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Author Topic: The Miscreant Engine  (Read 46994 times)
F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« on: May 19, 2004, 09:50:51 PM »

I'm comitting what may be considered blasphemy.

I've knocked out a few fun little pen-and-paper RPG's but after I left the service, my gaming group got dispersed but good.  My old buddies want me to keep making little RPG's so they can play them with their own groups in Korea, Germany, and Iraq (who knew they had the time).  I would rather come up with a way for all of us to keep in touch and play despite the distance.  The answer was obvious, but I didn't really want to consider it.

Make a Massively Multiplayer Online RPG.

At first, the cons were obvious, the pros minimal.  I knew how to program, no problem there, and with an independent game I'd essentially be playing with my friends, I didn't have to worry about all the expenses and such of marketing it.  However, there is no MMORPG in existence that really captures the intimacy of a tabletop.  They are pretty much big, elaborate videogames with lots and lots of players.

Every part of that last sentence was a deterrent.

So I decided I'd make it differently from other games.  Just a computerized RPG engine with the rules from my little homebrew games built in.  I decided to look at how MMORPG's were designed in order to see what I could borrow.

That was when I saw an opportunity.  I found the flaw in all online computer RPG's.

MMORPG's display this flaw to the greatest extent, so I'll use them to demonstrate.  The original engine is lifted from pen-and-paper RPG's.  When applied to a game accomodating hundreds or thousands of players, the ruleset collapses.  In order to make a game that could function with so many players, the key was to design a game that integrated the input of thousands of players instead of just four or five.

So I got to work.  I thought it would be a nice little report on future RPG's.  Ways to accomodate massive amounts of players by doing more than just throwing quests and loot at them.  I created my ruleset from the environment inward, towards the character instead of the other way around.

So far, I've got a lot of work done and I'd be happy to discuss what I've come up with thus far.  I'm bringing my project to Forge because I'm not designing a computer program (which seems the focus for most people creating one of these types of games) but rather, I'm designing an RPG and I would appreciate the input of RPG designers, players, and gamemasters in order to bring it to fruition.

Of particular interest to me are those elements of tabletop gaming that have not yet been brought to life in a computer game.  I realize certain elements cannot ever be a part of an online game (Doritos especially are better when eaten with dice) but many elements have never been attempted.

Please, post and tell me what you think of my idea.  Don't hold back on the "It'll never work" either.  I need to know why it won't work.

Thank you,

- Wyld -
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2004, 10:07:33 PM »

I've read some of the other posts on Forge and I've noticed a few things I've left out of my original post.

It seems that some RPG designers like to make [blank]-type versions of licensed games that they're particularly fond of.  The gameworld for my RPG is based upon a book that I wrote and self-published so don't worry about it stepping on any toes.  Legally, I own the license (self-published, but professionally distributed and well-protected) so I guess I own the content.

So...we're home free to talk about what might go into it.

Also, it occured to me that it might help immensely if I stated what the game was about.  It's called "Armageddon Gospel" and it has a dark-fantasy setting.  The story revolves around a fantasy world that is in decay.  The misuse of magic by the sentient races has spiraled the world towards extinction through unnatural and supernatural evolution.  The "Armageddon Gospels" are the instruction books used by the Creator to create the world in the fist place and they can be used to re-create the world in the image of the person who obtains all of them and reads from them.

Destroying the current reality in the process.

So...I'm not sure what other information might be deemed pertinent to the discussion aside from the dice system I'm using (I'll hand that out piecemeal.  It's not that I'm hoarding it, but it's written for a computer and very...very long).  I hope this fills in some gaps and opens the doors for discussion.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2004, 02:33:03 AM »

You might want to give a few design goals in point form, and then talk about how you addressed them. It'll give people an idea of where you want to go and how you've gone about getting there.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2004, 02:37:30 AM »

I think your approach is the correct one.  I agree that the present MMORPG's, t o the extent I am familiar with them which is not very, appear to be reproductions of tabletop RPG mechanics, and with the thoughts you have on their failures.  Could you expand on the design philosophy you have decided upon and how exactly you see the interactions between players and worlds actually occurring?

