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Old 10-22-2010, 11:24 AM   #1
Bobo the Bee
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Rewarding for Exploring

(note: this question brought up thanks to Milawe of Threshold RPG's recent post elsewhere.)

I think that rewarding players for exploring a MUD can be one of the best and easiest "small" features to have in a game, so my question is this: how do you like to do it, or do you disagree and think coded exploration-rewards aren't that good an idea? To give a few quick examples:
  • Threshold RPG recently added a feature that flags a single room every few hours and rewards the first person to enter that room after it is flagged.
  • GodWars2 awards experience points whenever you first come across a location -- a forest, a river, a meadow, that sort of thing.
  • The Shadow's Embrace, a Wheel-of-Time MUD, gives XP whenever you explore a set number of rooms -- so, say, every 5% of the MUD you explore each remort, you gain 1 automatic level.
Personally, I think I like the way GodWars does it where you receive a one-time reward for reaching an area, though also incorporating some sort of random room/area-hunt like what Threshold does can be really cool, too. Size of the world and mechanics of moving around can really change the way you implement exploration rewards, though, in my opinion.
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:53 AM   #2
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo the Bee;45387Personally, I think I like the way GodWars does it where you receive a one-time reward for reaching an area, though [I
also[/i] incorporating some sort of random room/area-hunt like what Threshold does can be really cool, too. Size of the world and mechanics of moving around can really change the way you implement exploration rewards, though, in my opinion.
I think the way that GWs does it is the most popular form of doing it. World of Warcraft uses the same exploration system where you get XP the first time you "discover" an area. The fog-of-war concept used by many RTSes operates in much the same way. You find a certain spot on a map, and you either unlock it on a mini-map, get XP, are now able to see the surrounding area, or some combination of the above. It makes a ton of sense and has proven to be an excellent design mechanic for several games.

Threshold, since we are implementing this now- 14 years into the game's existence, operates differently because most of our players have already "explored" the world. Threshold's purpose for implementing the new AGEC is a little different than just rewarding players for unlocking a new area. I'm not sure that the two systems can really be compared since I think you could actually run both systems simultaneously and get double the reward for your players.

I'd like to play around with The Shadow's Embrace system because I would find it very interesting to see how this works as more areas are added. Do they reconfigure the percentage? Does exploration XP just become harder to earn? Is the world static with the number of rooms it has? It's a very interesting way to do it, and I'd like to see how they deal with the issues that may come with it. The decisions they made would be very interesting to follow.

Anyway, fun topic! I love ideas for world exploration. I have a few ready for our second game (Primordiax) and can't wait to get them implemented.

Last edited by Milawe : 10-22-2010 at 12:16 PM. Reason: random commas removed. maybe I should slow down
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:00 PM   #3
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

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Originally Posted by Milawe View Post
Threshold, since we are implementing this now- 14 years into the game's existence, operates differently because most of our players have already "explored" the world. Threshold's purpose for implementing the new AGEC is a little different than just rewarding players for unlocking a new area. I'm not sure that the two systems can really be compared since I think you could actually run both systems simultaneously and get double the reward for your players.
Agreed, and I think running both systems would be preferable, moreso. But I've seen some MUDs that just use what seems to be more of a "meh, if we have to give you something we'll just make it a crapshoot so here you go" type of thing, which is much less un-fulfilling. I wasn't aware WoW uses a similiar exploration system as above, either, and I'd never made the connection between the ideas behind it and fog-of-war. RTS's often award exploration by giving the first player to locate and secure something like an artifact or other key-item/location special rewards, which isn't terribly ideal in a MUD, though "explorer's artifacts" could be an awesome reward for, say, a mud-wide scavenger hunt.

