Friday, January 12, 2007

Realistic Everything

I have given some thought on the interest of making things realistic. I'll share with you some of those thoughts, with a glimmer of hope that some may feel the same enthusiasm at these ideas than I do.

I'm thinking that first, combat, in all its forms, should be made more realistic.

Take the melee fights. In a traditional MMORPG, it will be mostly about people getting in front of each other and hitting the opponent over and over until their hit points are depleted. Now, I won't argue against the concept of hit points, even though I realise it is far from realistic as far as combat is concerned, but why do battles have to be so monotonous? Just waiting for the battle to end is certainly boring, but at the same time, you don't want to involve the players directly into the fight, lest your game gains too much of a 'twitch' attribute that certain roleplayers seem to despite. Fortunately, you don't have to involve a player's reflexes and aim to make the combat interesting; simply involve players in the tactics used in the fight.

A swords fight, for example, is won with different tactics, which you want to hide from your opponent. You can feign weakness, and hope your opponent will fall for it; or you can establish a strong defence, and pray that your opponent would be reckless. You can fight recklessly, and hope to overcome your opponent's defences, or you can taunt him, to make him lose concentration. Each fight should be different, and the players need only have to play their own strenghts, and their opponent's weaknesses, to obtain victory.

In ranged fighting, unless you are part of a great army, you will not simply shoot as fast as you can in the hope of out-damaging your opponent. If stealth is on your side, you will aim carefully before shooting. I can envision a player being presented with various probabilities regarding the shot to be taken, and choosing more or less precisely when to take it; take the shot quickly, take it or take it comfortably. It all depends on the evolving circumstances. When faced with an opponent who is aware of your presence, things get more complicated. The player would have to balance the probabilities of the missile being deflected, or simply missing, while the opponent is more or less distracted by things around him; a good team could work dynamics by which the ranged fighters would be safe from assailants and still get good shots at them at opportune moments.

When you get into magical combat, of course, things get more complicated. Some people could develop casting spells while defending themselves into an art, taking unsuspecting opponents by surprise, while others opt for safer routes of using defensive spells, meat shields, or simply running faster than the opponent. Of particular notice is the possibility for fighting players do develop anti-magic techniques, which could be devastating if applied properly. Once again, a player tries to play his strenghts to his opponent's weakness, and may the best win.

But the fun doesn't have to come exclusively to the fighters. Crafting doesn't have to be the tedious task that some MMORPGs make it seem to be. I have previously discussed
ways to make crafting more interesting, so I think my opinions and ideas are pretty clear now, but I think one aspect which still requires attention is the ability for low-level crafters to be of use to the community. A lot of games will force players to spends hours upon hours, as well as a large quantity of resources, into gaining points in their crafting skills before they can make anything that anyone would want, with the effect that there is virtually no one making anything but the most skill-efficient items until they have reached the maximum level of crafting. What would be efficient to make items from players with less skills more desirable would be to have the costs of increased quality be higher, with little regard to skill levels. That way, a simple item made by a low-level player would have sensibly the same qualities as one made by an higher-level player, with the exception that making said item would be more enticing to lower-skilled players, due their limited capabilities and the increased probabilities of leveling off it.

So now there really isn't any reason to think that realism cannot be fun too. With more realistic situations, not only do games become more enticing, but greater emphasis can be placed in individual tactics, making players finally have a need for all those great strategies developed over the years.

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