The GOAT "Wall of Text" Contest

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Sea Bear, Jun 28, 2018.

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  1. Sea Bear

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    Over the years I have come across and read some fascinating and enlightening Wall of Text post on all sorts of topics regarding the development and creation of the Shroud.

    Every once in awhile you come across one that sticks in your mind as a very thoughtful, well written, informative, positively constructed, and just an over all great post that should be preserved for future members of the shroud to enjoy and learn from. I guess what has spurred this post is the seeing of many newer post put up by newer players regarding all kinds of things they would like to see added into the game or possibly a solution or improvement to an existing part of the game.

    I will start this off with one I came across this am while searching thru older post in relation to a new post just put up by some newer players today.

    Here is my vote for one of the best and most informative I have seen in our forums. Feel free to post any you may have written or come across in you travels.

    Wide open topics range here,... just try to post ones that were constructive and left you with a sense of respect for the writers efforts to share their thoughts and ideas.

    You might just help a new player understand some aspect to the game a little deeper, or possibly come across a old idea that has somehow been thrown into the dust bin.

    With Episode 2 starting to appear upon the distant horizon maybe a revisit or dust off of some old post is a good way to reflect upon the progress of the game so far, and possibly lend some direction to take going forward.

    . ..so grab a cup of Joe, sit back and relax, this is gonna tack awhile...


    GOAT WOT #1

    I believe the poster was vjek ...well done my friend!


    I've read through the information available on the official site, the faq and forsakenvirtues.com, as well as transcriptions of the dev videos/chats/hangouts, to date. My response here is entirely my own opinion, extremely long, detailed, narrow, selfish, and biased. If you don't want to read any of that, it's probably best to just move onto the next post. :)

    Some context about me.

    I've been playing video games since 1980, and MMO's since 1996. Relevant to the fantasy MMO genre, I've played M59, UO, EQ1/2, DAOC, AC2, DDO, LOTRO, VSOH, WAR, Alganon, PWI, WOW, Allods, Rift, and GW2. Within each of these, I've played either several years or long enough to reach max level and/or end-game, whatever that might have been at the time. I've been in several guilds, and have been an officer in several. In other words, SotA isn't my first rodeo.

    Caveats: None of my ideas below should be considered in the context of PvP. That's a whole other discussion which I will only get into if it turns out that PvP is required to obtain rare resources. As long as rare resources are available both through PvE and PvP, I'm personally content on that subject. Most of the post below will be best understood if you presume the player is in OPO mode, in a guild, playing with friends. I also recognize not all of these ideas will be 100% applicable to SotA, but it's my time to waste typing. ;) At the very least, the developers/designers may get one good idea out of all of this.

    So, my wishlist:

    These first four are sort of intertwined, so they're not in a normal category.

    -Dynamic Ability Quantity Adjustment
    This system is simple at a glance, but has quite a few complex ramifications. In most MMO's today, the abilities you are granted are fixed. You can go to an abilities screen and pick and choose what you want on your hotbars. RIFT, for example, also has the ability to have hotbars that are dynamic based on the role (soul) you have picked for your class. When you change to a different soul build/role, your hotbars change. This is required because you have a different set of abilities. Ok, so the innovative idea is as follows:
    Allow the player to dynamically adjust the power of the abilities they have by adjusting the number of abilities they can use at one time, based on the number of players currently in their group (or multi-group/raid). This means the solo experience is the same as it normally is. A solo player has all their abilities at their disposal, and this is the baseline "power" of the abilities. However, if a player enters into a group with another player, at their option, they can restrict the number of abilities available from the total, and those selected are more powerful. As more players are added to the group/raid, the more each player as the option to specialize. This specialization would have a lower numeric limit, something like five abilities minimum, which would be permitted once they had entered into a multi group team. After that point, the minimum number of abilities wouldn't increase, but the respective individual power of each ability would continue to increase as more players are added to the multi-group team. This would cap out at some pre-determined number like 20, 30, or 50 players. (somewhere between 4-10 groups)
    A hypothetical example. A player has say 10 abilities while solo'ing. We'll call these nuke, snare, buff, gtae, cure, purge, root, dot, cone, and pet. while soloing, they can use any of these at any time. While adventuring, they group up with another individual. Now they have the OPTION of selecting only 9 abilities of the 10, and the remaining ability is unavailable until they're solo'ing again.
    This duo adventures until they meet a third person, who they invite. Now everyone has the OPTION of selecting 8 abilities out of their 10 they can use, while 2 would be unavailable. Perhaps they're inclined towards more damage, so they choose to drop cure & purge at this point.
    This continues with 4 players resulting in 3 unavailable (7 available), 5 players resulting in 4 unavailable (6 available). Perhaps now the player dropped snare, cure, purge, and pet, leaving cone, dot, root, gtae, buff, and nuke.
    How much does the power of these abilities increase? That would be something that requires trial and error, but at the very least, 2% per tier seems like a reasonable place to start, up to possibly 10% per tier if you really want people to want to group together at all times. This would mean with 2 people in a group, each chosen ability would be 10% better, with 3 people, 20%, 4 people 30%, 5 people 40%, and in a multi-group situation, 50% minimum. As more players were added to the multi-group team, the increase would probably be smaller, but wouldn't necessarily need to be, if a dynamic combat adjustment mechanic was in place (see below).
    A 5% per tier would result in the following "power" boost to all chosen abilities 2 players - 5%, 3 players - 10%, 4 players - 15%, 5 players - 20%. Multi group could then run from 25% with 6 up to possibly 50-100% with 20, 30 or 50 players, whatever the multi-group cap is.
    The important thing to remember is this system is OPTIONAL, entirely, and would fit into any existing MMO, currently. If a player wanted to have all 10 of their abilities all the time, they don't have to do anything, and that's what they get. Players that want to be more effective in a dynamic role of their choice, based on their class, can do so if they want to. Also, these adjustments should only be possible while out of combat. The two parts that may not fit into all existing MMO's, but would be great in a new one, are as follows:

    -Dynamic Combat Adjustment
    If the MMO interface allows players to adjust their own personal power "on the fly", this would cause some issues when dealing with static content. A simple example would be if everyone specialized in a full group, now 5 players are potentially 8% to 40% more powerful. If the content is not adjusted dynamically to handle this change, and be 8% to 40% more challenging, it would become difficult if not impossible to have challenging content in the same geographical area as easy content. A solution to this problem is to dynamically adjust content as the players adjust their power. There are a few ways this can be done, but as always, an example is helpful.
    Most MMO's today separate solo, group and raid content by adjusting enemy health and damage output. Using that simple method, by whatever percentage players are "dynamically buffed" through restricted selection, you use that exact percentage to buff enemy hit points and damage output at the commencement of combat. If an enemy has 1000 hit points normally, they now have 1400 hit points when engaged by a fully specialized group (presuming that results in a 40% dynamic buff for the entire group) If that is insufficient, then multiply the modifier by the number of players, so instead of 1000 x 140%, it becomes 1000 x 140% x 5 players. This would result in a mob with 7000 hit points, a considerably larger challenge. Testing, trial and error would again be required to determine what is a good modifier. Similarly, if a monster has a DPS rating of 100, a value between 140 and 700 DPS would likely provide more challenge.
    Now, that's the simple method, and is pretty predictable. Not so good when the word "dynamic" is flying around. The potential for a really clever twist is you adjust the stats of the enemies, within a range, again, based on the dynamic buff value of the group engaging them but slightly random. So, instead of being a fixed value of 7000 hit points, you make that within a range of 6000-8000. Basically you add a random fixed +/- value on after the difficulty modifier. But you do it for hit points, damage output, damage type, resistances, weaknesses, movement speed, primary stats (str, int, wis, etc). Then you move on to the more exotic elements of an encounter; enemy class, ability precedence, AI script/behavior/tactics, re-inforcements, pets, minions, auras, and courage/cowardice.
    These mechanics also require the ability for players to be able to, in combat, determine quickly what a group is resistant to, vulnerable to, and any other relevant information regarding buffs, debuffs, strengths and weaknesses of the enemy. However that is done, it would ideally be a subtle ancillary part of the UI, such as colors, glows, icons, or indicators that can be resized, enabled, or disabled, at the choice of each player.
    A standard enemy encounter might contain a warrior, healer, and rogue. However, if a group comes along fully specialized, now a mage appears with a pet, the enemy warrior can force taunt everyone in the group for 2 seconds out of every 10, the enemy rogue cannot be taunted off the player healers, and the entire enemy group is more resistant to fire damage. The next time the SAME encounter is fought, it may end up with warrior, healer, healer, rogue and the group is now resistant to ice damage, but weak to poison damage, and use ranged tactics instead of melee, while having fewer hit points but much larger damage output, including curses now, as one enemy healer is offensive and one is defensive. The important thing is to make the differences actually MATTER and really be DIFFERENT. If it's a +/- 1% here and there, nobody but the log parsers would even notice. It has to be significant. It has to be enough that each time through is a radically different experience, fight to fight. As player gear, abilities, and stats improve, the content can become more and more challenging and range of difficulty can expand, all automatically.
    Now, that's not to say that it's required all the time. A group leader could set difficulty (normal, hard, hero) and this would adjust the modifiers for each encounter, as it starts, regardless of where the content is. It could be in the open competitive world or in an instance. This naturally leads into why you would want that ability... rewards!

