MMORPGs and killing.

edited June 2008 in Story Games
Over in the stuff to watch thread for June someone brought up the Hello Kitty MMORPG and J Walton said he'd be glad when someone came up with a MMORPG where the central mechanic didn't revolve around killing.

Does anyone have some examples of MMORPGs or thing like MMORPGs that fit this bill?

In the category of "things like" I'll put forward Animal Crossing. Never have I watch so many friends spend so much time gardening on a screen together.

Comments

  • I've been following Lila Dreams Blog. They are being somewhat secretive about how exactly the final game will work, but I get the impression that fighting may not be a central mechanic.
  • I actually had a similar discussion with a co-worker on how you could do a pen-and-paper version of Animal Crossing. The main concern was, what would the "point" of the game be?

    ME
  • I'm somewhat conflicted, but I actually think EVE online kinda sorta fits the bill. Now, sure, EVE is a hardcore sandbox and very PVP heavy at least beyond safe space. But at the same time, it allows you to play a character that never, ever fights, and still fulfill an important role in the game. (Not to mention become better and all that.)

    So where in something like WoW, there is absolutely no levelling without killing, EVE allows you to earn your money (In EVE Money is basically how you become better. Money and time, anyway.) by nice and friendly means like mining, transporting stuff from A to B and good old trading. So not only is a full-time Trader (Or miner, hauler, whatever.) a pretty good concept for a character, the game even supports you in that with Quests specifically for these activities, allowing you to gain ressources like loyalty points like other mission-runners, only without killing.

    Now, just mining all the time can be somewhat boring (I'm playing a Miner, can you tell?), but still, killing stuff is not necessary like it is in other MMOs.
  • I designed a Facebook MMORPG that involves little elves running around building communities, helping people with problems, and cheering up grumpy monsters while doing every nonviolent thing they can think of to resist the forces of Chaos.
  • edited June 2008
    That Facebook idea reminds me of my recent Warcraft experiences, wherein I learned that the community-building and morale issues are much more "the game" when it comes to large-group raiding. If those challenges are addressed well, the actual "Shoot monster to get loot" bit is almost an afterthought. If they're not, your work is cut out for you.

    (Of course, most people in those kinds of raids don't recognize this, leading to the popular interpretation that guilds "just work" unless someone injects "drama", which reminds me very much of the idea that a roleplaying game just works unless someone causes trouble. In both cases, the person bringing an issue to the group's attention is typically blamed for the issue, whether or not it originates with them.)

    I always found it interesting that the folks who were really good at the networking and community-building often played healers. Is there an element of "healer is a nurturing role, and I'm a person interested in that?" Is there an element of "Groups need a healer, so I can network more effectively by filling that role for people?" My anecdotal experience tells me that the healers who were focused on the community-building element were extremely good at the job of healing, which may be apropros of nothing. (In a past MMO I played a support caster who literally couldn't kill anything on his own, he simply managed the chaos of the battle through buffs and crowd control, and I actually realized that I had to community-build to get the most use out of my abilities, and that I enjoyed doing so. Kinda neat emergent behavior.)

    I fully recognize that "Not killing, but helping other people kill" isn't what you're referring to here. I just find it interesting how people have carved out niches that fulfill their interests in games that pretty much fail to explictly acknowledge those interests.
  • Zon is designed to teach Chinese (Mandarin) through language immersion.
    Posted By: merb101I actually had a similar discussion with a co-worker on how you could do a pen-and-paper version of Animal Crossing. The main concern was, what would the "point" of the game be?
    Well RPGs are easier to build around not killing, because you still can have conflict and make it flexible and creative. In most of the games I play, violence is only one of many options. And it would be fairly easy to make it all about gardening, fishing contests, collecting and neighborhood relationships and so forth.
  • Posted By: Alvin FrewerZonis designed to teach Chinese (Mandarin) through language immersion.

    Posted By: merb101I actually had a similar discussion with a co-worker on how you could do a pen-and-paper version of Animal Crossing. The main concern was, what would the "point" of the game be?
    Well RPGs are easier to build around not killing, because you still can have conflict and make it flexible and creative. In most of the games I play, violence is only one of many options. And it would be fairly easy to make it all about gardening, fishing contests, collecting and neighborhood relationships and so forth.

    But I think a big appeal of that game is the community aspect, the persistant world and commerce. I think those would be harder to do in a role-playing game because everyone kinda sees everything a little differently, and to me it would break down to book-keeping.

    I know in Aces & Eights, the wild west game by Kenzer Co., you can play that game with very little gunplay, just drifting from career to career, but really those are almost mini-games around what is really a tactical miniatures game.

    I know we're talking about MMO's here. If this is too off topic, I will take it to another thread.

