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Author Topic: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.  (Read 6515 times)

Offline Nova

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How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« on: 12 March 2008 06:25 PM »
Last night while talking with some of the GREAT HF folks, I had a thought.


In many MMO's so much time and effort is put into creating a vast and wonderful world that very few find it interesting enough to simply explore.

So my thought is that in STO or any other MMO that there is no rule that says that when we play the game, inorder for the ship to be damaged or the Player Character to die that we actually have to be fighting something. So what I propose is aside from those common characteristics we discuss how the Universe itself can be a NPC on its own. What I mean by that is on what ever server you are apart of, there is a Community Wide map showing areas of Space that have been explored. The unexplored areas can be seen on the map however only show up as a fog of war. then once a given sector has been explored by a Individual, Crew, or Ship that sector is revealed on the community map and then historical information is recorded on the map showing who it was and when it was that the sector was explored. Methods on how to traverse different areas of space can also differ.

Now with regard to WHY you would want to do this aside from getting the recognition for discovering or uncovering a previously unexplored area of space, one would essentially be faced with many possible unknown adversaries, Allies, and also Nebulas and other Space objects that might cause some form of harm to your ship.

While doing this there would very likely be some form of award system, or even experience to be gained by doing this.

Offline Ishtar

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #1 on: 12 March 2008 06:36 PM »
Well, for the hardcore, exploration is the primary mandate of starfleet.  I would think that it would be pretty implicit in the basic star trek feel of the game that exploration and discovery would be primary activities of most players. 

As to rewards... as with anything starfleet, an intangible reward such as prestige, recognition or simple "I feel good about myself" would be the motovators for a starfleet officer.  as to rewards for the players... simple enough prestige or whatever currency is eventually implimented to the game could be allotted to players who make discoveries. 


Offline Nova

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #2 on: 13 March 2008 12:14 PM »
Thats a very good point to make. I suppose that would create the easiest form of rewarding a player for exploring. However in that model the amount of risk in exploring the unknown is also greater then the reward. But I suppose thats what Boldly going where no one has gone before really means

Offline Zach

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #3 on: 15 March 2008 01:16 PM »
The problem with exploration, especially when you are dealing with an MMO that has hundreds of thousands, hell, lets say millions, of players, is that it would not take very long to explore space - especially when you consider that there HAS to be a limit of how much space they can create in the first place.

Lets say they just choose to recreate 1 quadrant to start with, the alpha quadrant, well, in canon, large parts of this have already been explored...right?   The same can be said for the Beta Quadrant....large areas have already been explored.

The Delta and Gamma Quadrants remain the only areas largley unexplored....in the Nemesis Time Period......but seriously, if the game is set 20 years after Nemesis, with all of this new and amazing engine technology, how much of the Delta Quadrant is left to explore?

Here is another calculation. 1 million players, 1 ship per player, thats a million ships - i dont think all of the races in the entire galaxy would have that many ships.

1 million players...with 1 ship per 5 players....thats 200,000 ships - a little better.

1 million players with 1 ship per 10 players - 100,000 ships - probably a little more realistic - but not for starfleet alone.

Chances are, there are only going to be 2 or 3 major races at launch - Starfleet surely did not have more than 10000 ships overall.......

All i am saying, is that depending on how they do it, there wont be much to explore after a couple of months.

Offline Kinneas

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #4 on: 15 March 2008 03:56 PM »
Contact NASA, Sony, IBM and Toshiba.

Use distributed computing between the above and the subscribers to provide the most up to date slices of plasma galaxy simulations and use those for STO.

You wanted space to be scary...well...seeing how folks manage to survive and map space could be fun and beneficial to everyone...including NASA.


Offline Zach

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #5 on: 20 March 2008 12:44 PM »
That would only work to a point Kinneas. From our little corner of the galaxy, NASA have probably not even mapped 1 percent of it - and thats just OUR galaxy. Star Trek envisioned and incorporated large parts of the galaxy, so theres gunna  be a point where you hit a brick wall by working with NASA.

Its a great idea in principle, but i dont think it would work well for STO.

We need to remember that STO is a game, not a simulation of how humans would survive using current day or near future tech for deep space exploration. NASA need their own game for that.


Offline Nova

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #6 on: 20 March 2008 04:49 PM »
While working with Nasa can and probably will create a effect where the game essentially hits a brick wall with regard to content. however thats not to say that Scientific Theories could not be addressed such as Black Holes. Now as far as dealing with the unknowns of the Theories will that should be left open for the imagination on how scientist THINK it should react.

Ill be honest for me playing STO isnt just going to be about being a Starfleet officer, a Romulan, and Klingon, its also going to be about all those time where I looked at pictures of the Horse Head Nebula, or the Orion Star System and wondered then imaged what it MIGHT look like if I where actually there.

If STO is developed that way, where the MMO world is not just a series of skins and maps but truely artistic marvels that interact with you and your ship then with that concept in mind my god how can this game not be successful.

Also one of the Ideas I propsed was for the developer to develop a universe that is not Static, where the NPC's and Mobs and Spacial Anomolies actually move freely thoughout the universe. I would not want to play a version STO where everytime I went into a new sector that nothing would be new and I knew that I could travel through that sector and not find anything specatacular.

for me true exploration of the environment should be dynamic and just as important to character development as going and killing 15 klingons or gorn, etc etc etc.


