22 July 2009

Restless thoughts

Some days I just can't concentrate . . .

This is going back to the idea of three separate views in an MMO, each of which presents different information and functions. The social view presents conversations and normal user interface information, as well as abilities setup and all other options available. It emphasizes the display of this information thru the 'UI layer', and presents reduced information in the dynamic game world environment such as not displaying player names floating above their heads in most cases.

The second is the battle view, which also presents a subset of information but in this case selects information that helps a single player make quick decisions in combat. This eliminates chat information from the display and even UI elements such as abilities; a player fighting in this mode would have all abilities keybound and memorized. However, unlike the social view, the battle view shows all friendly and unfriendly names in the gameworld. It might or might not include the status of group members as part of the essential information to display. This view is designed to complement, and not replace the social view in both combat and other situations; however, its other use is for those who are 'following' the viewpoint of a player to be able to understand what they are doing, without distractions such as chat and the placement of buttons that do not influence the instantaneous decisions of the followed character. This would include being able to show the dynamics of any staged battles viewed by a mass audience, in-game or out.

The third is camera, or director, or film-making view. As well as setting up graphical and camera settings for screenshots, it would also give video capture options. More settings are being able to move the camera position independent of the character, prerecorded camera movements in all dimensions and variable speeds (think graphs that show position in a dimension over time, and being able to recall relative or absolute locations), letting the camera stay in one place tracking a moving character or freely moving, as well as other previously mentioned things like camera viewing angle and display of names or the interface. It may be possible to change other settings in this interface, or maybe they would just fall under graphical settings for the game as a whole, such as the amount of 'glare' produced by a simulated light source. All this should be designed not to be exploitable in combat for line-of-sight information etc. Probably by removing saved points when switching to a different view, or at the very least by restricting the camera movement speed at initial switch and in certain situations. If it is still used to view nearby, otherwise unviewable, areas as by thinking of the character going into a 'trance', that may not be a bad use of the system.

Anyway the important one in this discussion is social view. It would be nice to do as previously mentioned and display 'important' names without selecting those entities; however some analysis says that this may not be possible. Battle view would fulfill the most necessary situations, as going into a single-minded state of concentrating on awareness and combat instead of other details; there may be too many contradictions by expanding this into social view, as follows . . .

There are different options. Displaying transparent names with a fuzzy glow, to distinguish from the bright main selection; showing on near-mouseover, and then fading again; doing this with certain subsets of all entities. As regards to hostile targets, this would detract from the single selection that is made by the player. Situations are most interesting when they allow for friendly or unfriendly actions to be reciprocated or to deny that reciprocation, which drives emphasis towards the status of individuals when time and the display allow for this. Even this fuzzy-glow display would also cause overreliance on combat mechanisms that cause names to appear which may speed the decision-making process, leading to cases where 'aggro is good' and so on, where actions are chosen solely for names and not for information; this is what really reduces the chance of being able to do this. But I guess names on near-mouseover is still possible in all cases . . .

For friendly entities, the main problem is which subset to make names appear for. Should group members have their names always displayed, or should friends..? How to differentiate between these two? If similar patterns are used, which is better, a friend or a group member? This last question inevitably arises when both group and friend are supposed to be 'better' than average. Is everyone who does not have their name displayed unimportant, since you have to go to extra effort to recognize them? It's easier to ignore everyone you don't know know or aren't working with. Why bother to memorize the physical appearance of those around you, when the important ones already have their names displayed and you can just memorize those..? These last ones are most troublesome, and since passive name display already creates the discomfort of an easy and unrealistic simulation of the real, it may be better not to have passive name display at all, and maybe not even on near-mouseover as these recent questions could mean that making it more difficult to obtain this information makes the game better.

Anyway, back to friends vs group, "display and value conflict". This is where I start copying notes verbatim. Different display mechanisms for each, but if group display is preserved then preferential and denigrate friends. But group display necessary for awareness when joining a group, etc. for social context and guidance/direction. "Follow the mob'.

Since for separation of known friendly [entities] and social dependencies and hard obligations, only important when non-grouped friendlies are present.
  • not in raids
  • Not in instanced PvP with controlled sides
"Raid group" besides very evocative does not have to be the same as normal group for other tasks. Goal can be different, obligations different, and display different. Possible: raid group is spears + feathers or banners. [Note: more lengthy setup of raid group, need to design banner and so on, or must derive from a guild. Less trivial for raid group to exist, possibly longer existence too..? Task-based, different purpose than a guild, may not be able to exist for long regardless of setup requirements.] Physical tokens within context of game reality are not comparable to game or player-designated relationships and potentials as displayed by name colour, etc. Group could be different but less obvious; "only feathers". Multi-group could include both of these.

