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When I was a kid, I had better fantasy than I do have now. Thanks to that I was able to play almost any type of game and have fun with it...single player RPGs, sports, car racing games, FPS, RTS, adventures, practically anything if the game was at least decent.
Now that I got older, my fantasy is no longer that good, so that most of the games / types of games that I used to like seem to be a waste of time to me. The games just somehow lack meaning for me. I know that the generally accepted purpose of playing games is to have fun, but I simply cannot have fun with a game that isnt meaningful in a longer term.
Because of this I focus almost exclusively on MMORPGs since they have the potential to be meaningful in a long term (reasonable long term...I realize than like J.M. Keynes said "In the long run, we are all dead").
However, it seems to me that the games are not using this potential at all. Most games released in last decade are so simplistic, so shallow. Maybe they are like this since it is what masses want, so that they generate maximum profit being more of an instant action arcade games rather than virtual worlds, where you want to spend many years.
Recently, I started to think about a game which would be different from what we have now and how to make a game more meaningful.
What I think a problem with current games is that they are"
1) Linear - You have zones, divided by levels. Towns with NPCs that give you quests which make you kill 10 wolves. Then you come back, get exp + gold and you are ready to move on to another quests, where you kill 10 birds for similar reward. It is practically just a way how to get to maximum level. The recently introduced dynamic events work the same way.
2) Fast paced - You start at level 1. In one week, you are level 50 which is maximum level at which "the game really opens up". It doesnt...
3) Rides - The game opens up at maximum level, so that you can go to do endgame content. You can choose from battlegrounds, raids, dungeons, arena, some meaningless sieges, quests,. Why? To have quick instant fun like if you play a race in Need for Speed.
4) Everything is there since start - Again, you start at level 1 and the next day you are killing huge dragons and similar monsters. One hour after you start, you have a glowing sword as large as your body and full gear that makes you look like a raid boss.
5) Strange economy - The games are overflooded with useless crap. There are too many gear pieces since every other wolf drops you some gloves, boots or something like that which is so unrealistic.
6) Simplistic, meaningless crafting - Crafting is unrealistic. You take 5 crystals, some sort of magic dust and you make a sword. Usually, it does not make sense to craft anything until you hit max level since crafted items are simply worse or equally good as easily obtainable drops.
7) Professions are like placeholders and are so artificial
Those are just a few points that I quickly came up with.
I thought of a game design which seems quite interesting to me. I did not spend so much time on it, so that it definitely has many weaknesses I am sure. Anyway, I thought I may throw it here and maybe get some constructive feedback on some of those designs.
1) Medieval light fantasy setting - lets say medieval with some basic magics. It would be rather niche. One huge server.
2) Two nations - you would have several races to choose from. I do not consider it a big deal if there were e.g. 4 races for nation and different 4 races for the other one or just a common pool, so that you can have the same race in either nation.
3) World map - Each nation would have their own land. It would be guarded by NPCs, but still accessible by the other nation. Then there would be a land which would not belong to any nation and would be accessible by both nations. The proportion would be 20% of the map for one nation, 20% for the other one and 60% the common land.
4) Drops - I would normally mention this later, but I want to state this before I get to economy and professions. It would be possible to obtain full drops from monsters. However, the drop rates would be really low (like e.g. Lineage 2 early chronicles). Instead of that, the monsters would be dropping mats. Realistic mats, so that if you kill a wolf you may use its skin for leather armor, you can use its teeth for some kind of tool, you can use its meat.
5) Professions - This is where I think the game would be different. I would attempt at making it realistic. An individual player would not be a walking manufacture. There would be specialization.
There are many resources in the world. For instance, you would have wood, stone, iron, silver, gold, diamonds, sand, cole, etc... Similar to minecraft lets say. I would like to have many levels of each resource in terms of quality. It would be harder to obtain better mats since they would either be in a location where the monsters are tougher or they would be in a common land where the PvP for resources takes place and where the monsters would also be harder anyway, also you would need tools of better quality to collect the mats.
E.g. you will have location where you just cannot kill monsters with a wooden sword in order to get e.g. titanium which would make a sword 10 tiers higher. You would not be able to mine titanium with mining pick made of stone. It would be a very long process to go through all the tiers of resources, items and it would not be possible for an individual or a single guild. The whole nation has to cooperate and have a working economy in order to proceed and to surpass the other faction and control the unique resources in the common land. There would still be a very little chance of getting a full drop (it would still be a nice carrot sort of, imo). It would not be easy to make full items / final products. You would not be fighting dragons one day after you start playing. You will be glad to kill the most basic wolf a week after you start.
I was talking about specialization. I think it is a key to bring the community together. It is why I used term Nation to label the faction.
One person cuts the trees. Other person makes planks. Other person builds house.
One person mines iron. Another person is a blacksmith making edges for weapons or agricultural / industrial tools.
These people would have their houses / industry buildings where they can be approached by someone asking them to make a weapon, to build them a house, to make them some agricultural tools, etc.
Simply put, every person will have their role in the economy similar to how it probably used to be in medieval times. As I mentioned, I would like the game to be realistic.
It would lead to urbanization, imo. People would be building cities naturally since it would be beneficial for the economy just like in real world. People would be building castles to protect their cities. It would be a nation wide / big city wide process to build a castle.