    -Dynamic Reward Adjustment
    If an MMO has a dynamic ability power system and a dynamic combat system, a dynamic reward system is a good fit. There are some limitations, though, that need to be considered. In standard MMO's, as of 2013, there are a few different methods for obtaining the "best" items in game. The first is a cash shop (Allods, other Free-to-play titles), the next is a currency vendor (grind x for y, pay y for z), and the last is random drops from very 'difficult' encounters. The last typically requires the teamwork of 4-6 times the player vs. the rewards. That is, for every 3 or 4 items that drop, 20 to 25 players are required to work together. Temporal lockouts provide immersion-breaking longevity to these mechanics. In the system I've described here, this type of reward system wouldn't work well. A better system would be smart loot, and more. Smart loot is a system whereby loot only drops that YOU can use. It has been used in certain raiding MMO's to ensure that only loot will drop that can be used by someone on the raid, instead of loot dropping for a class that isn't present and wasting everyones time. Developers seem to have shied away from smart loot because it allows players to progress "too quickly" and would rather a punitive reward system that is simply random and frustrating. So, smart loot, at minimum is required. In addition, it should be PER PLAYER. No more of this bring 4-6 times as many players as rewards. No, you each get a reward. And that doesn't mean JUST currency. That means an item YOU can use.
    If the design goal is: "Each player shall grind these instances 100 times before they each progress" then you give them at least 50 pieces of loot for that grind, in the loot tables, EACH. Oh, that's too hard? Too much loot? Maybe you want to consider reducing that grind a little, then, eh? Yeah, that'd be good. Procedurally generated loot will pretty much be required with these mechanics. That means every combination of stats/effects is available with each prefix and each suffix, all, with item points covering at least 4 tiers of quality. (green, blue, purple, gold).
    Difficulty, as selected by the group leader, should determine the BASE difficulty of the encounters. If everyone is in 'solo mode' that is, unspecialized; they have not reduced their selection of abilities and they are at their default power, the encounters will be difficult, but will only have the chance to generate green or rarely blue loot, and standard experience, faction, and money rewards. Hard will grant the chance for blue loot as a minimum, while "hero" mode will grant the chance for purple loot, rarely. Gold loot chances should only be possible in multi group encounters. It's important to note that it is up to the players to determine their best chances at a particular reward. They can play it safe with everyone unspecialized, and be rewarded for that level of risk. Green items are expected to be the standard for players who consume only solo content, 100% of their play time. Money should scale with difficulty, with appropriate percentage modifiers to match economic design goals.
    Experience bonuses should exist such that solo'ing is the slowest way to gain experience. Grouping should have experience bonuses, even for two people, so that when grouped, this is a faster way to gain experience. Every additional person added to the group should increase ALL aspects of the rewards obtained, including experience, money, loot, and faction rewards, if any. As far as faction rewards go, a simple way to ensure this is greater while grouped is to provide a faction reward when the entire encounter is defeated, rather than per enemy. A per enemy faction reward system is exploitable when coupled with dynamic enemy generation. In other words, you could, hypothetically, start an encounter that has 4 enemies, which each then generates a minion or sidekick, and hold one enemy aside while the rest are killed, break the encounter, and repeat.
    All rewards, including loot, experience, faction, and money should only be generated at the death of the encounter as a whole, not per enemy.
    The innovative part of this system would be to generate smart loot based on the specialization of the player at the time they defeated the encounter, with restrictions on the gear FOR THAT SPECIALIZATION. This means the longer a player is specialized, the greater the odds they will see this type of gear, and will become more effective. Being procedurally generated smart loot, it can be tailored to the player at the moment, as necessary. In practice, this means it could be as specific as "Only equipable while grouped with 5 players and utilizing these 5 particular abilities: a,b,c,d,e" or "only equipable while grouped with 6 or more players" for 'raid/multi-group' gear.
    In the end with these dynamic systems combined, a player will be unique due to: how they play, with whom they play, their selection of abilities for each rank of specialization (at least 6 ranks), and all the gear they have collected for each specialization/role rank. This could provide considerably more variety in players compared to "grind x to get y to buy z" as we see now in most AAA North American MMO's. At any time in the future, if a player chooses a different set of abilities, or a different role, or a different rank of specialization, it could generate the need to collect an entirely new set of gear, which is a design goal for longevity and subscriber retention.

    -Dynamic Ability Features
    If your game is not based on items being the end-all be-all, you need another carrot instead of items, and that can be ability customization. What this means is the developers have to be willing to let the players choose each aspect of their abilities, within caps/limits and with meaningful consequences. A typical ability has the following parameters: casting time, recast time, damage value, damage type, range, number of targets or radius, ground or mob target, debuff type, debug magnitude, debuff duration, pulses or ticks, initial damage vs pulse/tick damage, dmg modifier by race, chain requirement, chain follower, duration, and more.
    The innovation here is to allow the player the ability to adjust ALL of those parameters, within caps/limits. Also, you can make them mutually dependent if you wish. An example of that would be you can increase the damage, but the consequence is increasing the recast timer, or increasing the casting time, or both. It's important to note that all you're doing is passing on the same limitations that designers have in creating the abilities in the first place. You're simply allowing the player to fine tune that process as much as they wish.
    The real carrot is, you make these adjustments cost gold, experience, or both. The greatest time/money sink carrot ever? Probably.
    If you don't want to encourage people spending money and gold, you can tie these adjustments to an achievement/AA system, but allow them to adjust them whenever they wish, and allow them to label the profiles of adjustments and switch to them on the fly. If you allow this, you can completely randomize all encounters as previously outlined, and the player will have the ability to adjust as necessary.
    Another interesting option to this system is to allow gestures or modifier keys to permit dynamic adjustment of abilities in real-time, in combat. So if you wanted to increase damage at the cost of increasing cast time, hold down shift when using. If you wanted a quick cast, hold down alt when using, or if you wanted something really fancy, tie the entire thing to the Leap Motion or similar interface which would allow actual hand gestures to be used for real time ability modification. Clenched fist, open palm, a wave, a push, these could be adjustments made quickly and intuitively during combat. And to top it all off? Allow players to actually speak aloud "corp por", tie it in with the gesture system, and you have real magic from the comfort of your gaming seat.

