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What does "exploration" in a MMORPG really mean to you?

KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,994Member Uncommon

I saw someone in another thread bemoan the lack of exploration in SWTOR, and it got me to wondering, what is it exactly that they are looking for in this feature?

I mean sure, on the surface it sounds easy, give me a large interesting gameworld that takes some significant time to traverse and I'll be happy.

But wait.  What exactly do you hope to find or do in this large universe?  I remember Vanguard and it had a large world to explore, but when I went out into it I ran into three things, nice scenery, mob choked areas that had to be fought through, and barren areas that were probably just unfinished.  Not much after that and not nearly as interesting as I would have hoped for.

Looking at the pretty scenery can be fun, but that only goes so far, eventually you have to give people something to do in that big world.

I've seen a couple of variants over the years.  There could be resource nodes perhaps, or a dungeon that people could visit, or a treasure chest laying around for someone to find.   Perhaps there might be a mini-quest, who knows, maybe Devs could put in some white water rafting?  In EVE exploration was an actual PVE mechanic, where you went out in your ship trying find hidden space junk and what not which you could profit from.

Anyways, I'd be interested in learning what other folks think exploration really entails and what sort of content they expect developers to provide outside of pretty scenery.

 

edit: I had to mention SWTOR because lately all threads in these forums must have an obligatory reference to it. image

In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
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  • ZekiahZekiah Aurora, COPosts: 2,499Member

    For me, this is what I look for:

    • Large, open worlds/maps

    • No "magic barriers", I prefer map roll-over

    • NOT linear

    • Minimal (none preferably) zoning/instances

    • Random events/mobs

    • Treasure hunting like UO had is awesome

    • Open space for housing/guild housing (NOT instanced inside!)

    • Random resources (location and stats) like SWG had

    I'm sure I could think of more but this is a good start. If developers want to keep me happy, start with those.

    "Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,994Member Uncommon

    I wonder, would it help if you could some get lost in the wilds?  Or at the very least not have a map/coordinate system that allows people to look up the locations of things online and zero right in on them.

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon
    I actually loved how they handled like... Hidden datacrons in wow. I like exploration like that. See those boxes? Jump up on it n youll be able to go to the upper levels and walk down pipes n youll find a neat hidden area!
    Or like...stuff like that o.O

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  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member

    Originally posted by Castillle

    I actually loved how they handled like... Hidden datacrons in wow. I like exploration like that.

    Generally I prefer exploring with conjunction to some other goal...badges in CoH, Achievements in WoW, I suppose datacrons will work (if I ever get around to doing them).

    But 'pure' exploration has its charms too, in limited doses.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • VrikaVrika FinlandPosts: 2,583Member Uncommon

    -A rare mob that gives a good loot and exp, or possibly just a chest or rare resource nodes

    -An extra quest that can be found

    -Npcs doing some fun event if you just stop and watch

    I hate what SWTOR did to 'exploration' with their datacrons. They made exploration so significant that you can't just stumble upon things, it's not exploration if you feel you have to find everything.

  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon
    Did i just say datacrons in wow? doh... I shouldnt post when im sick x.x and no edit on mobile version too :(

    I dont really mind if there are datacrons or not but i love hard to reach hiddn areas. Like how theres this ice block in hoth where you hefta use a hydro thinner to melt o.o or how the magenta aldegan crystals are obtained! Those neat hidden stuff or or like... Jumpin over pipes n following it to a hidden room. Those metroid like hidden stuff are what i love.

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  • FlawSGIFlawSGI Woodstock, GAPosts: 1,379Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Vrika

    -A rare mob that gives a good loot and exp, or possibly just a chest or rare resource nodes

    -An extra quest that can be found

    -Npcs doing some fun event if you just stop and watch

    I hate what SWTOR did to 'exploration' with their datacrons. They made exploration so significant that you can't just stumble upon things, it's not exploration if you feel you have to find everything.

    ^ Yep.  As one of those that is participating in that discussion, this is pretty much it. I know themeparks breadcrumb you around each zone you go to, but if you don't have any real reason to get off the path  then most people won't. When you add barriers on top of that you really stifle it. 

    RIP Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan and Paul Gray.

  • VhalnVhaln Chicago, ILPosts: 3,159Member

    For me, a absolutely vital part of exploration is not knowing what I'll find.  This can be tricky in MMOs, especially after seeing most of the gameworld, but its one reason I'd love to see more random procedurally generated content, so that no matter how long you've been around, you never know what you'll find.

     

    When I want a single-player story, I'll play a single-player game. When I play an MMO, I want a massively multiplayer world.

