Principal Lead Systems Designer Damion Schubert talks about designing systems for a MMORPG!
Massively multiplayer games are not new. The first true massively multiplayer game was a text-only virtual world called MUD, put together by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw in 1978. This little window of dizzying text descriptions was a far cry visually from the seductively lush 3D virtual worlds of today, but it was enough. Enough to get the genre started, and enough to get armchair designers across the world to imagine the possibilities, and debate philosophical matters of game design. One of these questions, still asked today, is whether or not massively multiplayer environments should strive to be games or to be worlds.
Highlights of the Developer Blog after the jump.
A new screenshot of a group consisting of all of the classes of the republic, similar to the one seen in the GDC content:
In this Developer Blog, Damion Schubert highlights aspects of his past experience in the industry, community, grouping, and crafting, and its importance to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
By defining community as "the whole massively multiplayer part of MMO," Schubert stresses you can level from level one to max without grouping, but they want you to feel grouping is beneficial without being forced to so. He explains they are experimenting with rewards for helping other party members with their class quest objectives, and they are pleased with its progress.
On the subject of crafting, Schubert explains the design team isn't satisfied with systems from other games, as those systems focused more on the player crafter, and rarely about helping the community with your skills. Schubert hints at a system where "true dedicated crafters can make a name for themselves and be important in their community."
Another topic Schubert touches on is the difference between "sandbox" and "theme park" MMOs in open worlds, how the two approaches affect the community, and how the game philosophy can drastically change based on the direction that the designers decide on. If the space is open, vast, and is very player-driven, then people feel open but with little sense of goal or direction. In contrast, games that are tightly controlled may have higher balance, but also lead the player in a way so they will have a maximum amount of fun. "Freedom is a true part of the magic of MMOs," Schubert said, "and artificial constraints and mechanics can undermine the fiction and the sense that you are living in the virtual world." He concludes by stating the developers are striving for a balance between both, as Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMO -- and the systems and features they are developing will reinforce this.