One of the things that annoyed me the most about every MMO that I played (and I’ve played about a dozen since being in the EQ beta) was that I never felt like I was making a difference in the world. I’d get a quest to get rid of some troublesome mobs and an hour later they’d be running around right back where I left their corpses.
I understand that in order to balance the games the way they’d been designed to make it fair for all the players that they had to do this, but haven’t we evolved past that? Is it not possible for players to do things that other players haven’t and still have it be fair and balanced? As long as players all get a chance to do the same amount of quests and get the same level of rewards/experience, it should be ok, right?
That’s what I’d like to see in my hypothetical spy game. There should be enough trouble caused by the “bad guys” (who can be players) that the good guys have enough to keep them busy and the world should be alive enough for the bad guys to find things to do to keep the good guys in business.
Perhaps the game can help both sides out by providing tidbits that lead to missions (think – snitches for both sides). How about allowing players to play both sides of the fence as informers? Non-action type classes seemed to work well in SWG, after all. Hmmm, have to think about that. How would that type of player progress through the game? Money, probably, which means he needs some way to spend it (I smell a topic for the next blog post). At the very least players should be allowed to try to infiltrate the other organization in order to bring information back to their HQ.
Would the game need a 3rd organization to balance out the two and provide more activities to perform? That’s a thought. It would be a ton more work, but might help keep things interesting longer.
The types of assignments are something I’d like to see expanded from the regular MMO variety. Of course there would be the typical Fed Ex, kill <x>, escort, etc. but there has to be a way to make them more interesting. For Fed Ex and escort missions, there should be a chance that an opposing agency knows about the delivery or person being escorted and that would lead to the player having to figure out whether to try to complete the mission stealthily or by gunning it out. For the latter, calling backup should be an option. Completing the mission for a percentage of XP is better than dying, right? Which brings up another topic for discussion – death. :\ That’ll probably have to be another post. I’m of two minds on the subject and need to think about it.
Multi-step assignments are also something that should be part of the game. Every good spy show carried some missions through multiple episodes where they did something new each episode. An eavesdropping mission turns up information about a Fed Ex mission or theft being planned that the agent then needs to stop. After stopping the delivery the package is examined which leads to another mission.
Obviously, the mission system is going to make or break the game. I can see many man hours being spent designing the system, let alone figuring out missions and how to set them up and get them to players. I’d love to hear some feedback on what’s wrong with current quest systems and how to fix them while keeping them fun and balanced.