We have had a couple of threads on this topic, mostly inconclusive however for lack, I feel, of an updated and clearly defined 'concept of operations' for such games.  This I think would be the most interesting aspect of your design and the most likely to trigger responses.  Could you provide a discussion of the mechanical interactions and the interface and so forth?
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2004, 08:35:10 AM »

I suppose my design philosphy is simulationist by default.  A computer cannot narrate a story, no matter how well programmed.  Also, a MMORPG is has no winners or loser, but is rather an environment in which players create characters specifically designed to interact with that environment.  This makes an MMORPG a toy technically rather than a game because a MMORPG cannot be "won" but it can be "played with".

The simulationist approach is a new one for me.  Certain rolls were considered "gimmes" in my old GMing days.  A professional blacksmith didn't have to roll to make a horseshoe and a baker didn't have to roll to make a muffin.  As a simulation, I have to create an engine that adequately accounts for the elements that go into everything the players do, skill, effort, creativity...the works.  It would be daunting for a GM (at least it would be for me) but a computer can handle it with no problems.

By creating the game from the environement inward, I can actually allow the players to design their "goals" by simply stating how they may intereact with the world.  If you want to become a world-renowned fighter, get the training, open a guild, and train others in your skills.  If you want to become a merchant, make the goods, use the market system to get your product out, and watch the profits roll in.  The engine is skill-based, so you excell at what you do.

Take the "guild" mechanic for example:

This is a skill-based game, meaning that there are no pre-defined ability lists for players to apply to their characters.  Anyone can learn combat, magic, or tradeskills in any order and to any degree they desire.  Skills are somewhat cumulative, however.  The more "fencing" skills a player knows, the better all of his "fencing" skills become.  This way, a certain amount of dedication is required to become good at something but all one needs to learn it in the first place is to want to learn it in the first place.

This is where guilds come in.  "Levelling" is nothing more than attaining a certain degree of proficciency in your chosen skills.  Stats are percentage-based so reaching 75% proficcency in 5 skills would gain you first level.  Each level allows you to learn new skills.  Guilds are essentially shops where players can "buy" skills.  Each guild carries related skills in order to encourage repeat customers (remember, the more of a certain type of skill a player has, the better they all are).  A player could do it some other way, but the venture would probably fail.  Joining a guild is like choosing a class.  The "price" of skills comes down and it makes that player gain those skills faster and become more proficcient in them.  This means that a player who wants to have a "ranger" character would join a "ranger" guild (the default ranger guild in the game is the Glenwardens but a player could create a new one with more emphasis on magic and less on say...survival techniques).

This just shows how adventurering-type players can customize their characters to work outside the class system.  If you like your character and your unique skills so much, you can found a guild and teach them to others.  In playtesting, someone in my little group has already created their own necromancer guild called Shadowcasters (think swordsmen with considerable dark magic skill) by just creating a skill list (half of them the player knew personally, the rest can be skills the player could have learned if he'd bothered).

My goals are to come up with "rules" for other aspects of my game.  "Rules" being the established way of doing things, but to have the game engine allow for alternatives.  My economy mechanic is coming along, even going so far as to spawn an "alternate economiy", or black market.

So, I hope that perhaps opens the doors on the type of thing I'm doing.
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2004, 10:22:45 AM »

I think I notice a contradiction in what you've stated so far:

1) "All MMORPGs are inherently flawed because they mindlessly repeat certain cliches from tabletop RPGs." Probably true. (But I've never played online games, so I speak from ignorance).

2) "My game will have guilds -- and levels -- and Rangers..." Aren't all these things examples of the unquestioned assumptions copied from tabletop RPGs you were upset about?

Again, I am woefully ignorant about online gaming. I did find an interesting document which you may or may not have seen already, and which I'd highly recommend: http://mu.ranter.net/theory/index.html
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2004, 12:17:05 PM »

First, what's your impression of Neverwinter Nights?

Second, check out this post for some related comments: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=10147

Mike
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2004, 12:23:21 PM »

Actually, I've read Mu's rant.  In fact, it was what lead me to try and find ways to plug up the holes in online gaming.  

Lemme respond to your specific statements, however...

"All MMORPGs are inherently flawed because they mindlessly repeat certain cliches from tabletop RPGs."

