Project M Revisited

[The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar] Some sort of announcement was made at PAX the other day from the folks at Turbine. I have not been able to confirm this, but it has promise. This is something I would love to try out myself. (Note to Turbine: the game’s name isn’t long enough – please add more words.)

First, for some background on Project M, an idea tried in Everquest:

What was Project M and how did it affect the creation of monster missions?

Project M was an experiment done back in fall of 2001 where players could select a monster at the character selection screen. The intent was to allow players to hop into the body of a low level creature and challenge other creatures and players, but the design of the system at the time had some significant problems that prevented Project M from staying on servers long.

Why didn’t Project M work?

First, Project M didn’t fit into the immersive world of EverQuest as players were simply choosing an NPC at character select (such as a moss snake). In addition, a small minority of players used Project M to grief new players which introduced a PvP element on PvE servers that was unintended. As you can imagine, the only people who typically had fun were the griefers and even then it was a short term play-style as players never earned rewards.

And now for the news from PAX, where a friend heard it from a friend that someone overheard someone else say this:

At the character selection screen, you can select “Monster Play”. This lets you play as a monster, such as a goblin. This is not a persistent character–it is a pre-made goblin, already set up with equipment, skills, hotkeys, etc.

As a goblin, you will have monster quests. Some will involve killing good NPC’s. Some will involve patrolling special PvP zones and killing players. Either way, player-controlled monsters will be restricted to certain areas. By completing your quests and/or killing good guys, you get points–let’s call them “Monster Points” (MP’s).

MP’s can be used to buy long-lasting (but non-permanent) buffs for your good-folk character, or they can be used to buy a Monster Play session that will let you play something more powerful, like an Uruk-hai or troll. You are only paying for a single such session though–in order to continue playing as a bigger, badder monster, you will have to earn more MP’s. Of course, the quests for bigger monsters will also yield MP’s (perhaps enough to keep playing that monster).

I’d sign up for “Monster Play” in a heartbeat.

– Ethic

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I own this little MMO gaming blog but I hardly ever write on it any more. I'm more of a bloglord or something. Thankfully I have several minions to keep things rolling along.

6 thoughts on “Project M Revisited”

  1. As a person who was subjected too deeply to Project M, it was a lot more than a small portion. It was 90% of the people. The monsters, except in rare, buggy cases, were beyond boring to play. Your mana took forever to regen so it was easier to just die in most cases and get booted to the character screen (your death ended your current monsterous career). The Monster Mission idea introduced in Depths worked better, but the exp rate was heavily nerfed from beta and became not worth it except for the early adopters who maxed early.

    Back in Project M days as well, there was a great way that I would payback the griefers. Well, two ways. One was to basically just permaroot them when they were in a melee mob (snake, etc). They were stuck. You could root, then just sit down, med, and let them suffer. It made that idjit who kept interupting your medding feel some of your pain. The other way was to rez their monster body. This caused their client to crash. Griefing both ways is why it went away =p

    Note: The author does not condone griefing in any way shape or form, but might have done some after being harassed all night and gotten away with it…

  2. Sounds like there will be restrictions in place to keep that from happening. The monsters can only travel in a certain area, you can’t go anywhere you want. Also, the skills the monsters have are limited to be level appropriate so most likely you won’t be killing too many players. It will be interesting to see how they handle the potential problems. It sounds like monsters vs. players is not the main focus of this. They have quests and such, and a pvp area. I would imagine the player controlled monsters will be in pretty limited areas of the game.

    Also, you would have to limit the spawn rate to be the same as the number of npc monsters that would have spawned. Don’t rest until it’s safe, just like any other time.

  3. So basically you will log into a monster and die 3 shots later from a PC :P Or even better a high level just griefs the piss out of low level monsters. Levels suck.

  4. Fantastic idea, especially if they can:

    1) Facilitate communication within a pickup group of low-level mobs to allow decent strategizing and goal-orienting among people who don’t know each other,
    2) Somehow force the mobs into a mob-like behaviour to keep PCs from immediately realizing they’re fighting a human-controlled adversary, and minimize the possibility for abuse/griefing.

    I love the idea of being able to take a break from questing, crafting and grinding my main by possessing a dirty, smelly Orc-avatar and go wreak some random havoc onto Minas Tirith along with a horde of people I don’t know and don’t care about. I also love the idea of defending Minas Tirith from random attacks of human-controlled mobs. And the premise of not necessarily knowing whether I’m “pulling” an aggro-controlled dumb NPC or a human-controlled smart NPC who might be trying to “pull” me into an ambush is really neat.

    What I fear might happen is that the final implementation will encourage people to roll up monsters that their friends will kill for XP, or that you can instantly generate disposable orcs to clean out a spawn area with, then log in with your main to pick up the loot, or any number of other stupid exploits similar to the ones in the WoW Battlegrounds.

    As with all ideas, the difference between a good and a bad one is in the implementation.

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