On moral complexity

Evizaer over at That's a Terrible Idea is talking about Morality in games i.e. Alignments and how they've become a little cliche and pointless.

I still think they have some uses, but for the most part I agree that the whole "These guys are good and these guys are evil" thing is completely worthless, unless of course we're talking about angels and demons and even then it's not always so cut and dry.

What he was talking about was having NPCs react to player decisions based on different viewpoints on other scales such as materialism. The NPCs would have their opinions on these subjects, and based on what the player does while playing, the NPC would react to that player differently. An NPC that loves the animals for example, like some sort of hippy elf or something, would not react well to a player who has grinded epic loots from poor innocent deer and bunnies in the nearby forest.

I'd been thinking of something similar. His idea seems to go much more in depth than mine. Something I wondered though is whether players would find this to be an engaging idea which improves immersion or if it would just be a hurdle to go around on the quest to the end of the game? It seems like players have now come to expect from MMOs some form of "end game" where they have grind it out through quests/mobs/piles of poop/whatever to get to. If a player had to play the game a certain way in order to reach a rep level, or to learn certain skills, or to get a specific piece of gear that's given as a reward, or whatever the goal is that the morality choices could make inaccessible if they do things "the wrong way", would they accept that and just slog it out by restraining themselves from having fun the way they want? Or would they just go find another game?

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/30/2009 02:38:00 PM | 0 comments

On content difficulty curves

Several weeks before 3.2.0 of WoW dropped, I was discussing the patch notes with both guildies and people in the local RP channel. I was not a fan of the badge changes at the time because it allowed people to skip past the lower level raid content such as Naxx and OS. I was of the opinion that the proper way to do things is to complete progression content in progression order. You do Naxx & OS > Maly > Ulduar. If you wanted to get really specific, you did the 10 man of each tier to gear up for the 25 man of that same tier before you headed off to the 10 man of the next tier, since the 25 man gear was roughly on the same par as the 10 man gear of the next tier. Just allowing everyone to skip the tier 7 content was outright unacceptable. The people in the guild were happy over the changes since it would let them get those last couple of pieces of conquest gear which were inaccessible (our guild is a 10 man only guild because the 25 man raids are a pain in the ass to organize). The people in the RP channel were happy about the changes because it would let them see content they couldn't normally, since many of them were in non-raiding RP guilds.

I admit that my reasoning may have been a bit self serving to my ego at the time as I had worked to get my gear as it came so that I could do the current content, and they were essentially letting people who hadn't gotten that far "cheat". Much the same as I was unhappy about the reduction in cost to the epic ground mount and basic flying mount costs. I'd had to earn all the money to buy those, and now they were handing them out like candy. You spent 2 hours levelling to 20? Congratulations. Here's your mount for dirt cheap that in the past people had to level twice as much, with half as much XP gains, and pay 10 times the price just to get. True that I wasn't in full BiS gear, and I wasn't a l33t raider by any stretch of the imagination, but what I had, I earned and it felt like I was being slapped in the face.

Though I know my reasoning for those feelings was wrong now, I still think the badge changes were a bad thing. It's for the same reason I think the heirloom items were a terrible idea. They allow players to skip vast amounts of content.

Most people would tend to assume that if you see a character that isn't an 80, that they are an alt. So what about these players who are new to the game? The ones who haven't played through and have a decked-in-purples 80? They want to go out and explore this massive (to them) world and when they try to get a group for old instances they are met with silence or responses of "You'll just replace that gear in 5 levels anyways."

To tell the truth, I am thinking of canceling my WoW account. There is literally nothing for me to do anymore. My WoW time nowadays is basically "Log in an hour before raid time, hang out for a bit, raid, log off." On my days when we don't raid, I might attend an RP event or two if they are scheduled, but other than that I log on, do my transmute and throw it on AH, then log off and watch SG-1 on hulu (I missed a lot of the earlier seasons >_>). There is very little content in the "end game" to do. There are just slightly more quests in Northrend than are required to level to 80. The dailies are exceptionally boring and repetitive and I would rather stick my dick in a light socket than do them anymore. The same goes for heroics. I've been sitting at 33 Triumph badges for several days now, and I have no will to do the heroic daily even though one more time will let me buy that stupid Brightstone Ring.

