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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mini-Games





I'm not the first person to suggest adding some fun mini-games to EQII and I won't be the last.

Sometimes it's the little touches that really endear a game to people. I can't remember the plot of those Final Fantasy console games but I do remember that card game and the Chocobo mini-games. I think some nice mini-games could work well in EQII.

For one, it would be a welcome diversion from adventuring and tradeskilling. Everyone likes to do something different for a while and it helps break up the main action and improve the overall pacing. People who play MMO's are competitive and this would be another form of competition. That's especially true since mini-games are usually skill-based, be they twitch type skills or strategic thinking skills. I also feel like they could increase the overall depth of the world by making it seem like there is a ton of different stuff to do.

Now, probably the best kind of mini-games are those that are so interwoven with the game that you don't even notice they are mini-games. EQII has some of those. Jumping became a sort of mini-game in KoS when trying to get to the Profession Hat quest NPC. So did controlled freefall when heading to the Hidden Refuge. Dropping from the cloud transport is also a timing game of sorts when you are trying to reach a certain NPC in the Bonemire.

I think it's great that these little diversions were added seamlessly into the gameplay of KoS. And I know people who create their own little challenges and games within EQII that were unintended by the designers. But there's nothing wrong with more obvious mini-games such as card games, tavern games or races of some kind.


The counter-arguments are that too many options spreads out the population too much and that resources are better spent on creating the main content of EQII, which is what you really play the game for.

But I think it would be worth the time and resources to add a mini-game or two to EQII. I'm sure at least a portion of the population would get hooked pretty easily if the mini-game was a good one. What mini-game would you like to see in EQII, if any?

19 Comments:

Anonymous VanHemlock said...

/gems

That really was a post-ironic in-joke too far for me. Sat there 'meditating', playing a half-arsed Tetris knockoff, purely to mitigate the fact that my chosen game (EQ 1) refused to let me do anything productive for the next five mintes.

It basically suggested that the Everquest designers saw that the downtime was ridiculous, acknowledged the fact and were almost, (but not quite), apologising for it by adding something else to do instead.

A different thing to what you're describing I think, but it still highlights an important point, in that there is probably something wrong with your main game design if people have to play other games while playing it, just to relieve the monotony.

Mini-games can send out the wrong message, and the /gems thing, although probably just a bit of make-busy work for some SOE coding intern, is not that different to having Puzzle Pirates open in a background window instead. Why should I need another game to play at the same time?

Having ranted all that though, I'm all for alternative play-styles in an MMO - just context is important.

4:58 AM  
Blogger jaipehg said...

Actually, I've always wanted to see something like card games, checkers, and chess available to play in pubs and whatnot? I mean, if you have a character that loves to gamble, wouldn't it be neat if they could sit down and play a round or two of poker with some buddies?

It could be used as a money placement thing for the economy, too. Charge a couple silver a game or something.

9:15 AM  
Blogger HolyAvengerOne said...

I'd defintely like some sort of card game, maybe one you would have to go in an actual tavern to play -- and get drunk !! -- so that maybe, just maybe these taverns would become more social hubs.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Fergle F Fergleson said...

I've been quite fond of the mini-games that came with some of the seasonal quests. Even the some-what buggy bang-the-spoon-on-the-pot game in the Xmas quest this last year was cool, if just because it was so different.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Quylein said...

like Vanhemlock said

/gems

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Chas said...

Well, let's see. We can go for immersion: games that would exist in the world.

Imagine a tavern with players sitting around, playing cards, dice, etc. (note: risky here, with RMT possibly encouraging real gambling...)

Imagine some "sports" that players can compete against one another- (blood bowl, anyone?) or even a form of norrathian olympiad.

Heck, give me nonlethal combat for all classes and give us a "barroom brawl" minigame for the rougher establishments.

Then, lets look at the "time sink games." While I share vanhemlock's disdain for "downtime," we can't have insta-crafting either. Time investment is a valuable control for crafting. Right now, we have the "whackamole" game (click the right button when the icon appears). We need something more engaging, and this is a great place to look at for improvement.

Any crafting-related minigame should likely be "optional." Crafting has become a popular routine for the socializer precisely because it allows them to focus on the chat window when they need to Reflex-intensive games would break that. Heck, there were enough complaints on the "whackamole" interruption.

Other mini-games... well, not really minigames, but player-sponsored events. Give players the ability to organize competitions using current game /quest mechanics. Right now, if we had a contest of "first to kill 50 x..." how do I verify the winner? Combat logs? Loot harvested? (or.. was it bought?)

