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Imagine an MMO with *no* NPCs at all

HocheteHochete Member CommonPosts: 1,210

So I was just reading the 'Living NPCs' thread and it got me thinking; What if an MMO was created with absolutely no NPC content?

We all know UO (in it's hay day) was loved by a huge number of fans, many of whom are still loyal to the 'old' UO to this very day. Why? Because players were literally forced to interact with one another on an almost constant basis. NPCs had very little use (apart from loot), and most of the game revolved around PvP and player interaction.

So, imagine an MMO with no NPC vendors, no NPC guards... No NPC monsters. A world in which players would *have* to create their own lives, their own stories and their own quests. You want loot? Go kill another player and loot him! You want to buy some new armour? Go visit a player that's been training crafting and is capable of making it for you. You've been killed by someone and looted? Gather some friends together and go kill him back!

Okay, so a world entirely devoid of NPC life may be a little far fetched, but I think this is a trick current MMO developers are really missing out on. It seems that the current emphasis is to create a game that'll play much like a single player game in 'co op' mode, with NPC interaction playing an enormous part. I know for a fact that there are a huge number of MMO fans that, having played older MMORPGs when they were first released, miss that feeling of absolute 'sandbox' freedom. An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

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Comments

  • TealaTeala Member RarePosts: 7,627
    Originally posted by Hohbein


    So I was just reading the 'Living NPCs' thread and it got me thinking; What if an MMO was created with absolutely no NPC content?
    We all know UO (in it's hay day) was loved by a huge number of fans, many of whom are still loyal to the 'old' UO to this very day. Why? Because players were literally forced to interact with one another on an almost constant basis. NPCs had very little use (apart from loot), and most of the game revolved around PvP and player interaction.
    So, imagine an MMO with no NPC vendors, no NPC guards... No NPC monsters. A world in which players would *have* to create their own lives, their own stories and their own quests. You want loot? Go kill another player and loot him! You want to buy some new armour? Go visit a player that's been training crafting and is capable of making it for you. You've been killed by someone and looted? Gather some friends together and go kill him back!
    Okay, so a world entirely devoid of NPC life may be a little far fetched, but I think this is a trick current MMO developers are really missing out on. It seems that the current emphasis is to create a game that'll play much like a single player game in 'co op' mode, with NPC interaction playing an enormous part. I know for a fact that there are a huge number of MMO fans that, having played older MMORPGs when they were first released, miss that feeling of absolute 'sandbox' freedom. An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

    Oh yea...that'll fly...NOT!  Been tried before and the game was called AC2.  No NPC's.   Game flopped.  Sorry.

  • CavadusCavadus Member UncommonPosts: 707

    Wow, so one example automatically disproves the entire theory, yeah?  I'm glad no one at NASA ever thought like you.

    Or anyone who's ever invented... anything.

    There's a way to do an NPC-less MMOG correctly.  In fact, PlanetSide proves you don't need NPCs at all for a good MMOG.

    image

  • HocheteHochete Member CommonPosts: 1,210

     

    Originally posted by Teala

    Originally posted by Hohbein


    So I was just reading the 'Living NPCs' thread and it got me thinking; What if an MMO was created with absolutely no NPC content?
    We all know UO (in it's hay day) was loved by a huge number of fans, many of whom are still loyal to the 'old' UO to this very day. Why? Because players were literally forced to interact with one another on an almost constant basis. NPCs had very little use (apart from loot), and most of the game revolved around PvP and player interaction.
    So, imagine an MMO with no NPC vendors, no NPC guards... No NPC monsters. A world in which players would *have* to create their own lives, their own stories and their own quests. You want loot? Go kill another player and loot him! You want to buy some new armour? Go visit a player that's been training crafting and is capable of making it for you. You've been killed by someone and looted? Gather some friends together and go kill him back!
    Okay, so a world entirely devoid of NPC life may be a little far fetched, but I think this is a trick current MMO developers are really missing out on. It seems that the current emphasis is to create a game that'll play much like a single player game in 'co op' mode, with NPC interaction playing an enormous part. I know for a fact that there are a huge number of MMO fans that, having played older MMORPGs when they were first released, miss that feeling of absolute 'sandbox' freedom. An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

    Oh yea...that'll fly...NOT!  Been tried before and the game was called AC2.  No NPC's.   Game flopped.  Sorry.

     

    Err, I've never played AC2, but after 5 seconds on Wiki I found:

    Most quests (but not all) could be repeated for multiple rewards after the passage of time. There was significant variety in the quests offered in AC2: some were centered on simply combating an overpopulation of a certain type of monster, some involved entering a dungeon or cave to destroy a powerful "boss" monster, some involved running errands for NPCs, or escorting NPCs to safety, in addition to the epic style quests that involved the major NPCs in the current or past story arcs.



    So yea... you're pretty much completely wrong?

  • TealaTeala Member RarePosts: 7,627

    Originally posted by Hohbein


     
    Originally posted by Teala

    Originally posted by Hohbein


    So I was just reading the 'Living NPCs' thread and it got me thinking; What if an MMO was created with absolutely no NPC content?
    We all know UO (in it's hay day) was loved by a huge number of fans, many of whom are still loyal to the 'old' UO to this very day. Why? Because players were literally forced to interact with one another on an almost constant basis. NPCs had very little use (apart from loot), and most of the game revolved around PvP and player interaction.
    So, imagine an MMO with no NPC vendors, no NPC guards... No NPC monsters. A world in which players would *have* to create their own lives, their own stories and their own quests. You want loot? Go kill another player and loot him! You want to buy some new armour? Go visit a player that's been training crafting and is capable of making it for you. You've been killed by someone and looted? Gather some friends together and go kill him back!
    Okay, so a world entirely devoid of NPC life may be a little far fetched, but I think this is a trick current MMO developers are really missing out on. It seems that the current emphasis is to create a game that'll play much like a single player game in 'co op' mode, with NPC interaction playing an enormous part. I know for a fact that there are a huge number of MMO fans that, having played older MMORPGs when they were first released, miss that feeling of absolute 'sandbox' freedom. An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

    Oh yea...that'll fly...NOT!  Been tried before and the game was called AC2.  No NPC's.   Game flopped.  Sorry.

     

    Err, I've never played AC2, but after 5 seconds on Wiki I found:

    Most quests (but not all) could be repeated for multiple rewards after the passage of time. There was significant variety in the quests offered in AC2: some were centered on simply combating an overpopulation of a certain type of monster, some involved entering a dungeon or cave to destroy a powerful "boss" monster, some involved running errands for NPCs, or escorting NPCs to safety, in addition to the epic style quests that involved the major NPCs in the current or past story arcs.



    So yea... you're pretty much completely wrong?


    Sorry, you're wrong.  NPC's were not added to the game until later.  There were NPC quest givers a few, the rest were handed out by stones and stuff, but that is it.  Otherwise there were no NPC's.  Cities were devoid of them.  In fact you couldn't even enter a single building in the game when it first launched - they were just for show!   Players did it all.  We were the sellers, the crafters...we did everything in the game.   The problem was there was no housing, no inns, nothing to establish a foothold.   We were told that players interacting with the cities would cause them to rebuild over time - lie by Turbine.   How do I know this.  Because I was in AC2's beta and played for 4 months after release.

    And yes...it was the main reason the game failed...because the world was devoid of anything to really interact with.  I played on Coldeve(KingdomvsKingdom) server.  What server did you play on?

  • alakramalakram Member UncommonPosts: 2,299
    Originally posted by Hohbein


    So I was just reading the 'Living NPCs' thread and it got me thinking; What if an MMO was created with absolutely no NPC content?
    We all know UO (in it's hay day) was loved by a huge number of fans, many of whom are still loyal to the 'old' UO to this very day. Why? Because players were literally forced to interact with one another on an almost constant basis. NPCs had very little use (apart from loot), and most of the game revolved around PvP and player interaction.
    So, imagine an MMO with no NPC vendors, no NPC guards... No NPC monsters. A world in which players would *have* to create their own lives, their own stories and their own quests. You want loot? Go kill another player and loot him! You want to buy some new armour? Go visit a player that's been training crafting and is capable of making it for you. You've been killed by someone and looted? Gather some friends together and go kill him back!
    Okay, so a world entirely devoid of NPC life may be a little far fetched, but I think this is a trick current MMO developers are really missing out on. It seems that the current emphasis is to create a game that'll play much like a single player game in 'co op' mode, with NPC interaction playing an enormous part. I know for a fact that there are a huge number of MMO fans that, having played older MMORPGs when they were first released, miss that feeling of absolute 'sandbox' freedom. An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

    This could work really well. It just need to be easy to play, hard to master.



  • TealaTeala Member RarePosts: 7,627

     

    Originally posted by lkavadas


    Wow, so one example automatically disproves the entire theory, yeah?  I'm glad no one at NASA ever thought like you.
    Or anyone who's ever invented... anything.
    There's a way to do an NPC-less MMOG correctly.  In fact, PlanetSide proves you don't need NPCs at all for a good MMOG.

    Yes...it proved that that sort of game would fail and fail every time.  Why?  Because it required players to do it all from the beginning - from scratch.  If someone was willing to harvest and learn how to craft then the only things you'd have are what you got from quest and MOB drops.

     

    When people who came to the game for the first time the day it went live they were like...were are the people?  Who do we buy from?  Where do we sell things?  Why can we not enter the buildings?  Where are the people?  This is why people said AC2 felt cold and didn't feel alive...it had no "soul".

    I know...because I was there.  Because people were coming down hard on Turbine and the game.  You guys think people were hard on Vanguard.  LOL!  Then you don't know what serious ranting is because the level of hatred that came from people toward Turbine got so bad AC2 Vault even created a special forum just for "rants" about AC2.

    Why do you think AC2 failed so meserably?  Because it was a dead game from the get go.

  • TorakTorak Member Posts: 4,905

    Originally posted by Teala


     
    Originally posted by lkavadas


    Wow, so one example automatically disproves the entire theory, yeah?  I'm glad no one at NASA ever thought like you.
    Or anyone who's ever invented... anything.
    There's a way to do an NPC-less MMOG correctly.  In fact, PlanetSide proves you don't need NPCs at all for a good MMOG.
    Yes...it proved that that sort of game woudl fgail and fail every time.  Why?  Because it required players to it all from the beginning - from scratch.  If someone was willing to harvest and learn how to craft then the only things you'd have are what you got from quest and MOB drops.

     

    When people who came to the game for the first time the day it went live they were like...were are the people?  Who do we buy from?  Where do we sell things?  Why can we not enter the buildings?  Where are the people?  This is why people said AC2 felt cold and didn't feel alive...it had no "soul".

    I know...because I was there.  Because people were coming down hard on Turbine and the game.  You guys think people were hard on Vanguard.  LOL!  Then you don't know what serious ranting is because the level of hatred that came from people toward Turbine got so bad AC2 Vault even created a special forum just for "rants" about AC2.

    Why do you think AC2 failed so meserably?  Because it was a dead game from the get go.

    Hmmm...Turbine promoted AC2 as a world that the players were going to "build". They said very early on that there would be no (or very few) NPC's.

    The problem AC2 had aside from the total crap launch and almost 2 years before anything really got fixed was it did not have all the tools it needed to provide that NPC-less experience until it was to late.

    How were the players suppose to build a player based economy at launch with no way to sell the goods they made, for example? The darn chat in game didn't work right for almost six months....It made it sort of tough to build player communities when you couldn't reliably communicate with one another.

    Yes it was a dead game from the get go but only because its execution was a total disaster, just like dozens of other MMO's VG included.

     

  • EnigmaEnigma Member UncommonPosts: 11,384

    It would be a horrible idea for so many reasons.

    1. When the MMO start to decline in population, itll be harder to so numerous things.

    2. Player made quest content would be impractical.  When I was a Guide in EQ2 I was in charge of creating and running live quest events.  It took my entire week just to plan 2 a week.  To plan multiple live quests for everyone all the time is inpractical.

    3. Players should not create quests. It would scream "milking the system" to get what you want.

    4.  MMO s that tried to limit NPCs flopped bad during times of low pop. AC2 and SWG are two games that come to mind. And they still had plenty of NPCs.

    An MMO without any NPCs is just a bad idea.

    People who have to create conspiracy and hate threads to further a cause lacks in intellectual comprehension of diversity.

  • JosherJosher Member Posts: 2,818

    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)

    AC2 was a good example like many said.  The game was devoid of life.  It was a boring world.  It didn't flop only because of the lack of NPCs but it was a major reason.  Anyone who was there knows this.  Besides, the number of people who actually enjoy a completely freeform, "do it all yourself" virtual world are few and far between.  Forums aren't a way to judge demand.   VW lovers do not speak with their wallets.  Theres a whole thread about it.  Its the same old excuse and it goes something like this..."if it was only done right, then I'd play..."

    TO that I say, how many times do you get because it seems its never really been done "right" yet because every VW is either a flop or a niche title...take your pick.  Eventually maybe you haver to beleive that its only "right" for a very small number of people and as far as major top companies are concerned, thats all wrong.

  • HocheteHochete Member CommonPosts: 1,210

    Originally posted by Josher


    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)


    Well... It worked perfectly in UO. Yes, there were NPCs which sold items, however the vast majority of trade was conducted amongst players (as player made items were the best in the game), whether it were direct player to player trade or trade via player created shops. Owning and running a shop is something that many, many players absolutely love to do (just look at the number of people that enjoy crafting). There'd never be a shortage of such players.

     

  • paulscottpaulscott Member Posts: 5,613

    It makes a lot of sense for some games, assuming you see the differance between NPC and MOBs.

    I find it amazing that by 2020 first world countries will be competing to get immigrants.

  • TealaTeala Member RarePosts: 7,627
    Originally posted by Hohbein


     
    Originally posted by Josher


    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)


     

    Well... It worked perfectly in UO. Yes, there were NPCs which sold items, however the vast majority of trade was conducted amongst players (as player made items were the best in the game), whether it were direct player to player trade or trade via player created shops. Owning and running a shop is something that many, many players absolutely love to do (just look at the number of people that enjoy crafting). There'd never be a shortage of such players.

     



    Hohbein...did you play or experince AC2?  There were no player ran shops in AC2.  None.  There were no buildings you could enter in AC2 - none.  So how could a player set up a shop?  There were  no vendors period.  If the player that was also a crafter wasn't on when playing AC2 - you're out of luck.  Also...why bother...everyone could craft in Ac2 and most people did.   It was part of the game play.  Also...bows required no arrows - at all!

    I ask once again did you play AC2?

  • HocheteHochete Member CommonPosts: 1,210

     

    Originally posted by Teala

    Originally posted by Hohbein


     
    Originally posted by Josher


    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)


     

    Well... It worked perfectly in UO. Yes, there were NPCs which sold items, however the vast majority of trade was conducted amongst players (as player made items were the best in the game), whether it were direct player to player trade or trade via player created shops. Owning and running a shop is something that many, many players absolutely love to do (just look at the number of people that enjoy crafting). There'd never be a shortage of such players.

     



    Hohbein...did you play or experince AC2?  There were no player ran shops in AC2.  None.  There were no buildings you could enter in AC2 - none.  So how could a player set up a shop? 

     

    I didn't mention AC2. I said 'It worked perfectly in UO'.

  • SeggallionSeggallion Member UncommonPosts: 684

    Entropia have a few NPCs, very few of'em around.

    ______________________________
    The Sceptics, yes they're special but we've need them to.. I guess.
    And if they're put more effort MMORPG.com can create a 'Team Sceptic'
    and send them to the Special Olympus.

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    Originally posted by Hohbein


    An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

    Wrizong.

     

    I'll be brief. Sandbox = freedom of choice for players + player capability to impact the game world. Without both things, the game is not a sandbox. You want to force players to interact (almost) exclusively with other players. That takes away their choice in the matter, and cripples a key element of a sandbox game.

     

    MMOs are not about players interacting with one another. They are about players BEING ABLE to interact with one another, should they choose to do so.

     

     

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    OP - when you say NPC do you actually mean non player character, or do you mean "non player characters except for mobiles", or what?

  • JosherJosher Member Posts: 2,818

    Originally posted by Hohbein


     
    Originally posted by Josher


    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)


     

    Well... It worked perfectly in UO. Yes, there were NPCs which sold items, however the vast majority of trade was conducted amongst players (as player made items were the best in the game), whether it were direct player to player trade or trade via player created shops. Owning and running a shop is something that many, many players absolutely love to do (just look at the number of people that enjoy crafting). There'd never be a shortage of such players.

     

    What worked when there were no expectations isn't an accurate picture of the current market.  Much of UO that supposedly worked then wouldn't work now esspecially in a 3D engine.  Heck, the original UO only worked for 2 years, until other games came out and people realized, "Oh, there are other options out there..."  Many games work just fine in a vacum.  AOL seemed great when we had no other choices except Compuserve;)  Think about it. 

  • CzzarreCzzarre Member, Newbie CommonPosts: 3,742

    You know, there is this MMO in which you play a deer (Forget the name)

    ..and you just run around.....doing deer things

    ...drink some water

    ...prance over a hill

    ...piss on a tree

    good fun

  • markyturnipmarkyturnip Member UncommonPosts: 837

    I could see this work with a small cohesive community dedicated to RP and some very clever mechanics to track where other people are in the world, and some excellent community building mechanisms... but otherwise you will have a major lack of shared narrative, and for most players a game without narrative wears thin pretty quickly.

    One idea might be to have in game journalists who construct a newspaper and 'tv' reports that can then be distributed to other players in game. That could help the creation of a sense of shared narrative.

     

  • wjrasmussenwjrasmussen Member Posts: 1,493
    Originally posted by fischsemmel


     
    Originally posted by Hohbein


    An MMO is about players interacting with one another and NPCs really needn't play a large part. I think the first developer to realise this could, potentially, make an absolute fortune.

     

    Wrizong.

     

    I'll be brief. Sandbox = freedom of choice for players + player capability to impact the game world. Without both things, the game is not a sandbox. You want to force players to interact (almost) exclusively with other players. That takes away their choice in the matter, and cripples a key element of a sandbox game.

     

    MMOs are not about players interacting with one another. They are about players BEING ABLE to interact with one another, should they choose to do so.

     

     

    When you say freedom of choice how does restrictions fall into that?

  • airheadairhead Member UncommonPosts: 718

    Concerning all the AC2 analogies going on.... I played AC2, but jumped in after it had been out for a couple of years. Had NPCs by then of course.

    From all the reading I did in the forums, (then and later), I think the majority reason as to why AC2 got off to a bad start was that CHAT was broke. This is the first thread I can remember pointing to the lack of NPCs as the reason for AC2's weak release. That (broken chat) and other technical things that just didn't work, and Microsoft forcing them to release before they were ready.

    A game with no NPCs could work imo, IF everything needed was FUN for someone to make/do. The biggest negative would be that it would make the product even MORE sensitive to population. A less than stellar population, and the whole virtual world would crash and burn.

  • HexxeityHexxeity Member Posts: 848

    Having to rely on other players for content is pretty much my worst nightmare.

    Seriously, have you ever talked to a random stranger in an MMOG?

    There are SOME players who are capable of making a game interesting and enjoyable for others.  Statisticians call these people "outliers."

  • TarkaTarka Member Posts: 1,662

     

    Originally posted by Josher


    Thats assuming you can find an audience large enough to sit there and do all the NPCs jobs...for years.  Yeah, good luck with that=)
    AC2 was a good example like many said.  The game was devoid of life.  It was a boring world.  It didn't flop only because of the lack of NPCs but it was a major reason.  Anyone who was there knows this.  Besides, the number of people who actually enjoy a completely freeform, "do it all yourself" virtual world are few and far between.  Forums aren't a way to judge demand.   VW lovers do not speak with their wallets.  Theres a whole thread about it.  Its the same old excuse and it goes something like this..."if it was only done right, then I'd play..."
    TO that I say, how many times do you get because it seems its never really been done "right" yet because every VW is either a flop or a niche title...take your pick.  Eventually maybe you haver to beleive that its only "right" for a very small number of people and as far as major top companies are concerned, thats all wrong.



    Agreed.  Whether we (the MMO community) like it or not the MMO market has changed to become more mainstream.  Back in the days of UO and EQ1 and other early doors MMO's, people liked those games mainly because there was a limited choice of what MMO's were available and what they could do.  Hence everyone looks back on the earlier MMO's with fond memories and "rose tinted glasses", forgetting the mindless grinds killing Hecklers 24/7.  Once again, the "first kiss" scenario prevails.  I do the same myself.

    Nowadays, things have changed,  the choice of MMO is growing all the time.  People both want and need choice in what they can do in the games and that includes to what degree they wish to interact with other players. Sometimes, people DON'T want to interact with others, they just want to get on with their quests or level up a profession, mess with diplomacy, barter on the MMOs market system or just to simply gallop round Orgrimaar like a lunatic on their mount!  Other times they might feel the need to jump into a bit of pvp.  

    My point is that a good MMO has choice and lots of it.   Remove choices, variety and freedom that allows players to do what they want and the game loses its appeal.  Likewise, removing all npc's and npc related stuff from an MMO might sound like a great idea for suc things like "community building", but it causes more problems than it solves. 

    And one of those problems is subscription numbers. 

    And when all is said and done, in order for an MMO to survive in today's market, it has to make money, and a lot of it.

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364
    Originally posted by wjrasmussen


    When you say freedom of choice how does restrictions fall into that?



    Please make sense.

  • nomadiannomadian Member Posts: 3,490

    It would be a niche title, but niche isn't a bad thing- I think. You got loads of games on your console for instance, not all of them were successes-some had restricted successes were the game may have broke even or even profitted from its 'niche' fanbase. As to this idea, I think there are many games which maybe already around that are similar, it would need a bigger selling-point than merely 'no npcs'. If the kind of appeal stemmed from this no npc aspect and all player-fuelled, then the game would have to provide a very compelling aspect of mere player-fuelled activities. I'm not sure but AC2 was meant to be able to build your own cities- that is a nice selling point, but I don't that ever made fruitation.

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