Quote of a Game Developer

Pathfinder Online

Goblin Squad Member

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Gordon Walton wrote:
"Almost all I've ever done is make games and every game that isn't a disaster, is nearly one!"

Goblin Squad Member

Yup. Games are terrible until suddenly they're not. It's just how development of any modern software project goes.

Goblin Squad Member

I think the key is to find out what the customers want and what it is they want; ie break it down to understand it more.

Lots of players in a shared space are going to be very tricky to cater for. But there's opportunity there.

* The ongoing persistence of input -> output = investment
* The interaction with others socially = social value
* Simulation of complex systems = replay of many stories in a shared space

In the first case:-

The game world undergoes inflation as more of people's Money + Time + Achievement is outputted into in-game economic and power returns which are in-game change/influence ability on credit. With change there's actualization of the self via these rewards.

With the social value, this is about networks to get others to do things you want and what they want to multiply the above.

Equally if these effects are powerful via the above 2 then you get stories that have affected other people and the culture and the game.

THe idea in PFO's character xp-training is locking up value in characters. The inflation of the characters of the game as per EVE. In our own societies there is growing debt. In Game Of Thrones this is amusingly reflected with the debts to The Iron Bank Of Bravos. Ie the sinks need to manage the inflation atst as help players perceive output of return of input of their time/money.

There's 2 ideas to discuss here:-

* GW runs an in-game Central Bank on all money as debt owed to it. It has the equivalent of the faceless men or other agents to sow fear into players who's debts are called-in according to the machinations of the devs. This arbitrates the meta- of the below systems as the devs use analytics info to make correctives as needed.
* (1) The Family system locks the players value and their sub is proportional to how big their family grows/can grow and hence how much they can hold physically - each character being mortal either in violent death or natural (in-built) senescence with limited life-time cycle capacity for skill-training. This works on the player investing in the in-family networks management and running and playing ie they care for their own family network virtually
* (2) Perpetuating of Family is in generations and in marriage of alliances of other families and in fielty system to overlord families. This aspect works on the social networks value which the player cares for realistically with other players.

This complexity of social simulation by players I think would generate a lot of story output/value as well as the gameplay of eg wars/fighting itself (both internal per player managing their own family) but also for the communities across families.

It would also help simulate histories too.

And it's this output of story material that I think (as well as social sharing of stories people know and share the details of) that I think customers really may want from these games.

The input of value and trapping in game as per EVE skill-training... yes it has value, but I think it's dependent on the growth of the game population (some cynically suggest a ponzi scheme) but also the story generation - with Family you can have the rise and fall and rise again of Families as well as charge players who want to spread more in game (with subsidy marginal options of plex economics ie % who are producers vs destroyers (consumers) (soldiers) vs networkers/maintainers and managing more hence. It can balance the vets vs newbs problem. Also the mortality seems special for story for people somehow.

Anyway, I'm not a game-designer but I think working out what the customers want and hence why they buy it is the key to making a game that fulfills a need usefully in our societies.

AvenaOats wrote:
Anyway, I'm not a game-designer

That is readily apparent in every post you make.

Goblin Squad Member

Rynnik wrote:
AvenaOats wrote:
Anyway, I'm not a game-designer
That is readily apparent in every post you make.

Forum drama is not interesting: It would be more interesting if your posting account had a longer history; but only a little bit and I'd suspect with such a longer history you'd have more of value to offer the forum too?

However, to be polite via the above, then to actually post something of use here's something to consider:-

1. PFO as per Ryan's plans are for a very intricate combat system of multi-classing per character via tab-target

Bludd suggested in another post that whatever the case may be, it's important that the core gameplay is itself intrinsically fun.

2. Here's my observations:

(1) Tab-Target is serviceable for mmos due to networking
(2) It will take years of development to make it fun (see GW2 etc)
(3) This sandbox to reach breadth of systems (albeit shallow per component) on a budget has simplify or streamline the combat or revision it to cater to the other systems in dev in a good timescale for current players.
(4) Part of the problem is the business model relies on characters growing value with skill-training and hence you have to also allow multi-classing; which again I think is aesthetically not congruent between gameplay mechanics vs story setting.
(5) The combat has to work on the idea that players are going to end up enjoying learning a deep system of multiclasses and different contexts.
(6) It throws up issues such as threading for some items but loss of items the major risk to combat without dampening players' appetite for it.IE the major gameplay is going to be combat in PFO it has to be high quality. See (2).
(7) You're going to already make some players fearful they're just not very good at this sort of min-maxing and indeed the stress of PvP is already high enough and doubly when the ppl who tend to be good at min-max tend to practice PvP a lot more also given their proclivity.

So here's my suggestion, it's a different way of looking at what customers want:-

The assumption is the gameplay of combat and then that having meaning ie you win settlement and territory stuff.

Actually as I pointed out above a much bigger demand is with:-

* Input -> Output = Investment of player 1. Time 2. Money 3. Attention into Results/Rewards/Feedback that self-empowers the player eg Minecraft players can create "what they want... with others if they want".
* Social Network management of digital relationships ie virtual family
* Social Network management of real relationships online in the game ie between "Families" via online friends and contacts.

Now coming back to the combat, it's one system drawing on the above. OR you can suggest it's a stronger driver of gameplay fun than the above for players. I'd argue it's a subset. I'd argue it gives meaning if there's mortality of the characters involved in fighting as part of their story and as part of the machinations and management of the player running a family. The emotional results are the area where monetization is strongest in players (this statement is worth extrapolating for your self).

I think also with such a structure, the in-between war times where intra-competition between families within player group blocks could be just as interesting as the actual between player group blocks during war/disputes. Idk enough about EVE, but it sounds very hierarchical and not enough jostling between players but mainly between groups getting bigger and bigger? Some speculation here?

Coming back to skill-training therefore being the business model:-

If it runs as a family structure, and members/character within aka alts are limited to what they can skill-train during their life-time as well as needing to fulfill certain positions within the family structure, then I think you really can square the circle - as well as invest economic activity into family holdings/access to training and equip builidngs and settlements and incomes from lands etc.

But more importantly it takes the emphasis away from combat skill of the player. Some of the family will be trained up as soldiers in the armies. Some will be trained as adventurers to go down dungeons and such like for the glory of their family and the legends of like sung by the bards. Some will be married and administrators in the settlements.

You could have an army formation system that you allocate soldiers to in charge of by another player at the rank of captain or something or even switch in and out of these eg break ranks and run for safety!

But using the above Scale, it matches the RTS-strategy scale better as well as I think hybridizing genres to innovate (draw in the genre/niche players) and again faster assets to make more systems and de-emphasize combat gameplay per player or otherwise if they choose. It resolves the issue of the vet characters bloat and having to multiclass too which again aesthetically does not seem to fit to me nor the immortality Pharasma explanation:-


It's also the slower cadence of the board-game strategy genre and simulation type of players than the combat competition stuff of the current per character account skill-training. Atm big groups will get bigger and little groups will evaporate. With the family network system it seems to me that families will try to keep their economic assets which may lead to betrayal/switching sides... what you'd want is more opportunity for families to have their own castle-settlement and feudal lands as well as the larger metropolis cities.

This may even allow more skirmishes too as well as grand battles/war campaigns.

Finally with the adventurers off underneath this, those stories could be developed as part of the massive world building far away from the power centers or under their noses.

I think the biggest dividend is the generation of stories by many many players of their own and also overlapping a lot at different scales with other players and groups.

Goblin Squad Member

You know, one of the best bits of advice I ever came across and can quote: "If you want to learn something, learn from those who can/do."

It's served me well, though I am still very much a neophyte in just about everything, alas!

I think it's not too much to say some of the best design quotes I've heard in game design (I've read a lot) have come from Ryan. Listening to some conversations here on the forums it's almost painful considering how much experience Ryan has in games (you can trawl the web for evidence-finding/fishing!) and the comments said when they've been less than well-thought out and articulated. On the other hand there's been th e rare but valuable stellar suggestions from time to time too.

