MMO Development Lesson #39

Be mindful of where you set your quality bar. If you set your quality bar too high, it’s going to make production difficult and inefficient. This goes for all aspects of game development, not just design.

To give an example, let’s use art. Let’s say you can create a very good looking crate in one work day. To the untrained eye, it’s an amazing crate. To the eye of an artist, it’s fine, but it could use some tweaks to get it just right. Those tweaks take two or three more days to complete before everyone is happy and the crate is itself a work of art.

Guess what you just did: You wasted two days. The vast majority of players are not going to see that crate and examine its intricacies, they’re just going to see it as part of a scene. The time would have been better spent on an important landmark prop rather than the crate.

This is true of design as well. Don’t spend 8 hours writing flowery dialogue and quest text when you’re just sending a player on a mission to kill a named boss. That time could be better spent improving the boss encounter, adding an optional objective, or creating another quest entirely. The player is going to remember the experience, not the perfectly-crafted dialogue.

Find your baseline quality bar and make that realistic, then create moments of extreme quality (Lesson #37) that the players will remember.

Remember the MMO Lesson series? It’s back now that I have some time on my hands. Check out the other MMO Lessons!

2 Responses to "MMO Development Lesson #39"

  1. izodius

    So many of your lessons don’t apply to just MMOs but to game design and heck the business world as a whole. Make smart choices with your resources (including time), It’s a simple idea, but way too often we get mired in our own expectations or forget the big picture. A crate is a crate, even if it’s a great crate, it’s still just a crate.

  2. bearpunch

    Leaving this here because you haven’t made a combat post yet or have you?

    I haven’t played Tera and only a bit of Skyrim so I’m not sure how closely this resembles those games.

    Do away with the action bar and looking at the bottom of your screen. You can enjoy action in a shooter without an actionbar, why not in an MMO? I understand that every few levels you receive a new ability which is incentive to continue playing. So let’s forget about levels for a moment and focus on fun combat.

    I’ll use sword and shield as an example while playing with a mouse and keyboard:

    Left mouse: Sword medium attack
    Right mouse: Shield medium attack

    Q: Low attack
    E: High attack
    F: Charge or some sort of movement bonus depending on your class
    R: Powerful attack or finishing move
    1-4: Other sorts of attacks that I haven’t thought up yet

    I know that Skyrim sort of plays with the left and right mouse, but I found that kind of lacking with what little of the game that I played. So I was thinking, by hitting your left or right mouse button you activate your sword or shield for a medium attack. But if you press Q/E first then left/right mouse button you can pull off a more complete ability with your sword or shield. Also affecting your weapon skills is positioning. If you happen to use a dagger and you’re behind your target you can pull off a backstab with just the click of your left mouse since it’s a medium attack. Or maybe you press R + left mouse for a finishing move.

    Keeping this all together without letting players just use special abilities would be a stamina bar. Place the bar somewhere near the center of your screen and you’re good to go. No more looking at cooldowns or actionbars, just straight up combat like a shooter. Using your few keybinds would be like switching weapons or tossing grenades in a shooter.

    After listening to the Giant Bombcast quite a bit those guys seem to dislike the repetitive nature of MMOs. Be it the combat or questing. Even with shooters, they say “it’s just another cover based shooter”. Looking at GW2 or ESO, they’re cutting down on abilities and giving you a smaller actionbar. Why not do away with all of it? There is no actionbar in the BF or CoD series (or most shooters).

    When you swing your 2H axe or any kind of weapon, it should mean something. I know that Age of Conan had a similar system as described above, but I felt like I was still always spamming my keys. When I pull off a difficult combo in conjunction with superior positioning I should be dealing a massive blow to my opponent. Let’s breathe new life into MMOs with different ideas on how to accomplish simple things like just playing the game.

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Return to Nerfbat »