Actually, despite the quotes around this statement, I don't believe I ever said that.  The inherrent flaw in MMORPG's is the fact that the game engine is lifted from a tabletop game.  The tabletop game has no errors in it that would be passed on to the MMORPG.  In fact, the tabletop ruleset is probably one that works perfecty...for a tabletop

MMORPG designers seem to have paid little attention to the fact that pen-and-paper RPG's are designed for four to five players.  When you take that same system and put several hundred players into an environment, the flaws--perhaps I shall say weaknesses in the system become apparent.  The system was not designed for thousands of players and it will eventually show it's limitations when put to the test.  I'm trying to design a system that can accomodate thousands of players but be fun even if all you want to do is adventure by yourself.

"My game will have guilds -- and levels -- and Rangers..."

Actually, this is another paraphrase but it's largely true so we'll go on.

Aren't all these things examples of the unquestioned assumptions copied from tabletop RPGs you were upset about?

Again, this question missed the mark slightly because I have no problem with certain standards in RPG's.  Never said I did.  I do think that MMORPG's fail because they neglect to adjust the focus of the ruleset they're adapting to the goals of the game they're making.

However, in order to clarify my own use of standards in my game, I'll explain the rangers, classes and guilds.

Well, this will be easy, my game doesn't have rangers, it has "ranger-type" skills.  Learn as many as you want and call yourself whatever you like.  Then again, if you call yourself a ranger...I guess my game would have rangers.

To start off, all my game will have are guilds.  If you want a class, join a guild and learn only the skills they teach.  If your guild is "Fighter" then your "class" will be fighter.  However, these words are only to simplify the system for players.  No two guilds will teach the same skills or...teach them in the same way.  Also, since they're named by players who are generally pretty imaginative, it's also unlikely that they'll be called "Fighter", "Thief", " or "Magic-User" guilds.

Not that you couldn't if you wanted to.

If a guild is owned and operated by a "fighter-type" who learned and honed his skills through military service, his approach to weapons will be tactical.  His students will learn simple, mechanical motions that are effective when standing as a part of a military unit.  They will learn how to kill efficiently, how to find weak spots in armor, and how to incapacitate an opponent quickly.  If another "fighter-type" with the exact same skills but who honed his skills adventuring rather than serving in a military opened a guild, his approach would be diferent.  He would focus on other types of combat such as dueling or fighting monsters rather than other humans (so probably a very weak "disarm" skill but a very strong "Find Vitals: Nonhuman" skill) and his overall guild would look nothing like his neighbor's.

So to use classes would be misleading.  If two fighter guilds can have so much variation, then to say that all skills falling under a certain class deems you a member of that class is impossible.

Now for levels...

Not all RPG's use levels to denote player advancement and character development.  I do for simplification sake, but the game engine only recognizes the skills you know, and the extent to which you know them.  Although there is a mathematical advancement system to define when players get to learn new skills, it's hidden from players.  All in all, there are sixty levels a player can reach in this game, but attainging level sixty only makes you roughly three times as "tough" as a level one player statistically.  The skills a level sixty player knows (about a hundred if they only learn what's useful to them) vastly outweigh what a level one character knows and these skills make all the difference.

Think of stats as being a big pool of resources.  Skills define them and make then effective.  You can be fast as all get-out, but if you don't know how to dodge or evade a combatant, all you're going to do is get hit while jumping around frantically.  An attacker could be slower, but because he knows how to use his weapon and read his opponent, he's going to get a hit every time.  Interesting conflicts happen when it's skill vs. skill.  Stat vs. stat equals a playground slap-fight.

However, in a tip I took from Mu, leveling is hidden from players.  They only know roughly how good they are at something.  Same goes for health...they get a percentage.  I did this to make players consider whether or not they would initiate combat. The Kobold has twenty HP on a good day and this one looks sick, you can take 'em.  However, you're at 12% health (this could be as much as seventy HP mind you)...still wanna risk taking on that kobold?

So, I hope this clarifies a bit more what I'm trying to do.  Thanks for the questions, however, it's really bringing out my definition in what I expect this engine to be capable of.
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2004, 01:05:18 PM »

Mike:

I love the NW Aurora Toolset.  It does it's job very well.  The toolset is akin to buying three hundred dollars worth of manuals, kits, and supplementals for the D&D ruleset and making them available to be played online with friends.  The toolset is a game maker and a very good one.  A DM can design campaings with a definitive beginning, middle and end.

