicless helms in EQ that everyone tried to get. They weren’t always the best helmet, but if you wanted at least some benefit of the armor without the graphic, you dealt with it. Eventually they added an option to hide your helm graphic and that was a good day indeed. It seems that has become the standard in games now and if it’s not it should be. This option should however go many steps farther. I always complained that more slots should show up as a graphic on your character. Basically it boils down to your chest piece, your helmet, footwear, and maybe a cloak, or gloves or shoulders, or forearm, but never usually more than one of the last three items. In Age of Conan ( AoC ), they did a better job, and I think almost everything showed up that you had equipped when you were playing. Some exceptions to this is that some necklaces didn’t show up when you had certain chest pieces on. I have no idea how hard this would be to do, and I am going to just blindly assume that it can be done, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t. I want an option to have everything show and everything be hidden. I love playing a ranger in the majority of my games. I have a very distinct albeit stereotypical image of what I want my ranger to look like. The problem with that image is that I haven’t really been able to recreate that image, without scouring every single item in game and sacrificing stats in order to get the look right. I want no gloves, one forearm guard on my left arm, some type of jewelry on my upper arm, no shoulder pads, a chest piece without straps over the shoulder, a skirt built in or not built into the tunic, and sandals that wrap up with leather laces up around my calves. I want a choker and maybe a couple rings. Oh yeah, and an anklet. As far as I know, I will never be able to get all of that. AoC had a good start. I had a cool tunic, the strap shoes, choker, and at least some sort of variation on the arm guards. However, I haven’t found what I’m looking for, and that’s a shame.

So with all of that in mind this is what I want in my game. I want an option to have either all items showing, none showing, and/or the option to pick if I want each individual piece to show. I want two forearm slots instead of one. I want 10 ring slots or at least more than two, I want earrings ( I know some games have them ), I want bracelets, anklets, hell, even some sort of glasses depending on what era I was going for. Wait, it’s my game, I want glasses damn it.

Bottom line, I want options, I want to be so overwhelmed by options that I would rather just click the default button then wade through the options.

Let me know what you think, what options do you want? Are there ever enough?

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

Where Should It Start?

I have thought about creating a video game since forever.  I am sure that anyone that has ever played a game or games for any length of time has dreamed of making a career out of designing video games.  I tried my hand in programming in college, but that didn’t quite pan out the way I was hoping.  Later on I learned that there were more things involved in game creation than simply programming.  Artists, writers, and designers are just three of the may jobs that are needed to create a successful video game.  Many arguments can be made on what is the most important part of a game.  Some will say the art or graphics.  Others will say the game play or content.  Others still will say the story is the most important part.  In essence all of that is true.  Without amazing graphics no one will want to play because they do not want to look at the same tree or landscape or armor over and over again.  Poor content will only leave players feeling let down and bored and even if the game has the most amazing graphics ever seen, with nothing to do, no one will play.  A great story line is compelling.  With great writers it will fully engross players into the experience letting them feel as if their characters accomplishments were their own.  If I had to start somewhere though, it would probably be the art.

I am not talking about the graphics and the landscapes and things but what your character looks like.  I am by no means the end all be all of the gaming world and I will never say that I am.  I have however played a few games and of them my favorite has always been the RPG and more recently the MMORPG.  There is a lot as to why I like them, but I will stick to the topic at hand.  My biggest thing in games, like most, is my character.  I want a character that reflects anything that I want my character to be.  If I want a shady assassin wielding daggers with one pointing up and one pointing down wearing a hood and a cape, then I want to be able to do that.  If I want a sorcerer with smoke radiating out of his very being, eyes burning, then I want that to be able to happen too.  I do not think I have ever really had a time in my gaming life where I thought, man, that is too many options we should take some of them away.  Most of my knowledge will be pulled from the Everquest series of games as that is what I have played the most.  I know I know, there are older games or more standard RPG’s and things, Ultima or D&D or whatever else people think should be the standard of what a MMORPG or RPG game should be.  I know Everquest, and therefore will be writing about what I know.

I suppose this is about where my post should end, and my new post will be about what I want my character to be like.  Let me know what you think, what is the most important aspect of your gaming experience.

