September 26th, 2009, 12:37 PM
Paul makes some good points, and it is refreshing to get to a point of discussing details.
What Paul suggests, are some good ways to build in restrictions, rules and/or systems of reward/punishment. And that is all good, it is what is needed to get the thing to work.
But for me, the fundamental issue remain - each of those additions make the game more restricted for one class of player, in favor of another class. And I think it needs to be like that, and therein lies the problem
Because if we compare this game idea with "normal" games of the same genres, those who play at one of the levels will be more restricted in their gaming experience, will have more "artificial" limitations imposed on them, then those playing a "normal" game of the same type.
We must offer the player something in return for putting up with those limitations (eg. for choosing this MMO instead of stand-alone games of the included genres). I can't see it being so inherently cool in ordering around/be bossed about by a real person that it makes up for those limitations.
And that's why I don't think there's a way to get this game to work - how would you make the restrictions "light" enough for people to play it, when there's games without those restrictions that they could play instead. Or, alternatively, how could we leverage the fact that you control or take orders from real people, and use it to give enough reward for people to want to put up with the limitations we need to impose to balance the game?
Personally, I can't see how that could be done. The restrictions are required for balance. The reward for putting up with them is not enough to offset their impact.
September 26th, 2009, 06:23 PM
That is an excellent point: a central question besides "can it be done", is "can it be fun". To begin to address a question like this, I again think you would have to start by gathering a lot of data.
First of all, it would be virtually impossible to get any solid information by just asking gamers. Since there is currently no game following a concept like this available, all anyone could really tell you is their best guess on whether or not they think it MIGHT be fun to play. And really, this is what Mattias has done above: stated his belief that it probably wouldn't be fun, because of the restrictions. This information, while not hard evidence one way or another, is still very useful: it forces you to consider the types of problems that you will absolutely need to address - in this case, how to ballance freedom and control and still be competitive with other available games.
While polling gamers is important, when you are done with that, there are two central questions here that will need to be addressed before you can begin to develop a game concept. Namely, "what makes a game fun", and "what makes a game competitive". These are the questions you need to break down, talk to people about, and do a great deal of research on.
The first question, "what makes a game fun" is a tough one. The truth is, you can probably get a few people to enjoy playing just about anything (people still hold "Pong" tournaments, for example). The question really is, "what makes a game fun to a large enough number of people to make it worth the time and resources to develop". I am in no way an expert on the subject of "fun" (I personally don't see the appeal of WoW or Halo, even though they obviously appeal to huge numbers of players). But some of the things I would suggest looking at besides the obvious graphics quality, music, and special effects, would be things like perspectives, story-lines, player interactions, empathy for the avatar, rank and equipment prestige, pride of accomplishments, community cohesiveness, and player addiction. And there are many, many more possibilities. When you understand how to employ these tools effectively, you can then write them into your game concept to counter the known problem areas in order to make your game appeal to a larger number of people.
The second question, "what makes a game competitive" is a bit more straight forward, but still just as important. This will involve looking into things like advertising and marketing, evolution of the game after release, and online community development. This will also involve gathering metrics on current and emerging technologies, so that when your game finally hits the market, it utilizes available hardware. Again, I have no personal experience in this field, but if it were me, I would read every available book on the subject and do extensive research to learn how the successful entertainment companies like Blizzard do it.