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    Combat Skills
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    -an apparent intent of the rune-based combat system appears to be anti-botting and adding an element of randomization to encounters. There are better ways. Adding randomness in this fashion is going to be nothing but frustration in the long term. I understand you can limit runes and reduce your deck size to cut down on the random nature of "what comes next" but this is something that most players are going to be doing the majority of their time in game, whether you like it or not.
    As such, it is very important that combat not be frustrating, and that skill be the determining factor in victory, rather than fundamentally stacking the deck against the player by maybe, possibly giving them an ability that they know they have, and should use, but can't. In particular, if someone ELSE gets the correct ability, and they do not, randomly, that's not going to go over well. That's too much stick, and not enough carrot. In other words, there is a place for randomization, and the primary combat interface isn't it. Randomize EVERYTHING else. EVERYTHING but this.

    -Immunities, susceptibility, resistances. If a target is immune, susceptible, or resistant to a particular damage type, attack, spell, or effect, allow the players to obtain this information either prior to or during combat. Even if the ability to determine this information is limited to half the classes (if you have classes) in the game, such as "cerebral" classes like Mages or Priests, whatever, just give this data to the players. Here's the bonus. You can make this dynamic, if you allow the players access to this information. If you want a particular foe to remain mildly random, change these values within a reasonable range. Naturally there is a balance concern here, but giving players more information isn't always bad, and this is a great example of that.
    Further, if you want to really break out the randomization stick, this is where it should be used. Make the players communicate to win. That drives them together in social interaction. Don't isolate them into their own personal random fail-hole.

    -group effects based entirely on players performing their role in a very small period of time, effect determined by leader (combine LOTRO Fellowship Maneuver + EQ2 HO's). This means when the tank is tanking, the healer is healing, the mage is casting, and the melee are melee'ing, the leader can initiate this effect, and if pulled off in the right amount of time, the pre-set effect ensues, determined by the leader. The choice could be something like a temporary group casting/melee haste, small heal over time, resist buff, or ae damage.
    The order that actions are done or the type of action performed does not matter, only the speed of using them. The intent here is to make it so it's entirely a bonus for everyone working together, and not something that requires a player to do something they don't want to, for a given period of time in combat. Most of these systems require the players to all perform a particular (and often counter-intuitive) action, like having a healer nuke, or a mage debuff, or a scout to stealth, when really, ANY action each of them does should be sufficient. Allow the group leader to hotkey both the effect(s) and the trigger, and you've got a great system that allows a leader to gently nudge or guide the direction of combat while all the players keep doing whatever they want.
    If you don't have classes, that's fine, but allow the leader to preset both the combo and the effect. Allow veteran players to have +2, +3 or more combo effects as a reward.

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    Quests/NPC Tasks
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    -Enhanced "bring me x of y" quests. When you finish the supply, the NPC's actually do something. It triggers an event. The fireworks are lit and shot off, the npc's actually don the armor, equip the weapons, and defend BETTER against the next wave of gnolls. The city guard replaces all the worn and frayed banners. The tavern wenches cry out "Fresh Beer!" and the tavern customers all cheer. The bandages on the wounded are replaced with new ones, visibly.
    The second possible difference is that when you supply them with these items there are temporary rewards (depends on context of task/quest):
    they add them to their inventory for sale
    they lower the prices for the items for an hour
    they lower ALL their prices for ALL their items for an hour
    they offer an buff (via radius/aura) for anyone that comes near (resistance to disease, benefits of food, more courage/morale) for an hour
    Can be applied to any/all NPC's in the world, no matter what their "real" function is, each of them has some kind of strange and weird thing they want. No matter how rare, and at the minimum, they offer a temporary buff aura, even if it's +Fishing skill. Perhaps they won't tell you what it is they want or need to be "happy" unless you're their political or faction ally. These buffs could also be very significant at max level, or be required to bolster the chance of success against certain creatures.
    If someone else turns in the quest while the script is playing, don't interrupt it, but definitely reset the timer on the reward/buff.

    -stronghold camps.
    The basic concept here is a camp of npc's spawns. They're hostile to everyone. If they're not removed quickly, they build fortifications. As time goes on, if left unchecked, they build a stronghold. These strongholds send out patrols & raiding parties. Once players band together, they can take down the stronghold, which has sentries, guards, waves of defenders, a defendable perimeter, and several bosses. This all occurs in the open contested world. The time between a camp spawning and stronghold being fortified could be tuned. It could be as little as a few hours, to encourage players to constantly be on the lookout for these camps. Or it could be as long as 24 hours for a really tough stronghold.
    There could be different ranks of strongholds, with different features. For example, a camp in the lower tiers, near a player starting area, maybe just be fortified by a few semi-permanent structures. The next tier up would have a palisade, with patrols, sentries, a guard tower, and barracks. The next tier may have several guard towers, a moat/ditch with spikes, and a commanders quarters in addition to the previous tiers features. There is nothing preventing such a system from being implemented in a modern MMO. Another bonus would be that there be a harvestable node of high value being guarded in the camp, which would expire after several dozen or hundred harvests, or after a specified time period after the stronghold has been sacked. This would strongly encourage players to pillage, after the fact.
    If you mixed up the Puppet PvP with this, you could have players jump in and play the defenders, that is, help the stronghold defeat the players. This could be either in place of or to augment the existing stronghold NPC force. It would probably work better to have them augment instead of replace, but you could add an additional attacking NPC to help the Players team for every Player who joined the stronghold team. That would be a reasonable balance.

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    Indirect/NPC Insulated PvP
    ---

    -The ability to hire NPC's to do "anything", up to and including insult, mug, rob, and assassinate other players (with frequency limits). In particular, in an entirely PvE environment. Also, the ability to purchase buffs, pets, mounts, or other gifts that can be sent to other players, or coupons/tokens for the same, from NPC organizations that offer said services.
    An Insult would be cheap, just a few silver, for example, but someone, even a little kid, would run up to the player, point their finger and say something insulting "You smell like a kobold!" Limit: 1/day/player.
    Mugging would be a scripted event that reduced the players life by some amount, possibly to half, basically roughing them up a bit with a group of NPC's doing this when they went back to a town/city/village. Limit: 1/day /player
    Robbery would take possibly 1% of the victims cash or one of each coin the player had on them, or similar small sum, capped at a certain value, after a mugging. So Robbery includes Mugging, but is more expensive. Limit: 1/day /player with possibly a longer limit or diminishing returns on the amount of money robbed.
    Amateur assassination: Pretty simple. When out of the sight of guards or NPC's, an assassin mob is spawn and attacks the player. This mob is the same level as the target, but the target can win if they fight back. Expensive. Limit: 1/RL week/player
    Normal assassination: Same as the previous, except this is a one shot kill, no way to get out of it via combat, but it can only happen once per RL week, per player. The only way to get out of this is if you have sufficient faction with the organization paid to perform the hit, they may warn you, and you can pay them off by paying MORE than the original customer paid to have you killed. Very expensive.
    Guaranteed assassination: Same as Normal, but no option to buy off the hit. You are dead, 100% guaranteed, one shot kill, as soon as you step outside 'civilization'. Stupidly expensive.
    The worst a single player could endure in one day: 1 insult, 1 mugging or robbery, 1 assassination (of any kind). Then it would be one day or week before any further "indirect NPC PvP" would befall them. It may be a good idea to use a single target version of the "aura of the masters" for each of these, to ensure the script doesn't get interrupted. If possible, the deaths from these events should not incur an overly punitive death penalty.

