Moo Tang Clan: September 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two factions, two themes, two destinies

Setting: a border town, controlled by one faction, struggling to survive. A rebel faction is hiding out in the hills, skirmishing, scouting, waiting for the chance opportunity to take control of the border town.

In the town there would be available a number of quests, but since this is a settler outpost they would be geared around peaceful activities, and give rewards appropriately. You'd be sent out to the forest to gather firewood and chestnuts, delivering rations to guard posts, bring back reports from those guard posts, digging up ore in a mine, planting of crops and so on. Your rewards would be new mounts, fancy clothes, opportunities to learn new skills or recipes.

The rebels have no such luxury though. The rebel leaders would give rewards like magic tinctures that guard against detection, finely crafted weapons of war, special combat rations and so on. They'd want you to go raid a guard post, to intercept deliveries of guard post rations and reports, to gank the farmers in the fields and steal their crops.

If successful, the town folk become stronger in peaceful capabilities. They can mine faster and deeper, their crops are more bountiful, they learn to sing and dance and craft. The remote guardposts form into hamlets, then villages. The rebels meanwhile become stronger in hostile capabilities, become sneakier, hit harder, take less damage, negotiate dark deals with the wilder forces such as ogres and worse.

Eventually though the town defenses will fall to the rebels, and the factions switch sides. This story repeats across a dozen different border towns. The settlers flee one pillaged town to seek sanctuary in another, perhaps stronger, border town. Some rebels, their blood tainted with everburning anger and knowing they could never take up the settler's lot, will seek out some other border town to go harass.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Arnold vs Benjy

Catering to the time poor casual crowd, vs the expectation of attention for the all-you-can-eat gluttons...

Arnold = $15/month, plays 10 hours per week, keeps on playing
Benjy = $15/month, plays 50 hours per week, quits after 4 months

Arnold plods along, Benjy burns through all content in a few short months.

Arnold provides $180/year, Benjy pays just $60.

Arnold only puts 10 hours of load on the server per week, Benjy takes 50 hours of load. For every Benjy, the server could support 5 Arnolds (more like 3, given peak hour time collisions).

And yet ... Benjy is the one that whines "I pay $15/month, I play lots of hours, I deserve to be treated as the most favoured customer".


Monday, September 7, 2009

Measuring progress in a story based MMORPG?

Evizaer posits that popular MMORPGs invert the advancement/story structure of PnP gaming such that story is simply a means to an end instead of the point of the game (and advancement being the means).

He does suggest that it would be possible to design an MMORPG where story is the point, setting the structure right again. My question then is what game mechanics might be designed to record and measure this story-based progress?

With advancement based games it's easy to see progress - the game is full of stats and abilities which can be enumerated. If I wanted to display and explain the story based progress of my WoW characters though I would have a hard time. The best I could do is point to my Achievements and to all the bric-a-brac cluttering my bank. I have very few screen-shots stashed away (the game doesn't directly facilitate keeping visual mementos), my quest log is now empty (completed quests simply disappear). It's a lot of work I have to do to show off my story progress, no wonder then that I don't.

What game mechanics would you want to see to facilitate measuring story progress?