The tripartite model

I paste here the short version so that I can link it. The complete, detailed version is here.

I’m also going to save at the bottom the discussion, when I have time.

To add, I’ve actually been struggling with adopting single player storylines to MMORPGs for a while, though I often use Deus Ex as my example. It’s simply easier for me to visualize. The best way to do it though would be to heavily instance anything concerning the main story while side quests and the open city were the MMORPG part. By branching it into instances and allowing the story to morph somewhat according to your actions in the MMORPG section of the world, I think a compelling game would be created. It would require a project manager the likes of which the game industry has never seen though.


This was my idea from the very beginning. See the scheme.

The three layers: (1) open pvp sandbox – (2) (soloable) narrative – (3) communal PvE – happen in different parts of the world:

(1) The “shards” here are the PvP (persistent) war maps where the players are divided in three hardcoded factions (+ player-made). Where there’s also the emergent level of the RTS (managing resources, supply lines, patrols etc..) and where all the level of the trade/economy exists. The whole world here is at 100% in the hands of the players. This is the Sandbox pushed to the limit. And this layer would try to simulate much more than just combat. This should be a complete, detailed “virtual world”. At war.

(2) From these shards the players can use portals to travel to the “planes” (see the image, these are also persistent). These are other dimensions (the game setting was based on “Stormbringer”, by Michael Moorcock, one of the best “dark fantasy” writers EVER). The multiverse. The planes work like social hubs. They are one rather big zone that pivots around a NPC big outpost/city whatever (depending on the different settings for each plane). From here the players can adventure in the proximity of the city (since there’s a certain amount of wilderness sourrounding the city/hub) or open portals to other dimensions (and here we have a total freedom on the content of these dimensions). These portals mean that from there onward you are instanced. It can be a dungeon as it can be a completely independent WORLD. As I wrote elsewhere the idea is to have a “fluid” perception of reality, where everything can happen and where you can add “destabilizing” elements for the player. You become a traveler of worlds, the potential is ENDLESS. This level I described is the level of the narrative I explain in this thread. This is also the part that must be COMPLETELY SOLOABLE. With groups of players of four at max and balanced by default for duos.

(3) Third is the level of the communal PvE. You are still on the planes and the communal PvE can be or an instance or some encounter out there in the wilderness (out of the city/hub). To have access to these encounters you need to “unblock” them by progressing in the narrative. These are more epic instances less based on a solid, involving story. And more based on the group mechanics/challenge. This is also a level deeply interconnected with the first (the PvP) because these instances have the main purpose of summoning powerful artifacts that can only be used on PvP (also unique per-world and lootable in combat if you die).

See the three levels? The Sandbox is open, persistent, not instanced. The Narrative is open (for the social hub around the main cities) and then instanced so that the player can immerse himself. The progress here is about *the story*. The quests exist for the story coherently with what I wrote just above. And finally the third level that is the “social” PvE. Both instanced and not, that is also tied with the wirst layer. Bringing every aspect of the game together.

Note: The game is “skill based” and on a flat power curve. The power differential is kept low between new and veteran players, so that they can ALWAYS play and adventure together. The character advancement, for the most part, is optional. You can choose to advance your character playing one of the three layers or all at once. The progress depending on the research, instead, (to find rarer spells, evocations and so on. Basically the “meat” of your skills) is strictly tied to the “narrative”, which is, again, soloable. The third level (communal PvE), instead, is NOT tied to the character progress. You WON’T get more powerful items you cannot achieve in the “single-player” game. This level works only for some rare items, skills and spells that define a “status”. But not directly the power. Never as “more powerful version of the same”.

This means that the only, truly mandatory layer is the one of the narrative (and in fact it’s soloable to keep it accessible for everyone). The other two (sandbox and communal PvE) are optional.

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