Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Design story - Dak learn new skills

Dak got some free time and decides to learn how to craft a small chest.

He finds the carpenter and ask him to teach him how to craft a small chest. The carpenter tells him that 24 hours of teaching are required before Dak is able to craft it himself.

Dak don't want to spend all of his day learning this new skill today so he spends 6 hours for now, leaving him with 18 more hours needed before he's able to craft a small chest.

The day after, Dak got a little more time so he meet again with the carpenter and spend 18 hours to complete his skill. Dak is now able to craft small chests.

A week after, Dak enjoy so much crafting small chests that he wants to take it to the next level. He wants to learn how to craft big chests!!!

Once again, he meets with the carpenter and ask him to teach him. The carpenter tells him that fortunately he already knows how to craft small chests, which is a prerequisite to craft big chests.

Learning this new skill requires more time though. It will take 48 hours to learn it. Once Dak has spent 48 hours, he'll be able to start his carreer of crafting big chests!

(this time I wrote the story before actually coding it, so now I have some work!)


Anonymous said...

So, let em see if I follow you.

I sign up for the game and make a character, then I log off. A week later I log back in and the game knows I have 7 days of time banked up. So I can now instantly learn 7 days worth of "skills" i.e. using different weapons, crafting, health, attack, etc. In effect I can go from level 1 to level 10 very quickly ~30mins without really doing too much?

That's interesting, but it seems odd, I'd certainly like to see how it plays out.

The aim would seem to be to remove any form of treadmill style grinding. So what you're left with is core activities like completing quests, building your house and trading? I suppose that's fine as long as those activities are engaging enough and there is enough of it to keep people entertained for an appropriate amount of time.

Grinding is there to keep people in the game as long as possible to collect maximum subscription. If you aren't greedy or the game is free then I suppose grinding isn't necessary.

I know grinding can be dreadfully dull, but I thought WoW put enough effort in that it was almost fun :) At least at level 0 -> 25 which is when I gave up.

The slight worry though is that grinding is important and does entertain in a way. People like working on things, putting in some kind of commitment and slowly being rewarded, having something to aim for. Entertain is the wrong word, it satisfies some psychological addiction I suppose.

I'm not saying grinding is good, just that it does serve a purpose beyond increasing subscription income. I really wonder what it will be like without it. I suppose the worse case is people can quite quickly get whatever stats or skills they want, so someone might get the stats and equipment needed to fight the hardest challenge in the game and then at that point feel bored and perhaps quit.

It would seem to make sense to add some kind of unending dynamic content i.e. dark age style realm combat or WoW's raids. If there is a player driven dynamic game of some kind that never ends then that would replace grinding in terms of giving people a long term activity.

If you don't have to grind stats how do you define one player as better than another? Presumably it comes down to time spent aquiring equipment, wasn't Everquest equipment focused, is this going to be more like that? I suppose Diablo is another example. Or maybe I'm never better or worse than anyone else?

Over00 said...

Hi, I agree that the traditional system of do action A X times to achieve Y more power has proven successful. Like you said, WoW is a good example that this system works.

Before going further, I'll point you to 2 previous post explaining what's behind this design story:

Time points system: http://over00.blogspot.com/2007/09/time-points-system.html

Skills system: http://over00.blogspot.com/2007/08/no-one-is-born-paladin.html

Basically, on a smaller scale, I'd like to implement a system similar to Eve Online. In Eve, time defines how your character progress. You might kill 1000 pirates, all it will get you is money and loot but you won't learn new skills faster.

There's no doubt grinding is a good way to keep people in the game. However, I don't like it and I don't want to create something I don't like. I'm probably taking a guess here for the success of the game but I'm sure I'll be able to find a niche for this type of gameplay. Not having the pressure of millions invested in the project gives me more freedom in the choices I make. I could just copy/paste a known winning recipe but in the end, I wouldn't be really as proud of what I achieved.

The key idea lies near the end of your post: unending dynamic. You nailed it and that's what I'm thinking too. Since I can't provide enough content by myself to entertain players that would get through every quest I could build in less than a day, I need to find a way to let the players build the dynamic of the game themselves.

Take for example Urban Dead (I'm always coming back with this one since it's a beauty of simplicity and success). There's no quests, no "content", no raids. Grinding do exist but you can max a character so fast (it surely can be done in a week I guess, never tested) so it's out of the equation to keep player in the game.

So how Urban Dead is able to keep it's players? Simply put, players run the world. They form guilds, decide to raid other players, set their own objectives, write RP stories and so on. That's exactly what I want to do. Provide enough tools to players to let them run the world and their fun. Having less guidelines than a game like WoW probably won't appeal to some players and that's ok. I'm sure however that a lot players are seaking game with a bit more liberty and have no problem with a game that doesn't have an objective like "grind to level 70".

Of course, I'll help them with things like (just an example I just made out) a gold mine that can be controlled by a single guild. You'll probably see battles to gain control of the mine, you'll see defense strategies, crafters needed to provide weapons or traps, ... And all I have to do is to give the players a reason to get interested in this mine.

So how a player would be defined better than another? Like in the "Time points system" post, I'd like that "older" players have more options/choices than new players and not necessarily raw power. Meaning, a player might not develop more powerful skills (but there will be with a system with skills that are prerequisite to others skills, like the story about small chest and big chest crafting) but he'll be able to make better decision to solve a problem or win a fight.

I'm not a fan of equipment focused games either. Doesn't mean I don't like loot, everyone like loot! There will be equipement more powerful but I'll probably do my best to make sure equipment doesn't become a major factor of power. Since as a player I never was the one with the uber equipment (beside when some friends were leaving the game and gave me all they had... hehe), I quite understand the frustration of not being able to compete just because you don't have 12 hours to "waste" raiding or ramdomly killing bad guys to get THE schematic you need.

Finally, it's important to remember that this is the first "draft". Alpha and Beta testing will help me a lot to adjust the system. I'm sure there's some flaws in my ideas but the basics are there. And it's by talking with people like you that I can move forward to something that works and is enjoyable.

So thanks for your interest! Looking forward to exchange further with you.