Game Designs for Decentraland: Distributed Role Playing Games
Creating a Distributed RPG Using Loot Crates
Hey everyone! It’s me again, Chris, Decentraland’s Experience Architect!
If you remember from last time, I went through a bunch of different design constraints like parcel size, distributed ownership, and limited graphics. Then we talked about how these constraints affect our approach to designing games for Decentraland. If you remember, I promised to get back to you with some fleshed out examples that could actually work in Decentraland, given these constraints.
Well, here I am!
I’m back with the first installment in this series: I’m going to talk about how to create a fun game centered on loot crates which spawn a range of virtual goods, non-player-characters, and even interactive content.
I’m going to break this post down into what I like to call a Decentraland Design Brief. These briefs are like mini-design documents (compared to most game design docs, which can be enormous) that are specifically focused on the constraints and mechanics prevalent in Decentraland.
So, without further ado, the Decentraland Design Brief for:
A Distributed RPG Using Loot Crates
Game Concept Overview
Unlike traditional role playing games where the play space is a large, custom world created by the game developer, this game would use all of Decentraland as the play space. To facilitate this, the developer would sell Loot Crates from their own parcel in Decentraland. These crates would then be purchased and placed in each individual purchaser’s parcel similar to other decorative content. The Loot Crate would then sit idle until someone other than the crate’s owner came along and opened the crate.
From here, a myriad of events could happen depending on the type of crate and the probability assigned to each event by the game developer. Non-player characters could spawn, like AI-driven enemies or a quest-giver. Items could be dropped at the feet of the player, like gear and equipment, crafting materials, or bits of game lore. The player could battle an enemy, accept a quest, or grab some loot — all depending on the event that was triggered. The player would then be able to level up their character, while simultaneously earning extra rewards for the player hosting the crate on their parcel.
These are broken into three different kinds of features:
- Basic features that you would expect in a game like this
- Advanced features that might need extra work to tweak or have their design fleshed out more
- Alternative features allowing us to play with the overall concept in new and interesting ways
Basic Game Features
MOB Crates: Upon activation, these crates spawn a monster or other enemy for the player to battle. After defeating it, the player earns XP, and the enemy drops some valuable loot.
Gear and Equipment Crates: Upon activation, these crates drop gear or other items for the player to pick up and use in the game.
Quest Crates: After activating these crates, a quest-giver appears in front of the player, giving directions to another crate on a different parcel. After finding and triggering the second crate, the player can then return to the first crate and collect the reward.
Crafting Crates: These crates drop useful or valuable materials and tools for the player to use in crafting their own in-game items.
Lore Crates: These are interesting crates because instead of enemies or loot, they can contain things like letters, books, riddles, and other lore-related narrative content. They could even spawn NPCs that literally tell the story behind the rest of the game’s content.
Merchant Crates: For specific crates, various merchants from weaponsmiths to healers can appear, ready to take the player’s in-game coin. Or even MANA as a hard currency.
Host Rewards: Every time a player successfully opens and uses a crate in the hosting player’s parcel, the host earns a reward, too. It could be XP, loot, or some other measurable bonus to incentivize buying and hosting the crates for players.
Advanced Game Features
Crate Differentiation: Crates could have a designated feature that identifies them as a specific category. For example, players could purchase and place a “Quest” crate specifically that has a spinning question mark on the front. The goal is to give players the ability to identify what category, level, and rarity of crate they are opening in advance.
Mystery Crates: A strain of crates where the category, level, and rarity are completely hidden from the player.
Scaling for Groups and Player Level: Whatever is in the crate could be scaled up or down based on the number of players (and their relative experience levels) in the party opening the crate. For example, larger parties that open a loot crate would have a bigger selection of loot to share among the party or a MOB Boss instead of a standard enemy.
Crate Cooldowns: Crates, ranging in power and rarity, only become available for the next player after a specified cooldown period based on that power and rarity.
Potential Alternatives or Options
Occupational Crates: Some crates could spawn a scenario trainer or master artisan, from a fishing pond for practice to a lesson on upgrading your jewelry skill.
Factions: Crates could belong to a certain faction, where the content spawned is better or worse for the player depending on their relationship with the various factions.
Procedural and Designed: These crates could contain a mix of procedurally generated content alongside developer-designed content to help alleviate the work, effort, and cost of hand-crafting each individual crate.
Monetization: The game developer could monetize crates in a variety of ways from requiring a simple monthly subscription, to charging for individual crates, to providing a mix of free crates and rarer, premium-paid crates. The game developer could even sell crates to non-player LAND-owners to help draw visitors to their Decentraland storefronts.
Specific game mechanics will apply to specific player types. For a healthy design targeting a broad swath of player types, the Loot Crates would handle the various mechanics in the following ways.
Exploration and Locality: Seeking out and triggering Loot Crates will take you all over Decentraland, exploring parcels from one end of the map to the other.
Strategy and Planning: Gearing up your Avatar with the loot from previous spawners, crafting various recipes, and deciding whether to hunt spawners or simply buy and place crates in order to share in other players’ loot.
Social and Teamwork: Backchannel communications on the locations and types of spawners throughout the world. You could even add in special Boss crates which would require a large group to battle.
Equity and Progression Loops: Standard RPG advancement and loot acquisition.
Action: Fighting spawned MOBs and tracking down quests to complete.
Homebase Feature: Primarily achieved through purchasing the various Loot Crates. Displaying standard leaderboards and individual player statistics is also an option.
Example Gameplay Sequences
An Advertising Mechanism
- A parcel owner who runs a Decentraland pet store specializing in birds buys a MOB Crate from the game developer and places it in front their store.
- A player searching for Loot Crates finds the store and triggers the crate.
- A crowd gathers to watch the fight as an ogre appears and attacks the player.
- The player is eventually victorious, and collects their gold and experience rewards. The pet store merchant is also rewarded with 15% of the amount the player ended up earning.
- Since they are in the area, the player and a few people in the crowd visit with the shopkeeper and browse around his store. One of the crowd members buys a pet toucan.
- An especially enthusiastic player buys three Quest-Giver Crates, putting one each on his three, closely distributed parcels. Occasionally, the Quest-Giver Crates will pair with one of his other crates, and the player who triggered the quest will have an easy time finding the matching one.
- A visitor triggers the crate and a Quest-Giver appears, giving the player a quest to find the remedy for the Quest-Giver’s sick son.
- The player triggers one of the Loot Crate owner’s other, nearby crates on a different parcel and discovers the healing herb he needed.
- The player returns to the original Quest-Giver Crate and gives the mother the remedy for her son. In return, the player is granted XP and a family heirloom Necklace of Fireballs as a reward.
- The original parcel owner earns 30% (15% x 2) of the value of the necklace, paid in in-game gold for both of his Loot Crates that participated in the experience.
- At the same time, the original parcel owner is out collecting his own rewards by triggering a nearby Gear and Equipment Crate someone else has placed on their parcel.