Now, we can look at power-related "minigames." It could be possible to tie certain buff durations to a quick skill-based "initiation" game. It would likely be better to have the buffer AND the buffed participate: as anyone that had to wait 10 minutes for a buff in SWG can testify- being buffed was rather dull. A minigame there would make things a little more engaging.

(Possibility- buff spells would last fot X with no minigame, X*1.25 with buffer minigame, X*1.75 if everyone participated. This would allow for some flexibility- being buffed was a good time for a bio break, too)

10:42 AM  
Blogger Bandito said...

I completely disagree with Van Hemlock and Quylein. A mini-game is not to relieve monotony, but to add additional entertainment. Did the card games or fishing games take away from the "main" content of FF series? Absolutely not, they made the game MORE enjoyable, in fact, memorable. You were not forced to do this or that and had options each time you entered the world.

Why have collection quests? Why have player housing? Why have the gambling goblins? Why have haircuts? Each pretty much pointless addittions that have nothing to do with questing. It's because they add value each in there own way, it gives EQ2 a more sandbox feel.

I just think it's ludicrous to think that by adding another mechanic or form of entertainment, that there is something fundamentally wrong with the main game.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

I disagree with vanhemlock...

... mini-games can be added to the main game and ehance it in many ways.

Think of EQII, as-is today, as a compilation of mini-games that create the game as-you-think-of-it as a whole - the entriety of the different little things you do in-game create a more cohesive an enjoyable experience, because of their inclusion; everything from killing mobs, PvP, setting up shop, wack-a-mole crafting, quests of all sorts (kill x mobs, fed-ex, etc.), doing writs, collection quests, HOs, the arena, etc.

I think that a new mini-game that is added to the existing game could ehance the existing game even more if the game that is introduced is in-context to the world that its placed in.

Imagine a secret area that can be reached only by a griffon and having you jump at JUST the right time to gain entrance to it - this jumping at the right time-game uses existing game mechanics that allow you to understand how to play it using the game constructs that already exist.

Or imagine having towers in a PvP zone that allows a side (FP or Q) to control that area so-long as they hold and defend the tower - when they have control of the tower certain mobs in the zone are 'friendly' to them, and allows them safer passage through the area... pperhaps allowing them easier access to a raid, quest, or something - now we've introduced a concept of capture-and-hold in a fantasy setting, a game mode often found on FPS games.

I'm not suggesting these posted ideas be implemented in EQII, I'm just saying that mini-game content can be added to the game in a seamless way that fits the world it is introduced to in a non-intrusive way, and enhances the overall game experience.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Karnatos said...

Sooo... what kind of agmes do I want to see added to EQII eh?

1) interactive socializing games, be it in rooms or social gathering locations; I think it'd be cool to see people sitting on the grass in Qeynos playing a variant of chess, cards, or something like that - I often just chat in-game since I have people I consider friends that play it, it'd be nice to have something to do when we chat.

2) I'd like the arena to have a posted in-game leader board ... perhaps have a town crier calling out the name(s) of the latest victor(s) in the cities, and have a board that keeps track of the highest ranked Arena players; if it was made more visible, and perhaps even unlocked other features in the game (perhaps a week-long title holder gets a special quest from an Arena-guard?) Have trophys that you can place in your house for people to see?

3) An in-game form of assassin; have 30 people sign up, each gets the name of another person in the game, and that's the person they need to hunt down. When you 'find' that person and tag them (you could have it be duel-based, thrown-weapon based, etc) you get the card they are holding and have a new target. The winner of the game is the last man/woman standing. Give it a time limit and perhaps even zone limits. Anyone that logs out or leaves the game zone forefits their card to the person carrying their name. Could be a lot of fun!

Gah, am at work - gotta stp daydreaming and do some work!

1:26 PM  
Blogger Quylein said...

I acutally want /gem is what I was getting at. It's a silly game that was otherwise useless but has great playbilty when you just wanna log on and chat w/ friends. I in no way means aggreed w/ van's overall outlook.
Though, I see where VanH has a point if not implented in the game correctly it could be construde "as we made our game suck sorry." Which is what he ment by /Gems. It was a game that could be played while riding a boat or meding w/ friends but it was just a game there that reminded you hey why dont you go play something else.

That said, I trufully enjoyed the stupid game of /gems

4:15 PM  
Blogger Bandito said...

After re-reading vanhemlock's post, I see that I misconstrued some of it. My point still stands, but I realize that he was pointing out that it must be done within the context of the game.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Lord Ebon said...