Unfortunately, a MMORPG is a toy, not a game.  So while the urge to make a MMORPG with it might seem tempting, the finished result would (along with breaking numerous intellectual property laws) have the same limitations as every other MMORPG based on the existing D&D rules.

But if you use it to do what it's intended to do, it's a steal.

As far as my economy goes, I stole an idea from the Jamestown settlement...that was then stolen by Harlem street gamgs...which was then taken over by Italian street gamgs...that was subsequently pilfered by state and federal governements.

The Lottery.

Originally, lotteries were used to raise money for public projects.  The governement would put up a nice sum of money and invite citizens to purchase lots.  The citizens would buy the lots and one lucky individual would get the money.  The government, on the other hand, would have made their investment several times over.

For small, player-run cities, it works very well.  The largest player-run city only has about six-hundred citizens.  The farmland can only support that many people and building farms farther away from the marketplace leaves them open to raids by bandits (and worse).  I used Mu's example of how farmers have to be able to take their goods to market, being able to get there, by foot work the market for several hours, then walk back home.

The economy itself is based on grain, much like the economy of feudal Japan.  A platinum piece is worth ten sacks of milled grain.  A gold piece is worth  a single sack of milled grain.  A silver piece is worth a pound (1/10 a sack) and a copper piece is worth a single cup (1/10 a pound).

Errata:  A cup only makes a small loaf of bread, usually fried in a pan with a bit of fat.  The loaves are called pancakes by peasants and copper pieces are commonly referred to as "pannies".

So I've got a functioning economy and, as I've stated, a black market.  It is possible to simply take gold, mix it with lesser metals, and strike false coins.  It's also possible to set up an underground lottery where tickets cost much less (a few coppers or a silver piece).  A policy is set up where the true cost of the ticket is subtracted from the winnings, if any are made.  If not, you owe some very unsavory for the full price of the ticket.

Policy rackets (number running) and Counterfitting are nice little things I was able to toss into the game.

Mind you, this is just the common form of an economy that some of the smaller cities use.  Since money can be traded just like any other commodity, it's possible to set up your own economy if you like.  I came up with this so beginning landowners wouldn't have to invest in a complicated and expensive tax system (tax collectors and their hired goons cost money you know).
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kenjib
Member

Posts: 269


« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2004, 01:44:13 PM »

Okay, I see the little bits and pieces here, but I don't see the big picture.  There are games out there, like Shadowbane and Dragon Empires that are actively designed around the concept of large numbers of players, as opposed to older generation games like UO and Everquest which have the problems you state.  These newer games are trying to address the issues by creating rules for social structures to manage large numbers of people, give them reasons to work together in large groups, and codify certain types of social behavior through rules in order to encourage certain types of play on a large scale.  These games are designed around the larger interactions first, and the smaller scale rules flow downward from there (UO and Everquest were designed around smaller interaction, and the IMO unplanned for macro-results evolved outward from there).  This is a focus on large scale social engineering, which I think is really what MMORPG design is all about.

I see skills and guilds and such, but what about your game addresses the central point you brought up that you find as a failing in other MMORPGs:

"In order to make a game that could function with so many players, the key was to design a game that integrated the input of thousands of players instead of just four or five."

Shadowbane, for example, uses the input of thousands of players to determine the territorial extent of various empires.  It allows many people to work together cooperatively toward a goal with broad accessibility (warfare) instead of the Everquest model of having many people working against each other in competition toward a goal with limited accessibility (camp kill and loot).

In a MMORPG it is the dynamics which govern the way that people interact on the macro scale that define the nature of the game and ultimately determine what the challenges and goals of the game are, i.e. how the game is played.  What kind of mechanics do you have in place on the macro level?  How do the rules socially engineer the way in which the game is played?

Everquest is based on restricting access.  They restrict based on time (travel time, respawn time, actions that must be repeated large numbers of times to achieve results) and they restrict based on exclusivity (items appearing only in certain camp spots that can sustain only one group of players, limited goal-related spawns that can only be used by one group of players over a given period of time).  The time mechanics result in the primary measure of skill in the game being patience and perseverence in the face of tedium.  The accessibility result in the primary measure of status and value in the game is measured by the ability to competitively lock-in control over contested resources.  The entire dynamic of the game, from the economy, to the nature and vocabulary of social interaction, to the things that guilds focus on, to the general demeanor of the players, all flow from these design tenets.  If you've played the game you probably know what I'm talking about.