How this relates to the badge changes is this: Unless you are on a nearly full population realm, how many pugs do you see that run Naxx anymore? OS? Hell, even Vault? How many guilds still do this content? A little more than the pugs, but not many. The badge changes have allowed people to get higher level gear just from heroics and no one needs it anymore. Maly hasn't even been run since T8 except for the random achievement run.

Is that what this game has become? Blizzard could remove all of the content in the game except one area which has all of the capitol cities. These would be connected to a long strip of land populated with mobs. The strip would be instanced, and there would be exactly enough mobs of progressive levels to get you to 80. At the end of the strip is Dalaran floating over Icecrown. All the new players? Fuck 'em. They joined too late. They have to run the levelin' gauntlet now!

This is one reason why I feel like vertical content is an outdated form of progression. As the game gets older, and new expansions are released, it becomes harder for new players because there are fewer people who aren't at the end of the ladder. The game becomes a boring single player game, and I don't have to pay 15 bucks a month to play a single player game. That's not to mention that I think the MMO market has changed and everyone is tired of the leveling game, as evidenced by the many games released which are failing or have already failed because players don't have the stomach to play past level 10 or 15.

Why don't we change it up and create games where progression is horizontal instead of vertical? A new expansion becomes an EXPANSION which makes the game world LARGER and MORE EPIC, and not a NARROWATION (which I now declare to be a word) which constricts the game further to its polar ends. Changes to the game do not allow people to skip large amounts of content because it is obsolete; an effect the badge changes have contributed to.

Yes, I'm aware that so many other people on the internet like myself, who are nothing more than armchair designers, are exclaiming the same "Down with levels! No more XP! We want fun sandboxes!" chant. Maybe it's because it's a good idea.

All it needs is the right implementation. It needs to be fun from the get go. The fun can't stop. There can't be an "end game", only a "practical enough to stop working on character development" point at which the game you have been playing simply continues on as though nothing ever happened.

I feel like I'm on the right track with my ideas. Characters that are nearly infinitely customizable and fluid with their development. Characters which do not have a "best build" or even a "five best builds" where every skill or talent has some use and function. Variable difficulties in almost everything that adapt to the player's stats so as to keep all of the content "current".

And if anyone reads this blog and gets ideas for current games in development, please implement! They will only improve a genre which will die out very soon without some major re-innovation.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/22/2009 03:36:00 AM | 0 comments

On class levels

I was reading an article which was saying that (and I'm paraphrasing here) "every game will have some form of levels. It is impossible to remove them completely."

I was planning on trying to do some form of classless/level-less system, and the more I think about it, the more I realize this may be correct. You can't remove progression based systems like levels from and MMO game without making the game a straight adventure game. That doesn't mean that something can't be implemented where instead of levelling through experience, you do so through alternative methods.

I was thinking that instead of granting experience towards your class, you instead award experience towards your character itself. Fighting increases your strength. Dodging increases agility. Hitting things through practice increases dexterity. Meditating increases spirit. And so on and so forth.

Players work on stats by playing the game. Their character's level could be expressed as skill with the individual classes, similar to how Dungeons and Dragons does things where a level 4 Rogue is more skilled than a level 3 Rogue, and the level refers to the class itself and not the actual character.

What if a class level was an indication of a player's skill instead of just how much they've played the game? I was thinking that since the main focus of this game would in fact be story through quests and objectives, why not have that same system determine class skill? It wouldn't be so much a level as it would be a rating. Maybe each class could have their own organizations such as the Order of the Holy Hand for paladins or the Shin-Tao dojo for Martialists and so on. Players can approach these organizations whenever they wish and take on special quests which require players to have knowledge of their class in order to beat. If they can overcome the challenge, they gain a rank. If they fail, they can always come back and try again after playing and practicing for a while and maybe raising a few stats.

