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First off, nothing I say is groundbreaking or absolutely correct, but I do have a blog here on MMORPG.com that I post in occassionally. You see, I love Shadowrun, it is an awesome game system with a fantastic world of swords, elves, magic, oh yeah, guns, hacking, and flying a VTOL assault jet. Rock on!
The blog is here: http://www.mmorpg.com/blogs/WolfClaws
This is a LONG read. Thank you in advance, and please feel free to post your comments. I just ask that you be constructive and respectful of everyone. I will call down "EAGLE!" if not.
But what I want to key in here are certain features, if you can work them in, or at the very least a variation, would be awesome. I played all the Elder Scroll games since ES II. That was when I was deployed to Bosnia the first time. It was a fantastic game, HUGE game world and you could do anything you wanted. Anything. True open world sandbox gaming.
I truly want to see ESO succeed. Not just monetarily, but in giving the players and the community and all the closet gamers out there something to be proud of and push onward to greatness and many many more DLCs (free and otherwise) to come.
Some of the things listed games have already done (past my post date you see) and it works well with the community. But it does take away as well... which is why you must decide the fate for all of us gamers who are hopefull to play.
Why do players like to collect thigs?
Seems all trivial at first glance. EQ2 had collections of sorts, but really didn't do much other than giving you a special move against certain things. Which was cool.
Star Wars Galaxies put in collections (a lot of them) and gave xp and items. Mostly it was kill X and find Y and collect Z, but it was a cool start.
Warhammer has collections in the form of their codex thing, and is much more difficult to fill up, as it needs you to do different things, and nets you xp and a new title some of the time.
Why do players like that though? Well, while I am not a "loot whore" by nature, I think it is cool, as it shows that player is actually progressing. While they are obtaining levels, yes, showing little "mini dings" as it were while they are working to level up, it shows a sense of accomplishment.. "Oooh I just killed 100 wolves" or "Ahhh, I clicked on myself 1000 times." Just stuff that... doesn't really mean much since you are doing it anyways, but it helps and gives that "I'm the man and I'm doing well" feeling.
What is the point of Collections?
I just went over the why players like it... now let's give it purpose.
In this MMO of ShadowRun that exists only in my mind, items collected would have purpose. There wouldn't be junk loot, as all that you collect will matter. If a mob is used an Ares Predator, he may drop that Predator, and it may or may not be damaged. It might or might not have ammo in it. He may have ammo on him, or a credstick, or maybe you rip out his cybereyes (graphic yes,,, but come on, he won't need em anymore) using certain skills of course. And for each item obtained, NPC killed, location wandered into, or even skills used, etc you will go towards a certain... collection. Once collections are completed for that stage, they may yeild a special item.
This item will not make you superman, but it can be placed in your home (provided you haven't exceeded your allowed "space".
Examples of what collection items can do when place in your home:
Give new hair styles
New colors and jewelry
Fame/Infamy (just in the context of how NPCs react to you)
Basically it will give the "cool factor" stuff. You can manage them, store them, use em however you see fit. None of them will affect gameplay. Only because, why? Collections are done automatically, and those who strive to do them as hard as they can will get rewarded, and the more collections you obtain, the better the rewards.
So you fight your way through the mission and you are lucky enough that you loot a boss that has a gold plated predator. What do you do with it? Well, you can do a couple of things. First off... equip it. Show it off, have the ooh ahh factor go in and even though it has great damage, you aren't trained to use a pistol. So what now?
Easy, you put it up as a trophy in your home. And you find that you get a small bonus to a particular skill. Something that does enhance your combat abilities. Nothing outstandly huge of course, but it will help.
The other boss drops some body armor that is an antique, and you may get bonuses to resist a type of damage... again, nothing large, but every little bit will help.
Some items can be used to give you the ability to modify certain weapons. Remember that gold plated Predator? Well not only does it give you increased accuracy with one handed weapons, it gives you the chance to modify a single weapon to give it a gold plated appearance.
Rolling for loot
A thing of the past chummer. How? Well by having each corpse drop something for each team member. And only that person will see what they got, and while it may or may not be suitable for him, he will then have the option to trade it to someone else in a quick fashion by doing the drag and drop in the chat box and all the item's stats are shown when clicked.... Then the group member says "yeah I want it", then you can either do the trade, or right click the item and do a quick trade in the group where it passes the item to your teammate, and he will get a popup stating the item (with link) and a yes, no, ignore feature.
