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Goblin Squad Member. 3,116 posts. No reviews. 1 list. No wishlists.


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Goblin Squad Member

Here's the first on a few blogs on mmorpgs I plan on doing. This one is mostly "background reading" to set the scene for the more pertinent and applicable blogs that will look at what can be done to make mmorpgs more successful "social interaction story-generators". Which I think is what PFO's "Meaningful Human Interaction" is ultimately all about, albeit via different means. Hopefully the comparison (in time) will be useful to both Goblinworks, mmorpg developers and players.

MMORPG Fantasy: Stories And The Quest For The Holy Grail

A Confusion of Campaigns 1: A Review of Games Literature

Goblin Squad Member

Tyncale wrote:

Good stuff. That Emerald Spire Dungeon *must* materialize some day in PFO, it could be one of the main draws to the game at some point, both from a PvE and PvP perspective.

I realize it's a massive amount of work, but it looks to cool to pass on.

I'd strongly advise:-

* Roguelike elements: Procedural modules per level to mix it up
* Torchbearer survival elements: Half the dungeon should be survival gear as well as monster-hunting
* Career specialization: Dungeoneering as a career

Remember content-heavy = costly and dev-time heavy => proportional returns by the player base on usage/satisfaction which means the above "replayability" and challenge/cost.

Goblin Squad Member

Thanks for these GW Team/Ryan. This is sort of exchange of devs-players is the sort of thing that makes MMO- genre stand out from other genres, for me; just one example of such. Keep up the good work!

Goblin Squad Member

@Bludd: Good observations there. As important as the implementation is the presentation. I'm working on something along these lines I intend to write up in a series of (ahem, long) articles in the next few weeks. It's actually based on the consideration that anything different between worlds eg "magic" or "sci-fi" via "What If?" questions MUST be on a scale slider that itself interacts from all that is derived from the usual constants of time and space (aka "...from all things").

@coach: That was the correct path, the path that was informed by sticking to the lore, to the foundations of that IP's world-building. I would call this rule of world building "Proportionality". With it, motivation is affected.

Goblin Squad Member

Whoa, had a busy working week... so just jumping back in to update this thread:-

Going... going!... GONE: SOLD!!!

Successfully sold and a most profitable transaction to both parties.

I'll likely enough grab an a/c later on. Sad to sell my DT a/c but it gets used (I'm only running Linux atm anyway) and GW still have the cash so win-win. I'm going to donate to a few causes too, so again a most profitable outcome in various directions.

Goblin Squad Member

DeciusBrutus wrote:
I see lots of germs of ideas for great MMOs here, but I don't see much that wouldn't require writing off a huge part of work already done in order to incorporate into PFO.

Alas, that's true. Alas imo at least.

DeciusBrutus wrote:
I see lots of gems of ideas for great MMOs here... Are you sure that you're not designing a MMO based off of Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis? There's probably a huge niche for that somewhere...

Lol at myself, I read it that way to begin with. Just goes to show. :-)

DeciusBrutus wrote:
Are you sure that you're not designing a MMO based off of Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis?

Some extant egs to illustrate that there's a genuine (at least as far as I can be sure of my own conclusions) ideological (is that the right word?) framework that is informing this thread, the ideas with-in... In no specific order, these are real egs, ie pieces just as the above game references are pieces too, only a part of the framework:-

1. You'll notice online forum communities derive a large part of their stickiness to "online drama" fuelling social interaction. This applies to mmorpgs but also their own particular forums too and guild websites.
2. EVE the players often comment on a large part of the gameplay is the meta- ie planning and discussing before actual online engagements and activities. Perhaps EVE mirrors 1. better than other mmorpgs?
3. Combat mechanics misplaced focus:

“If you want a ‘combat’ game I would honestly look elsewhere,” he said. The emphasis MMOs place on combat—especially MMOs with PvP—make this seem like a death knell for the game. “It is pretty meh,” he admitted, mentioning “issues around targeting, hit detection, desyncing,” and so forth. Ouch. That seems pretty brutal, especially for a game boasting open-world PvP.

4. The issue is that it's a circular loop between: Improving combat vs the focus on Roles which then can leverage the "online dramas" that I believe is a stronger market attractant to players: Unmasking the Avatar: The Demographics of MMO Player Motivations, In-Game Preferences, and Attrition

5. To come back to the reasoning: Game A does X, therefore to get X but with MMO, just Game MMO-A = vundebar ["\ˈvu̇n-dər-ˌbär\"]! (except it's a niche of a niche...) ; the framework is informing more than that: So it's just as applicable to do a sort of "forensic" on Kingmaker:

Where do you focus in an MMO of Kingmaker: The Kingdom or the party group?

6. I'm worried some of the above is taken as deliberately vague so as to shield against criticism by appearing to be "thinking at a higher level" and hence avoiding the basic implication of the solution suggested in the thread: RTS games << RPG of the 3D avatars which are "big on the screen" ie difference between player "running their avatar like a radio-controlled robot" vs "being their avatar in game". However, I think future mmorpgs are being pushed in this direction whether they like it or not, there's a "Rodentia browser mmo mix of strategy and mmo" (it's a mish-mash of the 2 alongside each other: Trying to have your cake and eat it); then Crowfall:

The MMO. Can it be saved from itself? The genre is synonymous with massive success -- rarely. More often, it's earned a reputation for persistent mediocrity, as hyped titles come on strong and soon fade from popular consciousness.

That's because they're all measured against the yardstick of World of Warcraft. Maybe it's time to try something different.

...and make a "pretty hardcore game for people who want a visceral game experience," Walton says.

"WoW has become synonymous with the MMO. While healthy for them, it's maybe not healthy for the overall market," Walton says.

So their first step is to throw out the design wisdom of World of Warcraft "by going back to the beginning" of the genre, when its creative potential seemed so huge. "Something was lost," Coleman says. "We've seen a lot of stagnation."

He sees "fertile ground... that we never fully developed." The plan is to create a strategy/MMO hybrid title, cognizant of the inherent differences between the genres -- a game that continually provides "that initial rush, that initial adrenaline feeling of mystery and awe and exploration, and jockeying for power and position," Coleman says.

..."The strategy layer [is] connected directly to a player-driven economy," Coleman says, and veteran MMO designer Raph Koster is consulting on the title to help design that economy.

Hmm, just look at this picture in the article: The ""EQ/WOW Engine"" of Crowfall. The mention of the economy + strategy connection is good however. In fact I've coined a phrase for this contention... tbc... .

DeciusBrutus wrote:
There's probably a niche for that somewhere, but I think that there are some pretty hard problems to solve first. What would the players' goals be in a MMO succession game, and how would a player that spent only 12 sessions with a character (semiweekly for 6 months) feel that they were accomplishing something?

*GULP!!!* :-D

Good questions, what I think is that as per the above 'tbc' I can only do a full article on this subject to first set the scene before then actually showing the APPROACH to answering the above, which is far from actually demonstrating it works... that is derived from the basic high-level view that is itself is based on the "simples" eg time and space along with the tbc focus (keeping that wrapped atm) and then quickly getting the sytem running and only demonstrating it works via actual adjustment during player data. However, the approach (you can guess tbc) sticks to the focus that is where for example PFO's real strength lies - not the where all the WOW Contenders To The Throne bodies lay strewn!

I'll see if I can write up an article over the next few weeks (or months) on all this using more means to communicate (pics, tables, calcs, references, structure, framework etc. Why not another 'dang' project... and to avoid some of the constipation that can occur with online discussions involving everybody's different opinions clamouring for primacy (!):-

"Everybody's Talkin'

Goblin Squad Member

@Kyutaru -

Possibly those capture something of "what it is / what is in it" that Raph Koster tries to go through in his SWG compendium blogs here. However, I think what really captures SWG is that story above by Patrick Desjardines.

Is it possible to capture that outcome where as per EVE the players are literally running the systems in game (and maybe making money and stories aka "value-added" from it to an extent a cultural phenomenon springs from it)?

Raph is consulting on Crowfall, next. So it would be apt to ask: What is Crowfall trying to achieve, in this sense? I can't see it myself. I can see a game that perhaps takes developments of themepark and sandbox EQ/WOW forwards... but is it enough? Maybe it will able to create a LOLx100 sort of tactical recurring battle scene? WH40K:ET seems to be going that route to for 3rd person shooter.

What SWG did was create a virtual world for roles based off an IP and trying to make that world-building come alive through the massive scale of many players' different agencies interacting with each other. Combat is and probably should be one aspect of that. It was an aspect that seems to have caused huge issues for the game atst as undue development focus, is at least my own reading (perhaps wrong?).

Goblin Squad Member

I did read that, but skimmed it... interestingly:-

You'd have a battle game and a role playing game all together.

But SWG had more fundamental issues around the combat system

We could build a real twitch combat system that was less turn based and more visceral. It was a very exciting idea.

A prototype of the combat and faction switching in a town had been built. That and the launch World of Warcraft game influenced the development of the Combat Upgrade (Apr 2005) and following New Game Experience (Nov 2005).

So I feel I am responsible for the NGE, because the impetus came from an idea I initially championed, which I as unable to deflect when it was being mis-applied (in my view) to SWG.

Looks like they tried to go down the combat rabbit-hole, whereas the solution was indeed the plan to expand the context of the RPG -> world.

Sounds familiar...

Goblin Squad Member

In my view if it created stories such as this one... it was one of the most successful mmorpgs ever created:-

After almost two years, I could see that this would not last. Player counts were dropping; the game was being mishandled more and more. When they did away with the holo-grinding, it wrecked a large part of my business model. And again, when the Jedi-village went live, it was the final nail. No one needed to spend vast amounts on anything any more. You could just become a Jedi from a quest chain.

I started shutting down my enterprise. I had bought and sold dozens and dozens of accounts, billions of credits; for the remaining players on my servers, my accounts were fixtures. They were how they functioned, they were how they survived. Most had no clue it was one person pulling all these strings, and in the end, I liked it that way. I stopped “playing” the day I was killed in Theed starport by a fresh new Jedi who didn’t understand how to even play the game.

I couldn’t even bring myself to fight back. I just stood there. I was one of the few true Dark Jedi Masters, and I let him kill me. That very act illustrated perfectly what SOE did wrong. Those of us who had faithfully put in the hours and weeks and months required to earn those lightsabers were spit on and betrayed by the very architects of the game we loved.

Now obviously I did my share of exploiting the game, and your share, and his, and hers. But I put in the work to holo-grind. I put in the work to move my way up endlessly grinding on fambas in Naboo, cats in Corrilea, and rancors on Dathomir. I didn’t buy my personal Jedis; I earned them. I knew the game, I knew the struggle, and I knew what it took to get them.

And in the end? On my last day playing? You could start a new toon who was already a Jedi. I walked away and I never looked back. That moment at my desk, 10 years after it started, I sadly closed the window and went back to work.

Because it wasn’t the game I loved. That game died in 2005 with the NGE/CU. It died when developers turned their backs on the gamers who had spent the effort and instead listened to the lazy, whining voices who wanted it all given to them.

Ironically, those voices were the same people who happily handed Tan money for the credits I provided. Happily handed me stacks of cash for Jedi accounts. Did I help in the demise of SWG? Yes. That is something I accepted long ago. The game that I loved so much, I helped to destroy.

Goblin Squad Member

So, was it a failure?

Well yes, of course. And also, no. It depends how you ask the question

Galaxies actually had the best one-month conversion of any game at SOE, by a double-digit percentage.

SWG also had the shortest play session lengths of any RPG at SOE (action games, including Planetside, had shorter). This had very much been a design goal

However, at the same time, it also had the highest total hours played per week. In other words, it was the least grindy per session, and the most sticky on a week or month basis.

SWG did not sell a million units instantly, and then lose them all, as many claim. It took two years for it to hit a number that big (unlike WoW, which shot up incredibly fast). Early reviews and launch buzz were mixed at best. That said, it was picking up more new users a day than all other SOE games combined, even after the CU. It did have a churn problem, and exit surveys showed all the top answers for why people left were “lack of content.” This was largely attributable to things like the combat balance, the lack of quests, and so on.

WoW didn’t kill SWG. In fact, SWG lost less users to WoW than any other SOE game. (This makes sense — it was the least like WoW, after all).

Lastly, SWG was a lot cheaper to make than what was about to be its competition. Like, 1/4 of the budget or less of a WoW.

In short…

The game wasn’t doing as badly as people seem to think. It didn’t fail in the market. It did just fine, even by the standards pre-WoW. But there were huge expectations that we didn’t push against, it launched with serious problems, and the team wasn’t really equipped to fix them. This resulted in a series of errors that damaged the game’s ongoing viability, which resulted in more hurried changes.

The analytics stuff is interesting.

The expectations at the end is the most illuminating thing. The vision and how that informed EVERYTHING and where the devs strayed from that vision the problems came.

Goblin Squad Member

Got a decent bid.

It should be a win-win with active a/c and GW already got the cash.

You can PM a bid still on the off-chance the above falls-through and I'll queue them. I'll update the thread on the agreed bid pending.

Goblin Squad Member

Audoucet wrote:
AvenaOats wrote:

What sold PFO to me was:-

1. Can choose many different roles: Spy, Soldier, Merchant or crafter or diplomat.
2. We're expanding above PF to make the world around the adventurer experience to fit within that context.

And yet, you're selling your account.

I was never "comfortable" with a couple of things, but simply decided to bow to greater knowledge and experience; these were:-

1. Perspective ie I thought maybe isometric but even that was not good enough back in early 2012.
2. I was concerned that TT combat was too stale but that for this type of project it was a technological necessity.
3. I did not like the idea of characters bloating in power over time and multi-cross-training that came.

Of course back then I did not see any solutions because the paradigm I was assuming was the standard one. Now I think I've seen a new paradigm and from that derive solutions to the above; but not only that they also KEEP THE FOCUS on the 2 things that really sold the concept of PFO to me:- The diverse roles, the idea that the adventurers takes place in the wider simulation of the fantasy world.

PFO can still achieve those things with growth. But I think the problems are as above described eg the immense work required on combat and graphics.

It should be explicit: PFO has about 9/10ths right with it's design thanks to Ryan and the team. But this genre is brutal. The missing 1/10th I suggest is:-

1. Scale Change (RTS Engine)
2. Avatar Change (Family System)
3. Skill-Training Change per Character (finite, limited capacity) - expand the roles, this then also nullifies PvP issues which can be dev'ed in via sandboxed containers.
4. Pricing Change (Variable Sub on Family Size)
5. Archetypes Adventure system closer to PnP where combat can be deeper work on in that context.
6. Change the Map as per 1. procedural inter-galactic wilderness between islands of Realms (should be scalable) for the Kingdoms (x3 pillars) game.

These achieve:-

1. Adventurerers in context of River Kingdoms World Building; brings in the PnP core crowd who are needed.
2. Diverse Roles; suck in a larger market
3. Resolves PvP bad politics of release.
4. Removes the competition of graphics and combat balancing nightmare
5. In time more of the players' good ideas can be dev'd in.

Goblin Squad Member

The Iomede and other NPC center stuff is perfect to entice PnP players if the Archetypes were focused on the Adventure Pillar as mentioned. And RTS Scale to make huge cities, is one opinion.

However, to turn the question back around to the OP instead of "how I cannot sell it", "How I can sell it - if the above conditions were met," then it would be like Ryan already did:-

What sold PFO to me was:-

1. Can choose many different roles: Spy, Soldier, Merchant or crafter or diplomat.
2. We're expanding above PF to make the world around the adventurer experience to fit within that context.

Those are all things I suggested via the above that align with that focus. The trouble is the focus is now on the tropes of EQ/WOW Engine mmorpgs: Combat, Graphics, PvP and the quality of those let alone their desirablity or as is the key here: FOCUS which is for me and I thin for many others 1. and 2. above should be dev'd then you can easily sell EE to players.

If you did that you could really flesh out the details of Riverkingdoms eg Iomede, Bandits in the THornkeep, Emerald Spire uber dungeons for adventurers squad team party combat on that scale with mortality and injury and expedition requirements eg food and so on. Different critters reacting to diff alignment players etc.

Goblin Squad Member

One of the ideas that is floating about as per Bludd's question but also mentioned in some of the replies is:-

>"Q: How much of Pathfinder is in PFO?"

It's a crucial question. Being almost purely functional you could say, one of the strongest marketing assets of PFO is that it has this background IP except in design from translating to MMO it's a completely different game system.

I think then the feel of Pathfinder is asked. The response has been "there's lore, there's story, players can go read up in a libary, the art etc and world setting are based here."

