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Friday, May 06, 2011

Exploration and Codices

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The torrent of Star Wars: The Old Republic news keeps coming thick and fast this week, which is great as it has given me a lot to read whilst the EQ2 servers are still down.

The latest official Friday update is another interesting one, this time focusing on an often overlooked aspect of MMOs - exploring.

Damion Schubert, the principal lead designer on the game, has posted his thoughts on how to encourage exploration and how the developer team are approaching this in SWTOR (as an aside it's worth following his game design blog, Zen of Design, if you are interested in the theory behind MMO design).

I personally found this a really interesting update because I'm an explorer by nature in MMOs. My Bartle Test result runs as follows:

Explorer 80% :: Socializer 67% :: Achiever 27% :: Killer 27%

So, anything that encourages me to explore out of the way places is great in my book. I distinctly remember the sense of achievement I had when I managed to earn the Ridge Racer title in Lord of the Rings Online for example.

Bioware are approaching this in two ways. First of all the Codex is a kind of journal of knowledge that automatically fills up as you explore, in a similar way to the Codices in Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Many of the Codex entries are easy to obtain and you will get them just from running round. Others however can only be found by exploring out of the way places, fighting particular named mobs or locating certain items. These Codex entries will offer experience as well as the background lore in your journal.

Dear Diary, today I met a K'lor'slug
Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, is the concept of Datacrons. These are rare items that are hidden in out of the way places (or in plain sight but with no obvious route of access). If you manage to find a Datacron it will give you some experience as well as permanently increasing one of your character stats. They are supposed to be difficult to find, and difficult to gain access to (I don't mean you have to fight your way through difficult mobs, but you have to explore and find hidden paths to reach them).

Datacron - yummy!
I really like the fact they are introducing an achievement system for the explorers amongst us. If they can do similar things for the Socializers, Achievers and Killers as well then a lot of people are going to have a great time.

Anyway, head on over the official update if you want to read more detail on the system.

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