Now I will talk about, what will bring gamers back to the game AFTER they log off.
Doesn't matter if it is their 1st time or 100th time... what will bring gamers back?
Now, granted, some of these features have been done in some games already, but the way they are used.... is a winning combo. Pay attention MMO Publishers.
Ahhh, yes... the mighting housing issue. First, why do we, as gamers, want housing? Is it to find a comfortable bed to sleep on? Grab something out of the fridge late at night? A place to keep the rain off of us?
Of course not!
We do not care about the mundane stuff, we want the house to show off our decoration skills, a place to put our war trophies up and brag about things. It can be a secure location to invite some friends over. Or a rally point before a big raid.
But this has all been done before... the funny thing is... games today are NOT giving us war trophies, or homes we can decorate or even show off to others easily. What is the point of having a home if people cannot find it? What is the point of having a home if I cannot put my stuffed head on the wall?
Keep those flamethrowers at bay folks... but Star Wars Galaxies had it right when they put in the housing system. Anything in your inventory could be dropped and put anywhere... now in any position. Armor, weapons, trophies, cool stuff, whatever, and you could decorate your home however you wanted IF you wanted to take the time to do it. Or you could have your buddy come in and decorate for you. Then you showed it off.. great stuff. This system reminded me of Ultima Online but with far more creative execution.
Ok, so ShadowRun, do I plan on putting trophies on my wall? You would if there were a crapload of items in game that matched SWG's system. Everything from weapons, trophy weapons, totems, decks (the hacking kind) head of beasts, or legs, or tails, teeth from dragons... This way you could design your quarters as you see fit.
Are we talking instanced housing?
Unfortunatly, yes. Why? Because while most people don't mind navigating through the streets of Seattle... trying to find real estate for 50,000 people who call that server home.. would be crazy. You would needs to build apartment buildings, Go up the elevator, head down the hall to the right, and make sure you don't lose your key... it's a little too tedius.
Let's try this. Depending on which city you are based in, it will be instanced.. nothing to be done about that. Instead of being down.. think of this. You can own one pad in each city.. if you are "legal" there. Legal being a loose term.
What the hell??!! You talk of instanced housing, which is bad enough, but now multiple houses??? What is wrong with you man!
I know. Hear me out. They would have to build this thing from the ground up. Duh. But, think about searching the internet... you hop on Google.com or Yahoo.com to run a search using the right tags. Heck you can do that here with the blogs. Now imagine you set up your home in Seattle and you are allowed to create tags for your pad. So you use "trophy, decoration, museum, party, decker" and now your pad is associated with those terms AND your characters's handle.
Now someone only needs to head to the nearest terminal in that city and plug in Museum for the search word, and a whole listing of places come up for them. If you have an "open house" anyone who is not banned from your home, will just come on in and look around. See your view, if any, and when they want to leave, either walk out the door or use the terminal in the home and find another home to visit. Simple on paper right? LOL.
Ok, so I can make a home, decorate it, but what is the point? I am not an interior decorator.
Simple. We make housing worthwhile to have, from a gameplay aspect.
You know how food and drinks raise up your regeneration in other popular games?
Well here your home would do that. Check this out.
Your place, whether it be a squatters nest that you get when you start out, or if you are a corporate man, a nice small efficiency, you will be allowed only a little bit of "room" to place things inside. These simple things like a bed and a fridge, shelves, will have a certain "value" that the home cannot go beyond.
This value would have a Roleplay reasoning of "in a squatters den if you have too much stuff, someone will surely come to take it, so best not to tempt fate" Or "your corporate sponsors only allow you to decorate your home so much, to better represent your role with the company. Earn their respect to be assigned to larger quarters and hopefully one with a better view."
That was established.
The bed would provide your mental regeneration and the fridge your health regeneration..
Nothing crazy, of course. Other trophies and items placed in your home would also give you other benefits, again, no large numbers or powerful abilities, but some nice to haves. And who knows, maybe even make Feng Shui a prominent factor in enhancing these increases slightly... something fun.
Remember when I brought up the thing about having a place each city? Well your increases will only happen when you in that city's influence area... So if you are visiting the elves in England, you won't get any benefits from your homes in America.