This again I think is not a good answer or not making the most of what could be and that's the same problem with themeparks of other IPs. The SWG Jedi story A Jedi Saga ~ by Raph Koster is a perfect perfect example of bad design decisions due to a lack of boldness and pandering to "market rationale reasoning", instead of sticking to the LOGIC you derive from working within the FRAMEWORK of UNITY OF AESTHETIC of the IP World Building itself meshing with the design challenges of the technology.

I mean reading about pathfinder or being told about it in game is such a poor substitute to the above method of elaboration of the world-building in it's new genre to adapt it correctly. It's mechanics aint' gonna work in service to story, they'll be fighting each other or else relegated, the one over the other. For example players need to be clicking in combat every so many minutes in game takes precedence over the story ie classes go out and farm mobs = "adventuring". Though in some fluff and you have so-called "story of the IP". However this is RP, not PAR, what is needed is PAR

You know what the entire PFO endeavour really is all about?

It's taking Pathfinder (a game world for small groups of players) and transplanting that game world into a game world for thousands upon thousands of players.

You can make a decision: Try to make all those populations heroes Archetypes or you can try to make a world with a proportional population. You can do that with One Player = One Character with alts or you can instead share the roles players can dabble in based off the pyriamid of many workers at the bottom driving the economic engines per player upwards to specialization of roles as societies require overheads to manage larger numbers of members and institutions around those functions.

What story we wan to tell in PFO is the epic tale, the match to network capacity of shared game space of mmo- technology. I honestly think if there's any prototype existing of this MMO- revolution it's Dwarf Fortress. Just soup up the graphics to 3D on an Epic Scale of perspective and add the MMO- networking and run the simulation of gross systems all inter-connecting eg generations, food, mortality, biography, seasons...

Looking at the recent comments in forums on PFO, the fight is the wrong battle. The players are totally clueless about what they want and hence the developers take the wrong cues to develop the wrong engines to represent the wrong types of gameplay to create story in the heads of the players that can combine better with community building around the game.

Goblin Squad Member

<Kabal> Daeglin wrote:

To return to the OP:

1. They asked very nicely so it is worth trying answer - perhaps the OP is observing the answers.
2. The question is perfect to pose from 1 to many: What is the answer tailored for the OP perosnally? And what is the answer extrapolated to the market of potential players who might ask essentially exactly the same question and hence how can PFO as a game self-answer ie "A Good Game Sells Itself".
3. You provided useful info and eg of the excellent community here I've always been impressed by.

Now good knows "I've gone off on one..." but to shrink it down to the answers I provided:-

1. The OP is PnP PF background from post history. I suggested the only way to really square THAT system with PFO is change scale and provide that 4th odd one out pillar as specific to archetype adventurers.
2. Else the rest of the game is Pathfinder Kingdoms related.
3. The problem is the current PFO is mish-mash of the 2 and not atm either. This problem can be called "The dischord of aesthetic".

This is as honest as I can be and it serves me no advantage "to undersell PFO" quite the opposite at present.

<Kabal> Daeglin wrote:
While it's regrettable in a sense, most people who are actively playing don't frequent these boards anymore. They spend more time on the GW forums. Those looking for answers regarding the current game would best be served asking there. The most frequent posters here now often seem to be those the game literally left behind...

Now to address here:-

Ryan predicted some players attracted to PFO would be "after the next new thing"; and their surge is forwards of the rest of the market and natural churn would see them move onto "the next futurology thing" if you like.

However interesting that is to know, here's a useful observation that PFO needs to be successful:-

At present this is the core challenge/status of PFO:-

1. Day 1: FFA PvP bad press
2. Day 2: PnP PF not mightily impressed it's not catering to PnP more
3. Day 3: Sub + substandard release = I'll take my custom elsewhere

If you have PvP then it has to be good combat and integrated with many systems. This already labels it against the ethos of PnP "so THEY say". But the PvP players are saying it's not enough PvP and it's too expensive and others are saying it's impossible to recruit for.

Ok, what needs to be done to be able to recommend PFO to people

1. The emphasis on Combat has go^&. I've seen WAR, GW2 etc all have major issues trying to get combat to work/be fun. Secondly the PvP label has be surpassed to remove the bad press. Now PFO does have the solutions:-

* Fishing
* Farming
* Labouring
* Merchanting
* Contracting and Guards
* It needs the things at Kingmaker scale that make it stand out: Politics, settlements and buildings buzzing with life

2. I think the solution to combat de-emphasis is classes in the Adventure pillar and it serves the PnP crowd and it hopefully works towards the modding crowd and story-telling bespoke stuff of adventures meanwhile integrting above.

3. Players have to be creating incredulous stories to pay during EE:-

* For their own fun
* For word of mouth
* People have an instinct to find a good thing and want to tell others about that good thing, to be the one who was known to tell others about a good thing to be had. ;-)

Imo with 3. it can only happen with the correctives of 1. and 2. Otherwise the course set is:-

>Constant battle against PvP politics
>Constant battle to get extremely high quality combat mechanics
>Constant battle against graphics comparisons with other games
>Constant battle against the sub naysayers
>Constant battle with genres that are mmo-ifying but retaining stronger design in their actual sub-specialization genre than the broader mmorpgs do
>Constant battle with all the other EQ/WOW mmorpgs: AA, Crowfall, EQN and other variations: SotA, GV, Life Is Feudal

PFO may be able to grab some of the market, but the fights are going to be severe following this course.

Everquest: A Retrospective

Here's the problem: The market says this is STILL WHAT PEOPLE WANT TODAY according to tech/budget restrictions... but themepark or sandbox, this engine makes the whole experience feel like it's the same thing, the same tropes, the same conventions, the same basic assumptions.

Imo, by changing something as simple but pervasive as the scale, ie simplification or "parsimony" leads to new ways of seeing and experiencing these stories.

&: You can make better quality squad combat in the Adventurers pillar meanwhile that tailors to a vital market for PFO and easier to dev/balance ON THE SIDE OF what should more or less be called the "Bread & Butter Roles (lol!) of Economic sausage" at the heart of the game. Now the PvP can be sandboxed in little by little in "containers" you can now funnel the pvp crowd and control them either broadly (Go play baa-baas in the wild woods eg) or vertically "With power comes great industry and responsibility".

Goblin Squad Member

Bludd asked a couple of powerful questions in another thread:-

Bluddwolf wrote:

What aspects of PFO can be directly traced to Pathfinder, and uniquely Pathfinder?

Enter any one of those games and ask yourself, does this feel like I am in a world based on those IPs?

This is at the root of things and the path to success. So the challenge has been accepted and an example will be fashioned.

Let us take a system in Pathfinder that is worthy of being labelled: "Iconic":-



1. PnP PF: Small Group of players
2. MMO PFO: Thousands upon thousands of players

How do we square the circle or scale it up?


1. In PnP PF Alignment = Moral Compass = Psychological Interpretation of character's likely reactions and reactions of others to that character.

2. In MMO PFO Alignment = Applicable Society = Political Interpretation of a character's position in a type of society and hence a type of state that fits that type of society.

Here are the Alignments:-


Apportion the political system of the players of a realm via Alignment:-

  • LG = Direct Democracy
  • CE = Anarchy
  • NN = Corporatism?
  • LE = Totalitarianism
  • CG = Delegative Democracy
  • NE = Despotism?
  • NG = Representative Democracy/Dictatorship
  • LN = Communism?
  • CN = Autocracy (Might Makes Right)?

Etc. You can also add additional markers around or above or additional to:-

  • Theocracy
  • Monarchy
  • Aristocracy

It could be that the system of sharing of power dictates the alignment of the settlement which informs the players of their relations with their shared neighbours what that system of rules is based upon. Within that you could have variable Alignments of characters living in those settlements or indeed Reputation System of the Family and the characters as a different measure created by players themselves between themselves. It should be noted the way these are expressed is via the INSTITUTIONS or lack of them in Realms and their effective enforcement or not (via AI Guards for example the rulers can apportion) - we can see the seeds of a Punitative and legal system here from property as a basis to competition and conflict and cooperation. There is also evolution of realms and preferences of players and freedom to choose. The Institutions are an important idea for the managing and representation of these systems for players to manage and run realms. ie the buildings concept extended adding the need for higher-upper roles for chars to train in.

Goblin Squad Member

Bluddwolf wrote:

What is Pathfinder? it is a game system

What are the River Kingdoms? they are the setting

What aspects of PFO can be directly traced to Pathfinder, and uniquely Pathfinder?

What in PFO can you point to and say? "Yes, this is definitely feeling like I'm playing in the River Kingdoms".

I'm not asking these questions for the position that there are no positive answers. The OP is asking to be convinced before buying. If the Pathfinder IP is important to him, and the setting is appealing, is it possible to point out the traits of the game that are uniquely tied to both game and setting?

I direct these questions to Paizo / Goblin Works as well.

To compare it to other games with strong IPs, please look at Lord of the Rings Online and or Star Wars the Old Republic or Star Trek Online.

Enter any one of those games and ask yourself, does this feel like I am in a world based on those IPs?

I think this is worth reply to directly and within the questions' own horizons (the four pillar thing is useful but another conceptual landscape).

I think a great deal can be found from Raph Koster's recent comments on SWG. In that it seems that they were able to go BEYOND what was even in the SW story and expand the world in many ways.

He talks about the basis for being able to build a world, even a world beyond what is originally described:-

Even then, though, all of this is only there to serve as the basis for the rest of building a real society. The world isn’t only about stuff after all. In part two I’ll talk about social professions, downtime, missions, mentoring, and politicians — all the other things that go into making a world feel real. All this is just the beginning.

But this itself is built off the foundations, such as PFO's GDD with

Just Passing Time

It seems a simple thing really: the passage of time. But in fact, the time scale of a virtual world is as important as the scale for length, width, and height. As we discussed what the scale of time should be in Pathfinder Online, in the context of designing for a single server, these were factors we considered:


  • Players should not be forced to play in a constant state of day or night based on their local time
  • Golarion has four seasons just like Earth, and there is value in reproducing those seasons in the game—for the sake of immersion and the value in storytelling, and also for marketing and promotions
  • Distance creates value, in that time is required to transport objects across it; also, when initiating or responding to aggression, distance adds strategic complexity to the game... but the time to cross long distances can also be boring and creates a reason to quit playing the game

    The following represents the current design of the game and is, as always, subject to change based on community feedback, future design work, and playtesting.

  • Koster also notes this in:-

    Actual size isn’t the only factor, of course. The granularity of the world matters too. You can have a 16km x 16km world with tiles that are a kilometer in size, and it’s going to take up the same data space as a 16 meter by 16m world. You can also have a game world like that of Eve Online where the vast vast majority of it is empty space; they procedurally generated theirs too, and as a little homage to Douglas Adams, the seed value for their procedural galaxy is the number 42. And it matters whether you can change this world; if it’s rolled up from a seed value, then you can’t exactly go carve a hole in it without storing the actual map in memory. This leads players to spend lots of time debating the right way to measure game world size.

    To cross-reference, this is what I'm calling Exploration above. But to return to The River Kingdoms specifically according to this IP's world-building which informs the actual lore in the game:-

    The Crusader Road

    An endless stream of adventurers travels the Sellen River to confront the demonic menace at the Worldwound. And just as with Earth's historic crusades, a large number of other folks travel with them: camp followers, traders, thieves. However, there's a problem: an unknown factor has increased the monstrous activity in Mosswater such that it now threatens safety along the Sellen, and the river is impassable near the former town. Crusaders and their fellow travelers have to make an overland detour into the River Kingdoms, creating a constantly shifting population of transients along with more permanent residents who establish services to support the northward migration. Thus, this area has become a rich source of trade, conflict and territorial disputes.

    The northern portion of the area is overseen by the righteous and lawful Knights of Iomedae, operating from a stronghold known as Fort Riverwatch. The southern approach is guarded by the ruthless Hellknights, enforcing their rule from Fort Inevitable. And from within the depths of the Echo Wood, a wretched hive of scum and villainy exerts control over much of the forest.

    Between these three NPC factions are vast expanses of wilderness claimed by no power, ripe for development by those capable of taking and holding the land against the forces arrayed in opposition to them.

    A variety of creatures live in this area. The wilderness is home to tribes of monstrous humanoids, and all manner of magical beasts make lairs in the forest. Undead infest ruins and graveyards. Below the surface lie unending caverns guarded by aberrations. And a few dragons are known to live in seclusion, sleeping on huge mounds of treasure.

    To master these lands, players will need to harvest and make use of a wide variety of resources: cutting timber, mining ore, skinning hides, and gathering crops. These resources will need to be processed into materials that in turn can be crafted to create the weapons, vehicles, structures, and consumables that form the heart of the economic system. Combined with rare and exotic materials recovered by explorers who dare to confront the monsters and opposing players in the wilderness, all manner of gear both magical and mundane will circulate within the economy.

    Exploration, Development, Adventure and Domination

    Interestingly those 4 pillars pop up (I did not remember that). But that's academic, the main thing is the take-homes:-

    We should have huge NPC Cities for the factions from this description. This and "The Clearing" could all be conducive to the beginning of PFO. I still think this description is quite Kingdom level. In fact those maps make me think the area is vast and epic and sweeping ideally with some decent height variables.

    Interestingly the "chore of long travel distance" imo this needs the option of:-

    If: Roads,
    Then: AI automate caravan progress
    While: open to bandits

    No such option for no roads. Main thing is to automate grindy stuff and let players stick to making interesting risk-reward and such decisions Times can be very long this way. Procedural changing landscape around roads ie wilderness = unmapped! In such a change any players could be instanced off if using area during changes... the other thing is the dangerous denizens, requiring solid regiment of soldiers to protect and escort caravans for trade. At higher level the player is managing various roles. Again I think what you want is all this to stimulate players into feeling like the world is an immense, dangerous, magical place where their charges' lives hang on surviving and prospering and then powermongering in the face of a harsh world full of riches and promises where players are able to forge allliances and protect force around themselves successfully... ie civilization clusters realms between the inter-galactic aka inter-realm wildernesses.

    With larger distances, the roads can be persistence amid the procedural changes so that different routes may have to be forged and broken a lot (think eve can work like this).

    Right back to the lore again, these stable landmarks can be indirectly influential on the realms and their wars: The geopolitical powers charging the proxy wars of the realms to put it in perspective. Those Iomede Knights in the North...

    One of the BIGGEST failings in fantasy mmorpgs is generic races are skins only. I think this is terrible and each time cheapens fantasy!

    With marriage system you mainly keep to intra-race breeding, different ages, different birth rates, different base stats for random character generations and ideally it forges different race settlements but some cosmopolitan too - notably along the rivers for ships.

    If the actual avatars are smaller and more generic, they can have unique faces in portraits as well as rigorous naming conventinos. Over time aging algorithm can change the portraits.

    Atm you have the generic Char customization: Choose elf, dorf, human and big-deal read about the differences. Well breeding is a major difference for future complications and decisions for one. This can then lead to different ARCHITECTURE being made for racial settlements and slants on that onwards. I'd add dwarfs affinity to moutains, elves to woods, humans to settlements perhaps, etc. Even different formations for armies etc.

    Many areas for dischord:-

    * Races
    * Alignments
    * Realms
    * Geopolitical NPC superpowers using proxy wars of the above

    Adventurers taken care of with dungeons and special training unlocking.

    Raph's other blog goes into the right direction next:-

    There was every expectation that combat was still going to be at the heart of the game. Few social MMOs were out there at the time, though they were achieving impressive numbers. Second Life did not yet exist when we began (they actually came to visit me at the office during the early development of SWG, to talk social design and tech). The skills and actions available were dominated by fighting, and this was by and large what the market expected.

    However, we could still try to reinvent what people thought fighting meant. In the classic Diku model that players were used to, you basically had classes that were alternate types of damage-dealers. Some dealt it fast, some slow. Some could take a lot of hits, some only a few. Today we think of these as tanks and nukers. The lone support class was the healer type, who basically replenished the combatants so that they could keep going: basically, an indirect damage-dealer more than someone who actually healed.


    The result should have been not unlike a tactical card game: executing specials targeted at trying to undermine your opponent, pushing into stances, getting skills that allowed you to tumble from prone to standing quickly again, and so on. Riflemen standing well back, sniping carefully into the melee, with stealthed commandos sneaking around back to take them out. As you burned through your bars using your specials you made yourself briefly vulnerable, as your HAM bars bounced back up quickly, so an attacker looked to hit your weak spot right after you did something cool; basically, every attack you could make “lowered your shields.” And as you were hit, you’d gradually run out of ability to use specials, as your HAM bars’ maximum shrank from actual “wounds.” If someone hit zero, they were only temporarily stunned, and others could run in, drag them to safety or stim them back up with some quick field medicine before an opponent rushed in to give a killing blow.

