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Like many others here, I'm getting a bit tired of the tried and true scripted quest concepts that are used liberally throughout MMORPGs. You know what I'm talking about, go to Bob, kill 10 rats, get reward. Even when this is done very well, it still means that the game provides an essentially finite experience, and then when it's over, you have the "endgame" which is generally just PvP or gear grinding.
I have long dreamed of a game where the players would actually provide "content" and interesting stories all on their own, and the world would be perepetually interesting with no end. But alas, it seems that most games that have tried this never work out completely. Most games that I've played which I've played that attempt this do so by one of the following:
1. Asking the players to develop scripted quests just like devs would with some kind of quest-generation engine. The problem with this is that quests made by players really aren't going to be any more interesting than those made by devs, so at best, you just get more of the same.
2. Attempting to design the game world around player-driven, dynamic content and hoping that your players will create emergent gameplay for themselves using said content.
Now I think #2 here has real merit...but unfortunately, I've just never seen it implemented in a very appealing way. Some games focus on crafting and economics (SWG), but the actual gameplay of crafting and selling goods really just isn't that fun for the majority of players. Other games, such as Darkfall, DAoC, or GW2, try to create an interesting political/war drama by allowing players to own and/or fight over real estate in the game.
I think that this poltical/war drama angle has potential, but everytime I have played a game with it, I just find myself not caring that much. I mean, what value does a virtual town have to me? Am I willing to stay up all night defending it? Maybe once, but probably not twice...at some point I'm just going to realize that defending this virtual piece of property is meaningless and stop.
I believe this "lack of motivation" that I felt while playing these games tends to damage the entire experience for everyone. There's really no drama when you assault another player's holding and find that there is no one there to defend because they really just don't care that much to defend it...this experience has been extremely common for me in all games like this.
So how do you motivate people to care about the game world? How do you get them invested? Well...the answer may be simpler than you would think. What is a major factor in real life that motivates just about anyone?
And when we talk about money in games...we generally talk about RMT.
So before I get started here, let me just say that I generally hate RMT. But I have realized that this hate isn't due to anything intrinsically bad about RMT, instead it is due to the fact that, up until now, RMT is, at best, fairly non-intrusive, and at worst is actively harms the game.
But what about implementing RMT in a way that actually HELPS the concept of the game? I think that the potential to earn real money can serve as a huge motivating factor that can make the game more interesting for everyone IF, it is done correctly (Diablo 3, not done correctly).
And this is where we get to my idea.
At a basic level, my idea is to have a pay to play game where players can actually obtain "game time" (let's call it "spice" for now just as a tribute to Dune) through the world and then sell this to other players at a lower rate than the game dev sells it. So like, you could buy a month of game time for $15 from the game dev, or $13 from a player...you will buy it from the player. The player will get this money, with maybe a small tax collected by the game dev.
Obviously, there is more than just that. So to elaborate...
There will be mines in the game that produce "raw spice" for whatever players are holding them. The mines can be seized by other players/guilds, and when taken over they will start to produce "raw spice" for whoever took it. The expectation here is that these mines will be a source of REAL money, and thus should be hotly contested, and staunchly defended by players...I would also want to have purchaseable defenses for mines to make them more secure.
Raw spice can be traded, but cannot provide game time until it is refined. To refine raw spice, a player must rent a refinery from the game dev for a real money monthly fee. A refinery, working constantly, will be able to produce significantly more value in "spice" than it costs to rent a month. So provided that you keep your refineries supplied, they will provide you profit, otherwise, you may take a loss. As such, renting a refinery is a "risk," you need to keep your refinery well supplied or lose money. This is not a risk any run of the mill spice miner will likely take.
This dynamic should create an interesting landscape where mining companies are always attempting to control more mines and defend the ones they have from other mining companies, I would expect this to play like an actual war of territorial control. On the other hand, refining companies are constantly trying to secure enough supply from the mining companies to keep them refineries running and producing constantly; I would expect this to play more like an economic, shadowy war of trying to secure supply contracts over other refiners and supporting your loyal miners from behind the scenes.
This is clearly a very brief concept, but what do you guys think of this? I think that players will be much more invested in a game when they can actually make real money by simply being the "best" at the game.
Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?