MMOG Game Design Ideas: Part 3

Autoduel and Universe were a couple '80s games that amazed me from a design perspective. In Autoduel you could be an Arena Duellist, Courier, Highway Duellist, or Questor. I was impressed by the “4 games in one” model. Universe worked similarly.

One of my early MMOG ideas was for a space game where instead of a single player per ship many ships would be manned by dozens or even hundreds of players. The game would play completely differently whether you were an Engineer or a Captain. Many games in one, and much more realism.

Here’s an example of this concept in action in a Military War game…

The “Commander” game: Commander gameplay consists of a War Map showing troop movements which can be zoomed in on to show up close troops. Commander orchestrates the actions of the troops from a physically removed location. Before and during action, the Commander sets strategy for the conflict. This sub-game would be called the “Strategy” genre.

The “Troop” game: Troop gameplay consists of a FPS interface with a headset to receive commands from Sergeant (who also has a FPS interface so is not listed seperately). This sub-game would be called the “FPS” genre.

The “Medic” game: Medic gameplay consists of drop-down menus showing supplies, patients, conditions, etc. This sub-game would be called the “Sim” genre.

The “Supplier” game: Supplier gameplay consists of maps and text data showing supply locations, shipping routes, inventory levels. He negotiates prices and arranges shipments for Commander, Troop and Medic supplies.

Now, the Commander perhaps and the Medic definitely can be killed… they show up as 3-D physical units and are bot-controlled. When they die their interface is gone.

All types of players get individual ratings. The Medic is playing his own sub-game and how well he does determines his score, which he can post and if its good maybe he’ll be recruited by a better team.

Hopefully the MMOGs of the future will incorporate this kind of diversity.

Isn’t there a lot of downtime inherent in that design idea (and unlike waiting for spawns, downtime not directly related to your own benefit)? Which is why MMOGs are usually one element which is then done in perpetuity, like fighting.

Of course, if you include a certain individual’s ideas for sex in MMOGs, maybe the downtime problem is solved ;)

Right. There has to be a downtime activity. The Commander can spend the time thinking about the next battle, and the Supplier isn’t tied to any battle (his game is ongoing and not battle-specific), but the Medic and especially the Troops are going to have downtime that the game design needs to fill.

Sex as that game design element would be fun, especially if you expanded the “rating” system to include that.

You can laugh at your friend when the game tells him he’s “bad in bed” for example.

I can see a potential girlfriend (in traditional reality) turning her back on him because he was bad in bed in that game ;).

“Don’t touch me. You can’t even fuck a simulated woman well”.

I think the weaknesses of a lot of mmorgs are 1) downtime 2) repeition

the fight, fight, rest, fight, fight “gameplay” has been overdone… if you want to come up with a new mmorpg idea, then breaking this lame-ass cycle is the way to go, I think…

but that is jus tmy 0.02cents!

Here’s my problem with this. 24 years ago, I was squirted out of a hairy orifice in a heady libation of blood and embryonic fluid. From the second after I parted my mother’s labial curtains to enter automotonous stage left to the moment a few seconds later when my pediatrician backhanded some breath into me - that basically is the entire scope of my time on earth when “realism” still seemed fun to me. Realism is the knowledge that the female form is basically, from an anatomical/architectural perspective, some kind of Escheresque party gag that can not withstand the various physical laws of the universe and is consequently in a rapid state of implosion and demolition from the age of sixteen on; realism is also the desperation that comes when you realize all this at the exact moment when you can no longer have sex with sixteen year old girls without being arrested. In fact, my entire life has basically just been one big wind-up to my ultimate fuck you middle finger to realism - Death.

Short of cleanly inserting a bullet into my left eyeball, games are one of the only escapes from reality I have. I don’t want to interact with yet another universe where I am anything besides a time-travelling micronaut who is going to fight through thirty two action packed levels in Hitler’s mother’s blood stream in order to reach the end boss, a Nihlanth-esque Adolf fetus, and consequently save the world before it was even threatened in the first place. In other words, when you write these essays about more realism in MMORPGs and enthuse about giving me an entry level job on board a starship, which I can already do at my current job with the aid of a Battlestar Gallactica helmet, you are somehow missing the point not only of games but of reality itself.

Another way I have of escaping reality is frequent sexual intercourse with post-eighteen-y-dot-oh-dot Irish sylphs. You are also proposing that I play a game where I do this, except now I fuck through a feedbackless two-dimensional interface, don’t actually get off, and be publically ranked by some sort of grade curve on how rapidly I can thrum whatever key I bound “clitoris_stroke” to. Oh, and pay a monthly fee. This is an obvious attempt for people with no capacity of enthralling even the most desperate barstool bovines to inject some facsimile of sex into their lives, but it leaves those of us who actually have sex all the time for free really disinterested.

