Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fable 2 - What MMO's could learn - Part two

As I continue to play the addictively wonderful Fable 2, I see some things that Fable 2 does well. These lead to more observations on how the MMO could learn from a console game (and how it could work...)

The first is actually based on a post from Hudson on Curt Schilling's new MMO, Copernicus.


Schilling states...
"new ways to deliver quest info because no one reads the quest text anyway"

How true.

In Fable 2, when you near someone with a quest marker, they start talking to you, like in passing them down the street.
I have several bounty quests for example, that as I near a guard he says "How would ye like to make some money?"
Then along the top of my screen a "Hold A to accept" appears.
I can either...listen to his spiel or just accept it and move along.
And the sentences will adjust according to what I do. So, as soon as "Hold A..." appears, and I do this, he all of a sudden changes his tone...
" is where you can find them"
Then hands me a contract. With directions.
Done and ready to go...

Now, note, this could be done quickly in some scrolling text along the bottom of the screen or a box would pop up with the text for someone to read...(as we know voice talent can get expensive...ask Funcom when they gave up 60 levels of voiceovers...ugh.) ...

Keep it simple, stupid always seems to work. And for those who require more, or need lore, then you may go back and look at the logbook for the full text (think the Tome from WAR). No one should be forced to sit through long voiceovers or read tons of text anymore.

Another neat feature is "rumors". Every once in a while a pop up appears on screen, which notifies you if someone is looking for help on a quest. This helps eliminate an issue most players discuss as the "on rails" game mechanic. You know where to go, what to do.
Certainly this can happen after the fact once you played through...but, that initial game should not be forced too much.

I also think a lot of people dream of the sandbox mode also, but this does not always work. Oblivion as an MMO would not be fun, as you are forced to find where to go and what to do.

A little direction is needed, but never so much that this "rails" mechanic feels forced. A balance between the two modes of games would work.

Fable 2 understood this.

Ok, moving on.


I have discussed this before, but lets look back at this based on things that have happened while I have played.

The game does minor checks and will make adjustments to items based on purchasing and not purchasing. Selling comes into play as well.

Most MMO's economy is totally decided by the Dev and the player.
Dev's create static pricing to start. Then most of the "good" stuff becomes 100% player driven.

In Fable 2 it is a two way street. The system checks on various antics of the players in their purchasing trends. But, that is not all. It checks for workloads, and makes adjustments there based on your jobs. Sales of found goods also will play into the economy.

For example, I decided to do some massive Blacksmithing one time.
Within a 24 hour span, there was a drop in prices at all "Weapons" based stalls.

Next was Woodworking...Surprise, the furniture store had a sale.

I decided to purchase a bunch of veggies to eat to reduce my weight some (was getting fat on pies and meat...I will discuss that later...).
Seems a shortage hit vendors for produce.

I sold some excellent weapons one time to a vendor, and next thing I know, a major sale for weapons at that particular stall.

And lets not even discuss making money based on purchasing store fronts. Bars, Inns, food stalls, all making me cash. Even when I am offline.

A way this could work is the system does these checks on players. Then for those who wish to sell their goods, would do it through a stall, and can compete with other players for prices. Sales, markups, etc.
A players own personal AH.

Going back to the example I used from Guild Wars previously.
A database compiles sales and auctions from players in that game, and then vendors adjust their prices accordingly so that players either can sell directly to the vendor, or try their hand to get a few bucks more by auctioning it off.

Combine this with the stall theory above, and we would have a dynamic real world type economy on hand.


The final discussion is something that a lot of gamers discuss ...especially in their MMO.

Looking unique.

Some games do a good job of offering a wide variety of options to create your character. In game is where it starts to fall apart.

Make a cool hairstyle in creation? Then you get goofy helmets to cover it (even though some are nice to allow you to turn off helms). Pick a certain outfit in creation and then watch it immediately be removed within minutes for new armor (looks at Tabula Rasa harshly).

There is only so much that can be done here. But, with Fable 2, we see the option to change hairstyles, beards, tattoo's, and more. Other things change in Fable 2 also (weight, muscle)...This is based on how you use weapons and how you eat...but I know this may be too much for an MMO to do.

The start of the game should either stick and you make slight adjustments as you play, or go the Spellborn route and allow FULL control of your visual from the start.

Then update items you selected. Basically play with the same look all the way if you wish.

I am interested in seeing how this is done in Spellborn.

But something else I wish to talk about is the "Death Penalty" adjustment to your looks.

Fable 2 implemented a non- issue death penalty, where you instantly get back up and get into the fight. No corpse runs (stupid), no rez points (gotta run back and hope the spawns did not happen), and no armor or weapon degrades.

Instead you degrade your appearance.

If you die, and did NOT have a resurrection potion (awesome idea), then when you get back up, you have scarring. It changes your appearance with facial or body scars of combat.

Really makes you think about taking those res potions (which are expensive btw) or else start to turn ugly.

I am pretty scarred in my face right choice. I thought the concept was sound. The wife...always has a potion (of course she gets mad that EVERYONE loves her in the towns...told her to remove the makeup and the hot sexy outfit she is wearing...)


We could take this to clothing or armor in the MMO realm also. Appearance just seems to be a side note...with all the shiny armor never getting dirty (except for Age of Conan where armor already has blood or dirt caked on certain idea). What if the armor got dinged or dirty. A reason to go buy new or repair your own.

Death penalties have been another issue of the genre, and is really not on topic here...but boy, the idea of quick revivals and back into combat and damaging your looks could be a fun way to promote a different death penalty..


These are just a few ideas I have gleaned from the way we play MMO's, and how maybe the genre needs a good swift kick in the rearview...

The players will of course still accept the cloning process I am sure, but I know some like myself are looking for some different ways the game can play.

All I know is it has been a while since a game has made me really think about the way I play RPG's. Fable 2 has progressed the genre quite a bit.

Of note, Fallout 3 released last night and officially today. I am interested in their playstyles also. From what I have read, Fallout 3 is less sandboxed than Oblivion, but keeps an open game for you.

Will see more of it this weekend when I pick it up. For now. back to gaming.

Any thoughts on these suggestions or ways you would like the genre to change?

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