So, how does your game engineer the "way the game is played" through the ruleset at the macrocosmic (world view) scale?  How is this design intent reinforced by the rules at the microcosmic (player's eye view) scale.
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Kenji
F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2004, 06:42:36 PM »

Good question kenjib,

Well, the macrocosmic view of the game world is that it is actively working towards the destruction of the players.  The game world is supposedly on a slippery slope to oblivion and this game mechanic reflects that.

Players create communities and the game creates communities.  Players build high walls, grow wheat, and otherwise try to keep the wilderness from wiping them off the face of the earth.  The game on the other hand, builds ancient crypts filled with horrors, marauding bands of goblins, and demonic nightmares that lurk in deep caverns.  

The game creates random monsters, but it creates them "naturally".  A dragon has a life cycle in the game, as do orcish settlements.  So coming across orcs is possible, but it means that there is a larger settlement of them nearby.  This makes skills like "Tracking" and "Wilderness Lore" more useful.  

This also makes it important for the player who is acting as a city planner to carefully lay his city out to keep it far from areas that generate monsters (swamps, forests, and mountains) or take a calculated risk and place his city there in order to gain a valuable resource (swamps=potion ingedients; forests=lumber; mountains=precious stones and metals).  

This also gives adventurers something to do.  Namely, blunder into dangerous and unholy places in order to clear out all the monsters (which half the players would probably do without even being asked).  The city gets a safe mountain that produces gold, the adventurer has fun and gets to keep the valuables in the lair, the guild that sent the adventurer gets prestige and everyone else can rest easy knowing nothing is going to come pouring out of the mountain to murder them in their sleep.

The reason players would work to ensure a better world is not for each other (although, that would be nice huh), but for their children.  Time isn't static in the game. Players will eventually die, whether by the sword or in their sleep.  The achievements of the previous character become hereditary skills that subsequent characters can learn.  If daddy was a master swordsman, junior should already know how to use one coming into the game.  If mama was an elven enchantress, chances are her little princess knows a conjure or two.

Players will eventually have to create new characters.  Die to many times and the soul becomes weary, making ressurection impossible.  Characters that have learned all the skills they can learn can retire in order to remain in the game as benefactors for later characters.  This makes the player who just plays to make a successful bakery have just as much at stake as the player who wants to become a legendary hero of great reknown.  

The small picture is to make a name for yourself, not to make a famous and successful character, but to make a string of them.  The microcosmic view is to become successful so your next character (your offspring) can be that much better.  They'll have access to skills you didn't, they'll have resources you didn't.  Of course, being the child of a hero or villan brings on a different type of fame.  Any villans or monsters that a previous character vanquished may want a piece of you.  Other players know it's really you and they might want to settle old scores with your kid.

The big picture is that the world is producing monsters in order to wipe out the players.  The Armageddon Gospels are unmaking creation.  Dragons rise from the sea...ancient kings hold court in their moulding tombs...undead armies re-enact battles on the ground where they were slain.  These monsters have a social structure to them, and players have to work together to either destroy the monsters, or work around them (a haunted battlefield makes a damn good city wall).

So I hope that clears up this project of mine a little more.  Very good question by the way.  I never actually posed that one to myself.  I just knew what I wanted it to be capable of and worked the little pieces, seeing how they fit into the whole.
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2004, 08:28:57 PM »

The thing about RPG's is, for the most part, they are an interactive story. Thats the one element MMORPGs haven't been able to transfer is that story.
I'm liking that I can see the elements forming TO have players create a story.
The drawback? I don't know many players who would think baking muffins all day was fun. Most players are adventurers of some kind, looking for excitement, mystery or whatever (Thus you are dead on about most players clearing out the monster nests and what not). The drawback: If the vast majority of players are monster hunters, whos left to tend to the fields, the cities and everything else needed to support the adventurers?

