Results From Game Design Challenge: Combat-Free Zone

By Danny Cowan [05.22.18]

 Combat is a major gameplay component in many commercially released titles, and massively multiplayer online (MMO) games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 are no exception. Not all games that deliver an online multiplayer experience need to focus on combat, however.

Second Life, for instance, started out as a weapons-focused open-world game, but later ditched the combat to refocus on building and social aspects. Ever, Jane,meanwhile, is a Jane Austen-based MMO that relies on user roleplay and environmental customization instead of combat.

Another memorable example is Glitch, a browser-based collaborative MMO where users worked together to solve the mysteries of the game world. Despite being active for only a short time between 2009 and 2012, Glitch has already seen multiple revivals with Eleven and Children of Ur. Clearly, there's a demand for gameplay variety in online multiplayer experiences.

For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed massively multiplayer online games that do not feature combat elements. Here are our top picks!

Best Entries

Lorène Hue, Student at Artfx School in Montpellier, France, The Hidden Continent (see page 2)

Hippolyte Caubet, Amateur Independent Game Developer, A Place Among The Seas (see page 3)

Morgane Masson, QA Tester, Flying Trees (see page 4)

Briana Dinkins, Student at Herzing University in Madison, WI, Racing City (see page 5)

Nidula Geeganage, High school student at Glen Waverley Secondary College in Victoria, Australia, Our Story (see page 6)

Christopher Yaun, Student at Herzing University, Shadow Ominous (see page 7)

Ryan Gill, Student at Herzing University, Asteroid Miners (see page 8)

Lorène Hue, Student at Artfx School in Montpellier, France, The Hidden Continent


The Hidden Continent is a third person survival MMORPG set in a partial submerged Open World, with a medieval fantasy style.


Characters must survive on the Continent by collecting resources and prevent the regular submersions of lands who partially destroyed resources. But if the community gathers its forces, they can prevent the flooding of the lands and push back the ocean to discover new territories and resources.


1. World/Exploration: The Continent is regularly submerged by ocean. Lots of lands are already submerged and wait to be discovered. The lands are divides in several areas (landforms) and landforms are sub-divided (size around 1 kilometre).

2. Events: Events are specials events who impact the Continent, like new disasters (Tsunami, violent submersion, etc...)

3. Characters:

4. Resources: The Continent provides resources like Food (Meat, Grains, Plants, Fish), minerals (iron, rocks), and woods. Players must manage resources and don't waste.

Hippolyte Caubet, Amateur Independent Game Developer, A Place Among The Seas

A place among the seas ; PC ; 3rd person ; MMO exploration & sand box

Concept :

A place among the seas is a game taking place in the ocean. "Domes" had been created under water and humans live in them. Iron suits had been designed for humans, making them able to move freely under water. You will play as a kaihanga. Your role will be to explore alone or with your friend the world around the dome, looking for resources or places where to build stations were all the players can come.

Gameplay :

The journey begin in the "starting dome", where you can walk. This zone is the place where every player can interact with each other. But the real game start when you reach the outside of the dome. You will be equipped a iron suit, allowing you to "fly" under water.

You will be able to move fast, everywhere, shallower or deeper to see fabulous places and encounter a lot of different life forms.

Your suit has a limited battery, you will be able to go outside for several hours but if this time is overpassed your player will die. Underwater ships will be available to go further and faster. They can be controlled alone or with an entire crew. Some ships will need a crew of 10 peoples for it to be controlled.

You will be equipped a laser beam to gather resources used to build stations all around the map or new ships and suits. Theses stations will be opened to every player, but you can choose whether or not you want them to be able to modify the station. Theses stations will serves as relay points, where you can charge the battery of your suit and your ship.

The more you go far from the dome, the more rare ressources you will find, necessary for the best suits and ships.

There will be a lot of different stations than can be constructed. From the simple room where to charge your suit to the gigantic casino or aquarium. You will be able to build a city, or just get the best suit of the game to explore the deepest places of the sea.

Features :

Become a Kaihanga, Explore the seas, Build the city of your dream

Play A place among the seas

Morgane Masson, QA Tester, Flying Trees

"Welcome to a world built by the players for the players"


Flying Trees is a strategy-coop MMO game, based on the vertical exploration of the game world.

