The Sad, sad, state of MMORPG in this brave new era...

Lambourne

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I think the idea has merit. I loved exploring the world in Daggerfall, which had a huge world that was almost entirely procedurally generated. Most of the world was basically empty but there were thousands of dungeons and towns.

Each town was big too. In most games nowadays a town is 3-4 houses, whereas in Daggerfall a town looked like this:



Each of those houses can be entered. They can be residences, shops, guilds etc. Some are for sale and could be owned by the player. And there were thousands of these towns, you could explore and see if they had an interesting combination of locations (a well equipped armor store to rob, with a thieves guild fence nearby for example). NPCs were done the same way.

Dungeons were made up of various standard pieces connected together (bit like LDON dungeons in EQ, except with infinite variety). Most quests were also autogenerated although the main story and it's locations weren't.

Considering this was possible with mid 90s hardware (came out 3 years before EQ) I wonder what could be done nowadays.
 

Elidroth

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Massive procedural generation.

Instead of making a 2 square mile terrain replicated on demand, make a single server 80 times the current size of WoW. With 6000 dungeons. Maybe the dungeon you're visiting today is spoiled, but it's probably better to find someone who has been in it and can guide you. Or figure it out.

It requires you to let go of the crafted narrative and curated experience. Embrace the trivial dungeon and the hard-as-fuck unbalanced dungeon. Embrace the weird areas and the plain looking ones. We're starting to get enough technologies that you can probably do that.
Good luck getting that to run without being a massive lag-fest in a multi-player environment. I like the idea of procedurally generated 'trash' content like Fedex quests and garbage quests.. Leave the designers to do hand-crafted stuff that matters.. BUT.. procedurally created dungeons would be a nightmare if not repetitively boring.. Boss encounters need to be hand-crafted or you wind up with very cookie-cutter bullshit, or completely bizarre non-contextual stuff..

I think step one to removing the rails in a modern MMO is just removing the ! over quest NPC's heads, and letting players start discovering things for themselves.. Procedurally, you could have a given NPC give out that quest X number of times, before the systems temporarily remove that quest from the game, and then procedurally adjust it to a different NPC or area handing it out.. Again.. this really only works for non-essential trash quests, and wouldn't be feasible for storyline/in-depth questing. The downside to removing the rails, is you're almost guaranteeing your game to be fairly niche, and non-mass appeal, as the average idiot player just wants a cookie recipe to follow to be godlike. They don't want to work for anything at all.
 

Agraza

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I think a better way of handling trash quests is just a bestiary/pokedex style system that you fill in over time, wherever and whenever. Less need to visit the hub and less need to be on the same "step" as other players. You may get mention of what kinds of things are considered valuable as hand-ins when you're in the hub, or your bestiary may give you that info "has prized furs, eyes, etc." so you retain those and just hand them in whatever granular quantity you happen to possess.

Quests as they've evolved to flag based invisible "quest" inventories have forced people down quest tunnels that often don't include the people they're adventuring with. All the aspects of being multiplayer should be acted upon as the focus of gameplay, not taken away from.

Something that could add some dynamic objectives would be procedurally generated battles upon a logical frontline between realms, PC or NPC, and you can interact with those as flashpoints/hotzones to help draw people together. That would help players comprehend the territoriall forces, the space they "control", who you can fight for or with, and let people interact with PC/NPC sovereignty in bite sized, unaligned pieces. As progress is made, the procedurally generated forces shift forward or backward and space flips sides. Hopefully those invested in the victory of one side are also part of the fight, but they shouldn't be able to sabotage unaligned players there to use it as a hotzone.

Getting rid of QoL aspects like "!" just further separates the metagamers from the casuals. The metagamers will have websites, chat/voice channels, and mods that assist them in min/maxing content. Either you control for the disparity or just let them burn themselves out and ignore them, but either one requires an overt explanation.
 

mkopec

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.... as the average idiot player just wants a cookie recipe to follow to be godlike. They don't want to work for anything at all.
And this, my friend, is why we cannot have nice things. Well put and totally true. In fact the average player just wants to be as quick to cap and RAIIID. all that other shit is just nonsense in the way.

The way I picture mmorpgs is entirely opposite. Immersive world where the journey is the game, not just some stepping stone to some instanced 10 or 20 man lobby shit. To me, while yes, the raid was a spectacle to behold, it was always about the day to day group game. Thats where the fun and memories came from.
 

Punko

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And this, my friend, is why we cannot have nice things. Well put and totally true. In fact the average player just wants to be as quick to cap and RAIIID. all that other shit is just nonsense in the way.
This is only an issue when you want to make a game that appeals to everyone.

