Blizzard story developers' answers...

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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby night_druid » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:55 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:This has been exploited on PVP servers by deliberately not completing certain quests in order to be able to dodge into a phased area and escape after attempting to gank other players.


How does that not surprise me! :lol: I hate PVP servers, now. :roll:


I hated PVP servers from the start. Damned gankers and griefers.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:56 pm

Big Mac wrote:The phasing sounds like a giant instance with no limit to how many people can go into it. There must be a boarder, where two people in different phases can walk together and then split up.

I guess internally it's similar to instances (except that instances are on their own servers, and each instance gets a unique ID, whereas the phases are fixed values).

However, there is no a border marker like a raid or dungeon portal, the phases are part of the regular world and can be traversed without zoning. If you're riding along with two characters and enter an area with phasing, even if you match the phase (unless it's the base phase, i.e. the same value as the regular world) there is a moment where the characters cannot see each other due to the de-spawn. Once the second character is in the phased area (and if the two phases match), they can see each other again.

(This is an issue flying around some areas if one is two-boxing or has a friend afk and on /follow -- crossing phase borders does cause a brief despawn from each other's clients, and /follow is implemented client-side. End result is losing the follow at each border. Speaking as a sometime two-boxer, this mechanic is very, very annoying.)
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:46 pm

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The phasing sounds like a giant instance with no limit to how many people can go into it. There must be a boarder, where two people in different phases can walk together and then split up.

I guess internally it's similar to instances (except that instances are on their own servers, and each instance gets a unique ID, whereas the phases are fixed values).


Right. That makes sense. So there will be none of the limits on the number of people inside a phase, and that sort of thing.

Bonetti wrote:However, there is no a border marker like a raid or dungeon portal, the phases are part of the regular world and can be traversed without zoning. If you're riding along with two characters and enter an area with phasing, even if you match the phase (unless it's the base phase, i.e. the same value as the regular world) there is a moment where the characters cannot see each other due to the de-spawn. Once the second character is in the phased area (and if the two phases match), they can see each other again.


This is going to be very problematic for all those people out there, who do online maps of WoW. They are going to need to make multi-layer maps...or several maps.

I wonder how this MMO phase could be applied to WoW RPG. There are a number of campaign settings that have changed their maps over the years, but this could be used to change small sections of the map as PCs finish certain adventures.

You could even ignore that thing Night Druid pointed out (about no tides) and make layered maps that have a low tide layer and a high tide layer. I suppose the same sort of thing could be done for mountain maps, with different layers for the winter and summer snowlines.

Bonetti wrote:(This is an issue flying around some areas if one is two-boxing or has a friend afk and on /follow -- crossing phase borders does cause a brief despawn from each other's clients, and /follow is implemented client-side. End result is losing the follow at each border. Speaking as a sometime two-boxer, this mechanic is very, very annoying.)


I've never done two-boxing, but I've known people who have. And I've been in a long Benny Hill chase across Azeroth, where two or three of the people have gone to the toilet, while their PC has been following.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:36 am

Big Mac wrote:
Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The phasing sounds like a giant instance with no limit to how many people can go into it. There must be a boarder, where two people in different phases can walk together and then split up.

I guess internally it's similar to instances (except that instances are on their own servers, and each instance gets a unique ID, whereas the phases are fixed values).

Right. That makes sense. So there will be none of the limits on the number of people inside a phase, and that sort of thing.

Just the current limits, which seems to be about 500 in one place in the world at the same time. (That's when both servers and clients groan.) Within a phase, there are no limits beyond the normal limits of a zone.

Big Mac wrote:This is going to be very problematic for all those people out there, who do online maps of WoW. They are going to need to make multi-layer maps...or several maps.

They do this already for certain instances where areas overlap (Blackrock Depths, Blackwing Lair, Mauradon come to mind immediately).

Also, generally speaking the zones with phased terrain have a story. As you play through the story, the map changes, and once you're done with the zone the map stays fixed. At least, that's how the Lost Isles and Gilneas work, I haven't tested Azshara or Darkshore yet.