I definately think that they should bring back /gems. Its just a fun little way to pass the time, such as when folks take an afk in a gruop or raid. The ability to save it intrasession would be important and intersession would be excellent.

Another thing I would like to see is casino type games but modified for EQ2... I want to be able to play a game of King's Court at my favorate tavern. It would also be nice if I could buy a King's Court set for my room, and maybe even run a little casino...

- Barx Atthemoon < Golden Eagle Trading Company > Antonia Bayle

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Van Hemlock said...

Indeed. Puzzle Pirates isn't such a jokey thing in this regard actually, in that it does implement the idea of context-based situational mini-games very well.

Worth a quick look to see what I mean, but having some simple card-table interface added to the other wise empty and purposeless Inns and Taverns might do wonders for them.

I just think a mini-game ought to be something you actively go and seek out for it's own sake, rather than something you might as well engage in because you don't have anything better to do (EQ 1 downtime), or have to endure just to get a box made (Current EQ2 crafting).

Actual games in context *as* games (Bar cards, mini torunaments, etc) would be quite fun, and probably quite popular.

(And yes, I too got quite into /gems myself as it turned out, but couldn't help that it did somewhat defeat the point of it all. :)

4:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those bars and pubs are pretty useless at the moment, cant even buy a beer from them, just water? Some card games and or darts or axe throwing would be cool :)
Horse racing?

One idea I've been dreaming about is to have a flight sim/battle. Buy or grow dragons and take to the skys in flight combat, like the space sim in SWG? upgrade the dragons, buy new species etc...

Buffalo - Mistmoore

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Qygon-Butcherblock said...

I would really love to see a game along the lines of the card battle game Magic: The Gathering. This type of game could very easily be adapted to use EQII. I mean you can use monsters and npcs as the summons, spells and combat arts as your sorcery, stuns as interrupts, buffs as enchantments, and equipment/charms/generic items as artifacts. There would be a lot of room to create a game im sure quite a few RPG fans already know how to play, but give it its very own spin to make it a unique game.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that I would love to see some form of mini-game for EQ2.

1.) I would love to see a nice 2+ player game that would be a piece of furniture for the house.

2.) I've often pondered the idea of a card game, many RPGs have had them before, from Might and Magic to the Final Fantasy series. What I think would be neat is if the cards were purchaseable off of NPCs and some cards would be recieved as body or chest drops off of Mobs. Players not interested in the game could sell them. Perhaps even a complete collection would be worth xp too.

3.) I also would love to see crafting as more of a mini-game, perhaps something sort of like "Puzzle Pirates" or whatever that game is called. I want something more engaging for my tradeskilling. Playing different character classes is at least a little different, different games for different tradeskills would give them unique feels.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that if someone wants to sit down and play a mini-game then let them. It can only add to the enviroment.

4:42 PM  
Blogger Teh Chunt said...

I've been thinking about this for a while, and it's a good idea. Chess would be very easy to do. So would a card game. Norrathian poker, where in Antonica, the Queen is the highest card? One virtue of a minigame like this would be it gives a chance for players of vastly different levels to interact. For example, a L15 Paladin, L65 Zerker, and a L36 Cleric could all play cards together at an equal level. A Magic-type card game, (or FF style), where cards dropped off mobs, could be quested for, or some crafted, would also be interesting. Additional content that can be ignored if you want, but gives life to the inns and taverns.

Drinking contests would be a blast. Last person standing wins. Footraces, or even some type of sporting event that everyone could compete in would be great. You could have the Arena house it all, in theory. Norrathian soccer? baseball?

The main problem is that we don't want devs taking time to make a new sport, and not fixing problems in game, or adding new content. Would be best if it was a seperate dev team concentrating on this type of stuff, so as not to take away from the rest of the game.

Assassin quests, or kill this player quests, would be great. I always thought it would be cool if paladins could get XP for helping other players out, or assassins for kills with no dmg done to them.

Some peeps in my PvE guild have played crabball before. It involves 2 teams trying to move the ball (a mob, in this case a crab)past one of 2 "goalposts". Essentially, the teams taunt, charm, debuff, whatever to gain hate, and make the crab follow them past the goal for the score. Defence involves rooting and mezzing. And of course, you try not to kill the ball.

A fun game would be a dmg off, where players would wail on some target for 30-60 seconds, to see who could do the most dmg. Like on Nagafen, when 5 assassins surround a wizard:)

As for barfights, obviously monks would win every time. But maybe a system could be put in place where everyone would be at equal lvl for a barfight, with no death.

Minigames, bring them to taverns, even if it's just strip poker...

10:04 PM  
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