Sunday, December 17, 2006

On Freedom to Explore

I'm an explorer. It doesn't mean I get bored when there's no more maps to draw, just that I want to learn everything threre is to learn about, well, everything. That's what I do, learn. According to the thesis to which I linked in my previous post, PKers (player killers) hate explorers, because we might know obscure stuff that makes them harder to kill or, devs forbid, might be able to kill the PKer. So if you want your PKer population down, make sure there's plenty to explore and learn.

So how do you prevent your population from uncovering everything within the first week? One way is to have lots of stuff. Keep dreaming. Anything you add to the game will have to be tested first, and you can be sure by the time you're done testing it, it will be no secret to the players... (Not to say I disapprove of having a lot of material, just that it, alone, does not make a game enticing to explorers).

You can also have new content pop out; whether because the developpers got around to adding it, or the players unlocked it (See World of Warcraft war effort). You could have mines that the players actually shape (Have them cave-in when dug too much, so they won't run out of rocks. Everyone knows mountains have unlimited amounts of rocks anyway); forests that the players clear-cut, and which extend outwards if left to their own; cities that the players actually build... Technical limitations aside, there are few insensitives to not adding more content. More room means players will likely not be competing for the same resources; however, they are also less likely to bump into each other. If player-built towns are implemented, then players will likely stay around aggregations (cities or temporary camps), and can choose whether they want to meet people or explore on their own by how far from aggregations they stick.

With the previously-mentionned crafting system and free skill system, munchkinish explorers will have their hands full trying to find new powerful combinations. If you want more terrain to explore, however, you will have to make it. Artists come at a price, and random terrain generators lack the sophistication and charm of dev-made terrains, so pick your poison carefully.

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