I always wonder what we could possibly make if we weren’t a bunch of squabbling autists that can’t agree on anything. I know for me well designed levels with an interesting world to explore that expands with more quests is a huge thing that really makes me interested in playing. I also like simple mechanics, but not the plain default ones. Any ideas?
All a playerworld needs to be good is a simple idea with achievements that are challenging but eventually able to be met.
My favourite example is http://orteil.dashnet.org/cookieclicker/
It’s a simple game concept, and just through a few achievements, you’re hooked! All thanks to your inner completionist.
Any graal server to harness this idea would be an insta-success provided they develop enough to as to keep new players and experienced players coming back to complete challenges.
I’m an advocate of the way the original classic was developed…
A basic underworld that got lots of player made levels and quests added to it.
Just some kind of ragout or cadavre exquis that gets bigger and better with the participation of everyone, curated by an “elite”.
To me, it’s how a graal PW should happen but… like you said, we’re “a bunch of squabbling autists that can’t agree on anything”.
But also are procrastinators.
Honestly you’re pretty much completely right. Bomber Arena uses simple gameplay that can sustain a player for hours, the only downfall is the fact that gameplay is completely reliant on other players being online.
Play Cave Story on Bomber Arena.
If you’re looking to maximise the playerbase, you need to consider what different people find fun. However, first you need some basic ground rules:
- Everything has to look good. EVERYTHING. Levels should be adequately decorated and relate to the general theme of the area. Graphics should be polished, animations should be seamless etc.
- Keep consistency. Everything should maintain the same style and areas consisting of different styles should blend naturally OR sudden dramatic changes are explained in an immediately clear way.
(A good example of this is on Dreamscape - the planned desert was stalled by magical statues and the swamp was outlined by wooden posts.)
- Specific elements of the world should be uniquely distinct from other elements in both aesthetics and functionality.
Now, onto ‘fun’ (I’ll be using the Bartle Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartle_Test). I feel it covers this topic nicely without prompting discussion into the complex subject of how to define ‘fun’):
For the achievers, we want lasting progression that shows status. We want a clearly defined end goal in multiple different ‘directions’ (take for example, scoring the maximum at end game, attaining the highest level of gear, achieving the ultimate weapon, etc). We need some obvious and open way for this type of player’s achievements to be viewed by the entire community. Preferably without having to navigate to the forums (trying to move players to media outside the game is a bad idea, unless it’s some sort of hook-in game like GTA5’s iFruit app or Dragon Age Keep. Generally used to maintain player interest when they are unable to access the game (at work, school, train journey, etc).
For the explorers, we want to focus on making secret areas for them to find and reward them for finding them. We want to continually challenge their brainpower with puzzles. The knowledge of secret areas should perhaps become somewhat of a commodity to allow the explorer to maintain some sort of status within the community. The knowledge to solve puzzles should turn explorers into helpful guides for newer players or just lazy iGraal players.
For socializers, we want to provide the environment without the stress from PvP or requirement to PvE solo. We want them to have a place to hang out, with perhaps team mini-games that DO NOT restrict chat to other players but still allow the players to communicate in a group on the side. We need to provide group content such as PvE, PvP and as mentioned: minigames. (The entirety of Dreamscape was created as a non-pvp area specifically to promote co-operative play and socialisation.)
For killers, we want to provide ridiculous challenges for these players. We want active PvP with objectives. We want a ladder system to show them how big their ePeen is. On the flip side, we want PvE on the difficulty scale of Dark Souls on crack. This type of player wants to either prove themselves or watch the world burn, so we need to give them the tools to do the first through skill and challenge and to do the latter in a controlled environment.
DISCLAIMER: Players can be part of two of these archetypes at a time, but some are polar opposites. Explorers and achievers have a lot in common, whereas explorers and killers are direct opposites of one another.
Possible solutions to providing a good server for a scenario where we have all 4 types of these players in-game (bare in mind, all of these are just recommendations and are 100% reliant on having an actual playerbase):
Firstly, we create some foundation systems to support their types:
A group system. Provide an invitation only and open group to join options. Provide a way to chat only in group. A way to easily track player positions off-screen (a solution could be border portraits with an arrow attached pointing in the direction of the group member. If on another level, give their last known location on the level).
A ranking and ladder system for PvP and PvE leaders as well as a system to display those with the most achievement points. PvP and PvE could display guild name, personal name, last kill. All that fun stuff.
Some sort of randomised secret level handler that will open up secret areas for players whenever it feels like it to provide incentive to explore places. This could be entirely possible by making small timed areas (dungeons of ~3 levels) that have predetermined locations on the overworld. This grants knowledge of location. Perhaps make these dungeons drop an item to open another dungeon randomly on the map?
Onto the more softer solutions:
PvP with objectives. We could go with the usual - CTF, King of the Hill, Domination. Track player performance and provide leaderboard the end of the match. Provide a queuing system so the player isn’t sat around waiting. Provide monetary or specialist rewards at the end of the match or purchasable through PvP-only means to give extra status.
PvE taking into consideration solo and group play. Dungeons with switches requiring more than one player etc. Solutions here are based almost purely within boss/puzzle design. Requires some way to track progress for leaderboards. Money collected, maximum hearts?
Minigames. We need games that only take a few minutes to play, that are casual and easy to play and provide a talking point for players. We want to provide a simple and easy experience for those who just want to chill out and have fun.
Tradeskills. We already have forms of tradeskills dotted around the servers, however most of them are simple press-and-forget mechanics. We need to incorporate more steps into the mix. We should have visual representation of collected items (a picture and a number would be good enough!). We need to expand the systems to create tiers of content (bigger fishing rod for bigger fish). Bigger fish can immediately be equated to a competitive PvE leaderboard.
I have tons more ideas, as most of you do, I bet. The only real limitations we have are motivation and how long we can survive the struggle with Graal’s engine. However, the main problem with GR is NOT the quality of our content (although that can be an issue), it’s the lack of a viable playerbase. We could implement all these suggestions and make a server so shiny that we’d receive several hundred C&D’s a day from Graal Online but it won’t make any difference if there’s no one to play on it.
Addenum: If we were to take this seriously, we have a lot of cleaning up to do. The forums need a major overhaul and clean out. We’d need to clean up all the junk posts, archive the useful stuff and condense some of the sections.
Thanks for the bump, I still need to make that cookie clicker.
Anything to make the forums more active.