  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon
    I agree with valn! And i also agree with the other one who said remove maps and coordinates. But i think even thou, youll still have ppl putting guides on youtube n stuff.

    Idk how people can enjoy the game that way x.x

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  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member

    Possible ideas & features

    -  tresure hunting - small chance that some mob will drop map to his / her 'stash' , you may go and find it.  NOTE : this cannot be lead by quest GPS or it is pointless - this can be randomized for locations ,etc as far my little experience is crating scripts quite easily

     

    - rare or semi-rare mobs , rare or / and plentiful resources (preferably that those resources could have RANDOM stats / effects so things made from them would be unique ) <--- ABSOLUTE HAVE TO be randomized , static resources spawns (like in this area there is always resource x ) will NOT work .  Take on SWG idea.

     

    - some spots for house that are not well known / on maps  - ofc game has to have open housing

     

    - some NPC's (like lost wanderer, trader of artifacts, some mythical creature that need help, etc ) that randomly spawn in TOTALLY RANDOM (excluding cities & villages, etc ofc)  place on whole game world. Only 1 that type of that NPC like only 1 lost wanderer, not 10 wanderers in 10 places, but can be 1 wanderer + 1 trader of artifacts + 1 ... at same time in diffrent places.

    That NPC will have either some quest to give or some nice thing to trade ,etc

     

    - lot of just nice looking places and some should be hard to find

     

    - some places should get also spawn of normal non-rare resources ,but for example in significantly increased quanitity than normal and that should have fixed amount. So if someone find this area and 'harvest' them place get exploited and spawn get decreased and / or not spawn anymore.  Next time this increased resources spawn in diffrent place.

     

    - some nice unique  costmetic items should be able to be found exploring.  Like for example - you can meet white deer that if hunted and skinned can give you unique white skin for some fancy white cloak

     

    - Some events - like for example - you can meet person defending from bandits - if you help this person (killing bandits)  and this person will survive - he can give you sometjing like cosmetic item, weapon or otehr thing like for example discount on NPC prices in some city cause this person is for example daughter of city ruler

     

    - if game has sea - some small islands should NOT appear on maps (even if you find them) and should be found only by just  by sight. Then something nice can be on those islands (but not all ofc) - this feature afaik will be in ArcheAge.

     

    Most important - big seamless world + creativity and novelity.  Thinking out of the box.

     

    One more thing - imo GPS features in mmropg's should be nerfed. Maybe not disabled completly but should not totally hand hold you and show you exactly where to go + some quest should have GPS turned off.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 19,994Member Uncommon

    I played Xyson last year and it had no in game map and it was pretty disorienting. There was a coordinate system however, and some entrepreneur created a game world map which I'm sure everyone refereneced regularly to navigate.

    I think the issue is I find game worlds very disorienting because they really aren't unique, much of their artwork is reused countless times (unlike the real world) so that it is hard to get your bearings based on discernable landmarks.

    The only real world paralllel I can come up with is if you've ever been deep into the forest, everything starts to look very much the same and people lost tend to start circling or wandering randomly.

    I think I read that MO has no real map system, I wonder how well the players are able to navigate there?  (perhaps the artwork is better and providing landmarks and what not?)

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • illorionillorion Beckley, WVPosts: 467Member

    Originally posted by Kyleran

    I played Xyson last year and it had no in game map and it was pretty disorienting. There was a coordinate system however, and some entrepreneur created a game world map which I'm sure everyone refereneced regularly to navigate.

    I think the issue is I find game worlds very disorienting because they really aren't unique, much of their artwork is reused countless times (unlike the real world) so that it is hard to get your bearings based on discernable landmarks.

    The only real world paralllel I can come up with is if you've ever been deep into the forest, everything starts to look very much the same and people lost tend to start circling or wandering randomly.

    I think I read that MO has no real map system, I wonder how well the players are able to navigate there?  (perhaps the artwork is better and providing landmarks and what not?)

     

    This is correct... i fiddled with MO when It came out. It didnt have a map system but there where some landmarks... especially one of the mountains... that could be seen from pretty much anywhere.

    So you could kinda figure out where you where if you where lost based on a few of the large land marks in game

    "Don't mistake a fun game for a good game... Checkers is fun to play but its not exactly the highest point of gaming design... and definatly not worth $60 plus $15 a month"

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,455Member Uncommon

    I think the difference between me and Kyleran is that I love exploration in Vanguard. One of my best explorative moments was ni Vanguard where I discovered this mine and after getting to the end of it I then discovered that one of the miners broke through to some ancient Elvish temple of sorts.