Considering you appear to be one of the original members of Arthur Bellman’s famous expedition to Snark Island, I can certainly understand why you would want to experience what we all call “reality”. I just think you should probably be petitioning some sort of twisted psychiatric genius as opposed to the Verant switchboard operator.

DrCrypt is my new hero. Bow before him.

I want to come with him to Alderaan, and learn the way of the Force.

DrCrypt, of all the individual pieces of literary work I have perused since I began my studies of human communication years ago, that may be one of the five most well-written of those that I have read. Kudos to you, sir, you’ve out-Brianed Brian once again.

It should be noted that when Mike says “studies of human communications” he means Nintendo game manuals.

"One of my early MMOG ideas was for a space game where instead of a single player per ship many ships would be manned by dozens or even hundreds of players. The game would play completely differently whether you were an Engineer or a Captain. Many games in one, and much more realism. "

I like this idea. Would be like playing Battlecruiser with other people! I actually think a game like this is doable, in a toned down version. Planetside has VERY BASIC gameplay like this. WW2online has something like this. But they all still stick to first person gameplay. I don’t like the idea of realism for realism’s sake but more of taking gameplay from the types of things in the real world… ala a managing sim inside a game like Planetside, where you manage the resources according to your army… or a base builder ala the Sims? it wouldn’t be a macro to micro to macro but more like interdependent games within a game. So instead of sticking to the same similar fp/isometric perspective, it could even be something like a spreadsheet web game ala Mage or Pimpwars… bah I dont know, just something new!


Did I not tell you guys about the stickers in the WarioWare manual. I mean come on, stickers!

I want to be the maintenance guy on the big ship with a hundred guys.

I want several different cleaning implements including:

Window Squeegee
Window Squeegee with extra tachyons
Cyber Dustpan with Cyber Brush
Laser guided Comet ™
Oxi-Clean 3000ad

Each of these cleaning implements would have different uses against different types of stains and dirt.

For instance, the normal broom would be great for dust bunnies, but the cyber broom would only work well against nanobot dustbunnies.

One of the reasons I like the idea is that I’m always promoting the Epic in MMOGs, and for a Captain to be responsible for hundreds of lives on a ship (in conjunction with permanent death) lays some seriously Epic groundwork.

One of the keys to the Epic is to move away from the enforced Egalitarianism that permeates MMOG design philosophy.

Right… interdependent games within a game sums it up very well. The Engineer is playing his Engineer game, and how well he does affects the ship’s resources which affects the whole team (ship’s crew) in one way or another.

Although realistically a janitor role would probably be filled by a NPC in my NPC/PC duology, a PC janitor would look forward to enabling his crew to avoid diseases and raising their mood (by providing a clean environment).

The replay value in this kind of game wouldn’t have to be tied to a levelling treadmill or social group loyalty as is the case in current MMOGs… if you get tired of the Engineer game you switch over to Operations, or you leave the ship and buy yourself a one-man fighter. A game that has several games within it doesn’t get boring (as easily).

One thing I’d like to see in MMOGs is much more dynamic effect upon players from the environment. Its ironic how a mid '80s game (Alternate Reality: The City) has weather effects (not just graphical effects, but actual results upon the player of being out in a storm) but that gets ignored by designers ever-after.

Yes… development costs would be kept down by #1 having an engine that supports FP and isometric viewpoints and #2 having other gameplay be low-graphic (and thus killing off art and rendering costs).

The graphics whores/frag-freaks could be the Troops, the power mongers (who are very willing to sacrifice graphics for power) the Commanders, the cleric-type nice guys the Medics, etc. So even though most of the development dollars would be geared toward the Troops, there won’t be problems of a lack of players interested in the other positions (and the PC/NPC replacement system is there just in case).

I second SpoofyChop’s idea of janitorial positions aboard Battlecruisers and other MMOGs.

However, players should also be able to look forward to developing their janitors. Players could work through toilet duty (where players face the challenge of keeping floors clean and dry even though troopers keep stomping in with wet or bloody boots every 5 seconds), vent patrol (to keep the air vents clear of rodents of unusual size), and even hazardous combat polish duty (trying to wipe a stain off a gunner’s window during a battle - from the outside). Eventually, players could be promoted to sub-section, section, deck and perhaps even ship supervisory janitor, and assign roster duties to subordinate players. Off duty janitors could opt to pursue additional skills like Mop-Fu (for repelling boarders).

Of course, any MMOG wouldn’t be one without alignment. Maybe an evil (or incompetent) janitor could lock the toilet at random times, resulting in troopers cursing as they have to spend every few seconds ‘holding it in’ because they couldn’t ‘go’ just before they beamed down for a ground battle. Or maybe a particularly diligent janitor could result in cleaner windows allowing gunners to target at longer ranges?


you actually said mop-fu.


I’m really starting to think that Koontz is a Crypt alter-ego which he uses to post mindless diatribes in response to which he can post fantastic prose like that above. Regardless, I’m in awe. Though he loses points for misspelling “Galactica”.