Rule Set Parameters
There seems to be various core assumptions about the game engine that we are not agreeing on. It seems these settings might be somewhat player taste dependant. In any case, they produce quite different kinds of game play in many cases.
On the other hand, many other higher level features like Organizations seem to be easier to agree on, and could be shared.
Lets list the disagreements here, and see if they could be parametrized, allowing the same game engine to handle different types of games.
For the sake of fairness, each alternative is listed in order of how common it seems to be among other MMORPGs.
NOTE: I added motivations for the alternatives I prefer, supporters of the other alternatives should feel free to present their arguments as well. In any case, we do not require a compromise on these issues, if there are people strongly on both sides we can simply implement them both and add server swithces. --zzorn 22:52, 11 March 2006 (CET)
Some arguments for and against permadeath:
After reading these articles, I came up with the following idea:
Death would be client-settable(at character creation time) with respawn as the default option. When a player who has permadeath set reaches 0 hit points, they are given the option to flee(dropping everything they're carrying), or continue fighting to the death(say -20 hit points). The default would be to auto-flee in case the client gets dropped or hangs.
On the server side, the administrator can choose which type of character can be created with the default being both.
Why would anyone choose permadeath setting then? Well maybe they set up a server that is a game where respawning ruins the fun. Maybe in Dural you get experience faster in permadeath mode... Either way, you can choose... thus solving the problem.
When your character dies, it respawns, with or without (permanent) penalties.
Takes the opinion that permanently losing the emotional and time investment in your character is too traumatic to make a game fun, especially as you can die from silly accidents or lag issues or griefers.
Once your character dies, it is dead. You need to create a new character.
Takes the opinion that you don't need a more or less forced explanation on why you happen to be non-dead all of a sudden. Also, there are a couple of permadeath games out there that a lot of people play, for example Diablo 2 Hardcore.
Level based game
Characters gain experience points. With enough experience points they gain a level. Each level improves the character.
Levels as implemented in current MMORPGs cause a lot of problems, such as player segmentation and mudflation.
- Raph Kosters blog posting: Do Levels Suck? - Argues that the way levels are used in current MMORPGs doesn't fullfill the purpose levels had in pen and paper RPGs.
- Soapbox: World of Warcraft Teaches the Wrong Things - arguments against the principle of time investment outweighting player skill.
Economy and Meritocracy
This question can be solved by implementing an economy and meritocracy.
- Economy: The idea of characters being able to create permanent objects has lessened the need for levels. You can reward long-time players by letting them buy and build things, hire NPCs, etc. The reward for hours of playing would be you could save up enough money to get your own little area where you build something you want. Posessions would be the reward system, rather than levels. Someone who plays for years could have their own little mini town and resell plots to others, etc. This would also encourage autonomous world-building, which is what makes a game great, keeps it interesting, keeps it evolving, and personalizes it for players. You can even simplify it by equating a gold coin to one dollar and take the real value of objects based on real prices. :)
- Meritocracy: As far as improving your character, you implement a meritocracy. Sort of like Guild Wars. The best players get together and form their own alliances for their own purposes. Each person has a specialization. As you learn more, you improve by buying things or working with others. For example: suppose you're a fighter, you need a good sword.... so you go to a really kick-butt blacksmith. The blacksmith works with a mage who enchants his swords. So now you buy a magic sword... See where this is going? Or you just get a guild together with all the good people and you all profit as a result. The best players would be diplomatic and run guilds or else be highly sought after by guilds. This encourages social situations and is way more realistic than levels. Plus it alleviates the problem of level 20's dominating the newbies.
Unrestricted maximum skill values, with exponential cost
Sets no upper cap on skill values, but skill cost increases exponentially with skill level.
An unrestricted maximum also allows for a system that doesn't use absolute "skill points" to assign a player's skill. In effect, we can have "relative skills" as a notion to resolve problems - so, in a competition, if your skill is relatively more than the amount required, you succeed. In a game, it's very common to assign arbitrary numbers to a trait. I have 13 charisma. Why can't we go a step beyond that, and construct an engine that compares: I am fairly good looking. Then, we can evolve the mechanics of the engine without inadvertantly providing an "audit trail" for players who wish to "stack the numbers". --malcolm
No, skills do not get harder with more you know; they get easier. In other words, increase in skills allows the character to gain the next increase easier. That's how the real world works. --Goldhawk 06:24, 20 September 2007 (CEST)
Restricted maximum skill points per character
Restrict the total skill amount a character can have. This enables specialization, and thus promotes trade. It also reduces player segmentation based on time played (into low skilled players and uber skilled players), and combats the principle of time investment outweighting player skill (as opposed to character skill).