    This to me is what exploration is about. It's about being in an area and seeing something of interest that not only is pretty to the eye (in whatever form it takes) but where one might be able to intereact or have some game play in the area. Or maybe even just a little nifty discovery.

    Like another Vanguard moment when I was coming back from a very northern part of the map and saw a tower in the distance. After going to the top I discovered a moving blob of sorts. Clicking on it yielded "cheese" which I could use as a buff of sorts.

    And if i have to fight through mobs and then come to something that is different then for me that is ok too.

    There is some movie coming out that had an interesting quote. To paraphrase "if it was easy to find then it wouldn't be worth finding".

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,666Member Uncommon

    For me, exploration means being able to find content that has not yet been discovered yet. That could be land, points of interest plants or animals that seem to have been eitehr undisocvered or rarely visited.

    For example, in Asheron's Call, everyone has pretty much been everywhere, however when one comes across a remote lifestone, vendor or dungeon there is a certain feeling of discovery there. Another example would be scanning space in EVE Online. Discovering an abandoned mission site with a pile of salvageable wrecks or discovering a recent wormhole can often prove to be a rewarding discovery experience.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • CastillleCastillle KhobarPosts: 2,703Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    For me, exploration means being able to find content that has not yet been discovered yet. That could be land, points of interest plants or animals that seem to have been eitehr undisocvered or rarely visited.

    For example, in Asheron's Call, everyone has pretty much been everywhere, however when one comes across a remote lifestone, vendor or dungeon there is a certain feeling of discovery there. Another example would be scanning space in EVE Online. Discovering an abandoned mission site with a pile of salvageable wrecks or discovering a recent wormhole can often prove to be a rewarding discovery experience.

     

    Ohhh scanning in EVE was fun! Too bad I couldnt get more people to do that with me :(  Everyone was busy running missions for credits -.-

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  • CuathonCuathon University City, NYPosts: 2,211Member

    I want exploration to have actual exploration. Like you go out and find things with no maps. In the game I am working on there is no world map exactly. Players who explore will get data for their maps. Maps will be a sellable good and one of the many features of the real fourth pillar of mmorpgs, no, not story, exploration.

     

    As the old 4x motto goes:

    explore, expand, exploit, exterminate.

    Exploration will have an equal value with crafting, fighting, and social aspects.

    Explorers will be able to find old ruins filled with magic and monsters and things like resource loads in ancient ware houses and gems and metals and crap. There will be cities buried over the ages and you will have to look over every inch of the world looking for holes to caves and cities and crap. Resources will exist with real latitudinal and longitudinal ranges and altitudes. Some plants will only grow in water or caves or on craggy peaks.

    So explorers will find treasure and magic and resources and monster lairs and all sorts of things. Monster society will be dynamic and ever changing and expanding. Monsters will roam the world or live in lairs which have large "areas of operation" as in they could be anywhere within large spheres around their lair.

    New trees might grow to expand forests and rivers might dry up and cause deserts and so forth. This part is highly experimental, the hardware may not be able to handle it.

    In any case exploration will mean more than looking up the next city on the map in GW or WoW. Players might post things online and that can't be avoided but there will be many incentives not to do it.

    You will be able to role play as a pure explorer and sells maps and rare loot you find and learn spells that no one else will have. In fact in some sense all mages in the game will have to explore or at least be part of a guild with explorers because all the magic in the world is found through exploration.

  • Arathir86Arathir86 CanberraPosts: 442Member Uncommon

    I'm a big Collector, some would even go so far as to say 'virtual hoarder'...

    That is why I love exploration in MMO's that reward you, be that a title, or visual easter eggs.

     

    Vanilla WoW was probably the most fun I had exploring for the first few months, they had locations like the Troll Village between Darkshore & Moonglade, and the 'Developers Island' off the coast of Tanaris (which needed being able to waterwalk while on your mount to reach before fatigue killed you) and many other secret locations.

    That's why I found it really strange when they started banning people for Wall-Walking to reach those areas, and then they removed the ability to wall-walk altogether.

     

    I thought SWTOR and It's Datacrons were a cool exploration thing, but I hated the fact that they gave you permanent stat boosts, which made them feel less of an exploration item and more of a mandatory item to search for.

     

    In the end, I feel exploration should be about discovering those tucked away gems in the world.

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  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,455Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Cuathon

    I want exploration to have actual exploration. Like you go out and find things with no maps. In the game I am working on there is no world map exactly. Players who explore will get data for their maps. Maps will be a sellable good and one of the many features of the real fourth pillar of mmorpgs, no, not story, exploration.

