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I almost think we are talking about 2 different things here.
1. A vast open place where there is very little in there.
2. A place where there are little mobs.
and possible 3. There is a huge entire world of difference between a place where not every single square inch has something to a vast open place with very little.
The first 2 are very different. Someone talked about a vast forest with a little café. The forest has trees, mountains, hills, animals, maybe some bandits. I wouldn't call that vast open place, but it may not have a lot of mobs. There is tons to explore
But in a vast open place where there is very little at all, there is very very little reason to go there. No reason to explore, there is almost nothing there. No mobs so no reason to fight, very little for crafting, so no reason to dig....
I absolutely do not agree with vast open places with very little there. It's boring for the customer who may go there once, realize there is nothing there and never return and a waste of resources for the devs.
However a place with very little mobs to fight. Sure, there are loads of other things to do.
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar I almost think we are talking about 2 different things here. 1. A vast open place where there is very little in there. 2. A place where there are little mobs. and possible 3. There is a huge entire world of difference between a place where not every single square inch has something to a vast open place with very little. The first 2 are very different. Someone talked about a vast forest with a little café. The forest has trees, mountains, hills, animals, maybe some bandits. I wouldn't call that vast open place, but it may not have a lot of mobs. There is tons to explore But in a vast open place where there is very little at all, there is very very little reason to go there. No reason to explore, there is almost nothing there. No mobs so no reason to fight, very little for crafting, so no reason to dig.... I absolutely do not agree with vast open places with very little there. It's boring for the customer who may go there once, realize there is nothing there and never return and a waste of resources for the devs. However a place with very little mobs to fight. Sure, there are loads of other things to do.
What about a vast open place that, after traversing it, you find something to do at its end?
Or better yet, several somethings to do.
One explores to eventually find something, very true, but I feel it's ok to have those things to do more spread out yet each of those things be more meaningful. A large area could lead to a small area with several things to do and see and test and try.
Originally posted by Saxx0n No walls here, no zones. One vast open world. Vast qualifies as 5 to 6 hours to cross the world on foot. edit - That's running not walking.
and the game is ...?
Its because most top AAA games are theme parks.... and in general themepark players want their games action packed.. So yes, this is by design and with a reason as it fits themeparks very very well
if there ever comes a true sandbox game, it should have lots of wide open lands...
Best MMO experiences : EQ(PvE), DAoC(PvP), WoW(total package) LOTRO (worldfeel) GW2 (Artstyle and animations and worlddesign) SWTOR (Story immersion) TSW (story) ESO (character advancement)
Originally posted by donjn You could walk for a long time and not see a thing:
Isn't that the problem? It's fun to trek through country side in the real world, not a virtual one or even a game for that matter. Maybe in the future when technology has advanced to a certain level.
It is true that certain areas in some MMOs with very few mobs still did set an awesome atmosphere to the game, like a big dark forest or some huge fields. The problem is that making zones like that with modern graphics is really expensive so most games just can't afford it.
GW2 do have some areas who just are made for that though, and not just only in the cities but they are nowhere near what EQ had. TERA actually had a few as well.
The thing is that if you have too much of those areas the game can feel boring to many players, so I guess that besides money they thought that it was better to cut them out altogether instead of figuring out a good ratio. in most modern games.
But don't expect too much work into atmosphere in the games that doesn't have the absolutely highest budgets, it is a good addition to any game but it is not the top priority (and shouldn't be, fun gameplay is more important).
Originally posted by Lord.Bachus Its because most top AAA games are theme parks.... and in general themepark players want their games action packed.. So yes, this is by design and with a reason as it fits themeparks very very well if there ever comes a true sandbox game, it should have lots of wide open lands...
EQ had plenty of them, some calm areas is not bad and you just avoid those anyways when you feel for action.
It have more to do with development cost, making an area like that in EQ wasn't really that expensive.
Originally posted by Vermillion_Raventhal It's because exploration is a dead aspect of the genre. Its all about achievements every two steps. New weapons and armor every 5 seconds. New generic task popping all over.
I've always said features don't make a game, large empty fields do. Preferably with wildlife mobs sparsely placed where you can't quite grind off of them but they will still be in your way. It's also nice when they scatter impassable mountains ranges throughout the zone to make exploration more of a challenge.
Originally posted by immodium Originally posted by donjn You could walk for a long time and not see a thing:
Depends if its rewarding. But in most games grind quest is number 1 priority so I guess it make little sense to get the hamsters of the treadmills.
Funny, but the world is full of open landscapes and we typically get our speeding tickets there as we pass through them...
I think the OP is touching on a good point here even if he's approaching it from the wrong angle. The question here is how you make a virtual world feel like a *world* rather than just an artificial collection of set-pieces which were obviously intended solely to be interacted with by players via specific game mechanics.
A good virtual world should produce that sensation in the player of being situated in a strange new environment that is a whole unto itself, while making the game mechanics that allow the player to navigate that environment more subtle - having them fade into the background beyond the player's immediate conscious attention.