Groups in raid vs party buffs, universal benefit?

. . . and that's as far as I got before I ran out of space and had to start thinking again, lol. The traditional 'raid groups' of current PvE MMOs would not correspond to the raid groups in this thinking. That raiding role in a system like this would fall upon groups of various sizes, with more internal organization to encourage modularity and dynamic social groupings to accomplish a task. This third type of group would be the 'multi-group' as mentioned above and also described in previous writings not present in this space, since 'super-group' sounds too much like American comic books and you can't create a more unique and descriptive term unless you have a place for it in the functional language. Would it help to be able to have raids, and not just the normal small group, join into this 'multi-group'? It might depend on how obvious the raid-group physical token designator is . . . otherwise it might be fine. Raid groups might just work as multiple small groups for combat purposes anyway, similar to existing games.

So another open question, besides 'preventing party buffs from breaking raid modularity' and 'whether raid groups can join raids', might be 'whether to design or alter combat mechanics around large groups with no internal structure or organization'.

Maybe PvP raid group vs PvE raid group might be better short-term descriptions. o_O Anyway that's all I can think of for now, and hopefully soon . . . as in today >_< . . . I can go back to studying.

UPDATE: 23 July, 12:13 a.m.

It may be very sad, but I have lots of pictures and movies from an old game on my hard drive. Due to issues, I know I can't concentrate so I escape to the unseen world. Things I noticed regarding names:
- raid instances look great with no names, at least for someone not actively playing and making decisions. Note: glowy armor looks stupid, properly done non-glowy armor can look totally awesome especially when the scene is properly presented.
- the one named Mantrid had friendly names off at least for one point in his (first?) PvP video
- generally, having names off means that the name display for the selected entity is the concession to gameplay, and no names is actually the 'reality'
- camera angle and height is still essential to taking characters seriously, instead of having them trivialized by distance and smallness

Screenshots, of course, look much better with no names. However in order for the meme 'identity is somewhat hidden' be successful, it must also apply to Player-vs-Environment scenarios, aka aggro and other artificial intelligence concepts. Take a screenshot of an underground university turned into a house of death and horror by undead perversions: the players have been turned into diseased gnomes and skeletons by various potions, and off in the distance are several groups of necromancers chatting. The only name appearing in the screenshot is that of one of the necromancers who was selected at the time. Not displaying friendly names can cause confusion about who is and who is not, but under current systems an artificial opponent would have no such confusion. Extending the assumptions of this scenario, the diseased gnomes and skeletons in this screenshot should be able to walk past the necromancers in a casual way, and not attract their attention.

Approaching too close or otherwise acting unusually might of course trigger a question or other challenge, which may or may not have a suitable response to avoid conflict. This actually is another example of 'group dynamics instead of solo', since a large group of players would not only be more suspicious but would also require uniform behavior from all group members to prevent an escalation.

Other pictures... hum...

Ninjaing a chest with pirates standing scant yards away... taunting guards of a fanatical and militant religious order while disguised as a paladin of said order, in turn disguised as a pirate of the wrong gender too... also one of the opening of a keystone in an archaeological site which is interesting because it's one of the situations I thought you WOULD need names, but it actually works out quite well from the screenshot... one of the movies which I shamefully watched had the character's own name displayed, which mostly works because their identity is relevant so it isn't a distraction. For presentation of situation however, identity is not important and name colour as action-potentials is distracting as usually involves losses and gains that do not concern the viewer. Identity information can be provided in metadata or descriptions accompanying the screenshot, and there would always be the option of selecting oneself as the named entity being emphasized in a screenshot.

Another one of the same corrupted school... this one with interface on, but names still off and it looks great. But I don't think I did the fight that way >_<.. if someone is in trouble, it's hard to tell where they are without being able to examine a situation for friendly entities, and verify that someone who seems to be in trouble is the one that actually is by looking at their name display in the gameworld. On the other hand it's somewhat difficult to tell who may be in trouble even with names on unless you are paying attention.

