Going on day 3 without power thanks to the recent snowstorm, good times. Spent the first night at the house, but once the temp dropped below 50, it was time to go. Luckily my parents’ house has power, and they are away on vacation so we are here just hanging out. Power company estimate is to have things fixed by tomorrow night. We’ll see.
Anyway, on to a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for a bit now, ‘forever’ MMO design vs one-off content. Forever design is what EVE is, where after 10+ years, things are still going and for the most part what worked five years ago still does today. I’m talking about things like mining asteroids, using the same ships/modules, and a place like Jita being the main trade hub.
On the opposite end of that spectrum is a game like WoW, where each expansion, and sometimes even a patch in that expansion, resets the game and content you experienced before no longer ‘matters’. This is known and accepted by the players, and the point of playing isn’t to continually build up to something like in EVE, but to enjoy the ‘ride’ and come back when a new ride is added.
Life is Feudal is a sandbox, so in theory is more like EVE than WoW. There really are no ‘rides’, but your character does have a skill cap that is easily reached (as compared to EVE), and each town you build has a limited number of buildings and crafting stations before it too is ‘done’. Furthermore, some resources like iron and clay don’t respawn like asteroids do in EVE, so those too are limited. It is simply not possible for a LiF server to exist for 10+ years like EVE has; all of the non-renewable resources would be gone, all existing characters and towns would be maxed, and the only activity left would be PvP for the sake of PvP, which itself would eventually stop working as all weapons/armor would eventually be gone from durability loss.
Even on a smaller time scale, some things in LiF only work at the beginning. One example would be coops, which hold chickens or rabbits. When you first start playing, you can catch a rabbit or a chicken in a snare trap, and once you have it, you can place the caught animal in a coop you built. The quality of the animal is likely low, somewhere between 10-30. Once you have a few animals in the coop, they will breed, and generally the offspring will have a slightly higher quality than the parents. Over time, you will eventually have a full coop of max quality (100) animals.
Quality of the animals is important for crafting items from said animals. You can make higher quality food from the meat, better arrows from the feathers, and higher quality armor and weapons from the leather. Going from low quality animals to higher takes some time, and while that’s happening you are scaling up from their output, slowly getting better/stronger. It’s an enjoyable loop, and it’s just one of many happening all at once as you play.
But that loop, and many others, can be skipped if a more advanced guild gives you 100 quality animals, or if they give you an advanced town to move into, or the best quality food to massively speed up skill gains. These are all temping things to get better faster, but ultimately they just shorten your time with LiF, as currently the growth loop IS the game.
LiF is still in early access, but the issue of a limited content loop is there, and would be hard to fix, if the devs even intent to fix it. Not all MMOs need to live forever, be it via EVE’s design or WoW’s continued content drip. Maybe LiF is intended to be played for a set amount of time, and then that’s it. I personally see that as a flaw in the design, but I also can’t deny that the current gameplay loop, even if not infinite, is a lot of fun. If the devs turn a profit, while supporting the game for a 3-4 year run, is that ‘worth it’, both for them and the players?