This is perhaps one of the most basic concepts that has been born out of the MMO industry that, for some odd reason, they keep trying to run away from. It, I believe, is solely responsible for EVE’s rise as an MMO, despite its spreadsheets in space description. For these systems, the ‘end-game’ is not a boss, it is a place. Moving to that place is the ‘goal’. By making this a place, you remove the ‘Well, I killed the last boss, guess I beat the game’ mentality that is rampant in World of Warcraft, and any other game with a boss-focused-raid-end-game. But the question is, how do you implement this?
Well, the simplest approach here is best. The side effect is also very nice, being able to forgo balance as a whole. If you are finely tuning a single encounter, yes, balance is needed to make all classes feel useful. However, if you expect players to act as a community, you can skip balance because skill itself becomes your balance.
The Story So Far:
You are a colonist, your colony can not leave the planet, cannot call for help, and there is no space travel due to a universal (literally) fuel outage. Your technology is running out of its own fuel, and soon your society itself will be required to become self-sustaining.
From there, you can easily craft a variety of devious environments to continue the story. However, here we run into the first technical hurdle. How large a gaming world? Well, we are hoping for planetary based, so we’re looking at land-mass. Above ground and below ground should be considered. Now, a way to add some suspense factor is to go underground. Underground is always an under-used bit of the sci-fi genre, one need only think of Pitch Black to see how effective underground can be used.
So, now that I’m at the first technical aspect, we have to start thinking player amount. That will be tomorrows tidbit, since it will take a bit of math and some hard thinking to get right.
Sometimes, I need to end posts a bit early when there is way too much going on inside this brain. I'm trying to go over environment layout and I'm already designing individual zones in my head. At times like that, slowing down is best.