However, this can can be countered by having predictable damage. The 'assist' hotkey, to find target of target is an essential tool in dynamic situations, and in the confusion of many opponents, 1-vs-many damage mechanics and aggro mechanics will contribute to this relative predictability. Just as essential tho is communication. Even if it's not an important subject, when someone says something in chat and you can't associate their name with a specific nearby entity in the gameworld, this is confusing and distracting, because there are social considerations too and remembering who said what, not just the immediate impact of this communication on the game world.

What about this..? Complicated because not all communication takes place with range of voice, so the analogy is not perfect. If someone speaks in any communication channel and within 'voice range' (which might not be same as visible range), they give physical indications of speaking and a voice bubble shows up that gives an abbreviation of the communication channel and the beginning of what they say. The purpose of this is not to be able to follow a conversation by just looking at the game world, but to allow quick identification of who is saying what. However, 'mousing over' any chat bubble could easily show the full text. Their name could be included, but leaving it out as well as abbreviating the communication channel is to avoid repetition of information and screen clutter. The chat bubble doesn't have to be always over their head; it would be better if it were dynamic and tried to fill screen space that was not already occupied by something interesting like a character.

For example of this, suppose the following dialogue:
[Group][Holymackerel]: pally power!
[Group][Lavicus]: im nervous :P lol
[Group][Jerdren]: lol
[Group][Taemojitsu]: ought to have gone x5 pallies XD
[Group][Holymackerel]: is this a long fight?

might show up as something like,
"[G] pally power!"
"[G] im nervous ..."
"[G] lol"
"[G] ought to ..."
"[G] is this ..."

in speech bubbles in the game world.

More screenshots: siiigh, lots of totally iconic imagery of a free-for-all arena in a jungle. For example one partial shot has at least 72 bodies on the floor and entrance to the arena of players who have died and not resurrected; another shows at least 64. Neither of these count all the skeletons that remain after a player has resurrected, nor do they count ongoing player-vs-player engagements with flashy explosions and healing and moonlasers coming down from the sky. If I included images in this blog this post would have too many. Other images include groups from classic opposing factions mustering their courage at the entrance and making preparations to enter the arena floor, with lighting from time of day highlighting the differences between them... interspersed in each case with several players of the wrong faction. A lineup of trolls on raptors with a hulking tauren on same walking down the line, faced by a lone female and the occasional dead body or skeleton on the floor. Four identically-dressed assassins attempting to molest a player by intrusion on their personal space as she sits near a wall. Another screenshot demonstrating the hilarity and social reactions when a many-vs-1 gank fails. None of these with names displayed, the interface displayed only if conversation or health/debuffs are relevant; and it all looks great! siiiigh. ^_^ the memories... sorry!


As regards to free-for-all PvP, this highlights how useful the 'physical token' approach to marking groups would be, as this makes groups visible to players who are not in one.

(healers PvP, making it interesting/dynamic and using group heals)

15 July 2009

Open questions

In the course of things, I am distracted by various thoughts. They start from anywhere. As they progress, I wonder about power inflation. Do things scale properly? How does this affect player options? Perhaps inspired by a depiction of a lone caster facing the lord of the molten depths in all his anger and power, I wonder about past stories and a player attempting to solo Maws, the tiny minnow who held part of the key to an ancient mystery. Any game should allow at least as dramatic a depiction as the one by Betrayal, a player, of the battles against Maws and Eranikus. But how is it really, to experience such a thing? How much of it is just presentation and editing? For a single player to attempt the same thing would be unrealistic as seen in a game. Is there any way to show any amount of drama when the minnow is faced by a single opponent? How much of this can be done with the game, and how much would need to be done by camera and editing?

Removing the traditional form of power inflation would make this impossible. Is there any downside to the situation of not being able to do this? Scaling problems are a core issue in a game based around progression of power, and bad mechanics will throw off balance. It is apparent from the design of some games that certain classes were more 'dependent' on their gear than others, especially for damage. Is it possible to have balance... or you might say, "balance-preserving transformations"... when the size of resource pools, and thus the length of fights change?

Obviously, one way of avoiding this is by not having classes for whom upgrades are a necessity, and specifically weapon upgrades. How is the situation tho when classes are dependent in this way, or in some cases as they have become this way? For which classes are options present, and for which do scaling mechanics restrict what they are able to do? Under which scenarios -- such as character level or gear depth -- do these restrictions exist, and how would you create a character to preserve as many options as possible so you could have fun...? But at some point there is a limit to these questions and their relevance.

