Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tin Mechanics - Reputations

Another named feature, hereby called Tin Mechanics due to my fondness of the Wizard of Oz. I'm still tossing up ideas of how to shoehorn in something about a lion. I'm open to suggestions.

Regardless, this type of feature will deal specifically with in-game mechanics, such as UI, faction or reward systems, combat, and other nuts and bolts sort of things. I hope to concentrate on existing systems rather than possible new ones, saving those ideas for "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" segments.

I'd like to focus on reputation systems. Most theme park games have a reputation system that resembles WoW's: You have factions, and you do quests for them to get up to a reputation level to get rewards. Behind the scenes, this also creates an easy to manipulate system for setting up opposing factions and keeping them hostile to one another.

Still, I can't help but wonder if we don't have untapped potential here. There is a group of players who are looking for non-combat options in their games and the reputation system may be the place to look. Vanguard has an interesting system in place that is often overlooked by most of the MMORPG crowd, but that may be more due to the age of the game and the lack of focus SOE is giving it. 

But let's work within the confines of the system that is in place in WoW now. Your levels are Hated to Exalted, each with its own characteristics and amount needed to reach that level, and some factions have the option to go to war with them, as little as the feature is used. We then have the option to add in optional factions, or opposing factions that have nothing to do with the over-arching Alliance vs. Horde / Republic vs. Sith / Pie vs. Cake storyline. I'm not talking about "grind quests with these dudes and they'll give you cool stuff" factions though.

Let's say...the centaur are going to war with the quillboar. And because of this, a new Barrens-based battleground is opened up. However, you can't play it until you compelte a short series of quests where you need to pick a faction. Once you do, you fight for that faction alongside other players who picked it, which may be a mix of Horde and Alliance. Rewards would be purely cosmetic in difference, due to balance reasons, and would include mainly PvP gear and pets/mounts/what-have-you.

Or, let's say there is a chain of islands off of the coast with a previously unknown troll tribe. When you take the boat to the chain it does a hidden check of your reputation with the faction, based entirely on taking quests from them on the mainland or taking a different set of quests to hunt them down. Unfriendly and below puts you in a raid instance, and Neutral and above puts you in a questing hub. Both are environmentally identical, except in one instance the raid is trying to kill the trolls instead of helping them.

I find the standard faction rep grind to be rather boring, and working within the constraints of this reputation system could come up with some truly innovative ideas.

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