EQN world size and player density

Tobold has a new post on virtual world size and the effect of that on previous sandbox games. His argument is that concerns over players destroying ever centimeter of Norrath or overpopulating it with housing are unfounded since the new Norrath is set to be much larger in land mass than the previous incarnations.

I would add that player density will have a big impact on just how true this statement is. If everyone tries to collect wood in the same forest because it’s near a crafting centre then it could be depleted pretty quickly. What if you build your house on the remote slope of a distant mountain peak to exploit nearby gold ore veins. Word gets out though and soon your little house is surrounded by identical mining shacks. That gold will be overmined pretty quickly!

It may be the same with animals and creatures of course. If rallying calls bring a horde of players to a hotspot of activity then not only will the attacking orcs be decimated but as a side-effect there’ll probably be a massive spike in gathering activity, slaying of animals for leather and similar. If it’s possible to depopulate, say, bears from near the town as people hunt for their skins; then during the two months (e.g. given by SoE devs) of the rallying call, will the depopulation of bears then spiral out into the further wilderness as hunters spread out further and further to get more skins? I didn’t play much of Star Wars Galaxies, I wonder if gameplay systems naturally gathered players together for any reason, and if so what were the effects on the ecosystems around them?

The size of the world isn’t the single answer to all the concerns players  have expressed about just how well-balanced and reactive the dynamic systems of this game will be. If the players remain more or less evenly distributed across the large game world then, yes, this will limit the impact of over-‘farming’ of resources and mobs. But is that realistic given the zerg hordes that we’ve seen caused by dynamic content in other recent MMOs?

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5 Responses to EQN world size and player density

  1. bhagpuss says:

    All these issues will either be solved in beta or within a short while of the game going Live if, as is likely, it’s only then that the real problems become apparent. They have to be. Self-evidently, if the gameworld becomes unplayable due to certain mechanics those mechanics will be changed or the game won’t be played.

    Rift only looked like like the Rift Trion pitched for maybe two or three of the Beta Weekends. By launch the vision was already depleted and within a couple of months it was a husk. GW2 did a little better, retaining some visible similarity to the imagined, unplayed version until sometime last November. A year later it’s unrecognizable as the game AreNet promoted so intensely for five years.

    EQNext will become whatever it needs to be to remain stable and hold players. Can SOE do a better job than the last few companies that tried? Certainly. Will they make the game they are describing now? Unlikely.

  2. Jonny 5iVe says:

    Your thought process about this is all wrong for a sandbox style game. I really can’t stress enough just how ~HUGELY~ different they are from the theme parks you’re used to playing.

    For example, in regards to the concern you’re putting forward here, you’re totally forgetting about one very important aspect of a sandbox… Anything goes.

    What you’ll see happening is:
    1) Players will nearly instantly start deciding where the best places to farm various resources are.
    2) As such, word will get out and a lot of people will flock to these areas in search for these materials.
    3) Now, this is where you’re missing something… People will group together, and start to kill each other off for control over the area.
    4) After a while (let’s say 3 months or so), you’ll see alliances and coalitions start to form, and people will start to work out treaties for control over these areas. And when I say alliances and coalitions start to form, I don’t mean 100-200 people, we’re talking 1,000+ people.
    5) If you’re not a part of the alliance or coalition that “owns” that area, you’ll be killed on site if you enter without authorization, or perhaps the “owners” will allow you to hunt there for a monthly fee.

    Sandboxes tend to end up playing out in much the same way the real world does… i.e.,
    – People group together in the interest of common goals.
    – People get greedy, and want to expand to control more resources, and thus become more powerful.
    – These groups then start to settle and attempt to keep hold of what they have.
    – Finally, once everything is pretty settled, people start opening up diplomatic negotiations with their neighbours, and come to agreements on trade and resource sharing.

    Also, not being up to speed entirely on EQN, logistics normally plays a rather important role in sandbox games. Ganking for profit, instead of just griefing is normally prolific… Expect to be transporting your goods to a trade hub, and having to worry about taking all your goods in one go, or making several smaller trips to limit your losses if a group of rival players decide you’re easy pickings.

    TL;DR: Just like the real world, sandboxes have a way of sorting themselves out in terms of population density, and resource gathering. Risk versus reward is always key in these games. To gather leather scraps, expect to be able to do it in relative safety of NPC controlled areas. If you’re looking for the thickest black dragon scales in Norrath, then expect to have to venture far out into the “badlands”, where player bandits will be roaming, looking for easy loot.

    • Telwyn says:

      That may well have been true of previous games, but aren’t you assuming that EQN will have free for all PVP on all servers? I’d say that’s very unlikely if SoE wants this to be at all mass-market…

      • Jonny 5iVe says:

        I don’t really see how a sandbox game can work if PvP isn’t a free-for-all in the majority of areas… AFAIK, there hasn’t been a sandbox game that hasn’t been PvP everywhere, other than newbie areas and the main NPC cities. They don’t work if they’re not.

        SWG (free-to-play [see below]) – You could PvP anywhere. You could also team up and attempt to setup and control areas of planets. Enemies (Rebels/Imperials) could then attempt to take it from you. The only thing that SWG lacked in this sense was the ability to loot others. There were some changes made after CU, but nothing too severe to this formula.

        EVE (14-day trial / 21-day trial with refer-a-friend) – You can attack anyone, anywhere you want. In high security space, the fuzz (known as “CONCORD”) will turn up after a period of time and blow you out of the sky if you agress another player, but an organised group of people can destroy any ship before they turn up. Once your ship is destroyed, you drop 50% of everything you had in fitted to your ship, as well as in your cargo bay (the other 50% is gone forever, turned into space dust), and that ship is gone for good… This has lead to people losing the equivalent of $1,000’s of dollars worth of real world cash in a single ship. – http://games.yahoo.com/blogs/plugged-in/video-game-starship-worth-9-000-destroyed-ambush-190533986.html

        Perpetuum (14-day trial) – This is nearly the same as EVE, except without the police and different security areas… Oh, and not set in space. You do get harder NPC’s the further you head away from the starting areas though, to discourage solo play and farming of the more lucrative resources.

        Mortal Online (14-day trial) – You can attack anyone, anywhere you want. Complete with full looting mechanics on other players.

        Xsyon (free-to-play) – Features PvP anywhere (except special tribal areas [NPC safe havens]), and full loot of a defeated enemy player.

        That’s a list of the Sandbox games I’ve played in recent memory, and they all employ PvP anywhere, and the majority of them employ looting of enemies too.

        It’s not really a sandbox if you have to abide by rules… In fact, it directly contravenes the entire purpose of a sandbox if you CAN’T attack other players whenever you want. I see so many posts with people still thinking that EQN is going to be another generic theme park MMO, which it certainly is not (from what I’ve read/seen)… Give one of those games mentioned above a try and you’ll see what I mean. It’s incredibly difficult to explain properly how a sandbox plays out, and just how different to a standard theme park MMO they are, if the person in question has never experienced it themselves.

        Everything listed above can be played for free, even if it’s just on a two week trial, it’ll give you a flavor of exactly just how open sandbox games are.

        SWG pre-CU… There’s a project that’s been around for five years now, known as – Galaxies Reborn – http://www.galaxiesreborn.com/ – You can play on their servers for free. Alternatively, you can play on The Exile Server – http://www.spraticnet.com/ – Which is again free, and I believe a little more active… At present there are 101 people playing online, which isn’t too shabby for a private emulated server of a 10 year old game.

      • Telwyn says:

        Thanks for the suggestions. I have no real time for yet another MMO at present but as time permits I might give a sandbox game a try.

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