Moo Tang Clan: Would you cross the street...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Would you cross the street...

Would you cross the street to gain a skill improvement that buffs your key performance metric by 1%?

Would you travel to the other end of the world to gain another 1% improvement?

Would you set off on a journey which would take you several hours of game time to get a 0.1% skill buff?

I'm pondering the design of a skill based mmo set in a massive world, one where there are a small number of common 1% skill buffs, available pretty much everywhere, and then a large number of 0.1% buffs scattered about the world.

A rookie warrior could stay in the one general zone and pick up all the skill training buffs for a total of (say) +50% damage, and then set off into the wide world seeking out 0.1% here, and 0.1% there ... all adding up to another 25% again. It would be like traveling from Paris to Tibet to learn the ancient art of mumble-fu from a secretive clan of Mountain Warrior Monks (0.1% buff to unarmed combat), and then deep into darkest Africa to track down a mysterious Zulu Exiled King to another 0.1% buff to berserker stance combat.

All without teleports or any other fast travel. And even then, the Mountain Warrior Monks want you to prove your dedication and virtue by [killing 10 rats], the Zulu Exiled King generally mistrusts everyone and doesn't give training away for free, and so on.

I would plan the design such that it would take several months to travel the world and gather the full 250 x 0.1% buffs. And all while you're doing this you're not in your home zone contributing to the development of your village/estate/guild/kingdom.

But it wouldn't be necessary to do so. The Big Bads would be balanced around players having only a total of 50% – 51% skill buff. That would be all the common training, plus a dozen or so of the nearest rare skill buffs.

The design intent is that there would be a lonely few insane individuals wandering the dusty roads of the world, perfecting their personal skills; and meanwhile everyone else is putting time and effort into improving the quality of the smithworks, securing high grade ore, and other activities which give players additional bonuses.


Rebecca said...

I'd cross the street. I probably wouldn't do much more than that, though.
I play a healer, or tend to, Guild Wars aside; I've found that healer-types can be a little weaker than everyone else in a party, and still heal sufficiently that everyone survives. At the lower ends of the game, anyway; content made for level-capped/skill-capped characters tends to demand a healer equal to everyone else, after a point.
That said, I'd probably see about picking up all the 1% and 0.1% increases if I'm in the general area, and know about them. Or just randomly explore and stumble across them. I get pretty bored if a game had me sticking around the same area, doing exactly the same thing fifty levels ago. See: Mabinogi.
Not everyone gets bored with an area at the same rate, but I think you'd get more than 'a lonely few insane individuals' hunting down those buffs, simply because there are more reasons to go out into the wild world - exploration, or just to be somewhere or doing something different and new, or to be somewhere else than that really annoying guy who gets on your nerves - than just finding those things.
That said, yeah, you'll get some completionists who do that.

Garumoo said...

Yes, the design definitely rests on the idea that there's an opportunity cost to pursuing all those minor gains.

Also implied (see earlier posts) is the idea that regional areas evolve and grow through player impact, and that power progression is also due to that locality advancement.

Thus, you could (a) travel the world and be the scrappiest ultimate fighting champion, or (b) stick around, help your village discover science, and nuke the scrappy fighters from orbit. You won't have time to do both.

Garumoo said...

I'm reminded of one scene from the first Indiana Jones movie: our stalwart hero is confronted by an enemy kook that is an obvious master of the sword, putting on an intimidating display of dual wielding deadliness. Then Indi pulls out a pistol and blammo, personal skill defeated by technology.

Does this mean the technology path is the better one? Well, we all remember a similar scene in the sequel, right?