Quote:
I'd like to play around with The Shadow's Embrace system because I would find it very interesting to see how this works as more areas are added. Do they reconfigure the percentage? Does exploration XP just become harder to earn? Is the world static with the number of rooms it has? It's a very interesting way to do it, and I'd like to see how they deal with the issues that may come with it. The decisions they made would be very interesting to follow.
The TSE (formerly As the Wheel Weaves) system works best because, when you remort, all your 'exploration' is reset, so you can gain xp each new life. I don't think it'd be quite as good an idea on a MUD where you never re-rolled after your creation.
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Old 10-22-2010, 04:56 PM   #4
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

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Originally Posted by Bobo the Bee View Post
I wasn't aware WoW uses a similiar exploration system as above, either, and I'd never made the connection between the ideas behind it and fog-of-war.
I'm extremely familiar with WoW's exploration XP because I dinged multiple times with it. We'd be walking around, I'd level, and my husband would wonder why I hadn't trained when we were back in town. ("It's not my fault! The world is making me level!") I have very fond memories of this type of exploration XP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo the Bee View Post
RTS's often award exploration by giving the first player to locate and secure something like an artifact or other key-item/location special rewards, which isn't terribly ideal in a MUD, though "explorer's artifacts" could be an awesome reward for, say, a mud-wide scavenger hunt.
A Scavenger Hunt not only rewards exploration, it also encourages other players to explore because they're physically seeing many of the "cool" items that they cannot obtain themselves yet. EverQuest 2 has a system where they track the first person to discover an item or craft an item. I always thought it was awesome, and there has to be a mud out there somewhere that does it as well. I've yet to really see a feature in an MMO that wasn't done in a MUD somewhere first. That's probably because game theory and good game design usually go hand in hand.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobo the Bee View Post
The TSE (formerly As the Wheel Weaves) system works best because, when you remort, all your 'exploration' is reset, so you can gain xp each new life. I don't think it'd be quite as good an idea on a MUD where you never re-rolled after your creation.
I think the GW2 and the TSE systems probably work equally well for games where each character can gain XP specifically for exploration. It rewards players individually, right? The results for both systems are the same even though they're coded and designed in different ways. Player A goes into a room and gets some sort of extrinsic reward in both scenarios. What I find interesting about the TSE system is how the percentage is computed and if that percentage changes with the addition of new areas.

One more exploration system that I've seen does not reward a player with XP or items, it rewards whatever player gets to a certain position first by granting them a tactical advantage in PvP. The enemy players that approach that area later gets a nasty surprise and can spend the entire board being at a paranoid disadvantage.
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:04 PM   #5
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

I would think exploring itself gives tons of rewards in the form of adventure, quests, roleplay rewards. I'm not so sure extra rewards just for walking around to areas is warranted. At least not on Ateraan. There are so many ways to gain coins and experience, this would just be overkill.
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Old 10-23-2010, 08:37 AM   #6
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

We do basically like GodWars2-- you get an experience point every time you visit a room for the first time. There are also "exploration points" which are required to level up, with more-dangerous rooms worth more exploration points. The amount of XP per EP increases the more exploring you do, so, for example, when you first start out you'll be getting 1 XP/EP, but by the time you've accumulated a few thousand EP (lots easier than it probably sounds )you will be pulling out 5 XP/EP.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

I once created a system where NPCs that hadn't been killed for a while gave more experience. I think it's preferable to reward the result of exploration (knowing a large variety of NPCs that you can kill for a certain level), rather than the actual exploration. This approach can be extended to resource gathering, the amount of money NPCs drop, and quest rewards (as some quests are more popular than others). These systems won't work too well on MUDs with cheap instantaneous travel.

Area based quests are another way to encourage exploration, especially if various clues are given in room descriptions. People will create walkthroughs, but it's fairly effective to ban sharing quest knowledge on a small MUD. Randomization will help a little as well.
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Old 10-23-2010, 08:25 PM   #8
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

The exploration reward in GW2 was actually an afterthought. I'd already planned to have one task per area, but I didn't want to overwhelm newbies with a huge list of tasks, so I decided it would be better to hide them until they'd been unlocked. The easiest way to do that was to make them multi-stage tasks that are hidden until the first stage has been completed, and then have the first stage completed by visiting an area. As the task system already had a built-in mechanism for rewards, I decided just to give 100 exp per area.

Obviously there are other benefits in discovering new areas as well, but assigning a reward turns exploration into a series of clear short-term goals with direct tangible benefits. You don't have to award exp in this fashion of course, but IMO it really is important to have short-term goals as well as long-term ones, and this is quite an effective way of doing it.
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Old 10-24-2010, 04:53 AM   #9
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

In 4D we use an exploring reward true to our general Quests&Puzzles theme.

Instead of rewarding the player for discovering the Entry to a new zone, we reward them for fully exploring it, i.e. reaching the "Core room". The way we do this is to place a Zone Flag in that room. If the zone is for Newbies, the flag will be openly placed on the floor, but more often it's concealed in some of the many tricky ways our Builders can think of.

