Finding Each Other

I am a big fan of the idea of having one world for MMOs, and I don’t mind if they use instances to achieve it.  The biggest concern when it comes to breaking the world up that way is the potential loss of community.  If all 100,000 of your users are on the same world, and they all go to town at once, your game might have 100 instances of that town (as opposed to needing 100 servers to make sure your population levels are such that town doesn’t exceed 1,000 players at a time), the worry is that the 1,000 people you are in the instance with will likely never be the same 1,000 the next time this happens.  Even if only enough people ever go to town that never more than 5 instances are needed, the chance you run into the same people over and over is pretty low.

Fact is, even on a game that limits players to 10,000 per server, no one knows everyone.  But finding your 100 “friends” out of 10,000 is easier than 100,000 or 1,000,000, even easier when only a portion of that 10k plays in your timezone.  An instanced game gets even worse if you leave town and enter an instance designed for 75 people max, the chances you’ll play with the same 75 people is even smaller.  So how do you meet new people and make friends?  How does a community build when everyone shares?

It would be nice if someone could take the one world/instance design and then pair it up with a player matching algorithm, so that if you play with someone in a group or raid for any signifigant length of time they’d earn a rank, and you can flag players as good or bad, coupled with your friends list resulting in the game choosing an instance with the highest matching score.  This way, you would tend to play with people you’d played with before, except of course when the game cannot let you (instances exist for a reason, and sometime you just can’t let more people in), but you can allow for player overrides so even if the game chooses to put you in Wilderness Instance 27, you can swap to join a player you know who is in Wilderness Instance 19, or they you.

Its a thought… just need to figure out how to build it…

Zombies: Replenishing the World

One concern that has been brought up by the few people I have discussed this game idea with is: How do you replenish supplies in the world?

This is a very complex issue, that after much though has a very very simple solution, and that is: You don’t. Not directly anyway.

To be honest, one of the problems I have with many games is the endless respawn of stuff. Now, I did say this would be a world of endless zombies, but all my zombie spawns would be “at the edge of the world”. Anywhere a “populated” area meets an “unpopulated” area is a potential spawn point for zombies because they are wandering in from other areas. But monsters and items fading in to view appearing out of thin air while the player watches… not in my game, its immersion breaking.

As for food and other supplies that players go after, in their area they will eventually scavenge it clean, at which point they’ll need to either a) start with the farming, b) widen their scavenging routes, or c) move somewhere else. If they choose a, then there is no need to handle any replenishment of supplies, they will find make them themselves. If they choose b or c… well, you don’t want the world to eventually be totally picked clean, so what you do is, when an area remains “unpopulated” for a length of time, you reset it, and everything goes back to like it was on launch day.

By design, the game will take care of all potential issues except for player memory. Players who used to live in the area that haven’t logged in will have eventually starved to death (as mentioned before, the game is going to have a level of persistance not used in very many games, when you are offline your character is still living), which is one of the factors in deciding to reset the area. However, nothing could be coded to prevent a player from remembering that they used to live in that area but had moved out. They’ll remember clearing the mall and eating all the food, perhaps even burning it to the ground, but suddenly upon area reset the mall will be back and stocked (with supplies and zombies).

The only real issue facing the game is making sure there is enough world to support the players, but that’s an issue that would have to be planned for but addressed only if the game exceeds expectations.