Big Mac wrote:I wonder how this MMO phase could be applied to WoW RPG. There are a number of campaign settings that have changed their maps over the years, but this could be used to change small sections of the map as PCs finish certain adventures.


I'd argue that the mechanics of phasing are already there. Consider this: in most campaigns with a campaign world, once you kill Mr. Evilguy, the leader of the local bandits, the bandits disband and Mr. Evilguy stays dead. (In fact, if he doesn't and becomes a long-running villain, that's a story in and of itself.) It's not the case that you can just say to the DM "Hey, we reset the bandits' headquarters, and run the adventure again" -- the changes stay permanent and affect the ongoing campaign world.

The phasing mechanics are a way of implementing this in an MMO -- something which is difficult to do in most cases. (One-off content is just as expensive to produce as static content, and delivers much less for players.) MMOs have been notoriously static, which is one of the two major structural differences between an MMO RPG and a tabletop RPG. In other words, it's a way to have the world change according to character actions while still allowing other characters to play through the same story and seeing the same changes.

But, I do agree that a changeable game world is more believable in a tabletop RPG :-)

Big Mac wrote:You could even ignore that thing Night Druid pointed out (about no tides) and make layered maps that have a low tide layer and a high tide layer. I suppose the same sort of thing could be done for mountain maps, with different layers for the winter and summer snowlines.

What, you don't do this already? ;-) (I kid, I kid -- although I used to use the tables in B10 (adjusted to the later Gazetteer version of the calendar) to track weather in central Karameikos based on day :-) )
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:11 pm

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I wonder how this MMO phase could be applied to WoW RPG. There are a number of campaign settings that have changed their maps over the years, but this could be used to change small sections of the map as PCs finish certain adventures.


I'd argue that the mechanics of phasing are already there. Consider this: in most campaigns with a campaign world, once you kill Mr. Evilguy, the leader of the local bandits, the bandits disband and Mr. Evilguy stays dead. (In fact, if he doesn't and becomes a long-running villain, that's a story in and of itself.) It's not the case that you can just say to the DM "Hey, we reset the bandits' headquarters, and run the adventure again" -- the changes stay permanent and affect the ongoing campaign world.


All totally true. But what I was trying to get at was that, in D&D we will generally have a 1e map, an early 2e map, a late 2e map, a 3.0 map and a 3.5 map (or that sort of thing) rather than having one multi-layer map, where the PCs can zap the areas and drive them onto the next generation.

There would seem to be no official way for GM's running a tabletop adventure to burn down the bandit camp on their map and have it replaced by ruins.

...not unless your GM has Dave L on tap! :P

Bonetti wrote:The phasing mechanics are a way of implementing this in an MMO -- something which is difficult to do in most cases. (One-off content is just as expensive to produce as static content, and delivers much less for players.) MMOs have been notoriously static, which is one of the two major structural differences between an MMO RPG and a tabletop RPG. In other words, it's a way to have the world change according to character actions while still allowing other characters to play through the same story and seeing the same changes.

But, I do agree that a changeable game world is more believable in a tabletop RPG :-)


I think that tabletop games do recycle some content. Maybe you can't re-run an encounter with a major villain, but you can recycle random encounters of common monsters and generic hirelings. The PCs in a WoW RPG game would expect to meet lots of the same sort of monsters in certain areas of Azeroth. I think you could do it without the totally insane grinding aspect, but when rolling treasure for something like a wild boar, you could tell the players with skinning skills that the skin of the boar looks like it could be sold. Then maybe players might go hunting boars and find a few more in the same area, without getting bored (no pun intended).

At the same time as recycling the more generic NPCs, I think it would be nice to be able to pull any NPCs that interact with the PCs in a big way out of the "static" pool and transform them into returning NPCs that get more knowledge and advance in HD as the PCs advance. So if the PCs kill the local bandit leader and the bandits disband, maybe some of those former bandits turn to other lines of work and maybe other former bandits try to set up their own bandit group to retake that territory. And I quite like the idea of Mr Evilguy having a Miss Evilgirl who sets out to find out who killed him.