    ME
  • Sometimes I get depressed with how many thousands and tens of thousands of intelligent beings my MMO rogue has killed.
  • Posted By: KynnSometimes I get depressed with how many thousands and tens of thousands of intelligent beings my MMO rogue has killed.
    Which reminds me of another good thing in EVE. When I do blow up some NPC opponents that attack me while mining, I can councel myself with the fact that at least I only blow up their ships and they get away in their rescue pods.

    (Ok, nobody ever sees rescue pods with NPC opponents. But PCs get them, so that's good enough for me and my conciousness.)
  • It's probably off topic, but I liked in splinter cell when I stood over a heap of bodies...unconcious bodies. To be bad ass and morally spick and span, feels soooo goooood!
  • There is / was The Sims Online, now turned into EA-land.. I think.

    (That is, if it's still running at all)
  • edited June 2008
    I remember when I used to play EverQuest (nobody laugh, dammit!), if I found a rare, strange, and wonderful creature that I had never seen before, guess what my initial instinct was.

    "Hm. I wonder what it drops if I kill it!"

    I look back at that and think, man, that's kinda sick.
    We definitely need some alternative reward cycle.
  • edited June 2008
    I was a software engineer for the (defunct) Star Trek Online MMORPG. Our game designers were (lamely) trying to make "WoW in Spaaaaaaace". (Two of our lead designers used to work at Blizzard.)

    But all the Trekkie fans on the game forums wanted a "starship simulator". The #1 most requested feature was "ship interiors and personal quarters". The players didn't want to kill things; they simply wanted to play "Magical Tea Party" inside their own starship. Our game designers just didn't understand that Star Trek is about drama in the starship, not killing things and taking their stuff. Trekkies wanted "Sims in Spaaaaaace". That game would have a small niche market, but it would actually be kinda cool and have very devoted fans. If you used random, procedurally-generated planets and aliens, the company wouldn't need to hire armies of expensive "level designers" and the players could explore an infinite universe.

    Another design challenge is that everyone wants to be Kirk, but in a persistent shared game world, you can't have 100,000 Kirks.
  • Posted By: Chris PetersonBut all the Trekkie fans on the game forums wanted a "starship simulator". The #1 most requested feature was "ship interiors and personal quarters". The players didn't want to kill things; they simply wanted to play "Magical Tea Party" inside their own starship. Our game designers just didn't understand that Star Trek is about drama in the starship, not killing things and taking their stuff. Trekkies wanted "Sims in Spaaaaaace". That game would have a small niche market, but it would actually be kinda cool and have very devoted fans. If you used random, procedurally-generated planets and aliens, the company wouldn't need to hire armies of expensive "level designers" and the players could explore an infinite universe.
    This is so true, and so awesome. I hope that someone makes an attempt at it anyway. I totally want to be an assistant Cardassian tailor with a shady past. And yeah, options to decorate my own quarters.
    Posted By: Callan S.It's probably off topic, but I liked in splinter cell when I stood over a heap of bodies...unconcious bodies.
    Absolutely. I remember that (played the first two). I also dug that about the Thief series as well. Sure, you could *murder* dudes, but you can also get around by knocking them out.

    That's one thing I really didn't like about the GTA series (FWIW, I can't recall if I actually finished any of them other than the 80s one; I mostly just used it to drive around crazy while listening to my thumpin' mp3s) was the fact that you couldn't get from mission to mission without absolutely killing people.

    Like in the third one, we see CJ walk into a room where another dude from his gang is shooting up. "You want some?"
    "Naw man, I don't roll with that".
    I'm like "Cool, that's interesting. Well, actually, it's probably a censorship thing, but still... he's not into drugs! Rock!"
    ...but then they're like, "Hey CJ wanna go kill like some senator and his girlfriend?" and he's like, "FUCK. YEAH. Do I have to drive them off a pier, or can't I just stab them in the face with an icepick? CMON I NEED TO GET MY GUN OFF."

    I thought it would have been so awesome if, frex, on the "you must drive a senator and his girlrfiend/wife off a pier" scenario, if you could just instead of actually killing them, like drive to the edge of town (even if it was 3 times harder) and let them out, saying "You're dead, never let them find you" and let them go.

    Aaaaaaaanyway...

    -Andy
  • edited June 2008
    I like WoW because "death" is just a run back from the graveyard. Even for NPCs. They always come back, after all, right?

    I like to think that that was the consequence of Nordrassil falling — it released the Night Elf immortality to the planet, in a diluted form. ;)
  • Looks like Cryptic may have taken up the Star Trek MMOG gauntlet... http://www.massively.com/2008/06/13/is-cryptic-hinting-at-star-trek-online/
  • edited June 2008
    Andy, I thought the mission where he's going to steal a book of ryhmes for this rapper he doesn't think much of, was worse. And of course, he's going to slit several dozen throats to do so (it was a 'stealth' mission). It was also a 'You have to do it' mission.

