[MUD-Dev] RTS aspects in MUDs (LONG)

Takis Kalogiratos scorn at otenet.gr
Fri Dec 7 06:18:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


At 10:43 =EC=EC 1/12/2001 -0800, Dave Kennerly wrote:

> I can speak a little about Shattered Galaxy, only.  I didn't work
> on Shattered Galaxy, but we work in the same office.  I picked up
> most of the following by osmosis from the US developers and
> operators: Kevin Saunders, David Wei, and Terence Park.

> Shattered Galaxy agrees with most of your assessment of Pros (the
> audience pro is questionable, although Nexon believed the market
> was there), but suffered none of the Cons you listed.  All of them
> are standard problems for any RTS.  Some of them were more like a
> Pro for MMO than a Con.  For example, MMO Unit Building allows
> many more options than a game with on a modest multiplayer
> platform.

Yes. Shattered Galaxy is a very good example on how difficult the
creation of an MMO RTS game is. I've been playing SG since the
closed beta (Phase 1), if anyone followed the development of that
game (which I believe is built on a very interesting concept) they
would know it was a real saga. It had to go through 3-4 major
gameplay changes as certain problems appeared. Just before
commercialization the game seemed to have finally reached its final
form but it looks to me that the game is still under gameplay
problems. Before commercialization they had developed a tier system
which seemed it would work quite well. Now it seems Nexon did not
get as many players as they had hoped for rendering their tier
system almost unusable.

Also, imho, the open beta period (which was QUITE long) did more
damage to the game than it did good. A lot of potential future
players of the game (which includes kids and what I call "the
average AOL-user*" (computer illiterate people--command line? what's
that?)) ended up beta-testing the game. Result? 70% of the
beta-testers did not realize what beta testing was. Apart from the
vulgarity posted by them on the game's BBS (calling Nexon all kinds
of names) they all thought the game was a low-budget production by
some lazy developing team because the server and/or client crashed
or had memory leaks. Of course all that are common in the testing
process but all those potential players did not realize that most of
them thinking the game was bad when it was not.

Last I checked (because I haven't renewed my account for 15-20 days
or so) Nexon was trying to attract more players with game reviews on
US magazines packed with a demo cd.  If they won't get more players
soon enough they would have to make another gameplay change because
simply the game won't make it like that.

Also there was not enough communication with the players. Kone
(Kevin Saunders if I'm not mistaken) used to make public appearances
and talk with the players during the early phases but after that
communication was limited to a few answering posts on the BBS.

>>  If you give an order to 10 soldiers, and 5 of them are PCs,
 
> Shattered Galaxy gave the players about 6-20 troops each to
> control.
 
> A few cons of a "MMO" platform + "RTS" gameplay for Shattered
> Galaxy were:
 
>    1. PvP game balance. If the advancement schedule is too
>    frequent, then new players are drastically limited in whom they
>    will have fun playing with.  If the advancement schedule is too
>    infrequent it's boring.  Unfortunately, I suspect the minimum
>    rewarding schedule is higher than the maximum lifespan
>    schedule.  If my guess were right, it means there is no
>    sustainable advancement schedule.  This week Shattered Galaxy
>    is applying an attempted solution to this problem.

PvP balance was solved by having level range planets but that again
would not work with such limited player base.

>    2. Cooperation and community building.  All MMOs need
>    communities, but in the case of RTS, lack of cooperation means
>    the basic scenario is frustrating.

Lack of cooperation...yes. Regiments almost fixed that but there is
always a small percentage of players that just can't do it. Also the
frustration brought on players (who should not be beta-testers in
the first place) during the= beta test was also a factor for the
in-faction conflicts. Proof for that is that= during the closed beta
period this problem didn't existed or if it did it wasn't visible.

>    3. Client hacking.  I've read here and elsewhere the ultimate
>    way to stop all client hacking, but to balance fast-feedback,
>    other solutions were programmed, which leaves some
>    vulnerability.  Depending on the RTS and internet requirements
>    this could be mitigated.  But for the RTS style that's popular
>    now, a lot of computing has to be done in the client.

Ahhh the bane of SG. Client hacking tormented the game for quite a
while.  Yes a lot of computing may be needed on the client-side but
on SG's case the situation was ridiculous. Anyone could hack
anything in the game with a simple memory editor following simple
directions that were posted on various web sites. What happened to
data encryption? If you want to handle things client-side at least
make it hard to hack. 90% (maybe more) of the players that used to
hack SG were "average AOL users*".


> I'd personally enjoy playtesting in a MUD with RTS elements.  I
> used to think it would be cool to have a MMO that allowed play on
> the strategic _and_ tactical level (like Archon but more
> simulational), in similar ways that you're discussing.  In
> politically primitive ways, MMO guilds do a few of the RTS-like
> activities, such as resource gathering.

I think we can consider hack-n-slash/PK type muds as RTS. The
structure is quite similar. Fighting engines, strategy (with
skills/spells/items),= units controlled (pets/charmed mobiles) ,
resource management (gold/quest points/ quest vouchers/minerals
(where applicable)). Still I too would like to see a real RTS
implementation, so feel free to mail me if anyone has something
going.

Takis
Imp/Coder/RP Director of Akkadia MUD


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