All games have some kind of crazy money sink system in place... The way rent would work if you choose to rent, will be monthly. You would be responsible to come up with rent and could pay 3 months out, 12 months out etc.. and this would be real life months. Your place also wouldn't go away with all your things deleted if you don't pay your rent, but others will not be able to enter, and neither will you until you pay your back rent. And you lose your benefits.
Lastly, I want to leave you with my posting on when developers release a game too early... If the developers read this, hopefully it will stick and they will just release the game when they are done. Thank you all for reading.
I have seen all too often the accepted industry standard of products being labled gold and released that are unfinished in the gaming world.
Well, not just the gaming world, but with Vista as well...
You have games being developed for years, tested, new content added, a whole lot of hype, and then it is labled gold, and BOOM! you have a beta version of the game that you paid $50 for and $15 a month.
This is true for City of Heroes/Villians, Lord of the Rings Online, Everquest II, World of Warcraft, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Star Wars Galaxies (all 5 versions of the game), Hellgate London and a number of games that are too expansive to list here.
Ultima Online did it right. Was it buggy? Yeah. Did it have patches? Yup. Why did they release a MMO completed? Because back then, if your product wasn't finished, it didn't get released.
Now, don't get me wrong... there is no way that all bugs can get squashed before release... some you have to do a certain way, dance around like "an egyptian" naked near a campfire using pine wood on a full moon to experience it. But obvious bugs that some manager goes up and says " I think it is cost effective to release this" screws up the experience for most everyone.
And it isn't just the bean counters causing problems too. You have those stark raving fans that go absolutely nuts! "What??!!! the game was delayed?? Again?!!! WTF! " Those people drive me insane. You would think they were the Xbox Live kiddies that are notorious for cursing up a storm with their high pitched voices wondering where mommy is to wash their mouth out with soap... No, these are full grown adults, some are white-collared workers drawing in $50-70k a year. Whining and crying that makes them indistinguishable from the kids I hear on Xbox Live.
So where do we draw the line? What is the defining point from which one can safely say, "this game is good enough to release?" Personally, I think that statement is skewed anyways. "Good Enough".. That is what the slacker says who wants to be done with something so they can do something else. He does a half-assed job and expects to be rewarded for it.
Pirates of the Burning Sea is a good example of Developers and Dreams clashing and hurting them more than helping. Just when the game was finished, done and ready to roll.. They said, let's throw in Avatar combat... Then they said, well we have them running around on the ship fighting,,, let's allow them to walk around port now. And they kept on adding things to the game, beyond the original design. This caused them to be set back for a couple of years, but it wasn't yet finished, and they released it as "good enough". Well it wasn't good enough, as there is only so much you can do in the game.
Before the fanbois start hitting me... I like PotBS, but can only handle so much at a time. And the developers already discussed as how they wish they released the game when it was originally done before adding avatar stuff to it. I am just repeating what they said and agreeing.. It was a mistake.
There was one game that was released, and for the life of me, I cannot remember the name of it, but they basically had to freeze all paid accounts for two or three months because the bugs and server stability was so horrible AFTER it was sold in the stores, they couldn't take the money from the consumer. Was that Anarchy Online? Bah, I can't remember.
But speaking of which, AO was SO damn buggy it was horrible. The promise of the first instanced home was never working, no place to store your goods, bugged AI for pets, and mobs... Funcom had great ideas, but they published a crap product because it was unplayable. I remember going back though and my fixer being like 150 or something then. The game had improved. Now, the game (you can play free if you start a new account....) has improved in stability, playability, but the graphics are so outdated it is like playing Asheron's Call (this game was great but graphics are so horrible by today's standards). I am told that Anarchy Online will be receiving a huge UI and graphics overhaul later this year.. If happens, I'll be revisiting Rubi-Ka again.
With the unfinished games, should the gamers be compensated for their being true to the game? Even with all the bugs? If they are, how should they be rewarded? Reduced subscriptions? Should the game even be sold before it is fixed? Should publishers just allow free downloads of the game, and subscription fees at a reduced price until the game is fixed? Then when the game is ready and true gold, then freeze the accounts until they get the game from a retailer? But able to keep their account?
So many questions, and no answers, save one. It is a sad fact, that even I would do this, if a gamer wants to play a game, they will go out, buy it, endure through the bugs and warping, they will. Very sad fact and for this reason publishers will not alter how they do business.