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Content creation & the future of MMOs

sunday-morning-essay

#1

MMOs of old were very complicated beasts. Few of them managed to stand the test of time. Big companies with huge amount of money and resources were necessary to even dream of making one. Risk taking and experimentation were not the focus.

With the indie tsunami and the democratization of game engines, gaming have never been this full of new possibilities. With the same spirit SpatialOS now allow anyone to create massively multiplayer games. With technical limitation out of the way, we now ask ourselves “What should I create” instead of “What can I create”. When game worlds of infinite size, played by an infinite amount of people is possible, how will games of the future work exactly?

I think that game devs are smart, they will realize that creating content for an infinite game world will not work. They will probably use the only resources they have in enough quantity, the players. Players will create content, by ways of the game mechanics, that other players will consume.

We already have games that does just that. Building games like Minecraft, PvP games like DayZ, and many others. Building something is fun for the player that does it, how can it produce fun for other players as well? Gamers seem to enjoy killing each other in games, how can it be fun for gamers that don’t like to fight. Procedural systems can also create content like, weather, terrain, day night cycle, AI, etc… Of course the means to achieve completely self-sustained games, may have not been invented yet, but lets work on it shall we?

Thoughts?

P.S. Out of nowhere a Sunday morning essay… What?


#2

A few thoughts since this is kinda a theory thread.
I believe that there may be some problems with using player made content like minecraft, and others, primarily because you lose a cohesive design, the old joke is that ps4 and xbox one have skyrim in hd and pc has skyrim with pink ponies. This may be a bit of an excessive case as you can literally add anything to a game like that, but even with minecraft just having blocks, some people have medieval styles and some people have modern styled homes. At the end of the day I don’t think populating the worlds with content that is engaging using player created content is the way to go, at least not in MMOs. I think that we should simply try to use the space wisely, we have much larger worlds possible to us, but we will pay for the computing power, but something that doesn’t use computation is no entities, so why not work with that, and make games that work with the empty space, (I believe that Worlds adrift and lazarus are both using this, large bodies of air, and space respectively). Perhaps have a game where all the players are in large cities, and water is the primary currency. To find combat they leave the cities in vehicles (if you want mad max style go with cars, but it could be just as easily horses, or flying whales or something), and you go out into the desert, which is actually a to-scale desert, and look for adventure. It doesn’t really matter the theme, I just think that using large empty spaces in game development is a lost art, and it really highlights what you want the players to focus on. A nomads camp with 3 people fighting over water, suddenly becomes realistic and immersive if you actually use that stuff for money, and you have to have it to survive. And you notice small things like camps because you’ve been driving for a while and not seen anything.
Breaking off from that I think that SpatialOS will really shine when people start to try to make something that hasn’t really ever been done before, and Immersive mmo. I don’t just mean no hud (though I’m sure you could use that to immerse the player in the experience), but a world that follows rules that while slightly alien from our world, are still believable. I personally want to work on a project that uses neural networking to create hostiles that function like real animals, (I encourage you to google neural networking AI) neural networks are complicated and I’m not gonna try to explain it here, there are plenty of videos for it, but what I’m getting at is that up until this point you couldn’t do. With classic mmos you got character movement, chat, items, classes, skills, chat, and all the other things that are basically required, and by the time you got to the AI you simply didn’t have the server resources necessary to do anything meaningful with it. In the end 99% of mmo npcs are a really simple two way street, you either are ranged or you run to the player and attack them, and the other 1% are just bosses. With Spatial I think that we could actually make goblins that each camp is maybe 10-20 of them and they actually breed and reproduce and hunt. (A note, this exact behavior has been made using neural networks, not even in different parts, there are cases of people on their home computer simulating AI this complicated up to several hundred npcs.) The most interesting part of this is that an AI built in this manner would change based on the region they are in, goblins in one region perhaps don’t run into players as much, and so they’re AI doesn’t react as much to the players, and in some regions they are constantly attacked by players, so the only one’s who survive are ones who when encountering a player either run or are able to kill them. (A note on this to anyone who wants to do this, make sure you have some visual que, have each child take their parents color of skin (just for reference) and change it very subtly, so that over time entire families of goblins in different regions will have different coloration’s, for game-play purposes so that you can tell them apart, even saw one video where someone had them take the name of their parent and change it slightly, so each family had their own family name, super cool.)
But I digress, I’m kinda taking Sunday off because I’ve been coding about 8-10 hours a day the entire rest of the week, and I wanted to relax, so I figured I’d post on here.

PS: I’m currently just playing with herd AI not neural networks, but it’s where I want to go with my npcs.

Edit: I apologize for any miss-spelling I am NOT proof reading that wall of text, lol sorry :stuck_out_tongue:


#3

It is certainly something I want to do in my game as well. I was inspired by Ryzom with it’s changing world, creatures that roam the country, etc. That is what I have planned (and hopefully can achieve) in my game. It will be a lot of coding and looking for the best way to achieve it, but I think, with SpatialOS, it’s doable.

*You’re forgiven for misspelling :smiley:


#4

I have never played that, I may have to some time. But yea I agree that making content for an large world the old fashioned way of placing everything manually is not feasible, but I think that giving that power to the players can often land you in a world of hurt.

Please note, I have only ever released a single player android app to google play, SO taking everything I say with a few pounds of salt, it’s all just theory and talk, in any case I have to go to work now so I’ll be back later today.


#5

Well, I’ve only made a few standalone PC games, but I’ve researched loads of MMORPG’s by playing and reading other player’s experiences to see what players thought of things.

I think the input from players can be managed. In my game players will be able to build houses, cities etc,. But it’ll have it’s limitations. There’s a lot going on and a lot to figure out :smiley:


#6

If you compare World of Warcraft when it shipped, to World of Warcraft now: it’s an entirely different game.
Vanilla WOW was brutal: it took no prisoners and was a complete grind! I think back on it fondly, but in retrospect it was a bloody awful experience for me; but it was the first of its kind and so I stuck with it. I imagine the same is true of the other big beasts like EVE.

I think the future lays in the seeds that the first MMOs sowed: an evolving experience honed and refocused around player feedback.

If what I say is correct: the technological focus of any MMO needs to be on iteration. If turning around new features, new balancing mechanics and new ecology/entropy updates is a first class feature of your games pipeline then updating and adjusting your world in accordance to your playerbase will be easy. This will (hopefully!) drive engagement into the next level and keep your retention levels super high.

Just my two cents! It’s why half of my feature requests that I raise for SpatialOS are to do with Snapshots and schema migration :slight_smile:


#7

I agree with that, I never played world of warcraft, my first experience was a little game called tibia, and then later with shadow-bane, the only thing dynamic in tibia was the economy, some things cost more or less than others based on what people were willing to buy them for. Shadow-bane pushed this and had most of the combat be around pvp.
In any case, I’m back to programming on my project, and today and tomorrow are my off days from work, so it’s time for me to get some good work done on the project, maybe we should make Sunday Morning Essays a thing?


#8

So who’s up for the next Sunday Morning Essay? :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

I’m down, what do you guys think the subject should be?


#10

I loved vanilla WoW for exactly the brutality!


#11

The next essay?

One question I’ve wanted to properly formulate an answer too is this:

People like stories. Games with a great story line arguably do better than games without.
In an MMO like environment where our traditional event driven storytelling tools are hindered by thousands of “what-ifs” and edge cases: how do we tell a good story?

The story of “For whom the bell tolls” is centered around the blowing up of a bridge (and a great read: I highly reccomend it!). In a persistent MMO, how would we tell that story successfully for every user over the lifetime of the game?


#12

I like that, I vote “How to tell a story in a mmo” as the subject of next weeks essay.
+1 Callumb! :smiley:


#13

Added the tag: sunday-morning-essay

Best submission this Sunday wins some swag.

Get tae thinkin!


#14

@SionoiS We made a thing! :blush:


#15

Will it last? Only time will tell… :smirk:


#16

Totally getting involved here! I’ve been thinking a lot recently about modular design in games and how it could affect narrative as well as general design. Will try to make those thoughts coherent and share in written form! Excited to see what everyone else comes up with.


#17

@SionoiS && @bonkahe : Sunday Morning Essay topic: 12/02/2017

I’m taking full credit!!! :burrito: :hamburger:


#18

@vitor… but is your post meant to mislead us on writing something on the same topic while you make another groundbreaking essay or is it some other devilish strategy… :imp:

In any case: great idea these Sunday Morning Essays and definitely worth digging into even if there is only half the quality of this thread. :smile:


#19

Where’s the fun if I share my Machiavellian machinations beforehand? That’s for me to know and everyone else to find out :smiling_imp:


#20

The only thing I regret now is that I’ll be at the Game Jam and won’t be able to write a yuge essay on the matter. Too busy either being groggy or jamming like 'ell! :smiley: