Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is it Chilly in Here?

You know, I really should just hire coldness to be my muse, because this is the second idea I've gotten from him. Anyway, I've already thrown around the idea of level vs skill based gaming systems, and while I haven't quite beaten that horse to death yet, it won't be racing anytime soon.

So I'm going to talk about skills-based gaming. No, not character skills, but player skills. There are almost no MMORPGs out there that require the player to have any skill besides basic computer operations. The only one I can think of is Star Wars Galaxy NGE, but that doesn't really count as a game. Since none exist, why is the player skill-based game important?

The growing trend among video games is to either include full online play so you can beat the crap out of your friends and show off your l33t skillz, or include some sort of stat and scoring system so you can compare yourself to your friends (or both). Warcraft 3 has Battle.net and their levels and rankings, Sins of a Solar Empire has titles you earn by completing certain goals (like winning after not building any capital ships, or earning a certain amount of money). This doesn't even scratch MMORPGs, which are entirely about getting better gear and stats than your friends.

So if people like these games, what's wrong with them? Well, nothing really. Most games require either skill or a large amount of time to dedicate to getting better and learning the game. I know a good many players who suck at First Person Shooters, but are great at Wolfentein: Enemy Territory because they've played and memorized the six basic maps. When you put them onto a new map, they fall apart because they don't have strong FPS skills. MMORPGs are all about time dedication, as those that have time to raid and PVP have the best gear, and thus the advantage.

So why make a player-skill based game? Well, imagine if you were playing an MMORPG, and if you clicked the mouse again at the right instant during an attack, the attack did a large amount of additional damage. Or what if, in an MMORPG you actually have to aim in, like Project Entropia, hitting a monster in the head dealt more damage or had a chance to disorient them? Heck, what if there was a mini-game for crafting? What about a mini-game for casting, where success determined power level of the spell? What about blocking and countering during a fight if you time a click right? There are countless things that could be added to pull in player skill as well as to deepen immersion.

There are, of course, the usual problems with this system, in that any time you offer additional damage or success rates, people will try to create programs to automate the click so it lands perfectly. Lag alone might be enough to stop this, but if the time you need to click varies too much, players who are trying to get good at it will become frustrated. Also, servers will have to have a minimum of lag to make this work and I question the viability in PVP of any blocking/countering system as it might increase lag if both players have to wait on the other.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for what you said about me :). I really like your ideas.
    Anyways, I always wondered why isn't there anyway to defend yourself? Like you proposed, a blocking or parry system where you time your clicks.
    I think a good game where I truly see myself playing as a MMORPG is .hack//G.U trilogy!
    Have you ever played this game? Well to simplify my idea, just make an Action-MMROPG! I mean, there are a lot of regular action RPGs out there, why not make a MMORPG out of them? I know the lag issues is a major concern, but if there were many servers with limited number of players, I think that would fix the problem!