Offline SpeakThoseWords

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #7 on: 20 May 2008 10:52 PM »
I've thought about this idea a few times... and there's only one solution I can come up with:

A Content Generator.

It would have to be robust, much more robust than, say, the instance generator in a MMO like City of Heroes (the only one I've played)... A Planet content Generator would have to have modules (and sub modules) for Terrain/Atmosphere, NPCs, Social Structure, Government, Architecture, Resources, Conflict and Anomalies... the Anomaly generator would have to have similar modules, including one for PC and NPC effects.

It would have to be able to generate millions of diverse worlds, not all wholly different, but different enough that a player could travel to 100 or so and not note any glaring similarities. 

NPC text would have to be written in a way that adapts it to a variety of situations... perhaps even make certain text modular to account for low-tech and high-tech societies.  A set of 100-200 NPC classes (coding-term) would be created, and have text and 10-20 quests attached to them, but each implementation of that NPC (ie Tvon of Yalu IV) would only provide one or two, depending on the supposed 'size' of the planet.

Of course, there would be static worlds, the ones that we've seen multiple times in the shows.  But those swaths of space? They'd have to be chocked full of different places to explore.  Some of which will not appear on a simple long-range sensor-scan.  The rewards? In addition to some level of discovery credit, players get access to all those great missions planetside (or shipside in the case of anomalies) and their rewards.

To slide advancement into this pseudo-random instancing is easy: Have certain modules only available as players progress to certain ranks or skill requirements, or only be associated with missions given at certain points in advancement by Starfleet.  To make newbs feel small, give certain sections of space a minimum difficulty setting before they begin to adapt to the players, so that Newbies that take their first runabout straight for deep space will get creamed.  Some sections of space will simply be extremely perilous, even for crews of intermediate toons.

Offering tons of different module types to explore gives explorers ever the chance of seeing 'something new' when they see a new anomaly or visit a new planet.  If the surprises are relatively frequent, with randomized instancing as 'levelling filler' then explorers can feel motivated to continue to push into the random areas. 

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Offline Kinneas

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #8 on: 06 June 2008 06:09 PM »
Returning to the subject:

In a stage one launch (I'm assuming) you would only be dealing with UFP space mostly, with connections to other limited areas outside of it for awhile.

I believe they have enough plasma galaxy simulations to provide space as more than something you drive around in with no consquence.

Yes you could make easy exploration in close to home but what about advanced exploration. What is the 'meaning' of what you are doing.  Does it have any meaning at all?

Provided that those wanting exploration do not want something dumbed down and space itself to be the most feared enemy, every step of a journey into an unexplored area has to be navigated with great care. The prestige of actually being able to survive a long distance exploration through first hand experience could be amazing.

Not just in terms of being the first crew to open a safe lane into a new area, but to scientists around the world who do not have the time to ponder what it would actually take to get through certain regions of simulated space.

I imagine what they have on file in our own neighborhood of space is enough to turn your hair white if you really think about it.

Star Trek these days makes it seem so 'point and click'...and it is because of the computers and hundreds and thousands of people you do not see on screen constantly working round the clock to make sure the ship can move an inch.
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I do not see any chance of hitting 'brick walls'. With only a guess, it could gamers a hundred years just to do simulated mappings of the areas around us.
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I understand how many think it needs to be more casual...especially for the noobs. I have NO problem with that and think it should be very gimped for a good amount of time to begin with.

Yet the ante has been upped and there is now the possibility that a MMO and a TV show WILL be possible by 2010.

With folks being able, through their action, to change the outcome of game and TV events, you will need to make aspects of it extremely challenging.

Being able to actually have what it takes to do advanced exploring and make a difference in a Star Trek/TV/MMO could 'mean something'.

Something you and your crews can be proud of and something the entire STO:TVMMO and science community world would acknowledge you for being able to do.

As an explorer or exploring crew you would be valuable from the start to the community and ongoing storylines. You would be in the new era canon as the ones who opened those lanes into the new territory so the show and game could continue. 

You become canon and you help shape the next 40 years of Star Trek lore.

Does that not make space exploration sound dangerous, thrilling and exciting?

Or do you want it so 'leethxor69' on day one has just as much chance to make a difference as someone who has played for a year and has become specialized in exploring?
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Offline BLZBUB

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Re: How can we Explore in a MMO and it be fun.
« Reply #9 on: 06 June 2008 07:14 PM »
 I am thinking somewhat along the line's you have mentioned Kinneas. But it depends on the era that the game/tvMMO is launched.
 What I am thinking is that for players starting off in the game, that their smallish "Cadet-rank" ships would be limited to manageable distances; say 12 light years in diameter.



[You will notice Wolf 359 above and to the left of Sol]

Once the player has sufficient time in-game and has graduated into officer rank; (Ensign to Lieutenant, say), then their larger ship classes could be allowed to explore further, maybe out to 2000 LY. Once there has been sufficient training in their fields ( science/command/Engineering) the radius could be expanded once again to encompass the entire Milky Way Galaxy, encompassing 50,000 LY. This, of course would have some restrictions placed within it, by not allowing ships to travel to far into the Gamma and Delta quadrants. (The Bajoran wormhole being the exception to the rule..it could be open to caomand rank players only, perhaps)
 I hope this idea would encourage exploration by setting goals to strive for, that being the opportunity to go farther out from Sector 001 as one progresses in rank and training.

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