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

Dual Wielding With One Sword

I have been watching a lot of Avatar lately so I would assume that most of my ideas, at least for a little bit will be taken from that show.  In the show Zuko has a sword.  For all intents and purposes it is a single sword.  When it is sheathed it looks like one sword, handle, hilt, and blade.  The difference from most swords, as you might guess, is that it can be split into two.  How sweet would that be, you are fighting some mob say as a warrior or tank type.  You have a dual sword in one hand and a shield in the other hand.  You get your defense bonus from your shield and all the abilities from using a single handed slashing weapon.  The fight is lasting longer and longer but you have almost finished it off.  Instead of having to drag out a new weapon, and putting up your shield or whatever it is you have to do, your sword would become your dual wield weapon.  Picture this, your shield being thrown around you to your back and you would see the shield graphic.  You would then split your sword in two giving you added offensive bonuses so that you can burn down the mob you are facing.  I don’t know about you, but that would be sweet.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Death Penalty

This is one of the most controversial topics to ever face any game, not just MMORPG’s.  My first MMO was Everquest.  Though I got in right around Planes of Power, so I never got to experience the crazy death penalties my friends talked about.  Basically when you die, you are transported to the nearest city, or wherever you are bound, and stripped of all your possessions had to run back to your corpse and loot everything.  I think there was a time that if a person found your corpse they could loot it as well.  When I started playing I do not remember if there was a guild hall to summon your body, but I do remember having to get a Necromancer or a Shadow Knight to summon my corpse for me.  On the other end of this spectrum is Age Of Conan.  I have played games that have fallen in between these two death penalties, but I have never seen a more worthless death penalty than Age Of Conan.  In fact I would go as far as to call it a death bonus.  I call it a bonus because there is so little disadvantage to dieing that I would actually use it to transport me across the map because it was quicker.  At worst you would lose like four attack points, and even that might be a little exaggerated as I never really paid attention to the death penalty.  You would have to die several times in a row without recovering your tombstone to even notice a difference and even then it was not much.  You would not lose experience, you would not lose any items, your armor doesn’t wear down, there is no reason to fear death or to run in and do something stupid.

Death needs to be handled delicately.  Make it to easy and it gets exploited, make it to hard and you piss people off and they quit playing.  I am assuming that most game developers would rather error on the side of too easy in fear of losing subscriptions.

I say for the most part make dieing unpleasant.  At the very least lose some experience, and better yet, lose some experience, make your armor less effective, and give you a penalty like reduced movement, or lesser defense or something that says, holy crap I just died I don’t want to do that again.  There needs to be a reason to do things in games, and even dieing needs to have a reason.  There is a large group of monsters guarding the gate to the tower that my group needs to get into.  In games where there is no penalty I would just run right up to them get myself killed and let my group pass through unscathed.  I would like to see that same scenario with a better death penalty in place and have to think about that one for a second.  Is it worth me dieing for my group, or should I actually have to use my brain for a minute and figure out a better solution to this problem.  Can I pick off a few mobs individually?  Is there a way around them?  In most instances, there is not thought behind what your choice is, especially concerning death.  I am getting a little off topic, but I will cover the thinking in games later.

Basically death needs to be there, and a penalty needs to be there.  What exactly the extent of the penalty, that will be a discussion for later.  Let me know what you think about the death penalty in the games you play, and what you would like to see in a death penalty.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Buffs, Spells, And The Abilities You Get

Every game has them.  Every game needs them.  However, not every game goes about it in the same way.  I am talking about the things that we get every time we hear/see that sweet ding.  Traditionally whenever we level we get something.  Stat upgrades, new skills, new attributes, new abilities, new spells, new buffs, just new stuff.  Some games give it to you every level, some give it to you every couple levels, and some just give you new stuff whenever they feel like it.  Age of Conan felt like they just kind of gave you abilities and things whenever it felt like.  I didn’t play all that long, but I played into my 40’s and there was never really a rhyme or reason on how things were given to me.  There would be like six levels with nothing but a few more hit points.  Everquest 2 gave me new things basically every level.  For a while too they gave me new abilities at like half levels, or quarter levels, but I think they did away with that.

My biggest complaint or at least one of my biggest complaints with spells and abilities in the game, is that half of them suck.  I mean what are people thinking with some of the spells/abilities they define as playable.  I can not think of any off the top of my head, but for those MMORPGers out there, you know what I mean.

There are two things I can see that are stopping every spell and ability from being awesome.  One it is hard to come up with 800 or so new spells and abilities that all do different things.  Two, while one ability might be awesome such as blind in PvP, it doesn’t really translate all that well into PvE.  The only solution to this problem is to take the time to think about things, and for the latter, make different sets of spells/abilities that would be used in either, but more realistically would be to tweak how they work in different settings, and/or make sure that both are beneficial to PvE and PvP.

