Issues with VRMMO Setting

#1
Now this is completely my personal opinion on the topic but for me a lot of commonly used trope, setting, and story line used in other genre just doesn't work for me in a VRMMO setting (or even just MMO if its not VR).

Like any other type of novel where you have OP MC, thick plot armor, lucky as shit encounter, being the hero or chosen one and the stuff that happens in an story works fine for me in every other genre. I can deal with them (to certain extent, all depend on the writing) but not in a VRMMO setting.

I guess this stem from two thing, 1) I'm a programmer myself and 2) I'm an avid mmorpg gamer myself. As a program I feel the need to punch the dev of whatever VRMMO in the face for their horrible coding and game design. Like a hero story works in a real world setting because there is a need for a hero. The problem when moved to a MMO is that its a game designed to make money, its designed for a lot of players and the players need to be treated equally (to a degree) Having this 1 person who has this hidden class or unique object or w/e is stupid and horrible game design and if it was a real game in the a real world once it is found out that game would crash and burn (unique like costume is w/e but stuff that completely breaks the game). Also when the MC manage to break game mechanic due to w/e bullshit reason is also dumb. There is just no way that you can sent emotion strong enough to effect a game, unless you have hacking tool it's just not going to happen. Worst offender of this is probably SAO with the ending to the first ARC... my god that pissed me off so much.

And as a gamer who would want to play this type of game? I mean the lure of these games is that you can be anything if you work hard for yet. But then you have the game completely favoring 1 person giving them stuff you will never have access to because luck? WTF? Like the whole point of playing these games it to get away from the unfairness of the real world where people are something just born into better position than you or are smarter or w/e. You play a game to get away from all that only have the game slap you in the face with it?

Every single trope used to make the MC stand out and unique just seem to back fires in alot VRMMO setting as it stops being a like an MMO because a MMO is designed so that doesn't happen.

What is everyone else's thought on the VRMMO/MMO genre?

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#2
I'll assume most writers didn't raid their way through a real MMO, or if they did, they thought it unfair that the painstaking preparations and endless wipes finally paid off in the end for the stronger guilds.

So we get wishlist thinking where a DPS solo endgame bosses succesfully, rather than go: Huh, what's this? SPLAT!

Log Horizon, well, that's about the only story where I've seen VRMMORPG done right, or as right as can be done and still have a story that's enjoyable.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#5
As much as I agree with you about standard VRMMORPG novels having poor game design, there is one point I have to argue.

Quote:
There is just no way that you can sent emotion strong enough to effect a game, unless you have hacking tool it's just not going to happen. Worst offender of this is probably SAO with the ending to the first ARC... my god that pissed me off so much.


Standard novels aside, emotions being able to affect VR is actually a very huge plot point for SAO. Because VR technology is very much a black box and later iterations of VR gain the name of something like soul translator, it is not entirely implausible. Later volumes, especially the ones after the anime ended, highlight/address this point.

If done/written properly, I do not see the issue with a person's emotions to be able to affect their environment in a VR setting. It is just a slight change from reading emotions to reading the emotion and acting on it :p

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#7
SAO (all 'tower' -arcs) is a good story, but it's a bloody awful representation of a game. For one it runs with a character soloing and keeping up the gear-war with the raiding guilds. And it does so despite making it clear early on that bossdrops are superior.

Still, a damn good story (well, flying elves and gunslingers apart).

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#8
There's a line between making a good story, and making a fully plausible story. SAO is one example of a good story for what it is (despite detractors, you watched it, and that means something) but very vague at best science reasoning.

This can be established by the fact that who future tech is out but we still don't have self driving cars. We have self driving cars now but no full dive VR.

Most of these stories advance only one idea under the guise of mumble mumble science then tell their story. That's the point of this whole gimmick, a vehicle to tell the story.

I understand finding logical gaps in the story aggravating. I too constantly wonder how only one person ever has secret class X when 6.2 billion 'everyones' plays - how does one person three months in manage to be the only person finding item X, class Uber, and find secret quest Q.

Some use over watchering AI programs who like Bob the Janitor for his utterly unique passive sheep personality and complete disregard of real life needs due to woe inducing event Z (this is what I used) - who basically shape together a constantly changing landscape in the game world to justify quests appearing that no one found.

