Friday, 14 February 2014

MMOs: Why We Hunt

[Part of my MMO Design Folder]

Why do you do quests and venture into deep dungeons in MMOs? Because some NPC told you to?

Quest lines usually have story behind them so that's some pretty good motivation but outside those - what of the "Kill Ten Rats", "Harvest Cyclops Eyes" and "Fetch my hamster from yonder shore" tasks? I asked this of myself and the two usual responses were "experience" and "loot". Experience, even with the removal of levels, is ok - maybe it will increase my skill in doing something like, stomping, or scooping, or swimming for the examples above.

Loot is alright too when used in moderation, but often times it is the PRIME motivator for people to go do something, especially during end-game segments of MMOs. Need a better gear score right? Worse still is that the most desired loot is often a randomized drop, so technically you are gambling that by doing the same activity you have already been doing - you will get a different and more favourable result. Kinda sounds like the definition of insanity but that's ok, some people like that sort of thing.

Shut up, Vaas.

What most MMO's are missing though is perhaps the best reason to hunt: Need. And I'm not talking about in a loot/treasure/greed sense. I'd love to see a game where if you leave bandits unchecked the shops in the nearby towns begin to sell less and less gear with dropping quality and higher prices. Or if an unrewarding troll encounter if left alone blocks a particular fast travel route. Or if a particular plant grows too wild it continually saps the life of anyone wandering through the forest. Or if a cultist den is not raided that magic in the zone becomes a dangerous risk, as casting spells can cause mages to self destruct instantly. Or that rampaging enemy brigade to actually over run the town and occupy it.

Too often it's the carrot used as the lure for adventure. I want to see more of the stick. I want to see a world with fewer treasure hunters. I want to see a world with more heroes.


  1. I would love for them to incorporate such things, to create an actual ecosystem where actions on a larger scale can have consequences that effect the environment and experience.

    That's a big ask and would require a huge leap in the design of ai that, I don't think we are yet to take. The storybricks AI sounded good but I think that's merely the first step.

    Secondly I think there would need to be a certain amount of dev input within such a system as a way to repopulate or even instigate certain scenarios.

    Personally, I would just love if the dropped the rng bs and just have crafting ingredients in regular amounts be the aim. You need some leather so you go out skinning animals for a while.

    1. Actually one UO shard I played on sort of tried this to varying success in that the monsters from the dungeons (if left unchecked) kept growing in numbers that would spill out and make a "path" into the nearby city.

      No marching or anything, bad guys just automatically spawned after x time if the previous "group" was still alive and so on. If left totally alone they would eventually take the entire town. Worked pretty well and encouraged a lot of "pushing back" missions.

      I echo your sentiment of the RNG BS. If I kill a wolf I expect a pelt, maybe some teeth, meat and intestines. Not the chance of finding a magic two handed sword it swallowed somehow.