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What do you want from an MMO?

Content of the article: "What do you want from an MMO?"

So here's the deal. I'm a programmer and it's my dream to make an MMO. Yes I know it's a big project, will require a lot of help and so forth. So you don't have to tell me that.

Here's where I am …… I'm working on procedural voxel planets. These can be very large, even earth sized since they generate terrain, trees and other things at run time using fractals and other similar algorithms. I have a pretty good handle on the technology at this point and am working on adding trees to the terrain right now. Note when I say voxel, I don't mean Minecraft like voxels. It uses voxels to generate smooth terrain using some fancy pants algorithms. The idea is that it doesn't look like voxel terrain. I'm mainly using voxels so I can support caves overhangs etc, without a lot of specialized coding. With voxels you can also implement destructive terrain but that has other drawbacks, mainly players quickly destroying the world which would require a lot of data storage among other things. On the other hand I think some form of in game building should be doable.

In any case what I'd like to do in parallel is start thinking about the game itself. Some of the main goals are single shard and open world, with possibly no instances. Beyond that I'm pretty open as I'm chiefly interested in the tech to make it work. I guess the first big decision is fantasy or sci-fi (or something else?).

With planet generators it's easy to generate a lot of worlds. So one possible game would be a star empire type game, something like the old Traveller table top RPG which I'm a fan of. This has the advantage that I don't have to put as much work into terrain generation because I can vary terrain and look and feel on a per planet basis, rather then blending things in a single planet which takes more work. Also I would make planets smaller since there would be a lot more of them. On the other hand I would have to implement space travel and all that goes with it. If I did this I was thinking of something more realistic, with combat having more of a submarine like feel but over long distances, rather than a star wars feel.

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The other possible game would be a classic fantasy game. In this case I would have a very large world divided up into regions that roughly mimics earths countries. For instance there would be a pseudo-Chinese area, a pseudo-German area, so forth. When you enter the game you start out in a zone that matches your location. Travel would be very slow and as you travel, over real time days, you will move from area to area and encounter players that speak different languages. With a game like this I think exploration would be the primary thing.

Beyond that I would like to hear comments on PVP, instancing, faction, levels vs skill trees vs both vs something else, equipment, advancement and anything else you would like to talk about. Thanks in advance.


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