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  1. #1

    Is it possible to solve the exploration problem in MMOs?

    Exploration might be the absolutely most exciting thing for me and most other "explorer" types under Bartle's system.

    The unfortunate downside to this is that, after something is explored, the magic dies with it. There are some other interesting attributes to an explored zone like returning to an old zone as a "coming home" feeling, and being able to navigate better, but they are undoubtedly less powerful conditions than the original "unexplored" state.

    Is it possible at all for MMO developers to counter this other than just indefinitely expanding their games by continuously adding new explorable areas?


    There are certainly some players that don't care about exploration, so clearly I'm not asking for your opinions here, you don't care about this, but for everyone else who considers zone exploration one of the main draws of a new game or expansion - what do you think are new and interesting ways to solve this problem?

  2. #2
    So you want more stuff to explore when you run out but you don't want them to expand the game.
    Things are exactly as they seem.

  3. #3
    Well so far noone has solved it for me actually. Minecraft you could say, the problem there is it's kinda pointless.
    No man's sky tried but yeah...

    Even wildstar said there's plenty of planets to explore.

    Tbh so far elite dangerous horizons gives me what I'd expect the actual feeling of charting a territory. Let's see how star citizen handles it.

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  4. #4
    I think the art and layout behind zones/dungeons that makes it fun to explore make it difficult to be randomly generated. But you could potentially have like an astral plane or "plane of madness" that has a randomly generated layout, and still have most of the other areas thoughtfully laid out.

  5. #5
    whats the problem in mmo about exploration?
    the amount of land explorable?

  6. #6
    Only thing I can think of is a landscape that permanently changes. Dynamic weather events or something that influence the landscape. War tearing up and killing large amounts of land etc.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by ro9ue View Post
    Exploration might be the absolutely most exciting thing for me and most other "explorer" types under Bartle's system.

    The unfortunate downside to this is that, after something is explored, the magic dies with it. There are some other interesting attributes to an explored zone like returning to an old zone as a "coming home" feeling, and being able to navigate better, but they are undoubtedly less powerful conditions than the original "unexplored" state.

    Is it possible at all for MMO developers to counter this other than just indefinitely expanding their games by continuously adding new explorable areas?


    There are certainly some players that don't care about exploration, so clearly I'm not asking for your opinions here, you don't care about this, but for everyone else who considers zone exploration one of the main draws of a new game or expansion - what do you think are new and interesting ways to solve this problem?
    I feel part of the issue is the internet. In today's world, you don't even need to play a game to experience it, you can just watch a video or stream.

    With that in mind, when it comes to exploring, what is the goal? To find uncharted areas. Well, it is quite likely that you won't be the first to find a new area. So uncharted is sort of hard to maintain when people post their evidence of finding it first. This sorta kills the mystery and excitement of exploring much of the time.

    To resolve this, you can simply just not look for videos and such, but it is as haunting as a ghost. You might not see it, but you feel it is there.

    One solution is randomized areas, however you won't get much in the way of bragging rights as everyones experience is unique. So you won't have a moment of, "I found this cool thing at this location" since that location is only available to you. So it loses its coolness since its sort of pointless.
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  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ro9ue View Post
    Exploration might be the absolutely most exciting thing for me and most other "explorer" types under Bartle's system.

    The unfortunate downside to this is that, after something is explored, the magic dies with it. There are some other interesting attributes to an explored zone like returning to an old zone as a "coming home" feeling, and being able to navigate better, but they are undoubtedly less powerful conditions than the original "unexplored" state.

    Is it possible at all for MMO developers to counter this other than just indefinitely expanding their games by continuously adding new explorable areas?


    There are certainly some players that don't care about exploration, so clearly I'm not asking for your opinions here, you don't care about this, but for everyone else who considers zone exploration one of the main draws of a new game or expansion - what do you think are new and interesting ways to solve this problem?
    Endless random content? You could just play Nethack or any other dungeon crawler and as someone suggested, Elite Dangerous, if scifi is your cup of tea.

    If both of those solutions are lacking, then I guess no one has really solved the problem from you perspective.

    If the problem is that "someone else already did it" then there's no help to you, short of making your own game. Maybe play single player as opposed to MMO and stay clear of the wikis?
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  9. #9
    The problem with huge worlds to explore is that those worlds must be created by an automated process, nobody has the manpower to manually sculpt each and every world. So big, almost endless, worlds to explore can work - but it might not be a very interesting world.

    Elite: Dangerous, as mentioned, may be one of the best exploration games (pseudo-MMO) and even then exploration within the game is considered lackluster by many players still.
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  10. #10
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    I keep thinking no mans sky, and how that basicly flopped, too much exploration, not enough real content.

    Anyhow to keep in style with the 20th year Diablo event going on, I would actually love something like Diablo random generated zone or dungeon layouts in WoW now that we keep saying Diablo devs are working on WoW :P

  11. #11
    Imagine Legion outdoor questing if world quests didn't show on map.

    There, exploration!

  12. #12
    Herald of the Titans Skizzit's Avatar
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    The way I see it is there are two ways to go with this issue. Either a developer makes a finite but well designed world or they make a system to create infinite randomly generated worlds. Even though I do love exploration in games, I prefer the former.