    I mean, in stand up fights, you can sort of imagine many character motives to fight back and kill. But when people aren't paying attention, kill them for a stupid notebook? For someone you don't even like? Dumb ass psycho path is the only character type that comes to my mind. It went from character sandbox to character railroad at that point.
  • Posted By: Josh RobyI like WoW because "death" is just a run back from the graveyard. Even for NPCs. They always come back, after all, right?

    I like to think that that was the consequence of Nordrassil falling — it released the Night Elf immortality to the planet, in a diluted form. ;)
    That doesn't work, for me atleast, since were supposed to enjoy the idea of killing a dangerous foe, not bothering them for awhile. Didn't the game suggest to you the moment to moment fun is killing evil, rather than bothering evil? I could accept and see the fun of a game where it's about making evil have to jog all the time, but it's presented as the fun of killing. Makes it hard to get over that 'I'm a mass murderer' idea.

    I'd rather hoped in LOTRO they had an option to knock out rather than kill. I didn't think much of my 'hero' after awhile, morality wise.
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: C. EdwardsLooks like Cryptic may have taken up the Star Trek MMOG gauntlet...http://www.massively.com/2008/06/13/is-cryptic-hinting-at-star-trek-online/
    wow! I worked for Perpetual Entertainment and knew that Cryptic acquired the Star Trek license (but didn't want any of Perpetual's code or art).

    That was in January 2008. If STO launches in August, Cryptic will have built in 8 months what Perpetual Entertainment couldn't do in 5 years. Of course, Cryptic already had a complete MMORPG client, server, and content pipeline (from City of Heroes/Villains and Champions Online).
  • That Cryptic countdown timer suggested to me that August is when they'll announce it officially to the fanbase and start building up hype, not when the game will be released. MMOs seem to have taken the Presidential race as an inspiration for determining the amount of time that needs to be spent saber rattling.
  • Posted By: Josh RobyI like WoW because "death" is just a run back from the graveyard. Even for NPCs. They always come back, after all, right?
    Thats part of why I'm playtesting and enjoying Magical Land of Yeld. If your character dies, you become a ghost, and can still have a (slight) effect on combat. You also can do a Brave challenge to come back to life in the middle of the fight, but are limited in the number of challenges you can make during each session.

    Scratches that MMO itch for me.

    ME
  • Somewhat on topic: I totally died in EVE today. My ship was obliterated by a 15-person gatecamp, out in the dark regions beyond empire space...

    And it was totally awesome. But then I had a clone back at home, ready to receive my uploaded conciousness mere seconds after my somewhat undignified demise, so that took the sting out of it.

    But hey, at least everybody else has a clone too, so nobody's really killing anybody permanently...

    ^_^

    (Man, I hope they don't fuck up the EVE rpg...)
  • The funny thing is in eve, you get a letter from yourself saying 'If your reading this, you must have died'

    Personally I still don't like that method - it takes the edge out of it, thematically. I'm waiting for a game where if your character is about to die, instead circumstances are made such that a friend of your characters dies. NPC Friendships would be something you cultivate during play due to mechanics (and your character is restricted to a safe zone until he develops a friendship). I think the obvious route would to be to make the NPC friends sympathetic characters - so it really bloody hurts when they die! >:)

    Eh, another thing that bugs me in EVE is the escape pod. It seems vindictive for other players to kill you that way. Sure, it puts another competitor even further behind, so I see the tactic. But in terms of game design, why can't they just make no escape pod - you just die on ship explosion? It's like these few seconds where mercy could be given and you as a player can't do anything (your in a shitty escape pod). Then your killed anyway. It's a real non game moment, where you've lost but lets string you along for a bit longer with hope of mercy in a merciless game. It just rubs it in, when if that's going to happen, it should be at the social level or not at all. Perhaps it's a hang over from the PVE combat, where you can 'pod and escape, usually.
  • As I understand it, the person killing you doesn't HAVE to podkill you. They just usually do, because the kind of person that's going to gatecamp to destroy newbies in their frigates is the sort who wants to make you lose any uninsured skills, too. It's not because you're a potential competitor. In these situations, you couldn't be a threat to them if you had forewarning and adequate time to target them with your weapon systems and move in for the attack. You won't possibly be a competitor for some time, and by that time, they'll have moved on to other newbies, and they'll likely have faded into the mass of faceless podkillers you've endured to get there.

    This attitude transcends killing in MMORPGs. Most of the people who play for this kind of thrill won't avoid a game simply because it has no killing. They'll find other ways to dominate the new and unexperienced, to cause feelings of helpless anger.

