Learn To Program With Minecraft

Recently I ran into a website where you could learn about how programming works. It has many different games as examples, but the most well known example must be that of Minecraft.

Recently I ran into a website where you could learn about how programming works. It has many different games as examples, but the most well known example must be that of Minecraft.
Continue reading “Learn To Program With Minecraft”

Botting vs grinding

[intro] First of all what is botting: it’s when players are not playing the game themselves but let their machine do the job by scripts. [/intro] Botting isn’t only done by lazy players, but also by gold sellers that use the botting machines for generating income which than can be sold to players. It’s also … Continue reading “Botting vs grinding”

[intro]

First of all what is botting: it’s when players are not playing the game themselves but let their machine do the job by scripts.

[/intro]

Botting isn’t only done by lazy players, but also by gold sellers that use the botting machines for generating income which than can be sold to players. It’s also used in leveling services.

Game producers (mainly MMO’s we are talking about in here ofcourse), are not so happy with this, for it will ruin economy among a lot of other things and so are actively fighting this with anti bot scripts.

Why’s botting bad?
– The economy would be bad for normal players, when bots place high amounts of items and materials on the market- You get a world with players that aren’t real
– The social aspect is gone, players might not respond because they are bots.
– The reason why they bot (gold selling) generates a lot of spam on the game chat and email.

Every game fights it differently. Today I will focus on Guild Wars 2’s anti botting techniques, because they have recently applied a patch that even seems to affect normal players, even though they advertise it would only affect the bots. At first, Guild Wars 2 allows players to trade diamonds for gold and gold for diamonds. This could have stopped the gold farming a little, but prices have only been rising, meaning that people haven’t really bothered with that.This could have prevented the huge amounts of gold being sold. It didn’t however keep them away long enough.

Secondary most games use some sort of detection scripts on the server side to check whether uncommon behaviour is happening with the player (too much of the same action in a certain amount of time, or players running into objects, behaving like robots etc).

Guild Wars 2 has also added the so called Diminishing Returns (DR). They were designed to make sure that dungeons wouldn’t be done over and over again to gain the best loot.Recently Arenanet published a change in the code that makes sure that it also stops pve grinding.

What does Diminishing Returns (DR) do?
DR was originally designed to be character limited in dungeons, just so that you wouldn’t endless run the same dungeon the whole day. Yes you can still run the same dungeon the whole day, but the loot just doesn’t give you enough to make it worth it. DR is basicly limiting you in what you can loot and when. It’s an extra layer on top of the chance drop loot tables.DR is working nowadays account-based, meaning that switching between your characters after a grind session where you walked into the DR limiter, that other character will get the same effects.DR in dungeons triggers as soon as you completed the dungeon before and you are completling it now again or if you manage to complete the dungeon under the 30 minutes.
It works with points that are given to the player upon completing a dungeon, certain tresholds will trigger reduced rewards.

The rewards that are affected by this system are:
– Coins
– Dungeon Tokens
– Experience- Karma

In the recent patch (last week) ArenaNet also included some sort of DR in one of the ingame areas that are so popular for grinding: Orr.
The result is, next to a very angry and annoyed group of players, that also ‘normal’ grinding players will take notice of this. Killing the same (type of) mob over and over again, won’t give you the same rewards.
What about magic find?Magic find still works fine. A higher Magic Find rate will still work or affect the gameplay, but the droprates have tremendously decreased.

Another feature they added which has not so much to do with bots perhaps, is that rare’s (yellow items) and so on do seem to drop in a special designed small chest. I haven’t really understood that to be honest.Note that there are still chances for the item to drop from a random mob in the game, instead of only the special chests with loot.
I really hope they will revise the new DR system on normal gameplay as anti botting strategy shouldn’t be affecting the player the way it is right now.

Let’s hope for a new patch that gives some new features along with a permanent fix that will keep the players interested to play the game.

Game on!

Steven

About loot

[intro] In single player you have loot, in multiplayer games you have loot. Generally the idea is the same: to give the player a better item to survive better in the game or to help them in their queste or to give them new challenges to complete. [/intro] In the Zelda series for example, the … Continue reading “About loot”

[intro]

In single player you have loot, in multiplayer games you have loot. Generally the idea is the same: to give the player a better item to survive better in the game or to help them in their queste or to give them new challenges to complete.

[/intro]

In the Zelda series for example, the loot consists generally of money. From bosses you can get a special weapon, usually the type of weapon or tool that the boss generally uses to his advantage. Afterwards you will obtain this ‘power’ so that also you can use these powers for defeating the next boss, along with a lot of other ways to come across a variety of puzzles in the game. Even secret items are put away in a certain way that make you use only those new tools to get to them.

