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[Column] General: Dynamic Events

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,614MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In today's column by Matt Miller, we take a look at Dynamic Events and how nice it would be to see the return of these types of in-game events being run by actual human beings rather than simply scripted. Check out Matt's ideas and then let us know what you think in the comments.

I mentioned in my first column how I got started playing online games with MUDs such as Gemstone, and how they captured my imagination in a way I didn’t know was possible. One of the things that these games did was Dynamic Events that were not simply pre-scripted encounters that ran automatically, but were run by game masters and administrators, and had a special sense of involvement I’ve seen replicated only a few times since.

Read more of Matt Miller's Dynamic Events.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon

    I'm glad to see you back, Matt. Because we need the discussions. But to be honest, due to a lack of replies by you in the other thread, I hope our comments get read. I'm afraid that these articles are a "this is our side of the story, we're not interested in yours" thing.

    To the point, I strongly believe in tools. Lots of them. To set up things quickly and to run them efficiently. I also think there needs to be AI developed so that NPCs act in a more challenging way throughout the game, and it would only help here as well.

    I'd like to see a small staff of GMs whose job is to run these things in an ongoing "world story" that the players can be a big factor in. This is a primary way that I'd like to see players make "changes to the game world". I'd love to see GMs play "bosses" that we have to actually outsmart in game play, inside the game, to ultimately defeat. None of this stuff where they are simply plopped down and we defeat them as designed. GMs who actually play the Bosses to win (within guidelines, of course), and can be defeated with current goals as well as perma-killed.

    I want to see the stories develope freely, and players actually losing "stuff". Stuff like control of mountain passes, dungeons in the sense of a base of operations for (an undead cult, or any other group that GMs might be behind), enchanted forests, etc.

    I want things to matter, and to shift via player victories that aren't guaranteed.

    Edit to add: And this is one of the main reasons (along with economics) that I don't want the big level advantages in current games. They divide the player base and make it unplayable (either way) for large numbers of the player base. And I do not like scaling, because that loses identity for the characters.

    Once upon a time....

  • FelixMajorFelixMajor London, ONPosts: 576Member
    I'm just throwing this out there, that if there were a game that had live, real gms playing as merchants and involving themselves in real dynamic events I would gladly pay $20 or more per month. I played only one MMO that had real gms who were involved, it was Regnum. Amazing community and gms, game itself wasn't so great though.

    Gms need to be more involved and not just babysitters

    Originally posted by Arskaaa
    "when players learned tacticks in dungeon/raids, its bread".

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by FelixMajor
    I'm just throwing this out there, that if there were a game that had live, real gms playing as merchants and involving themselves in real dynamic events I would gladly pay $20 or more per month. I played only one MMO that had real gms who were involved, it was Regnum. Amazing community and gms, game itself wasn't so great though.

    Gms need to be more involved and not just babysitters

    I agree, I'd pay more too and be thankful for it. As it is, I'm not paying anyone anything.

    Edit: but you know, I'm not sure you need GMs to play merchants. There's a lot you can do with NPC merchants that don't require GMs. The idea of doing them a favor and getting special access isn't new with NPCs. I'd really rather see GMs spend their time playing Kings and Overlords.

    Once upon a time....

  • FelixMajorFelixMajor London, ONPosts: 576Member
    I meant to throw in there that modern mmos throw around the term 'dynamic' far too loosely.

    Originally posted by Arskaaa
    "when players learned tacticks in dungeon/raids, its bread".

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    Staffing two (if not 3) full shifts of GMs to be paid to play the game against/with the players in this kind of GM dynamic event role sound amazing on paper.

    But the logistics of it are really, really hard to make worth the investment.

    You also need to have a balance of "normal" game time for every day activities and time for all the GM led/run dynamic events.

    But how do you schedule that?

    How do you ensure player participation without crashing your server because every player tries to join in?

    So in the end - you get a lot more bang for your buck to just hire more developers to make more content faster that releases across all servers than hiring a full team of GMs for each server for each shift.

    Think about it.

    Say your server can hold 3,000 players at once.

    But your world/engine can realistically only handle about 500 players on screen in the same area doing interesting things like fighting etc.

    So if you have 1 GM assigned to each server, even at 50% player participation you'll still crash the server three times over.

    OK, so let's hire 3 GMs per server - to run three seperate events and try and get those 50% to evenly distribute so you don't crash the map.

    So are you going to staff 3 GMs per server per shift or only during "peak" hours? What about weekends? Two shifts on Saturday / Sunday?

    And what happens when your game is so successful you have a hundred servers?

    Are you realistically going to have 300-500 GMs on staff for nearly 24/7 GM led events?

    Hell even having 100 GMs on staff is a huge expense.

    Let's say you pay those GMs decently and provide some level of benefits. After all, you have to ensure you have quality staff so that the quality of their work and the experience for players is up to snuff right?

    You simply can't have GMs who will abuse the playerbase or do boring/lazy bad events and such.

    So let's just ballpark a figure for salaray + benefits at 50k a year.

    100 GMs is 5 million dollars a year.

    50 GMs is 2.5 million dollars a year.

    10 GMs is still 500,000 a year.

    In subscription costs, at say 15$ per month per player, that adds up to-

    100 GMs ~333,000 subscribers

    333,000 subscribers peaking at maybe 1/4th online at any given time = 83,250 players concurrently.

    Which means you have to have ~ 28 servers so you get 3.5 GMs per server.

    Throw in other operating costs and hardware and the rest of your staff (Probably a staff of 200-300+ on such a game) and the numbers all go up by an astronomical amount.

    To pay for all that, you need more players which means more servers which means fewer GMs per server which means less events etc. etc. etc.

    Now hopefully you begin to see the problem with this idea.

    It'd only really work in a small, niche game without a lot of players.

    And then, you won't have the resources to hire lots of people nor the tech to host that many servers etc.

  • AlundilAlundil Houston, TXPosts: 9Member

    I've only played a few MMO games, Asherson's Call, Guild Wars 1 and EVE Online. I don't recall "Dev Run" dynanmic events in GW1 (though there might have been). But I know for a fact that there were several Dev run events in Asheron's Call in the 3-4 years that I played. There have also been several (1-2 per year?) dev events in EVE Online in the 4 years that I've been playing.

     

    TL : DR - they are generally very fun and should take place more often.

  • BattlerockBattlerock Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,393Member
    I would probably buy a real gaming pc instead of basic World of Warcraft machine that I have, if true dynamic events came to be. I know you said you would get to player created, but I think existing games could easily take on player created dynamic events. In GW2 when the orcs are under your control, you should be able to cause some serious havoc with them. So much so that everyone drops what thier are doing, in order to kill or protect the orcs. Yes that creates a central point where everyone is, but it leaves all kinds of vulnerabilities throughout the map. Ideas like these should not be limited to just the orcs either, player created dynamic events = potential revenue and loads of epic fun, not sure how it will work ? Bring in some gm's and let them run the events first.
  • mistmakermistmaker viennaPosts: 232Member Uncommon

    badspock, you are wrong with the cost. i am sure there are a lot of players who would do it for free, like there are pen n paper gms.

     

    those gms should have some tools available to create quests and encounters. other gms could play lords, bosses or raidbosses

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mistmaker

    badspock, you are wrong with the cost. i am sure there are a lot of players who would do it for free, like there are pen n paper gms.

     

    those gms should have some tools available to create quests and encounters. other gms could play lords, bosses or raidbosses

    Wouldn't need players volunteering. Not that it's not an option if done right, but there are pittfalls involved in that.