The key here would be that the quests would be based on skill. The Martialist would fight against opponents with AI that can counter certain moves in certain ways. The Priest quest would require you to keep a certain number of a squad of soldiers healed and alive while they assault a fortress. They'd be designed in such a way that you can't just spam heals or Bladestorms or a macro button which plows through everything in your path. You would have to know the class's abilities intimately and be able to adapt to situations dynamically.

There are always things which I'm trying to design around or to defeat like players being able to look up quests on the internet or being able to min/max to the point where only one build is acceptable for certain classes, but I think that randomized quests could possibly be implemented to at least deter that a bit.

To sum up: Classes have ranks, which are determined by quests requiring skill. Players level their stats by doing things related to those stats, which then allow greater chance of success in the ranking quests.

The important thing is that there is no difference between a level 1 Warrior and a level 10 Warrior. Only that the level 10 Warrior has demonstrated that they have mastered a certain number of skills that the Warrior class is expected to have. It has social value in the same way that purples show everyone that you are skilled enough to beat raid encounters. Players who play slowly can take their time in earning their way through the ranks. Players who play quickly can move through them as fast as they can.

Of course, there are other aspects to this which could have other ramifications such as creating new problems with player dynamics, but I think this has at least some potential to replace the current "Grind XPz to the next ding" mechanic.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/20/2009 12:54:00 AM | 0 comments

On player difficulty

Tobold recently (as in 10 or so hours before I've made this post) put up a new post about game design and how player behavior is an effect of how well or poorly designed a game system is, and that failures and problems the game experiences due to that behavior is the fault of the design team and managers for the way they have brought the game about.

Though it is a valid point, there was something in that post that caught my eye and got me thinking.

From the post: "And even if the fundamentals are right, and the game is a success, that doesn't mean that there won't be undesirable outcomes caused by bad game design. For example many veteran players in World of Warcraft complain about newer players, aka n00bs, not having a clue on how to beat harder content. But if a warrior in WoW can reach the level cap without ever having used the taunt ability once, is it the player who is "a moron", or is this a direct consequence of game design?"

I'd been considering either having the game use either a variable difficulty setting or having the game set the difficulty automatically based on how the player plays. Up until now, I was thinking it would just be a basic fiddling with stats. Enemies which kill the player repeatedly get auto nerfed until the player can beat them. Either that or the difficulty setting would spawn the mobs with appropriate stats for the difficulty level chosen.

This particular example about flaws in the game gave me an idea that what if instead of fiddling with the monster stats (which it can still certainly do), instead they become more complex in their attacks and abilities? Instead of just getting stronger, they become more adaptable.

Perhaps not from the very beginning, but I think this could bring some meaning back to games which have levels and a level cap. If you rolled a Mage, you would have to know how to Blink through certain walls in order to defeat a ghost enemy. Or as an swordsman, your enemy becomes deft at dodging certain attacks and you must use your full repertoire of strikes and techniques in order to defeat him. If you become level capped, it shows that you have mastered your class and can handle tougher challenges. It shows that you didn't just have to spam the 1 key for Sinister Strike for dozens of fights, and that you know how to vanish properly, use terrain, know which minions to summon, and so forth.

The question would be if it's a good idea and if so, how to best implement it. Would it be easy enough to just have it start as soon as you reach a certain point in character development? Would you need difficulty settings which players can use to turn it off (and would this be a deal breaker for a large portion of the player population)?

I was thinking it would be best that when you reach a certain point, the regular enemies out in the world stay on the same difficulty path with steadily declining XP rewards, and enemies in quests would become more difficult with greatly increased XP rewards. In this way it would encourage players to improve their play skills with their own class. Of course there would always be some who would take the Grind Elementals option, but they would level more slowly than others.

I suppose the point of this post is this: Right now, players are able to attain the level cap by sleep walking through the game. This is bad by design, as it becomes very boring and players complain later when they make new characters (In WoW, they even have heirloom items that max level characters can buy and send to new characters which give extra XP specifically for the purpose of skipping all the boring leveling content). Is there a way to make the game more interesting and, if not difficult, at least varied which will keep players from getting bored? Which way of doing that is the best way that would send the least number of players running for the hills?