Players are trees who have to find and reactivate mythical artifacts that can be found all around the world, close to the floating islands. These artifacts are bounds to the world's balance: the more artifact awakens, the more floating islands appear.



As a tree, the player grows over time and choose where its branch will appear. They can grow for an unlimited time, but the taller they become, the slower they'll grow.

A Player can only grow on the ground or on another Player's branch.


When they wish to move, players sacrifice one of their branches to turn it into a moving tree person: a Treant.

As it, they can freely move everywhere, jumping from branch to branch no matter who's tree it is. Treant can help trees grow their branches and once they have found the best place ever, they can turn into a brand new tree.

Only the player can destroy its own tree, when on Treant form.

Level up and abilities:

The player can obtain new abilities when turning back to its tree form. He'll be able to spend points to choose a new ability, depending on its current level.

Player gain experience points when growing close to another tree, as a tree and by exploring as a Treant.


The mythical objects are set all around the world, distant from the ground. To reach them, players will have to unite.

Around the artifacts, players will grow faster. Once activated, the artifact turns into an immortal tree which allows the player to move easily.

This tree will also become a respawn/teleport zone for the players.


Briana Dinkins, Student at Herzing University, Racing City

Racing City is an adrenaline pumping, heart racing MMO game for everyone 10+. Racing City is design to focus on an immense variety of different races with a twist for each type of race all located in one city. Racing City gives the player the chance to freely roam around the city letting them experience different races at their own pace. Within the city it contains different locations where players can race against each other. Ranging from racing in a grocery store to racing go karts at the local fair.

Customization is another feature in this game. As the player advances, they are given a variety of racing vehicle upgrades, color, themes, and attachments. The more races completed the more equipped the player acquires.

Game play:

Within the city, at each location there will be a red box located on the ground where the player will stand to start the race with others. Each player will start out with a basic race vehicle pertaining to that specific location selected with future options of upgrading their racing vehicle. Racing City also contains two different play modes when the complete game is fully unlocked; after completing all races in a set minimum time for each of the races.

Player chooses the difficulty level of the race. Racing will begin when the maximum number of players needed for the race is reached for the race.

Each race can be customized to the player's preference depending on which location the player is at. Customization ranges from race time, weather (if outdoors), racing vehicle, & will be match with other players with same preferences.

If racing indoors there's a twist, there is a mission per that location. If the mission is not completed before the race ends, the player will be disqualified from the race. For example, if you are in the grocery store you need to knock down as many displays before finishing the race with the fastest time.

Outdoor racing will be solely based on the player's times to figure out the winner. While racing there will be powerups along the track that the player can pick up to give the player advantage during the race. There are also pickups that can slow down a player if they are not paying attention.

After each race is complete, the player will be awarded parts to upgrade their racing vehicles that they have acquired or can unlock in the future. Per each location there are different racing vehicles. Go karts at the local fair Go-Kart track, shopping carts at the grocery store and ATV's in the mall to name a few.

As mention before, there are two different play modes that can be played within this game which include; Freedom Racing & Custom City. Freedom racing mode the player can play all the variety of races. In Custom City, this play mode is unlocked after completion of all the races. This play mode lets the player create their own Racing city for others to race on.

ATV racing

(Basic idea of the layout of the city with more locations)

Nidula Geeganage, High school student at Glen Waverley Secondary College in Victoria, Australia, Our Story

Our Story is a blend of social interaction based MMOs such as Second Life and games like The Sims which revolve around creating a simulation. The Sims sees players controlling avatars to manage their needs and desires; with the addition of a massively multiplayer community the idea is to give players freedom to attempt to fulfil their needs however they want, whilst also allowing them to decide how they want to go about assisting others in their similar endeavours (if at all).

Players create their own character by personalising their appearance and other details such as name, gender and a brief description.

The game progresses through a repeated day/night cycle - with each day being separated into segments: morning, afternoon, evening and night.

Players can spend their time however they want - including doing practically nothing - provided that they cater to their character's basic needs in order to prevent the consequences of possible sickness and potentially death. This system would be similar to The Sims with hunger levels and the need to maintain hygiene and so on.

