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In my medieval MMO game, players have their own character, that represents themselves inside game. Like a King. Players could have cities and armies, but King acts as main driving force.

Then it comes to player, going offline/vacation/disconnect. How to deal with "offline King", to keep some sort of reality in game, without ruining everything for player. I have never liked unrealistic stuff in games, like appearing/dissapearing from thin air, like in WoW or other MMO RPG's, when it comes to connect/disconnect, like in Matrix movie, when you are disconnected, your "avatar" inside the system just vaninshes.

Ok, if player char stays where it was left, other players who are online could kick his ass like offline player char was frozen? I see only one solution - give player char, while offline, some sort of AI, that controls char. Is there any other solutions? May be, some sort of legend/story, could make users only as inner-voice, leaving King just passively controlled by user, or other stuff... Please, help!

I hope you understand my question.

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What do you mean by this "could make users only as inner-voice, leaving King just passively controlled by user" ? –  iamcreasy Nov 11 '11 at 10:50
    
@iamcreasy It's just about story/legend, to make "vanishing possible". It is more realistic, if player doesn't control its char, but only just a part of it (like inner voice), when it disconnects, char stays inside game, but it is not guided anymore. Something like that... This depends on constant AI for char. –  Deele Nov 11 '11 at 10:56
    
Sounds an awful lot like the game I'm making... It will probably be too complicated to do, I don't suggest it. Maybe just make him sit somewhere or walk around and make him invincible, or make him walk away and then disappear when no one can see. yannbane.blogspot.com –  akled Nov 11 '11 at 11:12
    
@bane Yeah, game I'm talking about is lot like your "Guilds" :) –  Deele Nov 11 '11 at 11:21
    
Remember you are making a game.. How many people are going to want to play a game where things can happen to their character when they are not playing it? Just some thought. –  James Nov 11 '11 at 16:51
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You have some basic possibilities:

If the player disconnects, the character vanishes as well.

Usually, you'd want this vanishing to not happen instantaneously. If players could just "pull the plug" whenever they are in a dangerous situation, they will do it and they will devise strategies to beat areas too hard for them by logging in and out like a madman.

Possible variations are:

  • The character re-appears on the same spot as he was when the player logged out.
  • The character re-appears in the nearest safe zone, the player or guild housing, or the camp site set up by his party beforehand.
  • Some combination of the above, configurable by the player
  • Some combination of the above, configurable by the area the player is in (instances and battlefields might send you back, regular XP spots not)
  • The character is still barely visible, as a "ghost", for all nearby players.
  • Buffs and debuffs on the character might expire, or they might still count - and even kill the character while offline.

If the player disconnects, the character stays.

This is dangerous by itself, since - especially with PvP on and full looting - there is much possibility for griefing and unfairness. After all, you can't always pick the time when your network goes down. Possible variations are:

  • The character quickly runs back to the nearest safe place, camp site, player home or guild home, avoiding (or simply not drawing) any aggro. He can only die to other players.
  • The character "ports away" to one of the above spots.
  • The character becomes unkillable, but does not fight either.
  • The character goes into (player-defined) "shop mode", where he behaves just like a regular NPC shop keeper, either respawning or being unkillable without any negative effects just like them.

For the "shop mode", you could allow the players to inspect and modify the contents of their shops (or other offered services) while not being logged into the game - for example, via a web site or an external API. Same goes for sending and receiving in-game mail.

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And what about more "realistic" approaches? What if we concentrate more on second "If the player disconnects, the character stays."? –  Deele Nov 12 '11 at 8:01
    
@Deele: What is "realistic" for your game depends on the game. In doubt, I'd ask myself - how are NPCs handled? What happens to them when they die? Can they even die? If they have a day-night cycle, can the players follow them into their houses and murder them in their sleep, or are the interiors of the houses off-limits? In general, if you want PCs to stay in the game-world (and I think it's a good idea to do so, especially with player housing, to avoid "ghost towns"), I'm in favour of handling off-line PCs the same as NPCs. –  Martin Sojka Nov 12 '11 at 8:52
    
Good point. I think, question is answered in comments. As this is only answer given, I will consider it done. :) –  Deele Nov 15 '11 at 7:53
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