I will be touching more on this one later as this is a big subject, but for now I am just getting my thoughts out there in writing on topics and things that I want to discuss.

Let me know what you would like to hear about, or discuss.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No Drop

This one is going to take a lot of posts I feel as well as a lot of time.  I do not know how much I will get out on this topic, but I am sure it will be a lot of rambling mixed in with actual content.  No drop has been around forever and some love it and some hate it, though I am guessing the majority is in the hate it column.  I suppose I am in the hate it column although I know why they do it.  Game creators do not want a level one character to be the uber lord right out of the gate.  That is why there are level restrictions and then just straight only one person will ever wear this piece of armor restrictions.  I am in favor of the level restrictions, but only when I am not currently making a new character.  While I do think there needs to be some restrictions I think no drop is too much.

One thought I have had on no drop is to make a quest out of it or something.  A person would have to complete something in order to have it removed, maybe its making/finding/questing for a salve that can remove it from the wearer.  Make it near impossible, make it whatever you want it to be, but at least give me the option to have it done.

Second, decrease the stats/effectiveness of the gear every time it is swapped.  This can either be an immediate decrease as soon as it is taken off.  Example, I have a chest plate that has 100 AC on it.  As soon as I remove it, the piece loses 10 AC.  If I put it back on, the change is only temporary, but if someone else puts it on, then the piece is permanently lowered to 90 AC instead of 100.  This way might be a little confusing both to the player and the programmer.  I suppose an easier way to go about it, is on the new person wearing it.  It is 100 AC for player A but when player B puts it on, it becomes 90 AC.  This little trend will continue until it is just a piece of junk.  With this option there needs to be some things to keep in mind.  What if the person wearing it puts it on and then in the next ten minutes finds something better to wear?  Should the armor lose it’s 10 AC or should it get it back so that the next person wearing it isn’t at 80 AC when they get it.  That is a good question I just posed for myself.  What do you think should happen with it?  Let me know, leave me a comment.  I am sure after some thought I will give you my answer for it.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food And Drink

I played a little bit of Age Of Conan when it was released.  I think this game has a lot of potential in about a year after they work out all the bugs, like any other MMORPG I suppose.  I do not know if this was a glitch or the way it was supposed to work or whatever, but sometimes when I died my food/drink stayed up, and sometimes it was gone.  This got me thinking a little bit about how food should work in a game.  Now I suppose when you die in real life your food is going to be gone, no brainer.  So what should happen to your food when you die in game?  Should you get to keep it, cause it’s annoying to be caught in a death loop of some kind and having all of your expensive food/drink used up.  Or should we be following a more true to life example and every time you die you lose your food/drink.  When I started writing this post about two minutes ago, I was in the thought of hell yeah you should keep get to keep your food/drink, because I know from experience that it sucks to have to put food/drink back up, not to mention only getting like five minutes out of it.  I am not sure how objectionable I am going to be on this little blog I’ve started, but I suppose here I can be.  There are a couple solutions, or I should say thoughts on how the food/drink scenario should be handled.

There is the most straight forward approach, you either get to keep all food/drink, or you don’t, simple enough.  One approach could also be to have a character, lets say a shaman in this instance, that can buff you and/or your group to be able to keep your food/drink when you die.  I think that could be kind of cool, though it might bring up some other problems, but we’ll just stick to the topic at hand and bring up the potential problems of why you shouldn’t give someone a buff just for the sake of giving someone a buff.  Another alternative would be to have your food blessed, or created with the sole purpose of being able to remain after death.  So a priest or shaman could bless your food/drink, before you consume it and it would stay with you, again keeping in mind the buff for the sake of a buff thing.  The other half to that option is the creation process.  A baker or cook, or whatever you want to call the artisan could be able to create two different versions of food.  One could be everlasting beer bison steaks, and the other just beer bison steaks.  The former of course costing more to make and being harder to create needing a higher level, or ingredients or what have you.  This again has it’s own consequences, most namely having to carry a bunch of different recipe books, and then there’s the economy.  If you have the ability to make the everlasting one, but no one will buy it because you have to charge too much for it since it costs too much to make, people will just buy more of the non-everlasting one because in the long run it will be more cost efficient to pop a new food/drink every time they die then it would be to buy one of the other.  That of course is just a chance scenario that you would never really be able to predict without a lot of play testing.

Those are three options that you could possibly use in the food/drink scenario.  Tell me what you think, or better yet, throw in your own opinions and thoughts.  Would love to hear from you.

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment