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Pathfinder Online's Ryan Dancey has penned a new developer blog that discusses his team's philosophy with regard to making a compelling sandbox MMO that is also one in which the community has a viable ongoing dialog with the development team. Calling the process a "minimum viable product", Dancey outlines several key areas in which the team engages the community in ways that not only generate feedback, but also help lead the team to ever widening circles of development.
To make our MVP, we had to figure out what the smallest number of features were needed to implement a compelling game loop with meaningful human interactions. We decided that our loop would have two interconnected segments.
Segment one would be finding monsters in the world, killing them, and taking their stuff.
Segment two would be finding resources, harvesting those resources, and turning the resources into crafted goods.
The interconnection would be that the stuff one character crafted would make another character better at killing monsters.
We also accepted that there would be a complication of this interconnection:
Killing another character and taking its stuff would be a shortcut.
We have a grand plan for where our game will eventually take us that involves vast territorial battles for control of the map, fought by huge organizations of players collectively working together for common purpose. We imagine a time when players can build characters that are experts in a wide range of careers from soldier to diplomat to teamster to spy and hundreds more. But for the purposes of our MVP, we think we can be viable with the game loop described above. Everything else can (and will) come later.
Read more at the link above.