The core game loop is the backbone of gameplay in any game. It’s what the player is going to experience and how the game progresses. In an MMORPG, the basics of a core game loop is the player receives a quest from an NPC, they leave to fulfill that quest, and return to the NPC with the objectives. This gains them experience and unlocks more quests.
There are main story line quests and there are side story quests, and these quests may have different requirements for unlocking.
A lot of time in MMOs, especially if they are combat oriented MMOs, quests end up being one of two types. There are the ‘kill’ quests and the ‘fetch’ quests. Then a third type, the occasional ‘escort’ quest gets thrown in. The kill quests are quests where the player is asked to kill so many NPC enemies. The NPCs may be threatening something or they have drop items the player needs to fulfill the quest. The fetch quest is the player is asked to go from one place to another to acquire an item. The items may be with another NPC or they may be scattered around the map. The escort quest is when the player is asked to accompany an NPC and protect them from enemy NPCs.
This obviously gets tedious after a while. Thus, there are sometimes a few castle defense quests to hold a particular spot. As you can see, a lot of quests in most MMORPGs revolve around violence.
With Mystic Riders being a non-combat oriented MMO, this takes any type of combat oriented quest off the table and ends up leaving mostly fetch and escort type quests. Having played an MMO that is mostly fetch and escort quests, these can get boring rather quickly. In Mystic Riders, we desire to create new types of quest requirements within the greater game loop, basing them off of mini-games and platformer adventure mechanics. (Like Guild Wars 2 has incorporated jump puzzles into their environments.)
The main question that we’ve asked ourselves while we try to develop quest type ideas for this game is what should an MMO look like five years from now? Bearing in mind that there is a very set idea in this day and age on what a basic MMORPG looks like and what features it should have.
Because Mystic Riders is a horse themed game, there is going to be a story line and an entire subset of quests and mini games that are devoted to racing and leveling your horse. Thus, in the core game loop there would be races against NPCs, and races to get from point A to point B. These races can be tailored to the specific race specialty of an areas.
Meaning, if you’re in a Western racing area, your races from Point A to Point B may have super sharp corners and having to weave through trees. Or if you’re in a show jumping area, the race may loop over itself and there will be lots of jumps. In a dressage area, there would be less running and jumping and more having to follow a set pattern at a set speed in order to make it out of one area to another in one piece. The clock wouldn’t be the biggest factor.
Proposed Mini Games include using environment shaped puzzles like platforms, ledges, land types, and even magic to manipulate the game in order to get places or find out clues to the story. Platform style mechanics are a more interactive style of game play and give the player more control and ability to play with their surroundings. Thus leading to more engagement from the player. See Okami or Sly Cooper.
Other mini games are games can be considered games on their own, like bubble shooters, jig-saw puzzles, pattern matching games, fishing, and stop and go style games. Using magic itself is a mini game where the player would use their mouse to trace a pattern on the screen to cast the spell.
These mini-games would hopefully be built into the game in a seamless style manner that they would make ‘sense’ to the player. And that there would be enough variety in the mini-games that they wouldn’t get bored. In fact, we’d want them to want to replay the game over and over again because they find it exciting and/or challenging. (Plus, it is a non-linear choose your own adventure style story where their actions and reactions can shape how the story plays out and what side they are on with them choosing their own character’s motivations. More enticement to play again.)
Hopefully, by using platformer mechanics and mini-games there will be exciting and new ways to proceed through an open world style MMO in the core game loop.