Lately I’m re-reading Elric/Stormbringer saga and it’s something extremely stimulating. As I read, I imagine to transpose all that in a mmorpg that could be at the same time extremely innovative and fun. Joining together what could be a very strange and niche product with an experience that surpasses everything already on the market. Even on the popularity level.
Obviously I don’t hold my ideas to stay into the limits of the tech, because this is only a useless work of mind and I’m the only limit to what I imagine. For now I focused two elements that will be really hard to realize technically. The first element is the player collision. FFXI has it and my form of collision is not so different. You’ll be able to move through another model (monster or player) only if you keep pressing very hard on the limit. It’s what happens already in FFXI but with a stronger effect. The second element is about the fly. I want to have in the game a strong presence of flight. In particular about dragons. A bigger part of the PvP I have in mind is about fighting with war machines and other tools that will need more than one player working on them. The idea is to move from a player-centered gameplay to a wider range where you are really part of an army. With complex strategies, a concrete role of the land and the structures, and the use of complex war machines. So the exact opposite of an open-field arena where all that matters are the skills of a group of players. I want the warfare. I want complex tactics based on emergent elements than just a flat arena. A warfare that pivots around concrete combat and concrete consequences. And I have strong ideas to accomplish this.
The other part I’m developing is the PvE experience. In this case completely integrated with the aligment/karma system and in the basic world where the factional PvP happens. So PvE inside the PvP and as a concrete part of it. Then, aside that, there will be the instanced zones. These zones correspond to the various (infinite) planes of Chaos. Here you can invent everything and the limit is simply your fantasy. Each plane will be like an inner world, with its soul and purpose. Each of these planes will be used for a precise adventure that will show a new form of “storytelling”. The direction where I want to aim is what “ID” is trying to achieve with Doom 3. I want to push the cooperative gameplay of a tight group of players till the limit. The limit is about involving a party in a frightening experience. These instances won’t be always open. It will be an event to go inside them (the idea is to tie the planar levels to a system like Darkness Falls in DAoC, so they open if you achieve and perform various actions in the real world). If you fail an attempt you’ll suffer a loss and the access to the planar dimension will be forbidden for a period of time. Many gameplay elements I have in mind to transform and push the PvE expereince to a complete new level. Just as an example: a new concrete use of the light system. If you enter a cave you need a light. These light will be magical forms of a torch that will produce various types of effects (like “cones” of light). You will *hear* the monsters moving and lurking around you but you’ll have to point these torches toward them to see them. They’ll dodge the lights and will try to fight unseen. The animations of the players during the combat will make a full use of these light sources to create a realistic effect. You’ll have the fear of fighting against something that you can barely see and with a solid menace because these attempts are tied to a “one time only idea”. You could be able to access the planar level again only the following week, or the following month.
To this I want to add a depth to each monster. Each will have a complex data. Each will have a story, a behaviour and a purpose. The AI will make use of different types of attack and each monster will have various tools to use realistically in a fight. I want a soul here, not just meat you throw to the players to make them loose time. Each monster will have a schedule, they won’t just stay on the place. They could be friendly or enemies depending on your alignment and each entity of the world won’t be just something you need to aim and attack. You will be able to find your own way by killing them, or by making them your friends and allies. These monsters have their own life and objectives. They have a role in the gameplay and a part in the ‘politics’ and the story of the world. Sometimes the players will start to believe that they are just tools, in the hands of these alien entities coming from the planes of Chaos.
Then I want demi-gods. Here I want to really introduce revolutionary ideas. I want that the players will be able to become demi-gods. The loot will have a new purpose. Legendary swords like Stormbringer and Mournblade will be in the game and *unique*. These tools will really have their full powers along as many other tools. Each of these high level tools will have a complex story and a complex path to follow if someone wants to hold them. As in the books they will be both an amazing, unmatched power and a burden. A curse. A demi-god player using these tools will be able to fight against tenths of other players. There’s NO balance. But they will also be the objectives of “raids”. Instead building groups to fight a big NPC, the players will gather to defeat other players that have reached this “uber” status. Their power will be sensed and localized with the use of magic and till they hold these powerful tools everyone will be able to see them and attack them in an attempt to steal their power. The “loot” will be a side of the center of the action and enemies and alliances will be formed to defend and attack these poweful tools in the hands of the players.
Obviously the PvP here is “full loot” (when tricky magic won’t be involved). Each of the magic, powerful tools will be completely unique in a single server. There will be timers attached so that you’ll be able to hold one of these tools only if you can mantain a minimum presence in the world (reasonable, not many hours a day). If not, they’ll return to their planar homes, ready to be found by a new group of adventurers.
(to explain, these tools reside on the planar levels. So to get them you need to follow long and complex quests that revolve both on PvE and PvP elements. When these unique tools are brought in the “real” world everyone will be able to percept their presence with the use of a specific magic. So everyone will see if a relic is present and active, who holds it and where he is. The demi-gods cannot hide. They will have to play pand participate to the PvP if they want to hold these tools or the tools will reset to their old position, after being “available” in the world for a limited period of time. Yes, these tools give you an absurd power, you are a demi god with the possibility of invoke demons and big scale catastrophes but till you have the power, you are a clear target. Both your enemies and your friends will try to steal the tool from you and you cannot hide for long since each of these tools requires an “upkeep”)
Aside these major tools every single other element of the game will have depth. Even the lower magic swords will have their own soul and exclusive “meaning” in the gameplay. Each magic tool will have its own name, story and data. They are like characters. They’ll grow with your character and even the weakest stupid magic dagger, one day, could become a powerful tool. This will follow an advancement system that I’m developing that works on various paths. Each tool will follow its nature and have an easier path to follow, growing quickly on a side and slowly on another. In this case, these tools will produce a bond with the player. You won’t loose them. There’s magic involved and you’ll be able to create your unique legend around these tools. Each single element of the world has an evolution path. A treadmill in a way or anther. Dragons used in a battle will have their own story and will develop abilities based on their own expereince.
I want each player to micro-manage all these elements like sub-characters. The balance will be hold so that everyone will be able to achieve all this, following its own path. The “personal” legend is an advancement path that *everyone* can achieve slowly. A different thing are the limited tools (and unique) like the two swords that will turn a player into a demi-god.
And all this is to be applied to the structure I’ve explained here.