    Badspock assumes 24/7 GM activity and 1 per 3000 players and set planned involvement. None of that needs to be the case. You could have 1 GM per 10,000 players, servers not involved, running multiple plots within the game. Using the TOOLS to set multiple things in motion and only sporadically acting inside the game. Working as a team, but each one having a number of "personages" in the game that they can play with to move things along and for key actions. So they'd be working on 2 levels, as a team and as a solo in-game characters supported by the team, but each with multiple characters and each with their own plot goals (again, with support from eachother).

    Once upon a time....

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,783Member Uncommon
    You have to be really, really careful about GM-run events that give stuff unavailable by any other means, or else you'll have a strong perception--and maybe even the reality--of GMs playing favorites.
  • PsychowPsychow SF Giants Territory, CAPosts: 1,784Member
    Why would anyone pay a GM 50K a year? 20K tops. Maybe even zero for some non-paid interns.
  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    In swg you could petition to run an event.  I remember running two events, with the help of a gm.   One was an ingame wedding, that was followed later that day by their real wedding. That was a great event, we had fireworks and the fixed up Theed realy nicely for us followed up by a driod invasion, and the wedding party had to fight it's way to the startport. 

    The second one I had the misfortune of having to run.  We had a player, who was the guild favorite, and might have been the server favorite entertainer on intrepid.  In real life she had cancer, and she eventually lost the good fight.  I had to petetion the gm's.  We had a phalanx of storm troupers that the gm placed in our city We had a shuttle show up, darth vader got out made a small speach offered the quest he usually did when his shuttle showed up.  We had a statue placed in comemeration of her.  Several folks gave a speach about their time with her.  It was a very sad day. 

    I have yet to play any game that let you do anything like that. 

     

  • newchemicalsnewchemicals San Gabriel, CAPosts: 43Member
    This makes me go back to a discussion with Zwill and Black Pebble about getting pvp zones full of people. Amazing how fast pvp zones filled up when a dev ventures in there.
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,718Member Uncommon

    Good ol' times :) my favourite MUD had regular GM events (at least once in every 2 months), and only the date was set, everything else was based on the mood of the GM who held it. Once it was a race with randomly dropped checkpoints pointing towards the next checkpoint (to disable scripter's cheating), once they ported everybody to the new area they've programmed so we could roam free and have a sneak peak...

    In the new era I'd mention LotRO, back at Codies there were a few GM events, and those events were highly popular. +Faya+ ftw :)

     

    Edit: I found only this one pic (the rest is on my old gear in a box somewhere in the basement :) ), GM accompanied 'farewell Codies' gathering and ride, last day on Eu. http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/7318/lastdaypz.jpg

  • MyrdynnMyrdynn Beaumont, CAPosts: 1,517Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Psychow
    Why would anyone pay a GM 50K a year? 20K tops. Maybe even zero for some non-paid interns.

    20k a year for a full time job? doubtful

     

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,439Member Uncommon

    Dynamic events = looping script to be played anytime after it resets with a predetermined outcome

    Live events = GM/player run events that only happen that day/month/year with an outcome based on the players

    Maybe I'm wrong but thats how I see it.

     

    I have to admit that the way SWTOR handled their live world events was a good mix. Over about 1 or 2 weeks there were a series of missions that unfolded the story as the days went on. On top of that, for example with the rakghoul plague, there was some player interaction (infection spreading from player to player). The event didn't require anyone to run it and so it was running an many servers. It also wasn't like most dynamic events that would get quickly stale. But like most things, there weren't enough of them. In a perfect world you should be able to have one of these at least each month.

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member

    Dynamic Events as events driven by the devs/mods of the game? No, I dont see that as being a feasible model.

    Rather what should be pursued is a system where the players can initiaite dynamic events and only players decide which direction the events take. Player generated content >> dev. created content.

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    You have to be really, really careful about GM-run events that give stuff unavailable by any other means, or else you'll have a strong perception--and maybe even the reality--of GMs playing favorites.

    Agreed on that.

    This is one reason why I really don't like to see GMs making friends and chit chatting with the player base. I have strong feelings that they should keep a professional distance. I saw the extremes that can come about in UO. It's a hard thing to police, and there are bound to be the rare cases of extreme foolishness. But that shouldn't stop the ideal from happening because it's the way to go.