     

    I think it's a wonderful idea. Heck, one of my best game play experiences was in Lineage 2 when I died and dropped my map (yes, in Lineage 2 one used to have a map that was droppable) and when I hit "go to town" I ended up in some town that I didn't know (gludio) and didn't know I could buy a new map. I ended up finding my way back home by trial and error. Was an incredible experience.

    However, what happens when your thousands of players discover the map within a month? Seem to be a lot of effort for a feature that is going to be limited in respect to long term game play.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,666Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    Originally posted by Cuathon

    I want exploration to have actual exploration. Like you go out and find things with no maps. In the game I am working on there is no world map exactly. Players who explore will get data for their maps. Maps will be a sellable good and one of the many features of the real fourth pillar of mmorpgs, no, not story, exploration.

    I think it's a wonder idea. Heck, one of my best game play experiences was in Lineage 2 when I died and dropped my map (yes, in Lineage 2 one used to have a map that was droppable) and when I hit "go to town" I ended up in some town that I didn't know (gludio) and didn't know I could buy a new map. I ended up finding my way back home by trial and error. Was an incredible experience.

    However, what happens when your thousands of players discover the map within a month? Seem to be a lot of effort for a feature that is going to be limited in respect to long term game play.

    UO had gone that path. One thing they initially did that staved off the inevitable obsolescence of cartgraphy was to make the maps a useful tool when sailing. You could place waypoint pins in the map, hand it to the boat tiller and he'd automatically navigate your ship along that path.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • FrostWyrmFrostWyrm Tempe, AZPosts: 1,036Member

    Nobody uses scenery to tell a story anymore. How many games have you played where you stumble across an area, look around, and without having an NPC spout of any lore to you, tell just by looking that some kind of battle or something else interesting happened here at one time?

     

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    In short: exploration means I start the game day with an unknown that is going to shape how I play.

    Exploration can mean unexplored areas on the map, previously undiscovered quest chains, random spawns, complex mechanics, weather, a bag of random loot, anything where I simply don't know what I will encounter (and even better if I don't even know what the range of possibilities is)

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,455Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by FrostWyrm

    Nobody uses scenery to tell a story anymore. How many games have you played where you stumble across an area, look around, and without having an NPC spout of any lore to you, tell just by looking that some kind of battle or something else interesting happened here at one time?

     

    Yeah, I agree. Lineage 2 had a few things like that. It was pretty neat. However, they also had dome generic set pieces as well.

  • mfukmfuk Sao PauloPosts: 24Member

    Originally posted by Vhaln

    For me, a absolutely vital part of exploration is not knowing what I'll find.  This can be tricky in MMOs, especially after seeing most of the gameworld, but its one reason I'd love to see more random procedurally generated content, so that no matter how long you've been around, you never know what you'll find.

     

    What if people were able to set up traps in dungeons,  rare-mobs spawn zones, etc (the same to treasures)? I know it's just a dumb idea, but to me, people would explore the world more.. or not. 

  • karter64karter64 Oregon City, ORPosts: 86Member

    Exploring is probably my favorite part of MMO's. I love to see new places I haven't seen before.

    I would spend hours just running around in Asheron's Call while much of the player base was camped in XP dungeons.  Sure it slowed my leveling progress, but it was more about the visual experience than the leveling, although in the process I found quite a few good grinding spots that I could go to and not have any competition for mobs.

    I enjoyed exploring in WoW, but the zones, and the world in general, seemed so compacted compared to AC. 

     

  • CuathonCuathon University City, NYPosts: 2,211Member

    Originally posted by Sovrath

    Originally posted by Cuathon

    I want exploration to have actual exploration. Like you go out and find things with no maps. In the game I am working on there is no world map exactly. Players who explore will get data for their maps. Maps will be a sellable good and one of the many features of the real fourth pillar of mmorpgs, no, not story, exploration.

     

    I think it's a wonderful idea. Heck, one of my best game play experiences was in Lineage 2 when I died and dropped my map (yes, in Lineage 2 one used to have a map that was droppable) and when I hit "go to town" I ended up in some town that I didn't know (gludio) and didn't know I could buy a new map. I ended up finding my way back home by trial and error. Was an incredible experience.

    However, what happens when your thousands of players discover the map within a month? Seem to be a lot of effort for a feature that is going to be limited in respect to long term game play.

    The game world is going to be really big. And you can actually create gates to other game worlds of similar sizes. Travel will be pretty slow and I doubt players will be able to explore it in a month. I am thinking of a function where players have to create the map physically and if they die before making changes they will lose that information. There are a lot of ways to work it out I think. My post was just a general statement of ideals.

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