In old MMOs, when monsters started to attack, dice rolls had already determined if they was going to hit you or not. We’re not doing that. We’re allowing you to move out of the way and do stuff that way. With positioning of your abilities versus what the monster is doing, it’s a very fluid situation. There’s no lather, rinse, repeat mechanic that works all the time.
Dave Georgeson, interview at Rock, Paper, Shotgun
The interview linked above is interesting if you want to learn more about the plans for EverQuest Next and Landmark. I recommend it.
There is a lot about the tools that will be available to end users and the scope of what players will be allowed to do. Heady stuff, with ideas like “build your own MMO” being bandied about and EverQuest Next being referred to as just “a professionally developed alternative” to what players will be able to create in Landmark. It all sounds like many steps beyond things like Wurm Online, right down to the griefing potential.
In the midst of all of that, there was some talk about players, classes, and combat, which included the quote at the top. Again, sounds nifty!
Only reading that triggered a memory. A few years back there was a new studio… and I have forgotten the name, date, and what not, so … and one of the developers was talking about them making a zombie MMO and generally criticizing combat in all MMOs up to that point. He didn’t want hot bars and dice rolls behind the scenes, he wanted to swing a bat and, if it intersected with a zombie’s head, to score a hit and do damage.
Somebody else must remember this, right? Help me out here.
[Addendum: Talyn found it! I am not crazy… in that regard at least.]
Anyway, that was doing things properly and he was quite dismissive of the MMO industry for not having done this already.
In due course a fair number of MMO devs sighed, shook their heads, and went on about how they would love to do that sort of thing, but the realities of network reliability and latency and client synchronization prevented it and that these loud mouthed upstarts would surely learn all of this in the fullness of time. (Or maybe it was just this post, which I was able to find once I had the date.)
If I recall right, they did, balance was restored to the force, and we all moved on.
At least until I read that quote up there at the top, which brought back those partial memories along with a few question… like, did Dave Georgeson really mean that? No dice, no probability, just a check on positions and the intersection of objects in motion? In real time? In an MMO? Over the internet?
Did SOE solve some critical network issue along the way here? Or am I reading this wrong?
My alternate quote from that article, which also hits on a side detail is this:
Sometimes we ask questions that we know can only go one way. But the players are constantly having debates over stuff, so then we can go in and explain why we’re doing things a certain way. Because the more we can work with our players so they can understand why games need to be built a certain way, the better the suggestions will be.
This actually makes me feel a little better, as a number of questions that have popped on the round table have seemed to have only one possible outcome, so I was wondering why they bothered asking. Now I know.