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View Full Version : 12/2/2013 - Game Design: Interactive Mining



Oblivious
12-02-2013, 11:15 AM
Overview

The mining system of the past was rife with afkness, and only served to discourage players from actually interacting at all. Like the production system, you would simply set your process and then hide. In the past we attempted to increase the complexity of this system by creating a dynamic resource system, but all this did was further increase the afkness. People would log in for the cycle changes, and then otherwise never bother to attempt to mine anything.

Learning from this, and taking into consideration the design principles that drive everything, we have opted for a more interactive system. As detailed in our mining update, players will have to explore the world and mine various surfaces for materials. These materials will then be placed in their inventory, and can be dropped on death. This is a fantastic embodiment of the design principles, and it shows exactly how inconvenience can be used to benefit the gameplay.

Intentional Inconvenience

In game design, inconvenience can be used as a tool to create more interesting gameplay. Human beings always naturally try to make everything as fast and convenient as possible, and once that has been accomplished, they lose interest. To avoid this, it is important for the game to have elements that are simply inconvenient, but provide interesting gameplay as a result.

The new mining system is time consuming and very inconvenient, but there are many positive results because of it. Even though the mechanic itself isnít necessarily engaging and interesting, the people involved in it will make it more than it is, simply due to a need to streamline the process. Breaking it down, there are a few key points that demonstrate the strengths of the system quite well.

The first is the danger of the system. By creating a world in which miners can be killed for their resources, piracy becomes a viable way to live your life. You can choose to kill the miners and take their goods, which you can sell to other players, or recycle at a terminal. Factional politics and ganker hate aside, this means that as a miner, you are in danger when alone. Ideally, a miner will want protection.

The second then, is that we now have groups of players mining together, rather than a handful sitting around bored and alone. When you put players in groups together, their natural reaction is to come up with ways to entertain themselves. Some of my fondest memories come from standing around guarding the entrance to DMC, not because of the act, but because of the people. I am sure many of you have loads of stories about all the fun times that happened, purely as a result of what happens when a group of players are bored but need to stay and accomplish a goal.

There lies a progression in the system itself as well, with mining rigs being placeable mineral gathering objects. These can be deployed, and then a hacker can take the contents for themselves. This means a single miner could gather significantly more resources, but the cost of these machines and risk of losing them makes it a dangerous thing to do. Piracy also takes on a more interesting form, as it is preferable to sneakily steal from mining rigs than to outright kill miners.

Dangers of Ganking

The biggest concern I have seen raised about this system, is the assumption that everyone will just turn to mindlessly ganking miners and never doing anything else. I think this falls too heavily on the perspective that all people are inherently mindless killers who will go around killing everyone in the game to gain an edge, and that doing so is profitable.

While it will be more prevalent at launch, once an in-game society has developed, we most likely wonít see a ton of random miner ganking. People wonít be so inclined to hunt down and kill big groups protecting miners, and in most circumstances, it would be ideal for those groups to protect nearby miners as well, if only to earn some credits for their assistance.

Human beings have a natural tendency to collaborate when it is mutually beneficial, and many of the game mechanics that create conflict also create a very cooperative environment. It is much more profitable to befriend others than to kill them, and so a very interesting social paradigm will form. There could of course just be eternal chaos, but if this is the case then the mining system is the least of our worries.