This system is used for several different types of long-time and short-time rewards.

All players can collect the zone flags, and each batch of 10 different ones is worth three Bronze Tokens, (our main quest currency), when turned into an immortal. Naturally we keep track of the flags, so the player also gets a Certificate, with a list of the zone flags they turned in so far.

But originally the Flags are part of a continuous Clan contest, where the first Clan member to discover a new Zone flag wins it for their Clan, and gets it displayed in their Clan Hall with his/her name on it.

There is also a long-term Quest attached to this, where the Clan that collects the largest number of flags will win a large price, once 100 zone flags are in the game. (We usually launch them in batches of 10, and so far 92 flags are in, so next batch will be the Big one).
At the same time the players who produced the largest number of Clan flags and individual flags will be rewarded.

After we reach the number of 100, the count will start all over again. Currently there are over 200 zones in the game, so the flag context can continue for quite a while.

Last edited by Molly : 10-27-2010 at 04:38 AM. Reason: typofix
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Old 10-25-2010, 11:02 AM   #10
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

The system on Lost Souls falls into the same general space as these. You get experience based on how many rooms of an area you've explored; it comes in tiers rather than per-room (so you might get an award at 5%, another at 10%, or the numbers might be different if the area is small enough that you go directly from 4% to 6% or whatever). The 100% tier is worth about 5x as much as the other tiers. Each area configures its overall XP value. You start with your homeland area 100% explored, so you get no XP for wandering around it. There are "exploration points" (and leaderboards for them).

Some things use the exploration tracking for additional purposes; for example, the Travelers guild has "challenges", dynamically generated tasks + handicaps, one of which is to achieve some amount of exploration. My intention is to eventually make it so that you can do long-range pathfinding through the territory you've explored, though this is going to require making my two-tier A* implementation stop acting funny.
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:20 AM   #11
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

I am a big fan of coded exploration rewards. Exploration is a very important type of adventure, central to myth, folklore, and historical adventure alike. A lot of MUD and MMORPG players are explorers at heart - what they love to do most is to see a strange new world.

There is no good reason why killing things should be the only way to get xp.
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:28 AM   #12
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

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I am a big fan of coded exploration rewards. Exploration is a very important type of adventure, central to myth, folklore, and historical adventure alike. A lot of MUD and MMORPG players are explorers at heart - what they love to do most is to see a strange new world.

There is no good reason why killing things should be the only way to get xp.
No there isn't and on Ateraan you can earn coins and xp via many other methods, but mostly that is through creation (we have merchants and traders guilds that build things and usually are fairly rich) and roleplay. As the game is roleplay enforced so you gain by exploring and by meeting people, but also through fishing, sailing, trapping, farming, and other such non combatative means. But those mostly suplementary and unless you are a merchant or trader, you'd likely have to hunt at some point.

I know there are many games that allow for quests that can be non combatative and grant rewards so I don't think every game involves killing, though, I think 99% of them require it in some form.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:16 AM   #13
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Re: Rewarding for Exploring

I've played so many muds that have thousands of rooms, even tens of thousands of rooms, while fewer than 100 rooms ever get used. When I poke around, map, and explore, other players tell me I'm doing it wrong, and that if I want to level fast, I should go to this place, then this place at this level, then this other place at this level. Sure enough, they turn out to be right. There's no reason to go to 99% of the mud's areas unless there's an oddball piece of gear I want there, or if everywhere I want to level is crowded and I need to settle for a second or third string area. That means there are some really well written, well designed areas out there in various muds that see no traffic, simply because whoever built that area didn't give the area good mobs to level off of or lots of good loot. Sometimes, I walk around with a sword or staff or cloak that's maybe a point or two better than the one most people my level wear (most people just skip past it going to the high-return areas and get the next piece of good gear everybody knows about). So players who've been playing the mud for 10 years ask me, "Where did you get that staff?" It's that bad in some places.

I really enjoy muds that give me experience per room, or per area, or even just muds that keep track of my exploration for bragging rights. I'll usually try to thoroughly map a mud just for fun anyway. But exploration incentives are a good way to get people to really appreciate how large and colorful a mud's world is, how well the areas fit together, themes and interactions, and so on.
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