designing your own dungeon in an MMO

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So out of curiosity, how many of you like designing dungeons (I do) and does it extend to MMOs - like there are several MMOs which allow you to design your own dungeons - do you see it as the same skill set, something youve done/enjoy?

Its a loaded question :-)

Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
I sometimes enjoy designing a dungeon for a story, but then only for it's story specifics. I don't like dungeon designing for its own sake. And I don't like designing dungeons for games either.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I don't like "designing" dungeons, but do need a layout for exploring and combat encounters.

I do it using tiles, laid out on the floor, until I have something suitably sized (largest ones have been sections of dungeon 8 x 8 tiles, or 4'x4'). Then I take a photo, and arrange the tiles in a folder for quickly finding them in the right order.

As I program graphics as a hobby, I have played around a little with automatically doing the same process. I've had some good results, but it's not sharable yet.

I used to do that for a MUD, pretty close to the same thing, except that there were no graphics, so room and monster descriptions were written by hand.

I enjoyed that just for the writing exercise, and it was somehwat similar to creating pen-and-paper dungeons.  In fact, I did that before I did pen-and-paper dungeons, and it probably effected the way I think of pen-and-paper dungeons in a lot of ways (one "room" could be anything from an open grave to a long highway, a small standard set of monsters could easily be refluffed into anything I could imagine....)

In the end, I don't really think it's precisely the same skill set, at least not for me - I enjoyed building MUD dungeons and pen-and-paper dungeons for different reasons (the MUD as a writing exercise, the pen-and-paper dungeons to support a story for a social game with largely improvised descriptions.)

The few times I ever messed with building dungeons for the Neverwinter Nights and a couple other video games, I did it just for myself, and mostly just to see what I could get out of the dungeon-building systems, and that certainly wasn't the same motivation and creative skill set in my case.

Your mileage may vary, though.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I sometimes enjoy designing a dungeon for a story, but then only for it's story specifics. I don't like dungeon designing for its own sake. And I don't like designing dungeons for games either.



Lies!

You just said the dungeon builder for Heroes of Neverwinter was broken ! 

:-)

I don't have to use it to reach that conclusion. It's plain to see.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
I used to do that for a MUD, pretty close to the same thing, except that there were no graphics, so room and monster descriptions were written by hand.





What mud did you work on? I was on staff at Armageddon (loosely based on Dark Sun/Dune) for quite a while.

Anyway as to the OP, I didn't really enjoy the technical aspects of building in a game. As anyone who has had the misfortune of getting hopelessly lost in a recurring loop of an area I've built can attest, I'm not very good at the technical aspects either.

I really enjoy the more "macro" aspects of world building: creating cultures, organizations, documentation, myths, deities, legends, lore, etc.. I'm more interested in the story that can be told through building than the actual nuts and bolts of it. Thankfull, in a collaborative world-building project, there is room for both skillsets.
CthulhuMUD - I'm not even sure if it's still active, it's been 10 or 20 years since I was on staff
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Well, and I did say it was a loaded question...

If anyone really enjoys building worlds - towns, dungeons, monsters, traps, story lines, etc.  we are building an open source MMO and its coming along nicely though still in the early stages of combat testing and will require a lot of artistic and creative input in the form of content - and so if you think that is your fun thing and would like to join up send me a PM and I'll send you more details when we start try outs.

Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
I quite enjoy creating dungeons, however, I doubt that'd apply to MMOs because they are often repetitive and have very limited options.
Get your Microsoft Word Monster Statistics Block Template here! My Campaign
Yeah you have to program each special effect.  My biggest peeve with the latest MMOs like Aion and Rift was that there was no randomization - no random rooms, no random monsters, nor monster placement.  Each dungeon has the exact same layout.  Useful for a supremely challenging dungeon which takes several tries to beat, but becomes old quickly.  We are trying to see if we can come up with a randomized dungeon.

My dream would be to implement an environment whereby the monsters are actually acting under goal driven algorithms whereby they evolve their dungeon over time, repair it, repopulate it, improve it.  That way characters could come across each dungeon in varying states instead of being a flat instance.

If anyone has ideas for key features to the perfect dungeon crawl that could be programmed feel free to post them !
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
You should look into roguelikes.
My favorite one is POWDER. It features completely randomized dungeons, potions, wands, scrolls, amulets and rings and partially randomized headpieces and footwear. And less partially randomized weapons and other armor. In example, in one game, a Yellow Potion will be a Poison Potion, while in another game a Yellow Potion will be a Healing Potion.
Every time I played POWDER it felt like a different game. Every time I discovered more of the rules.
One time, I spawned, saw an amulet, picked it up, and equipped it. Turned out it was a cursed amulet of choking, so I instantly died.

Now, I know this will sound bad to the D&Ders, but it's one of the charms of the game, in my opinion, that danger is lurking around every corner and you're probably better off not using your potions until later levels where you can withstand drinking a potion of Greek Fire.

Soo yea. Randomization creates immense replay value. The more randomization, the more replay value.
I think that different difficulty levels are pretty mandatory. Someone looking for a hardcore experience should be able to get one, and someone that doesn't want to die because they weren't cautious enough with that blue potion they picked up shouldn't have to be cautious with every item they pick up.