This somehow, led me to wonder why I consider the possibility of group combat more exciting than solo combat, and why I would choose options that emphasize group support in addition to solo viability in most cases. Why would I not speculate about group offensive viability as well. One way or another this led me back to names; after spending much time thinking about the very simple situation, 'Use an offensive ability that blows up multiple enemies next to you, and everyone's name pops up briefly to let you know whom you damaged', I think it isn't possible. There's too much about ranged aoe attacks, and periodic aoe damage, and single-target aoe damage, and names as letting you know who you have damaged compared to names letting you know what creatures you have accidentally damaged that will now try to attack you, and showing friendly names when you are healed by one out of a large number of playeres compared to showing friendly names when you are healed by a dedicated healer in a small number of players you are working closely with at a certain time. Too difficult to separate times when names would be appropriate vs when they would not.

This asks, when is showing multiple names needed? It would be when you have just caused a significant change, either in their own health or in their perception of you, in several entities and don't have time to select each individually to see their names; but also when you are faced with multiple entities and need to target one of many of them, and your decision is dependent on the identities involved. In this second case, names-on-damage would not help, and not all characters would have access to area-of-effect abilities anyway. These other flaws in implementing make it less likely that this function would work smoothly.

However, many target selection difficulties would be somewhat alleviated by more area-of-effect possibilities by abilities, as well as other ninja law mechanics to help a player attacked by multiple opponents. Knowledge stress is based on the penalty for not using that information, and by lowering the immediate intensity of a conflict where information is hard to quickly obtain the knowledge stress is reduced.

It is important not to forget the stylistic approach, where less information is more helpful when taking all factors into account.

Also, 'tab select' shouldn't go thru walls. And there's lots of stuff you could say about using story ('quests') as incentive instead of power-based items, with story also actually including character expression and differentiation. A 'quest' would change your character's expression, as it is only done once. Defeating a known figure in a story tableau would only change your status within a certain context, those in the world who care about the story as portrayed within the larger story of the game and maybe other players who care about for this specific aspect of your character. However the gear questions that lead to this diversion are not new.

13 July 2009


Rise of Western civilization, world empires in last few centuries

metalworking, energy, weapons

technology combined with language enabling cheap knowledge transfer. (movable type works well with the Latin alphabet)

In 20th century technology allows knowledge transfer in all languages and cultures.

See also, Pierre Bourdieu. Note reflexivity and link to the 'financial terrorist' Mr Soros, and different kinds of social and cultural capital, I haven't read most of this stuff except maybe the end. This gives an interesting viewpoint: something which can appeal to everyone of the right temperament can act as this bridging social capital to link bonded groups. If communities tend towards isolation (and this is true in leisure as in everything else), elements of culture that bridge these communities have value.

12 July 2009

Tatja Grimm

Machiavelli, Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio:
It was the verdict of ancient writers that men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and that the same effects result from both of these passions. For whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another.

It is possible this is no longer the case. I have mentioned before that Unrestricted Warfare by
Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui is an excellent book which I have never finished reading. It argues, or mentions, that the 1991 Iraq war was the first and last of its kind, and that the world is fundamentally different than it was before regarding people's support for wars. Maybe this is because of nuclear weapons.

It brings to mind many things. Is conflict really so unavoidable? If it is, then it is because of selfishness or ambitiousness of those around you. What you allow them to do, or what you seek to achieve is largely defined by the social environment of what you see as possible and what you see as reasonable to have as a goal, whether this is because other people have the same or whether they have a different attitude towards what you or they should be able to achieve. Our reactions toward what other people attempt to do is only because of what we have decided or what other people have decided for us. Conflict is not unavoidable, but occurs because we feel it should. This may be a morally acceptable decision as it relates to the benefit of others around us and even our own benefit; but this may not prevent it from becoming a selfish decision. The only way it is not, to keep being good even as you grow weary with it, is to be the warrior.

Most are not. Some cultures are aware of this requirement more than others. Some cultures present death as hypothetically being a positive thing, and in that way are able to embrace conflict while not denying its nature. This is more of a social stance as this presentation of strength is mostly of a rhetorical nature; whereas viewing the accepting attitude towards death as... what it is... derives from a more individual stance that does not depend, or thrive on the benefit of other people to be expressed.