  13. #13
    The Unstoppable Force May90's Avatar
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    I don't think there are many ways to preserve the thrill of exploration in already existing content for those who have experienced it multiple times... But there are ways to, at least, make it a thrilling experience the first time around. Which MMOs currently fail miserably at, in my opinion.

    To enjoy exploration, there should be an element of surprise. Like in Fallout: New Vegas, when you see an unmarked point on the map, get close, find out that this is someone's house, and curiosity takes over: "What's inside? Some NPC? Bandits? Maybe no one and it is a good looting place?"

    Sadly, in MMORPGs it is always a different story: "Here is a few quest marks for you. Go there and get new quests!" The game always tells you what to do and where to go, and while there is a certain choice for you to make still, mostly, if you want to play effectively, you have to follow the rails. Exploration itself becomes irrelevant, as you know well in advance, at least in general, what a certain area is like. And since most areas essentially are the same, just with different textures and models, but same gameplay and same kind of quests, I wouldn't say there is much exploring to do at all.

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  14. #14
    It's like asking how to keep beer cold without putting it in the fridge. Quite a weird thing to think about honestly. Once you explored something, you ... well ... explored it. I don't quite understand what kind of a squaring of the circle you're thinking of.

    They could of course make a game that focuses very heavily on outdoor content, so the development time wold be spent on constantly reworking existing zones, changing stuff about them, putting new stuff in, altering the terrain, etc. But you'd really really have to comit to that whole philosophy, and I'm not sure that it's something a lot of people would actually like to see in a game. I guess I'd like it, but all the raid people for example would poop their diapers - as would all those players who lose their minds as soon as something they're used to changes a little bit.
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  15. #15
    My thinking is, that at some point in the future AI will be ablo to randomly create intersting content to keep up with "hungry" explorers. That way entire zones could be released on a weekly or monthly basis.
    Another solution could be to utilize the players themselves, release an editor and simply add a "sandbox" option to the game where players can play player-created content.

  16. #16
    Well...

    there's games like:
    - Lego Worlds (Actually generates worlds/planets based on some random code you enter)
    - Minecraft (never played it but it seems random enough)
    - No man's sky
    outthere...

    These are designed for explorer-types in the 1st place.
    That said; I don't think that type of content really fits anywhere into an MMO. Especially not one like WoW.

  17. #17
    Bartle's system isn't exactly restricted to literally exploring areas within the game. It's about discovering interesting things whether its mechanics, exploits, or theorycrafting. As long as datamining, wiki databases, and addons exist the magic of exploration will never truly be fixed. You'll never get that sense of "holy shit I must be the first person to discover this exploit/area" because somebody else probably found it before you and made a video about it. This is especially true when the discovery directly influences your power in game and then everyone is compelled to do it so ignoring all 3rd party information puts you at a disadvantage.

    Legion has a few of these for example the Endgineer in Gnomer. Nobody at 110 would have any real reason to go to Gnomer other than for nostalgia, but imagine the surprise when they found that tiny button and suddenly the room filled with a shit ton of bombs. Even the exploits used to beat the Endgineer before they were fixed are a form of exploration.

    As for geographical exploration I would say removing maps might be a way to maintain that wanderlust however I think most people would hate this because I think the typical mentality of a player in an MMORPG is to blitz to max level, figure out how to make their character stronger, and only focus on increasing their power. If people lose the map function leveling in a new game becomes a tedious process because they would get lost all the time get discouraged and frustrated and likely quit, but for the explorer they would have a sense of superiority because they would be the ones who figure out how to navigate through the terrain efficiently without the use of a map because they're the pioneers who breakdown every aspect of the game.

  18. #18
    ME WANT CAVES!!! all of the caves!!!!

    sadly runescape probably has the best cave and underground system in any mmo that i personally can think of, and you can hate on me for it, but i think its probably true, atleast for the games i have played

    there are always mountains in games, and canyons, but not many fully explorable caves where you can get lost or have fun staying there for a while

  19. #19
    I explore often when I get bored. Sometimes I just jump on my Flying mount and explore EK and Kalimdor. even after playing for 12 years and with the Cata Reworks I still find cool things around that I hadn't seen before.

    I've also done a lot of exploring in Legion, found some cool things and a few chests and such. there are a ton of secret crevices and caves scattered around areas that I've found on my DH with Gliding and Infernal Strike that were hidden or inaccessible to other characters.

    I love exploration in games and it is likely why open World games like Skyrim and Fallout hold my attention for such a long period.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kathandira View Post
    I feel part of the issue is the internet. In today's world, you don't even need to play a game to experience it, you can just watch a video or stream.

    With that in mind, when it comes to exploring, what is the goal? To find uncharted areas. Well, it is quite likely that you won't be the first to find a new area. So uncharted is sort of hard to maintain when people post their evidence of finding it first. This sorta kills the mystery and excitement of exploring much of the time.

    To resolve this, you can simply just not look for videos and such, but it is as haunting as a ghost. You might not see it, but you feel it is there.

    One solution is randomized areas, however you won't get much in the way of bragging rights as everyones experience is unique. So you won't have a moment of, "I found this cool thing at this location" since that location is only available to you. So it loses its coolness since its sort of pointless.
    Watching it online and actually experiencing it for yourself feels completely different.
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