Interesting ideas and everything, could really go places with the right players. The downfall I see is the same with any MMORPG: As RPGs are stories, the more players you place on the stage, the less focused and the less interesting it is. MMORPGs are for the most part pretty chat rooms where you can kick your pals butt and would be difficult to have function as a table top.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Sydney Freedberg
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Posts: 1293


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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2004, 04:35:51 AM »

Quote from: WyldKarde
A dragon has a life cycle in the game, as do orcish settlements.  So coming across orcs is possible, but it means that there is a larger settlement of them nearby.


Now that's cool. A world that doesn't just randomly spawn stuff, but which actually grows it in a logical manner.

Quote from: WyldKarde
The reason players would work to ensure a better world is not for each other (although, that would be nice huh), but for their children.  Time isn't static in the game. Players will eventually die, whether by the sword or in their sleep.  The achievements of the previous character become hereditary skills that subsequent characters can learn.  If daddy was a master swordsman, junior should already know how to use one coming into the game.  If mama was an elven enchantress, chances are her little princess knows a conjure or two.


And that's VERY cool. It takes what I've heard is a congenital flaw of MMORPGs -- people playing multiple characters to help each other out -- and turns it into a feature: You're not playing one character, you're playing a family.

EDIT FOR AFTERTHOUGHT:

You could have a whole separate group of players who are playing the MONSTERS. In fact, you could have multiple groups of players whose characters are building communities (and whose players presumably building communities) quite separate from each other, and which are bound to clash.

E.g. you want to be a human, you start in Humanville, you have character options ABC; you want to be an Elf, you start in Faerie Forest, you have options DEF; you want to be a Dwarf, you start in Undermountain, you have options GHI; you want to be an Orc, you start in Stinking Wastes, you have options JKL (and player vs. player is fully enabled...); etc. etc.

Each race/culture would have a defined starting homeland and would send Adventurers out into the border areas to clear out the truly wild monsters (i.e. the game-controlled ones, the ones that don't form communities) -- and any Adventurers from competing groups. Enough successful adventuring, and the land is cleared for colonists (probably computer-controlled) -- who convert the disputed territory into more of your homeland: farmland for humans, woods for elves, delvings for dwarves, feculent wastes for orcs. So if a community does poorly in the adventuring/colonizing business, it finds the lands around it turning into stuff it can't use -- a natural incentive for conflict between any two races, not just good vs. evil.

It might be hard to keep a single player from using two email accounts/credit cards/forms of ID to register in two different communities at once and play one character as a spy for the other, though. Then again, the traditional real-world penalty for spying would work real well here: Your community finds out, they kill you....

This also impacts your metaplot: Are some of the communities (e.g. the Orcs) in favor of the "monsters proliferate, world ends" scenario and trying to help it along? Or must all unite together -- Elf and Dwarf, Man and Orc -- against the truly awful ickiness that will destroy them all?
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2004, 07:42:04 AM »

Ooooh, story...one of my favorites.

Well, I know I won't be able to get the intimate story setting that comes from five pals sitting around a table tossin' dice and making it up as they go.  However, I'm hoping for perhaps the type of collective story behind fans of a football team or people who watch CNN all day.  Since it's an MMORPG, I'm not worried about the me element.  A player who focuses on themselves and sorta tunes out the rest of the world will get that on their own.  I'm counting on that collective audience that watches world events.  

Information:

Information is another form of currency in the game.  There are "hints" generated when the world changes.  Those with second sight might see glimpses of a dark future.  Augurers can look at patterns of birds in flight and determine that something is wrong to the west.  Any of these portents means that the game has generated some new horror.  Maybe orcs have settled in the swamps or a portal to hell opened up in the mountains somewhere.

Once this information gets to the people who see it first, it will be told to leaders like city heads or interested crime lords.  From there, it will be passed down to guilds who will dispatch their "adventurers" (probably sitting around waiting for the world to go to hell) and the fun commences.  Mind you, this is just a possible pattern.  Nothings stopping the original "seer" from grabbing a party and going into battle himself.  However, there are those who would pay for such info.

In the meantime, thieves, spies (you don't need to play two characters to play two sides...besides, I can check ISP addresses to prevent most multiple log-ins) and just nosy neighbors are trying to "steal" the information (it's treated like an object) to get it to their own little cliques.  Tavern owners, for example, run makeshift guilds, using roaming adventurers to collect the bounty on quests.  The barkeep finds out the "Mage" Guild is looking for an enchanted sword and then passes this info along to a few over-eager adventurers, saying he'll pay 'em handsomely for the weapon.  They retrieve it, are paid a fraction of it's true worth (which most computer RPG players are used to anyway) and the barkeep gets to reap the benefits of guild ownership without the expense of training members or paying guild taxes to the landowner.  It's a way around the "legal" way of running a guild.

Which brings us to the next question...

Conflict:

While I have allowed for conflict within a community, there is yet no conflict between warring species.  That's because I only have the human race.  C'mon, this engine is complex enough without having to write it to include different variations on the player characters.

Although, once I get the engine running, I will work multiple races into the game.  The human race already has multiple cultures that each excell in different things based upon their cultural upbringing.

However, players play differently and this allows for ideological differences.  The cultural variations even play into these ideological differences.  The Naja are a nomadic people who live in the desert.  They do not hold land long, but rather use what is available, then move to better land elsewhere, allowing nature to replenish what they have used.  The Yuanchi live on an island nation, dangerously overcrowded, they hold land fiercely and do not abide foreigners.  Naja fight on horseback and use long curved blades in battle, less likely to get stuck in an enemy and dismount the rider.  Naja are prepared to take what land they need and the desert has hardened them against pain.  Yuanchi use horses, but they are reserved for nobility (the animals eat to much for a peasant to own one).  Yuanchi nobles are essentially warlords who have held the same land for generations and they train their people constantly for war.  Even the peasants in the fields can use a simple spear as effectively as a warrior from any other land (women are trained to use the bow).

Because of the way these two cultures live, there's a high chance for conflict right there and they're both human.  I have races in development that need different things, placing them in conflict with other races but I'm trying to balance them so that they could live symbiotically with one another.  i.e. Human settlement with dwarven miners or elven tree village growing out of an orcish swamp (traditionally unlikely but damn wouldn't they be invincible?  Elven archers in the trees and orcish muscle on the ground).

So, when I get my engine to accomodate (hey, anyone wanna help me with this one...the racial thing is a doozy) different races with different needs, I can start including them in the game.  In the meantime, the cultural differences within the existing race work pretty much the same way.
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2004, 08:16:26 AM »

Hmmm, started to answer the story one, but never finished.

Essentially, the super-story is what I'm shooting for.  Players keeping track of world events.  If their kingdom is at war with another kingdom...how's the war going?  Who is the great hero of that war?  He died in a daring assault on the enemy's flank.   His son has taken over his command?  The boy was wounded but was healed by his wife, who led a wild charge into the heart of the battle to get to him?

Now, the players taking part in the super-story probably don't know that they're stars.  They're just fighting and having a good time.  One of 'em lost his first character in the battle, but it's okay.  The old guy was getting dull and now junior already has most of the things his dad had.  Also, he brought his girl into the game and she's a cleric (hey, like I'm the only one whose addicted his girlfriend to a game so she could be my cleric...don't look at me like that).  Ooops, look like junior should have spent more time learning new skills because his hereditary tactical ability isn't going to help him out of a skirmish with a group of Orcs.  He's just not skilled enough with a sword and his troops are scattered, fighting one-on-one.  He gets wounded...he's bleeding out...the screen is pulsing from dark to light in time with his dwindling heartbeat (took forever to program that BTW) and then his girl gets to him with a bunch of other players from the computer lab on her side of campus.  She heals him, it was a close call, and they go to the nearest trainer to work on that boy's sword arm.

Now, from a player's perspective, the above might be a fun gaming session.  From the perspective of someone who wants to know whether or not he should sell his bakery and move to a city with higher walls, the story from the front is interesting reading.  Although, to that baker-player, the business section of the news might be more interesting.

So what I'm going for is the shared experience of multiple people with common interests.  Like sports fans or 24-hour news junkies.  The players who want story will make their own (you can get a journal where short notes of your actions in the game are recorded so you can literally write your own story).

So, I hope that explains story.  There isn't an intimate narrative, but rather a superstory that players "keep track of".  There's no need to immerse players in it because they're already immersed.  If the enemy army takes the city, they'll all be fighting orcs in the streets.  

This isn't lore, it's current events.

- Wyld -
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