The second thing it brings to mind is that if nuclear weapons really have softened the aggressive characteristics of society, then the aggressive mindset that is attracted to war might only exist in simpler and less deadly environments. Comparing the warring factions of ages past, they are very different from the current one of global trade and media saturation. A game, then can derive its legitimacy and its reality from the fact that it does not take place in the present.

09 July 2009

Signs of the Times

Background noise is annoying >_< I used to be able to read so well, totally ignoring everything going on around me. Now the exact opposite is usually true. Why?

Release info on a central site days before it is available by any other means. Data-mining and model rendering means that public testing is equivalent to a full release. It is harmful in itself itself to show things in a way which suggests that knowledge of new abilities or mechanics is worth displaying or talking about them in a poor way. Even if this attitude did not exist before, it will create it, and the attitude will be self-reinforcing despite being contrary to the state of a game. So even when dampening the competition-based factors which encourage this knowledge . . . primacy, the improper release and approach to new information can such habits to exist in those interested.

Accumulating information and releasing at the right times means less information at other times. Inconsistency will kill a habit. When a game relies on, tolerates, or even encourages an obsession with new details and the edge of change, it will not reduce the alteration of the spirit of the game by third-party sites and will not benefit those who are trying to enjoy the game in its present form, neither in the social environment it creates nor in the choices it will cause the game's designers to make, consciously or unconsciously, in response to the most insistent of players who do concern themselves with the flux and newness of a game. This mutual or self-delusion by avid fans and the creators of a game can lead to the game's . . . dullness, I suppose for those who are not interested in the grind.

Specific practices.
Model-viewing screenshots tagged with the name of a site. Depends on having the object model in game files released to players.

Describing upcoming changes or newly released information in specific terms, or even copying all official information releases on formal or informal channels to encourage players to use a certain site as their primary source of information.

For example, a new boss is released on a public test realm. A third-party site uses a model viewer to create a screenshot of the boss and tags it with the site name. They data-mine the game files describing the boss's abilities and post all data on their site.

The following would make less people interested in that presentation by the third-party site, for a game developer interested in avoiding the knowledge-obsessive approach to their game. Days before the test patch is released, create a story about the boss with a 'role-playing' attitude, that defines who this boss is, why they do what they do and why they are important. This is accompanied by proper screenshots of the boss in certain points in the story, from someone who is actually good at photography and doing angles and background and so on (in other words not cr*p). In this way, the 'lore' of the game is created as the game is developed, and becomes important because of its realism and the emphasis on story from being the first information released on this boss, and allows the interpretation of a situation in terms beyond the format of an encounter or its rewards, prior to seeing any 'numbers' or encounter specifics. Especially when the story of an instance allows not fighting this boss, this makes knowing these specific numbers in advance unimportant because the player can have already decided that killing the boss is not what they want to do.

Mmm there's other things I thought about, such as being able to make all or at least many factions like you or to make them all hate you, and a 'long-term' reputation contrasting with a 'short-term' one that leads the long-term one such as when you betray a faction and they wait disapprovely for you to redeem yourself, and players being treated as a group with trusted players grudgingly making up for the untrusted players as if vouching for them (group effects or reactions is a theme as mentioned previously) . . . but don't know too much to say. Was something I wanted to talk about a few days ago but I forget. o_o Also was thinking recently about 'how to keep the boss from just killing the healers' as well as well as how to make sure someone CAN be killed by reducing the effects of healing when it is done repeatedly . . . this is not paradoxical if a boss's optimum 'strategy' is to kill someone in less time than it takes for diminishing returns on healing to take effect on a soft, healy target. 0.o

05 July 2009

The Trickster God

Mythology is one source of inspiration for games, and can lead to spirited discussion about these lore elements. What can go wrong, and how to avoid these problems?

No matter how interesting a mythology is, there are several problems with it being used in a game. The game will be benefiting from copying the mythology with no real adherence to it; and the game has certain other goals that dictate how a scenario will play out and what the players' options in it are. Someone you are determined to kill will interest you only so much, and may interest other players even less. No matter how skillfully the story and graphics are presented, the game may contain elements that cause the average person to reject this presentation due to the implicit support of these motives or values. A similar situation may also arise for lore that the game creates itself, as people often believe in a thing only because they feel its base elements benefits themselves or others and no story is real enough to stand without belief.

