Dynamic Vs Static

Thursday, April 30, 2009

I think that LOTRO would do well to pursue the dynamic instancing mentioned with skirmishes to its fullest extent. I think the future of MMO design implements more and more dynamic content, using AI of sorts to automatically adjust play to suit the players. This gives the same content more variety and enables replayability. It infuses fresh blood into a static system that is beginning to... well, stagnate. We see the same types of quests, the same NPCs, the same levels, the same grinds. Not just in LOTRO, but in many MMOs.

One idea in the past has been to have procedural content - that is content that is automatically produced. Unfortunately the automation doesn't produce enough variety and quality that hand-crafted content can. But now that we're seeing the limits of hand-crafted variety, perhaps we should look again at procedural content. This time, though, let's make it a hybrid. Create the content the same, but instead have the content scaled in size, scope, difficulty, etc to the players. Therefore there is in every encounter the option to solo, small group, large group, and in select cases, raid. Rewards should be tailored to the group size to some extent - incentivizing a larger group over a solo - since soloing would by nature be easier.

LOTROs prospects of the dynamic instancing is the first step towards this road. I don't think LOTRO will ever see the full vision of dynamic content - that is scalable content everywhere. The game would require total overhaul and essentially become a new game. But the instancing content could certainly be redesigned with this type of technology without greatly upsetting the world so far built.

In the future (a LOTRO 2?) I'd love to see dynamic content be the driving force behind a new game. Companies are experimenting with more casual and more hardcore games, different settings, different leveling systems. What made MMOs attractive in the first place? The people playing together - ultimately anything that eases togetherness in an MMO is something that will further the genre. Dynamic content could be just the thing.

Post inspired by a post at Kill Ten Rats.

3 Responses to "Dynamic Vs Static"

Tony Says:

I've always wondered why MMORPGs never seem to have a randomly generated dungeon.

I mean, I've played a single player RPGs (particularly Japanese ones) that generate random dungeons and, yeah, they're never as impressive as something made manually...

That said, if people went in with that understanding and a random dungeon was offered in ADDITION to "normal" ones, I think that'd be a great offering.

It'd give essentially limitless opportunities and would really help stave off the end game complaints... at least to me.

I would assume this would be rather intensive, but let's say the dungeon rebuilds itself once a week and is closed on Tuesdays. That way there's a day to ensure no one is in it while it changes.

Once it's ready people can group up and go in it. That way it's still instanced for realistic group sizes. Make one for Level 40 to 50 and one for 50 to 60, each with a hard mode... same layout, different hazards/monsters.

I think it would be cool, but I don't know much about building a MMORPG lol

unwize Says:

One of the greatest things about WAR is that for the majority of the content you could just keep adding people to your group. The more the merrier! It did however negate the challenge away somewhat, because the content didn't scale.

If Turbine can come up with the magic formula for scalable and interesting content, I'll be delighted.

Jaxom92 Says:

I think there is no doubt that variable, dynamic, and changing content is the future. From Turbine's development patterns thus far, and stated future content, I think we're headed in the right direction with LOTRO in this regard. Whatever for dynamic content takes, I think it will be a boon to the game.