- The end of direct control
There seems to be a move towards more twitch. Gamers are using macro's to fight enemies so we force them to twitch to grind their XP. Eh, no. If players can come up with 1 macro to fight all your enemies then there is something wrong with your enemies. Create better AI and more diverse fighting styles. Current twitch reasoning seems to follow advertisers reasoning. People are going to the toilet during the ads. Make ads longer so people will still get ads when they return from the toilet.
I am proposin a system closer to that found in games like Jagged Alliance. Your avatar in real time will find her way to the clicked destination based on skills, stance settings, enviroment and enemy presence. Leap/climb, sneak/run etc etc.
Direct control has problems:
- High bandwidth, every twitch has to be send to the server and all the clients in the same area.
- Low predictability in low bandwidth enviroments.
- Bad animation match up. If I hit you with my sword and you block that is just statistics. The changes of the animation involved reflecting the numbers is zero. Because your position and mine ain't fixed on a grid the animator can't line them up.
- Low enviroment interaction. Check the animation for leaping over a fence in Jagged Alliance vs ANY free 3D game. Tomb Raider can only pull the really nice moves when the animator knows where she is going to be. How many MMORPGS with melee combat have anything like the melee combat we so love in Martial Arts movies? Leaping over the heads of enemies? Let alone actuall wrestling. Not even Oni style body on body interaction is possible.
- Low interaction between player and game. Because you have to control every twitch of your avatar you can't chat or control other elements of your game.
- Low strategic awareness. You can't look behind your avatar.
- Some stats don't make sense. Intelligence. If your avatar is not in some control then their intelligence is never tested. Intelligence would allow an avatar to determine how save a move is. Low intellgence avatars would make more stupid moves. Effects as fear become far more realistic.
- Easier to deal with connection losses. Your avatar would keep fighting according to your preset orders.
There are offcourse disadvantages as well. The most obvious is the need for really good AI. Enemy AI is meant to be defeated. If they pull an amazing stupid move then that is okay. They are meant to die. It would be far less fun if your own AI avatar blows themselves up.
Another problem is that by definition twitch has a more instant appeal. The only reason to go for less direct control is to increase the weight of tactics and that means a steeper learning curve.
MMORPG's on the other hand are supposed to have long lasting appeal. My belief is that a strong tactical element lasts longer. Proof? The lifespan of Counter Strike vs Quake.
- Adjusting world areas
A MMORPG needs to be massive. A true RPG that allows you play a wide range of roles needs to have a truly gigantic space in wich the players move. To be a lone scout you need an area that is truly remote. To be a trader you need to have multiple areas worthy to trade between.
To create this you would need to create several areas. At start of the game some of them will designated as developed and some as undeveloped. Developed areas are were the player starts live, these areas are well patrolled. Undeveloped areas are barren and extremely dangerous. Other areas are in between. As the game develops some developed areas will become more popular this can be offset by increasing taxation. In response some underdeveloped areas will further develop.