    -Expanding on this "hiring" idea further:
    Employment
    The player can hire any NPC in the game to perform a task, either directly or as a contractor. If you have enough money, faction, prestige/notoriety, or whatever other thing you want to call it, you can hire the NPC to do something for you. Everyone has their price, and just like the real world, if you offered $10,000 cash, and asked some random person to take off their pants and sing "It's a small world after all" you'd probably have success. This could also tie into a hireling system, but wouldn't have to. Basically every NPC in the world has at least one purpose, and that is, you can hire them to do something. This could be as simple as: fetch me a pail of water, make me a special batch of honey mead, plant these magic seeds and give me the produce. More complex might be: Make a statue of me out of wood, marble, or bronze, and place it in the center of the market square. Specific weapons & armor (like the drake/dragon scale armor quests in Dragon Age), large quantities of specific food & drink (basically an NPC Provisioner/Cook you provide the mats & money, they make the items). In fact, there's no reason why every crafting profession couldn't have an NPC that makes the same items players can make, with a massive profit margin. Make it cost 2, 5 or 10 times as much as it costs a player to make. But that blacksmith NPC, he can make the same things a player can make. Want it cheaper? Find a player. Want it now? Employ that blacksmith, but it'll cost ya!
    How about a hand delivered message? You find some random NPC, and pay them to deliver a message to another Player the next time they're in town. Much more personal than the mail icon in the corner (which they might have seen) but definitely they won't miss an NPC running up to them yelling "Hey, you've got a message!". And if NPC's can utilize the same mechanic using a variety of "messengers" (from truant kids to thugs), that has definite potential.
    With respect to Hirelings, why not allow Players to pay for a hireling to present themselves to another Player as a sort of bonus combat pet for a period of time. A great way to help other Players indirectly. And why stop at combat pet? Why not a servant that has a buff aura that reduces prices or increases rewards? How about being able to gift a temporary mount, employ the stablemaster to deliver the mount to another player, and it's returned after an hour, 4 hours, or day. Mail another player a coupon that you purchased at the mage guild that offers the presenter a 1 day +1 fire damage buff to whatever weapon they're using. How about a +1 poison damage buff from the thieves guild? Each NPC faction could provide these services for hire, both directly and as gifts redeemable by single players, or even entire guilds.
    Bribery
    Different from employment because the NPC doesn't want to do it, but you convince them its in their best interest, either by overt threats, blackmail, money, or a combination of all three. Mechanically, though, identical to Employment. This requires the player gets their hands dirty by performing tasks that reduce their faction with the "establishment" and raise it with the "seedy underworld". This is the alternate path to intangible power, and allows for things like paying NPC's to perform muggings, beatings, robbery, seductions, and assassinations on other players or other NPC's.
    Similarly, all of the positive benefits of the employment mechanic above could be utilized in the criminal bribery sense. It's simply a matter of coming up with inconvenient, malicious or deadly effects that could be obtained from NPC's and would either affect a single player, or be an effect that would radiate from said player. It would be inconvenient to be saddled with a buff aura that increased aggro range by 25% for an hour. But not the end of the world. However, if you really want innovation, go for things like: de-modifier to charm/charisma for a day (basically an Ugly polymorph) so the player pays 10% more for all NPC services for the duration. Even better? They actually LOOK uglier. How about an Unlucky debuff, which makes the player get 5% less coin loot for the duration? You make these effective AND expensive and players will be lining up at "Ye Olde Hex & Curse Shop" around the block. The fine print? Of course, de-cursing is a service offered by NPC's, and it ALWAYS costs more than the curse did. So even if your enemy gets it removed, you have the satisfaction that it cost them, at least in the bank balance.
    Politics
    The next logical step from Employment, but involves large scale effects, rather than single individuals. This is where the player literally becomes a confidante of the king or queen, or befriends the advisors to the king or queen and affects things like: festivals, taxes, base costs for services, relations with neighboring kingdoms, attitudes towards potentially aggressive or dangerous humanoids, religious interpretations, nationalism, and so on. Consider the Urn of Andraste quest line from Dragon Age... The religious implications were huge as a result of finding that religious artifact. No reason why it couldn't be the same in an MMO. Similarly, every aspect of every thing provided by the kingdom could be affected by Politics, from prices to appearance, even laws and patrol strengths. Quests assigned by this could require truly co-ordinated efforts, with multiple members of a player guild starting rumors, influencing members of the court, providing indulgences for the same, and so on.
    The blessing or favor of the court (or, indeed, any particular faction) could manifest itself in buffs, access to unique skills (yes, new skills on the hotbar), much like Banners work in WAR, LOTRO, and EQ2. However, these beneficial effects could be individual, group wide, or guild-wide, regardless of location in the world or activity. You could also influence the court to hinder your rival guild if they lack the favor you have. How about -5% less coin loot for all your rival guild members for a day/week? How about +25% higher mender prices for your rival guild members for a day/week?
    Naturally, rising in power and prominence with one group or faction should incur the wrath or ire of a competing organization, and would thus require the Players to be on guard for things like ambushes and rumors affecting their own standing. There's nothing wrong with having to deal with a competing Baron who wants the ear of the king, regardless if they're an NPC or a Player/Player-Guild.
    There is nothing preventing one guild from indirectly affecting another guild with such a system, either positively or (below) negatively.
    Corruption
    The next step up from bribery, similar to politics, but with a criminal twist. Now instead of becoming an advisor or friend of the rulers, you are blackmailing them, kidnapping the prince/princess or straight up corrupting them. Sneak the prince out to the local brothel. (Which you've properly "prepared" for his arrival) Uh oh! Royal bastard! That's some good leverage right there. Now, sign this that says Orcs are no longer kill-on-sight in your orchards and vineyards. There's a good prince! Now the player can go and negotiate with the Orcs to provide goblin slaves, forbidden goods, weapons & armor for an uprising, whatever. Access to rarer poisons, Goblinoid muscle, aggro-free travel through certain areas.. Say there is a chokepoint on the map, and yes, you can travel around it, but if you've got a "deal" with the orcs, you can pass right on through. Access to Orc vendors of course would be a side benefit.
    Truly innovative? You pay the Orcs to actively hunt members of another player guild, and the more you pay & outfit the Orcs, the better they are. Even better if you can provide them with the actual weapons and armor they're going to use in their ambushes. And even BETTER if the opposing guild can loot some/all of that equipment, if they win.