    Once upon a time....

  • MMODesignerMMODesigner Guest Columnist Foster City, CAPosts: 7Member

    Glad you all are enjoying these columns.

    I really wish MMOs could get back to the days of old, where GMs could run events for the players on a personal level, but as many of you pointed out, the logistics involved today don't make much sense.

    I know on City of Heroes we did some "end of beta" events for both COH and COV, and after each time the forums were FILLED with players complaining that they were not paid attention to and didn't see the event in their specific instance. And this was with every single employee of Cryptic and all of the QA team at NCsoft playing characters in the event. We tried, but the scale that MMOs have acheived now simply make pleasing everyone (or even most everyone) with a personalized event impossible.

  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMODesigner

    Glad you all are enjoying these columns.

    I really wish MMOs could get back to the days of old, where GMs could run events for the players on a personal level, but as many of you pointed out, the logistics involved today don't make much sense.

    I know on City of Heroes we did some "end of beta" events for both COH and COV, and after each time the forums were FILLED with players complaining that they were not paid attention to and didn't see the event in their specific instance. And this was with every single employee of Cryptic and all of the QA team at NCsoft playing characters in the event. We tried, but the scale that MMOs have acheived now simply make pleasing everyone (or even most everyone) with a personalized event impossible.

    "Personalized event"? That's not the general gist here.

    Why is it that every time this particular topic comes up, we get a few people blowing smoke like this and "GMs 24/7"?

    Seems to be trying to stear the topic into a mold of your choice. And we can't move forwards as far as the industry goes. Stuck in the same concepts, which still aren't selling despite these efforts at topic manipulation.

    Once upon a time....

  • nbtscannbtscan Phoenix, AZPosts: 778Member Uncommon

    I played FFXIV through its last days and since the servers were shutting down we had GMs spawn monsters in town and grant buffs to players, and when a bunch of people did a /pray emote, the GM would kill the monster for us.

    There were also instances where GM controlled characters would interact with players for news columns that were posted on the official website and they'd get a little fluff item for their participation in an interview.

    It would be nice to see more GM-involved events in general.  I think anytime there's a new major story arc introduced into a game that it'd be nice if a GM controlled character could "lead the charge", so to speak, in directing players towards an area or something.

  • Matticus75Matticus75 Posts: 396Member Uncommon
    Here is food for thought, why are the AI in the last 2 or so years not any better than AI was pretty much from the 1990s
  • AmarantharAmaranthar OhioPosts: 2,428Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Matticus75
    Here is food for thought, why are the AI in the last 2 or so years not any better than AI was pretty much from the 1990s

    Well, it's scripted better in the better instances and boss encounters. But that's not the kind of AI I want, or I think you mean.

    You know, these big companies make more than one MMO and they could develop an AI system that works in a general sort of way for all their games. Making it better and better over time. Sort of a plug and play with alternate code (heals in Fantasy or stims in Sci-Fi, use a catapult or a canon, etc.). AI that reads circumstances and reacts, with a randomizing factor and artificial choices based on templates.

    I always expected these companies would do that as well as develop Economic systems, and political/guild/city systems the same way. Imagine the multitude of great gaming experiences we could have, with worlds that behave like worlds to interact with instead of retread scripts to follow.

    Once upon a time....

  • VolgoreVolgore Posts: 2,209Member Uncommon

    The town raids sounds awesome.

    Too bad that if you'd bring them into any of the current games, you would hear the folks whine until the raid gets nerfed.

    Today's gaming folks consisting of kids and soccer moms don't like the idea of getting killed by an NPC!  Even worse if the NPC is of the same or even higher level!

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  • Butch808Butch808 sheffieldPosts: 319Member Uncommon

    3 reasons why it doesn't work:

    1. Money/resources.

    2. Time.

    3. Corruption.

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