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/16/2009 03:39:00 PM | 0 comments


I've been a fan of the Stargate franchise for a long time. It's always managed to entertain me, something that is rare for a lot of TV shows, even when it's being hokey or the storyline seems to be in a badly contrived stretch (like the last two seasons of SG-1).

I'd heard about Stargate Worlds a long while ago (2006 I think it was?). What they had put out at the time was some beautiful and amazing looking concept art of different locations players could go to, some different drawings of enemies such as Jaffa armor and the like. Fast forward to now, three years later and they've had a Youtube channel up for some time now. It's also been inactive for quite some time now.

What I'm wondering is how important is it, when doing an MMO based on a franchise property that already exists and is well established, that you do things right? How important is it to capture that feel of that property and make players feel like they are a part of that world? To me, it is absolutely essential.

I used to play the Matrix Online. When I first started back at the release, everything was fresh and new. Then I started to play it a bit and realized that everything was not quite what it should've been. Sure, you had martial arts skills and weapons skills. However you also had Hacker skills. These skills consisted of the players (who were supposed to be in a simulation of the real world) waving their hands in the air as if they were typing on a keyboard, and a glowing keyboard sort of effect would appear, and then the enemy would act like they got hurt. I saw this and I immediately said one thing:

They did the same thing with a healer "class" to heal people and the programmer "class" to summon minions (which to me made even less sense than just the hacking thing). They had taken what could've been a unique game among all the others and just boiled it down to what you see in other games. The Martial arts guy is the Warrior. The guns guy is the Ranger. The Hacker guy is the Mage. The Healer guy is the Cleric. The Programmer guy is the Summoner. They brought in archetypes that have absolutely no business being near the franchise.

I see that the exact same thing is happening with Stargate Worlds. Granted, it makes a little bit more sense with this property than it does with others, but it still is a property which doesn't need to have distinct lines like that. You can be the soldier who has heavy guns. You can be the commando who sneaks around with sniper rifles and such. You can be the scientist who commands machines. You can be the archaeologist who does whatever it is an archaeologist would do in a fight. From what the videos show, that appears to be using a "magical" piece of technology to assume disguises, and then you defeat your enemies by talking to them. Seriously. You talk to them. And if you talk to them correctly, then you win the fight. Hopefully winning the fight in that context means the enemies just walk off to do something else and that you don't just bore them to death.

The point is why do we need the archetypes anymore? I understand that they make things more recognizable for the crowd who is used to playing, but in settings like this where things are based on real world physics they aren't necessary or even practical. Why not try a system like mine?

Characters can learn any ability. Any ability. You can declare your character to be a certain character type and it grants large bonuses to abilities which belong to that class. For example: you take this Stargate game. Apparently only soldiers can use Machine Guns. Daniel Jackson is clearly an archaeologist, so he wouldn't be able to use one in the game. However, I've seen him use them on the show, and his action figure from the original movie comes with one. You can see the problem here, yes? What if instead, all characters got the ability to use all of the weapons (and abilities) and they get a very large bonus to their own class abilities? Dr. Jackson can now wield a machine gun if he wants, but he wouldn't be able to hit things as effectively as O'Neill would. He'd be able to read alien languages that he's seen and translate them much much faster than anyone else would. It opens up your character to all the options that a human would be able to have while still preserving the flavor of who those characters are.

Archetypes are outdated and don't belong outside the fantasy genre. Stop using them, game developers! Stop making Star Wars Galaxies NGE over and over again!

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/12/2009 06:03:00 PM | 0 comments

On Economic systems

Something I was planning on implementing was some sort of economy which was closed.

Players could craft just about anything and they can sell it to other players, but in order to sell it to NPCs, the NPCs would need to be able to sell it themselves to make money. NPCs wouldn't buy items that they couldn't sell. For example, there could be a merchant who sells swords. He has a large stock of Iron Broadswords. However, he can't sell these broadswords because it has recently become fashionable for players to use Katanas (Maybe the ninja type class has become popular because Ninjas have become more popular recently with players because of a new awesome movie or something).