Things like PvP ranks, and changing power scaling to reduce competitiveness would help. Just a reminder, the Ninja Law of 1 vs many helps to balance lack of power scaling, so the significance of a single low-level opponent does not translate into being destroyed when fighting multiple of them.

However, there are deficiencies in the story-based progression incentives too. When a discussion is oriented around 'strategies' to defeat a character who is significant in lore, it detracts from the story and disrespects the character who may come to be important only because they drop items upon their death. What if you did not feel you had to kill everyone you encountered?

This is a three-part balancing act: if you kill everything, then everything is only for killing. If you have too much choice in not killing, then the world becomes peaceful and the complementary option is still removed. There must be just enough choice to raise this option as a possibility and maintain it, without letting things become too predictable either way.

Stopping ongoing combat could be bad.

Discussion leading to combat may work, if it may also lead to dialogue.

The 'rewards' of a situation must not force either option. Needs of people in a group dictate the group actions, and if someone needs certain 'drops' this could force a situation. Diversity in rewards helps, so both conflict and dialogue can be acceptable options.

Short-term gain and long-term gain must be balanced with inconvenience, for determining these choices. Sneaking past a watcher. . .

Combat may lead to other results other than death, if these results are also beneficial and do not make the situation seem contrived or force themselves on the players unwanted. Specifically thinking of a certain underhanded individual at a tavern near a marsh . . .

Many scenarios become possible when a story has time to evolve. An instanced area in a game centered around story, instead of progression, can provide this time for a group to explore a story, with variations of instance binding providing the continuity. A key concept, and an expansion of the 'instance as fortress' perspective, is multiple factions within an instance. A group that makes the proper decisions may be able to actually ally themselves with one faction, allowing them to complete goals that involve conflict with another faction. When the story is done a different time, the group may come to ally with a different faction, or even go to war with both. The accumulated 'reputations' with factions of individual players may have an effect even if the reputation of a single player does not enable or deny certain options by itself, making it easier or more difficult to accomplish coercive goals. This brings into question the idea of conflict with any specific character, when this conflict may be avoided by the correct actions earlier in this enactment of the story. The right contributions to a leader who is suspicious of you could alleviate their concerns and gain a powerful ally in your fight with your opponents in obtaining your true goal . . .

There are other details in accomplishing this set of options in a game. When there is only a single standard of success and a single linear goal, everything else becomes subordinate to this goal. This is seen in current games. When multiple diverse goals offer many and sometimes conflicting standards of success, the options are not so simple. This is part of having story, and quests, be a way to differentiate and express instead of just a progression in power. Complexity of accomplishing a given task is entirely different from being able to ask whether to accomplish this task at all, while still satisfying other in-game requirements and the player's own standards of achievement and consistency of purpose. Complicated fights do not make up for lack of choice.

This means that, due to the quests they choose to accept (or other methods of differentiating character and their goals), some people may want to ally with one faction, while others will want to ally with another. It is imperative that this does not cause groups that agree ahead of time to choose only one or another path!! There should not be 'LFM ' groups . . . -_-' This type of design gains value, and real-world relevance, only if there is conflict within the group and a choice of which decision to make, that benefits all parties involved ambiguously and must be able to withstand uncertainty prior to the action as well as the addition of uncontrolled elements during the course of the story; this means that quests cannot have linear requirements or results! Either quests should tend to be relatively faction-neutral regarding their completion, or there must sometimes be hidden, unexpected ways to accomplish a goal even when the story is not as expected. This is the result of a design where quests are seen as changing the world for the player after they are accepted, instead of just after they are complete. It may mean a possible to defect in favor of or betray the other side in a conflict, for example. It may also mean that a player with a Wanted poster for a certain leader may get squashed against the wall when encountering that leader in a supposedly friendly format. ^_^ This would then become a thing to avoid in future instances.

It may also be possible to incorporate the 'immunization-type' raid progression enhancements into the faction format . . . but I don't know, it's a separate idea whether or not it might be required for them to work together. For example, maybe you could only win over a certain ally if the player negotiating with them had consistently shown their rapport with them during past gameplay for several weeks . . . somewhat modified version of the faction-insensitive and combat-oriented 'immunization' system for raid progress. Exploring the complexity of story paths could take as long as actually implementing a known plan; for example, you could be required to work to befriend a faction at one point of time, but then later on need to find separate allies to betray your first ones later on in the same instance . . .

