Friday, December 28, 2012

[Video Game] Topia Online Kickstarter


  This post will just be in English as it is specific to people here in the USA.  Well I have news about a new Sandbox style MMO.  Their kickstarter has just 11 days left and I figured I'd give them a shout out on my blog.

  I first discovered these guys while browsing reddit and they are a cool group of indie devs trying to make something truly interesting.

  Topia Online is a cutthroat sandbox style MMORPG that lets you really build and do whatever you want.  From assassins to wolves, every NPC and player and enemy is controlled by the players.

  Players are given full scripting ability to create NPC shops, guards, and build and create their own world.  But it is not without risk!  Death is permanent and devastating.  When you die, your character is gone.  For good.

  But the leveling and progression is unique and should be fun and feel fresh.  The beta will start some time Q1 2013 but if you want to support them, you can check out the kickstarter here:  Topia Online Kickstarter

  One of my favorite teaser screen shots so far is this one:

The game has classic SNES style graphics and it is a nice refreshing colorful break from the over realistic worlds that MMOs tend to push.

  Also I have started a guild on the forums.  It is one of the first few guild before the kickstarter drew in a bigger crowd and I really hope it takes off.  You can check out the guild forum post here:  The Assassins Guild

  Yes I started a cutthroat guild of assassins and mercenaries.  We'll control the underground and strike in the night.  It should be a fun way for people to get together and enjoy the cutthroat style of the game.

  If you haven't checked out the kickstarter, go do so!  And pledge, these guys are really awesome for trying to make such a big project and I really hope they succeed and do well.

  Cheers for Josh and his crew for Topia Online!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[Design] Nanowrimo End, Starbound Hat Contest

  Well NaNoWriMo is coming to a close this Friday and I am at 47,000 words!  I was at 30,000 before the weekend and had a power weekend and wrote 17,000.  My main story is pretty much finished and I just need to write the conclusion / epilogue section and add some intermittent chapters to beef up the story a bit.

  Also I entered in a hat-design contest for Starbound.  If you haven't heard of Starbound it's like Terraria in space and you can check it out here:

  Here are some of the hats I designed, and I was bored so I made a bunch of them.

The Red Fang Helmet:

Other Hats:
The Crown of Flames Helmet:

The Bubble:

The Blood Demon Mask:

The Twisted Mind Mask:

  I'll probably make some more, but I enjoy simple pixel art like this.  After this month I'll be working to review and edit Un-alive, my novel and hopefully I'll be able to publish it!

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

[SBX2] NaNo Progress, SBX2 L3 addition

  NaNoWriMo has been going well.  I have written over 17,000 words already and am only slightly under par.  I have been trying to get some programming done aside from writing too, so here is a sneak peak of some new stuff in level 3.


  I have added electric nodes in Level 3 that blast electricity between.  It's dangerous so be careful around the hallway area.

As you can see in the bottom half of the picture, lightning is zapping between two nodes. 

Electricity will jump all the way down the hall and then start over in a few seconds.

I'll work on adding the boss and some platforming areas you can explore when I get some time.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

[SBX2] Level 3 - The Fortress


  I've added new content to the game!  Level 3 is now open and there are some new things to see.
  A few additions are:

  -  A new character

  -  New upgrade items (that restore HP and Shield Power)

  -  A new Turret Enemy

  -  Layer removal in the level so you can uncover new parts of the level as you progress.

Let's take a look at some screen shots:

When you enter the level you start out in the upper right corner of the base.
Enemy Turrets are nearby defending the entrance.

As you travel around searching for a way to open the gate be sure to look for items to acquire.

After destroying something ^_^ the gate is open and the roof layer is removed allowing you to see inside!

Inside the fortress are more enemies and new gates to open!

Also here is the new HP recovery item!  Collect them to restore HP.  You will find them scattered throughout the levels.

Well, that's just a sneak peak at the third level of SBX2!  If you want to download it and play it you can download the file here:  

Stay tuned for new updates!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

[Personal] Nanowrimo


  November 1st starts NaNoWriMo, a national novel writing contest where you have one month to write a novel.  Some friends of mine suggested the site to me and I think I am going to enter.  It seems like a great way to spend some time on creative writing.  You can check out their website here:

  Also, I have been trying to get a job at Riot Games in their international department.  The job requires Japanese fluency so I now have a blog in Japanese at:

  All in all, I am still working 12 hour night shifts and they are tough.  Trying to schedule my side projects and have a social life gets a bit challenging some times.  My free time consists of working on SBX2, writing, pixel art and studying Japanese.  [Oh, and playing League of Legends when I can.  I got gold this season in threes before the remake ^_^.  Yay Janna Skin.]

  Thanks for reading,


Sunday, October 28, 2012

[SBX2] Sneak Peak at Level 2 boss and new character


  This is just a quick post about SBX2.  Here is a sneak peak of some things to come.  First we have a new character introduced to the game in Level 3:  AIUA, the Artificially Intelligent Universal Assistant.  She is the computer program that assists Jack Hawk in his mission against the Fuscians and boots up at the start of Level 3.

Here is the profile image of AIUA:

Also, here are some screen shots of the Level 2 boss:

The L2 Boss has 4 orbiting defense satellites that can be destroyed to increase your damage done to the boss.  Watch out for his targeting laser too!  If you stay still too long his laser will lock on and demolish you.

Well that's it for the small update.  Once I get a significant chunk of Level 3 done I'll upload a new file.



Saturday, October 13, 2012

[Contest] League of Legends #IAMRIVEN Twitter contest


So the contest is posted here:

But basically you have to send in a picture of you posing in the Championship Riven pose over twitter and hashtag #IAMRIVEN as well as be a follower of @LeagueOfLegends.

So here is the championship riven splash art you are supposed to mimic:

And HERE... is me looking retarded while mimicking the pose:

Ah well It was a fun thing to do right before I pass out for the entirety of my day in preparation for my next 12 hour shift tonight.  Hey maybe I'll win a championship riven skin!  And maybe not... I can always hope. 

Anyway, just thought I'd share that.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

[Design] Talon, The Blade's Sprite


Today I bring you a new miniature League of Legends character Sprite!  Talon has long been one of my favorite characters in League and here he is for you to bask in all his miniature glory!

First I pulled this image off the web:

Which I shrunk down to your typical 80x80 sprite size and then outlined him and here are the three steps to completion of the sprite:

**If you haven't read how I make these sprites from my "how to make sprites" post, see here for a more detailed explanation:**

1.  Got my black outline from the shrunk image

2.  Filled in the main background colors and got my initial palette.

 3.  Added colors as needed to the palette and finished shading the sprite.

4.  And one more fun step for good measure, gave talon a background and a title:

EDIT:  With touch ups (didn't like the shading in his left knee).

And there it is!  My Talon Miniature Sprite.  If you like the sprites I've done so far subscribe to the blog to see more in the future or leave a comment about what character you'd like to see sprited!  

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, October 6, 2012

[Design] How to make sprites (pixel art)

  So I have had a few questions about how I made the Kha'Zix sprite from the large image.  I'll show a few of the steps here in this blog and do a little tutorial on how YOU can make your own sprites.

First you want to have a picture for the way we are gonna make sprites.   You can draw a picture and scan it in, or pull one off the web or take a picture of someone and upload it.  Whatever you want to make a sprite of, take a picture.  Now the detail of the picture is going to be important too because if you want to make an 8 bit sprite, having a detailed picture is simple not going to work.

So we'll start with a picture, and since I just made the Kha'Zix sprite, we'll look at that:

1. Picture
Rendered KhaZ
(I just found this on Google Images, credit to whoever uploaded)

2.  Decide on a sprite size (in this case 80x80 pixels) and size the image down to that in a program like Paint.NET (free) or Photoshop.  

Mini KhaZ:
(This looks nice, but it's not a custom made sprite since it's just a small version of the big one)

3.  Begin a black outline of the sprite to get the shape of all the limbs, wings, etc.  Put this in a new layer so you can click back and forth and see both of them individually.  

Outlined KhaZ:

4.  Choose your color palette to begin with.  In this case I chose browns and purples, and some reds and greens for the wings.  I usually draw my palette on the side of the image for simplicity and ease of use.  You can also customize your color palette on the tool menu (in Paint.NET at the very least).  In this image I also started coloring in his head.  You are going to want to determine a light source and use lighter outlines and darker outlines for the light.  Generally you don't want to use too much black in your outlines except in the darkest areas.  

Palette and Head KhaZ:

5.  Spend lots of time coloring your guy in and you are done!  I generally fill in the areas with my main color and then add shading and outlines to the guy.  Here you can see me about halfway done coloring the sprite and then the finished sprite.  As you will see if you magnify the sprites, my color palette evolves as I go and feel the need to mix and add intermediary shades.  I may have added too many shades but it came out looking alright.

Halfway Colored KhaZ:

Complete KhaZ:

And also I just updated some colors on the sprite to make his spikes a little more grey and added a few pixels to represent his teeth a bit better:

Updated Kha'Zix:

So that's how I made the Kha'Zix sprite, it took a few hours and plenty of zooming in to color and draw him pixel by pixel.  I also got rid of pixels here and there that seemed out of place and used a little artistic license when drawing him (which is always necessary when shrinking an image down and making a sprite out of it).

Hope you liked the sprite and reading about how to make your own!


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[Design] It's Evolving! Kha'Zix Pokemon Sprite

  My night shifts have really thrown me for a loop these past few days.  I've been awake for periods of 7 or so hours at a time then I need to sleep again.  Slept most of my days off and I go back to work in twelve hours as it is 7 am now.  But in all my narcolepsy and insomnia I did something sort of productive!

  I wanted to make a 80x80 sprite in the design of pokemon for Kha'Zix to kinda play off him looking like Scyther.  So I shrunk down a scaled image, created a black outline and made a palette.  I think I made my palette too complex for such a small sprite and I might go back and simplify the sprite a bit but here he is:

It's not very big, it's only an 80x80 sprite, but I wanted him to be the evolved form of:

Even though my spriting style is a bit more complex than Scyther.

Here is the image I based my sprite off of as well:

It took a few hours but it was enjoyable.  I like pixel art a lot and it was fun to scale the big picture down and try and make it look half decent.  I think I honestly need to tone down my palette into about half as many colors and rework him, but for now he'll do.



Saturday, September 29, 2012

[SBX2] Was bored so a tiny update

Been busy with wedding planning, working shitty 12 hour night shifts and trying to get a team to gold league in League of Legends, but spent a little time doing some programming on SBX2 and getting some creative writing out of my system.  I've decided to just start writing short teasers, a couple pages long just to barf out ideas onto paper.

You can read my short story teaser here:

  So I kinda missed working on this project so I think when I have the extra time, I am going to continue development on it.  Just in little bits at a time.  But I did a little bit of work and reduced the area in the starting tutorial area to a smaller map with less enemies and took out one of the harder enemies on the map.

Also I added a fourth enemy type to the game!  I ripped a sprite from SBX and tailored it to match the sprite style of SBX2 which varies a bit from the first.

Here is a picture showing all 4 of the enemy types in the game (and 1 subtype):

At the bottom is the newest enemy, the spread shot battle ship.  It fires six shots in a spread at once (similar to the first SBX) and moves rather slowly but has a lot of HP.  I'll probably chuck this guy in the next level after I finish the boss of level 2.  I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do for the boss, but it's going to be a pretty epic battle cruiser and we'll see what he ends up looking like.

Anyway, that's the tiny update, when I get a bunch of content I'll release a new version of the game on yoyogames.  

In other news I'm still slowly working on learning C# but the time and motivation escape me sometimes.  I'll just keep trudging along.  Also, I've been looking into various international business jobs as well as that would be really fun.  I would love to work at Riot, and they have the perfect position for my degree... now about getting them to even look at my resume... It's rough, but I'm doing my best to try and make contacts and get my name out there.



Friday, August 31, 2012

[Review] GW2: First Impressions


This is a semi review of GW2 and some first impressions about the game.  I have played a Human Thief so far and am level 36 in the game so this doesn't reflect the entire game but I'll discuss a bit about the release and how the game feels so far.

Release Night:
  I decided to pre-purchase the game so I was able to play with the early crowd and it was quite the experience.  There were a lot of buggy things going on however.  The servers were locked out and for nearly a week the Trading Post was down (GW2's version of an Auction House).  In fact only today did the Trading Post come back up for players.  Taken in by this new world I played for as long as getting a proper amount of sleep for my job would allow.  Initially the game feels great.  But I'll break this down into a few categories and grade the game (up to this point) in each section.  Keep in mind that ArenaNet is working very hard to fix most of the issues, but this is a review about the lauch so I'll review it accordingly.

Graphics:  A-
  The graphics look amazing.  I would end it there, but there are a few issues.  Most of them are minor things but a big thing that gets me is the camera.  Some times the camera seems to either get stuck because of lag or just move about in awkward ways in tight spaces.  Especially on larger characters, as I have heard from guild mates, the camera tends to get a bit weird in caverns and underwater.  I'm not sure what an appropriate fix for this is, but it does make things hard to see some times.  Also there are other graphical bugs, like a pair of pants having a glove icon and other things like this.  Pant-Gloves are the new thing:
Overall though, the graphics look good even on lower settings and the details are very interesting as well.  I especially like the limping animation when your character is slowed.  I'll give this section an A- because it is good, but wasn't perfect.

Sound:  B+
   The sound is good, but nothing spectacular.  I wasn't wowed by any of the sound tracks or anything, but I will admit that is difficult to achieve.  There were some big issues with sound in a few of the areas especially with volume control.  Some areas would produce extremely loud sounds even when I had my sound turned down low to talk on Team Speak with my guild.  Overall, it was pretty good, but not over the top great (to me at least), so the sound category gets a B+.

User Interface and User Interaction:  C+
  What I mean by user interface and user interaction is the GUI in all its various components and the users interaction with the game GUI and the back end systems supporting it.  This is the probably area that has caused the most grief for players in a few categories.  First of all the guild interface and accessibility has been horrendous.  It is very difficult for players to join guilds and represent them accordingly and this has been a very bug heavy area.
  Another major area that has been buggy is the overflow system.  It has been near impossible to get groups together if there are enough people on that you have to try and get in an overflow group together.  If you are able to get in the main instance of an area, you are able to group up easily and do dungeons but I spent a few hours trying to do the first instance (Ascalonian Catacombs) to no success until earlier today when fewer people were online.
  Also for the first week the Trading Post was under maintenance meaning I salvaged many items I could have otherwise sold simply for bag space.  There are also minor issues with various UI elements that could be streamlined for better and smoother enjoyment of the game. 
  These things being said, the game is otherwise very enjoyable in regards to the UI.  It is simple, clean, and beautiful and easy to use.  If you have played any MMO before, the game is somewhat intuitive, but I recommend reading up on the controls as a few things are different and there are a lot of new (and very convenient) functions added to the game.  I know many players are very happy with the collectibles and compact functions in the bag area.  Also being able to access the bank from crafting tables is very nice.  There are many awesome features added to the game, but it just happened to start out a little buggy, which is expected, but I'll give it a C+ for now, which should easily bump up to an A score once the bugs are fixed.

Combat and Game Play:  A
  The combat is fun; very fun in fact.  Putting skill in the hands of the player to dodge and time their attacks is a great system for the game.  The only problems I have are the somewhat random lag spikes that cause issues for the thief as skilled and perfectly timed dodges are what keep you alive.  This is less a game play issue however and more of a hardware / server side issue.  The game play itself, however, is great.  Especially after playing through the first dungeon a few times, I really felt like I had to be on my toes to avoid dying.  And some times, i still died anyway.  The downed state is a very interesting mechanic, despite the annoyance in PvP.  A few complaints I have about game play that are very thief specific are that stealthing does not break channeled spells and that some mobs run way too fast after you stealth making it hard to combo.  The first point is displayed most astoundingly in PvP.  Many times I have popped stealth only to have 2-3 players channel a few spells on me at the same time to have them hit me through stealth and burn through 3/4 of my life bar whilst I am still in stealth.  That kind of sucks as it means I have to pop stealth moves very early for them0 to be effective.  Overall, the game play most certainly gets an A.  I could write an entire blog post about the various elements of the game play, but we'll leave it at that.

PvP:  B+
  The biggest gripe I have with PvP (especially with battlegrounds) is that there is no progression.  Yes, everyone is completely fair and even in PvP, but there is no reason to do it other than for fun.  You don't get experience, the armor is only aesthetic and there is no way to really 'progress' per say in the battleground PvP.  Since everyone starts with all the same stuff, while fun, there isn't much reason to PvP unless you plan on doing the tournaments (which I haven't got into yet since our guild is still mostly leveling).  The WvWvW is more interesting in my opinion, as it offers ways to get better and do better as you level up outside of it.  It also offers a bunch of good crafting materials for the mid level player as well.  World vs World is a ton of fun and is a great challenge for guilds and realms to face off against each other.  Eventually I would love to see an arena system based on current gear but with the current philosophy of GW2, that would probably be very similar to the current BG system with same stat gear.  Also, I miss not being able to duel people.  That is another feature I would like to see.  And GW2 gets a B+ for PvP because... mesmers are annoying.  That is all.

Arena Net:  A-
  ArenaNet has done a great job of replying to posts and updating and fixing bugs as fast as possible.  They have had great attitudes toward the player base and that has been refreshing to see.  A few gripes I have are not having any patch notes (call me spoiled but I like to know what is going on) and other small visibility issues like my latency in game without having to use a third party program to test why I am getting lag or disconnected.  Other than that ArenaNet has been great about getting quick fixes out for those nasty bugs that no one can predict and I look forward to the updates in the future to this game.

Release Success:   A+
  Why does the game get an A+ for release success when it didn't score that high in any individual category that I mentioned you say?  Well, that is because I have been judging fairly harshly pointing out the flaws and bugs it has had so far.  The game itself is one of the best I have played so far and has actually been enjoyable from day 1!  Not many games can say that they have been up for as much as GW2 has been during their launch week.  The game has been a great success and I have had a lot of fun playing this first week.  I look forward to future updates and expansions to GW2 and recommend the game to anyone who likes the MMORPG genre.  I didn't touch on a lot of issues in this post, but I wanted to note a few things that I have seen and give a decent first impression of the game.  Take my criticisms with a grain of salt, the game is great and most of the things that 'bug' me about the game will be fixed in the near future as well.

Thanks for reading my post, and I wish the best of luck to ArenaNet and the continued success of Guild Wars 2!


Friday, August 24, 2012

[Personal] New Desktop + GW2... ready to go.


Well I got a new desktop today.  It's an ASUS i7 3.4 ghz with 8 gigs of ram, came loaded with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 520 as well (which I may upgrade later).  I also pre-purchased GW2 so that I can play it all this weekend, which I have off. (except for the time I have planned with my fiancee).

I'm pretty stoked as I have not had a decent desktop in a while (years) and this will be a nice upgrade from the integrated graphics I had on my laptop.

Guild Wars 2 looks REALLY good.  I am very stoked to play the game as I have heard good things.  We'll see if it stays good, but it seems like a winner so far.

I also bought a nice 20" Samsung monitor as well and it looks pristine.  Looking forward to having better graphic settings than... lowest.

Well, I also bought a C# book and have been studying up when I can learning all the stuff I have never had to use before, which is good.  I have to read each chapter twice before it fully sinks in and locks into my comprehension but that's just how reading a giant technical tome goes I suppose.

I have begun the brainstorming phase for an app for the Android / ported later to iPhone / probably web build, as well and will start working on creating the assets I need to begin work in Unity3d.  I'll most likely swap my scripting over to C# as well.

That's it for now, just loading everything up onto my new shiny computer!



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[Design] League of Legends Comic Contest

Comic Contest:

Well I may be no artist, but I decided to make a submission to the League of Legends Comic Contest found here:

I did the drawing in pen, sharpie marker and colored pencil, then added some effects in Paint.NET.

I'm not skilled enough to do it all in Paint.NET/Photoshop without spending weeks examining pixel by pixel  (this is why i like pixel art better)  so that's why it's of questionable quality.

Oh well, whether or not I win doesn't matter much, but I had fun making it :).

Here is  my comic:

As you can see, there are surely many other artists who exceed me in ability.

But maybe it'll cause a chuckle.

Well that's it for now, I got  myself a C# Book and have been studying up on C# to hone my programming ability.  I'll probably end up using C# with my next project, which I have started planning, which will be developed in Unity3d.


Monday, August 13, 2012

[Personal] Denver County Fair - Insomnia

  Well, I have about 5 hours left to sleep in the night before I wake up for my 12 hour shift and insomnia has bared it's dripping fangs.  So I decided to check on things on my computer and thus I came to posting on my blog.  The past weekend was fairly fun and I did some interesting things.

  The big one was the Denver County Fair.  On Saturday I traveled down to Denver with my little brother to go to the fair and check out the new segment called the "Geek Pavilion" where some of the guys I met at the IDGA meeting were hosting their game, Zen Pathz.  The name of the studio is Limn Interactive, and you can check out their website here:

  The game is actually pretty dang cool.  You play as a little samurai / ninja dude that has the ability to paint on the world.  The game is played with an XBox controller and one joystick is used to move the player about and the other joystick is used to move about a brush.  The brush uses a mix of black and white paint to either add blocks (black) or erase them (white).  It makes for hectic matches as you try to keep dual track of  your player and the brush.  It is fairly difficult.

  Zen Pathz has all sorts of modes like capture the flag, tag and other game modes.  It makes for a fun, but sometimes frustrating, multi-player game experience.  The game truly shines in its competitive play between teams.  It makes for a fun time with friends.

  Zen Pathz also comes with a built in level editor to create to your hearts content.  I'll most likely be going to the release party that the guys at Limn Interactive are hosting and celebrating the release of their game.  Check out the website and keep an eye out for it coming in September.

  Other than that, I've been continuing my work in Unity3d and going through the Walker Boy Studio tutorials.  I think, however, that once I finish with these tutorials and submit all my labs in to them, that I will begin studying C# to use within Unity.  I have heard good things and I really enjoyed C++ in high school.

  Well hopefully typing and staring at this screen has convinced my brain that its tired and needs sleep.

Thanks for reading and any chance you get, try to engage the indie game design community!  It's a really awesome community of people.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

[Personal] IGDA Colorado

  Yesterday I went to an IGDA meeting in Colorado for the first time.  If you don't know, the IGDA stands for the International Game Developers Association.  I was able to meet a bunch of awesome people from developers working for companies like Sony and other big names to hopefuls with talent, looking to meet other game designers, network and show off their portfolios.

  It was a great experience and I was able to meet a whole bunch of interesting people.  I realize now that I need some business cards and I will most definitely be going to a lot more events hosted by the guys who run the IGDA chapter here.

  The atmosphere was awesome.  People were extremely friendly and it was very interesting to talk to all sorts of college students, grad students, and graduates who were either looking to break into the business or even start their own company.

  I might go to the Denver County Fair this coming weekend to check out a few things some of the developers are releasing there too.

Well, that's all for now, still working in Unity and planning out a few new projects for the future.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

[Personal] Just an update to what's going on.

  I haven't been working on SBX2 much lately.  I've been considering a lot of options about what to do next as far as projects go and have decided to finish my Unity Course, relearn and get back into a more professional programming and game development system.

  Game Maker has been fun and is an exceptional beginners tool, but alas it won't get me a job nor make me any money so I am going to at the very least take a break from my game maker projects and work on learning JavaScript and getting more familiar with Unity.  I have considered going back to school for another degree in Computer Science but that's only should I get enough funds to be able to afford it.  For now, I will focus on learning professional languages and developing my projects outside of Game Maker.

  Other than that, life is going well.  My job is still tedious and has shitty hours, but my bosses are happy with me and it pays well.  I also just got my Universal Technician Certification by ESCO for CFC Refrigeration.  So now I am licensed to work on HVAC systems and work with refrigerant.

Book I'm reading:  If you are any fan of fantasy novels I HIGHLY recommend Patrick Rothfuss.  His books "The Name of the Wind" and "The Wise Man's Fear" are exceptional.  I don't often read books twice, unless a new one in a series has just come out, but I found myself wanting to reread "The Wise Man's Fear" again.  And I did, and it was just as good the second time reading through it.  No skimming, no jumping around, it was just plain enjoyable.  Which is rare.  I can't say enough good things about Rothfuss' books but he is an incredible author and I eagerly await the third book in the series.

Game I'm playing:  Terraria is an incredible little game that was on Steam for a mere 5 dollars in the summer sale.  The creative nature of the game is incredibly fun, and using Hamachi to create an artificial LAN, you can play with friends around the States on a multiplayer server.  The game scales incredibly well and has great RPG elements and a good progression system.  As you get stronger items you are able to progress further and further in the game creating passages to find ores and create your own world.  I am a creative person so I absolutely loved the creativity I was allowed to express in building my house/fort.  If you have a few spare bucks and can try it out, It's well worth the 10$ price tag.  Once you collect everything there isn't too much to keep you playing, but the time and money is well spent.

Well, time to get back into studying and progressing my JavaScript ability.  I have been thinking about studying C# as well as that seems to be another good language to learn.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for future updates to Wakeskater Studio and where I'll be taking it in the future.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

[Design] My Ideal MMO: A 5 part series - Updated and Combined

My Ideal MMO:

Part 1: The World Set Up
So, I have had in my head for a few years what my perfect, ideal MMORPG would be, because nothing out there has really drawn me in. Rift is good, I used to be a WoW junkie (Vanilla -> Cata), SW:ToR was good for a while, but nothing so far has really got me involved. I want a game similar in play to Darkfall (for PvP servers) but with a few tweaks here and there, and including PvE servers which would introduce a whole new line of play and appeal to a different crowd.

I will treat this as a pseudo game design document, explaining each area of the game and how it would be set up and why. In this first part I will lay out the idea for the world, the story behind why the player is there, the starting area for the player and the graphical theme of the game. In the second part I will go over skills and leveling which will lead into the third part about crafting, questing and player owned land after that. Next I'll discuss PvP/PvE servers and then finally end game content and how it will fit into the game.

Well let's get started!

The Beginning:
Story (rough idea):
Since the beginning, the gods have warred over the galaxies. Daemonica, the god of darkness and evil, sends his forces to swarm the planets and take control of them, while Zoan, the god of power and light, sends his empowered ones to fight back on each planet.

You are one of the empowered ones, sent to this planet to establish a foothold and gain the power to stop Daemonica. Only you and your empowered allies can stop the darkness.

The World:
Think LoZ: Windwaker. The world is a massive water covered planet with many island chains and small continents strewn throughout. Players would be able to travel from island to island via crafted boats, and visit many sorts of locations varying from frozen isles, to desert isles to massive volcanoes. This sort of split up island system makes zoning monsters and levels very easy and gives island control meaning in the PvP servers.

Level 1:
The very first players to load into a server would start with nearly nothing to their name. The first players to start on a server would be stationed in an open field with purchase-able land and one lonely NPC: The Servant of Zoan, who will explain the game to you and give you some basic starting items and tools for you to begin your journey across the land. You will be able to sell items to the servant for a very cheap prices, bringing in a source of gold to the game. At a certain level, you will be able to purchase land from the servant if there is any land left in the area to be bought. (Note: Land purchases will be capped and player ownership will be detailed in Part 3) From here the player will go out and begin forging their world.

The graphical theme for the game would not shoot to be too realistic. Players would be human looking, but the game should focus on being colorful and aesthetic, rather than realistic. Colorful, bright graphics would fit the theme of the game rather well.
Some games do well with beautiful, precise and realstic graphics, but this game would benefit from simpler graphics in my opinion. Plus, with simpler more colorful graphics, you save a lot on high budgets and long development times on the art and modeling side. Also lower poly counts means easier rendering for those with less powerful computers which means more people are able to play.

Part 2: Leveling and Skills
Doing whatever you want: The system would be freeform similar to Runescape, Darkfall or The Secret World. What I have in mind is a system where ANY type of character you want, you can make. Want a swordsman that uses elemental magic? Level up magic and sword arts. Want a plate wearing healer? Level up heavy armor and restoration magic. Want a fist fighting necromancer? Level up Bare handed fighting and necromancy. Sure it would lead to overpowered combinations, but that's why you'd make counter classes, and of course scaling levels (which I'll explain in a bit).

I figured three main categories would work: Physical, Magical, and Armor.

Under each of these categories would be multiple professions to choose from. At any time you can choose to use these skills to level them up. First we'll take a quick look at each skill, then we'll go into how to level up and the level system.

Physical Professions:
- Ranged (Bows, Guns, Throwing Weapons): The ranged profession would encompass skills that revolve around using ranged weapons. Skills would include things like: Empowered Shot, Ice Arrow, Attack Speed Boosts, and retreats. Starting out in the ranged profession would start you out with very weapon specific skills to use. For example, you would learn Ice Arrow at a low level, which could only be used while having a bow equipped. Then once you begin to reach the Ranged Level Cap, you would start to learn other skills that synergize well with other professions such as Attack Speed Increase or some sort of disengage maneuver.

- Swords (1h and 2h): The sword profession would use, as the name implies, skills with both 1 and 2 handed swords. Skills would include: Double Slash, Heavy Blow, Lunge, and rushing and melee related skills. Like all combat professions, the Sword profession would start you with weapon specific skills and branch out to more general and powerful skills later. The Sword profession would be a very high damage output profession relying on quick strikes and effective movement.

- Axes (Axes 1h and 2h and Poleaxes) The axe profession would encompass both axes (1 and 2h) and poleaxes (polearms, lances). Skills would include: Hamstring, Ripping Strike, and other cleaving type abilities. The axe profession would rely more on sweeping AOE strikes, bleed damage and slowing effects to keep the enemy weak and immobilized.

- Hammers (Maces, Hammers (1h and 2h) and Clubs) The hammer profession would encompass all blunt attacking objects both 1 and 2h. Skills would include: Crushing Strike, Spinning Force, Stunning Blow and other smashing type abilities. The hammer profession would utilize stuns, armor reducing attacks, and slow heavy blows to crush down on opponents.

- Daggers (Daggers, knives, shivs) The dagger profession utilizes daggers, knives and other shank type weapons. Skills would include: Backstab, Kidney Rupture, Shadow Dash, and other quick, mobile, and high burst skills. The dagger profession revolves heavily around quick movement and high burst skills. It lacks sustained damage and relies on the player getting in and out of combat quickly.

- Bare handed: The bare handed profession is leveled by using no weapons when fighting enemies. Skills would include: Double hit, Jump Kick, and other martial arts style moves. The bare handed profession is low damage in comparison to other weapon skills, but gives the player mobility and rapid sustained attacking in exchange. Movement and control become the players assets in the bare handed profession.

- Staves (Staves, wands and other magic items): The staves profession uses staves, wands and other magical items such as books, relics and charms. Skills would include: Wand Shot (a ranged type attack), Empower Spell and other magic supportive skills. The staff profession is more of a supportive profession to magic spells than a heavily combat oriented profession. Most of the skills would include things that either buff spells, return mana on melee or ranged hit, or give you defensive buffs. The melee and ranged attacks by the player would be usable when out of mana, but weak compared to other melee skills.

Magical Professions:
-Elemental Magic
: Elemental Magic includes fire, water and ice, earth, wind and lightning magic. The player uses the elements to cast damaging spells. Spells would include: Fireball, Frost Wave, Quake, Lightning Shock and other elemental spells. The elemental magic profession is the main magical profession encompassing most mage-like spells. Elemental magic relies on heavy burst and slowing spells to nuke down enemies.

- Restoration Magic: Restoration Magic includes healing, supportive and resurrection spells. Skills would include: Heal, Recover, Revive, and other restorative spells. The restoration profession would be the main cleansing and healing profession relying on both heal over time spells, direct heal spells and shielding spells to help allies.

- Necromancy: Necromancy includes death resurrection spells and black magic. Skills include: Raise Zombie, Zombify Ally (turn an ally into a zombie when they die), and crippling / debuff type magics. The necromancy profession uses dark magic to raise undead creatures to fight for you as well as putting crippling hexes and damage over time spells on your enemies.

- Arcane Magic: Arcane magic utilizes time warping magic and other gravitational type magics. Skills would include: Slowing Field, Gravity Well, Arcane Blast and other heavy damage gravitation type attacks. The arcane profession would be different from elemental magic in that it alters the fabric of time around the player to bring massive damage to enemies and would be a more AoE style magic.

- Illusion Magic
: Illusion magic takes and alters an enemies perception using alteration and illusion magic. Skills would include: Invisibility, Mind Attack, Magic Reflect, and other skills that alter what an enemies sees and does. The profession would rely on reflecting back attacks and diverting attention to false images or other enemies. Players using illusion magic wouldn't rely heavily on damage so much as avoiding damage and would be best used as a lesser skill in conjunction with another damage skill.

Armor Professions:
- Cloth Armor: Cloth armor would include all soft type armors. As you level armor skills, you both increase the effectiveness of armor in battle as well as allowing you to equip higher levels of that type of armor. Higher levels of armor skills would also give you bonuses for wearing all cloth armor and sets of cloth armor. Cloth armor in the game would generally have magic enhancing stats and low armor values giving the player better magical aptitude but not much physical defense. Armor skills would be leveled by either dealing damage or killing enemies while wearing that type of armor (an experience bonus could be given for full sets of 1 type of armor.)

- Leather/Light Armor: Leather armor would increase mobility while giving moderate physical and magical protection. Leather armor would be a good balance for players who want to rely on mobility during combat. Leather armor would give stats increasing physical damage rather than magical.

- Heavy Armor: Heavy armor would include both plate and chain mail type armors. Heavy armor would give massive physical defense with reduced mobility and be susceptible to magic type attacks. Heavy armor would best be suited for heavy melee characters wanting to get in peoples faces and stay in the thick of battle.

-Shields: The shield profession would include all types of shields. The shield profession would be leveled by blocking with a shield during battle and would allow you to equip better shields, block easier and for more damage, and gain certain shield skills as you level the profession up. The shield profession is for those players who want to be a tank type character able to absorb lots of damage while staying in battle.

Well that sums it up for the professions, let's take a look at the leveling system and how all that relates to the game.

First of all, you can level any profession at any time, just by swapping to weapons, armors of that type or using a spell of that type. Each time you fight using a weapon (for physical combat spells) you would gain a small portion of experience toward that profession. As you level up, you are able to use better items and abilities under that profession. These would be learned automatically and there wouldn't be any skill trainers in the game to learn them. Leveling would be slow. You would not gain many levels a day. This isn't the type of game where you hit max level within a week, in fact, there really wouldn't be a max level as it would be fairly impossible to reach it.

Also you would mainly only gain experience from monsters and players around your level. Fighting very low relative level monsters would mean you wouldn't get much experience, but fighting boss monsters and high level ones would reward you for your effort.

Like Runescape, the game would have a meta-level that would be your overall level. Each time you level any profession, your meta level would adjust accordingly. This would require some thought and detailed algorithms to get it balanced, but basically you would have a combat level that would be used for PvP and enemy comparison purposes.

Each time you gain a level of any profession, the experience for the next level of any combat profession would increase. So if it takes 100 experience to get your very first level in swords, it would take say 110 experience to get your next level in heavy armor. This would increase dramatically as you gain many levels making it very difficult to level up more than 3-4 professions at once. This would be balanced to keep players from swapping their professions around and leveling all of them together. Your meta level would be much higher for one, and you wouldn't have the high skills or items that you can get with those skills that others of the same meta level would have. This keeps players focused on a few skills that they want. Think of Skyrim in this regard. You can't level everything at once, you are forced to make decisions.

Also, as you gain meta levels, your character is able to choose the type of stats they want to specialize in. For instance, you level up swords to level 2, heavy armor to level 2 and restoration magic to level 2. Your meta level has now reached level 2 since you have obtained enough skills to level it up and you are given the option to choose: Intellect, Agility, Strength, Endurance. Selecting one of those stats will increase that stat by a small amount more than the others. In this way you have a portion of customization over the stat increases of your character as you level up.

The meta level is the displayed level to other players as well. It takes into consideration every combat profession you have leveled and gives you a level to associate with your character.

Now let's take a look at combat and how you would use these skills. I think some games are coming out with much better action based combat and that is what I would like to see.

Combat System:
The combat system would be an action style combat system. It would very skill based and rely on player skill rather than levels or powerful armor gained. Abilities, level and armaments would all help, but skill would play a very important part.

For example: Ranged skills and attacks would be similar to a first or third person shooter. The player would manually have to aim their attacks and target enemies manually. Skills would include this kind of targeting as well. Melee skills would rely on the player clicking for each attack with a global cool down on auto attacking. The direction the player faces would be very important as well as good positioning and knowing your striking range. Magical attacks would be similar to ranged attacks in that you have to aim them at enemies or choose locations for AoE based attacks to land.

In this way the player is actively engaged in every fight. I believe TERA uses a system to the one I would like to see, but I have yet to play TERA. The game would revolve heavily around the action based combat as there would be very little convenience in both combat and crafting. In my opinion most modern MMORPGs make everything so simple that the game is simply boring.

Also, this type of leveling system, in conjunction with mobs being somewhat difficult (on par with your level), makes the player be engaged in each fight in order to level up efficiently. Fighting mobs lower than you would give drastically reduced XP to whatever proffession you are leveling.

Crafting would use a similar free form system, minus the scaling levels across all professions.

Part 3: Crafting, Player Owned Land, and Quests
Crafting has always been, in EVERY mmorpg I have played, my biggest pet peeve. The systems are boring, meaningless and don't impact game play all that much. You can be a master craftsman, making the highest level armors available and... well... they are completely pointless compared to raid/boss loots.

For my ideal MMO, a wild rat monster wouldn't drop you a cloth armor. For one, that makes no sense. And for two, by removing armor drops from monsters, bosses, demons, etc., you make crafting very, very important. And you can make it fun too! What I will do is go through the crafting segments and what they do, and then talk a little bit about how you use crafting, the importance of crafting to this fictional game, and how it would involve the player in something more than just click to make 100 boots!

First, let's break the entire crafting skills page into 3 sections: Gathering, Production Skills, and Other/Social.

Here are the crafting skills I envision for this game:

Gathering: (mainly deals with attaining items from nature)
Herblore: The discovering and identifying of types of plants, herbs and shrubberies. Also includes deducing uses for those herbs and attributes of the herb. Higher levels allow the harvesting of better herbs.

Woodcutting: The cutting of trees to gain logs via woodcutting axes. Higher levels allow the use of better wood axes and the cutting of rarer trees.

Mining/Smelting: The mining of metals, rare metals and gems via pick axes. Also includes the smelting of these metals into usable bars at a forge. Higher levels allow the use of better pick axes and the mining of rarer and more valuable metals.

Butchering: The scavanging of skins, meats, bones and teeth from animals and wild beasts that are slain. Also includes tanning of hides into leather. Leveling increases the types and levels of beasts you can butcher.

Fishing: The ability to fish from lakes, rivers and oceans via fishing rods. Also includes the ability to track and locate hot spots for fishing and the ability to craft rods and lures. Higher levels allow the use of better fishing equipment and the chance to catch and locate rarer fish.

Production Skills: (mainly deals with making new items from essences learned)
Mixology/Alchemy: The creation of potions, poisons, elixirs and antedotes using vials and ingredients. Includes the ability to grind bones and teeth, turn herbs into extracts, pastes and oils and use of alchemical equipment. Higher levels allow access to more powerful essence patterns. (**explained after the listing of skills**)

Carpentry/Wood Working: The creation of wooden items, houses, housing furniture, docks, boats, handles for weapons and tools, fishing rods and poles and other wooden equipment. Allows the ability to create boards from logs as well. As with all production skills, higher levels allow the access to power powerful pattern essences.

Armor Smithing: The creation of metallic (plate and chain) armors and shields using hammers, anvils and other smithing tools. Also includes the creation of studs for leather working, and other metal items on armor.

Weapon Smithing: The creation of metal weapons: Swords, Axes, Maces. Includes wood axes, pick axes, arrow heads, and other metal weapons and tools.

Sewing/Stitching: The creation of cloth and cloth armor. Includes making various types of cloth from plants, animal products and other materials. Also includes all other cloth items such as bags, packs, and strips of cloth.

Leather Working: The creation of leather armors made from tanned hides and leather.

Farming: The planting of seeds in a tilled area of land to grow food, trees and herbs. Farming is only available on either owned property or public farming land. Includes the tilling of land, harvesting and planting higher level goods and other farming maintenance skills.

Fletching and Bowmaking: The creation of bows, strings, arrow shafts and arrows from a variety of resources. Includes the assembly of arrows and bows as well.

Cooking: The creation of various foods made from herbs, meats, and other goods from farming and collected in the wild.

Jeweler: The molding of rare metals and gems into rings, brooches, necklaces, and charms. Includes the cutting of uncut gems and polishing and refining of rare metals.

Enchanting: The creation of magical enchantments to place on jewelry and the assembly of magical weapons such as staves, books and wands.

Other / Social Skills: (other skills not in gathering or production)
Pick Pocketing: Allows stealing from humanoid NPCs or (PVP servers ONLY) from other players with the risk of being flagged as a PKer for a while.

Lock Picking: Allows picking of locked chests and doors found in NPC villages.

Outdoorsman: The creation of campfires, tents, animal traps and fishing traps (fishing traps level up fishing as well as outdoorsman).

Cartography: The creation of maps for other players to use. Maps can show popular fishing locations, monster locations, other gathering spots that have been discovered and other exploration information as level is increased. **will talk about this a bit below**

Taming/Breeding: The ability to tame and breed non-demonic wild beasts as either combat or non-combat pets.

Those are some of the skills that I would like to see in the game and let me address a few important notes of information about the skills here.

Essence Patterns: Skills wouldn't be learned from a trainer. Rather as you level up a skill, when you are out killing monsters, you have a chance to gain an essence pattern, which would give you a production pattern that you are able to use. Certain monsters would have rare patterns able to drop off them and part of the fun would be finding massive boss monsters with your guild to go find really good and rare patterns to make. This way it would make players who explore and go out a lot have a better chance of finding cool patterns to sell.

Cartography: Basically, each player wouldn't have a free map of the world. As players explore, their map and mini map will light up in the immediate areas around them, but a cartographer can craft a map for players with information showing where certain things are located and those maps can be put as overlays on the player map, able to be toggled on and off. Certain skills would be required for certain map designs. For example, a fishing map would require a certain level of fishing skill to make that map for people.

Carpentry/Fishing: Carpentry would allow the creation of boats, which could be ridden to travel from island to island, skimming across the tops of the ocean. Boats would be able to be fished off of and driven with passengers to take people around the world. They would be free moving boats, with players able to jump off at any time, as well as fight or jump to an enemy boat.

Now, onto my big pet peeve with crafting. It's so dang boring! And pointless! Well, in this MMO, there are NO drops from monsters to give you phat lewtz. Rare essence patterns would drop off raid style bosses (detailed in the last post) as well as rare materials used to make those items.

The other part about crafting is to make production crafting skills a mini-game. Now the idea here is to make it worthwhile to craft and more fun. This changes it from people who just buy massive amounts of material and max crafting to a system where people who invest the effort will see the results of their work. They will have to work at making quality items, and by making skill based mini games, you can have an item have a quality reflective of the players ability to craft well.

For instance: How you do Armor Smithing: You would go to your anvil (either one in your house or in the local blacksmith's shop) and open up your armor smithing menu. From your bag you bring out the correct materials and put them into the slot for crafting and select the item to make. From here, a mini game pops up with a hammer and a sheet of metal. On the metal hot spots or icons would show up that you have to click on as fast as you can to hammer out the metal. A short, quick skill based mini game would give the feeling of actually crafting something. The result would depend on how well you did in the game as well. For example: You missed 3 out of 4 hammer hits and the result of what you were making is: 'Shabby Iron Bracers'. But the next time you hit 3 out of the 4 and the timing was okay on all of them. The result would be: 'Good Iron Bracers' and if you nail every hit with perfect timing you would get: 'Perfect Iron Bracers'. Each would have a different armor value reflecting the quality of work put into them.

You could also have this be optional, and toggle it off and just create 'Regular Iron Bracers' each time and remove the ability to create something better.

Also, a way to engage the player outside of the game is to include mobile cross platform involvement. If your player is logged out of the game [in your home, possibly], you can log in on a mobile app and craft items and play the mini games for production crafting. What you would need is the proper crafting materials either on your player or in storage chests in your house, and the proper production facilites on your property (e.g. an Anvil, Tanning Rack, Alchemy Lab, etc.). This would let players go out and collect the materials they need and play the crafting mini games in their spare time to make items in their home on their smart phone.  (Skill based crafting would be toggled on for this.)

In this manner, each and every Production skill would require both time AND effort on the player's part to make good items.

Also most every item in the game would be made by players, so people who make quality goods would be known and trading would be a very important and social skill to have. I would honestly shy away from an Auction House as well. This would force players to barter and spend time finding good deals and trading goods and money for things they need.

Now onto our next topic:

Player Owned Land: (and the creation of a town)
One thing I would like to see as well is the ability to purchase land from a set out area and own personal property. This could be achieved by setting out large plots of land throughout the world that are able to eventually be settled. The first players would be able to buy land from the Servant of Zoan and start making the first town. As more players buy land in an area, special quests would show up at the servant to begin making other NPC buildings in the town such as: A blacksmith, a forge, a bank, walls, etc etc. These quests would be to collect massive amounts of resources and special items to improve the town. Also as the town grows, you would be able to hire guards, and other NPCs defend the town with the players.

Once a player has bought a chunk of land, they would be able to begin collecting resources to build a house with construction the land. Houses would take massive amounts of lumber and materials to make, but would be a place that you can upgrade later, furnish, and have to yourself. Also owning land would allow you to farm on your land, defend it with walls, and have other neat items on your land such as a personal forge, an alchemy lab, and other crafting stations.

There would have to be a cap on how much land each player could own, and there would have to be enough space throughout the world to be able to colonize other parts. Also if a player is gone from the game for months on end (say 6 months or so) their property would be put up for sale, and another player could buy that property, and the money would be sent to the player for whenever they return to the game.

This would give players an INVESTMENT in the game. It would keep them playing and working to both improve their character's combat ability but also their home as well.

Each major settling area (in fields and other areas around the world) there would be a servant of Zoan to assist the player in their development of that area.

This idea would take lots of planning and would take lots of programming to implement, but I think it would be tremendously fun.

Questing in a player created world:
Well, you are probably thinking: Well if this is a player created world essentially, with towns forming around wherever players build their houses and buy land, will there be quests?

Well the idea I had for questing would be a very non linear type quest. There would be monster slaying quests as your town developed to go out and hunt down the Demons plaguing the world. Quests would be tailored to the players current combat level and you would assist both in helping create your town and defeat evil demons. Rewards for quests would most likely be rarer materials, special tools, items and potions, whatever fits a decent reward as well as gold rewards.

Gold would be gotten by selling items to the servant of Zoan, completing quests, and killing enemy NPC humanoid characters. (Such as tribal villages and stuff) The gold sinks would be: Housing, town building and other tools/items bought from the servants of Zoan.

Questing would certainly be more free form and exploring / killing monsters out in the world would be the biggest thrill as well as creating your own land, developing new towns and defending those towns from demon raids. The world would constantly be filled with Daemonica's slaves, demons sent to destroy the Empowered Ones so there would be periodical server wide events as well.

Part 4: PvP and PvE
Player vs Player:
For this game, there would be both PvP and PvE servers. However unlike most MMO's, they would be vastly different and most PvP oriented players would probably still want a character on a PvE server as well. PvP in this game is BRUTAL. Your decision to kill another player comes at a high cost, but with high benefit. At any time, any player can choose to turn on his PvP toggle (so that you don't accidentally kill people unintended) and kill another player or engage in PvP combat.

First, I'll talk about the evil/good system. I imagine a sort of system that has a bar going from good to evil. Killing another player that is either neutral or good will immediately flag you with a PvP flag and a PK flag and put your alignment into the evil sector. A PK flag indicates you have killed a player and you can be killed with no PK penalty to the assailant. PK flags would last a minimum of 1 hour of in game time and as you repeat PKing people, the time you are flagged for as a PKer goes up. People who PK all the time would be perma flagged in this way.

If you are aligned to good, you keep a portion of your items/armor when you die and receive no penalty for killing players aligned to evil and flagged as a PKer. Most players who don't go around killing newbs will be aligned to good.

If you run around and kill people, you will very quickly be aligned to a very evil state. Being flagged as a PKer means you will drop all your items when you die, people who kill you receive no penalty for killing you, and you are unable to talk to NPCs in a "Good" aligned town. [I'll get to this in a minute].

Evil players (according to the story) would be those fallen empowered ones who forsook Zoan and now follow Daemonica. They use their powers to kill other empowered ones and take their items.

There would be many benefits to PKing such as a potential for mass amounts of loot, lots of experience for player kills and rare items they may be carrying. However, you risk a lot trying to kill them. You put all of your own items at risk and it's a dangerous thing to mark yourself as a PKer and align yourself evil.

Scaled % Drops in PvP:  
Also, there could be a scaling % of items dropped by players when you kill them based on their relative level. In this way, killing a low level character would net you zero profit and the lowbie wouldn't lose all their items this way. You could have a 5-10 meta level difference below for items. However killing a higher level player would cause them to drop the same amount as a player on par with your level.

Players who align themselves either good or evil would only able to enter towns of that alignment without getting murdered by the other "faction". Perhaps there could be neutral players who can enter both, but as players flagged themselves as PKers they would have to flee the main cities and congregate elsewhere and build their own city. This would eventually make Island Control a very important part of the game for each faction.

Evil/Dark Aligned Towns:
When Evil aligned players get to a field or development area, instead of a servant of Zoan, a servant of Daemonica would let you buy land/get quests/build your city, etc. In these PvP realms, there would be a less emphasis on demon invasions (which I'll detail in post 5) and more of an emphasis on "evil players" vs "good players". Structure and "Laws" would have to form in these 'Evil' towns in order to ensure that PKer players don't just kill other PKers cause they can. Community and a form of order would have to evolve in order for the Evil towns to not get decimated by the Good ones.

In this way there would be no set factions, but two factions would evolve, only, you get to choose which side you want to be on! Also, there would be ways to get your alignment back to good if you had become evil. Such as a long quest chain or something like that.

Since there are heavy negatives to being a PKer there would be hesitation for a player and a moral decision to slay another player. You would be ostracized from your own society and cast out to join with the dark side of the game. Also I imagine specialized PK groups and guild forming as well as Bounty Hunters (players specialized in finding and killing PKers).

This kind of free form PvP would be a rude awakening to people who think they like PvP. Which is why I said that even PvP die-hards would want to have a PvE character as well to experience the more passive, fun side of the game.

And this is why I said, my game would probably not be insta-popular (at least in regards to PvP). But the PvE should also be fun enough and engaging enough to draw in the casual players as well. Especially the crafting / town building side of it.

All in all, this kind of PvP system thrown into an MMO makes you sit on the edge of your seat, never knowing if another player is lurking in the forest. It would make hunting parties a priority for safety in numbers. The game would evolve around this intense free form PvP into, in my opinion, one of the most fun and engaging PvP systems out there.

Also, as far as balancing issues go: If there is a heavy evil to light ratio or vice versa, the weak faction could be given a moderate buff to PvP combat (not game breaking, but enough to make people want to swap sides). It's probably a large topic to debate about, but I am sure with a free form faction system, there are plenty of ways to balance it out.

Player vs Environment:
The big draw of PvE servers over PvP servers is that the game is actually fun and relaxing. You can go fish, level up your skills and become a master craftsman, or do whatever you want, and you won't just get ganked out in the wild.

PvE servers would draw in players with a Harvest Moon style of game play as well. Not everyone needs to be a raider and go kill big bosses, they can level up their home, collect neat items from around the world and engage in a more social experience rather than an intense raiding or PvP experience. This would allow all sorts of players to enjoy the game. Exploring would also be a more viable option for fun without having to worry about being too far from your town.

Part 5: End Game, Dungeons and Conlcusion
Well, you might be thinking after reading through the first 4 parts: 'You haven't mentioned instances or bosses, how will that work in this game?' Well, it'd be different from most MMO's. The idea is to keep server populations rather small so that instancing is not required. What there would be is persistent boss lairs that require teams to group up and go take them down. What this allows is for giant guilds to attempt the boss with more people than normally would be required if they under gear the content or want to get it down quickly. Especially on PvP servers, what makes this viable is that if you die, you drop half your gear. Even on PvE servers anyone can pick this up, so there could even be thieves on PvE servers who follow raids around and are scavengers of corpses.

So, let's talk a bit first about dungeons and world events, mostly Pre-Endgame.

Instead of a few specific instanced areas, there would be massive underground dungeons, island dungeons, volcanic and cavern dungeons and outside dungeons. These would all be persistent areas in which the content would respawn at specific intervals. So for a large outdoor end game boss, the respawn rate might be a day, or a few days, or a week for really powerful bosses. The goal is to keep servers relatively small to say WoW or other MMOs, and make epic boss fights that are a risk to engage. A wipe to your raid would mean thousands of gold worth of items strewn across the battlefield for looters to come and get. Guilds might even try to have a few people stand aside in case of a wipe and collect all the items they can from the corpses.

Side note - Soul binding: Also another gold sink for the game could be soul binding items. Similar to soul bound items in other MMO's you could pay a large sum of gold to bind a piece of gear to your soul (PvE servers only). This would make it so that no matter where you died, you would never drop that piece of gear, but would make it unable to be traded to other players. It would only be able to be sold to vendors. This would keep the gold economy in check as well as give high level raiders a way to keep their amazingly epic items that their guilds craftsmen made for them from epic boss loots.

The idea though is to make it risky. MMOs these days have no risk. Just reward. Sure, players would complain about it, there are lots of complainers, but it adds to the intensity of playing the game. You would feel actual nervousness or excitement when facing a boss that has the ability to wipe out your hard earned gear. But at the same time the reward for killing the boss would be worth the risk. There would have to be a balance between risk and reward to make the game intense.

World Events:
Also, I envision, (going along with the story line) world invasion events, where demons sent by Daemonica would rush at towns and attack them, in an attempt to destroy the cities. This would be downplayed and less frequent in PvP worlds since Players would be doing most of the city raiding. In fact there could even be angelic/light type minion attacks on Evil towns by Zoan in PvP servers.

These world events would add an element of defense to the cities and towns around the world. Players out on missions across the oceans would have to come back home and help defend if it was left unguarded.

Side note - Housing HP:  I imagine houses having HP [lots of it] and being able to be attacked [not entered or looted] and eventually destroyed during attacks. However as towns grow, their town would have NPC guards that are like mini bosses [get stronger the bigger the town], but aren't endless like WoW guards. They would have tons of HP and fight alongside the players in defense of the town, but when they died, they would drop a nice chunk of loot and gold and the players would have to pool their money to commission another guard later. I imagine the payment of guards and other town services as your town grows a large gold sink for the game that can balance out gold income.

World events would supplement the bosses and dungeons that are in the game and keep players busy. The idea though i that there is so much MORE to do in this game than in other MMOs such as leveling crafting and other skills, that you don't need or really want to be fighting bosses only all the time. There would be lots of content to get throughout all levels, that you can do pretty much anything (especially on PvP servers).

Also players who make towns in higher level areas would be subject to stronger World Event attacks. Such towns would be closer to powerful enemies to farm, but would have to be defended more strongly.

End game:
End game would basically consist of epic world bosses. Massive dragon lairs with a giant dragon boss, giant enemy NPC fortresses with massive warlord bosses, islands inhabited by only super strong monsters and endless tunnels in a mountain governed by giant rock monsters are just some of the dungeons I can imagine being in the game. Players would gather up with their guilds and charge out to fight these epic battles and come back with riches should they succeed.

Since bosses don't respawn very often, servers would need to be somewhat small in order to let all players experience content. This could also be achieved by debuffing players who kill a boss so that they take double/triple/quadra damage or something from that boss for a few days to let other players do the content since it's not instanced. This could be for only the most powerful bosses though. There should be enough content in the game that with 1 day respawn timers on the normal dungeons, most players can experience going out and fighting in these dungeons. This would need to be balanced with difficulty of the dungeon and the number of players, but I do not think that instancing is the ONLY answer in MMOs.

All in all, I think that with some polishing and balancing, these ideas could work very well together in synergizing to make a great game. This post is of course, pure theory, and none of it has been tested or tried by me. I know there are plenty of designers out there with years of experience but I just wanted to throw my ideas out there.

I think that for a long time, MMOs were too scared to branch out and try new things, however, I think that lately some awesome new games are coming out that are trying a lot more of the things I posted here. I welcome criticism and suggestions. This is just a post to open up discussion and is really learning for myself as well. I have had great feedback so far on my blog series from reddit and some excellent suggestions and valid concerns about game play and what not.

Thanks for reading!


UPDATED: 7-15-12