    -Puppet PvP.
    Briefly, this is the ability for any player to take control of any other common NPC in the world, and play AS that NPC. Everyone is familiar with the concept of solo'ing to level up, so here's an example that changes that, with this mechanic: You're exploring an area, killing evil goblins for experience and loot. A second player is also in the area. The second player sees you, and puppets an NPC goblin nearby. From your perspective, nothing is different, except this goblin is acting differently. He runs behind objects to hide, tries to lure you into a trap, and/or is using a lot more verbal goblin taunts than normal. However, this puppet goblin has the same hit points as a normal goblin, the same abilities, the same leash range, all of that, so you kill him as normal via whatever method you have, and loot him as normal.
    For the second player, his hotkey bars were replaced with the set of abilities granted by the server to a goblin, and an additional button for "verbal taunt" that lets you hurl insults at the player (with a cooldown of course). As the puppet goblin, you see a visual barrier to your leash length, and if you exceed it or you die, you're placed back into your normal 'body' as a normal player. When you use the 'puppet' ability, your existing body is removed from the game world immediately. You cannot use the puppet ability while in combat. The important point: As a puppet you cannot do ANYTHING the normal NPC cannot do. You are tied to his limitations, with only your big human brain to help you out. A 'fog of war' effect (or graphically distance limited vision) may also be a nice touch, to limit the vision of the puppet. That is, they may not be able to see anything but a grey fog beyond their leash length or beyond a certain hard radius.
    So after a few strange encounters like this, the first player might notice when these goblins are acting strangely, and kill them a bit differently, using 'safer' tactics. However consider these points: The second player (puppeteer) can be -anyone- , of any faction. A friend or an enemy, it makes no difference. This is an insulated PvP experience, with no ego bruising, no trash talking, no teabagging, no zerging, and almost 1v1. Provided there are no buffs or enhancements granted, EVER, to the puppet, PvE players would be involved in PvP without all the negatives. PvP players would be granted many of the positives, without all the social issues that crop up. Also, this system could be implemented in ANY MMO. Even MMO's that don't have any PvP today, at all.
    Now, for a more linear experience, think of WAR public quests, but being able to take over the role of an NPC, similar to LOTRO's historical memory flashback play mode. So, basically, you don't play with your character, you play with the NPC for that limited time, or only for the duration of that script, and if you die, you're out until the event resets. This could be an option for higher level players to help lower level players in these areas/events. It could also be an option for ALL players, to either join directly as a Player, or to play as an NPC for any kind of scripted event similar to a public quest. It would definitely be a blast to get an entire guild to play all the NPC's on one side of an event, with another guild playing the opposing side. It's also possible to have one guild challenge another to an instance, where half the NPCs are player controlled on the defending side. Under such controlled conditions, death would put you into the nearest qualifying NPC immediately, with no delay or mental fatigue debuff. It is very important that no more than HALF of the 'actors' in a scripted event or instance are puppets. Named NPC actors, of course, should never be puppets.
    Caveats: Not in the starting area. A "mental fatigue" debuff, applied to the controlling player at death of the puppet, would prevent using this ability without a delay/break in between different NPCs (prevents chain griefing/helping a single player). It is almost certain that increasing the mental fatigue debuff exponentially will be required if a puppet dies to the same player, sequentially, many times. It may be necessary to place a hard timer on the duration of control, out-of-combat, something like 5-10 minutes, initially. Possible ranks of the ability based on success or failure as the puppet. Limits on number of puppets per area, per mob density, and/or limits on number of puppets per zone, and/or limits on number of puppets per instance, and/or limits on number of puppets per group/camp of mobs. Limits on movement (same as existing leashes) and different buttons for canned 'say' lines (insults, funny, random quotes). Players may only puppet SOLO NPCs that are their own level or LOWER. Elite/Group puppet NPC's may not be a good idea. The controlling player can break contact at any time, and the mob returns immediately to its default scripting, with or without a position reset. It may be necessary to require in-combat puppets to attack at a certain frequency, to prevent abuse. If a player did NOT attack at a certain frequency while in combat, contact would be broken and the mob would resume its normal AI/scripting. Out of combat, there is no harm in allowing the puppet to travel anywhere in their leash, and/or look anywhere they would normally be able to see. The entire system can be adapted to open-world zones, instances, and scripted events.
    Possible enhancements: Ranks of Puppeteer, based on success/failure as a puppet. These ranks would permit controlling (in order) foot soldiers, patrollers, lieutenants, lieutenant patrollers, and NEVER bosses. Nor would any quest mobs or NPC's that drop unique/special loot qualify as puppets. This "mental control" buff would have to be reset daily, to prevent rampant abuse, and may need to be reset per play session, back to the default. Higher ranks may also permit a dramatic increase in the duration of control out-of-combat. Additionally, a small item dropped on the mob (xp in a box) of 2%-5% more xp per solo kill might be an incentive offered, or the same percentage of extra gold. Gold is probably safer. If the system is limited to abilities only, and not movement control, an enhancement could be movement control. If the system is limited to control of Solo mobs, an enhancement could be the purchase of a buff that permitted the control of an Elite/Group mob. A reasonable money sink. Another enhancement may be the ability to 'jump' from one out-of-combat NPC to another, as a form of scouting. No enhancements are required beyond the basic system.
    Possible abuses: Leapfrogging content. Friend player controls patroller, moves them out of the way, first player moves past. It seems reasonable to force engaging in combat via the same aggro range as normal. However, it may be necessary to have two types of movement control. One, limited, out of combat, and a second with attack frequency enforcement, while in combat. However, given these are ideally solo mobs outside of very controlled conditions, does it really matter? Probably not. One way to prevent all of this is to not allow a player to select the specific NPC they want to possess/puppet, but have it be random with in a large area, and/or random within line of sight of a random PC within a large area. Another solution would be that out-of-combat movement controlled puppets have double the normal aggro range, but a smaller social "help me" call range. Players may simply leash puppets to make them "normal" (to get rid of the puppeteer). Ok, sure, they might, but they'll have to engage & disengage first, which is the same with a normal NPC. Also, it's not necessary to impose an overly punitive/long mental fatigue debuff on the player if the puppet is leashed without taking any damage. Certainly it could be less than if the puppet died.

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    Other/Misc/Non-Combat Skills
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    -Any item, weapon, armor, consumable or crafted good produced, or loot found can be marked as a GIFT and either mailed to someone or given to an NPC "Charity Vendor" within an NPC faction. When an item has been flagged "GIFT" it has a value of exactly zero. It cannot be sold for any value. It cannot be broken down into components, or otherwise transmuted into another object. It can be equipped and unequipped as normal for that item which may or may not included Bind-On-Equip flags or other mechanisms the developers feel the need to implement. So what is the point of this mechanic? It allows players to be generous. That's it! Other players can check the "Charity Vendor" whenever they want, and look for items that other people want to give away. As well, this could be a tab on the auction house interface, known as a "give away" section or "gift section" which lists all items with the GIFT flag and allows normal auction-house searches for all GIFT items.
    Abuses of the GIFT mechanic: Someone could simply take all the items with the GIFT flag and destroy them all. To prevent that, anyone who destroys a GIFT item could be receive a debuff that prevents them from receiving said items or obtaining said items for a period of time. Or a player could be limited to being allowed to only receive or destroy one GIFT flagged item once per RL day. Or the items could simply not be destroyable, and the only way to get rid of them would be to give them back to the "Charity Vendor" where they would be auto-destroyed if not equipped or consumed within a long period of time, perhaps a RL month or a few months.

    -Frailties
    Randomly, at character creation, and outside the control of the player, your character may suffer from: phobias, allergies, chronic conditions like narcolepsy, random sneezing, random burping, farting, and body odor that monsters and NPCs react to. These specific effects would NOT be revealed to the player immediately or obviously, but would become complete after significant play time was invested. As a bonus for veteran players, the random effects could be seen at character creation, but not changed. Optionally, a completely new set of these "flavor frailties" could be generated if the "random" option was used to generate the character.
    The allergies could cause the player to change skin color temporarily/randomly, or have strange particle effects, dizziness animations, drunken animations, trip & fall, cower or scream in fear from spiders, (if they're arachnophobic), and so on. Of course, random burping is easy, but could be race specific. Same with farting, both for animations and particle effects. This would add a whole new dimension to idle animations and/or combat animations and flavor text.

    -GM 'mute' tools.
    GM's should have the following option checkbox or slash command when in game: It should "Mute all players within line of sight, zone-wide, or x meter radius" and "Only permit CS staff & GM's to speak in all regional channels". Why? Because nothing destroys the potential fun of a GM run event more than some assclown spewing "/shout penis penis penis" over and over while emote humping the GM trying to bestow a custom title on a player. That doesn't mean players can't say things in guild, group, or other global channels, just stop the players from using say, shout, ooc, and regional channels.
    Similarly, an additional command of "Paralyze, stifle, silence, mez, & root all players within line of sight, and/or zone-wide, and/or x meter radius" should also exist, for exactly the same reasons. Call it "aura of the masters" if you want. And all the feedback message has to say is "You cannot perform that action at this time". That's it. Logging out and back in should not exempt a player from being under the effect, but it could return them to their home/bind point, optionally. It should apply to them PRIOR to them appearing in the world or being able to issue commands. One excellent side effect? You can give this ability to mobs for cut scenes, scripted content, or automated world events.
    The use of these commands would, as a first step, remove (or render impotent/friendly/sleepy) all hostile creatures from the radius/area and remove all players from combat. Any player or creature moving INTO this area, once established, would be affected immediately and for the duration. Once the scripted sequence or event was completed, said creatures would return to their normal behavior/faction. The minimum effect radius would have to be at least as large as the radius for /say to be heard.
    There should be at least two versions of this "mute tool". One which allows the player to remain upright, standing, and facing where they were when the event started. The second version can "stun" the player so they are either slouched, kneeling, cowering, or lying prone, depending on the intent and context. What you do NOT want to do, however, is simply take an existing in-game effect like "slouch and stun" and use that because it's cheap and easy. Do it right.