In all cases, relations should be sensitive to specific actions. Destroying a random patrol and killing all its constituent entities does not make you look good to the command that sent them out, and the attitudes of different parties in dialogue should reflect that.

Omg, two ideas down ("factions", "gain, split") and only two more to go!!1 ("death", "simple")

When a player dies, it is a very negative thing. Sometimes this is good, such as when that death could have been avoided. Sometimes this is bad, such as when the player came up against a stupidly powerful enemy and their death had no purpose, or when they died due to random uncontrollable factors in an otherwise necessary situation, or when those who were supposed to be helping them ended up being stupid or incompetent or both and there's no way to accomplish their goal and no point in being there at all, or when any of these situations leads to any other like when a stupid decision leads to an uncontrollable death which leads to a wipe due to game mechanics not allowing otherwise. Part of this is bad design that causes slight but critical mistakes to overcome the skill delta that is restrained by the gear/progress delta, but part of it is also just stupid teammates who didn't help you and didn't heal. The critical aspect is that difficulty is enjoyable when it allows you to enjoy a situation and succeed; but it is not enjoyable when deficiencies in those around you cause you to fail again and again with no benefit.

Therefore, it may help to give a slight gain for dying in the right situation.

But not enough to make you do it on purpose.

How does this relate to the other stuffs talked about above? What would be the right consequences for dying? :P I haven't thought up any details.

And finally, 'simple'!! If being with other people is fun and you are able to roleplay and enjoy a story, it does not matter if a fight has new and complicated mechanics that require specific strategies. More complex means more challenge to adapt to and memorize and overcome, but this is bad as well as good because these challenges will usually have no relevance to the real world, and it just becomes a needless complication. The original game that has become so important in this genre never had complicated fights when it started out and did better than ok . . . people look for things they can't always find. That's from a PvP movie by the way, sort of.

03 July 2009


The primary reason for a form of entertainment to be insufficient for someone, other than being bad, is when it presents a sphere of interests that does not harmonize with other things in this world that one may encounter. Failure to adjust to, or account for these other attitudes means loss of relevance. As mentioned before, other countries have significantly different priorities than the United States or other developed Western countries. Not accounting this means losing those audiences and anyone connected to them. The Grind is just one example of an unacceptable mechanism that may seem acceptable to a country used in leisure; when in reality most people in this world have economic progress or skills specialization to make in real life. Just to remind that the chance of death on an everyday basis is another significant reality and attitude difference; it is important not to forget these things when thinking of the world.

There must be many ways to increase framerate when many players must be rendered. One of them may be to transition to display of standardized textures for different styles and converging on certain hues when there are large numbers of players in one area; but I don't know if this would really be a computation issue, or just a memory one. However it has the additional benefit of reducing extraneous flashy characteristics and presenting an opposing army as more homogeneous and cohesive, especially if names are not displayed resulting in no 'large red cloud of names' effect so graphics must be simplified when in large numbers so someone can understand a situation faster without being confused or annoyed by distracting details. If polygons is the big issue, then it might be simple to also just have alternate low-polygon models that use the same or the simplified textures, and these models are swapped out when there are large numbers of people, with preference on swapping out those further from the camera.

It may also be possible to use filters, or even weather/lighting effects on the scene as a whole, with the player themself possibly staying unfiltered in this case and maybe nearby friends too, so only 'interesting' people take up normal computer resources. Mostly, large numbers of people nearby whether friendly or enemy should have a graphical effect to promote and reinforce the psychological effect of this environment. This is in line with treating numbers of people differently in other parts of the game too, such as aggro radius and 'sneaking past' something, and it also leads to another function as follows.

Having a conflict extend its effects past line of sight. At a distance, of course the distant sound of arms would be audible, if the game is tracking that large numbers of people are engaged in combat in a vicinity. Also a visual component would be nice (can't help thinking of whenever it must look like in PvP video) such as a flashing red border, or hopefully not something so lame/obvious. Weather effects may change as far out as this too, or anything to give a sense of tension and anticipation. This may manifest in a different way when the outcome of a battle has been decided; for example, someone 200m away may hear or receive some alert only when someone has died, and may not hear the preceding struggle. It might be very faint and only by investigating can they know what happened.

This 'beyond line of sight' idea would enhance the perceived significance especially of conflicts in an instanced area, which otherwise do not individually seem important.