In multiplayer games, I am referring here to MMO’s or point & click games such as Diablo 2-3 etc, loot is still somewhat an upgrade (or downgrade) to a player. The higher the level of the monster, or the more special the monster, the better the loot often is. But next to that it is often about a huge randomizer that decides what you will get together with a loot table which defines what types of loot will drop against what type of chance.

So it is then just a big gamble onto what will drop and when. So, just killing around monsters just for the chance that I might get something nice, is rather boring to me.

I don’t see the point of playing in Vegas in a game. Then I rather play a little more creative game where you know what you can get and how you can get it. Than it is about your skill how to get to that.

That’s perhaps what I enjoy (for me mostly watching though, as I don’t play that much games) the most on games like Zelda or Metroid: the players’ skill is being used to achieve things and gets rewarded with loot.

Making sense
But what disturbs me most with loot is when a rabbit or a rat, drops a huge long sword. It doesn’t make sense and there is neither any logic in what items a monster or an enemy drops. So here is my wishful thinking that future (indie) games will take note of this.
Create games that aren’t all about randomness and loot tables, but also take into account that the players’ skill could be used to play the game and that you can reward them accordingly.. but with things that actually make sense.

I as an MMO player, or roleplayer, expect guts, not weaponry or coins in a dead animal. (also would I prefer that animals would earn a little bit more respect in games, but that is a different subject). I expect those enemies that use longswords, to drop a longsword, or a crossbow.

In the same way should quests reward you with that what had to do with the quest. Whether that is an item or a general advice / tip from an old man.

Money
As for money loot, this is even weirder. Have you ever seen a rat or a rabbit in the shop buying carrots or cheese? No? Then why should they drop money.. coins even. Yes unless it is a mechanic such as in most platformers that you can receive a credit.. a ring or coin per kill, then it is actually fine, because then it is about how many coins you collected at the end of the level. So basicly I am saying that loot should make sense.

I don’t even know why they still bother with credits for classical fantasy games. That you do that with a futuristic or realistic game.. alright.. we have nowadays coins yes, but why don’t you implement more of a barter system in your game where animal skins (which you pickup anyway for crafting) become part of a currency?

That was my rambling about loot gamedesign for today.

Next time I will ramble on about items and their ‘stats’ as well as looks.

Game on!

Steven

Quests – design solutions

[intro] Yesterday I talked about the current problems with quest design in both MMO and single player games, but mostly in the online games. I identified the different types of quests and the elements that made questing boring recently. Today I show you some solutions to the problem. Most of the time the solutions are … Continue reading “Quests – design solutions”

[intro]
Yesterday I talked about the current problems with quest design in both MMO and single player games, but mostly in the online games. I identified the different types of quests and the elements that made questing boring recently. Today I show you some solutions to the problem. Most of the time the solutions are easy; they just require a bit more effort and work from the game developer.

[/intro]
Guild Wars 1 and some other older games (for example Ultima Online, Asheron’s Call 1 and 2) have designed quests a little better by hiding the quests. Certain games used NPC chatter (chatbox NPC chat, or windows with text with certain clickable links) in which they secretly told the objectives to the player. Others (Guild Wars 1 at least) put out objects in the game that required attention from the player. It doesn’t only make you wonder why the item has been left there for anyone to pickup, but it also make you wonder what to do with it and whether anyone would be missing it. For the player the choice to pick it up and do something with it or to leave it behind and move on.

I have no clue how far games like these have taken the options here, but just imagine that you would be able to pick up this particular item. Let’s say for this example that it is an old rusty sword. Now the player has several options with this object. It might have a story.. the player could ask other NPC’s in the nearby city if anyone can tell something about the item.. or whether the item belongs to anyone. But the player could perhaps also just equip the item and use it as a weapon. You don’t need to give the player rewards if they choose to use the item as that is already a reward (don’t you think?) but if they choose to return the item to the rightful owner, the owner will reward the player well (or not).

With this way of designing quests and game play, you make the user think strategically about their next move, about where to go and find answers to their own questions. They will be more immersed with your game and game story.

Unique quests could be simply created by the event of NPC’s running around doing similar things every day and losing items (different though) from time to time.

