The Meaning Of Group-Based Gameplay

Oct
15

The Meaning Of Group-Based Gameplay

The Fellowship of the Ring was not just one character. Jason had his Argonauts. Zeus went up against The Titans alongside The Olympians. History and mythology is full of examples of epic battles waged in the battle of good versus evil…and none of them are fought single-handed.

Modern-day television captures this essence as well, with shows like Firefly, Lost, The Walking Dead all showcasing a team of players facing up against the odds. And we’ve seen it over the years as well; Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (both the original and re-imagined), Stargate and beyond.

The greatest adventures are undertaken by groups. The greatest challenges can only be overcome with allies. The greatest rewards come from deeds performed alongside your peers. Dragons aren’t slain by lone heroes; it takes a team of well-oiled champions battling together to bring it down…and then share in the spoils of war together.

The Saga of Lucimia is not a single-player game. There are already dozens of solo-friendly MMORPGs out there offering players instant gratification and a single-player experience. We aren’t aiming to deliver one of those styles of games.

Instead, we are building a group-based game, one that focuses on the epic battles, challenges and rewards that come about as a direct result of being part of something epic in scope…not a single-player storyline where every player gets to become The Hero.

Group Gameplay in Saga of Lucimia ALpha

We are focusing on 8-man groups for our standard group size. While many players are familiar with the 6-man party size, we feel it’s been done to death, and when we started looking at our favorite lore and legends (see the above books, myths and television shows), the parties always revolve around a party of 8-15 or 20+ members.

The only single-player content that will exist within our game is what you’ll find within cities and outposts in between adventuring expeditions. Everything else is reserved for players who have taken the time to build up the relevant skills and earned/stockpiled the necessary gear and equipment to handle expeditions in the wild.

The moment you step outside the safety of the city walls and the guards…danger and epic adventure awaits. This is a game where players understand that you never leave home without a coil of rope, stockpiles of arrows, sharpened swords and oiled leather/armor….and that pack mules and horses are always the first to go when the trolls/wyverns/giants come hunting.

Sure, you’ll be able to find things to do just outside of a city walls for 3-4 players…maybe even a duo if they’re well-geared and have the proper combination of skills. Micro-sessions of gameplay for those who only have 30 minutes to an hour to play. But as far as dungeons and actual campaign adventures go where you’ll be sitting down for three to four hours and crawling through the depths of a dungeon or a haunted castle? Full group only.

We understand that this will limit our subscriber numbers. We are OK with that. We are building a niche game, an independent title, something that caters to those of you who – like us – cut your teeth on 1st and 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and early MMORPGs like Ultima Online and EverQuest, where everything was about the group and the community, not about single player, single serving, 1st place medals.

dungeon group in saga of lucimia alpha

Will you still be able to do things if your guild, friends or static group aren’t around for the evening? Sure. Crafting will be one aspect of the game that you can do on your own in downtime between adventuring sessions. Or you can do it full-time if you desire.

And you’ll be able to hang out in taverns, roleplay with your fellow players, explore the depth of the lore in-game, follow specific quest-lines that have in-city conversation points…and you’ll be able to go back to low-level content that no longer poses a threat to you as a higher-level adventurer if you so desire. Plus there’s the aforementioned lions, tigers, and bears that small groups of 3 – 4 players can take on in micro-serving sizes.

Plus, with the Camps and Caravan system we’re designing, you’ll be able to stick with your friends, allies, family, and guildmates even if you have to log out for a night or few to take care of Real Life when it rears its ugly head.

But anything that is on-level with you, anything outside the safety of the city walls, requires a group to overcome. From 3 – 4 person content in the overland world (with scattered 8-man encampments plus roaming pathers and Hunters/Seekers that will require multiple groups to take down), to the full 8-man dungeons and the multi-group raids beyond that, everything you do in Saga of Lucimia revolves around grouping up with other players to achieve something far beyond what you could ever dream of accomplishing on your own.

We’ll obviously be tweaking balance as we go along, but what we envision at this point is a balanced group being four “primary” Adventurer or Scholar Archetypes, two hybrid/support Scholar/Adventurer Archetypes, and two pure support types, such as an Archaeologist Scholar whose main role is to find hidden doorways, unlock sarcophagi, decipher runes and get the adventuring party deeper into the dungeon. Or a crafter whose sole purpose on the trip is to be the party’s armorsmith and carpenter, keeping the wagon repaired as well as the weapons and armor of the team. Or a master mechanic Thief-type who can do a medium amount of DPS but his primary role is in trap detection, removal, and picking locks/finding secret entrances.

More information on Archetypes can be found here

Wandering Hermit in Saga of Lucimia MMORPG

In an overland bandit camp with room to kite, you might be able to get away with just having a group of three or four players who are well-equipped, highly-skilled, and work well together leveraging voice chat and coordination. Or a group of four to six players who are pure Adventurer Archetypes; without the need to open locks or find secret entrances, it’s all about the take-down power, rather than needing support.

It’s impossible to know at this point how much content will be geared towards the full group and how much will be geared towards the smaller groups. At the moment we’re catering heavily to the former, with probably 70 percent of the game designed specifically with the 8-man and larger teams in mind.

But what about if you only have a limited amount of time to play? Or what if one of your static group has to log for the evening because his wife is sick or they have to work? What about when you can only field three or four people in your guild for the night? We are working on designing some interesting ways to help work around these types of issues tied into the Camps & Caravans system: custom waypoints to pick up where you left off; fast-travel options such as encampments; other things as well, with limitations in place to make sure they aren’t abused.

Can’t field a full team tonight? Get over your fear of grouping with people. Make friends. Allies. Recruit people into your guild or your static group. Don’t be an anti-social stick in the mud; get out there and use your charm to your advantage. Talk to people, both in-game and at the forums. Go old-school; be community-oriented as opposed to anti-group.

We are also designing our dungeons with longevity in mind; we’re designing dungeons to take players weeks to months to crawl through, at least on the first-time run-throughs (when you know the place and come back on alts later on down the road, you may be able to move to a section within a session or two, depending on your gear and etc.). One thing we know for sure: there won’t be any so-called “15 minute hard-mode” runs to grind tokens for gear in our game. More on dungeons in a later installment, but suffice to say, our dungeons have multiple levels, multiple tiers, and will take players a significant amount of time to complete.

Dungeons will never be about running in with a pure DPS group and trying to burn through in 15 minutes. You’ll fall flat on your face. You’ll need plenty of support, crafters, a tank or two, and lots of utility to handle crowd control. Remember, without fast-travel waypoints back to town, by the time you’ve spent several game sessions to get to a dungeon, your only support are the people around you. With eight people and more in a party, that means ensuring you have people who can cook, repair armor, keep the wagon(s) in repair, the animals healthy and fed, and also who can help you deal with roadblocks along the way, such as bridges that need repairing before they can be used, or doors that need to be unstuck.

Then there’s mechanical and magical traps and doorways, hidden passageways and beyond. No mechanical skills in your party? You’ll miss out on entire sections of dungeons. No Scholarly types to read runes? Another section of the dungeon missed. And in some cases, you’ll find yourself up against scenarios where the lack of a scholar with the proper skills, or the lack of a thief-type, means that you flat-out can’t progress any further. Which is why a well-balanced group is always key to your long-term survival and success out in the field.

Not to mention, without any sort of mini-map telling you which way to go, plus the darkness mechanics, you’ll be getting well and truly lost during your first forays into a dungeon.

This post has been updated as of April 12th, 2016 from it’s original version in October, 2014. It has new screenshots, video, and additional content to reflect the advancements of our philosophies.

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