If recent games have failed in this respect, it's because they've made those navigational game mechanics and set-pieces too obvious and/or transparent. The environment appears to the player more like a playground for his amusement than anything else. Not to say that one can't enjoy a good jungle-gym every so often, but something like that will fail to capture the feeling of adventuring through a world.
Now, that is not to say that simply putting more 'open spaces' into a game world, where there is literally nothing of interest, will remedy this. However, that sort of thing can be done in certain ways which put it in the service of establishing that world-sensation. When early WoW did large open spaces or desolate zones, they were still clearly hand-crafted to evoke this kind of sensation. The zone "Desolace", for example, was designed to feel like a desolate area of the world, but that is not the same as if the devs had simply added a plain, featureless space. The zone contrasts in significant ways from other areas of the game, feeling distinctive, and yet like a place that could exist in the context of the larger world in which is was placed. There were still points of interest, both aesthetically (skeletons of large beasts, cliffs overlooking the ocean, mazes of narrow mountain passes, etc.) and in terms of game mechanics (scattered mobs to kill, resources to harvest, the odd NPC encampment). So the zone was worth visiting in several ways, and felt like an important, distinctive part of the world that still flowed together seamlessly into the rest of that world and made sense in the context of it's totality.
Later expansions of WoW tended to introduce progressively busier maps, to the point where the player found it more and more natural to view each zone explicitly as the collection of set-pieces it was; zones felt more thematically disjointed and stretched the suspension of disbelief to a breaking point. Each quest hub now felt like its own little self-contained environment, cut off from the rest of the world, yet more obviously calling the player to use certain game mechanics to have the intended mini-experience. Of course, that lead to the entire 'world' feeling less world-like and more like a juxtaposed collection of rides like you'd find at an amusement park.
TL;DR: It's not building 'open landscapes' that is the sorely-lacking 'art' - it is world-building.
It is not fun for me. I don't trek through country side in the real world. If i want to look at scenary (which i seldom do), I will buy a post-card. (well .. or just look at it on the web).
I don't play games to walk.
The entire world is mapped out in Atlantica. ITS HUGE.
Originally posted by DamonVile Probably because the people playing don't have the attention span to go more than a few feet at a time without killing something anymore.
And that's not some 'new kids' thing either, as UO deep sixxed it's ecology system because the players just killed everything.
If you are holding out for the perfect game, the only game you play will be the waiting one.
Originally posted by Apraxis Originally posted by VengeSunsoar Because it would be interesting to see. .. once. A waste of dev resources to make something no one will use.
That statement does have a point.. and on the other side it doesn't.
The problem is two fold, at least how i look at it.
1. Density of Areas. And more specific varying density. A World to feel alive, a World where you can easily immerse yourself have to have different Areas of density. Crowded City Areas, or Areas of Danger, cultivated land and so forth. But also Barren areas, huge forrests with low density.
2. Static game design.
If you combine both you get the problems we have today, and the problems a lot of games have.
Barren areas with static mob spawns are in most part huge part of useless, empty worlds and a few spots, where the mobs are. And therefore a lot of devs as VengeSunsoar suggested avoid it, and try to fill everything with content.. don't wasting time with space noone will use. But that leads to a overcrowded world, which really doesn't feel like one, and usally you have a hard time to immerse yourself.
Now if you change the static game design to a more dynamic game everything changes. What do i mean with it?
- Wandering Mobs, Hordes or herds of mobs(creatures, animals)
- Mobs with an Agenda. Animals looking for food. Creatures looking for Victims, or whatever creatures like to do
- Escalation cycle of Mobs. Untouched they become more and more and spread around. Attacked they may retreat to their homeland. Although Spawns bound on Groups of Mobs in some cases, or random spawns bound to a bigger area.
Then it becomes rather easy to design areas of varying density. And now all of the area becomes interesting, because Mobs are not always on the same place.. now you may have to hunt them, track them down. Or by passing by you get accidently in contact and danger. Now every space is useful, and with areas of varying density you can a lot easier immerse yourself into the world.
But that requires
a) more space overall
b) mob behavior AI. Storybricks comes to mind. Or anything like that.
c) better distribution of players. Not just one starting area. And even better a not linear progression path, or reduction of vertical progression, so there becomes more areas available for all players.
To reduce the problem of a) and make c) easier the following:
Example for reduction of vertical progression. You have basicly different difficult stages. Easy, Medium, Hard, Ultra Hard, etc.
For Noobs everything is at least Medium and above.
You level up, the medium areas become easy, hard becomes medium and so on.
At end level the lowest level should be still somewhat useful, but easy.. not a huge challenge. And you should still have medium, hard and ultra hard(group only) areas. If you reduce the power gap, the ascent of vertical progression it could be easily done.. and then more areas are available at any given time, and then it is easier to distribute players over those areas and are able to make varying degrees of density without rising the requirement of space extremely.
Some games in development try this, and we will see how it turns out. And some older games actually did it, though with some technical limitations it did not always worked out that well.
Just my 2 cent to the topic.
Sounds like a decent plan to me. Static spawns are of the devil! They must be tremendously easier to program in, because everyone does it. Dynamic spawning of mobs and resources really changes a game's feel though.
so say we all
I have to agree. Yes, WoW gets a lot of hate for various reasons but this was something that I remember liking about the game. Those moments in the game when I was alone in a forest or on a mountain top, just the music and ambient sounds.
