Friday Update #246

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Friday Update #246

Unread postby Golden Girl » Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:13 am

This week, we’ve been doing more of the design work on the presentation of the game world, focusing on the basics of balance – and the player expectations of balance - that comes with making an MMO.

Previously, we gave an example of how the world and narrative structure of the traditional comic book setting, with its huge cast of exceptional protagonists sharing a world together compared to the classic fantasy setting with its generally much smaller group of protagonists, made it a much better fit for an MMO, and that the traditional comic book genre was arguably the ideal match for the basic concept of a shared persistent online world.

However, when it comes to creating a balance between the player characters, the opposite is true – the types of characters that players generally expect to be able to play in a classic fantasy setting settings all operate within a reasonably narrow band of power and ability, so while humans and elves and dwarves and orcs and so on might have various unique advantages and disadvantages, they aren’t to extent that one is vastly superior to the other, with massively powerful characters such as giants and dragons being mostly limited to NPC antagonists.
This in-built level of balance is one of the reasons why the classic fantasy genre was able to be so successfully turned into first the pen and paper experience of ‘Dungeons & Dragons’, and then from there into the traditional MMO format.

The problem with the traditional comic book setting though is that there isn’t that kind of balance – in fact, it’s imbalance that’s built into it on every level - non-powered humans share the world with characters who are basically gods, and trying to translate that into a traditional MMO format is the equivalent of a fantasy game allowing players to be both hobbits and Balrogs, but trying to keep the two within a similar narrow band of power – which is why even ‘City of Heroes’ struggled to make something like the Super Strength power set actually feel super, because it still had to keep it within a narrow enough power band to makes rue that it was balanced with something like Dual Pistols.
So while the traditional comic book setting might be the ideal genre to turn into an MMO from a world and narrative structure point of view, from a player character balance point of view it’s quite possibly the worst genre for a traditional MMO.


Have a heroic/villainous weekend!

The Heroes and Villains team
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Re: Friday Update #246

Unread postby ET3D » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:28 am

That's an interesting discussion, although somewhat of an obvious point. What I'm curious about is why this is discussed at this point in the development. Has there been a shift in direction?

Although at this point I'm hardly gaming and might not really get into an MMO, when I wanted when CoH died was mainly for it to be alive again, not to get a new and 'better' game that's different. Sure, I have my own vision of the 'perfect' superhero game, and that's much different than CoH, but CoH just did enough right that I didn't want a major departure.

CoH struggled with a lot of things. It was far from perfect. But it had simple mechanics which made playing easy, it had enough flexibility to encourage creativity, and it had stories to tie everything together.

I really appreciate all the thought that goes into HaV, and the reporting of it. It always gives me hope that the game will turn out great (something I can't say of other CoH replacement projects). It's just that I occasionally wish that there were more signs that it would be finished in my lifetime and end up simple and encourage the same creativity without being overwhelming in the amount of choice.
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Re: Friday Update #246

Unread postby Golden Girl » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:05 am

ET3D wrote:That's an interesting discussion, although somewhat of an obvious point. What I'm curious about is why this is discussed at this point in the development. Has there been a shift in direction?


No - it's just that as the development continues to progress, this issues tends to pop up more and more frequently - every time we implement something, the first reaction of "this is cool" is almost always followed by "but what about balance?".

Although at this point I'm hardly gaming and might not really get into an MMO, when I wanted when CoH died was mainly for it to be alive again, not to get a new and 'better' game that's different. Sure, I have my own vision of the 'perfect' superhero game, and that's much different than CoH, but CoH just did enough right that I didn't want a major departure.

CoH struggled with a lot of things. It was far from perfect. But it had simple mechanics which made playing easy, it had enough flexibility to encourage creativity, and it had stories to tie everything together.


Well, from day one our goal has always been to create the best possible comic book MMO, because that's what CoH was - however, as you say, CoH wasn't perfect - so our design process has always been to take every single element from CoH as a starting point, and then ask ourselves "is this the absolute best way to implement this aspect of comic books into a video game?" - and depending on the answer, we then follow the CoH template with varying degrees of closeness, or go in another direction.
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