    Right about now, to any player of SWG, what I have described in tandem with the “bouncy” nature of HAM as I originally pictured it, is probably sounding completely unfamiliar to them. And that’s because combat in SWG was a disaster.

    What strikes me that succeeded was the plethora of roles in SWG. The combat was very taxing to code. It needs to for Pathfinder be sandboxed into the Adventurer Archetypes Pillar for those special/very prestigious classes in the game those rare heroes/exceptionals PROPORTIONALLY REPRESENTED CORRECTED in the game's population. Here is where the RTS Scale again shines, with most of players cadre/cast/charges of characters doing the many economic roles and other such like that have SO MUCH POTENTIAL as per Raph's SWG creations in the above blog.

    Tl;DRHalf the question is simulating Pathfinder into digital 3D representation. The other half is allowing players SELF-EXPRESSION opportunities in multitudinous ways within that representation ie half of what is Pathfinder is the players building those living systems (aka sim life) on top of the dynamic world to borrow Raph's coinage.

    To extend the question Bludd poses: The same principles hold for those other IPs: Star Wars, Star Trek, Elder Scrolls, Lord Of The Rings Online... to measure how successful they feed back into those world-buildings - or not?

    Goblin Squad Member

    Those are absolutely solid questions, Bludd.

    In my experience the one thing you do get in spades is the "visuals" and "veneer" of those IPs. However the actual "experience", THAT is the question (to borrow Hamlet's line)... so what is the experience that PFO as per it's game design document and as per it's pathfinder tradition of roots all leading towards providing as a product for players?

    It is this:-

    I keep banging this drum so much so someone's going shriek at the top of their lungs: "Will you stu, already banging on and on about... ." But Pathfinder Online is:-

    * Adventure = adventurers archetypes small party squad combat dungeons
    * Exploration = creation of huge wilderness ecosystems, mobs, resources
    * Development = settlements, roles, social pyriamids, economics
    * Domination = rts armies units, mass pvp, grand strategy

    3 of those pillars 2-4 = KINGMAKER Pathfinder
    1 of those pillars 1 = Pen & Paper Pathfinder

    And I believe that's exactly verbatim what Ryan said way back. Now here's the interesting thing:-

    Fantasy mmorpg revoluton:
    IF, if... if! your character is mostly engaged in the 3 Kingmaker Pillars, guess what? It's already stated in the design but your character is majorly an ECONOMIC AGENT in the game-systems!! This is very very very different to the holistic personality level of interaction that you want in the small TT group experience: It's a much higher level of analysis or description (as valid but different). Now here's the interesting connection: At that level I think it's better represented at a Higher Scale, less personal, more calculated, the real units in the game are the kingdoms, the characters are slaves to that just as they are in fact in EVE to Corps. I think this is the big issue or rhetorical issues that PFO needs to redo and resell to the market:-

    Effectively appreciating the harmony between Design Doc + Kingmaker Roots + Engine => "The Experience" being sold to the player market, resolves the aesthetic discordance that plagues PFO and all are derived from the synergy of the above:-

    1. Change Scale, sell at RTS Engine Scale of Kingmaker Pathfinder Online: This means it's it's OWN THANG!! It's not WOW 2.0, it's not Fantasy EVE, it's not "Not Pathfinder!" it's not competing with all the other themepark, sandbox EQ/WOW mmorpgs with huge budgets either...
    2. This has the positive by-product of removing the awful nonsense to be endured in mmo forums concerning PvP: It removes PERSONAL and makes it more IMPERSONAL atst as INNOVATIVE via Family System and rejigging pvp rules into sandbox containers and more social-climbing competition as the fluid and flexible open-world competition to go with the combat snadboxed containers for PvP (Accurate name: Competition > Direct Combat Mechanics > Avatar loss on your balance sheet condition) - this has been killing PFO in negative publicity from day 1. Side-step it and even better SURPASS this criticism!!
    3. Reconnect with the Pathfinder AP's and PnP market via the Adventure pillar being exclusive to Archetype Party sub-game within a game roguelike ish simulation fidelity to TT.
    4. This Sim-Life de-emphasis the combat skill required for PvP; it emphasises the explosion of ROLES that Ryan's keen to add to Pathfinder eg diplomat, merchant and so on (they're all kingdom scale roles) tinker tailor soldier spy...
    5. Players via Family Persona management can then choose non-combat gameplay (eg [fishing, farming]( ming/) and delegate combat to PvP players eg soldiers raised to send to battle RTS
    6. Add PvP players in sandboxed containers: Eg Barbarians in the wild killing as they wish (or use Alignment + here), Soldiers via war units and so on...
    7. All that is good basis for players to try to claim their own parcels of land (limited within realms) and scale up (Cities can have large number of buildings that players can then as peasant Families claim to ekk out their path to grander things eg Holdings Feudal with peasant families employed and upwards to the Throne. Settlements of huge scale, wilderness of even larger geogrpahical epic scale and procedural death of monsters and so on these are going to sell PFO.

    The other thing is, this re-imagining will freshen things up with 6 month life-times and 3 month marriage regen cycles, opening up new gameplay experiences instead of the stade and stale conventions of the EQ/WOW Engine. Not only does it not have to compete with the other trend in the market, it is also in it's own niche. Atm PFO looks like any other indie mmorpg or EQ/WOW mmorpg but with much less polish and interested people mainly complaining:-

    1. Payment does not match value, performance or fun as compared with bigger budget mmos.
    2. PvP combat skill and Guild commitment is too hardcore
    3. It's not even Pathfinder.

    These = Discordance natural derivation from the mismatch in Aesthetic.

    I admit still going to be a hard sell to players spoilt by the revolution in graphics 3D Engines for this genre... but it's enough to conducive to complexity and slow growth and sucking up a real need service to provide a differentiated product in the market and evolve the story-telling devices in this medium.

    Star Citizen = WOW 2.0

    Pathfinder Kingmaker Online = EVE 2.0

    Note: WOD was always doomed as soon as it tried to go the EQ/WOW Engine route at 70m$

    To re-emphasise (you can skip workings..) effectively with the EQ/WOW Engine EVERYONE is confusing PFO as PnP Pathfinder when in reality the vast majority of it via the design docs and world building scope is ie 3/4ths or 75% is KINGMAKER PATHFINDER! = RTS Engine match.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Audoucet wrote:
    AvenaOats wrote:
    I have to say PFO has SO MUCH GOING FOR IT; in particular the IP is literally and figuratively out of this world good quality.
    Except there is absolutely nothing even remotely about PF, in PFO.

    I'm not sure how much traction the fact Pathfinder is top PnP product has in the digital computer game space; I imagine some but not majorly? And that's part of the point I'm making above. You can guarantee the team will design the art, the inheritance of how things are from the awesome pedigree they have access to. It is worth emphasizing that, I was thinking of alternatives to the design changes I suggested in the other thread on SCALE and it's not easy bar IP's Game Of Thrones or Pathfinder; in fact Pathfinder would be more preferable due to more richness to tamper around with (I'd enjoy this whole other conversation if there was space and time for it!).

    The other side it has a lot going for it, is the design is still the best I think of any current fantasy mmorpg in development or market. The implementation is what you are suggesting is lacking and that's true. But I think the diversity of buildings for settlements could look really good as could the diversity of mobs from Pathfinder and items and so on.

    Again, I can't help it, but steering back to the ideas explored, I suggest SCALE CHANGE would vastly improve PFO albeit it's probably too late to re-do all that. Another reason I think this, if you look at GTO and they have something like 30 ppl mmo-ish instances, the fidelity of graphics is outstanding for that game. It's very challenging for PFO to compete in the graphical allure department there and it's likewise with AA or ESO. One of the other good things about the SCALE change would be that the ADVENTURE MODULE of ARCHETYPE Classes of PFO could be made to match the TT PnP more close-fitted as the 4th odd pillar in PFO. Ie the combat and the scenarios all closer. The With Steam and modding (blender etc) and other such programs, getting people to make these AP's too. It's all gold waiting to be struck - but within the broader context of the simulation of the River Kingdoms at that EPIC SCALE: Exploration of huge + procedural changing map; Development of families and roles and workers and economy and infrastructure holdings; domination of RTS-esque armies... as foundations to much more eg natural disasters, plague, seasons, droughts, monster "cane toad season" escalations etc etc...

    It's better to think of this Pathfinder Kingdoms Online (PKO) as like an ant-farm or eco-carium on a digital screen that players are managing this growing and living digital world with cycles of time and generations and so on...

    The AP's more like the roguelike, torchbearer, darkest dungeon and AP stuff. Think how interesting the Emerald Tower could be with many levels (use procedural changes); Adventurers could probably takle the earlier levels in their lives, then later on other levels... it could be a gruelling and excruciating expedition to undertake

    Goblin Squad Member

    If you made bids that fell short in other auctions, an opportunity still presents itself here for this sparkling a/c. Please PM me your offers.

    Goblin Squad Member

    AvenaOats wrote:
    I think mmo-rpg's have the most attractive advantage in all genres of games (perhaps excluding games that are conducive to skill or modding skill ie skill games) and that's the persistence of social online communities and sharing of the same story experiences.

    I posted this in the other thread asking about "sell me PFO?". It was outside directly addressing the issue, so here to state the implicit/inherent guiding or indeed RULING assumption in the above, as I see it:-

    It's this:-

    >"To make a game (more?) worthwhile, is to produce not only a fun (flow?) experience but value added/extended outside of the actual time spent playing the game."

    Tolkien touched on a theme within this: Fantasy in part being a "Recovery" device. It's a little like a guided meditation or for example a conscious routine at the beginning of the day before work to settle one's thoughts and feelings into a center of composure and control. This I find before a busy day, about 10-15minutes really useful and indeed during a day to find a small slot for this, to "recover".

    One of the really notable examples of a specific type of value-added has been how some players can make huge amounts of real money from mmos via RMT. It's a bit like playing the stock market using automated software. PLEX appears to be a natural development in this direction in that it motivates playing to be able to pay off the sub fee ie value-added as well as playing to play. It helps "bring it in-house" more as a natural extension of the game, and obviously so put like this, I think.

    Another dimension is: Skill as above: Persisting with certain actions that engage skills is probably likely a healthy use of time in the capacity of games where "recovery" is also being exercised: It reminds me of the huge popularity of "fuzzball" at one of my work places as workers seemed to "like hummingbirds at a nectar-feeding station topped up on a boost of energy" in the space of 5-minutes or so before heading back to the telephones, clients, work pressures and desk work.

    And another dimension again is: Social Connections. I think this is another obvious statement, yet if you break it down ie simplify it, there's (insert desired adjective: eg "shining") insights to be had... and this one is left for "thinking about in your own time".

    But I'm going to come back to another dimension that ties this all together: Story.

    Dr. Johnson's dictum that "Man is the cooking-animal" could equally be that "(hu)man is the story-telling animal".

    Paizo’s Adventure Paths are amongst their most popular and exciting products, but they can be intimidating. Designed as epic campaigns taking PCs from first to fifteenth level – or higher – they can consume years of both game time and real time. Thus it is crucial to understand exactly what you are getting yourself – and your group – into.

    Kingmaker consists of six full-length adventures that take the PCs from first level to about eighteenth. The campaign has two distinctive themes: wilderness “sandbox” exploration and kingdom-building.

    It's interesting that there's the scale of epic concerning "Zero->Hero" in the Life-span of the Character. And it makes me think this is concerning Exploration adventures + raising a Kingdom in x1 lifetime.

    However looking at it from the pov of the Kingdom-Building itself, you change the focus of the time-span.

    Here's a description of a game that attempts to have the play running a squad of heroes atst as a story over 300 years of a kingdom from Double Fine:-

    MASSIVE CHALICE is a tactical strategy game set on an epic timeline from Double Fine Productions. As the Immortal Ruler of the Nation, you'll take command of its heroes, forge marriages to strengthen your Bloodlines, and battle a mysterious enemy known as the Cadence in a war lasting hundreds of years.

    Key Features

    Bloodline Genetics - MASSIVE CHALICE features an innovative Bloodline system that allows the player to marry heroes together to produce children. The Bloodline system uses a randomized genetic code for every hero. Their children can end up with the best (or worst!) gameplay-impacting traits of their parents.
    Permadeath - The heroes in MASSIVE CHALICE age over the course of the timeline and eventually pass away. This forces the player to engage in the beauty of permadeath and always juggle an imperfect party of heroes with which to do battle!
    Bloodline Relics - If a hero has fought valiantly enough when they inevitably pass away, their weapon has a chance to become a Bloodline Relic. This powerful Relic can be passed down to any character of the same house in order to carry on the legacy of the fallen hero!
    Long View Strategy - Because the war lasts 300 years, players need to take a long view of their strategy. Decisions have to be made dozens of years in advance and long-term planning is incredibly important. That 3-year-old toddler is going to grow up to be your most reliable melee fighter sooner than you think!

    There's the appreciation that for 300 years and at a kingdom's perspective you gain:-

    * Family Tree
    * Senescence
    * Change as a function of the timescale which the story is focusing on

    I think there's a mash-up here personally and the same with PFO of scales. It's an RPG that wants to be epic.

    One of the things about mmorpgs:-

    "Everybody gets to be the hero, then no-body is"
    "The World does not change concerning player actions"
    "Full-time professional adventurers don't have time for also being kings and politicians" - to add!


    One of the core things in GAMES is that the player avatar is intended to reward the player's actions and decisions. However the by-product of such a system if you convert it to the context of story-generation ei narrative (not merely mechanical system of play) is what you often (very often) get in films:-

    * The main character is a vehicle for the viewer to experience an "EGO-TRIP" of vicariously living the main character's attractive story: Eg James Bond: Gets the girl(s), gets the gadgets, looks and talks cool and absent-mindedly saves the world after ensuring everyone in the story knows how cool he is.
    * The main character often kills and kills and kills and kills lots of baddies (see mmorpgs where mobs are "loot-pinatas" to mow down remorselessly.
    * Oh did we also say the viewer or player also expects their character to be immortal and any time THEY make a failure "it's ok"?

    Looking at mmorpgs from technical reasons why characters don't die - they only fall over!

    * Your EQ/WOW Engine character is a Hero as per the perspective. This ego-trip demands it or else the player/viewer would be disappointed. Some films have this: You can watch a real DOWNER Westerner that does this that inspired Tarantino.
    * x1 char dying would be bad business to reroll and losing all your work (ie grind issues, repetition etc)
    * Technical glitch of chars dying at any time over a network.
    * Investing in sub means that money to repay must be persistent gains
    * Follows the concept of character progression via power increase of stats

    I think with a change in scale all these tropes of mmorpgs can be relegated in service of story at the scale that fits:-

    1. Thousands of participants
    2. Systems involving big data and numbers cycling within multiple systems (which lead to emergence of order from complexity ie self-organization)
    3. A changing world with many variables
    4. Scale change of view and of time and of people and place: Different information leading to different decisions by players.
    5. Biggest boon: The de-emphasis on combat + power = progression measure of a character. Instead of linearity we could have cycles of progression in game; cycles of the game-state (population, seasons, stresses and strains on the economy interacting with player interactions on these things) and sustaining game-balance via removal of bloat of power from linear progression.
    6. Re-focus on the virtual world building of interacting systems with the characters components of this, the ant-farm approach.
    7. More interesting stories of loss and family endeavour, more systems for social interaction; the stronger simulation will perform the function of story (as above stronger for players) - one of those functions is not the ego-trip... which is exploited by the P2W monetization systems aka "FUN PAIN" ~ Ramin Shokrizade
    8. Plays to MMO- strengths that other genres cannot compete with ie sheer number of players, sheer scale of canvas of story ie Epic.

    I think if any designer wants to emulate eve on the fantasy guise this is the right approach as per Game Of Thrones and Kingmaker.

    Some interesting conversations on permadeath:-

    Death of a Spaceman ~ Chris Roberts on Star Citizen

    Why I Hate the Term “Permadeath”

    Perks of Perma-Death

    It does not seem like many have countenanced the concept of changing the scale and changing the perception of death of a life to a cycle of lives over a longer time measurement and this changes the focus of the details of x1 story vs xN stories.

    Goblin Squad Member

    I think mmo-rpg's have the most attractive advantage in all genres of games (perhaps excluding games that are conducive to skill or modding skill ie skill games) and that's the persistence of social online communities and sharing of the same story experiences.

    If you're looking for a mmo-rpg, then PFO by design has a chance of providing that. Right now I'd however say it appears imo to be a distant dream, during the Early Enrollment as the devs are developing every so many weeks.

    However if you're sure the game is going to be a long-term playing experience then the reason to buy now is to start accruing XP in your characters and playing and building up connections in game - despite the glaring issues present atm.