Do I like action, monsters, quests, and new gear? Certainly, but I also think games need exploration and quiet downtime. It's like most good movies have periods of action, sad moments, happy moments, thoughtful moments, etc...the whole roller coaster. I think games should be similar. I think these areas help the world feel vast and immersive. They also help you better appreciate the architecture, etc of the cities and villages areas.
I definitely think it is an aspect of RPG games in general that is being lost.
Originally posted by TheQuietGamer I agree; GW2 was the worst for this- you could not move an inch without being confronted with some trivial and tedious task. It was irritating beyond belief.
Ive had that problem in a lot of mmos but GW2 is not one of them. Rift made it the worst IMO with static mobs ever 2 meters in the entire map for no apparent reason. I could not handle such tedious design. And Wildstar has that same problem in a few areas only but are very packed (both too many useless mobs, and static stuff just filling space).
Interesting question OP.
I agree with twrule on this - world building seems to be the lost art.
And yes, to a degree it is about players with no patience who just want to 'level up' as fast as possible and developers catering to that....
... which is a mistake of course. Especially when you consider that even the Bartle Test identified explorers as a major grouping (But to be fair Explorers are also interested in story and lore - not just places).
But, in my case, as a person who has studied world sizes ( http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/post/2587797#2587797 )
There are a few things to consider;
World size is not just about dimensions of a space - it's about Player Density, Travel Times, Mob Density and content. Changing any one of these variables can (and does) change player perceptions of the 'size' of a world.
WWIIoL is one of the largest MMO worlds ever - but has no mobs or RPG content at all - so is not the most interesting world by a long way... but then again it was never supposed to be. It was designed for a different purpose.
Games by Cryptic are actually very small (in terms of Travel Times)... but have a high Mob Density and a more or less set Player Density players think they are "big".
So, are wide open spaces necessary in MMOs?
IMHO, if you want to build a world: YES.
They create a sense of space and distance that far outweighs any waste of developer time involved.
Games like LotRO and Vanguard really have that feeling of being 'worlds' because they have travel times and player density that gives them that feel. The Chronicles of Spellborn had it too. Being able to travel off into the wilderness and not see another soul and yet travel into busy towns too make the world seem real. What's more, in PvP games, 'space' between players is essential.
Open spaces and travel times are misunderstood by many developers. Yes, players might want to be able to travel from one side of the world to the other in an hour or one play session (so they say) - but is that really a good thing for the health of your game?
Nothing says irony like spelling ideot wrong.
I love wide open worlds with lots of space. I think that space should have lots of interesting things in it for the explorers. I also think there needs to be a random chance of a "wondering MOB". That chance should vary according to the world design, and for example, local dungeons should have a higher random chance of an encounter in their area, some directly related to that dungeon.
I also think that simple hunting should be added to game worlds. Hunting deer or pheasants should be game play, and learning the ins and outs of hunting particular species. And rare critters (sort of mutations to the norm) should give players a good reward. So, a special Blue Antlered Deer might have antlers that are used in high end magic and have real value.
And hidden spots. Caves, glens, small valleys and crevasses, plateaus, holes to underground ruins, etc., would be cool.
Once upon a time....
Originally posted by donjn Why do all the new releases seem to have designs where every square inch HAS to be occupied by something? Elder Scrolls Online had this issue and although Wildstar is better, it is still too busy. I know there is a ton of WoW hate but this is a good example of what I am talking about: Where has this lost art gone of making a real world with large sections of emptiness gone? Now, I understand a lot of you might reply saying "whats the point"? I am talking about immersion. I might not climb that cliff in the distance, but man, seeing it as part of the barren landscape is exciting to me. Of course, the undisputed king of this, is Lord of the Rings Online. You could walk for a long time and not see a thing: So I ask you, is this a lost art? has the dynamic of MMO players changed and they need everything in their face to retain subscriptions? Are MMOs so mainstream now that you have to GRAB THEM! Now! No more take your time, enjoy the sights, everything is instant and in your face?
lotro isn't the undisputed king lol, Vanguard smashes that claim. Don't get me wrong, lotro has a great world and really does a great job of plonking you into middle earth.
Vanguard has no instances unlike lotro and you can get to that mountain in the far distance and climb it or fly over it or jump off your mount and run across the roof of the world if you are a bard. I can sail vast oceans unlike lotro.
lotro is not even close to being king.
Don't worry though because you have games like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pckdo47lr_M
On there way, seems more and more you have to look to the east for vast open world mmo's.
Only a few dare do it in the west anymore.
Originally posted by donjnWhy do all the new releases seem to have designs where every square inch HAS to be occupied by something?
Oh bro, Vanguard had this in abundance. But I really prefer the busy (and hence dengerous) populated world of EQ circa 1999. Navigating the hostile world was an art form; and made the merits of character progression all the more sweet. To each his own, though.
Originally posted by VengeSunsoarBecause it would be interesting to see. .. once. A waste of dev resources to make something no one will use.
Venge has a very good point here.
Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit