Links: Unique MMO idea

I’ve been long saying that any MMO that wants a piece of the market must be different from WoW and not “better”. For example EVE has impact PvP, something WoW could implement in an hour, but they won’t because it would change the game fundamentally and would be refused by most customers. Ergo, EVE never has to worry that WoW will take its niche.

Most devs don’t get it and try to design something “better” (story, UI, combat mechanics) and then they are surprised when it either turns out crap or it is indeed better and WoW puts it into the next patch.

Let me now offer another idea of novel game system: links.

  • The player has his own “land” (island, province, planet, floating rock, dungeon, whatever). He harvests its resources for character progression, consumables and building his “base”.
  • All lands have all tier 1 resources allowing tier 1 gear, consumables and buildings. But not all tier 2 are found and only one type of tier 3 resource is in the land, while tier 2 items and buildings need many and tier 3 need all resources. (for simplicity I only use 3 tiers, there can be more)
  • Therefore the player must either trade with other players whose land has their resource or go there and take it by force.
  • Every day N “links” (portals, boats, flying eagles, caravan routes, wormholes) appear in the land. These are the only way to enter the realm of other player.
  • If the players in the randomly connected lands like each other, they can stabilize the link, making it permanent and will no longer be randomized. However the players have less than N stabilizers, so they can’t block all links, there will always be random links that can connect to possibly hostile players.

Please note that I told nothing about what kind of game it would be. This mechanic can be put to traditional MMO where player has an avatar, an FPS, or an RTS where the player controls army of minions. All I was talking about is the mechanic of encountering other player, friend or foe.

What would be the main advantages of this game?

  • As the links are random, there is no way for an RMT-er to connect to a customer, so RMT will be next to non-existent, despite trading resources is a fundamental part of the game.
  • Allows PvP which is the best way to create a challenging and never-boring game without allowing extensive griefing. The link to a griefer will be gone by tomorrow and you’ll likely never see him again.
  • Emphasize interaction between strangers without enforcing it. You have to talk to the random guy linked to you in order to either randomly trade or even to form a stabilized link.

The main disadvantage of course would be disallowing real life friends to play together (besides some cooperative mode where they control characters of the same realm, of course without getting more resources). There couldn’t be guilds for the same reason. This game wouldn’t be for the average WoW player and that’s the point. WoW (or any game I can think of) will not jump on you to take your market share.

Author: Gevlon

My blog: https://greedygoblinblog.wordpress.com/

17 thoughts on “Links: Unique MMO idea”

  1. Seems like a better version of neighbor game.
    Maybe creation of permanent links also should have charges with quite a long cooldown.
    For destabilization of link, are one or both sides required? Won’t that promote grieving since there seems no way to retaliate reliably.

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  2. “Allows PvP which is the best way to create a challenging and never-boring game without allowing extensive griefing. The link to a griefer will be gone by tomorrow and you’ll likely never see him again.”

    Do you think that the amount of people wanting to pvp(grief) would increase because there does not seem to be a social deterrent because the links change every day? Or maybe that is your point? Do you think that there should be no PK penalties or is free-for-all PVP important?

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  3. @Gevlon
    “The main disadvantage of course…”

    …is that you are making a game where “liking the other player” is completely subjective, and is worse than any randomizer could ever hope to be. What assets or interaction would exist in the game(beyond simple chat) to enable a player to determine if they “like” someone enough to stabilize the links? What happens if someone “lies” to you? Does the victim of the lie suddenly become an M&S because they believed the lie? Does gameplay only occur when you are logged in? What happens to the stabilized link if you are offline and the person you linked to is online?

    I feel that without a faction, guild, corporation or some sort of “common bond” driving the reason for resource cooperation and link stabilization, what you are proposing would never work…especially if it uses the VERY SOCIAL element of “liking someone enough”.

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  4. It sound like a great mobile game. Guilds and playing with friends are expected in a desktop game but many times they are missing or mostly irrelevant from mobile games. You can add friends but you can only chat with them or send them some meaningless gift once per day and guilds have limited purpose, most time being in a guild does not mean you play with them because there is no true multiplayer where several player playing in the same session (because of latency and unreliable connections).

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  5. This model is already used by various farmville-like games.
    RMTers somehow manage to thrive in these, too 😀

    Anyway, the big part you are constantly missing with respect to MMORPG appeal is the part that has to do with the actual world and fantasy of it. The reason WoW is broadly successful is because it is built upon an already-successful world. The reason Eve is niche is because it has little to offer beyond the basic “immortal space pirate state politics” premise, and is only successful within that niche to the extent it actually delivers on that premise.

    WoW competitors can and do exist. F/ex Allods Online, which found its differentiation by drawing significantly from specifically russian culture – something WoW is unable to replicate unless Blizzard opens a signficant development branch in Russia. Also Final Fantasy XIV, which is built on FF-related fanservice (though not really a direct continuation of any actual FF storylines, as is the tradition of the entire series. Contrast with WoW, which is a sequel to WC3).

    If the appeal is present, people are ready and willing to tolerate bad mechanics. They will even find some joy in struggling against them, justifying the frustration they feel as “gettin’ gud”. If the appeal is not present, no amount of mechanics will really save the project.

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  6. @Maxim
    Eve is niche because it is boring as fuck. The ratio of content to grind is like 1:100, at best.

    “If the appeal is present people are willing to tolerate bad mechanics”. Star Wars and LotR disagree with you. You can’t get fans more dedicated to the lore than that and both games are slowly dying.
    Witcher is great because it’s based on a great story. Sapkowski’s saga is, in my opinion, better than LotR, by a wide margin. Not something that can be easily transferred into an MMO.

    @Gevlon
    Isn’t it basically what Eve wormholes do? Random links all the time, while they can’t be stabilized it’s easy to established connection between friendlies when both sides start rolling.

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  7. @Stawek: yes, EVE wormholes are somewhat similar, but what they really lack is not stabilization but difference of systems. There is nothing in the next system that you can’t find in your home system, besides players to gank or more of the same anoms to farm. There is no reason to trade or skirmish besides griefing.

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  8. You live in a land, what gives most of the resources. Building things and usable resources need time, so its a variant of a idle game. Just wait until you gathered enough stuff to do something, what increases in the end resource income. repeat. Thats not something new, more or less same idea is on every other incremental idle game. It works, because people like to see getting wealthier and better.

    Iteraction with players trough random connections. You might think that will eliminate RMT, but i think it will boost it alot. A botted player gets everyday a customer, it can either trade or abuse it, both using real life money. More bots, more potential customers, more revenue. If connection is random, then bots will have the time to boost themselfs trough interactions with eachother and with no offline time, they will be more powerful then a casual player. Thats end up forceful interaction with players, either pay with RMT or get destroyed. You implemented a way to get both RMT and griefing with same game mehchanic. Its a basic idle game restriction to multiplayer game. If time is the main resource, bots will abuse it, because they got lots of it.

    What happens if you are not actively playing? Every bot can come and strip you clean, because they do something, while you are being idle on summer vacation. Forcing to close all connections while offline makes things for players difficult, because they lose time resource but not bots. Bots will be longer online, and gather resources faster and be more powerful and can terrorize/trade more players. Yes, you can fight the bots, but the way to make money stays.

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  9. @Anon: no, “wait for resource” can be mob and herb respawn rate or raid lockout in WoW. That’s sure not “new” but universal.

    No again, a wannabe RMT-er gets new people everyday, with 5% want to buy from him and 95% reports him for his RMT chat. In ordinary games, they meet in third party websites and then find each other in game.

    Botters playing 24/7 is something that any reasonable game developer should be able to counter, both via bans and resource limitations (you can’t farm more resources than your land has). Botters trying to farm other lands will be regularly slain by PvP players.

    Players cannot be “destroyed” by either botters or stronger players in ANY games, all games have some asset safety that limits PvP loss. Same thing goes for idle protection, it has nothing to do with my idea, it must be handled in every PvP game.

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  10. @stawek
    Content / grind ratio is just a metric. Lack of good ideas in the game concept is the fundamental reason causing the poor content / grind ratio (as well as a slew of other issues).

    Star Wars launched without either space, or Jedi. So it wasn’t so much a failure of bad mechanics, as a failure to even appreciate, much less adapt, the core concepts of the lore. Adding the jedi later as a crutch obviously didn’t solve anything, because these kinds of things need to be considered on the level of intial concepts.

    Not really tracking LOTRO, but the most recent feedback i found seems to suggest that things are on the uptake after the recent developer change. That being said, LOTRO seemed to have continually suffered from their ironic inability to distinguish themselves from the generic elf-orc Tolkien-inspired crowd (Warcraft included). So they did actually run into the same problem you mentioned with the Witcher – failure to actually adapt the initial material.

    As for the Witcher story being hard to adapt into game… Well, Warcraft lore also was not easily adaptable beyond the rather primitive writing requirements of the RTS genre at the time. In fact, before really nailing the MMO formula, Blizzard had to basically reinvent their RTS with introduction of hero units, tell a bloody impressive character driven story with WC3 campaign, then attempt to expand that story with Wacraft Adventures (which was scrapped) and then further test the waters with WC3 expansion orc campaign, all the while improving both their multiplayer capacity through battle.net and their game design toolkit through support of World Editor. I guess CD Projekt is not really experimenting as much as Blizzard did, so one really shouldn’t expect an MMO out of them anytime soon 😦

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  11. Star Wars launched without either space, or Jedi. So it wasn’t so much a failure of bad mechanics, as a failure to even appreciate, much less adapt, the core concepts of the lore. Adding the jedi later as a crutch obviously didn’t solve anything, because these kinds of things need to be considered on the level of intial concepts.

    from getting the job to pushing release SOE did it in 2,5 years. with some concepts they struck gold and hell yes where there bugs and stupid things. What are you talking about, jedis where in the game all the way, but kids didn’t like the forcesensitive grind. swg was ANH timeline … to be a jedi should have been a secret underground activity. and it was until the flipped and bendover backwards for some kids. it went through several phases until they castrated jedis completely and made it a insignificant class played from the startmenu. even Aions Transformers limited by horrible pvp rank was better as anything SOE came up for jedi scarcity and epicness. they tried even perma death for jedis for a very short time.

    I would like to see a Witcher mmo, sure, not

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  12. This actually sounds a lot like how Dark Souls does it’s multiplayer: you get linked to random people, and need to farm items from this linked session for certain rewards. The one problem I see with the whole idea is that it’s not really an MMO design, it’s basically just drop-in/drop-out co-op.

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  13. Don’t think it’d be hard at all to get random people to cooperate and form links. If you find someone that doesn’t attack you that’s all you need to make them be better than a random link to someone who might attack you, so if people clear even that low bar they’d have good reason to cooperate.

    For playing with friends, something that might be possible is to make it possible to travel from your land all the way to your friend’s land by going through a whole string of random lands in the middle. You’d have to do it before the links reset so it’d be hard but if you could make it in time you could set up a permanent link.

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  14. Right, I’m just saying that the bar of “is setting up a permanent link to this rando a good idea or should I roll the dice every day” is pretty damn low.

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