    I have to say PFO has SO MUCH GOING FOR IT; in particular the IP is literally and figuratively out of this world good quality. From that pov you can judge your future return in value on PFO. However, from the other pov, imho the big challenge that's going to make or break PFO is the EQ/WOW Engine or scale of the game of avatars running around that has become the de facto since UO->EQ 3D over-the-shoulder-perspective.

    Imo this is the core game design area that needs to be innovated on that is being used as the standard, expected basis for all the great design work that GW has envisioned. I personally think that horse has run it's race with WOW and we need revolution via a new SCALE of game that matches WHAT is USP about MMO- genre that other genres cannot provide; where they actually can provide superior in many other areas now that this old model of mmorpgs still tries to develop.

    Anyway, I'll jump off my hobby-horse, that's why I'm selling an a/c

    WTS Destiny's Twin Account (unused; 7 months of game time, full daily deals...)

    Should PFO capture the market share the above value of account will be much higher than what I am selling it for today. However I don't think that market is there any more as I explained above, so I think the a/c will still rise in value as the population of PFO increases, just not the stellar WOW-like success that alternatively could materialize.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Please PM your offers if you are interested in this a/c.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Reasons for selling:-

    • Need currency for a couple of donations to not-for-profit causes; quickly.
    • Some cash needs to be used to settle RL concerns, additionally
    • Currently not running supported system for PFO
    • Very happy with the value I've gained from the account and gaming opportunities it presents but the above are all very pressing matters in other areas
    • As per my recent thread: "Fantasy & The MMORPG Scale" philosophically I'm more interested in perma-death characters not as a singular feature but as at the heart of story-creation, game-design and business pricing model, than the current realization.

    Interested buyers information:-

    A. Account Details Summary:-

    * Reward.....................Quantity
    * New Player Pack...............1
    * Destinys Twin.................1
    * Daily Deals...................1
    * Early Enrollment..............1
    * Soundtrack Download...........1
    * 1 Month game time.............7
    * Alliance Pack.................1
    * Head Start....................1
    * Shield Mate...................1
    * Behind the Scenes PDF.........1
    * Character Name Reservation....1
    * Twice-Marked of Pharasma......1

    B. Procedure of Transaction:-

    1. Please bid a price according to going market value (as observed in the forums and elsewhere) via PM. I'm honest I'm not out to make a killing; simple exchange is fine, but I'll let market demand dictate the price.
    2. Considering the subsequent interested parties; I'll consider a direct exchange or a third party handler, further to transactions. I'd be happy to facilitate transactions via PayPal (as this is intended use for above not-for-profit organizations I intend to donate too).
    3. Please feel free to ask questions; I'm quite active on the forums and intend to continue doing so and hence hope that demonstrates an adequate degree of reliability in any monetary matters of notable value.

    Goblin Squad Member

    2 people marked this as a favorite.

    1. Business model explanation
    2. Screenshots
    3. Clear, unfettered news feeds
    4. Basic guides to game mechanics
    5. On-site account management
    6. Sensibly arranged forums
    7. Search tools
    8. Moderated use of visual flair
    9. Links to useful external resources
    10. Download links that aren’t obtrusive

    Seems like a useful article or subject pointer.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Raph's next:-

    The first thing that had to happen to enable this was to get rid of the classic advancement paradigm. Why? Because it is geared entirely around only rewarding combat. Past systems that attempted to reward alternate playstyles, such as giving XP for exploration, always felt tacked on compared to the rich systems surrounding combat — which include weapons, clothing, armor, levels, and more.

    It's interesting that a lot of the ideas build off the previous:

    >"You have to start with the dynamic world data structure, so you can build anywhere."

    Looking at the above idea concerning avatar life-cycles from birth to senescence in 6 months and playing with numbers to then derive from 1 month = 360 days (near enough 1 year: 12*30) and reaching 72 Hours to then use as 12 minutes per day to then reapprox. for game play session times of x3 = 36 minutes: 24 minutes of daylight + 12 minutes of night or even less. With seasons per more or less 7.5 days per month year ie changing the factor by 10 years representing 4 seasons.

    All of this data then feeds into the game systems and the player game times such as crop cycles and hence food prices... but also adding more "Meta- data" tags to things to collect data such as the location of a battle and tracking the deaths there and so on. Then all this information being collected for players to create Wiki-like articles on the time-line and history of events in PKO (PFO) and various other such reports.

    Edit: 2nd part:-

    This may seem insane in these days of massive FPS communities, e-sports, and the like. But games driven by skill, as opposed to RPGs, had always suffered greatly in the online games space. They tended to have a fraction as many users as the RPGs did, because the skill barrier, particularly in player-vs-player games, was very high and newbies were chased away. Stats showed that for the RTS and FPS genres, when online play was offered, only a fraction of users would actually engage in it on a regular basis. Not only was it much more latency-sensitive than an RPG combat system with phase-based combat, but if you had a bad spot, you lost.


    The result should have been not unlike a tactical card game: executing specials targeted at trying to undermine your opponent, pushing into stances, getting skills that allowed you to tumble from prone to standing quickly again, and so on.


    Right about now, to any player of SWG, what I have described in tandem with the “bouncy” nature of HAM as I originally pictured it, is probably sounding completely unfamiliar to them. And that’s because combat in SWG was a disaster


    One of the professions I most regretted losing was that of Writer. Quite simply, I wanted to provide in-game feeds for the entire fansite community. I wanted the web fandom inside the game. If you were a prolific blogger writing about the game, it seemed to me that you were a truly material and significant addition to the game community, a massive driver of loyalty, and incredibly important.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Total War: Warhammer—the factions, the units, the heroes

    It's getting a good deal of fanfare and buzz.

    I think Total War is probably a bit too sophisticated a system for PFO (ie it's a full game in it's own right), but the SCALE idea is I think a killer USP for PFO that is of course not part of the MVP phase - which regrettably is another problem PFO has to overcome to really "take off".

    At the RTS Scale I think PFO would have been able to proposition the game more closely to the design document and it would fit better the premise of the kickstarter.


    I was playing around with some numbers imagining the age cycle of characters.

    With Humans: 1-6 months = 10 years of age per month for basic working assumption and then using a slightly random dying of old age formula for 60-90 (ie months 7, 8, 9). A regeneration CYCLE locked for month 3 hence age 10 chars appearing in month 4 and workable (ie no kid chars). So you get a nice amount of time playing as chars for 6 months. Month 3 would be "Marriage Season!" New chars would be possible to create each month 3 cycle for new players joining the game and just use proxy progenitor chars BEFORE the actual chars are created - these in fact could be priming chars to "set up the chars" before they start as it were.

    Similar calcs could be done with variable regen time also but longer life-span for eg Elves, Dwarves as per the lore eg 12 months idk is 120 old for an elf: Could be approximated downwards to fit the year.

    => One of the most interesting basic assumptions that might "pop out" of defining the game in this way...

    You can break down the life-cycle into more or less 6 months. Each month represents 10 years.

    So 30 days ~av. = 3 days per Year of life. Those 3 days are 24hrsx3 = 72 hours

    Proportion of a year a human is "expected to work"

    You could break down 72Hrs (for humans):-

    * Heavy Labour work: % energetically possible of those 72Hrs afterwhich the char will take on injury and even perm. injury, exhaustion, chance of death from poor condition and the reverse optimal Heavy Labour working conditions, pattern, % of time.
    * Variable Other grades of work as befits (simulation and economy requirements!) using the basis above.
    * Some concession to regular players habits
    * Some scope for scripting routine tasts so "bots can be positively employed to add more simulation to the world while players are off-line but hitting caps given the calcs of "work done" via the above basis method.

    To remember, chars have limited skill-training "capacity" in-built. Secondly they have finite life-time to train and to work / do useful things with concordant skill-trained required level (for profit or positive execution of work). This all factors in in terms of:-

    1. Chars have total limit on economically energetic useful work possible
    2. Chars are fixed per player according to Sub of Family Size as well as marginal payment via a Plex like system and of course in-game gate-keeper access ie actual gameplay achievement/social progress
    3. Number of chars are limited to Regen cycle ie births
    4. Encourages more families to run -> increases subs or Sub variable size == matched by overhead of management of chars and time playing game to fee each player finds is comfortable for them.
    5. Could lead to interesting choices/management for players for gameplay and planning and conniving!
    6. Variations could be promoted per race as with breeding per race also - leading to more holistic representation of the races with their own quirks and cultures between players but can mingle/mix nonetheless as well as themed racial realms eg dwarfs mountains mines comes up a lot. And different cycles interacting in interesting ways eg long-life elves.

    I think getting a time-basis for work -> economy and numbers of families competing could be a very powerful basis for regulating the game's growth of economy. Rules could be added for marriages and locking assets to families -> clans. Social progression could be regulated via marriages and Fidelity systems between families and clans.

    Family-break-ups could be as interesting as "dynasties of families in power"!

    Goblin Squad Member

    Just to mention:-

    The bit to come to is the Drain statements: Now here's the interesting part, the Wilderness regions which are not secured with outposts or roads (the way to get to them) these are procedurally generated and randomly re-generated from time to time with devs adding new/different landscape (same biome) dungeons, mobs and other pitfalls and interesting things - as well as being a really large wilderness in total. This design is already being used in both CU and Crowfall to an extent. I'm fairly sure I recommended here long before they announced their plans. ;-)

    Of course many were coming up with procedural solutions for dynamic world creations long before:-

    Raph Koster: SWG’s Dynamic World

    Goblin Squad Member

    There's a PvP vid here Pathfinder Online - PvP+ by Nivia Rey

    From Golgotha.

    It does not look bad, a bit of polish lacking in the animations, but it does look very "samey" as previous mmorpgs I already played. The objects are like a playground where you can jump on top of to gain height and players float and bounce around. This all happened in other mmorpgs too. The graphics are nice and the skill-bar looks good too. I don't like the crescent moon gui on the characters at all.

    I think the idea for combat is like a deck of cards you choose your build. It's a good idea, but the above combat just looks like previous mmorpgs. What I'd suggest is instead of skills for combat being like choosing a deck of cards, you have a Family which then means when you play a role that's the card from the deck you play. What is potentially quite interesting is that at marriage you exchange "cards/characters" potentially add a skill-trained char that you did not have who can augment skill-training for the next gen chars - as well as random generation of stats for next gen perhaps with some bonus if the family specializes over a few generations in some skill-training etc. The interesting thing is mortality makes losing a card a genuine loss albeit with PvP more controlled it's not plagued by the griefer issues.
    It's also recoverable after a generation regen of new chars.

    Other forms of PvP for chars to "earn a buck" from:-

    * Tournies
    * Gladiatorial contests
    * Kidnapping and Ransom of characters / slaving
    * Bandits-Guards in the wild on caravans only but not in realms ie between
    * Barbarians creating their own settlements in the wild wilds FFA PvP community
    * Bounty-Hunters, Privateers, Assassins under special circumstances: Rare
    * Civil War feuds and Armies at War declaration between Realms
    * Alignment/Religious PvP if chosen

    Goblin Squad Member

    To elaborate on the PvE in the Wilderness...

    (Brendan Drain) For a PvE-only MMO, the cost of rapidly developing new zones, monsters, quests, and items could be prohibitive as players will complete the content in a fraction of the time it took to build. Developers could spend months working on a new dungeon and players can have it cleared within a day of release. Guild Wars 2 has made a fair attempt at this with its Living Story, though we don’t know how expensive that is and what the return on investment looks like for ArenaNet. And RuneScape has similarly been able to deploy frequent content updates over the years, but only because its simpler graphics and gameplay allow for more rapid content development than other MMOs. I guess the short answer on why nobody’s made a PvE-only MMO is probably that PvP is very cost-effective and repeatable content and that tacking it onto any functional PvE game is a good business decision.

    (Bryana Royce) But MMO PvE has grown stale, so developers are looking in new directions. If I want a pure PvE combat game, a single-player RPG is probably going to do it better anyway. Large-scale PvP, on the other hand, is something MMOs and only MMOs do well, so it only makes sense that new developers are turning to it as a way to revitalize the genre.

    (Eliot Lefebvre) Sure, EVE Online does it, but EVE also makes it possible for you to play large chunks of the game in relative safety and with little threat of PvP conflict; if you go out into nullsec, you’re taking a voluntary risk. So it’s be more fair to say that only a small percentage of players want to do everything in the game with the constant specter of looming PvP.

    This is what Ryan and GW team have been talking about.

    However I think a revision is in order for PFO:-

    Eliot points out the EVE idea of safe space. I think this is valid for PvE and the idea I propose is the PvE Wilderness around the "Realms Galaxies" Map Scale I mentioned in the other thread.

    Instead these should be thick with monsters and escalation mobs and their own routines that are death for characters unless they're adventurers or lots of guards too beating these things back. No PvP.

    Royce goes on how large-scale PvP is MMO and that's the RTS Battles Armies scale of PvP via Treaties.

    The bit to come to is the Drain statements: Now here's the interesting part, the Wilderness regions which are not secured with outposts or roads (the way to get to them) these are procedurally generated and randomly re-generated from time to time with devs adding new/different landscape (same biome) dungeons, mobs and other pitfalls and interesting things - as well as being a really large wilderness in total. This design is already being used in both CU and Crowfall to an extent. I'm fairly sure I recommended here long before they announced their plans. ;-)

    This is the PvE component of the game and the major PvP is the battles. With excpetional Pvp thrown in in "sandboxed containers" to elaborate over time with flag systems.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Saiph wrote:
    I cannot read all of your post material Avena, but I can tell you that Darkfall hasn't (and will probably never) have a huge sub base BECAUSE of its PvP system.

    I appreciate anyone read any of the posts, so thank you very much and taking the time to respond secondly, too. I think the combat quality itself and the actual context for that quality ie other player opponents > AI is what made DF + sandbox open-ness successful.

    What created a glass-ceiling is: Lack of polish and performance at launch months and then the inevitable ceiling with FFA PvP as the good are driven out by the bad and the ugly so to speak. Tharak is right, Mount & Blade, Deliverance Kingdom (solo player) visceral experience of a fantasy world with fewer players + sandbox or open worldness is going to succeed (see WOW combat core loop quote above). The other area is the hybrid of other genres, Total War is making a warhammer mod from the RTS pov and FPS is of course as above.

    One of the reasons I believe the RTS Scale is necessary fit for PFO, is not only the derivation from story, but also the "fit" for Pathfinder PnP/TT players matches too; with wider RP roles and Sim Life in large social network structures. Heroes are the Paladin above (rare Jedi equivalent and massive talking point pull feature) or the Legendary Generals ie PvP genuis tacticians who command the armies in battle and the fates of realms in their hands. Again players can feel like real heroes with their archetype classes going off on party adventures for fame and honour and harder and harder PvE dungeons - free of PvP.

    Bluddwolf wrote:
    I really wish Lee Hammock had just brought the PVP Flagging and Faction system over from Fallen Earth, if not mechanically at least in concept.

    [Preamble]Sounds interesting, the good result is the outline of systems then players organically veer in a direction and that gets reinforced by the devs over time tweeking with feedback? The way I'd do is sandboxing PvP into discrete containers then working on Flag Systems within each "sandboxed environment" so for example using the RTS Engine (aka Scale + Family System) you have Realms separated by large wilderness. This means the development can go ahead of multiple settlement types from small farmstead aka holdings, to local fortressed settlements aka Holdfasts to Strongholds aka city regional centers with loads of builds and peasant families working here.[/PREAMBLE]

    So with this each Family in the Realm sorta depends on their neighbours and the Fielty System but it's "intra-competition" to progress Families upwards so economically successful via harvesting/gathering then selling/processing/trading but % to direct overlord ie tax then that overlord has (larger Family (combo of sub and social progress in players) has to raise some of their chars as Soldiers who are levied by the higher lord still eg the Local Holdfast etc upwards to the realm.

    So you have politicing and positioning going on. There's your conflict and cooperation atst. Now on PvP which is combat conflict sub- the sandboxes come in. Soldiers or Guards can kill bandits who are banished characters from the realm or other realms and flagged for PvP. Those bandits can't trade, they can only get what they make and take. Basically that would be one sandbox version you could add various flags too. Chars might have bandits because they could if enough of them and good actually make a big killing and then they can give those gains to the family or black market them off etc.

    * So for example Adventurers would be either immune from bandits in PvE adventures or indeed much more powerful and make mince meat if attacked by bandits.
    * Another thing, Bounty-Hunters would be rare chars that hunt bandits so there's always an interesting dynamic of many bandits to few bounty-hunters and of course that cat-and-mouse.
    * The other sandbox would be the RTS armies and battles and under various Treaty flag sytem for starting and ending. High level of politics.
    * So I think flags can work but they need to be sandboxed into containers for specific contexts. Is the concept idea. Quick egs above.

    To clarify: With this system, it's deliberately NOT CLEAR which characters will be profitable and it depends on proportionality and conditions. This is the created by having a large cast of characters that any Family could invest in (more options for the Bigger Families who pay more sub and also need more social progress (in part by having more chars and more char options flexibility). Sometimes investing in chars will be a dead duck other times safe call and so on, but after each generation and mortality these decisins are being renewed and investments are being decided upon and acting upon via player experience and changeable conditions/circumstances and needs (social position). The Bandit might be a waste but then it could lead to a big economic gain too... The PvP however is sandboxed within these conditionals; the actual combat itself can be fairly simple, it's the context and decisions that make it rewarding and risky = and the players that organically make it happen or via their own actions peter out from time to time.

    Kobold Cleaver wrote:

    The one thing that I really worried about with PFO was that they were trying to please two demographics that were pretty much totally opposed to each other. The PnP crowd tended to see PvP as a "necessary evil" at best, and one they hoped to avoid. Some lingered and fought anyways, some left or failed to be active (such as myself), and some simply stay in the game and continue to do their best, both in play and in crowdforging, to avoid having to deal with fighting other players. They wanted PvE and crafting/gathering, and that's what they got. And currently, that's all we got.

    I feel like the PnP demographic just didn't transfer well to Fantasy EVE, for multiple reasons. I think Goblinworks tried to please everyone and ended up pleasing few.

    I think the digital mmorpg market was the intended market, the PnP market just not either transferable or big enough? If so, I think politically this is a mistake and philosophically too. The way to rectify this I believe is to take the Archetype Class System of Pathfinder at the RTS Scale and include under the 4th Pillar of "Adventure" immune to PvP because PvP is sandboxed into containers. The concept would have to be changed for their purpose in the game:-

    1. Vast Wilderness Exploration: What I'd do is make other characters easily die in the Wilderness and leave it to the Party of Adventurers for PvE here eg Monster slaying (various alignments) and long time away from civilization with specialists living out here:-

    A. Barbarian Settlements (different culture)
    B. Rangers guiding others out here (some skill thing to do this)
    C. Druids extracting info out here.

    Literally without roads it's almost no-go (you're ripped apart by some horror of a monster) or can't-go (too slow impassable, run out of food and rations and die).

    2. Dungeons: Here the roguelike style is employed with systems from Torchbearer / Darkesest Dungeon but roguelike party style and of course mortality is par for the course.

    The link up is some sort of honour for the family if they're successful to boost their social position and possibly some magics are needed to fuel some sort of building eg temple or other in the realm for some super function eg magical defense or dragon rearing - you name it... At this scale you do the old tile-set vision and the combat system tree could be worked on over time in isolation too for TT or whatever it is that fits PF players ideas about this best some computer version of d20...

    But again it's sandboxed in it's own system.

    * No PvP
    * Full Class Party System
    * Dungeon runs
    * WIlderness Exploration and hanging out adventures
    * Link in with Family and Realm functions for Family's to make investing here worth it (fun and progression).
    * Mortality ensures match of investment of chars fits risk and reward.

    Big Take Home: Reconcile Pathfinders Roots and community with new digitial overlay of the KINGMAKER CAMPAIGN of Exploration (some overlap) Development and Domination.

    And there's a design upside to sandboxing this system too: The combat system can be more complex, more balanced and more directly transferable given the matching context it's intended to be designed for - the complex multi-class tree and exp bloat of vets nightmare is removed!

    Secondly and equally important to state: You know wormholes are a success because they allow chars in EVE to do their own thing at that scale of small party/solo. Same with Adventurers who are especial proportionally rare chars anyway or should be!!!!

    Goblin Squad Member

    I honestly think changing the scale then changing the Family structure at the heart of player agency on the world and other players (ie drilling back up high-levels will resolve problems at lower-levels eg pvp systems). An example of this recently casting his mind back Raph Koster's blogging on:-

    Raph Koster on SWG/Pvp Flag System:

    TEF stands for Temporary Enemy Flagging. We knew when doing a Star Wars game that we needed to be able to account for the scenarios in the movies. This makes for a tricky problem

    On top of that, we knew that PvP was, well, fatiguing. Given that we were limiting each account to having a single character (for lots of reasons, including PvP, actually), making players have to pick a side, never change, and be always vulnerable, felt like a big ask. The spirit of the game was all about changing your character up over time, and trying new things, so a system of permanent choice for PvP felt wrong.

    The original proposal for a PvP system in SWG was actually something called Outcasting.

    Some of this was inspired by how the late Jeff Freeman had run his UO gray shard

    So it was abandoned in favor of a new system, what came to be known as Temporary Enemy Flags

    The problem is, what’s the list of stuff that can trigger the flag?

    On the other hand, “making mistakes with your flagging” as this quote puts it, happened all the time. Saying it was “impossible to be griefed” is just not correct.

    Why was the TEF system removed?

    Too many edge cases, basically. Helpful actions got to be very… subtle.

    The audience is now large enough that you can make a business out of a game like that, and can feel free to alienate hundreds of thousands of players. But when we were designing SWG, we were thinking that there were only a million MMORPG players in the entire Western world. We couldn’t target a niche that way.

    Long long ago, I stated that “the future of MMOs is ‘PvP'” and I think I was absolutely right. But my point was that there are many ways of putting players into competition.

    Notably SWG also uses what again I'm calling the EQ/WOW Engine. He actually hits the key words/groups:-

    * Single Character - single account
    * PvP is one form of competition
    * Aligning story and mechanics (unity of aesthetic)
    * The rabbit-hole of PvP corner/edge cases...
    * Estimating what the market could currently cope with

    All these lessons are pertinent to the thread subject by the OP. I think that is very clear. Now to extend the conversation in the direction I think has a future:-

    Here's Raph Koster on Jedis and SWG and let's get a solution for this for once and for all:-

    On Heroes and combat balance:

    You see, Jedi are an immense attractant to players, readers, viewers.

    Except that of course, you quickly realize that by comparison, everyone else sucks.

    — and trying to figure out what the heck to do with Jedi.

    We would offer a Jedi system that effectively gave a different way to play the game. A method that kept Jedi rare, powerful, and yet allowed everyone a shot.

    Every player would have a special character slot available to them, distinct and parallel from their regular character. This character would be locked into one profession, one class: Jedi. They’d start out weak as a kitten though, untrained in combat or anything, and with barely any Force abilities at all. Luke without womprat-shooting experience maybe.


    Professions fell out. The designer who was doing the skill trees couldn’t manage to lick the problem of trees that were of varying sizes and interconnected in unique ways; originally, the trees were all different, and there were “surprise” professions that might appear if you mastered two skills from disparate professions, more like a skill web.

    There's some really important lessons Raph has "seen almost / almost seen":-

    * A real Hero = rare, powerful, popular
    * He almost designed a special character slot for this role (!see Family System)
    * The skill-training tree became very complex and unwieldy = eternal balance issues as well as of course immortal character bloat problems

    I think I've given the correct answers to 2nd, 3rd points. The first point on Jedi, here's the answer and it's going to be built on the RTS-Scale Family-System Engine I proposed for PKO (PFO!):-

    * Paladin is the equivalent of Jedi.
    * Limited proportions per Realm
    * Huge Family influence can only access this special class
    * Throw in the alignment choices specific to PFO
    * Requires high development of associated deities to make the possibility activated
    * The Families themselves are high LG in their cumulative score of all their character's actions is social progression + merit system progression

    Bingo: You have an uber hero with special powers: Who is mortal too.

    Again Bigger Families ties into higher sub fees for initial chance to access higher influence and growth of these families to influence the realm (ties into payment/pricing system). A lot of Roles could be developed/deployed in this approach.

    Obviously the role of the Paladin Char is super-do-goodin' with special powers (and a penchant against undead if got that right). A major PvP enforcer/arbiter etc in the realm. The good deeds probably even power some supernatural temple thing too etc...

    Goblin Squad Member

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    @Tharak Venethorn -

    Politics of Marketing:
    I think Mbando identified something fundamental, with his "Rhetorical Challenge Facing PFO" question. This actually addressed the Day 1 challenge for PFO's design:-

    1. Fantasy EVE = FFA PvP draw
    2. Pathfinder PnP draw

    It's the one thing I always found a bit strange with Ryan's approach going via a lean development model; which has this incompatibility in it above. I suspect the numbers of 1 (sandbox mmorpgs) made 2. pale in comparison and/or the data suggest 2. don't cross over much anyway?

    And we see that with the KS, that the PnP crowd merely wanted the excellent quality stash on offer and not the game. This was always disconcerting and the feeling of disquiet I felt about this never went away.

    However only very recently that disquiet feeling has bubbled up into verbalization and hence I am able to express with reasoning the implications that will impact on the market reaction to PFO...

    I did not realize the implications of how "political" the mmorpg player market is in it's reactions and grapevine of mmorpgs, if you're making these thinigs. I always viewed this as "excessively high whinging levels in this genre" which is probably true, but atst to treat the broad range of players like political voters to capture, that is the way to get the right feedback on making a mmorpg succeed. Ryan pointed out they've done no marketing but I think the problem is there is already a constituency of players who are against PFO because it's core market has not been convinced.

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    I feel like you have a lot of good ideas Avena, though due to their length they might be better expressed as a sound file or video. Lol

    Yeah I'm really sorry about that to anyone/everyone. Appreciate how deathly dull and counter-productive wall of text is to successful communiation.

    If I had time it would be worth compiling all the ideas into summary article for creating "the next really big virtual world, after EVE".

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    The factors I'm seeing that make Crowfunded titles succesful

    I think your observations match here: The Crowfall Budget Question

    Interestingly I read a quote in a forum elsewhere:-


    Can't remember where I heard the interview, but it was a Blizzard designer talking about how in WoW they first made just the hero, the mobs, and some minimal content and messed with it until the act of killing monsters alone was fun. Quests, exploration, lore, social interaction was all built on top of the fact that the basic mechanics were viscerally satisfying.

    The question of whether your core loop is fun or not is a question you should return to over and over again.

    There's selection bias because I'm looking for this, but it holds true for the EQ/WOW Engine mmorpgs which I'm going to include Crowfall and EQN in. Like the article concerning the gravitational pull dynamic of WOW changing into a Black Hole from newer mmorpgs siphoning off it's energy!

    Now turning around coming back once again to this thread's subject and again using a comment from a forum elsewhere to use to illustrate the point and distinction being made:-

    If you do your MMO right, you don't need an AI for this. Players will fill the roles. Provide the right incentives and I guarantee players will stay in town and RP an innkeeper instead of fighting monsters. First key mistake many MMOs make is assume everyone is interested primarily in combat, with perhaps a hobby or two of crafting.

    From these 3 observations:-

    1. PvP and political market
    2. Combat and Core gameplay loop quality
    3. Game Design Focus of player interactions

    These are the major areas that PFO I think is going to struggle. This thread itself goes down the Pvp rabbit-hole that goes deeper and deeper.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    @Bluddwolf and Avena. If you look at the subscriber numbers for Wurm, Mortal, and Darkfall you have the numbers for games that will drag on without shutting down, continually improving but doing so at a rate too slow to ever catch up with their competitors. I think at least Darkfall was somewhere in the 10k sub region so that's really what it takes to not have a backwards title like Mortal that gets more outdated as time goes on. And that was during a time where their only real competition was EVE. I wouldn't be surprised if those titles started to shut down as some of the newer ones hit the market. Even EVE itself may suffer greatly from the release of Star Citizen.

    I suspect DF got good number due to less PvP Sandbox games, it's actually got more visceral combat and a good feature list.

    And this makes me come back to the big danger for PFO:-

    1. Combat
    2. PvP

    What would I do? Well if the scale was different as said, and if hence this derived Family System hence and if that led to limited skill-training per character per lifetime and simple limited slots (as well as function of limited time ie capacity) then some chars in Families could be trained up to be the Pathfinder Adventurer Classes.

    If again from SCALE we have pockets of realms interspersed with huge swathes of wilderness (buffers of the end-game armies and also for trade reasons) and also community building reasons then these adventurers can do:-

    1. Dungeons
    2. Monster Hunter wilderness 101 PvE

    It's do-able that the only PvP threat they come across is not other adventurers (though that could be quirked upon via exception rules) but bandits who'd be much lower ability ie on a level with guards for trade caravans.

    In such a set-up I think PvP could be controlled successfully so people who want to "pve heroically" can do so unmolested.

    Coming back to territory, soldiers and workers. These characters can interact. Soldiers can be "given to control" by the higher up status players to marshall in units around player lower status families running workers to run outposts and such like.

    What you'd need then is intrusion could lead to capture or combat and death with rivals but also breaking of treaties which could lead to escalation and potentially breaking of all Treaties of the offending players so other groups could invade or some elaborate treaty system to keep low-level skirmish at the right periodic level before it escalates to war decs.

    But I think PvP can be reigned in more successfully using the Family and character spread of functions more effectively than what PFO is trying to achieve atm with x1 char multi-classing. I mean the whole system doesn't even fit the above concept of kingdoms at war and kingdoms being built. And that's due to being bolted-on to x1 char that does everything.

    In a sense you sort of want the emergent complexity of eusocial insects such as ants emerging with different castes doing different functions.

    To add, imo, I don't believe "most players want to play heroes" what they want is their characters to do creative things that change things that pleases the player in a very personal way - this is exactly what Minecraft achieves and I even asked my nephews' young friends what is was about that game they liked and that was the answer I think I successfully managed to summarize out of their "Idk... it's sort of... jumble of things/anecdotes that they wanted to talk about that they did that they thought was special/really funny/scary/skillful etc... ."

    This comes back to an assumption Ryan made before:-

    These games do not succeed because most people want to be heroes to begin with, not "work up" to it by leading a mundane life in a simulated world first.

    Again this is an insight worth remembering:-

    Ideally we will have some things that you can do very early in your character's life that will meaningfully contribute to the success of your group in PvP.

    So I think if you have a Family system each player is focusing on that as "their group" eg their holdings, their various skill-training to complement the Family assets then making the best connections with other families and at higher social levels providing soldiers/militia (via their own taxes on lower social families). So there's working in one's own group, among your neighbour groups and above and above. It also allows different families to concentrate depending on the scale and size of investment of gameplay they want to do on pvp or no pvp and even outsourcing pvp eg soldiers sending off for the pvp big shot players to manage and patrol.

    Another quote:-

    The logical way to play EVE is to do something as soon as you can do it, not wait until you can do it perfectly. During the time you're training to do it perfectly, you'll be learning how to actually use those ships and modules that you're training for. So when you get them, you'll be able to use them at a high level of proficiency. And you have all the fun of actually playing the game along the way.

    This presupposes the "bloat in skill-training" ie unequal stats but it's a trade off of vets > newbs because player $ => skill-training = Time(investment) => return on power increase/variety in game => economic impacts and hence success.

    However I think if Family System is employed at the lower levels certain roles/careers skill-training (call it peasant level for arguments sake) are accessible for these chars of small Family 2-3? maybe x1 PF archetype Class I'd go for rogue to choose an illicit path to steal from nearby families (internal parasitism is necessary to climb the greasy pole)... anyway the point is: they can make economic gains for the Family to get better infrastructure and assets for their family eg buy land to make a small farm or other economic activity as the basis for the game (lots of players here). At higher sub level bigger family and access to more roles more adventure class roles... but also more ability for their family to social progress which itself is a gate to more important roles higher up... that's the new loop of progression instead of the above one of "char power bloat". It's based on time/money investment -> opportunity => social progression = Access to more roles involved with interacting with other players hierarchically.

    At the higher and higher level of large Family, new functionality wouldl be needed to allow several Families to share their Families everyhthing logging in as who as they please. This opens the door to more integregration and efficiency but also to "take-overs" by different factions within different families and hence "civil war". This could be at large scale and via many marriages.

    Finally, to loop back to what I think players really want, Ryan said again somewhere:-

    Gah can't find the Tome Of Knowledge quote (gah! just lost the write up here which was magisterial fuuu)... but coming back to what players want out of these games the sequence of events that produce emotions that then when combined into coherent story creation become "experiences"; and that is not only reserved for "heroic" stories but for a huge range of events over characters'life times and how those interact and impact on each other and shared events are interpreted by different characters for good or bad...

    Take 2: Effectively using Families and extended functionality (eg automated recording of the players' screenshots and stats) for the player to then after a game session write up a journal of their characters lives and record this during their life-times... you are growing the story of the characters lives and histories and collecting this for others to read and enjoy. This to me of "Post Hoc" sstory creation is the essence of these virtual worlds successfully being realized as living and breathing (both in the simulation of the code) but also in the minds and shared culture of the participating players of the game.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Ah righto, those numbers, I think PFO could be quite sticky if it hits 10k. But it's another question to then get that forward momentum from there and then how long to the full design doc vision?

