Join Date: Apr 2007
Gov's SWG Development Wishlist
Having been a long time veteran of SWG, as well as other MMOs, MUDs, MUSHs, RPGs, PnPs, PDQs, SNAFUs, FUBARs.. ok getting a bit carried away with the abbrievations now... I digress... I put a rather massive development proposal forward to both SOE and LA directly and through the forums back in Jan / Feb of this year. It recieved quite a large following on the forums, and while LA did actually respond to me SOE never did. I'm pleased to say, quite a few things in the proposal seem to actually have been noted and implemented in some fashion, but there are still some things I'd like to see happen, and here they are:
GCW Development Concept: Battlefield Planets
While I realise you can never create the perfect system that everyone will love 100% of the time, it should be possible to implement changes that will appeal to the majority. I think the first thing one must look at is Star Wars Battlefront 1 & 2. They are, without a doubt, the most successful Star Wars games ever, and the combat concept for both is what SWG should be aiming for in future development. While that may seem a daunting task, it may be simpler than imagined. Let's look at battlefields in the first instance. They were an original and innovative idea in the first instance which largely never came into fruition, be it for technical or game-play reasons. However that doesn't mean that they were an outright failure.
Using Restuss for our base model, it should be possible to create instanced planets based purely around a battlefield concept. Many players have said this before, and they all suggest Hoth as the setting, and I agree I'd love to see Hoth fully realised. I would, however, suggest implementing battlefield planets that didn't have such Cannon specific importance, as you would effectively have a fresh pallet to work from. Additionally, you could set them to have a conservative limit of players per instance of each planet. For example, you could set the instance to only allow 120 players of each faction per instance. Once that number was reached, a new instance started in order to cut down the lag. Furthermore, you could look at implementing combat vehicles that could only be used in these battlefields, or that were only combat enabled on these battlefield planets. There are a wealth of combat vehicles too chose from purely from the Battlefront series alone, which I think would make many people happy.
For a further model in an MMO environment, one only has to go as far as your very own Planetside. It is based around this combat planet model using combat vehicles and squad based combat. It is reasonable to assume a special raid system could be implemented on these battlefield planets so that a large number of groups could network together and play as a small army or platoon. Additionally I think there should be NPCs enabled on either side for combat, also using combat vehicles where appropriate. If you wanted to limit combat vehicles purely to battlefield planets, perhaps it would be possible to code the vehicles to be able to be captured. This brings us back to Battlefront. When you entered one of the many theatres of war, there were a series of vehicles available that the player could drive and attack with, furthermore it was possible to capture enemy vehicles and use them against the enemy. Ultimately, you could devise a point or flag system, whereby the dominant faction that day is in control of the planet and has bonuses in the way of equipment, offensive and defensive modifiers etc. This would add a new dynamic to SWG and effectively be a first in MMOs.
Funcom currently has recently released an expansion for Anarchy Online called Lost Eden. It will be supporting this idea of using battle vehicles that a player doesn't own for the duration of time on the battlefield. Additionally it is set to allow for orbital bombardment from player controlled space stations. This is another area that SWG could dominate. How cool would it be to be an Officer leading a raid against a Rebel or Imperial target, and be able to not only call down the bombing run, but an actual orbital hit from either a factional space station, or better still, a cruiser in orbit? These are the things that dreams are made of, but are also Star Wars combat models at their best.
Development Concept: The Art of Diplomacy - Politician Expertise
Diplomacy as a concept, takes the game to a new level of faction and player interraction. Moving beyond simple city building and management, a diplomatic system in SWG would allow players to learn the history and legends of the Star Wars galaxy, while influencing the game world itself.
Through the use of the expertise system, various templates could be developed by players that would allow for interraction with NPCs on various levels. Additionally, there are a wealth of possibilities out there for people to take up politician and use it even within the GCW itself. SWG is effectively about the politics of two warring factions, so how better to make your mark within it than by your own brand of diplomacy. Quests and systems could be developed where by you had to use some form of diplomacy to either gather information, change minds, or even bluff you way into a place you shouldn't be. This could create an alternate levelling system for Politician, where you use a set of skills made available in the form of specials as well as dialogue choices to control the flow of a conversation. In one mission you could be sent in to deal with a group of delegates who can't even agree on what chair they'll set in, let alone actually sitting down and discussing whatever the matter is at hand, and it will be your job to convince them. Using the skills available to you, you will attempt to sway each to the required thinking, gaining experience for each success and having to wait out a timer before attempting to try again on a failure. Another mission could see you going behind enemy lines or infiltrating a criminal organisation, having to use your skills to talk you way in and through your mission to achieve whatever your goal is.
These scenarios could tie into combat just as easily. It wouldn't be hard to see a spy in the aforementioned scenario, having to worm their way into the hard of an organisation to assassinate the leader, or poison their mind in some way. And further still, when attacking a dungeon such as the DWB or Corellian corvette, your skill at diplomacy might get you into areas that previously you wouldn't be able to. Either through quick wit or manipulation, you'd be an asset to any group you were in. As your character gains skill in diplomacy, larger rewards await in the form of unique items, and access to some of the places of power in the galaxy.
Development Proposal: Making Player Citites Better
With the impending housing purge, I thought it would be a good time to look at ways we could improve the overall look, feel and function of Player Cities.
One thing that has always bothered me about SWG is how an amazing looking player city can still look like a frontier town due to its lack of walkways. When you look at Anarchy Online as a comparison, the player cities are quite crisp, have roads and sidewalks and are quite well laid out and proportioned. I don't know what the ideal solution would be to realise a proper city model, be it force all cities to adopt a set of pre-defined structure patterns so that they might fit onto a pre-made paved area, or to simply have a paved area that expands with the city as it grows through it's various stages, just to give it that finished look and feel. Perhaps at Metropolis, it would be possible to add walls and gates to the city at an additional rate of maintenance. While I realise not every patch of land that a city is built upon is level, and some are even near or surrounded by water, perhaps a limited number of terraforming options could be introduced to make such a placement possible.
II. Player Businesses
Currently we have cantinas, theatres, garages etc, but instead of the current model which a player uses a house or guildhall for their vendors, I propose the development of player owned shops. There could be various styles linked to the existing architecture, but they could have pre-fab display structures within them that give it a more retail feel, while reducing the overall item count requirement of the structure.
Yes NPCs. Allow for a system that as a city grows, it encourages more NPCs to come to the city to give it a more live feel. These NPCs could in turn give random mini-quests or be hired as city security etc. Additionally, mayors would have the option of hiring NPCs to act as a security force for their city, the cost of which would be determined by type and CL.
IV. Guild Structures
Allow for new guild halls that contain instanced rooms for guild housing. Each room would require maintenance paid upon them which would go towards the overall maintenance of the guild hall.
V. Player Cities and the GCW
If a player city chooses to use the Stronghold feature, and is ringed by or has faction bases near to or part of the city, let them be attackable and potentially able to be captured by the opposing faction. This could allow for new city defences to be made available, as well as the hiring or purchasing of factional NPCs to guard the city when you are not there. The level of these NPCs would be determined by their cost, either through maintenance of they were hired, or though faction points if they were purchased. A highly organised and defended city could foreseeably have CL90+ NPCs guarding it, where a poorly organised and defended city may only have NPCs equivalent to cl30 and above. Perhaps a way to combat potential griefing through this system would be to enable vulnerable times for the entire city; similar to what is used for bases, or to allow the mayor to set the city to a battlefield status. In this scenario, buildings could take damage, but only factional bases and defences could be destroyed. Players would have to pay in money to their structures to repair them, much like their building taking damage due to insufficient funds to pay maintenance.
Community Team Proposal: SWG Guide Program
SWG Guide Program - The Sector Rangers
In an effort to provide a stronger customer service experience for people playing SWG, I think the implementation of this sort of program used in Vanguard, EQ and EQ2 would be quite valuable indeed.Criteria to join
First offers for Guides should go to veteran players, as no one will know the game as well short of the GMs and developers themselves. These could be the core guides, from which a *head* guide if you will can be chosen. These guides could then be used to train new ones after the program becomes established, and effectively become team leaders over various time zones and servers. However going forward, applicants should have to reach a milestone level, say between 30 - 50 to ensure they are familiar enough with the game and it's various places so that they can effectively answer questions and give support where needed.
Players should have to undergo a questionnaire to show their skills at problem solving, customer service, and understanding basic game mechanics. Also at this stage, they would be asked to list any prior experience they may have had in similar schemes.
Guides should be expected to maintain 8 - 10 hours a week within the role of a Guide in order to retain their status. If this cannot be sustained due to vacation time or illness, then a GM or who ever is in charge of the Guide program, should be notified as quickly as possible to keep the player from losing their Guide status. Once accepted to the program, guides should have a probationary period to go through where they undergo training, have limited powers, and have an experienced guide assigned to them to tutor them and get them familiar with the operation. After the trainee is accepted as a fully fledged guide, there should be some form of incentive program to reward the player for the time they volunteer each month.
Realm of responsibilities
Frontline Customer Support: No one understands the issues of players as intimately as the players themselves. Allow them to field in game issues, before escalating serious ones up the chain of command to GMs. Most issues can be resolved w/o GM intervention, and it will free them up to do other things.
Out of hours Customer Support: MMOs are 24 hour games, however, that doesn't mean that there will always be GM support 24 hours a day. Having guides that can cover those gaps in service can mean the difference between a player being so frustrated that they do something rash, and being calmed down to a state where they can wait till a GM can properly deal with them in their own time.
Event Support: Play the role of NPCs or other key roles in GM events to greater improve the immersion for the game players.
Promote the Community: Showing gamers that the company values their time and input enough to take them on, even in a voluntary basis, shows a faith and interest beyond the norm in their player base.
A guide's power should be limited. They are there to work the front lines. They should be able to port themselves where ever they need to go. They should be able to move players when it is absolutely necessary, and perform modest GM functions. If there is a tier system to the Guide program, then perhaps a senior and more experienced Guide, like a team leader can have more powers akin to a GM, but as these powers could be too easily abused, they need to be earned. A typical chain of command could work as follows:
Trainee Guide - Tier 1, no powers, can only be involved in limited CSR related issues, while they learn under and experienced Guide.
Guide - Tier 2, they have modest GM powers, and are the boots on the floor of frontline customer relations. They help when needed, and escalate when they can help no longer.
Guide Team Leader - Tier 3, primarily responsible for training up new guides, and assisting with customer relations as part of their normal duties. While they do not necessarily have more powers than a standard guide, it will be their reports that may determine who passes and fails guide probation.
Guide Captains - Tier 4, junior GM, has a wider range of GM abilities than thier counterparts, though not the full range. They help supervise the guides under them, ensure training programs are going as scheduled, also take part in customer relations and are the last port of call before escalating issues to a GM.
GM - Tier 5, no explanation needed.
This is just a start, so watch this space...
Note: If you like any of these, they are posted on the official forums, my handle is DarthMercilous.