Another thing that I kinda missed in POWDER is various interactive terrain features. Gates that open when you have the correct key is just a simple example. And puzzles. But those are hard to randomise.

In my opinion, having dungeon denizens evolve dungeons over time would be cool, but if it's in the way of the gameplay I'd rather not have it. There's nothing fun about having a beholder create a 1000 ft. vertical tunnel as a safety measure because he can fly and most creatures can't.


Perfect Dungeon Crawl:
- Randomisation
- Challenge
- Unexpected things
- Puzzles 


I'm very interested in the development of this game, where would I be able to follow it?  
Get your Microsoft Word Monster Statistics Block Template here! My Campaign
Right now its on a private server but there should be a website soon where some people can play around and contribute ideas, images for characters and monsters.  I'll post here as soon as I find out more.
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
If you want an evolving dungeon, you should probably have a look at Dwarf Fortress. It's a free game, it's super expansive and it involves building dungeons. You can probably scavenge a load of ideas from it.

Also, the biggest destroyer of randomised content and a living world is graphics. So I'd advise you to think about how many you want for your game... the more limited and simplistic the graphics, the easier it becomes to make the world alive, because you have more time to build content instead of pretty pictures, because you have more computing power to work your algorithms and because it's easier to build graphics on the fly if they're simplistic.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
What do you mean when you say simplistic graphics?

Right now this is a 2d game which runs on HTML 5 - so no flash, no fat client !  I actually like the feel more than Ultima Online but content is king and as soon as the website gets up and running there would need to be a community to help build content - powers, skills, quests, populate maps, create towns etc.
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
Will there be PvP :-) 
Hmm I dont know...
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
What do you mean when you say simplistic graphics?

Right now this is a 2d game which runs on HTML 5 - so no flash, no fat client !  I actually like the feel more than Ultima Online but content is king and as soon as the website gets up and running there would need to be a community to help build content - powers, skills, quests, populate maps, create towns etc.



You're probably using what is considered simple graphics by playing in 2d. The problem with creating content and giving freedom is that you need to draw out everything. If it takes 100 hours to create a new highly detailed model, then content creation will be really hard. On the other hand, if you just use basic sprites with a rich story then you can generate an entire adventure in a few evenings, which will make your game much bigger and richer in content.

Especially the evolving part; it's really easy to change a rock sprite for a hallway sprite and then later for a bedroom sprite. It's a huge pain in the butt to make a 3d model of a rock slowly being chipped away and then having someone install boards and making a room out of it.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Well so far it has been just algorithms and then some scaled down and hacked creatures/characters.  I know what you mean though, drawing the bigger ones and then scaling down takes time.  Hopefully though we can either

a) Find enough content in the public domain
b) Attract artists to draw creatures/characters

Here is a screen shot, the grass was created with an algorithm, the trees/creature/character were hacked from somewhere - but ultimately we hope to replace all the images with something better.  Ideally there would be separate heads, legs, arms, etc that can be programatically glued together for movement, for changing color as items are found/made etc.

Hopefully the forum will be up sooner than later as there is plently of fun stuff to collaborate on - classes, class powers, skills, etc etc.

Even though 2d is not 3d I think given stronger content, community driven content, I think it could be a fun, fun game.   I know I was always frustrated with Aion, Rift, etc - though as 3d games there is a whole other set of technical challenges.

Oh one thing that is interesting below.  There is a main screen but since it is HTML5 you can also have HTML content around the screen, leaving the screen less cluttered and so lots of content, easily developed can be displayed around the main canvas.  Obviously this is all in its infancy so dont look at this as being close to what it will look like it a few months !

Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
Ok, anyone that is interested in helping designing the core MMO there is much to be done - skills, powers, classes etc.

Check it out at

www.dragonadventures.org/forum

(main page doesnt work - just join the forum).
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
Don't you guys have like a design document or something? There's hardly anything on the forums.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Don't you guys have like a design document or something? There's hardly anything on the forums.



If it helps, a sample design document template can be found here (link).

You might also want to write a short proposal describing a name, genre, general story outline, technique and style, and so on - a sample proposal template can be found here:  (link)

The proposal is a great place to start, and shouldn't take very long to write.  You wouldn't have to fill the templates out all at once or follow the documents to the letter, but they would help keep things focused, and all the writers on something close to the same page

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Don't you guys have like a design document or something? There's hardly anything on the forums.



Design of the MMO World or design of the software?   Most of the design of the world is up for grabs - classes, skills, powers, are stuff that Greg just posted but is not implemented yet.

I can ask about the software.

Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
A design of the game... you're making a game right? Something that details the mood and genre you're going for, the kind of mechanics you intend to use, a basic layout of the kind of world you're using...

Something that would help the kind of people who contribute to actually understand what the goal of this all is.

Sorry but it all looks a bit... haphazard. "Lets just start typing code and we'll see what happens". That's usually not very feasible, especially not when you get people involved.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
The main page has been created now, so that should give you a better idea as to what the game is to be about.

www.dragonadventures.org
Ever wanted to design and build your own MMORPG? Join us at http://dragonadventures.org and participate !
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