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[Column] General: The War Against Down Time

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Comments

  • VelocinoxVelocinox Old Folks Home, CAPosts: 812Member Uncommon

    Forced downtime caused socialization?

     

    Forced downtime caused me to take a bio-break, get a snack, and surf the web. I have nothing to talk about with people I'll never meet.

     

    Forget that original EQ had the largest game world at release of any MMO since. Forget that it had slower leveling, so even hot-seating you couldn't level to max in a week, forget that it had distinct areas of the same level to advance in so even if you had leveled up to max you could play the game entirely again and never hit the same spot you used to level on your first character. Nevermind that each expansion was huge in its own right and added a significantly large area to adventure in again. Nevermind the fact that full MMO game worlds today are a fraction of the places to see and adventure in that vanilla EQ was.

     

    Sure, it was forced grouping.... If you conveniently forget about all the above points.

     

    Don't gloss over the laziness of the initial game world design in games today, or the impatience of the publishers. The reason the soup isn't as good today as it was back then isn't because you had all your friends help you make it, it's because it was made from fresh ingredients and attentive care, and enough time to let it simmer, NOT just poured out of a Campell's can and boiled as fast as possible with the stove set on High.

     

     

    'Sandbox MMO' is a PTSD trigger word for anyone who has the experience to know that anonymous players invariably use a 'sandbox' in the same manner a housecat does.


    When your head is stuck in the sand, your ass becomes the only recognizable part of you.


    No game is more fun than the one you can't play, and no game is more boring than one which you've become familiar.


    How to become a millionaire:
    Start with a billion dollars and make an MMO.

  • MadFrenchieMadFrenchie Eglin AFB, FLPosts: 658Member Uncommon
    Again, I'm in absolute agreement with Mark. Downtime was time to BS around with the your group mates, chat with guildmates, or browse forums and interact that way. That's missing from today's MMOs.

    I will say that EVE Online, due to the unique nature by which their combat and other activities are accomplished, provides time for this interaction. And it really shows, as channel after channel is alive with constant conversation between players. I really feel that this contributes to EVE's ability to maintain such a solid and loyal player base over the years. Players don't just blow through content as quickly as possible and move on. They stay a while, progress their characters, and make pals and enemies. All this supports an attachment to the game that I think really shows.

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  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Thupli
    I started wow in tbc (coming from final fantasy 11). I always wished that there was more to an inn than simply parking your toon there. Ie, if there were mechanics that made you take your character to an inn to "decompress XP" so to speak, that would be great. BUT you would need something to 1. facilitate not getting too bored 2. not be required too often to make it tedious 3. make it not eat up to much time.Inns have so much potential to capitalize on.

    That's actually an excellent idea. stick a mini game in every in, Have ale that buffs and GIVE xp while you are there. Nothing draws characters in like xp!

    image
    TSW - AoC - Aion - WOW - EVE - Fallen Earth - Co - Rift - || XNA C# Java Development

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,681Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by Thupli
    I started wow in tbc (coming from final fantasy 11). I always wished that there was more to an inn than simply parking your toon there. Ie, if there were mechanics that made you take your character to an inn to "decompress XP" so to speak, that would be great. BUT you would need something to 1. facilitate not getting too bored 2. not be required too often to make it tedious 3. make it not eat up to much time.Inns have so much potential to capitalize on.

    That's actually an excellent idea. stick a mini game in every in, Have ale that buffs and GIVE xp while you are there. Nothing draws characters in like xp!

    In-town Taverns/Inns could have

    • - places for cooking (make the grog and ale for the evening)
    • - separate large rooms to break off into if you want to be in a smaller group
    • - places to sit, room for brawls
    • - games at the tables (ex: dice, chess, checkers, backgammon)

    I would really like to see a scene like this in a modern MMO: 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • ColdrenColdren Nowhereville, TNPosts: 456Member Uncommon

    Mark,

    Here is what I think is a very simple idea to implent that may address all your issues of your last few articles:

    Social EXP and Bonuses.

    Think of what this does -The more you group with the same the people, the more your "Friend EXP" goes up, which can then be applied to a group when you work together. This would work both in pairs and up.

    So let's say you do a lot of things with one friend. Your friend and you both gain EXP with each other, so that at certain levels, you get certain bonuses. Things like increased out-of-combat regeneration, increased chance for higher level loot, increased PvE or PvE experience.

    That's great for pairs, but what about groups?

    Here's where the system can really kick off. If you have friend EXP with a certain percentage of people (Lets say if you have high social EXP with 2 of the 4 other group members) at a certain level, everyone in the group or raid gets another set of bonuses. That way, even if your normal group isn't on, one guy is sick, you can bring in someone new and they'll start getting EXP, reinforcing social circles. This also, I think will create a quasi reputation system - If you are a poor group mate, you will not advance as fast as those who aren't, well.. Jerks.

    Even go further and add tiers for grouping with guildmates of ANY level (This is important so as not to exclude new players from events).

    The social implications are obvious, but what about other systems like downtime, solo, etc.? Well, this is a a good way to segway back to classic levels of difficulty, but provide a way out if you group more.

    Seems a very straightforward method that may improve all of these aspects. Obviously, you will need to work on ways so as not to have these bonuses exploited, so that they can still be meaningful without being neutered. But that's where you, the developer come in. ;)

    Just throwing that idea out there.

     

  • Cramit845Cramit845 Port Ewen, NYPosts: 343Member Uncommon

    I do miss the downtime interaction.  I still play EQ1 on a server that is only up to Kunark because I love this style of gameplay.  I agree that forcing downtime isn't the best implementation but I do feel that if all the different styles of MMO's of today keep getting into their own niche, then there is a market for a game with forced downtime.

     

    I think it's all about options.  The more and more MMO's that come out, the more styles of MMO's will be available.  I feel this style of MMO is in desperate need since there aren't any games that do this well that I have played.  Another EQ1 type of game is in desperate need IMO, to at least give those of us that enjoy this style of gameplay a new home.  I don't mind continueing to play EQ1 because it offers this, but having something a bit more updated would be nice.

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  • VelocinoxVelocinox Old Folks Home, CAPosts: 812Member Uncommon

    There is still plenty of downtime in today's games...

     

    It's 7pm everyone ready?

    No. Fred, Barney, Betty, and Wilma aren't here yet. They said they would be running late. Also Homer just left to check the door, sounds like he has some visitors. Chris went bio, and Stewie had to put some clothes in the washing machine...

     

    15m later...

     

    Are ready now?

    No. Fred and Wilma showed up but they said Barney and Betty were getting something to eat first. Chris got back from bio but Bob left since we were waiting anyway...

     

    30m later...

     

    Are we ready now?

    No... (etc.)

     

    'Sandbox MMO' is a PTSD trigger word for anyone who has the experience to know that anonymous players invariably use a 'sandbox' in the same manner a housecat does.


    When your head is stuck in the sand, your ass becomes the only recognizable part of you.


    No game is more fun than the one you can't play, and no game is more boring than one which you've become familiar.


    How to become a millionaire:
    Start with a billion dollars and make an MMO.

  • VyntVynt Glendale, CAPosts: 632Member Uncommon

    I've never really attributed socialization to downtime. Socialization had more to do with grouping. In the older games, I really only had downtime when I soloed. To alleviate that downtime, I grouped. Often having no downtime, or so negligible as not to matter, even in EQ.

    While grouped, I socialized, solo, obviously not except for tells or guild. MMOs have gotten away from grouping, so not really much socializing except for guild chat usually.

    The type of combat does play a part in how much one can talk, but it is still done when grouping, but it really depends on the group. Often today groups consist of quick dungeon runs to never see them again. Even so, when I was playing FFXIV, I talked quite a bit with people and I mostly grouped in that game.

    Raiding was a bit tough, but mostly was before and after a fight.

    Even socialized in vanilla WoW when I grouped a lot and the dungeons were longer.

     

    MMOs need to bring back greater grouping if people want to see some socialization again. Not talking about forced grouping either, but incentive to group. Need mob exp back so that is viable instead of purely quest based progression. Camp and group bonuses are needed again. Grouping became detrimental, slower than soloing, so people don't bother. It takes time to get a group and then get less exp? lol people are not going to group. Make grouping an equal or even better option and more will do it, more will socialize, and people will still solo and not feel forced.

    The classes that could solo in EQ and daoc, did not feel forced to group when grouping often was superior because soloing was still rewarding. Today's games just have no balance of playing path. Of course that leads to other issues when people solo to max then need to group to raid and dont know how to play their class in a group setting.

     

    TLDR: grouping tends to foster socialization, not downtime.

  • grummzgrummz Aliso Viejo, CAPosts: 56Member
    Good idea. I've been working along similar lines inspired by SWTOR legacy system...but with other friends instead of alts.
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