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:You could even ignore that thing Night Druid pointed out (about no tides) and make layered maps that have a low tide layer and a high tide layer. I suppose the same sort of thing could be done for mountain maps, with different layers for the winter and summer snowlines.

What, you don't do this already? ;-) (I kid, I kid -- although I used to use the tables in B10 (adjusted to the later Gazetteer version of the calendar) to track weather in central Karameikos based on day :-) )


Have you seen the moon tracking gadget on Dragonlance Nexus? I've always been impressed with that as it gives a group a way to randomly generate the positions of the moons. I would like to see more of these tools for more things. I don't think most people play in real-time, so people might need helper gadgets where the GM can feed in some information.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby night_druid » Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:34 am

Big Mac wrote:All totally true. But what I was trying to get at was that, in D&D we will generally have a 1e map, an early 2e map, a late 2e map, a 3.0 map and a 3.5 map (or that sort of thing) rather than having one multi-layer map, where the PCs can zap the areas and drive them onto the next generation.


Um, not really. The only world that has gone through that many map revisions is Forgotten Realms. And until 3e, the different maps were more an aspect of different mapping styles, not different maps. Most often, it was simply swapping out one doo-dad (mountain, forest icons) for a different doo-dad. It wasn't until 3e that the designers decided to ditch the old maps and draw new ones that vaguely resembled the old ones. And I think most gamers just pick the map they like the most and just run with that as "the map".

There would seem to be no official way for GM's running a tabletop adventure to burn down the bandit camp on their map and have it replaced by ruins.


1. Mapping software is plentiful. 2. Unless the campaign is generally staying in the same basic area, who cares? PCs move on, explore new areas, leave old areas behind. I doubt it's a big deal to most gamers.

I don't see the point about high/low tide maps. Generally speaking, there's so little difference between the two its not worth the effort. The difference is generally so small it'd be impossible to show on any map of greater scale than your mall directory system. :p

I don't get what the deal is about phasing. Phasing is just a mechanic to replicate changes in an otherwise completely static world. It may work, it may not. But its just another name for "a GM running his game". Its a MMO buzzword that I see as unnecessary in the realm of a GM's game.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:51 pm

night_druid wrote:I don't see the point about high/low tide maps. Generally speaking, there's so little difference between the two its not worth the effort. The difference is generally so small it'd be impossible to show on any map of greater scale than your mall directory system. :p


In a lot of areas, I would agree with you, that it isn't worth the effort. But there are some areas of coastland, with extreme differences between the low tide line and the high tide line. The one I know best is The Wash, where King John lost the Crown Jewels.

When I was a child I went on holiday to a town on the coast of The Wash with my mother and sister. During low tide it was like a wet desert. The sea would just vanish. One day my sister and me decided to go and find the sea and walked and walked for what must have been about half an hour. But, no matter how far we walked, we couldn't see the sea on the horizon. Eventually we realised it was a bit dodgy to keep walking when we had no idea how fast the sea would come in and we turned back. Our mum was really worried when we finally got back to the dry beach, worked out where we were and walked back to where we had left her. :oops:

But, that aside, what I am getting at is that The Wash is an uber-beach! The tidal changes are as big as a county. In RPG terms you could have dozens of (temporarily) submerged villages, populated by murlocks (or lizardmen if you were using another RPG setting). A GM could give PCs a quest that they can only complete at low tide and the tide could give the PCs a deadline to get in and get out.

The same sort of thing could be done for troglodite caves, that were on the coast and below sea level. You could have an underground complex that leads into the dungeon below a city, but only have the outer parts of it be accessible at low tide.

