Building a better persistent Dungeon Keeper
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 8 February 2014, 2:47 am
My commenters are providing me with more and more links to reviews and videos that express outrage about the new Dungeon Keeper. And in every single one of them the reviewer complains that it takes hours to carve out the space for a new room in the new Dungeon Keeper. So let's forget the monetary aspects for a second and talk about time aspects. How would we build a massively multiplayer online PvP Dungeon Keeper better?

The first thing to remark is that of course the videos and reviews are lying. Or rather, they are being a bit selective with the truth. The new Dungeon Keeper has three sorts of stone blocks, soft, medium, and hard. The soft blocks take 5 seconds to dig out, and the whole center of the dungeon is full of them, so all the rooms of your starting dungeon can be dug out inside of a minute or two. The medium blocks state that they take 4 hours to dig out, but if you slap your imps they work at double speed, so it takes only 2 hours. And the hard blocks take 24 hours, but only occur at the outer edge of your dungeon.

So, why is that sort of feature in the game? Why do lots of other mobile or social games that allow you to build other things, like a city or kingdom, have building times that range up to a week? Is in ONLY to "force" people to pay to speed up those times? Of course not! There are even games which force you to wait for hours or days for something without giving you the option to pay to speed up.

Instead the slow building is in the game to prevent you from finishing the game in a single session. If you could build your complete dungeon in Dungeon Keeper in under an hour, fill all the space the map has, and add all the features the game offers to your dungeon, then why would you ever come back to it? Why would you be proud about the advanced level of your dungeon, if everybody is at the level cap?

Look at it from a MMORPG perspective: World of Warcraft clearly is not designed as a Free2Play game. Leveling up a character even in the very first version of it took hundreds of hours. Blizzard never made leveling slower, they only ever made it faster to keep up with the number of levels. This year Blizzard will introduce the option to skip leveling and go right to level 90 for a real money payment. Are you really going to say that a decade of World of Warcraft design was done ONLY to force people to pay to skip the slow leveling process? Or is the slow leveling process the natural state of the game, and skipping it for money is just an option for the extremely impatient?

The original Dungeon Keeper was a single-player game. With some difficulty you could set it up to play in a LAN. But even then it was never a persistent multi-player game. So here is my challenge to you: How would you build a massively multiplayer online Dungeon Keeper with persistent dungeons *without* having any timer for building or gathering resources? If you can't think of a way that a persistent game works without delays, then you can't complain that those delays are in the game!
Tobold's Blog

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