Johnnyguy, a player who is working on his blacksmithing skill, finds that Broadswords are easier to craft than plate armor because it requires less materials (making it cheaper), and the armor and these particular swords are the only items he knows how to craft which he can raise his blacksmithing skill with.

Johnnyguy soon finds out that the local NPCs won't buy the broadswords because they can't sell them themselves. He also can't sell them to other players, since everyone wants Katanas. Johnnyguy has been leveling his blacksmithing skill in the hopes that he could get his skill high enough that the local blacksmithing trainer would teach him to make Katanas so he could make them and make money. He now finds that he has lost a considerable investment of resources and is quite angry.

Johnnyguy has several options. He could:

A. Cut his losses and take it as a lesson learned to do more market research if he hopes to get a return on investments.
B. Smelt the swords down to recycle the metal and make the plate armor (much less than he could originally make, mind you), hoping to get those last few points of skill.
C. Both A and B.
D. Complain to the developers about how he has wasted his time and threaten to quit playing if they don't force the NPC vendors to buy his completely worthless crap.

If it was me, I would probably go with option C.

If you were one of the Ultima Online developers or players (or hell, even a player of any MMO game that has forums to speak with developers), you know that 99% of players would go with option D.

The problem is that option D, while it makes the players happy, causes the game economy to constantly inflate. The NPC vendors buy limitless amounts of crap and turn it into gold. Players then have more gold then they had before and nothing taking that money out of circulation. The prices of all items goes up because more players with more money can afford more expensive items.

I would really like to have some sort of economic system in my game whereby players who want to get rich can get obscenely rich with the use of economic cunning and business prowess. That doesn't mean much when the average Johnnyguy player can get rich by making crap and dumping it on the poor stupid NPCs.

Is it not possible though? I know several games have tried to do this, and almost all of them have failed, EVE being the only one I can think of that hasn't (as I don't know much about EVE, I don't know what kind of crafting system they have in place which supports the economic system).

If it is possible to create an actual player and NPC economy, what would be required to do so?

Would it require a strict control on resources?
Would it require the NPCs to adjust their prices for items which aren't in demand?
Would it be as simple as the trainer teaching the player the basic crafting skill and saying "Look stupid: Don't craft stuff you can't sell."?
Maybe the NPCs could say very clearly that they are only looking for specific items to buy and only buy those?

Right now, I'm leaning towards a combination of all of these. I was thinking that even without any economic control systems involved, only some NPCs would buy certain items. For example, if you kill an enemy soldier out in hostile territory and take his sword, you could only sell that sword to a weapons vendor. A clothing vendor would have no use for a sword.

I'm also thinking that each NPC would have their own inventory of items, and that the more they had, the less they would pay for an item. Also, they could do a work order system for items which they are in short supply of which are in high demand. These work orders could possibly have different bonuses attached to them to make them attractive to players if it's found more profitable to just sell them to others on the Auction House or Marketplace or whatever.

I'm thinking that a strict control of resources would also be in order. Not so strict that only the richest people could get a hold of them, but something like "Only x amount of iron ore can be mined from a certain mine in a week" (this would lead up to a PvP idea that I'm going to talk about soon with guilds fighting and bargaining for resource control). This x value of ore would be enough that if all of the mines were controlled by Player and NPC factions, then 75% of crafters would have enough ore to create what they need to.

I think it could be very possible to get the system to work where many others have failed, it just requires different methods of enticing and directing players.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/10/2009 05:03:00 PM | 0 comments

On Equipment Models

I was going to write a post on crafting systems, but something else has caught my attention since then. Yesterday, the new models for the Rogue Tier 10 armor was discovered and I have to say this:

It is 100% dog ugly.

I don't know why Blizzard has been using the apparent theme they have for Rogues; i.e. instead of making armor look deadly, we'll try to make it stealthy by making it look like the Rogue took one of his dead enemies, sliced it open like a Taun Taun, and is now wearing it as a skin in the hopes that the other enemies won't notice. This isn't really a valid theme for Wrath since the main enemy force is the Scourge, who are all telepathically bound to the Lich King. Even if the enemy Scourge were fooled by the sight of the Rogue, the Lich King would not be as he would not have any telepathic contact and would then give the attack order.

