Thursday, April 21, 2011

MMO Type 2: Raid/Team Based

Next up, we have the raid or team based MMO, as the title suggests. The reason I think this is needed as it's own game is the opposite reason the leveling game should exist: there are players out there to whom leveling is a chore and would prefer to skip that part and get to what they consider to be the "real game": raiding. Now, while I am basing all of these MMO types on my knowledge of WoW and how I think Blizzards next MMO/MMOs should be structured, this one will sound at first a lot like Guild Wars, but bare with me, because the similarity is going to end when I stop talking about hub worlds and hire-able NPC's.

As a brief side note, after I started writing this post, I saw that an EQ2 developer was circulating the idea of drawing back players who have left the game by offering them a pre-made level 90 character (that's the level cap for EQ2), so it seems that developers understand the desire to skip the leveling game and get to the meat of the endgame experience. Just thought I'd throw that out these since it is directly relevant.

So, for this MMO version, I imagine the game staring out for the player similar to the DK starting area: you have a fully formed character that, through a series of quests and challenges in a single player mode lasting a few hours at most, gets a basic set of gear and all necessary skills. This area would be phased or perhaps entirely solo; an intense training period where as a skill is introduced (the areas would be class specific), you would be given challenges that require you to use those skills. For example, a tank class like warrior would have several quests that involved protecting NPC's (with the support of NPC allies) by blocking incoming mobs. A priest would have to heal an NPC that was tanking in their version. A rogue would have stealth missions and so on. In this way, the brief intro you have to the game teaches you directly the skills you will be using in the group setting so when you pop out on the other side, you not only have basic skills, but the knowledge of the application of those skills that will be required of you.

At this point in the game, there would be a few hub cities (this is the part that would feel similar to Guild Wars) where you can form into groups, where player housing would be, the guild hall, the Auction House . . . all that stuff. From there, once you have a group you start running the equivalent of five-mans and after your gear has gotten better, raids.

One of the things a successful version of this game should do is shake up the holy trinity a bit. First, I think that tanking should not be necessarily just one or two people but, in the instance of a raid, maybe as many as 6 or 7. It would be more of a phalanx than just one guy who pisses the monster off. In this version of dungeon running, there would have to be collision detection so that the plate wearing classes would have to hold a zone of control and literally block the monster/boss from getting to the healers/mages. One of the things that kind of bothered me about the way WoW endgame worked out was that the armor classes were kind of meaningless. Sure a plate wearing dps has a bit more armor than a cloth wearer, but both would be taken out in one or two hits from the boss, usually one. In this manner, I'd imagine that plate wearers would have the highest resistance to physical damage, while be very weak to magic damage and moderately weak to ranged, cloth wearers would have the highest resistance to magical damage but be very weak to physical and moderate to ranged, leather wearers would have the highest resistance to ranged damage but very susceptible to magic, and mail would have an average mix of all three resistances. This would mean that any plate wearer, which would be melee, would need to stay between the boss or mobs and the cloth wearers/leather ranged characters either in the form of a line, several lines, or a circle to protect them from physical harm, forcing the boss to use magic on them to do any damage (hence the magic resistance). The nice part about this is that it makes more sense, first of all, and secondly, tanking isn't one persons responsibility, but is spread across all the melee characters. It becomes almost more like an (American) football team where you have a row of blockers protecting the quarterback and receivers. I imagine raiding to be more like what it is becoming anyway: a team sport.

To get a little bit more specific about some of the ways this could play out for boss fights, imagine your raid walks into a large room where the boss is. The tanks form their phalanx and start advancing on the boss, a giant ogre let's say, keeping the ranged same behind them. The stealth leather classes start moving around to flank the boss, while the casters start buffing up. The battle begins with the healers keeping the phalanx healthy, the stealth leathers sapping the boss from behind with poisons and laying traps out. The boss realizes (so to speak) that he can't get to the guys throwing the heavy damage spells from behind the phalanx so he calls to his minions: goblin archers, warriors and mages. The archers and the mages are throwing spells and arrows from the balconies and can't be reached by the ranged behind the phalanx, so the leather stealthers now move up towards the balcony to take them out. The goblin warriors advance in wave after wave towards the phalanx, so the mail wearers, since they have good resistance to all types of damage run out to take them on individually, using self heals and cc to keep each other alive and kill the mobs before they reach the phalanx. Those that get through are dealt with by the plate wearers who must keep the line and continue to keep the boss in check while not letting any smaller mobs get to the vulnerable casters. As you can see, this is just one of hundreds of possibilities once you set the ground rules. You add in different forms of CC, different mob patterns, magic bosses, massive single bosses with trash mobs to wade through before you face them . . . there's a lot of potential here and I think it adds a bit more thought to strategy than some of the "everyone stand here . . . now everyone stand there" fights.

In addition to the mobs you could add quick time events where people had to react quickly to, say a cave in on your way to the next boss, and dodge falling debris by timed button presses, there could be doors that you had to coordinate to unlock which would change every time you went into the dungeon. You could have bosses that didn't have a set rotation, but instead would adapt to the tactics being used by the group . . .each of these factors would add to the difficulty without the developer having to assume that the group went into the fight knowing the optimal strategy and having to adjust the difficulty from there.

Next up, I'll share my ideas for a pseudo-pvp based MMO. Stay tuned!

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