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What will RPGs/MMORPGs be like in the distant future?

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February 5, 2007 7:30:49 AM

Has anyone ever wondered what incredible features RPG or MMORPG games might have in 10 or 20 years from today?

I think one feature that might be implemented some day is the growth cycle for plants and advanced physical properties for materials. Grass, flowers, bushes and trees will grow and eventually wither away all by themselves. Something like this already exists in some MMORPGs when people farm plants, but in the future these cycles may also happen in the wilderness. Judging on some innovations in DirectX 10, it's also possible to speculate that the ground and some other materials might also begin to have some physical properties, so that in the games of the distant future the ground might even be able to collect moisture during the rain or heat from the sun. With appropriate moisture and warmth values associated with a patch of ground, plants and mushrooms may start to grow on it, while with inappropriate values the plants that are already growing on that area may start to die. Maybe shadows will start having some effect on the growth cycle or the material properties because in addition to the purely visual effect shadows will actually prevent sun radiation from reaching and being absorbed into the materials that they cover. If a plant becomes covered by shadow, it won't receive enough light and won't grow as fast. It's also possible that in the more distant future like 30-40 years from now the ground itself might not consist of simple textures, but of some kind of soil layer on top of solid sand textures or something like that. Players will be able to dig up the soil or its chunks and particles can be blown up all over the place by an explosion etc. It also seems likely that with more powerful CPUs and GPUs different effects can have much longer duration. For example, smoke from a big fire might stay in the game world for minutes or even hours instead of seconds and might even be carried away by the wind elsewhere.
February 5, 2007 10:50:34 AM

MMORPG’s always evolve at a much slower pace than the rest of the gaming world. Even RTS games that don’t really need and are not really recognised for their graphics have far superior graphics when compared to even the best looking MMORPG’s. RPG’s on the other hand are different with the likes of Oblivion being one of the most graphically advanced games around. And the Final Fantasy series of games bringing you the best graphics the consol is capable of.

I really liked some of your suggestions that you mentioned, with the topsoil one sparking an interest. I believe that would make for great game play to do with footprints and for some great effects if you had vehicles with them spewing up mud/dirt in to the air leaving tracks. Also your second suggestion about fire spreading would also lead to some cool effects.

But the problem is how would you get such effects to work on MMORPG’s when the average MMO only connects to a server at about the same speed as a 56k modem. There simply is not enough bandwidth for those effect and I can’t see there being enough any time soon. But I can see these effects being implemented in games like the next Elders Scroll game or maybe even the next Battle Field which looks to be shit hot with a completely new engine built from the ground up… but who knows.
February 5, 2007 12:22:45 PM

Quote:
But I can see these effects being implemented in games like the next Elders Scroll game or maybe even the next Battle Field which looks to be **** hot with a completely new engine built from the ground up… but who knows.


The features I described probably won't appear in the next 10 years because they would need a lot of CPU and GPU power. By the way, what is the new Battlefield game going to be called? This is the first time I hear about it. I haven't actually heard about a new Elder Scrolls game either. Do you have any links? 8)
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February 5, 2007 1:38:02 PM

Don’t know anything about a new Elder Scrolls game but I can say with almost a 99% probability that there will be a new one in some shape or form. As for the new Battle Field I don’t believe that it actually has a name yet as it is so early in to the games production. But I can remember seeing a screenshot and a little bit of teaser news, just looked on Google and could not find anything figures… but it does exist.

But to tell you the truth I don’t know if that kind of detail is that far off, if you wanted to perfectly emulate soil then yes you would need a PC at about the same spec as a weather system computer (Forget GHz, that’s THz). But designing games is not about creating things to exactly emulate how things work, its about creating a system that makes people think that it is working in a perfectly emulated environment.

If I was a great game coder I would probably be working on a way to get something like that working now as I think that if you could create a system which does as described that it would be worth a lot of money to the gaming industry and might actually get you a lot of money and a nice tasty job. Maybe you have finally just discovered a need and practical use for these physics cards :lol: 
February 10, 2007 6:57:02 PM

To be honest i think MMO's need to change in terms of immersion. It feels like every MMO you play it's all about the same type of game play. Kill this, kill that, level up, get stronger just to kill this and that. I think we need MMO's that make us "live" in a world instead of going in to grind a few lvl's. Characters need go grow stronger over time, take part in events and story archs in the game that allows them thier characters to grow and be diverse. Developers need to take more of a hands on approach to content instead of this "Gods looking down" approach to MMO's. Technology is there (look at Spores for instance). The ambition is not. No one is willing to take that chance yet. Until then i guess we just dream.
February 14, 2007 4:01:13 PM

Quote:
Has anyone ever wondered what incredible features RPG or MMORPG games might have in 10 or 20 years from today?