    -in tight narrow dungeon settings, with very high mob density, the following would be a great addition: The ability to "make noise" or throw a stone, or similar act that would not trigger the "HELP! INTRUDERS!" code, but would cause a path change to investigate. Once separated in this fashion, the wanderer could be picked off without causing general alarm to others. Similarly, if creatures were deaf, or immune to trivial distractions, things like imitating the sound of vermin, the scent/smell of food, gems sparkling in the wall, or fireflies flittering about would all work. Very similar to the way the DDO "Bluff" skill works, but with more variation on the implementation. In practice, the skill could work without a target, to grab the nearest mob, but at higher levels, allow individual creatures to be singled out. Great for breaking rooms without "magic". Each implementation could vary on collection, practice, and release of the distracting/tempting ability. The ability to "gather" a vermin, then release it on command sounds good for Thief type roles, while collecting fireflies or similar could be more generic. Rock throwing could work for making simple sounds, but imitating animal calls, ventriloquism, or monster languages could play into proficiency. Learning each of these could be part of an elaborate web of non-combat skill requirements.

    -Targeted opt-in polls & voting.
    Players and developers alike have been weeping and gnashing their teeth for 10+ years over the lack of a good feedback mechanism. Some try forums, some remove forums. Some try foisting the responsibility for "community building" onto third party fan sites instead of doing it themselves. Some are adamantly against forums and then bend under the pressure and add them but barely moderate them or monitor them at all.
    And yet, the solution has been there as long as the games have been there; in the client. It goes something like this... Customer plays the game for xx hours or reaches level x. Upon reaching this threshold, they're given the option to participate in targeted & global polls and voting, via the in-game client and via the account management web interface. Exactly the same questions, polls and voting topics are asked via both interfaces.
    My observation over the years has been that people love filling out surveys under at least two conditions. The first is that there is the potential for personal gain/reward, and the second is if the survey is going to have real tangible benefits for a community they belong to. Such a system could do both.
    So, what happens next? The player can use an in-game interface or login from anywhere to the https account management page, and it brings up categories of voting/polls. When the poll started, when it will end, and after they make their choice, the current results for that poll. It will also show them the history of all previous polls they have participated in, and possibly polls that are upcoming.
    The best part is that due to the opt-in nature of the design, the developers can have dozens or hundreds of polls running all the time, and only players that qualify can answer their specific questions. What does that mean? It means that if you want to learn about end-game raiding balance for paladins, you only ask Paladins who have x value in y stat, or have completed instance or quest z. You don't ask the level 2 Paladin who logs in once a month, does one quest, and logs out. If you want to ask about the players opinions regarding a particular spell, only ask players that have used that spell 100+ times, or over 50 times per day for the past month. You don't ask the player that has used it once.
    The topics could be zone art, music, actions/skills, raids, instances, lore, quests, items, faction, crafting or any other in-game system. Once a poll, vote, or questionnaire closes, the results should be made public, immediately. It doesn't mean the developers have to do what the players want (they often SHOULD NOT) but to have the questions asked and the answers made public is huge. However, if a developer response could be requested on public/closed polls, and once a threshold of say 1000 response requests was made, a developer would respond within x business days.. well, let's just say this would go a long way in dealing with the chronic trust issues that plague the reputation of MMO developers.
    Incentives; Have a daily draw for a small amount of coin, or a flavor/pet item if players opt-in and I would imagine many people would participate.
    Monthly recurring polls regarding class balance targeted by level range, /played time, and race (if applicable) would be a necessity. It may also be a good idea to schedule polls to start 24 hours after any major patch that affects gameplay, roles, or actions/skills.
    And finally, given it's available via the web as well as in-game, players can use it whenever/wherever they are, as long as they have a browser.

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    Negative Client Issues/Feature Considerations
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    -It does no good to allow the client to adjust visibility distance for objects, if those objects are sent at a fixed distance by the server, regardless of the setting. Example: The client allows object visibility to be changed from 1 to 1000, but the server will only ever send objects that are 50 units away. Typically, MMO devs alter this setting to be very low on the server to prevent players from seeing rare harvestables, rare mobs, or other "special" items from too far away. However, the conflict between client visibility and server update/visibility is pretty jarring at times, and there's no reason for it. The solution: Only permit the max client visibility distance for dynamic objects to match the server. Then there's no confusion.
    -The client should support multiple cpu's, multiple cores, multiple threads and whatever other technology is required avoid the following: Player has 2 CPU's, 2 cores or whatever other technology installed. They run your MMO client. The client uses exactly 50% of the available CPU, because it's bound to a single core. No, no, no. All wrong. Multi-core, Multi-CPU, Multi-threaded. Now add in here any other technology that comes along that improves this, and make sure you support it.
    -Splash screens. After the player has seen the splash screens 1,2, or 3 times, they don't need or want to see them again. The last thing a company should do is make it either take longer or require clicks, escapes, or other user interaction between the username & password and the character selection or being in the world. Marketing & Sales staff have no conscience, and as such, any advice they will be offering regarding how "great" this will be regarding a captive audience and "they'll have no choice" is extremely bad advice. Not only is it sociopathic in nature, it's also completely untrue. If the choice of subscription or spending money with your company or the competition boils down to splash screens on login or no splash screens on login, all other things being equal, more customers are going to choose no splash screens. The constant annoyance is not worth it.
    -EULA/TOS acknowledgment. This needs to happen exactly once any time the TOS/EULA changes. Any more often, and your customers will hate you. Once is bad enough. Do NOT change your TOS/EULA more than once per week, ever. To do so reeks of incompetence. We already hate lawyers, we don't need reasons to hate them MORE.
    -Players should be able to select the character they want to play BEFORE the character select screen. That is, at the login prompt, there should be a pull down menu that has a list of recent characters. This should NOT be populated from the server, but should be based on historical client activity. That way, as the login is processed, and if the option is enabled, the player should have exactly one click from password entry to "character in the world". And a really nice feature? If pressing enter would work as well as pressing "Play" with the mouse.
    -Lack of security controls. If someone tries (and fails) to login to my account from an IP block that is outside my account's province, state, or country more than three times, block the IP and make them wait 5 minutes before trying again, regardless of the method used to attempt the login. If they try immediately again after 5 minutes (and fail), make them wait 15. If they try immediately again after 15 minutes (and fail), increase it to an hour and make it an hour for every failed login thereafter. If this trend continues for 24 hours, ban the IP from connecting to the login servers for a day or several days. Similar (if more or less restrictive) rules must also be applied for -any- failed attempts to login multiple times from -any- IP. Brute force password guessing should NOT be possible via the client or any other mechanism. Also, enforce password guidelines, including upper and lower case, at least one non-alphanumeric, and a digit required.
    -Advertisements for products I already own should not appear anywhere in the patcher or client, ever. I don't need to see that, I've already bought it.
    -Slowing down the login client (IN ANY WAY) with any form of advertisement is a bad idea. Your Marketing and Sales people will constantly and forever be trying to force you down this path. Fight them. Forever. Don't do it.
    -Even the most loyal dedicated subscriber should not be able to spam a chat channel with dozens of lines of text per second. Put some reasonable caps on that spew.
    -two click ignore is a must. Just right click either the player or the name in the chat box, choose ignore, done, forever silenced. It may also be handy to track the number of times in a day a particular player is put on ignore. It's just possible they're causing some problems for your other customers. If you want to be heroes, you could proactively investigate those players before they go on their nerd rampage and cause a bunch of paying customers to quit. Bonus if when you ignore someone, they disappear from sight and are never seen of/heard again.
    -If there is an aspect of combat that is part of a calculation, show the players. This includes, but is not limited to, buffs, debuffs, threat/aggro, damage, weaknesses, and strengths. What does this mean in practice? In the past, things like the threat meter were not included. It was up to the player to know how much damage they were doing in a group or raid and "feel" their way through the dark, in ignorance. For good or ill, that genie is out of the bottle, and keeping the players in the dark, not so good anymore. An example. If there are caps on debuffs, show them to the players. If a raid target can only be debuffed until a particular percentage, value, ratio or other numeric is reached, display this. It doesn't have to be a big number flashing somewhere, it can be a pulse or color on the target reticle, or a single pixel height colored line below the name of the monster. Also, make the display of these details optional. If a player doesn't want to know the raid mob is fully debuffed, or that it's only half debuffed, fine, let them turn it off.
    -inventory/bag space is a right, not a privilege. If i have no bag space after collecting all the cruft necessary to do all the quests in ONE place, you're doing it wrong. Here's a mind blowing idea, what if I wanted to quest in TWO different places?
    -If applicable, the number of active quests should no longer be numerically limited to 30 or 50. 100 is the minimum, move on.
    -weight limits. Not cool unless everyone has them, and they actually mean something. Otherwise, remove them and concentrate on things that matter.
    -anything and everything that the player is capable of having more than one of concurrently, in their inventory, should stack up into piles of at least 100. If I loot 10 identical "helmets of bliss", that should take up one inventory slot, not 10. Inventory management should not be a punitive minigame.
    -It's better to start out with minimum timers and caps on everything rather than adding them later. Example? Weapons with a 0.1 second delay, and then a 150% haste buff. Woops, didn't think of that, why is the entire server lagged and this one character solo'ing a raid mob? Solution? Minimum delay cap. Haste cap.
    -All group buffs should be "personal auras". If you want us to have a group buff, and there is no sane reason why we would ever turn it off, make it permanent, and just a part of our character. Obviously, if it's something that does damage, could cause aggro, or pulse against a mob, don't make that a permanent aura. But HP buff? Sure. Resist buff? Yep. Stat buff? Absolutely. Optionally, make them something we can toggle, but have no expiration timer. Just don't make us recast buffs that should always be on, especially group ones, every hour or less. It's just annoying. And if you really want to be innovative, give every class one of these.
    -Single target buffs should be very noticeable. If you're going to make us jump through the hoop of recasting them every 5, 10, 15, or 30 minutes, please make them effective. And giving us a buff to resists that has no practical value outside of end-game raid instances is not balanced. Nor is giving us a buff that buffs a stat or skill no-one cares about, like 'swimming' or 'underwater breathing' when everyone uses the easily obtained item that provides the same effect.
    -There should be visible timers shown on all buffs, if they can expire. No more guessing when it will expire, just put the damned timer on it. Either hover or as an option on the icon.
    -Icon timers should have extreme contrast. If this means making it so that you use an inverse vertical bar two pixels wide, as an overlay, and have it tick down from top to bottom on each icon for refresh/recast, fine. But this whole idea of darkening an already dark icon with a matte background as a timer? No, no, no, no. This is NOT the place to be subtle. Be overt!
    -Upgrades to existing abilities & buffs should happen automatically. If we level, don't make us recast everything. It's tedious and isn't fun. Just upgrade the buff, live, while it's on, and upgrade the ability on the hotbar. Don't make us search through an interface we open once a month just to find that one button to drag back onto that hotbar.
    -Allow the player to choose between "activate spell on keypress down" or "activate spell on keypress up" globally, or individually. At the very least, the choice should be global, extra points for individual spells. Some players prefer one over another, and there's no reason not to give them such a simple choice.
    -When an abilities duration is reduced by the global cooldown, it's a bad thing. durations should always be: intended duration + global cooldown. As in, an ability says "after you use this, all abilities cost half their normal power for 10 seconds" but actually it's 8.5 seconds because the global cooldown is 1.5 seconds. In fact, such systems would be better with a "cast 5-8 abilities or 15 seconds passes" rather than just a straight 10 second effect/duration.
    -It should always be possible to tell which direction a creature is facing, even if it's a perfect cube or a perfect sphere. Put the direction on the reticle or on the target arrow, or on something, anything, but it should be there. This is particularly vital if ANY spell, any ability, or any skill in the entirety of your game has a positional or facing requirement.
    -Flying creatures, fighting them: The biggest problem with fighting flying creatures is that they're out of sight. It's fine if creatures are off the ground, even VERY far off the ground, but once engaged in combat, the target reticle (typically on the ground) should ALWAYS be visible, if that creature is fighting someone on the ground. Again, nothing more frustrating than attacking something and not knowing where it is, where it's moving, or even if you've actually started fighting or not.
    -The target reticle, regardless of all other factors, should always be visible on a creature. This means it should be high contrast, ON ITS OWN. It should not rely on world/ground textures to provide contrast. Specifics; A red target reticle is great, until you're fighting in lava. A green target reticle is great, until you're fighting on grass. The reticle also, if possible, should NOT simply be a textured overlay on top of an already existing texture. Multi-pass textures, projected textures, and a variety of other graphical systems can 'bury' the reticle beneath them, or make it very hard to see. All bad. No, just no. Visibility is key here. The most ideal system of all systems would be a vertical slider that allowed the player an offset they could set so the reticle would appear either at the feet or head or any place in between of their target. A huge gold star if you permit the player to choose the two contrasting colors of the reticle themselves.
    -If a spell or combat art didn't DO anything, don't start the recast timer. That means if an AE didn't hit anything, or a cure spell didn't cure anything, or a heal didn't heal anything, don't start the recast timer.
    -Looting should be automatic, or an option for it. None of this right click, choose loot, then individually double
    -click on every item in the treasure chest or on the creature. When I kill it, and I'm solo/alone, everything it had should go into my bags automatically. If I'm grouped, after the mob is dead, the looting for the group should start automatically, provided such an option exists. Looting preferences such as auto need, auto greed, auto decline should also exist. They already exist in other MMO's, any new one should have it. Exceptions to this: Quest items or items that are bind on pickup should optionally have a looting confirmation. However, for those players that want to pickup EVERYTHING without having any pop up dialog boxes, that should be possible.
    -if looting is not automatic, give us Macro's for looting. a '/target_nearest_lootable ; /loot_all' or '/target_nearest_corpse ; /loot_all' should be possible. Having to manually target a corpse on the ground through several other corpses (decaying or not), boxes, or whatever other unlootable thing, manually, is not fun. It's frustrating. Just give us the macro's, and move on.
    -if the player starts attacking a creature, or gets too near an openly hostile creature, it should move to attack them, and when it reaches as close to the player as it's going to get, they should be able to hit it with melee attacks. They should NOT get a message such as "you are too far away, move closer!" If the hitboxes aren't big enough, make them bigger. It sounds cool in theory to make it so the monsters reach is longer than the players reach, but after having to push forward to get into melee range a few THOUSAND times, it gets old, fast. It's fine if this mechanic is used sparingly, but it should really be SPARINGLY, not every boss, or every raid mob, or every "large" model.
    -chain stunning, chain knockdown, chain crowd control of any kind. This applies to PvE as well as PvP. If a player is rooted, mez'd, charmed, stunned, knocked down, disarmed, prevented from moving, prevented from turning, prevented from casting, prevented from attacking, silenced, stifled, prevented from using any/all abilities... If any of these things are done, they need to be made immune to a repeat of ANY of those effects in the same category for a minimum of 10 times the duration of the original effect. this means if someone is "controlled" for 3 seconds, they need to be made immune to those effects for 30 seconds. This means a player can never be CC'd for more than 10% of their time in combat, ever, period. The designers of the MMO need to build their encounters, fights, quests, and raids to handle this restriction from the start. Changing this 10% value, or allowing exceptions to it, even just for raids is a very very very very bad idea. Don't do it.
    -if a player starts a fight with a ranged attack, and the monster moves to melee range, there should be an OPTION the player can select so that their character will auto-switch to melee auto attack once the monster is in range. If the option is enabled, the player should NOT see a message such as "you are too close! move away!"
    -There should be a guild calendar. It should be prominent, easy to read, and should display all events in the time zone of the current player, as well as both adjacent time zones. For example, if the guild has scheduled an event for 7pm mountain, it should show up as 7pm mountain, 6pm pacific and 8pm central time. It should show all three times. The player should not have to convert for their local time in their head. If a guild officer makes the event in the eastern time zone, and a player logs in and is in the pacific time zone, it should automagically convert and display. No brainer.
    -The officers should be able to kick, promote, demote, add notes, and perform ANY other action on the roster to a member, regardless if they are online, offline, just joined, or have been in the guild for years. The only members that should have protection from these acts are officers. The only member that should be ultimately un -kickable is the guild leader. Guild titles, notes, ranks, messages, calendar items/events, all those things should be reflected immediately; delays of any kind are unacceptable. This is 2013, not 1999. Also, polls/votes would be a great addition. They should also be able to override the players preferences for other in-game voting/polling, so they get "in your face" as soon as you login. If a player doesn't like the option, complain to the officers, but the option should be there.