I've quoted some recently, but to move along to the game design, an old summary I created:-

  • Player-Player Contracts - replace quests
  • Player formed factions - all/any eg as per EVE
  • Skill-Training Progression -> 2.5yrs to max level earliest in x1 role only; horizontal progress
  • Player created settlements -> Each Hex (256) can be conquered and controlled
  • Player formed Armies -> Real formations
  • Virtual Economy -> full-blown autonomous economy (not simulated)
  • Player Crafting item production and PvE Resource Cycle (maj. item creation by players)
  • Career Skills as well as Combat Skills (bounty-hunter, bandit, diplomat, tavern owner, soldier, trader...)
  • Alignment, Reputation, Politics & Open-World PvP (EVE style again)
  • NPC Alliances (changes which mobs are friend/foe)
  • Single-server World map - all emergent game story is shared by all players

This is imho what makes PFO such an amazing design. All or as much of the above as possible!

But I have x2 problem with the above vs current: The above imho does not need the high degree of graphics that the EQ/WOW model requires, that perhaps the market data suggests is required to be profitable?

All the above could be done with a change of scale and simpler assets for representation as per RTS games and faster leaner development. Also I suspect it would help performance of the Single-Server world map.

The other problem I also have is this:-

Ryan: "Not much at all. Rather than mirroring the mechanics, we're going to mirror the style of the game. The Pathfinder tabletop game is built around small parties of specialized adventurers and extremely detailed tactical combat that is broken into 6 second intervals, but allows an infinite amount of real-time to determine each action."

At this current EQ/WOW scale the demand for the combat to be good and fun so that players will actually play during the full 18 months+ of EE this major system is going to ensure the above systems are simply not deployed either as fast or as sufficiently. What's been prioritized is the combat and the graphics atm. Not the full design scope.


Coming back to the idea above, some of the dividends that derive from it that are natural products without "designing deliberately for them":-

* Violent characters will die faster and the generation/skill-training of the next generation (ie replacement rate) will ensure that modulates the violent characters
* You can insert controls on the proportions of wizards ie proportion per family and hence their effect in battles can be maintained due to lower numbers than soldiers. This reminds me of the old argument we had about how in a magical world would things settle down to balance? It also resolves the issue of the OP high-level wizards!
* You can also regulate gender ratio to 50:50 by natural birth. It also adds marriage strategy and hence possible take-over of influence or stake of influence between families via this = "Family arguments!"
* Alts are natural part of the sub package of family members
* Death ain't so stressful for the players with their characters life-choices in part dictating their life of danger vs life of domestic bliss!
* Ability to build on the next generation the successes and failures of the previous characters' efforts and so forth.

And these are all above and beyond the above design goals such as political and settlement management options etc.


Well, it's too late to propose new design ideas, but given how much is good with PFO, and I suspect it will reach EE and be a good game, I'm attempting to provide context to the path of travel of the game's emergence as a particular end product emphasizing a particular game play experience for players.

I've enjoyed being a traveller on this journey, but my concern for my own selfish reasons is that the game is going to be more of the typical mmorpg to hit the right market and be successful than the fully revolutionary revisioning that I'm searching for eg combat-focus + graphics aesthetic/market marker has to me too much emphasis. IE that emphasis needs to be realized before any of the above are really added to the game. And even then I think it's gone too far down the themepark or normal mmorpg experience... instead of revolutionizing via de-emphasis of graphics and ramping up the systems.


I suspect I may be in the "Trailblazer" camp and hence:-

>"Inevitably, you lose some trailblazers and early adopters, but that's normal since they're going to go on to the next New New Thing and repeat the process."

Really I like to see more of:-

http://paizo.com/products/btpy8dqh?Pathfinder-Adventure-Path-Kingmaker-Play ers-Guide

that grand sweep of narrative. For the party adventurer system I think Pathfinder RP-TT, Darkest Dungeon, Torchbearer or Mordheim nail that idea better.

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