Tuesday, 22 May 2018

MMO Design: Enemies should be like Plants

If we're farming we may as well be gardening.

I hate weeds. If left alone they grow and expand and become a lot tougher to remove. It does feel better removing a huge cluster than a single tiny sprig though. Now imagine if we translate that into MMOs. Lots of spawn points on the map but they all start out as weak critters with little loot. Much like there are different types of weed, these don't need to all be the same type though.

Areas that are frequently farmed or tended will spawn more of those weak critters again. Those less frequented will have mobs "grow" into stronger versions. Maybe a lizard becomes a small dinosaur or a spider becomes a bigger spider, and the loot becomes better. Maybe you can't get dragon scales until a lizard evolves that far.

Obviously the map design and available travel modes will play a big part in this setup. On a flat plain with teleporters equally spaced out among the spawns it's likely the player population will simply murder everything fast enough so that nothing will ever "grow" (though the "growth" stages only need to be a matter of minutes in between). In maps like in Guildwars 2 that has secret zones, jumping puzzles, bridges and gates that are only open when set conditions are met, this system might be better as it will force people to venture out and/or to return to zones already done in search of "big game".

Do you think such a system would be good in your (or any) MMO?

[Added to the Design Folder.]


  1. If I recall correctly, Ultima Online did something very much like this when it first came out. They ended up having to take it out as players either farmed things to near-extinction, or they would accidentally create super-monsters which would kill everyone. It was very hard to hit that middle enjoyable state where monsters were not too easy or too difficult.

    1. I remember hearing about that too in a video a few months ago, which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFNxJVTJleE

    2. Thanks for the link and the reply guys! I guess that puts this idea back to the drawing board. :P