Now this is an interesting point - current MMOs are really static in their design. It's the same curve for nearly everyone, zone, zone, zone, pvp, zone, max level, more raiding, etc. The design of 'VRMMO's is dynamic in description at least, so in theory it's constantly changing and adapting to where players and what they're doing. Weed's story is an example of this. Ark's story sort of does the same thing.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#10
I personally think it's because we know that it's a game. For me, that kills a lot of the tension in the game and completely removes the gravity of the trials facing the characters. As such, finding a lucky break or plot device in a VR story doesn't have the 'they barely made it out alive' or 'they're saved ermegerd' feel that you get in stories where the characters are in real danger or facing real crises. Just my 2cents. :P

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#12
@RexZShadow: As a fellow programmer and as a person who designs simple games as a hobby, I gotta agree with you that most VRMMO stories that I came across don't make too much sense "realistically". There are many game-designing flaws which are never addressed and there are many issues born from the amount of flexibility and freedom that's offered in VR.

For starters: how many of these VR stories actually have a proper tutorial for the player? 
I understand that most people would say "Ew, tutorials!? Screw that!". But an MMORPG is usually a fairly complicated game to get into and even if the MC doesn't need a tutorial - there should at least BE a tutorial.

Another thing that I'm usually amazed to see missing is the motivation to keeping playing at the early levels of the game. 
The game should be putting some effort into convincing the MC to stick around during the low levels. This is usually done in normal MMORPGs by presenting some sort of rough "plot" that's made out of a sequence of tutorial quests. 

There are many more issues I could write about, but these two are especially odd for me when I analyze VR stories from game-designing perspective. I always feel that the writers didn't bother to design a game that "makes sense", but instead loosely designed a game which can be used to tell the story they want.




As for "emotions affecting the game"...

While I'm not not a fan of this shonen deus-ex-machina, it can still realistically make sense in a massive online game. That is, if we are provided any technical knowledge about the game's system.

One straightforward example for "emotions affecting the game" could be made up if the VRMMO uses something similar to the client-side prediction system. In that case, it's possible for a player to create a "miracle" of sorts with the power of lag. Practical example from modern day games: https://youtu.be/mR00P5x8_WQ?t=327

If an outburst of emotions from a player may temporarily slow down his internet connection, then it's in theory possible to cause all sort of shenanigans. For example: the player may suddenly "teleport back in time" due to server correcting his lagging position, thus allowing the player to miraculously dodge a fatal attack.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#14
I have to get my thoughts in this thread. 

To start:
7/10/2016 2:10:47 PMDarkClaymore Wrote: [ -> ]. There are many game-designing flaws which are never addressed and there are many issues born from the amount of flexibility and freedom that's offered in VR.


I always was curious how writers of the VRMMORPG genre stories prevented the Anarchy and Chaos that players will inevitably make with their new found freedoms.

The two major obstacles being:

- Player Collision
-Freedom for Player clothing



7/10/2016 2:10:47 PMDarkClaymore Wrote: [ -> ]For starters: how many of these VR stories actually have a proper tutorial for the player? 
I understand that most people would say "Ew, tutorials!? Screw that!". But an MMORPG is usually a fairly complicated game to get into and even if the MC doesn't need a tutorial - there should at least BE a tutorial.


Another thing that I'm usually amazed to see missing is the motivation to keeping playing at the early levels of the game. 
The game should be putting some effort into convincing the MC to stick around during the low levels. This is usually done in normal MMORPGs by presenting some sort of rough "plot" that's made out of a sequence of tutorial quests.


I'm not picky about tutorials in stories, seeing as I'm not sure it's even needed. The numbers don't matter in a story after all so much as 'painting a canvas with words'. Although now that I read this, I don't remember a single story that had ANYTHING resembling a tutorial stage.

It's usually 'I guess I'll go do this' mentality after wandering around and finding something to do. Usually involves some NPC who always conveniently help the player out.


7/10/2016 2:10:47 PMDarkClaymore Wrote: [ -> ]There are many more issues I could write about, but these two are especially odd for me when I analyze VR stories from game-designing perspective. I always feel that the writers didn't bother to design a game that "makes sense", but instead loosely designed a game which can be used to tell the story they want.


I always found the stories that have modern day computers in them in a VRMMORPG capable society to be funny for reasons somewhat related to this.

No thought given to the world and how it has changed with the new technology. People still have the same tech as we do now.

For example: You can see in SAO EP01 the computer at the very beginning. Why does it exist at all in the setting? The headset is probably several magnitudes higher in specs than the computer at that point, so a modern computer in VR times is largely outdated.

Just thinking simply in terms of data, the sheer amount of theoretical transfer speed you would require from wires, or equivalent future tech for data transfer, to run a VRMMORPG would be astronomical to even attempt at very VERY low graphical abilities.


7/10/2016 2:10:47 PMDarkClaymore Wrote: [ -> ]As for "emotions affecting the game"...

While I'm not not a fan of this shonen deus-ex-machina, it can still realistically make sense in a massive online game. That is, if we are provided any technical knowledge about the game's system.

One straightforward example for "emotions affecting the game" could be made up if the VRMMO uses something similar to the client-side prediction system. In that case, it's possible for a player to create a "miracle" of sorts with the power of lag. Practical example from modern day games: https://youtu.be/mR00P5x8_WQ?t=327

If an outburst of emotions from a player may temporarily slow down his internet connection, then it's in theory possible to cause all sort of shenanigans. For example: the player may suddenly "teleport back in time" due to server correcting his lagging position, thus allowing the player to miraculously dodge a fatal attack.


My perception of lag has changed from this point on for VR.
People who have slower data tranfers to the server and clients have a better advantage to survive VR death games than people with fast data tranfers. 
Good to know!

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#15
@Enferno a bit off topic but want to point out that VRMMORPG data transfer is a lot less than you think. In truth mmorpgs doesn't take much data transfer at all because information being sent around are all text numbers and letters. When you move your current location which is a number is updated on the server, when you get hit or hit monsters numbers are updated on the sever. Just numbers are so small in term of data even millions can't compare to like a pic or video.

The thing that is most process heavy task as down on your computer like rendering the graphics and such, which is why all display information is stored on your computer. So there isn't that much data transfer going on, not like your constantly uploading your entire consciousness over the internet. Everything is still being done on your machine at your end, the connection simply updates your current stats and make sure everything you're doing is allowed by the server.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#16
7/17/2016 5:35:40 AMRexZShadow Wrote: [ -> ]@Enferno a bit off topic but want to point out that VRMMORPG data transfer is a lot less than you think. In truth mmorpgs doesn't take much data transfer at all because information being sent around are all text numbers and letters.


Just to be clear, VRMMORPG is not headset VR that just connected a MMO. This is the full immersion, ranging fromsome future equal of a client working as an intermediate between you(the VR user) and the server to full consciousness upload.

And I'm mostly referring to a high end type of VR. The kind with photo realism graphics and physics.
The beginning VRMMORPGs will be vastly smaller in scale in comparison.
But they will still need faster speeds, because players would not be limited to 'button clicks' that a client and server can handle more more easily.

7/17/2016 5:35:40 AMRexZShadow Wrote: [ -> ]When you move your current location which is a number is updated on the server, when you get hit or hit monsters numbers are updated on the sever. Just numbers are so small in term of data even millions can't compare to like a pic or video.

 

That accounts from moving from point A to B in a modern MMO system. What about actions that are not defined simply by a button press?

Throwing a rock picked up from the ground?
Dancing of any kind?
Wiggling fingers?

While picking up a rock and throwing can be done, they are largely single button press actions. The player, or more correctly the avatar of that player's consciousness, is physically bending down to pick that rock up,as well as pull back and physically throw that rock. That is far more intricate then a single mouse click to go from point A to B in terms of data transfer.

Same with dancing. It is no longer 'press a button' for dancing to happen like modern games. The player through their avatar is needed to move to do that.

Same with wiggling fingers. Even if it was in a MMO, for some strange reason, it would still be a 'push button action'. In VR, that's not taking advantage of the medium.

On top of that, all of these processes would need to be done in something like milliseconds for the brain to register it as 'nothing wrong here. Working in normal conditions.' 


7/17/2016 5:35:40 AMRexZShadow Wrote: [ -> ]The thing that is most process heavy task as down on your computer like rendering the graphics and such, which is why all display information is stored on your computer. So there isn't that much data transfer going on, not like your constantly uploading your entire consciousness over the internet. Everything is still being done on your machine at your end, the connection simply updates your current stats and make sure everything you're doing is allowed by the server.


The transfer between the client, the server and you(the VR user) would still need large amounts of data transferred very fast to keep up.
Unless you are fooling the brain entirely, such as some kind of digital upload of consciousness. At which point it doesn't matter what the brain thinks since it can't effectively 'die' since it is no longer physical and does not need traits that were used for it's previous physical being.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#17
@Enferno It's still not that heavy of an traffic because programers would do optimize the process is to have the hardware filter everything and send only the needed data. I understand what you mean by large amount of data when you're thinking about sending basically what human brain is doing ever like second across coz that would be an insane amount of data but the server doens't need to know any of it. The server just need to know if you moved, if anything about you changed, if anything you did changed anything else. Only those data would ever need to be sent while the rest of the much more complex process is just done at your computer. You thinking about moving your body or arm and all that is pointless it just need to know player 23324's arm at x y z, now its a x1 y1 z1 and so on.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#18
7/10/2016 2:10:47 PMDarkClaymore Wrote: [ -> ]Another thing that I'm usually amazed to see missing is the motivation to keeping playing at the early levels of the game. 
The game should be putting some effort into convincing the MC to stick around during the low levels. This is usually done in normal MMORPGs by presenting some sort of rough "plot" that's made out of a sequence of tutorial quests. 