Of course you can build a house far away from others if you want, but you will most likely be falling behind people from towns since they would have better access to mats sold in the market, professionals making tools / weapons / armors. These loners can of course go to the city, but there would be no fast travel...no teleports, no flying. You can buy a horse/donkey from a person that specializes in breeding horses or some other useful animals or you can specialize in that yourself. It would cost you a lot of time.
Due to specialization, there would be many types of professionals all of which would be needed in order to have a running economy which would be competitive with the other nation.
I can imagine having a major in a player build city. People would vote for a major. Or maybe even more people managing the city as a whole. Setting level of taxes which would be going to city treasury. The people managing the city could make proposals how to use the money which people would vote on. E.g. lets build a wall on the northern part of town in order to stop wolves from killing sheeps of our farmers. We need to avoid shortage of meat. Or maybe lets raise taxes for a while / cut spending for a while and build a castle for protection of our city. People would decide if they are for or against the proposal.
It would be possible to build a city hall in the city. It would serve as an information channel, so that it would be beneficial for the city to have one built. For instance, a city can vote on organizing a nation wide pvp tournament or something like that. It may take place in some sort of arena which the city also needs to have built in order to organize the tourney. The other cities which have city halls would see the information there, so that people from that city would have the information and could participate. In the city hall there would be the proposals made by city government visible and the people can cast their votes here. Participation in the tournament may cost some money, so that the city can determine a price for the winner as well as cover the costs of organizing of the tourney.
I could go on and on about this, but I think that this may give you a general idea of what I mean.
6) Progression - No character levels.
Regarding profession, there would be many levels. Using the profession, you would be getting better and better. After reaching every let say 10th level, you would be able to choose a perk, like e.g. being able to process better resource or be more efficient, effective, craft more advanced tools, items, make items with longer durability. If you start as a person making wooden products, you can make only very basic stuff when you start. It would take a long time to progress and be able to make better items. Something similar would be applicable on every profession. Lets say a horse breeder would be having 3 / 5 horses die before they become rideable or able to be utilized in agriculture. Or his horses would be thin and slow when he is new to the profession . His horses may have lower life expectancy. Gaining each e.g. 10th level, he would be able to choose an improvement in of these areas.
Skills progression would be based on usage of the skills. You would be gaining skills with each weapon separately. I was thinking about progression being level based. Every 10 levels with the weapon you get a new active / passive skill. With each level your dmg / def (depending if its wep or arm level) goes up a little. Or e.g. an archer, by using your bow, you would be getting levels...0-10 you are novice, 10-20 apprentice, 20-30 experienced, 30-40 skilled, 40-50 expert, 50-60 master, on level 100 you can be grandmaster or something. Each level you gain would be increasing damage, speed of your attacks, etc. In addition, these ranks/tiers would be granting something like e.g. apprentice archers has better chance to hit with their shots than novice, experienced archers are able to shoot 2 arrows quickly. Skilled archer can shoot a burning arrow.
7) Realism - You have to eat, drink, sleep where it is safe. How well you eat, sleep would influence your stats.
Items have limited durability and when they break, they perish.
You can have only limited amount of items on you. For instance, some sort of doctor can cure wounds, heal, cure diseases, etc. They could also make a bandage / potion / ointment which player can purchase and carry on them. However, it would not be like in most current games that you just buy 80 of these and you are fine. You could carry only a few of those for your adventures into the wilderness.
8) Conflict - The nations would be in war. Which nation has the upper hand would be to a large extent influenced by the economy. An army of soldiers with wooden swords and shields would get easily destroyed by army geared with iron stuff. It would also motivate the nation to work together as one big team.
As mentioned before, each nation can access the land of the other nation. I would suggest having guards in the cities.
They could either be NPCs (although I want to keep minimum number of NPCs in the world. Maybe even eliminate them completely.) the number of which would depend on city defense expenses. I can imagine having basic financial statements for each city / or even province into which the nations land can be divided (by players) accessible for view in a city hall. (Something really simple like Revenues from taxes, Expenses on defense, investments to infrastructure, etc, so that players could see how well the city government is doing and probably not vote for them next time if the city is running out of money or is investing money inefficiently).
Or they can be player professions. It would require making a reward system for this profession as the professions would be main source of players' income (next to material drops from monsters and very rare full drops which definitely cannot be considered as source of stable income. You would get 1 full drop in several months of playing. Like I said, similar to L2 C1). Due to the fact that the cities probably would not be under constant attacks of other nation, it would require monsters to attack the city. Not sure if it is possible, but I would like to have randomly attacking animals e.g. pack of wolves zerging the city as well as well organized attacks of humanoid monsters e.g. a group of thieves approaching carefully the city and picking some strategic target for their invasion. The player guards would then be rewarded for every monster killed or invasion stopped. There would be many various types of mobs attacking the city in a unique random way.
The progress in the profession of guards could be done through hyerarchy. Getting experience for defeating invasions, protecting others, etc would increase your rank once in a while.
9) Death penalty - I personally do not have anything against perma death. However, in this game, I would suggest not to go with perma death. In a game in which you "invest" time and energy, you should not be able to lose everything you worked for in a blink of an eye. I would go with full loot for sure. You drop everything you are carrying with you.
I know I am not addressing some aspects of the game. As I said, it is just a concept and I have not dedicated so much time to it yet. But I would like to know if this may the kind of game people are asking for when they say "We want worlds, not games".