It got me thinking about something that has gotten many on the Rogue forums clamoring for again: Having a second set of armor that players can wear which determines the character appearance.

Is this a good idea? Yes, it does allow for characters to have a greater amount of customization, but on the other hand you know that every single Rogue in the game is going to just wear the Tier 2 Bloodfang armor (with the exception of myself, as I'll be wearing the armor you see there in my user picture), especially since they revamped the helm to be level appropriate. On the surface, it looks like greater customization options, but in reality it just leads to every Rogue looking exactly identical.

I'd had the idea for my game that mobs that drop loot would only drop equipment if they themselves were wearing it, meaning you could only get gear by fighting humanoid or sentient mobs who use the same equipment types you prefer. Players can craft gear, but it will only be of white quality and stats are then added through enchanting, alchemy, tempering, carving, etc. Would it be better to do things that way and let players build their own custom armor sets, or would it be better to just have the second equipment set for appearances? My instincts tell me that the first option would be better as it makes more sense in a real world sense.

What about all the work that the graphics artists do? They spend a great deal of time and effort designing the items which are shown graphically, only to have players use the one they think is best looking (this goes along with stats on gear sets as well, with players not deigning to wear anything which is not Best in Slot, but that's another topic for another day).

Players really won't be happy no matter what you do to appease them. What if they had the graphic artists create sketches of several different kinds of armor, and then the players could vote on them, and the top 3 or 4 get made into armor sets with the same stats, and players can choose which set appearance they want. If they get the armor from a vendor, they just buy the model they want. If they drop from an enemy, they could trade it to an NPC for a different model.

The basic idea is that you don't want all of the players to look the same, but you still want all the different armor types to fit into the theme of the game world (and for the different classes, you'd want the armor to feel like it belonged to those classes as well). You also don't really want players wearing armor that they think is terrible and ugly. Players who remain happy remain paying customers.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/08/2009 03:14:00 PM | 0 comments

On the senses of a character

A little tidbit about myself: I've always played stealth classes whenever possible. It's always been a much more satisfying experience to sneak through an enemy stronghold, complete my mission, and get out rather than the standard "fight your way through hordes of guards and soldiers" approach. It's certainly much easier as well.

There are a lot of games out there which treat stealth as though it was an invisibility and one thing that I wanted to do was get rid of the whole invisibility thing and take the stealth concept to be something that actually requires you to be stealthy. Mostly, they handle things through a "stealth detection" stat of some kind where if you get close enough to your enemy, they can see you. There's just one problem with that: most of the enemies can see behind them, regardless of which way they are facing. This is a problem in most PvP combat systems as well, as when your enemy is facing away from you, the player can still rotate the camera and see you coming from behind them.

I want to have the NPCs and players be limited to what their characters can actually see, hear, smell, and feel. That's where the senses come into play. Players would only be able to see things that are in front of them, or where they turn the character's head. Things that are behind the player would be only what they saw last, so if the player wanted to turn the camera around and admire the beautiful statue they just passed by, they could do so. Things only update on their current state when the player is looking at them.

The player can still tell what is going on around them though by hearing and feeling. Everything that goes on around you makes noise. Footsteps ("Where did these footsteps come from?!") and rocks, cars driving around, birds chirping, etc. Things that the player can hear from outside their field of vision will show up as sonic vibrations with faint outlines of what that could be. If there are footsteps behind the player, then turning just the camera around will reveal a sonic vibration like animation on the ground along with some ghostly feet.

Of course, the enemies will have these limitations as well. Things in line of sight of the enemies will be visible, but they can still hear things going on around them. Many games just use chat as a chat channel, but of course talking is sound. Players moving around creates sound, but talking is even more suspicious. Players are able to set the volume at which they speak. A whisper can only be heard by people right next to each other. A yell can be heard from everyone. If players speak too loudly, enemies will come looking for you.

