Chronicles of Elyria dev blog: Character aging in MMORPGs

    
25

Announced earlier this year, Chronicles of Elyria is a startup sandbox in a sea of such sandboxes, but some of its features are rare even within the MMORPG genre.

Massively OP will be hosting a series of exclusive dev diaries from the CoE team at Soulbound Studios over the next few weeks to further explore the game and solicit feedback and questions. The second such blog written by the devs themselves is presented below and homes in on character aging, a game mechanic that is central not just to the game’s atmosphere but to its business model as we learned last week. Enjoy!

Character aging in MMOs

We spend the vast majority of time playing an MMO looking at our character (specifically the back of our characters’ head). As a result, it’s arguably impossible to create a dynamic, immersive MMO if your character remains static. For this reason, we feel it is vital for characters to visually age for a better MMO experience. No more running around the world with everyone looking the same. In Chronicles of Elyria you’ll see kids through elders populating the streets.

1

With that in mind, we wanted to give players a visual indicator that their character was growing, maturing, getting stronger, and yes, approaching the end of their life.

Thus, your character’s physical appearance changes as they age. Hairlines recede, bald spots appear, their skin will tighten and develop liver spots, and in the later years their height will even change. It is the attention to detail here that really makes you feel like your character is a living, breathing person.

2

As a character ages, they’ll encounter enemies, leading to a growing collection of scars and other indicators of their adventurer status. Those scars will stay with a character, leaving battle wounds you can be proud of throughout the years.

In Chronicles of Elyria, we’ve developed a timeline where your character will age from youth (starting at age 12 or 15) through to the end of life in a matter of 10-16 months. Your character will consistently age during that period, growing older both as you play and when you are offline. Thus characters brought into the world at the same time maintain the consistency of age instead of appearing decades apart solely because one player isn’t online as much as the other.

Additionally, NPCs are affected by the passage of time as well. NPC children you are introduced to will, within a little over a month, become young adults. The apothecary you frequent for your reagents will age into retirement and will instead be found working her loom. And thus over the course of a year, you’ll become attached to multiple generations of NPCs. Ever promised to take care of an NPC’s family line in an RPG before? This puts it in a whole new perspective.

3

We strongly feel that aging adds a dimension of realism, a dynamic & immersive feel, and a layer to the story that most MMOs today are missing.

Stay tuned for more dev blogs from the Chronicles of Elyria team over the next few weeks!

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

SoulboundStudios I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my post. You have my eyes on this game. I look forward to seeing your progress.

SoulboundStudios
Guest
SoulboundStudios

Craywulf Our community was actually just discussing environmental effects here: http://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/General-Discussion/498-Weather-effects-and-affects—-?page=1 :)

Vucub
Guest
Vucub

The problem with that is it would require a change to not only mechanics and design but the business model. Personally I like the idea of moving to a new character after year buy inheriting some progression.

melissaheather
Guest
melissaheather

I feel like the answer to people’s objections to what is actually a pretty compelling idea is to greatly extend the lifespan.   Make your character go from teen to dotard in 5-7 years real time – not 1.    That generally equals the “lifespan” of someone playing the game and keeping it as their main game or about how long people remain interested in even good MMOs.    If my Hunter in LOTRO I’ve had since 2007 was now a greyhair, I could accept that over that kind of time period.     Then, aging and grey hair would be a badge of longevity in the game, a real tangible marker that, wow, this one has been playing for many years.

Dobablo
Guest
Dobablo

If characters still age when offline that might make it harder for returning players to come back after being away for periods of more than 6 months. Sorry, your 30-year old hero is now 92 and will die the instant you log on. Don’t worry you can switch to your 67-year old son who has spent all his life in the city and has zero adventuring skills.

crackfox
Guest
crackfox

imayb1 tobascodagama melissaheather As a vain altaholic, I would be inclined to run two accounts, switching to the second when the first reaches a certain age and vice versa. That would be a benefit of the ‘always on’ mechanic.

crackfox
Guest
crackfox

Bald spots you say? Can I get a potion for that? Or maybe a magical cow to lick my head?

imayb1
Guest
imayb1

tobascodagama melissaheather I really wouldn’t mind the aging so much if it was on my time, that is, the character ages when I play it and only when I play it. Sadly, this game has characters “always on”, so even if you’re not there, they’re still dying. If you went on vacation for two weeks, you could come back to see significant aging in your character. Your character *could* age and die while you were away. Even if your soul has a head start from your past life, it still sounds like ‘suck it up and reroll’ to me. 
I’ll just stick to fantasy in my games.

imayb1
Guest
imayb1

talast Your character does age and die after about 1 year of your-time, resulting in your need to buy a new character slot and thus, support the game with money. They mentioned this in a previous article: 
“Charging people “per life” ties in closely with one of CoE’s core design principles.CoE believes heroes should be truly heroic and villains should risk real consequences for their actions. By tying the cost of the game to a player’s lifepsan we force them to make meaningful choices about their in-game behavior.”

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

One thing I can say about aging, my pigtails do not recede, <3