    ---
    MMO Client Side Logging
    ---

    -Time/date stamps
    There are a few schools of thought regarding how to handle client-side log data that traverses more than one day, or more than one play session. A few MMO's create a new logfile per session, and ignore the date. A few create a new file per day, but unfortunately for players that play across local midnight, data integrity is lost, as some of the new day's data is in the old day's file. So, what to do?
    My personal choice would be to have a single logfile per character that's appended to over time, with full date/timestamps within each line of the file. At the players option, this file could be created new each day, or new each session, but the default would be a single file.

    -The format of the timestamp that would start out each line would be:
    YYYYMMDDHHMMSS.TTT
    YYYY - Year, 2013+
    MM - Month, 01-12
    DD - Day, 01-31
    HH - Hour, 00-23
    MM - Minute, 00-59
    SS - Second, 00-59
    TTT - Millisecond, 000-999

    Example:
    20111230084412.453 ... ... ...
    (December 30, 2011, 8am 44minutes, 12 seconds, 453 milliseconds)
    This value would be localized to the client clock, so the logs would be as the player observed them while playing on their machine, at their local time.
    Subsecond, that is, millisecond-accurate timestamping is -required-, not an option. The last thing you want is players showing you logs of several, several dozen, or even more events occuring inside one second with no context as to precedence/order.

    -Format considerations
    If your developers can't write a PCRE to separate out the fields of the logfile, you're doing it wrong. Also, avoid multi-line output for the same effect. That is, avoid things like putting normal and crit damage on two separate lines for the same hit.
    The logfile itself should be plaintext only, with ascii printable only. Specifically, 0-9a-zA-Z, plus printable characters only. No embedded color data, no embedded control characters, and as few special characters as possible. (such as !@#$%^&*(){}[]:;?/ ) The exception to this is field delimiters, if used.
    Ideally, it should be trivial to be able to discern the following from a single line: Who is doing what; specifically if it is the primary player or someone else. If the damage is a DoT or direct. If the damage is an initial DD+DoT, subsequent tick of a DoT or extra damage on the final tick of a DoT.
    What is the damage type, if applicable? How much of the damage was blocked, mitigated, or in some way absorbed/reflected, while still being able to calculate the total damage, per line. If the attack was a critical attack, extra damage, etc. If the target was immune to the damage type, and/or if the action attempted was invalid in some way.
    Was the damage the result of an AE, contagious effect, or similar non-directed effect? Or was it a single target directed effect?
    ALL actions (even those attempted but failed) should have a logfile entry, even if it is simply: Player used action ______. Actions without log entries didn't happen. Secondary/Ancillary benefits from temporary effects that result in buffs, damage or heals should be attributed to the originator of the effect. This means if Bob casts a damage shield or proc buff, every time it fires it should be attributed to Bob. If Bob wasn't there, that damage or heal wouldn't be there, right? So give credit where credit is due. Go Bob!
    As well, heals should be enumerated, as well as critical heals. AE heals should show both source and all targets.
    When in private group/raid instances, ALL in-combat data should be logged, regardless of player location/distance. When in the open/shared world, a reasonable range would likely be the same range for /say or /yell, or something similar. However, larger is definitely better, here. At minimum, if I have line-of-sight to the monster or player, I should be logging that fight.

    -Temporal output considerations
    The logfile should be created in realtime, with a buffer length of exactly one line. It should NOT be buffered by time, an arbitrary number of lines greater than 1, an arbitrary output buffer size, (like 1k, 8k or similar) or any other annoyance that would separate the player from as close to real-time output as possible.
    To see what I'm describing, EQ & EQ2 are excellent examples. When an entry occurs in the game, it is output in the log basically instantly. Fights can be parsed out as they're occurring.
    It would also be ideal to have an "in combat" and "out of combat" message/delimiter to determine the absolute start and the absolute end of fight times.

    -Logfile locations & naming
    Ideally, logfiles would go somewhere into "My Documents\..." Just ensure that server and character name is indicated in the path or name. If the location is going to be unique, of course, the filename can be generic (combat.log). However, if the location is going to be common for all logs, the filename should be unique (Server_Player_Combat.log).

    -Options for logging via the UI.
    a /log or /combatlog command as either a toggle, enable or disable.
    Persistent logging across all play sessions (yes/no)
    Create new logfile per day (yes/no)
    Create new logfile per play session (yes/no)
    Log players outside group/raid (yes/no)

    -Justification for client side logging
    Players can give impressions, opinions, and rants in as many /feedbacks, /bugs, threads and tickets as they want, but without a logfile to back it up, it's nothing but a waste of time. People may observe some massive disparity in effectiveness between themselves and other players but without a logfile, no-one can confirm their observations.

    .....................................................................end of wall.........................................................................................


     
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  2. Hornpipe

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    Bloody hell SB, you weren't lying about the wall of text. :)
     
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  5. redfish

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    Where are the goats...
     
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  6. Bubonic

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    there are no goats. The title was clearly clickbait!
     
  7. Brent S

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    That is not a wall of text. It is a whole house with a man cave in the back yard. :)
     
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    Anpu Bug Hunter

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    Then we could have goat cheese!!
     
  10. FrostII

    FrostII Bug Hunter

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    @Sea Bear
    I've no idea how long it took to write that wot, but no way I'm gonna read it.
    Sorry, and have a great day ! ;)
     
  11. redfish

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    [​IMG]
     
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  12. tc91101

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    While not exactly a wall of text; does anybody remember the old cow files that you could send through telnet email? Nothing worse than being locked into 30 minutes of scrolling ascii cows.
     
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    I just couldn't bring myself to read it....
     
  14. Pounce

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    Lots of good ideas, nice read
     
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    He definitely has some good thoughts in there. I like his mindset.
     
  16. Sea Bear

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    Greatest Of All Time Wall Of Text
     
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    I cannot disassociate 'goat' with Bill Buckner and firmly disagree with GOAT being used as an acronym.
     
  18. Duke Gréagóir

    Duke Gréagóir Legend of the Hearth

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    Challenge accepted!
     
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