The greed that makes companies expand the target audience for their franchises directly prevents them from making games that have a very strong appeal to a smaller audience, due to having to filter out all the extremes.

Blizzard and their "diablo is a franchise for the entire family" is a recent and explicit example. How are you going to make a dark and gritty game about slaying demons that can be sold to a mxied audience ages 8-60 years?
 

Ravishing

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The future of procedural generation? From worlds to animation...
 

Dom

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The future of procedural generation? From worlds to animation...
Forget the city stuff. The dancing stuff makes me hopeful for the porn of tomorrow
 

gLobal

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I know there’s a rule about trying to cram too many systems into one game, but I don’t have a problem with multiple types of content all in one as long as it’s not a shit game when it’s done.

/armchair_designer on
  • I like having some static dungeons with known loot tables. Most of the time, I have a goal instead of just exploring and there’s a lot of people out there like that. I like seeing an item, finding out where it came from – and being able to go get that exact same item most of the time.
  • Quests. I think should be fewer in general. I hate the idea of ‘completing’ a zone/expansion/achievement just because you suffered through every lame-ass grind quest. I'm a completionist at heart, and having a checklist of bullshit quests is terrible. Quests should be something awesome every few levels, but class, item, or story based. Make them longer and interesting. Smaller retrieval/kill quests could be sprinkled around, but not in a static manner. When enough people receive a retrieval/kill quest, it stops being given out. After enough turn-ins, that quest might be gone for a while or show up on another NPC in the same general area.
  • Procedurally generated content/dungeons on the edges of the map would be really cool, giving it a sort of ‘wild unknown’ feel. You could put ultra-rare item allocations on the loot table to incentivize exploration. Something as powerful as modern day EQ chase loots (essentially crazy rare tradeable items that are as good as the best raid items).
  • Neverwinter MMO had a pretty neat player story/dungeon creator called the Foundry, and you could reward/tip the best ones. Letting your players design content is win/win. Set up a rewards system for the better creators and keep the system perpetuating. The problem in Neverwinter was the loot was limited to currency, and it was in very tiny amounts. This would be a good place to throw in randomly generated items. That way you at least get something for completing the content, and have a reason to go in there in the first place. Hell, maybe even let a few people get lucky and get something off the wall.
  • PVP, why not? I’ve always like the idea of gated matches (Battlegrounds/arena) in addition to servers with different PVP rulesets. That way, you can choose how much you want. I feel WoW did it pretty good in this regard. I switched back and forth for long bouts. Tired of stand around and wait, wiping, shit players, and drama in PVE? Do PVP for a few months to take a break from it. Tired of AFKers, griefing, shit players, and drama in PVP? Go take down some raid bosses. I enjoyed having both content paths available, and I bounced back and forth.
  • Lastly, I know this is a bit crazy and slightly off-topic, but I’d like to see when you log in to the server, you are in the game. No character creation/selection. You get a character creation/tutorial on the first run. You create your character and you’re pretty much stuck with it. Limited server moves/name changes. The only way to start over is to delete your character, or have another account. Keep all the skills/trade paths available in game with limits to changing roles/skills.
I'm not sure any one company could pull off all of that, but if some made it together and was well implemented, I think it could work.
 

Ukerric

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Neverwinter MMO had a pretty neat player story/dungeon creator called the Foundry, and you could reward/tip the best ones. Letting your players design content is win/win. Set up a rewards system for the better creators and keep the system perpetuating. The problem in Neverwinter was the loot was limited to currency, and it was in very tiny amounts. This would be a good place to throw in randomly generated items. That way you at least get something for completing the content, and have a reason to go in there in the first place. Hell, maybe even let a few people get lucky and get something off the wall.
That one didn't work. People very quickly converged on a loot hall: straight, crammed with AOE targets, and so on. There's no real reward to designing "real" dungeons, so there were few of them. And the players liked the loot halls more. Which is why the loot was limited to low currency.

Designing dungeons so that others may run them has also been tried in Ubi's Epic Quest for Mighty Loot (or some combination I can't quite remember of epic, quest, loot, mighty). And that failed as well, since the incentives were also perverse (people were incentivized to make dungeons that others could NOT complete, so they made that, rather than try to design interesting ones).

So far, the only player-designed content that has worked well is one you made for your friends, and pretty much no one else.
 