No, allow the player to pour points into her character. So she becomes very good at one thing. Good gameplay is about teamwork. Everybody brings their talents to the party.
BTW, every story has a protagonist that is the absolute best at one thing. Harry Potter always defeats Lord Voldemort. Homer Simpson is always loved by Marge. Let the player become the best she can be in one field.
Make it hard for a PC to acquire a new skill. Make it easy to enhance an existing skill. That way a player has to decide to pay the cost to acquire a new skill or get others (in-game communications) to join in her adventures. Force her to communicate with others. --Goldhawk 06:44, 20 September 2007 (CEST)
Restricted max skill points, skill sets, unlimited skills availability, and skill Ageing
The entire skill system is fundamentally flawed. They should be defined as skill sets. For example: "Make a Bow" or "Make a Magic Compound Bow". The "Make a Bow" skill is one set where the "Make a Magic Compound Bow" is a superset which includes "Make a Bow", "Identify Wood", "Pulleys", "Advanced bow-making", "Magic", etc. These can all be set up as sets. Then you could set up maximum skill points based on race and character attributes because we all know Orcs have fat fingers and can't make small Pulleys as well as humans, and dumb people don't do spells as well as smart people, etc.
Anybody could learn to make a bow, right? So why not open up all the skill sets to all the classes, but encourage specialization through the economy. For example, there's no money in making bows, but making compound magic bows is where it's at. So to do this one would need to know "Identify Wood", "Pulleys", "Advanced bow-making", "Magic", etc. Once you learn all these, you make bows and sell them. But then someone else comes along with a better bow and takes all your business. So you now learn a new skill to make better bows, maybe you go off and specialize in enchanting bows and just study magic. Now all the bow-makers are paying you to enchant their bows with your cool spells. Hey you're a mage.
Additionally, you could add ageing to skills so that if you don't use them for a long time, your skill decreases and eventually is forgotten. Like you forget how to identify wood so now you have to go buy it or pay to have it identified... hehe. The people who play all day every day will get tired of repeating tasks to maintain skills which they could just pay a newbie to do. The hard-core gamers will move on to more exotic, highly-sought skills and become reliant on others for the lower skills they have forgotten. In a worst-case scenario where there are no newbies or they are charging too much, you just go practice the skill you need to refresh. Kind of a pain, but possible... and definitely worth paying for if it saves you some valuable game time.
No, "Make a bow" is not required to "Make a composite bow". A composite bow is made up of a laminate of three materials: tendons, wood, and horn. The wood acts as a substrate. It is the base on which the other materials are applied. The tendons are glued to the outer surface of the bow. That is because the outer surface is subjected to tension when the bow is drawn, and tendons are very good at resisting tension. The horn is glued to the inner surface. That is because the inner surface is subjected to compression when the bow is drawn, and horn is very good at resisting compression.
A compound bow is a modern invention. And even it does not require knowledge of how to make a bow (except rudimentary knowledge). It does require a knowledge of physics, including a (gasp) knowledge of calculus.
In other words, your example of what skills should depend on other skills is flawed. You are basing your assumptions on the words in the skill, not on the skills.
For example, "build a birch-bark canoe" and "build a fiberglass canoe" requires (at least) two very different skills, even tho the resulting crafts looks very similar.
I understand what you're saying: skills, or at least, techniques, should be based on related skills. But related skills are difficult to fathom. For example, bell makers were the first to create cannons. That's because they knew how to pour large amounts of metal and get most of it pure. (Pure meant no flaws; less likely to blow up in your face when you fire it.)
So, you have a choice: assume every skill is separate with no dependency on others; or investigate the historic record to come up with a realistic dependency (which is not always obvious). --Goldhawk 08:10, 20 September 2007 (CEST)