    As said PFO is seen as a PvP Combat game. So the combat has to be high quality and then the PvP has to square the circle of being satisfying via consequences eg full loot and item destruction and be tethered so that it does not consume the whole game-play of other players.

    For all those reasons, as much as I like PvP I think it's going to detract from PFO's appeal to more of the market.

    What you want is a world. In that world you want characters doing interesting things such as building up base with multiple functions for all to use to progress.

    From that "investment positive" gameplay you want danger and challenge to that eg PvP or I'd suggest the treat of as much as the actual occurance. Then players band together to invest in defence... but I think players want opportunities to make a living eg farming, lumbering, mining, trading, transporting, hunting, fishing and so on.

    Defence should be soldiers not any of the above. Think of the levy of taxes on the peasant families to their uppers and then the uppers of soldiers to their liege lord. At each point of the chain, each is concerned with their own preoccupations which chains upwards to defence of the realm spending and force projection - and prestige!

    * PvP comes in in Soldiers through battles.
    * Bandits through outcasts
    * In the wilds ways away from realms (big -> huge map) ie space between realms
    * assassins at very high dev level and extreme expense and rarity proportion

    So I think,

    1. The Economic Game
    2. The Social Game
    3. The Adventurers Game
    4. The Do My Own Thing Game (wilderness, exceptions etc)
    5. The Combat Game

    PvP imo is the curve ball part of the game thrown in to disrupt and unsettle things. Eg werewolves are perfect example of this: Look at that full moon... Hmmm! One night of inconvenience.

    Taking a panoramic view: If players see footage of the ecosystem of the above, settlements and adventurers and so on, it's like SimCity Pathfinder Online but with the Game Of Thrones battles of RTS thrown in... then we add loads of great monsters from the lore in the wilds for PvE and the SuperDungeon Emerald Spire and do it roguelike (small party chars)...

    With the current game, it's all about PvP Sandboxes => Murder Sims and is the combat any good anyway? And it costs $15 per month in alpha...

    Goblin Squad Member

    Look at this question in 2 ways:-

    1. Market
    2. Gameplay

    1. Market

    With the 2m estimate for the sandbox mmorpg market and PFO needing 10k, it's a 1:200 ratio, but if you add more titles competing:-

    Say 10 for argument's sake: it's down another factor/order to 1:20 which sounds an altogether taller order ie tighter competition in this space...

    In a tight race it's the small differences that cumulatively add up that make or break the positive growth cycle (or boom in subs/acs if some games are lucky): I think that will hinge on:-

    2. Gameplay

    Looking at all the titles in those engines demo vids I posted, I think most of them are all actiony gameplay with big graphics stimulation and rapid attention-alternation feedback.

    Imho, the sandbox mmorpgs from the above list all vie in this area with each other too and the ones that do the better combat will win the race.

    This was the case with before WOW came out vs Warhammer (Climax, designer Tuomas Pirinen who attempted to design the warhammer PnP RPG - neither RvR nor Themepark) and there were other mmorpgs going for the title too.) I think the same battle will be fought with the same result just over 10 years later despite the stronger vision of PFO.

    PnP => Trance
    Book => Imagination
    MUD => Simulation
    MMORPG => Representation
    MMO-VR/FPS => Participation

    PKO (as it should be called!) needs to fit more between MUD->MMORPG. The other mmorpgs are going forwards to VR from Representation closer and closer to Participation (eg FPS). The vision of SWG and UO where players happily would become shop-keepers, entertainers, inn-keepers etc as well reigning in the powermongers (imho this should be via the building of Family Social Progression unlocking towards soldiers/battles of units of armies of lords between realms). What you want is inter-Family Conflict and jostling for position in realms (distanced from each other). IE Power is derived from Social progression web and depends on it's shaky/shifting and multiply erupting problems of loyalty!

    In a realm you'd not get players running amok at the drop of a hat - so don't allow it.

    You can apportion these behaviours via cost of Family members -> outcast if a player wants to experience playing this role. They have limited Family members per generation and secondly must secure the next generation to persist (ie gates).

    Goblin Squad Member

    Just to add to the above: A Marriage System could:-

    * Secure next generation of characters "being generated".
    * Can swap one player's one character m/f with another player's character f/m in an exchange of characters between families
    * A social progression "weapon/path" for players via influence/allegiance system
    * A method to ostracize players into being unable to "generate their next generation of characters"
    * The mechanism with which "rolling new characters" with semi-random and semi-selected traits
    * Creates Family Trees for stories and history and relatedness


    Anyway the above 1st part = graphics ; 2nd part = Story with continuation (specific feature extension description) in this post added above.

    What's the point?

    I just peeked at Crowfall musing that the Archetypes they have have "character progression". Actually from the little I looked at you know what they have: Combat progression not Character progression. When you look at it in this way comparing to the above I think it helps hit home. I was just also looking at how enticing combat is when it is FPS Fantasy combat, an example: Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide | Pre-Alpha Sneak Peek Trailer | GDC 2015 . That combat looks awesome and in an IP I enjoy a lot.

    I think there's 2 huge problems with PFO atm:-

    1. Combat
    2. PvP

    I think the above makes the point about combat-avatars vs character-avatars. If using the marriage example above, this can be a form of competition (who gets to marry up) and conflict (which Family gets ostracized and can't marry). The Economy works in similar indirect way and that's good too. The Fielty System would again work this way. having a suite of characters again opens up possibilities for interactions and relations (eg: death and soul returning (rare), hostage and ransoming, murder and mortality, banishment, dishonour to the Family) and so forth.

    Coming back to Combat:-

    1. Quality: Is it fun?
    2. Focus: Can I avoid it? Do other things?
    3. How much of the game dev has spent on combat vs other gameplay?

    Now onto PvP:-

    1. PFO ticks all the boxes for a PvP mmorpg in perception (Open world, loot, combat focus, erasing of territory by big guilds etc)
    2. It's considered content when PvE content is too pricey and not catered to such an extent as Themeparks normally do. And given the combat focus of conflict above... the writing is painted red on the wall.

    Here's one of Ryan's previous comments on this:-

    I'm increasingly worried that the messages coming out of the community don't match what will actually happen in game, and the disconnect between what people hear, and what they experience, will cause blowback. So I'm trying to be blunt when asked this question directly:

    "Will I get killed regularly in Pathfinder Online by other players?"

    The answer to this question is "yes you will".

    American football is not a game about tackling, but tackling happens on almost every play. Pathfinder Online is not a game about killing other players, but your character will be killed by other players regularly.

    Pathfinder Online is a game about conflict. One mode of conflict is combat. It will be the primary mode of conflict as Early Enrollment begins. Suggesting otherwise creates a false impression of what the game will be like that will potentially cause a huge problem as we launch.

    Our goal, as developers, and our goal, as a community, needs to be to work to make those conflicts meaningful rather than random, and we need to work to identify, and remove, players who only want to inflict meaningless deaths on other players "just for the lulz". But we owe it to ourselves and to the game to be upfront and honest when people ask us if they're going to face character death at the hands of other players. Because they will.

    I think it's already an argument on "how severe will PvP be" as it's already into the conversation due to combat focus of conflict. Edit: Coincidence or Serendipity: 2 minutes ago?

    And then you're left with those who want to PvP and THAT to be good quality...

    Cut to the chase: So on the one hand, PFO is drawing in the PvP crowd then on the other hand it has to convince players that it's not "PvP-focused" but combat focused "you will die (at the hands of other players" THEN it sells itself as Pathfinder Online to Pathfinder TT players...

    Mbando called this "The Rhetorical Challenge" of PFO. Well here's where I think the answer to that challeng lies, in both name and in design:-

    Pathfinder's Kingmaker Online (PKO)

    You're actually telling players what this SCALE of game is tending towards and if you actually follow that scale faithfully, you de-emphasize singular avatar combat (and hence pvp) as just a important sub-set amongst a big group of such systems that combine together to produce the Vision: "Kingmaker" as per the Campaign from the TT (see above link: Is Kingmaker right for you? A (nearly) spoiler-free evaluation).

    To test this theory, there was an article over at Massively OP: The Daily Grind: Would you play a Game of Thrones MMO?

    Just read the comments, from I presume mmorpg players of various mmorpgs... you get the distinct impression of the sum total of their collective impressions and visions:-

    1. GoT => WOW mmorpg aka Themepark IP
    2. GoT => EVE mmorpg aka "Murder Simulator 101
    3. GoT => BLANK!!!

    If I'm not mistaken all the comments assume the EQ/WOW Avatar Engine of experiencing such a story/world. MMORPG = EQ/WOW mmorpg tropes of:-

    * Combat avatar perspective
    * Progression system derived
    * Combat mechanics derived
    * Rule-Sets that work around these...
    * Fluff/World environment at this scale to experience for the player

    I think the match I'm trying to make here is:-

    Kingmaker and Game Of Thrones both match in SCALE OF STORY attempted? It also appears to me that to realize Fantasy (earthbound) at this scale and complexity successfully the graphics need to be simplified to approximate appropriately at this scale?

    TL;DR Full apologies for the old record impersonation; think the discussion has finally connected full-circle ("the circle is complete" !). The Name, The Design, The Implementation... the harmony of components; just the market that remains a stickler!

    Goblin Squad Member

    True, it's "too late for PFO to change track" and as said too risky given the market info that's observable.

    When you watch videos of Unity 5, CryEngine4 and Unreal Engine (latest v.)

    Unity 5 Highlight Reel - GDC 2015

    CRYENGINE Licensee Trailer – GDC 2015

    Unreal Engine 4 - GDC 2015 Features Demo Trailer

    it's easy to see why.

    PFO if it works will be an MMO-Kingdom-Building sim. EVE pretty much a grand RTS strategy game but on the MMO scale successfully. One of the things that doesn't work for me with the avatar EQ/WOW system is the playing jogging all over the place; the pace of the game and density of player characters and model landscape all don't work for me in mmorpgs, they feel fake and it loses immersion. I also think the pace is wrong for a game that's intended to be played for a long time as well as of course looking graphically inferior to the above examples. Even Life Is Feudal or Gloria Victus let alone Kingdom Deliverance or Bless etc "look more real/immersive".

    I even think the pricing structure is going to work better for PFO adopting the Family structure -

    The Pyramid Social Structure of Peasant Families -> Minor Barons/Dukes -> Lords -> Overlord(s) in Kingdoms in maps as per the pattern expressed above ie for any major battle huge armies need to march and logistic to "pass the large gaps" between realms sub-systems with the peasant families micro-systems. Fielty via the above too ie Families locked into Loyalty to a particular "upper" above them.

    The sub system in conjunction with the social progression system unlocking the higher career roles only eg Overlords gain taxes from peasants in their main city this cost is needed as well as title as well as infrastructure from city/castle for certain buildings, functions only those players can access ie rule.

    I think working on these social systems is the key with appropriate grading of pricing structure. Rogues would only come from Peasant families for instance... and would spend time thieving in cities from buildings leading to city militia AI guard provision by rulers or not... eg alignment and rules.

    The other thing: It helps with the population perception, each player being more of a manager of a team with their own social ladder to climb to power and lands and running estates if they get higher from peasants running profitable going concerns eg land rent from the peasants to pay for soldiers who are bound to their immediate upper lord only.

    With the londer distances, The Inns/Taverns on the roads become major high-way refuelling centers and rest/overnight centers. With Clerics healing and disease etc are important as well as Temples for bringing back some souls rarely. Or on battlefields some of the fallen % may be injured minor or major and then check see final survivors %. Given caste of characters you can also have kidnapping and ransom...

    I'm not sure how difficult getting bards to do music would be as small chars:

    Playing a tune might boost a moral meter or such ,making more productive (in work) or effective (in combat)

    Rangers might be scouts for armies and move normally over heavy terrain with other chars slowing to a snails pace...

    These feel like characters "playing a role". Instead I think the multi-class skill-training system PFO has for x1 char and sub for alts again, is going to end up with having to fit into one enormous system and each needing to be effective for worth of investment from players paying 15$ a month.

    For example, having small chars go to the inn get drunk and activate unarmed pvp where the little chars are beating each other senseless - some players might go too far and beat prone bodies that then die fuelling aggro in the community. The chars/workers go to the inn if worked too hard/too long to "cool off" and that's when the trouble begins.

    The other big thing is food supplies and production and consumption. This should be a major initiative to running everything else and storing during Winter and so on as well as guarding from sheep rustlers trying steal sheep to sell elsewhere. Hopefully sheep will cost a fair bit. I like the idea of players creating a Farmer's Union for pricing their food in the markets. A poor harvest (rainy Summer) could affect prices too.

    Goblin Squad Member

    I'd be best going for a quick cycle ride letting the answer spin in my head before replying... but. To begin with: PFO's design is awesome in the majority, why I backed, why I'm writing all this (apologies if anyone read it and felt wearied!). Eg the contract system instead of quests, single server economic system, player-run factions & settlements etc.

    But 2 areas stood out at the time as bothersome:

    1. The EQ/WOW engine or "look" or indeed "scale" and TT combat is the standard in that.
    2. The immortality of the characters - (1)"tis the way the mmorpg market went" as how Ryan put it once. Also the issue of connections over networks leading to loss of investment not good for players or business (2)

    I think 9/10ths GW has got right. But I fear the 1/10th remaining from the old mmorpg above is going to sink the good ship Goblin Works. That's already many 10th's more than other mmorpgs were able to do.

    Anyway to address 1. SCALE was suggested. What got me on this path was both feedback from EE and own impressions, also the fact it seems so much harder to get anything sandboxy that is a good idea to "breathe life into the world" implemented in these EQ/WOW Engine mmorpgs. There's many ideas to make it really compelling story experience that can't be done to due to cost of assets/art/graphics and complexity in the systems.

    The design also smacks more of RTS...

    2. The immortality trope of mmorpgs and skill-training works but the bloat of (3) "vets can never be caught" as well as the (4) flip-flopping of capstone vs multi-classing if you remember (squaring that circle)... it doesn't feel right. (5) It's also => Tab-Target Combat where like a deck of cards the players must evaluate what the other players have got etc to be tactical and fun... which again seems to me to be a helluva lot of work; I remember all the travails of WAR and GW2 over trying to get classes and combat right balance... oh dear.

    However what got me onto families was the RTS SCALE naturally derives it. It fits. (6) Then it matches what George RR Martin's been doing and fits the scale of his stories... which reminds me also of (7) Crusader Kings II... here generation cycles come in, as well as marriages for connections between families, but also the subject of PvP and combat and serving what the types of players want; by having families it can de-emphasize this issue and introduce the (8) "Medieval Management Sim life" over the skill in competitive combat emphasis and appeal to more player types atst as allowing combat via: (9) RTS Armies for high status players (ie big and important families) and for (10) adventurers in the party system which can then have set context and hence complex puzzle combat added for these specialist classes from the PF TT game.

    Finally we come back to the biggie (11) Mortality (it connects up lots of things: recycling of player power into economic assets and gameplay gains and hence choices and consequences of good and bad investments (Littlefinger!)) but also shedding the load on x1 toon and encouraging players during play sessions to experience different PAR/RP of different characters (12).

    This can all be done via The Family System.

    Start here!

    randomwalker wrote:

    I still don't understand the Family concept clearly:

    Are you suggesting each player (or account) plays a family consisting of one/few adventurers and a cast of support characters? (Or do you mean players should form families and share resources/rep/etc?)

    In RTS games they seem to go for a war game of armies. This scale is too specific and too pacey/large) for PFO per player it's too impersonal too. Whereas the EQ/WOW scale I feel is too demanding for fantasy (it seems FPS/Space can go in this direction but at cost): In between The Family System fits just about. You have personal connection/commitment and story (eg adventurers and more) but also spreading your class/career/ training into different characters to enjoy a wider gameplay experience and de-emphaze just combat. It also segues into Social Progression systems:-

    * Fielty System of providing soldiers to Lords
    * Marriage System in order to generate a new generation and hold "influence" in the family system itself "marrying up or among equals"
    * Potentially some inherited Family attributes to the new chars generated (future dev)
    * Fits a different Pricing model for GW small family to large (Time/Money) etc and potentially Family status changes access to different careers in the Realm/Kingdom system.
    * Hopefully at this scale more players can experience running stuff for their family eg Holdings, Holdfasts, Strongholds (you could have the Strongholds with city below for those underling families not given titles and lands to squabble their way upwards from the city slums of ordinary merchants/farmers etc... at the lower sub level.

    Answer Each Player runs a Family of a number of characters of the same Family Name (a suite of alts effectively). This allows players to play more rolls and specialize in skill-training to economically progress (leave cash for next gen and invest in assets) and social progression (see above) and ats Power Progression higher up (eg if Titles and Lands can produce Soldiers etc). Tbh the "how" is big to work out but according to the Sub system of pricing different levels of size of family and different access to skill-training going upwards ie cooler roles = bigger sub needed!! Basic roles all kingdoms need smaller families, lower sub price. The plex system could discount some of the above over time of course marginally but in the main a good pricing sytem).

    The idea of different players running a family is cool, but if the Scale is RTS I think each player works at that foundation unit. If the Family Concept were taken for PFO as it presently stands... Idk... maybe it could work, the aesthetic unity is kinda wonky though^1 (see all the above connections eg combat)...

    randomwalker wrote:
    Are you suggesting this for PFO, or for "the ideal game" that may never be?

    I would suggest as per spoiler above 9/10ths PFO is there, the remaining 1/10th I feel at least in design it's lacking in SCALE and hence in AVATAR representation ie Family unit instead of solo Character unit. But I fear it's too late to change this far into dev for PFO and indeed the market is so risky can well accept Ryan's response above.

    randomwalker wrote:

    There's certainly interesting ideas around. The permadeath/heir system in the old Pendragon RPG (and still-in-dev Salem) comes to mind, as does of course Sims and Crusader Kings. But those are very different types of games, and I don't quite see your vision for how families would work in an MMO.

    Shared banking, rep and last name across all alts I can understand and see some merit in. Having alt slots be something you earn in-game could be an interesting idea.

    Hopefully the above context (verbiage ahh, at least numbered) helps? It all derives and supports quite holistically I feel. One of things not listed above (13) automate some of the characters doing repetitive tasks via eg LUA scriping AI eg sending merchant caravans along long long roads could be automated - the distance is deliberately punishingly long and dangerous and vast. Or other such things - allowing players to manage atst as micro-manage ie sometimes actually play one character to high detail too. more stories and emotions and playstyles hopefully per player as well as variations eg bandit outlaw could be ostracized from Family and play solo or in other outlaw groups in the wilds with rules KOS (AI?) and so forth... well beyond the actual description here.

    Yeah the conversion of player's spending skill-training on:-

    * Characters (limited per lifetime and skills learn per char)
    * Limited by social status
    * limited by pricing model chosen (Time-Money investment balance)
    * Converted into useful work done -> gains in game for the Family eg next and marriage and land/property got and bank balance(!) and heirlooms etc
    * It ensures players can do teh social useful chars for their player communities and specialize chars for fun or personal profit (scheming) better than the solo char skill-training and buying heaps of alts.

    I also hazard saying it breaks out of the shadow of WOW; read this earlier:-

    What happens when a game accretes so much mass that it dominates a genre, though? Sometimes these super-massive projects manage to find their own stasis and live long and productive lives, as you can see from the continued success of World of Warcraft. Eventually something will come along to syphon off a bit of WoW’s energy, though. When that happens, the explosion will be much larger than with SWG, but not even an explosion that large will eject all the mass the monster has gathered over the years.

    WoW will likely finish its life as a super-massive black hole, a singularity large enough to attract other games to circle in its gravity well. WoW will continue to define the shape and behavior of our industry long after it’s gone. Frankly, I’d call it a very noble finish to a very powerful game.


    TL;DR Sorry for the long reply and meandering (off to cycle now!) if you take one thing away take this: Family System should encourage (Lucky 14!) "Sim Medieval-Fantasy Management of caste of characters^2 (per player and per communities) small lives producing stories either idiosyncratically or socially and hopefully adding to the games's shared culture and history that player can share.

    1: When your thinking hits a groove, the flow seems to come from the groove, and hence it does not feel right to leave the groove!

    2: With the Family Scale, each character is born from marriage, is young and starts skill-training (stats could be rolled and some inherited) their bio could be filled in in part by players to hand-craft them, they experience stuff and could die horribly, they marry and raise new generation (possibly abstracted on a crop cycle for the game?! but meaningful length of life per generation (idk 6months to roll the ball) during that time the seasons change, crops grow, buildings are developed, disease may occur, the cycles of life and simulation of fantasy world ebbs and flows...

    Goblin Squad Member

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    PFO needs to find it's reason for people to log in. That was originally PvP but if you're going to use PvP you really need to focus on it until it's amazing and if not pick something else. But right now your most unique aspect is that you are a sandbox (kind of) with a fantasy theme, and the number of "fantasy sandbox MMO" games that are out there is growing by the day.

    This is the money-quote.

    I think PvP is simply too divisive as well as proportionally too small to make PFO both marketable against the grain and immediately attractive to wider market drawing from several different player bases.
    What's the DESIGN GOAL? IE what experience is PFO trying to create for players?

    Strangely enough I cannot help but notice that George RR Martin's Game Of Thrones is partly so interesting compared to many other fantasy novels because at it's heart he's changed the SCALE of the narrative so successfully.

    When I read these books I was over-awed in several ways:-

    1. Characters do realistic and interesting things - and die.
    2. Major identity of characters is their Family and Family-Family relations
    3. These all SCALE up to regions, kings and courts, battles and across time and even further - all from the time of death of Jon Arryn, and maybe even before.

    So at this scale, combat and PvP are merely components. The simulation of systems via many players' agencies combining is the DESIGN GOAL.

    And this goes on about the different types of emotional experience/relationship players may find for example in Magic: The Gathering:-

    So, let's start with the obvious. What or who are Timmy, Johnny, and Spike? To answer this question, let me begin by flashing back ten years. When I was hired into R&D, I was a bit of an oddity. The way I put it back then was I was the one R&D guy that studied words in college. Everyone else majored in something that involved a lot of numbers, be in mathematics, engineering, or a number of different sciences. I, on the other hand, had majored in communications. I was a writer.

    This meant that I approached card design the same way I approached writing a story. After all, to me, they were both forms of creative expression. So this begs the question of how I function as a writer. I write from the heart. I write to create an emotional response in my readers. This is the same way I design Magic cards.

    Here's where it gets interesting. In order to create an emotional response, I had to understand what emotions I was trying to evoke. In short, I had to ask a number of questions: What does a Magic player want when they play Magic? What are their reasons for playing? What makes them happy?


    The Play's The Thing

    Timmy, Johnny and Spike are psychographic profiles for Magic players. That's what the test was all about. It lets you know which profile (including all the various hybrids) you fall into. So what makes the psychographic profile so valuable to a Magic designer (or developer)? The simplest answer is that our job is to make you happy. If we know what makes you happy, our job gets a lot easier.

    It took me many years to piece these three psychographic profiles together and many years after that to really understand how each worked. (I should point out that this is an ongoing learning experience which is one of the reasons, by the way, that this column is so much more advanced than the one four years ago.) I had a lot of help from the rest of R&D fine-tuning the details, both in how to interpret what each profile liked and then figuring out how to make cards that satisfied that group's desires.

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks is that each group had a clear stereotype that pulled focus. That is, when we talked about the psychographic profiles, we had a tendency to err in talking about one particular subset at the expense of the rest of the profile.

    It's a good basis if the information can be obtained. I think Ryan was able to capture a lot of useful marketing data in his former roles. :-)

    Looking at the above, in summary:-

    1. SCALE
    2. STORY
    3. PLAYERS
    4. INVESTMENT (money, community, time)

    It strikes me that The Kingmaker Campaign as PRO/CON 'd here is better realized via this approach:-

    Family Unit -> adventurers

  • Kingmaker allows many different characters to shine. The wilderness environment and wide range of challenges opens the door to many different character classes and concepts. Everyone from a beater to a skill monkey to a social butterfly will find interesting challenges and encounters.
  • The adventures hit many of the popular tropes of fantasy kingdoms – war, treachery, tournaments – missing from nearly every other D&D adventure.
  • The PCs actually increase in power and influence beyond their own collection of magic items: they all take leadership roles in a kingdom, projecting power on a much larger scale than most D&D adventures. If your players like to feel as though they make a difference in the wider world, Kingmaker may be ideal.
  • The “away party problem” leads to some major cognitive dissonance. The PCs rule a kingdom…but also adventure. By the rules, they can travel for three weeks out of each month without penalty, seeking their subjects’ lost children, eggs for dinner, and lost rings. It’s a little odd that the king and his most important advisors put themselves in danger for such trivial expeditions…but such is the nature of the game.
  • Kingdom-building can place stringent requirements on character types. This is not so much a mechanical problem as a conceptual one: the players must build characters with a reason to care about their nation and subjects. This is very different from many adventuring archetypes!
  • If you decide to tackle Kingmaker, there is one extremely important decision to make: should you use the kingdom-building and mass combat mini-games, or let that slide into the background? This is a difficult one, because the idea of ruling a kingdom is one of the two primary attractions of the campaign – but, at least in this reviewer’s eyes, the system itself is deeply flawed. Here are the problems we encountered.[/QUOTE

    I think the Family Concept of "avatar" resolves a lot of these problems as well as matching the PROS. It also aligns with Martin's method/scale of story telling. This aesthetically matches the visuals of RTS scale This requires slower pace, wider scope and more decision-making for more types of players to be happy to fit in. PvP should be ritualized at this scale to ensure different player types are enjoying the game as well as regulate the cycles of growth vs destruction skewed to growth in duration of execution. Some automation could be added via AI too over time with player created/sold scripts.

  • Goblin Squad Member

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    The encouraging part about ArcheAge for a sandbox developer is that it means ThemePark games and players are now moving closer to sandboxes. Not that it's 2 million players are all eager for a true sandbox title.

    Yes, the presumption is that Tab-Target + Sandbox features = a very decent market 2m of which 10,000 is needed to get cash positive for GW. This is the market approach and it's definitely correct according to the data/trends. I did some very rough investigation into the MMORTS market and it's tiny compared. People do seem to want Avatar-sized interaction with game worlds...

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    Where a sandbox developer should be drawing their inspiration is the tens of millions of dollars raised by Star Citizen which is a clarion call to developers "We want something different, and we'll spend lots of money on it."

    And this is the above direction of travel: This is why SC has so much cash and fanfare from players: You get realistic scale of characters with huge powerful spaceships. The experience ie the DESIGN GOAL is very clear:-

    >"You can only imagine what it's like to be a ""space-fighter"" as you imagine from films and sci-fi books and anime: Well now you can with the most vivid and physics feeling combination of avatar and spaceship and crew and planetside galaxy... ."

    It's going to tap people's emotionally very strongly as evidenced. Tbh I was harping on about combination of space driver + team + ship some years ago as the vision that needed to be done. Didn't realize it could be done to such high graphical standards; I was more thinking Artemis space-Bridge simulator but inter-connected world of other daring firefly esque players to battle.

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    The issue with Pathfinder Online is it looks, feels, and plays outdated. It's making improvements but what's considered to be an "up-to-date" game is a constantly moving goal line. While PFO makes its improvements so does every other MMO on the market. And newer, sleeker, more modern MMOs go into development, and get released.

    I think the big killer is going to be the fact the tech of eg EQ or Crowfall is going to out-do PFO and draw people away as per SC above it is a contest of raw power. IE more actiony combat, more voxel-changing "ooh!" impressions. PFO is more cerebral and more grand in it's scope. But the graphics have been chosen according to the above market data, as opposed to the best fit (I'd argue) of DESIGN GOAL which to my mind looking at the 4 pillars:-

    * Exploration = Create a huge world that looks fantastical and immense/daunting
    * Development = micro-macro systems of players teeeming around working together building infrastructure and developing system and opportunities
    * Domination = Battle Armies and campaigns

    * Adventure = the odd one out.

    Here's some eg's of the scale vision:-


    0 A.D. Tutorial 4 - Territories and Buildings

    This shows the concept at least of PFO's settlements -> buildings idea. It does not include the excellent extension of buildings -> skill-training but it does push the idea of services eg blacksmith for crafting weapons that players could resource collect, build, own finance etc. Here's Unity 5 using the same scale but imho updating the above with:-


    Take A Tour Of Avalon Lords

    It's worth watching from t=0 to t=1m40 where "exploration" is actually even sub-titled. What they've got right here is the SCALE of the fantasy LANDSCAPE. It looks right. They've admittedly overblown the pace and army emphasis and the settlement building is too random ie it needs choice but it needs underlying city planning logic rules also. From these my conclusion is: PFO can be developed to the vision of the Design Documents in the blog... via the above implementation

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    Here we are month 3 and they are already letting people with Open Enrollment accounts in. Open Enrollment accounts were supposed to be for... Open Enrollment. That combine with the state of the game when they went into EE and the fact it costs 15$ a month suggest one thing.

    Instead this is what we're seeing. I have an a/c with game time and other perks and it's value is related to the demand for the game of PFO.

    I'm happy to sub and play if I'm playing the above design document. But I'm not. Now I'm very keen and well-read on PFO's objectives, other players in the market will look at the above and decide it's too poor polish and combat and visceral sense is too dull, I am guessing.

    Tharak Venethorn wrote:
    On that note I believe there is one possible way for PFO to move beyond their current circumstances. Pick one or two features and make them so good people keep coming back for more.

    Mandbo (hopefully spelt his name correctly) came up with a summary of the big problem for PFO (rhetorical challenge):-

    1. PFO is seen as FFA PvP sandbox
    2. PF TT crowd have been hostile to PFO from beginning (PvP, non-OGL combat, not NN's party emphasis of story)
    3. Combat dev is going to have been super impressive to compete core game loop with other games
    4. Graphics and Tech is out-muscled by SC, EQN etc ie budget
    5. How successful has PFO drawn EVE crowd who want fantasy eve or avatars + big online strategy game?

    Goblin Squad Member

    To recap:-

    One of the key areas of evolution in game design has to be the merging of genres. Games like the Uncharted series combine shooting, puzzle, and adventure elements together.

    Besides expanding the gameplay, this serves another purpose; it opens up the game to more people.

    Two genres that have been working the hardest to do this would be action games and RPGs. The determining factor is the abstraction of skill and how each game handles it differently. This has lead to the term "skill abstraction." It's defined as:

    The degree of which player skill (or input) has an effect on the gameplay.

    In their infancy, both genres existed on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Slowly, over the years, games designed for both genres have been moving inward. Action games have been adding more RPG elements; RPGs have become more action oriented.

    On one hand, this has opened up the respective genres to more gamers. However, to quote Abraham Lincoln, " can't please all the people, all the time."

    From what I can make out over the last few years listening to player conversations and reactions, is that there's some Fantasy Games that have led to positive reactions from players; notably:-

    • Skyrim
    • Darksouls
    • Mount & Blade
    • Chivalry
    • The Witcher
    • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

    In these games you have visceral combat (ACTIONY) + RPG in fantasy genre.

    This accords with the above observation. And it puts imho huge huge stress on the MMO-RPG genre as realized by EQ/WOW -> And all it's derivatives.

    I think more actiony combat + sandbox is going to the "Middle Way" for future MMO-RPG that stick with the avatar perspective of EQ/WOW. AA (Archeage) may be doing well, but I think the engine and hobby features and lack of competition have helped it. As soon as a fantasy with more sandbox and better actiony-combat comes along... it might be a race of one.

    Both EQN and CF are going for this stronger emphasis on action combat I think.


    The other big issue is the lack of appetite for PFO from the PF TT market. I would guess they're more of the higher abstraction of skill of combat in a digital game and more interested in the strategy/sim genre as well as the RPG-PvE sub-set of the MMO-RPG?

    I think simulating a lot of The River Kingdoms via the sim side would be attractive to these players (amongst others) within the kingdoms system of an RTS abstraction of formalities of issuing wars/battles/calling banners on a more lengthy cycle so it's proportionally large consequence rarer event - allowing sim life to carry out and again under that PvE of adventurers completely free of concern. That being small chars graphically, but individual character-focus much stronger here.

    Anyway that would be my suggestion for HYBRID of genres to go in the other direction (higher abstraction = larger canvass).

    Goblin Squad Member

    I actually didn't realize but Crowfall's designer Ralph Koster seems to have realized the same thing here:-

    "MMOs have been caught in the paradigm of leveling up and grinding for so long that I think it's going to be a real surprise to once again see an MMO based around this kind of freedom of action and conflict," says Koster. "Crowfall is a hybrid of strategy game and MMO. It also echoes back to the early days of MMOs with robust economies and rich player freedoms."

    Personally, my view is that the "permanent character progression" is a false step in both PFO and Crowfall though both have it right about strategy but both don't seem to know what is the right scale to go for. Also knowing that the above is HYBRID they seem to be going for instanced campaigns that can be re-rolled when they end (with the world hopefully wreaked/trashed/smashed by the players ie full entropy.