This is what the stealth concept is. Learning to stay out of sight and remain as quiet as possible to avoid detection by others. Thieves (and their more advanced class counterparts) train in the art of stealth as part of their burglar craft. They learn to walk and move as quietly as possible, and they know how to observe enemies. They can tell when enemies are looking directly at them, when they are only in that enemy's peripheral vision, and when they are unseen.

Of course, any character can learn to be stealthy, and any character can try to sneak around (just not as well as some). I feel like systems like this would go a long way to improving the immersion in fantasy worlds for classes that use the mechanics. If feel like it's something which emphasizes a belief of mine which I see disregarded in most MMO games:

Stats aren't everything. They help, sure, but it's SKILL that determines much of your success. I think that's been forgotten by a lot of players for some reason.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/05/2009 07:10:00 PM | 0 comments

On stats and complexity

I was pondering on something that occurred to me while I was writing up descriptions of various class possibilities for this game. How complex is too complex?

Let me lay it out: At the moment, there are 32 classes I plan to have available. 32. Is that too many? Granted, a player's class is not the defining characteristic. It merely provides a bonus to abilities and skills which are labeled as belonging to that class; players can learn any skill the want to. All players can learn how to pickpocket, and all players can learn how to cast a fireball spell. The Thief and the Mage get substantial bonuses (respectively) to those skills as they those classes "own" them. Also is the fact that there are only 10 pure classes and all 32 of these are either more powerful pure versions of the 10 or hybrid combinations of two of them.

At 32 classes, I figured that I would need a large number of stats to further separate the classes. Players who play a Warrior won't need much Intellect, and since players can change their stats by putting enough effort into playing the character, if a player wanted to make his character a Mage, then he would lose his effectiveness as a Warrior. There are so many stats (right now, I'm thinking of around 15) so that a player can play as a hybrid class such as a Monk, because hybrid classes need two different class skill sets combined into one. If I wanted to play a Paladin, I would need stats which apply to the Swordsman and the Priest, but then have a different set of stats for the Monk (a Fighter and a Priest). The Priest would need two different stats, only one of which applies to the Paladin or the Monk, so that players are not able to easily switch between the two at the drop of a hat. There wouldn't be any point in defining the classes if they could.

The question I suppose I want to ask is "How complex a game system are players willing to tolerate?"

The question also extends to something else I was thinking about: the Character Creation screen. I had a pipe dream that when you created a character, not only would you get to choose your race and looks and so on, but you would also be able to choose what town you want to start in and craft a personal backstory for that character. That back story and location would determine the setting and scenario for the starter area (unlike most games where all characters spawn in a specific spot and then go and talk to the nearest NPC to get their first quest) and could then later be inserted into quests and game events for the character. A character could state in their backstory that their older brother is a successful and powerful member of the Mage's guild in the capitol city. If that player decides to go and train to be a Mage, the possibility exists that they will train under that older brother which could flavor the quest with possible family disputes or camaraderie or even open up unique quests which wouldn't otherwise be available.

Of course, I would have the option of just "Customize appearance, pick a name, race, and starter town", and then a RANDOMIZE MEH! button which would fill out all those details for the player because they want to jump right in or a FAMILY DEAD, DO NOT WANT button which would remove the customized quest content later down the road.

There would be people who would want to have the option to set all of that up however, and the question of How Much is Too Much remains. Will people think there is too much customization that they don't want to bother every time they roll a new character? Will they think there is not enough and begin complaining on the official forums or in email? Which options should be included, which shouldn't?

Would people think these customization options are fun, or would they just not care?

Clearly this is something that should be researched.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/04/2009 10:29:00 PM | 0 comments

First Post

This is just a first post, so this blog isn't blank. I plan on talking about some design ideas I have for a game I hope to create some day. Yes, many of the ideas are not likely to be revolutionary or even unique. It's the combination of them that makes everything work together. I'll likely be using this to discuss game mechanics, theory, ideas for lore and content, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Posted by Glyph, the Architect | at 10/03/2009 03:45:00 PM | 0 comments