I think one feature that might be implemented some day is the growth cycle for plants and advanced physical properties for materials. Grass, flowers, bushes and trees will grow and eventually wither away all by themselves. Something like this already exists in some MMORPGs when people farm plants, but in the future these cycles may also happen in the wilderness. Judging on some innovations in DirectX 10, it's also possible to speculate that the ground and some other materials might also begin to have some physical properties, so that in the games of the distant future the ground might even be able to collect moisture during the rain or heat from the sun. With appropriate moisture and warmth values associated with a patch of ground, plants and mushrooms may start to grow on it, while with inappropriate values the plants that are already growing on that area may start to die. Maybe shadows will start having some effect on the growth cycle or the material properties because in addition to the purely visual effect shadows will actually prevent sun radiation from reaching and being absorbed into the materials that they cover. If a plant becomes covered by shadow, it won't receive enough light and won't grow as fast. It's also possible that in the more distant future like 30-40 years from now the ground itself might not consist of simple textures, but of some kind of soil layer on top of solid sand textures or something like that. Players will be able to dig up the soil or its chunks and particles can be blown up all over the place by an explosion etc. It also seems likely that with more powerful CPUs and GPUs different effects can have much longer duration. For example, smoke from a big fire might stay in the game world for minutes or even hours instead of seconds and might even be carried away by the wind elsewhere.


I think that what you are discussing here is not MMORPG, but forest simulation. This has very little to do with the "MMORPGness" of the game. So far I could guess that you are discussing the game "forest and its friends" :) 

I think the problem which MMORPG have today is the following. If you want to have immersion factor and freedom, then you have to give player lots of stuff to do. Right now, everything is very limited. Let's take WoW for example. All professions are very similar there. Well, the difference may be in gatherer vs non-gatherer, but if it is gatherer you just collect things from the wold, otherwise you convert A to B. And that's it! You can not, for example invent something, or you can not combine two professions, if it is not already hard-coded. In short - it is inflexible.
Another example is AH - you can place sell orders, but not buy orders. And so on.

The reason of all those limitation is actually not the fact that it is difficult to implement many possibilities, but the interaction part of the player with the wold. If player can do too many things, then interface become too complex. Right now MMORPG are trying to find the right balance between complexity of the interface and flexibility of the game. But in any case I think that interface now is a limit on gameplay variety. And because of that, players themselves most of the time can not create in-game content to increase this variety.

So I think in about 20 years there will be a breakthrough with interface. We will be able to do pretty much everything in the game wold what you would expect in real life. The interface problem would have to be solved somehow, most probably through highly customizable, player "programmed" interface, which is easy to use because of some help from voice communication and in-game AI.

Like when you see a metal pipe, you would ask AI (in voice), "can I somehow use it and make a gun". And AI would answer, "yes, but we would need some other materials, which is up to you to find". When you find the other materials (wood, for example), and make the gun first time, you can ask it, "could you make a button on interface so that next time I could press that button and the gun would automatically created?" or something like that.

I also think that NPCs will be much smarter in the games, and you could have much more interaction with them. Like being a king of 100 subjects, all of them are NPCs. And you could order them (verbally of cause) "let's go and kill that dragon!"

May be I am wrong, but I thing it is interactivity with the world and other players which is very limited right now, and which has to be resolved somehow.
February 15, 2007 8:09:19 AM

I suspect that voice simulation will improve and at some point there will be an option in games which allows you to hear the spoken version of all texts generated by player characters and NPCs. The computer will be able to turn text into more natural speech than it can now and it will be able to simulate voices for different genders and different species. Actually, this option has already appeared in Unreal Tournament 2004, but speech technology is still at such early stages of development that messages sent by players are vocalised by the ridiculous monotonic male computer voice.

I hope there will be more games in the future which use some of the features of Neverwinter Nights. In NWN Dungeon Masters and Game Masters can add or delete objects, items and creatures, take control of creatures, change faction settings and do a lot of other stuff right in the game.

In the case of MMORPGs, it could be also important to increase levels of interaction. Implementing simulations into MMORPG like the "forest simulator" could help because it increases the level of interaction and the challenge. Instead of simply planting seeds and harvesting crops you would need to sprinkle plants with water or remove trees which create shade. Right now most MMORPGs use extremely oversimplified crafting systems. I think that crafting can be made more complex in a cool way which makes use of the latest technological innovations in graphics and physics. It appears a small new step has been made in this direction in Vanguard, if it is true that when you cut down a tree in that game, it actually falls. The boring way is to make crafting more complex by relying only on lots of text options and an overly complicated production tree. There could also be innovative solutions for interaction between players. Heh, there could even be something like a "bird simulator", so that you could create a bird character like a sparrow or a magpie and you could improve the bird character by learning how to fly in different wind streams and flying around trying to eat seeds planted by players who play as human characters... :lol:  Of course, the AI might develop so much in the distant future that players will need to worry about computer controlled creatures trying to cause all types of mischief in very sly and twisted ways. :twisted: But for the next 10-20 years to compensate for the lack of truely intelligent AI that kind of stuff could be performed by other players if only they are given the chance to play as birds, animals and monsters. At least such a feature would be awesome for a survival/fantasy MMORPG.

By the way, there was a wolf simulator game in the mid 1990s. Anyone remember the name?


If we look at the present state of MMORPGs, I've sometimes wondered why no company has ever used some of the features of the old MUD games in new MMORPGs. MUDs were in a sense the first generation of MMORPGs, completely text-based. In a game which combines features of both graphical MMORPGs and text-based MUDs you could do all the usual stuff that you do in an MMORPG, but you could also use text commands and receive written output as in MUDs for many little details which are impossible or just not that important to be implemented visually with graphics. You could come up to a plant and type "assess plant" in the text console. The game could display some text like "The plant appears to be in nearly good condition. Some of its leaves have been eaten. There are two caterpillars on it." Then you could type in a command like "kill caterpillar". Many details which add to immersion just cannot be realised with the use of graphics.
February 15, 2007 5:28:46 PM

Quote:

If we look at the present state of MMORPGs, I've sometimes wondered why no company has ever used some of the features of the old MUD games in new MMORPGs. MUDs were in a sense the first generation of MMORPGs, completely text-based. In a game which combines features of both graphical MMORPGs and text-based MUDs you could do all the usual stuff that you do in an MMORPG, but you could also use text commands and receive written output as in MUDs for many little details which are impossible or just not that important to be implemented visually with graphics. You could come up to a plant and type "assess plant" in the text console. The game could display some text like "The plant appears to be in nearly good condition. Some of its leaves have been eaten. There are two caterpillars on it." Then you could type in a command like "kill caterpillar". Many details which add to immersion just cannot be realised with the use of graphics.


I think while I like general idea to use something from old MUD games, your particular example would be step backward. You should be able to see that plant is in good condition, see those caterpillars, click on them and chose option "kill".
February 15, 2007 5:47:27 PM

What also I would LOVE to see in multiplayer games (not only in MMORPG) is voice-to-voice conversion. That's right, not voice to text, not text to voice, but voice to voice. (though it can be dome by voice to text and then text to voice)

The reason I am saying it is that in a lot of fantasy based environments, I hate to hear regular voices of player. It brakes the atmosphere to hear the voice of 14 year old girl behind mighty tauren warrior or 30 year old guy behind the female gnome in WoW. It is so bad, that I prefer not to use voice communication at all!

The simple way, which could be already implemented today is to use voice synthesizer to change the talker voice. The more advanced "20 year ahead" way would be AI to understand what you saying and to change it into what your character would say. E.g you say "jeez!", and your avatar say "For the name of Titans", or whatever is more suitable for the game in the right voice and accent that correspond to your particular avatar.
February 16, 2007 9:15:52 AM

Good idea but I think it would actually be better to have what the 360 does and mask the voices to what the user prefers… Saying that I think it’s a good thing that you know that there is a 30 year old pervert playing as a female character and trying to flirt and have wow sex with you… “wowsex” hey that could be a new saying… wonder if it has happened before.
February 16, 2007 10:47:39 AM

There is a program for PC which changes user's voice as you talk into the microphone, designed especially for gamers. It has quite many different settings, especially if you decide to upgrade it to a Pro version. For instance, it can change your voice to a "cyber warrior" (sounds like the male voice in Unreal Tournament that says things like "Domination!", "Head Shot!" etc.), a dwarf, a female, a smurf. Unfortunately, I don't remember the program's name or have any links where to find it.
February 16, 2007 5:47:10 PM

Quote:
There is a program for PC which changes user's voice as you talk into the microphone, designed especially for gamers. It has quite many different settings, especially if you decide to upgrade it to a Pro version. For instance, it can change your voice to a "cyber warrior" (sounds like the male voice in Unreal Tournament that says things like "Domination!", "Head Shot!" etc.), a dwarf, a female, a smurf. Unfortunately, I don't remember the program's name or have any links where to find it.

That means that we already have technology, the only thing that is left is to actually implement it into the game. It is not enough that you chose the voice for you character. The voices of all players need to correspond to their avatars.
February 16, 2007 5:48:32 PM

Quote:
Good idea but I think it would actually be better to have what the 360 does and mask the voices to what the user prefers… Saying that I think it’s a good thing that you know that there is a 30 year old pervert playing as a female character and trying to flirt and have wow sex with you… “wowsex” hey that could be a new saying… wonder if it has happened before.


Of cause it can be done as an option in the game that can be turned on or off by the player.
February 17, 2007 8:54:43 AM

Perhaps in some MMORPG there will be such an option in character creation right after you choose your character's appearance. Player will have to choose and modify what his or her character's voice will be transformed to when using the microphone. The game will need to know whether player is male or female and whether the character is male or female. Then it will do the male -> female or female -> male conversions and after that it will apply all sorts of voice filters to individualise the character further.
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