    This seems a safer bet if they're keeping the scale at the avatar level of combat actiony and more limited numbers. I'm not entirely sure it will work, but it's balance between the two.

    Whereas the full sweep and scope of PFO's extraordinary design document... imho the SCALE needs to widen:-

    * Map Scale
    * Graphics representation Scale
    * Time Scale/Movement Scale
    * Numbers/Armies Scale
    * Macro-Economics Scale
    * Generations and mortality of characters via Family Scale
    * Break up Settlements into Strongholds, Holdfasts, Holdings Scale per family
    * Automate some of the characters work-loads eg merchant caravans AI along roads that take a long time to transport goods.
    * Seasons and Cycles of harvest and war campaigns scale
    * Using the above for proportionality of characters (sexes, generations and experience, careers and classes choices/investments
    * Long time to build stuff - high investment in labour and materials and time ie slower pace of game.

    All the above will help with boom-bust cycles and player investments in their characters and assets and war for property -> money -> power.

    Goblin Squad Member

    To make the connection (at least the vestiges) and of course adventurers being in short supply due to:-

    1) Limits ratio per Family producing them.
    2) Mortality rates of being an adventurer
    3) Great experience/skills the greater testing the greater adventures!

    But here's the connection aside from the rarity of adventurers:-

    Such poor companies as Sweden and Denmark, for example, would probably have never sent a single ship to the East Indies, had not the trade been subjected to an exclusive company. The establishment of such a company necessarily encourages adventurers. Their monopoly secures them against all competitors in the home market, and they have the smae chance for foreign markets with traders of other nations... Without such extraordinary encouragement, the poor traders of such poor countries would probably never have thought of hazarding their small capitals in so very distant and uncertain an adventure as the trade to the East Indies must naturally have appeared to them.

    The seafaring equivalent might have been privateers (sounds like pirates!). The actual "dungeons" could be anything "hell planes, golarion's moon, the emerald spire, distant continents..." Harnessing players to make 'em and then the actual Devs choosing the means of finding them (a whole adventure involving much capital!) and so... Fame and fortune to the few...

    Ernest Shackleton wrote:
    Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success

    Tbh, PFO has the vision for this already albeit dungeons will "pop" in the well developed hexes - hence kinda rewards for well-run kingdoms for adventurers... I think the above is more interesting. Finding magical artefacts or such that might serve the Lord of the Realm wel etc. It's a part of Dwarf Fortress in a sense too. The "honors" system to grow Family influence would also tie in nicely with spending time and family characters on being adventurers too. Also the combat system party could be much more defined and more depth/detail too as per the TT.

    Goblin Squad Member

    The map of eve reminds me of something:- ructure_of_light_distribution_in_the_universe.jpg

    There's a similarity with the pattern between galaxies in the universe.

    This is echoed/reflected (perhaps more accurately) in our night-time cities:- and-the-Middle-East-at-night.-Photo-NASA.jpg

    I think a map that might work might produce similar patterns. What is quite nice, the maps in Game Of Thrones seem to follow this pattern a little bit, in Westeros.

    You'd want if it were more RTS Scale, real strongholds with some important holdfasts dotted around again then again smaller associations of lesser family's holdings. You'd want it around such features as produce the above pattern - with large gaps between clusters of shared assocation(s).

    Obviously the water/mountain geographical boundaries are part of those gaps as river systems and fertile lands and near the sea are usually parts of the clusters of density. And of course at higher level continents between great seas for extreme distances.

    This would moderate trade and war (armies marching/battlefields)

    With RTS scale movement needs to be slower and distances longer. Roads would be useful to "automate" characters moving. Guards would be automated to escort but only if using roads.

    I think the generation cycle of characters young->old needs to be of a decent length. Asymmetric in some sense to get some young'uns mixing with a few oldies but with population dip and rise a very important cycle in the game.

    Goblin Squad Member

    @Wrath -

    0) Concerning PvP, I think the basis for it's focus is about right: Human interaction between players > content creation: All the pieces come together in this approach (ie player-content, replayability/longevity, depth of skill and if it can be hooked to a larger context then meaningful/purposeful and with integration to economy consequential change to world.

    But I think the key is to provide this direct PvP but ensure it's a subset controlled within a wider set of human interactions that include more PAR/RP activities what we can categorize as "Sim Life" operations eg Diplomatic, Crafter, Adventurer, Builder, Farmer, Merchant and much much more.

    1) I think then we move onto what you accurately hit the nail on the head with: "TO CREATE MY OWN STORIES OR PLAY IN OTHERS" . On the one hand you have the soldiers at war (PvP) and on the other you have in general the non-war many different roles engaged economically with each other bar exceptions:-

    i) Adventurers - These need the party system of combat which TT fits very well but not so well perhaps with larger numbers of participants eg moba 5v5 seems to indicate the scale fit here. Also Adventurer characters could be a special category within families system I suggested above who are not part of the PvP system but go on PvE dungeon jaunts and some dungeons can be PvPvE also with several parties.

    ii) Bandits and other "beyond the law characters" you'd have to chism them from Families as independent solo actors who may band together again with Adventurers you're allowing different rule sets for them but limiting their capacity but ensuring such roles exist.

    One of the keys with above with the Family System is you have a suite of characters but proportionality rules limit how many of a type you can "house" and control per Family per living members!

    2) Hence you get your cooperative play/scale and agree every mmo should have this.

    3) Single Player RPGs can do a lot of simulation or at least appearance of via Open World. Dwarf Fortress shows the huge amount of sim behind the graphics needed. What I suggest is PFO is trying to do this - so great going - but I was thinking (perhaps it's still not possible) with simpler RTS graphics we could get there sooner with the world bits represented on smaller scale but looks more epic and then as per current plan iteratively add more and more. But base it on information collection in the world of things - the graphics are representing. It would coordinate lots of small size characters moving around a large world requiring numbers for safety and also for scale of collective action eg resource capture (pvp) then extraction (set up buildings) then transport (haulage eg caravans/beasts of burden perhaps ships on coast) and then processing at settlements. Around that economic ecosystem you build the simulation - PFO is trying this which is awesome awesome - I just think the macro- SCALE is better represented via RTS style presentation and possibly more do-able via dev? You probably want the pace of the game hence slower and the good thing about the RTS Scale implement different PvP rule-sets for armies in units to engage, to march and to declare war. Underneath have skirmish scale rule-set and numbers limits or something for PvP of scouts then armies soliders characters levied from families and potentially even delegated to PvP focused players :-)

    4) PFO has some windows to help here, but as above I think putting our eggs into different character baskets of a Family helps avoid the problem. The Great PvP Generals and their Captains on the battlefield, the lonesome vulnerable but daring bandit solo chars and the party adventurers immune from the above.

    It carves up characters to allow players to follow their own stories.

    You'd have to have a clever system of carving up fielty between families and influence as a progression metric as important as power and money. So the map has to continually home Families with their fiefdoms but constant internal politics to climb socially higher and break up the blob effect. It might be that small areas prevent full scale invasions (and distance) eg water boundaries, mountain boundaries, forests/valleys etc...

    I think the worry is valid for sandbox mmorpgs that your stuff will be taken/destroyed by the evil blob and then the other big fear, ppl believe they're not that skillful at the combat itself of controls and builds vs those who are highly motivated at such. Then finally those produce those group colony collapse syndrone which is lethal.

    tl;dr: Warfare Ruleset could even up the mass combat pvp that then changes territory control. Under that you want small scale pvp easily controlled in settlement lands, but a thorn in the wilds/travels of caravans.


    Family Structure dividends:-

    * Focus/pressure off combat - >2 eg 5:1 of chars non-combat to combat ratio raised per player ie focus on Sim Life - but heavy repercussions of battles/wars
    * Managing chars operating different works in settlements own Families or as underlings to lords to rise up...
    * adventurers ratios allows PvE party system
    * Mortality cycle to regulate power both violence and inflation. Size of family modulated by territory, resources somewhat but also account pricing option
    * Fits RTS scale and macro-economic scale and vision of PFO's 4 pillars.

    Goblin Squad Member

    Some interesting info on networking/rendering challenge + massive battles/numbers of participants from Mark Jacobs on Camelot Unchained:-

    1) As you correctly point out, the problem with large-scale battles in MMORPG is definitely a hydra-headed monster. In our case, the two biggest issues are rendering time and networking. As to the former, Andrew is quite skilled in this area as his resume/experience shows. In most cases so far, the engine has handled hundreds of people on the screen without turning into a slideshow specifically due to rendering issues. Now, the landscape is pretty barren so far, there is no living/breathing sky, the effects are toned down, etc. so it is way too early to say "Mission Accomplished" but, OTOH, we have also put more than 1K Backers in Bots in so it's a pretty good start.

    2) As to the networking, yep, that is one of the other heads. All I can say is that we have been focused on this as well and like building a renderer, you can't just take a game and then say you are going to add awesome networking code for a game like this, you have to design the networking code first and then add the gameplay elements/traffic/info/etc. in a way that won't degrade the code's performance to the point where you are screwed. That is one of the reasons we haven't gone all out in terms of building the world/gameplay until we knew we had a great working core. as per above, 1.1K is a good start.

    One of the other things we are doing differently than WAR or many other games is that we are building the initial game not to be the first version of the game but in ways to build and test the core tech. So rather than focusing on getting class builds out as early as possible, we've been building tech and testing it. For example, our next evolution of our bots will be to act as projectile throwers. There's nothing like 1K bots all throwing fire, water and earth balls that can intersect/interact/stress a system like that will. Now, this has caused some people to worry (When are we going to see classes!!!!) but this is the right way to do things. Yeah, we could design and deploy some classes and then hope the tech can support it but that would be the wrong thing to do. We need to make sure the tech works first. I'd rather have to deal with the average upset Backer (or refund) now rather than to go back to our Backers in a year and say, "Sorry, I know we showed you this awesome class design, concept art, etc. but due to technical issues, it's now a bit of a pig. But don't worry, it has pretty lipstick!" It certainly would be easier just to trot out some fancies and look to garner more and more donations but we're not going down that path. Heck, even the upcoming Stretch Goal had to make sense and we had to be confident we could deploy it on time or we wouldn't even be talking about it now.

    Goblin Squad Member

    That's very interesting information, thanks for the reply.

    I was aware the UI would be a challenge. My guess though this scale you can simplify combat and the scale of the world fits the scope of the story attempted to be told. For example the Family structure: Land claimed by a family could convert to number of soldiers that can be raised for the armies ie direct correlation particularly fertile land and expense of and of course the size of the family itself (dependent on the account).

    I was thinking AI might be deployed for soldiers sent to "muster arms" and then be controlled by captains (ie players of senior title in the fielty system) to form up as units. Of course players could have the option of directly controlling some soldiers in different formations eg as skirmishers or such...

    The idea I quite like from this is that in a talk on the future of mmorpgs, Ryan said about AI that runs the characters more autonomously and players in part "manage these virtual characters". I think the Family system sort of matches that description albeit using players to manage and direct as opposed to put on the clothes, wield the sword of the characters so to speak! I think that happily evokes the right shift of scale I'm describing in the story-telling and it's relation to the graphics scale.

    @GripGuiness -

    Would that I could. I'm not criticizing PFO/GW, I'm just saying something very simple one of many voices:-

    >"As a customer, what I would like to see is lots of other players' stories (thousands of different and individual and group) (as well as my own) in these virtual worlds. Whatever aids that result (I believe will) I support. Whatever detracts from that result - I should question."

    What Ryan says is right, it's too big an unknown for what result? It just concerns me that many mmorpgs have believed they've found "next gen" with this "mmorpg standard". Koster goes on elsewhere about how facebook or other genres have innovated where WOW has defined what an MMORPG is with it's long shadow over the market.


    Just to cap this off, and sustain perspective atst as delivering this particular input:-

    GW design doc for PFO is one of the best imo that I've seen: There's so much that's good about it.

    I posit an alternative to the scale which I think fits the implementation of the above design as a more natural fit: More of a medieval sims model than a "learn to be a combat hero" model.

    /popped out and saw a fox: I usually take that as a lucky sign!

    Goblin Squad Member

    Ryan Dancey wrote:

    @AvenaOats - sorry, still can't process that much stuff.

    Is your core point "over-the-shoulder 3D worlds are dead"? Because if that's your core point, I just don't know what to tell you. You're wrong.

    Are you wondering how big we think the market for a for a fantasy sandbox MMO is?

    ArcheAge, which is a beautiful game that sells itself as a sandbox (but has only a very small bit of sandbox gameplay) generated two million signups in the west. It's Free to Play so that's a reasonable sizing function for "how big is the North American and European Market for a sandbox fantasy MMO" (the addressable part of that market for a Pay to Play game will be smaller, of course.)

    Are you wondering why we don't have more players yet?

    We have not turned on the marketing. We are spending effectively nothing on marketing yet. Awareness that this game exists within that 2 million person audience is close to 0%.

    I can't obviously compete with your expertise and experience in making the strategic choices. It just seems to me that the market says "graphics" whereas the customer says "story" and this engine is a big hindrance to that?

    With an RTS Engine, I feel the whole dev would be closer to the metal, family structure of accounts/alts per player would have their own management of estate and functions at this level as a by-product of the change in SCALE; mortality; seasons, the grandeur would pop-out as a natural product it seems to me for the EPIC story telling involving thousands+ interacting positively with each other ie willingly in the same story space. I think pushing this further, each player's chronology could have in-game functionality for recording their families many different characters rises and falls and so on. The idea of social capital between families and growing influence as a 3rd axis to power + money + social again seems to derive nicely too and of course fielty to the Lords declaring wars and their pitched battles.

    I've reached the limits of my understanding I think finally. This is all, it's not a case to base big money decisions on! ^_^

    Goblin Squad Member

    Hardin Steele wrote:
    I can't imagine being enamored by the Elder Scrolls werewolf meme. It is so overdone it is a total bore. Every single player was running around as a werewolf. Not interesting to me.

    That's why I said "glimmer". And even that tiny little sparkle had disproportionate "stickiness": That quality of enjoyment where players enjoy the activity for the sake of the activity ie the internal narrative they're actually playing in their brains by performing that action repeatedly for no necessarily external output reward.

    The Werewolf is well known and well-liked. Why do you think that is? I think there's part of an answer in understanding the essence of the Werewolf is this:-

    It inverts "a character" with "the monster" but it does it on a periodically predictable but preciously small duration of transformation.

    There's even a successful board-game: "One Night Ultimate Werewolf". Now to connect the dots, a successful story is able to be adapted into the game systems and emerge from it via the players' actions ie the sandbox concept as PFO applies it (not terra-forming or rule-changing for example). In the implementation I suggested, that's exactly the intended result. ES has merely "bolted-on" the superficial aspects but at least int that restricted implementation quite successfully.

    Hardin Steele wrote:

    I can't see the loss of focus. This game is not targeting the WoWheads, or the F2P crowd. That is a totally different market and will not have an interest in PFO anyway, so not attracting them here is not unexpected.

    Ryan and Lisa are targeting a small niche market (I am one of those players) that prefers interaction with other players, graphics are not the be-all-end-all of he game, depth is more important than sparkle. So far PFO has those things even if they have not made it into the game yet. The rollout of new content is on the schedule they have projected, and the design seems solid.

    I hope so too, but I fear the EQ/WOW model as per countless other conceptions of mmorpgs is the problem; Bartle even points this problem out directly/explicitly as well. The reactions we're seeing from EE also appear to lean that way too. And even future mmorpgs CU/Crowfall, EQ all seem to erring this way too (that engine again).

    PFO might end up being a profitable and serviceable game, I'm just estimating that the underlying mechanism of what players want from these online games is possibly in the long-run a better guide forwards?

    Hardin Steele wrote:
    I do agree with the last part about the strict naming conventions. Having crazy numbers and x's in names is immersion breaking. It would be nice for players to have to have a certain name structure (personally I would prefer an area for a character backstory or biography like in LotRO), a home area, and some Golarion style connection in the character creation process to give players a nudge in that direction. The niche market Ryan and Lisa are looking might appreciate that layer of depth in the creation process.

    Yeah, as the Family Structure automatically derives:-

    Family Surname Convention Rule-System per locality/area of origin: Players could try to input their own version of this and see if the progam accepts or it randomly churns out a suitable Surname for them to finally select.

    Then the first name system could be randomly churned out with no player choice. IE the player gets to OWN the Family Name, but the character is more autonomous and randomly created from suitable elements as per further elaboration below:-

    Name could be the beginning, with a bunch of other Family -identifier factors also created at Family Creation, these fields need to be function in some respect. The characters themselves could be "auto-rolled" with randomness for some of their stats too ie fittedness :-)

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