    I'd personally like to see an MMO that equalizes matters.. So that no matter how much more experienced you are, or how much of a situational advantage you have, there's always that chance that the victim can become the victor. And it needs to hurt the griefer as much as it hurts the griefed.
  • If I were to design an mmorpg I would put a "crazy button" on every new character. It would be a onetime use thing that allowed a newbie to go completely mental on a higher level character that aggressivley attacked them. The newbi would be encouraged not to use it by being able to sell it for a hell of a lot of money at a later level, and newbie killers might just take a step back knowing that any newb they prey on might just go psycho on their asses.

    Probably not a good fix, and con probably be gamed by jerks in, like, twelve seconds, but meh, it's the kind of thing I think of when it's late and i should be asleep.
  • Hi Lance,

    I'd say no. I say that knowing these gate campers are drooling bullies, essentially. The thing is, from a gamist perspective, when you enter a mmorpg you know these people are going to be playing too, because the game isn't too picky about who it allows to play. They are part of 'mmo' play because the design is indescrimnant about who gets to play. They are part of the challenge your taking up. Or don't take the challenge.

    In a whole new mmo game, yeah, it's good to have a new idea like yours or Clint's. But not an existing game - either embrace it for what it is, warts and all, or decline the challenge. I'd say. Then again I guess I'm rejecting part of how it's done, but I don't see anything except dragging out the moment between ship death and character death.
  • Callan,

    Absolutely. I wasn't considering trying to tack on a feature to an existing game. I'm overall pretty disillusioned by the current state of MMOs anyway, for entirely separate, personal reasons. So a brand new MMO for these features, yes.

    Further, I'm absolutely on board with accepting that these sorts of people exist. As further part of my ideal MMO design, I've included open PVP (in the sense that Ultima Online used to have it, with "civilized" safe areas, and everywhere else fair game). I hate PKs/gankers. I'm not a big fan of PVP at all really. But the atmosphere of danger, and the genuine bonds of trust you had to form with your friends are something I did like.
  • Posted By: Callan S.were supposed to enjoy the idea of killing a dangerous foe, not bothering them for awhile. Didn't the game suggest to you the moment to moment fun is killing evil, rather than bothering evil? I could accept and see the fun of a game where it's about making evil have to jog all the time, but it's presented as the fun of killing. Makes it hard to get over that 'I'm a mass murderer' idea.
    I can't really think of any quest-givers, at least, that have you go kill things because they're fun. At worst, there are quest-givers who have you go kill things for petty reasons (although, tangent, if you pay attention, it's rarely people that you're killing for petty reasons), and even then, you can totally just not take that quest. Far more often, however, you're being rewarded to go kill things and especially people because they are an intractable part of a problem that needs to be resolved. You don't play diplomats in WoW; you play the step after diplomacy has already failed.
  • Posted By: Josh Roby
    You don't play diplomats in WoW; you play the step after diplomacy has already failed.
    Absolutely. Great point.

    ME
  • On a side note, almost all of the published WoW fiction I've seen is about racial tensions between the Hoard and Alliance and a surge in bigotry and racial violence/supremacy. You basically have two intolerant groups trying to destroy one another while greater threats go pretty much ignored.

    ME
  • edited June 2008
    Posted By: Josh RobyI can't really think of any quest-givers, at least, that have you go kill things because they're fun. At worst, there are quest-givers who have you go kill things for petty reasons (although, tangent, if you pay attention, it's rarely people that you're killing for petty reasons), and even then, you can totally just not take that quest. Far more often, however, you're being rewarded to go kill things and especially people because they are an intractable part of a problem that needs to be resolved. You don't play diplomats in WoW; you play the step after diplomacy has already failed.
    Well, that's got your characters motives down. But I'm talking about how the game is presented to the player as being fun, and it seems to present mass killing as fun. This just clashes with imagining the NPC's just jogging back to their corpses.
  • I think the game markets outwitting, outplaying, and outmaneuvering your opponents, be they computer-generated monsters or other players, as fun.

    WoW is not narrativist; accusing it of glorifying violence is like accusing Monopoly of glorifying evictions. It's the chosen palette of color, because violence is a very appropriate (and very easy) palette for high-stakes competition.
  • EA now also has Spore (sorry if it's mentioned in the thread, but I didn't see it on Xtrl-F). Killing is one of the roads of evolution, but apparantly social methods are also possible.

    Oh, and for those who get a kick out of websites that grow with the number of visitors: check out http://story-games.myminicity.com . Are there any cool, RPG related sites like this that follow the same model? I can only seem to remember that vampire page where you'd get bitten if someone lured you there, but that's nowhere near as advanced as this myminicity thing.
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