I suppose one way to deal with this, would be to just have one map with a low tide line and a high tide line.

night_druid wrote:I don't get what the deal is about phasing. Phasing is just a mechanic to replicate changes in an otherwise completely static world. It may work, it may not. But its just another name for "a GM running his game". Its a MMO buzzword that I see as unnecessary in the realm of a GM's game.


I was just wondering if it was a MMO thing that could be raided for the RPG.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Sun Aug 08, 2010 5:03 pm

Big Mac wrote:...not unless your GM has Dave L on tap! :P

...or me ;-)

Big Mac wrote:I think that tabletop games do recycle some content. Maybe you can't re-run an encounter with a major villain, but you can recycle random encounters of common monsters and generic hirelings. The PCs in a WoW RPG game would expect to meet lots of the same sort of monsters in certain areas of Azeroth.


Oh, absolutely. In the trip back up the river, my party just ran into (quite literally) the exact same "random" encounter (gnolls) that I ran against them on the trip down. The setup of the attack was different, but it was in the same area (heavily populated by gnolls). I'm not arguing against that at all :-)

Big Mac wrote:I think you could do it without the totally insane grinding aspect, but when rolling treasure for something like a wild boar, you could tell the players with skinning skills that the skin of the boar looks like it could be sold. Then maybe players might go hunting boars and find a few more in the same area, without getting bored (no pun intended).

I think one of the more interesting ideas in Gabe (of Penny Arcade)'s game posts was bringing in "random loot" via loot cards. I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to use that idea, but it's definitely getting used in my game :-)

Big Mac wrote:At the same time as recycling the more generic NPCs, I think it would be nice to be able to pull any NPCs that interact with the PCs in a big way out of the "static" pool and transform them into returning NPCs that get more knowledge and advance in HD as the PCs advance. So if the PCs kill the local bandit leader and the bandits disband, maybe some of those former bandits turn to other lines of work and maybe other former bandits try to set up their own bandit group to retake that territory. And I quite like the idea of Mr Evilguy having a Miss Evilgirl who sets out to find out who killed him.

Well, yeah -- but I played that way long before I first played an MMO :-) (My inspiration may have been Ultimas 1-3, where the three BBEGs are related -- Mondain, his lover Minax, and their unholy spawn Exodus.) There was this group of bandits which the party encountered. I fully expect to have them wave at them as they go by on the trip back up the river, or they'll run into the one of them they had captured, interrogated, and let go. I'm not sure which yet, but it will happen.

Bonetti wrote:Have you seen the moon tracking gadget on Dragonlance Nexus? I've always been impressed with that as it gives a group a way to randomly generate the positions of the moons. I would like to see more of these tools for more things. I don't think most people play in real-time, so people might need helper gadgets where the GM can feed in some information.

I haven't, no.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:36 pm

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:...not unless your GM has Dave L on tap! :P

...or me ;-)


Impressive. Have you ever made any maps of Azeroth? If so, what scale did you use?

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I think you could do it without the totally insane grinding aspect, but when rolling treasure for something like a wild boar, you could tell the players with skinning skills that the skin of the boar looks like it could be sold. Then maybe players might go hunting boars and find a few more in the same area, without getting bored (no pun intended).

I think one of the more interesting ideas in Gabe (of Penny Arcade)'s game posts was bringing in "random loot" via loot cards. I'm not sure exactly when I'm going to use that idea, but it's definitely getting used in my game :-)


Sadly, I can't seem to get this website to load, at the moment, but it sounds really interesting.

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Have you seen the moon tracking gadget on Dragonlance Nexus? I've always been impressed with that as it gives a group a way to randomly generate the positions of the moons. I would like to see more of these tools for more things. I don't think most people play in real-time, so people might need helper gadgets where the GM can feed in some information.

I haven't, no.


Prepare to be dazzled by the amazing Dragonlance Moon Tracker and the equally impressive Dragonlance Weather page.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:49 am

Big Mac wrote:Have you ever made any maps of Azeroth? If so, what scale did you use?

I have not, because I ended up not running a game here (although at one point I intended to :-) )

Big Mac wrote:Sadly, I can't seem to get this website to load, at the moment, but it sounds really interesting.

Short form: he set up one loot card per "random" slime that was wandering the dungeon. Each had some mix of things, including grey vendor items, and as each slime was killed then they got to pick a card and turn it over. Basically, a variation on the whole "random loot" thing from WoW and other MMO.

Big Mac wrote:Prepare to be dazzled by the amazing Dragonlance Moon Tracker and the equally impressive Dragonlance Weather page.

Thanks :-)
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:26 am

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Sadly, I can't seem to get this website to load, at the moment, but it sounds really interesting.

Short form: he set up one loot card per "random" slime that was wandering the dungeon. Each had some mix of things, including grey vendor items, and as each slime was killed then they got to pick a card and turn it over. Basically, a variation on the whole "random loot" thing from WoW and other MMO.


That is a very good idea. And from a WoW point of view, there are a ton of websites that have analysed the drops in the MMO and a GM could use the stats to work out a set of random loot cards for the RPG. You might even be able to pick up cards from the WoW TCG and use them.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:56 am

That's a possibility, too. I was thinking it would be fun to take a parcel from the 4e parcel system, divide it up among the bodies of all the "trash" creatures in a dungeon, and let them turn over cards each time they loot one.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Bonetti » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:09 am

Big Mac wrote:But there are some areas of coastland, with extreme differences between the low tide line and the high tide line. The one I know best is The Wash, where King John lost the Crown Jewels.
[Awesome story snipped]
In RPG terms you could have dozens of (temporarily) submerged villages, populated by murlocks (or lizardmen if you were using another RPG setting).

I'm actually planning on something similar for some areas, although perhaps not quite as dramatic and probably not driven by tides. I've sketched out snippets of Old Darokin (slightly different waterways, shoreline around Lake Amsorak, areas near the coast in Malpheggi Bay) with the intention of having some submerged bits which might eventually play a part in the game.

I hadn't thought about taking it to this extreme, though. Where in various game worlds do you think this would take place?

In Azeroth, I could see this making the (long, shallow) Bay of Storms in Azshara an interesting place, but most of the other areas have a fairly rapid dropoff from shore. Messed up tides could also be an alternate explanation to the deep water large animals washing up on shore in Darkshore...

I should note that there's a path off of the south coast of Dragonblight (part of the giant Titan-built road) which collapses into ruins. That, too, might be interesting for additional development/exploration.
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Re: Blizzard story developers' answers...

Postby Big Mac » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:42 pm

Bonetti wrote:
Big Mac wrote:But there are some areas of coastland, with extreme differences between the low tide line and the high tide line. The one I know best is The Wash, where King John lost the Crown Jewels.
[Awesome story snipped]
In RPG terms you could have dozens of (temporarily) submerged villages, populated by murlocks (or lizardmen if you were using another RPG setting).

I'm actually planning on something similar for some areas, although perhaps not quite as dramatic and probably not driven by tides. I've sketched out snippets of Old Darokin (slightly different waterways, shoreline around Lake Amsorak, areas near the coast in Malpheggi Bay) with the intention of having some submerged bits which might eventually play a part in the game.

I hadn't thought about taking it to this extreme, though. Where in various game worlds do you think this would take place?


I'm not sure. In Azeroth, it might be fun to do a variant on this sort of thing and have the gnomes (temporarily) evacuate the water next to the Deep Run Tram route. That would give you access to the stuff around the pipe, but only until the water comes back.

Bonetti wrote:In Azeroth, I could see this making the (long, shallow) Bay of Storms in Azshara an interesting place, but most of the other areas have a fairly rapid dropoff from shore. Messed up tides could also be an alternate explanation to the deep water large animals washing up on shore in Darkshore...

I should note that there's a path off of the south coast of Dragonblight (part of the giant Titan-built road) which collapses into ruins. That, too, might be interesting for additional development/exploration.


I need to find a good online map, so I can remind myself of the geography of these areas.
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