Lost Rambling

Lost has a lot of potential, but doesn’t apply himself.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dynamic content, what will it require of game design?

I haven't had much chance to post anything as of late. Things at work have been pretty crazy, then again it could be questioned if it was every sane to start with, but I digress. ;)

Brian “Psychochild” Green has thrown down the gauntlet (so to speak), to find “some of the biggest challenges facing online games right now” and “Bonus points for thinking of something that hasn't already been discussed to death yet.” With that in mind, along with my own desire to head down the path less traveled.

Fortunately for me Ryan “Blackguard” Shwayder recently had started a blog/thread asking “What 10 features would exist in your ultimate MMO?”. From that thread I’m going try and focus in on one area.

Raging Newie wrote:
1) A Dynamic world that is influenced by the players actions. A static world is doomed to ultimately fail.
Blackguard wrote:
I can't argue this one. It's very difficult and might even be a bad idea in some cases, but I agree with it.

For the purpose of this post I’m going to avoid the technological problems for dynamic content and focus on problems that dynamic content could/will mean for design.

Advancement system:
Levels? Skills? If the content is changing/moving, this is going to make it difficult/frustrating for players to find the appropriate monsters that they need to advance.

If we want to continue using levels/skills. Maybe we can have island chain worlds where similar difficultly monsters are located and the dynamics are limited to that island. While this might be a solution, it isn’t a very good one and defeats the reason of have dynamic content.

Or maybe it is time to throw both out the window and find a different system to measure player success. UO uses a fame and karma system (along with skills), could something similar be used as the primary measurement of advancement?

Static quests, even “deliver quests”, will be challenged. What happens if the city that the player is to deliver the package to is destroyed/abandoned? The standard quest of “Kill X of Y” monsters will also struggle. What if a group of creatures is completely wiped out before the player is able to complete their quest?

Clearly any quest system within a dynamic world will need to be much more flexible to handle changes that happen.

Just how dynamic should it be?:
As I suggested in the quest heading, should we allow players the ability to wipe out a monster group? Or wipe out/destroy NPC cities, player housing/towns? And if we do put in limits, will players feel cheated by these limitations?

While some of this does touch on technology, but I feel that these design issues that need to be decided in order to know what technology will be needed.