Scoresby

Lord Nagafen Raider
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Yeah, I feel you need an item budget that considers mob level, density, and perhaps a few other factors like encounter composition and maybe even a bit of luck on what drops. Leaving it completely open people (as a population) will take the easy way out for loot and with arbitrary ideas for how much "should" exist for content becomes a weapons race for loot piñatas.
 

gLobal

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That one didn't work. People very quickly converged on a loot hall: straight, crammed with AOE targets, and so on. There's no real reward to designing "real" dungeons, so there were few of them. And the players liked the loot halls more. Which is why the loot was limited to low currency.

Designing dungeons so that others may run them has also been tried in Ubi's Epic Quest for Mighty Loot (or some combination I can't quite remember of epic, quest, loot, mighty). And that failed as well, since the incentives were also perverse (people were incentivized to make dungeons that others could NOT complete, so they made that, rather than try to design interesting ones).

So far, the only player-designed content that has worked well is one you made for your friends, and pretty much no one else.
It certainly had problems. You'd need enough staff to reject/tweak each one before letting it go live, on top of adding a lot of safeguards.

Rewards could be based on risk/roleplay/depth ratings determined by staff? You could combine this with a few things:

- no mob respawns
- lockout timers
- making loot only drop for a player on their first run (or cutting it for subsequent runs/cooldown)
- scaling achievements/rewards based on trying X amount of different modules

Or have the rewards be something else entirely that aren't available elsewhere - like custom nameplates for a month, account time, single-use 'fun' items, vanity items, titles, etc.

What sucks is the possibility of so much content, but no incentive. There really were a few gems made by players.
 
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Dom

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That one didn't work. People very quickly converged on a loot hall: straight, crammed with AOE targets, and so on. There's no real reward to designing "real" dungeons, so there were few of them. And the players liked the loot halls more. Which is why the loot was limited to low currency.

Designing dungeons so that others may run them has also been tried in Ubi's Epic Quest for Mighty Loot (or some combination I can't quite remember of epic, quest, loot, mighty). And that failed as well, since the incentives were also perverse (people were incentivized to make dungeons that others could NOT complete, so they made that, rather than try to design interesting ones).

So far, the only player-designed content that has worked well is one you made for your friends, and pretty much no one else.
STO had the same system (same devs) and it happened with theirs as well. People rarely ran them outside of the ones that were literally just a packs of enemy ships lined up for you to attack at your leisure.
 

Hekotat

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There really isn't shit out there to play these days is there?

GW2 (Burned out)
WoW (LOL!)
Everquest 2 (Insane ability bloat)

I can't find anything that can scratch the itch these days.
 

Valderen

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There really isn't shit out there to play these days is there?

GW2 (Burned out)
WoW (LOL!)
Everquest 2 (Insane ability bloat)

I can't find anything that can scratch the itch these days.
Final Fantasy 14. :)
 

mkopec

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I find solace in one of the EQ emu servers to scratch my itch every once in a while. Usually I reminesce about the old zones, go check them out, etc.. Then get bored.
 

iannis

Chairman Meow
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I think the idea has merit. I loved exploring the world in Daggerfall, which had a huge world that was almost entirely procedurally generated. Most of the world was basically empty but there were thousands of dungeons and towns.

Each town was big too. In most games nowadays a town is 3-4 houses, whereas in Daggerfall a town looked like this:

Each of those houses can be entered. They can be residences, shops, guilds etc. Some are for sale and could be owned by the player. And there were thousands of these towns, you could explore and see if they had an interesting combination of locations (a well equipped armor store to rob, with a thieves guild fence nearby for example). NPCs were done the same way.

Dungeons were made up of various standard pieces connected together (bit like LDON dungeons in EQ, except with infinite variety). Most quests were also autogenerated although the main story and it's locations weren't.

Considering this was possible with mid 90s hardware (came out 3 years before EQ) I wonder what could be done nowadays.
I liked daggerfall too. It got so samey so fast though. And the actual story plotline was our first foray into nonsensical bethesda storytelling. A sort of intentionally cryptic cobbled together mess of mostly renamed greek mythology with layers of factions thrown on top of it because... necromancers are neat.

I know they had one or two before daggerfall. I've never met anyone that actually played them though.

Good tech, but it was E.Y.E. levels of "wut?" when it came to story. The game was open ended because it had to be.

But it was fun to fuck around on the map for a few weeks all the same. Take a focus in acrobatics and jump over houses. Game was so goofy in so many ways. Groundbreaking, though.
 

mkopec

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AO was a secret love of mine too. Is that game even around anymore?
 

iannis

Chairman Meow
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It is. hasn't been patched in years, but they've never turned the servers off.

Funcom is a weird company.