Solutions to grouping problems-brainstorming. Part 1.

Continuation of a post here.

1. Problem with time: Solutions could be:

  • Reduce in-game travel times and travel risk. If it takes 20 minutes to get to an area, with a significant risk of dying, that adds tremendous dead time to the partying experience. We had this in FFXI. Pre-outpost warp, it took about 15 minutes to get to the lowbie party zone if you weren’t there already. If you died on the way and were home pointed in your home city, thats another 15 minutes of twiddling your thumbs.
  • Reduce the size of parties. What I never understand is why we use the 6 man party paradigm so much. In the offline .hack games, the base “party” was 3 people. You had light and heavy DPS, and mages, and they worked very well as a unit. If you make the base of your game three people, it should be much easier to do content, even raid content.
  • Hybridize all jobs. Dedicated roles are nice, but if each class can fulfill two functions that can reduce hassle.

2. Reliant on key classes, 3. Key classes being dull:

  • Hybridizing as stated above.
  • Change paradigms. The current paradigm of MMOs is to deal damage, soak damage, heal damage, and crowd control groups.  However, there’s no reason why we must always use this paradigm for encounters. We could use sport and make the basis of conflict resolution points or victory by rule. Or we could go from killing to evasion and capture-capturing a bank robber or trying to avoid the police.
  • Make key classes enjoyable. Current healing and tanking classes are dull. Add more interactivity to spice it up. Dangerous if you base your game around grinding thousands of mobs.

4. 6 to win, 1 to fail:

  1. Make failure penalties in a party individual. Would also require serious gameplay revisions, but if one person fails, they should receive the brunt of penalty, not other people. A tank shouldn’t die and a healer survive if the healer fails to keep him alive.
  2. Lessen penalty altogther. Or reduce it in areas where learning is expected, so players aren’t penalized for making mistakes as opposed to being careless or lazy.
  3. Enable an “evac mode.” Current encounters are either win or die. Perhaps give party leaders the ability to instantly evac a party from danger with a long timer so that they can flee. Ideally encounters should be less conclusive anyways-the fellowship tried to flee Moria, not stay there to kill every goblin or die there.

5. Standardized play:

  • This is a huge problem.
  • Again, enlarge encounters to be more than take damage and give it. Give experience for healing, for thieving, for making things, for leading, for helping, etc. You cannot expect freeform play from constricted options. MMOs should not be like chess, in which you can memorize openings and computers can play better than human beings.
  • Enable real options when making characters that are more personal. A ranger in FFXI can use a bow, a crossbow, and a gun, but all have the same effect-dealing damage. They all use the same type of abilities, even as other classes. If each weapon gave meaningful and radical change, players could choose something based on personal reasons, even if the radical change was visual only.

Going to split this up into a second part later.

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