Some tasks may only be available and certain times of day, for instance most shops and venues would be close during the night and so on. Players can earn money by doing different kinds of jobs, which would generally be some sort of multiplayer minigames performed by the employees in which they work towards a sort of goal. Alternatively, they could also just go venturing for resources and items and sell them in whatever fashion they want.

Players can then use their money for participating in various leisure activities, buying food and necessities, creating housing, buying pets and so on. Other leisure activities, such as social games like poker could be implemented as well.

A lot of these features were stated as hypotheticals because the scope of this kind of game would be quite large. But, I think when you start getting down to the specifics it would be achievable.

Christopher Yaun, Student at Herzing University, Shadow Ominous

The MMO game idea is called Shadow Ominous. You get to create your own customizable ghost while you roam around the world of Booville. The main goal of this game is to collect different spirit orbs called Souls which are scattered across the land. Each soul also has a different color and gives your character more experience and different attributes to make your ghost stand out.

For example, if you collect a red soul, you receive experience on agility and will do better in sport like minigames. If you collect a green soul, you will receive more experience in knowledge and will solve puzzles much easier. You can make friends with other players and can exchange souls to each other as well. You can also play online mini games and chat with players from around the world. You can also use the souls and experience you have earned to create your own home for your ghostly avatar. The game also includes a lot of quests and does include a story mode as well. It's ages 10 and up, though anyone can join in on the fun and customize their own ghostly ghoul.

There will be a brand new storyline to the game in the future where your ghostly avatar can visit the human world. You can collect plenty of souls by trying to scare the humans. It will also be a great hangout place for you and your online buddies.

There may also be an update where you can accessorize your ghost and give them different pets and or objects to keep, like a pet black cat or a vampire cape. You could also have the opportunity to dress up your ghost into other spooky monsters, like a mummy or a werewolf.

The game will require all things an MMO game should have. There will be unique character design, so players can make their avatars stand out from the rest. The game has tons of original quests and an overarching story that will keep the players engaged to keep coming back for more. There will be an engaging quest system where you will pointed out where to go if the player gets lost. There will also be hidden paths and rewards given for exploring more of the in game universe. It will be free to play but there will also be paid memberships as well. There will not be a play to win system.

As mentioned, there will be tons of mini games for players to interact with other players around the world to not only hang out, chat, and play against each other, but to also gain some free souls and gain more experience in any category you choose. And of course, there will be regular small updates to the game, and will also have future content so the players will have something to look forward to and not bored and move on to a different game. The expansion packs could be either free or paid DLC, depending on how big the content would be.

Ryan Gill, Student at Herzing University, Asteroid Miners


It has been 50 years since the sun expanded destroying the Earth. What was the human race has joined together to try to survive and find a new plant. Players must work together to push the human race forward into the future.

Game Description

This is a economics MMO, that takes place in an asteroid belt in deep space. The players will mine asteroids for different resources that they can trade for resource they need, spend them to upgrade their mining bases and scout ships, or spend them on completing quest given by the colony ship . The players will run into each other, but the only thing they can do is trade or join a guild.

The player will start from with an asteroid that is near a colony ship. This colony ship will serve as the players first main hub for trade and questing. Quest will give the player random boosts or resource. Colony ships will not move from where they start from.

Ships and mining Bases

The player will have control over a scout ship and two mining base to start off with. Of the two mining bases one of which the will be randomly placed on the map the other the player gets to find a spot for. The player can purchase more and other ships and upgrade them. Each base will have seperate storage making the player have to manage their own resources. Ships can transfer resources from base to base.

Upgrades for the scout ship will be speed, range, storage. and sensor range. Upgrades for the mining base will be speed of production, storage, amount produced, and port size.


The resources the players can get are iron, water, uranium, and fuel. Each asteroid only has one type of resources. Each asteroid will have a number of spots that players can mine from that is proportional to the size of the asteroid. Plants have all resources, but will provide bonuses for one type of resources for the guild that has claimed it.


The guilds are trading groups at players can create or join. These are to help players to trade with others. Guilds can buy nearby plants, the number of plants a guild can have at one time is based on the number of players in the guild.

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