And items don’t always need to be returned to an NPC. They could unlock a passage way into a dungeon. Quests or objectives don’t even need to be picked up all the time. Objects in the game could also yield instructions or clues for possible hidden quests or small rewards elsewhere. Books could even hold temporary skills, spells and the like (Guild Wars 2 does this a bit with certain objects that give the player an extra one-time spell, as if it was a scroll of a certain magical bolt), or could be (a part of) the next crafting recipe (or improvement thereof).

Progress quests such as war efforts or building a house would make it so that players could participate in the bigger quest of that world. They did this a bit in World of Warcraft by letting players collect items to deliver to special NPC’s that were counting towards a total that unlocked the next stage of the war efforts against the undead or a server wide mission to get to a certain area in the game.
The only thing that I missed in that design was a real time change. Totals were merely displayed and weekly winning servers were rewarded with an unlock to the next stage (patch). I wish that this was more of a continuously updating effort and dynamically creating the next step for the players and the game world. In this I’d like to see the game transforming and changing on the fly. Permanently! A more simple way towards this would be to build a city up or to build defenses against an upcoming attack of a certain enemy, providing the NPC with the building material etc. The quests would continuously change and be different for every player that runs into the area.

I could go on and on, but I should finish this article off by saying that hopefully current (indie) game designers will go back to the old classic and more retro game designs or at least use more time on game design and game depth, to create a more unique game play experience where players can choose their game play, rather than to get it presented on a silver plate.

Game On!

Steven

Quests – wrong design?

[intro]Are you getting bored of questing? Game developers have been long too and have tried to make questing more interesting, but did so in the wrong way in my opinion.[/intro] First of all let’s talk about the classic form of questing, seen in most games earlier and later. In this type of questing you will … Continue reading “Quests – wrong design?”

[intro]Are you getting bored of questing? Game developers have been long too and have tried to make questing more interesting, but did so in the wrong way in my opinion.[/intro]

First of all let’s talk about the classic form of questing, seen in most games earlier and later. In this type of questing you will hear a story, get some instructions to pick up an item in the cellar, kill some rats somewhere (or other monsters for that matter), find another person etc etc. When you go out performing the task you have a set of objectives you complete and then you return to the person or object or go to the next object/person to deliver the quest and receive some small form of reward for it.
That is the classic form. Most games have them, especially everything before Rift, Warhammer and Guild Wars 2 (but I am sure that most single player games also use them).

I am not sure who I should give the credit for being the first creating public quests, but I believe it was Warhammer being the rightful owner of the idea. Rift made as well a form of public quests and Guild Wars 2 calls it events. Guild Wars 2 still somewhat also uses the classic form of questing through an NPC that runs towards the player and asks for help or through infamous so called “escort quests”.

Escort quests have existed through both types of questing ways and have been a real pest. Perhaps this is more of a pest in MMO’s than in single player games. In MMO’s you will always have the problem of server lag (server doesn’t register the NPC on the right location or doesn’t register you being near the NPC), silly pathing resets (after killing the enemies, the NPC runs back to its last checkpoint to continue the pathing) and other mob spawns around your questing path (interrupting even more as well as possibly killing you or your NPC).

Why are we getting so easily annoyed with the current form of questing? I think that the foundation to this has to do with how many of the same type of quests are in the game. After an hour of killing a certain amount of monsters or collecting some books or other objects for players, one gets rather easily bored with it, especially when the storyline for every one of these quests seems to be the same as well. If simply the storylines were more involved into the main storyline of the game or working together with the background information of the world: easier said if it would make sense why this or that needs to be done, questing would be more interesting and enjoyable for the player.

The other element that has been annoying players is the way quests are presented nowadays. Perhaps mostly because of the way World of Warcraft presented the information that lead to that most following games did the same. The most common way to present a quest is a window with a long storyline text and a list of objectives to be completed along with the rewards to be gotten from it.

The public quests or events from the later games have eliminated the quest window and randomized the rewards, but objectives became more confusing as multiple players in the same world were performing them at the same time. Were these objectives unique, it would have helped a bit, but since everybody can deliver their own version of the required objects for example, the deeper meaning behind it has faded away.

This uniqueness is generally a problem with online games as everybody is doing the same quest as if it was a single player game. Every person in the game can complete the same objectives. That is fine with quests that are about to help in the total progress of the war for example or by helping someone bake a cake (for you). But there where unique items that were lost have to be found and collected it shouldn’t be possible to collect by the next player. Quests therem are just for a single player experience of the story.

To be continued…

Due to the size of my article I have decided to split it into two different posts. Tomorrow you will see the continuation of this article, where I will focus on the solutions to the questing annoyance problem.

Game On!

Steven