There are many more issues I could write about, but these two are especially odd for me when I analyze VR stories from game-designing perspective. I always feel that the writers didn't bother to design a game that "makes sense", but instead loosely designed a game which can be used to tell the story they want.




My thought on this subject is quite simple, and usually (for me at least) explained in the first couple of chapters.

The headset is expensive (I think the average for the prices I've seen was around 700 USD) but the price for playing is even more expensive (usually some sort of billing per minute stuff, which would mean it costs a lot to even just start up and walk around the into town/village).

It may not be the same for all users, but if I've invested that sort of money into something, I usually try to beat it (at least to the extent I can, if I have a 1 month membership at one point, Ill go as far as I can, ignoring the story, just doing the quests, getting the info from the quest tracker) and even though most MMOs don't have a traditional "win state" or way to really win, I try to get to at least the max level. (I don't think I actually have a max level character in any MMO I've ever played)

For me, I would probably spend enough time in the game to feel I didn't waste my money on the headset (or whatever machine it is, be it a coffin like device with wires coming out from all over it, or a headphone looking thing that reads brain activity) and realize I spent more on just playing that I could have ever spent on the "dive-device" and if my income could allow it, I would probably go full ham/full bore to at least do something that would leave my name on a ranking, or in one of the in game books, as generally we see no "max level" to make it feel (at least to myself) that I've done something in the game.

Not to mention in something like that, unless there were thousands of instances, it would be pretty hard to pull of a main storyline of sorts. Hell, even a "get strong to withstand the (insert generic evil beings here) invasion would eventually have to be changed, because gamers would take that as a challenge, and actually go beat all the demons that were just milling about the high level areas that were never actually going to attack. (and even if you figure in respawning, some players would probably get all up in a hissy fit that the record breaking crusades they were a part of, and was a large part of the storyline up till that point didn't really mean anything in a dynamic, living and breathing environment.)

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#19
Way to go landon, just keep bumping up threads I'll find interesting....

Anyhow, question for RexZ as a game designer, and anyone else who has thoughts on the matter.
Has anyone ever thought about balance in an MMO without a level cap? I tried finding some info on it for the story I'm writing to help nail down the progression rate, but I can't find many places where it's discussed.

So far I've been developed it as being a roguelike-some items/spells for revives, which would mean that high level players can be killed off and one person isn't guaranteed to stay at the top. The other thing is that I guess I may have added 'unbalanced' classes as a metagame balance, that is a build that would do tons of damage but could be killed by anything to remove high level players, but also not pose a long term threat; or has tons of defense, so while they would be tough to kill, they would have a difficult time affecting the world with impunity(outside of a social role I guess).

Since you're a game developer, I was just wondering about your thoughts on the idea in general. The description is just to help describe the context of why I'm asking.

RE: Issues with VRMMO Setting

#20
10/8/2016 8:18:50 PMlandon9560 Wrote: [ -> ]It may not be the same for all users, but if I've invested that sort of money into something, I usually try to beat it (at least to the extent I can, if I have a 1 month membership at one point, Ill go as far as I can, ignoring the story, just doing the quests, getting the info from the quest tracker) and even though most MMOs don't have a traditional "win state" or way to really win, I try to get to at least the max level. (I don't think I actually have a max level character in any MMO I've ever played)

While I won't claim that an "overreaching" plot is needed by any means, the game should at least direct you toward some objectives early on. Most VR stories I tried just throw the MC in the middle of a city, without giving him anything to do. This relies way too much on the player being able to find ways to amuse himself by randomly poking around, which can be very difficult for many people.

It's easy to say "I'll go do quests!", but imagine yourself being dropped in the middle of an unfamiliar city where you can't even tell left from right. You'll need a lot of skills just to get started and to figure out what to do and where to go. That's not how a well-designed game should work IMO.



10/11/2016 4:37:07 PMAdvonKoulthar Wrote: [ -> ]Has anyone ever thought about balance in an MMO without a level cap? I tried finding some info on it for the story I'm writing to help nail down the progression rate, but I can't find many places where it's discussed.

What exactly you're trying to balance in this case? The Player vs. Player combat? The Player vs. Mob combat?

Many people seem to mistake "max level" for some sort of end goal in MMOs. More often than not, reaching the level cap is just a gateway into the next stage of game, where things turn more "competitive". The people who are at max level are deemed "ready" to duke it out with each other in big and important PvP events like guild vs guild.