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The Miscreant Engine

Started by F. Scott Banks, May 20, 2004, 05:50:51 AM

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F. Scott Banks

Ahhhh, now I've got you.

How does one guarantee the "specialness" of certain accomplisments?

I suppose I could take the easy way out and say that certain things will be special to certain players, yada, yada, yada.  To an extent that's true though.  Different "generations" will look at different achivements differently.  For grampa, killin' that bear in his cornfield was an accomplishment.  Now, five generations later, you're killing bears in your sleep.

Also, the only "collective knowledge" is stored at the academy, or read in the newspaper.  Ol' Pete isn't going to tell everyone about the old mine (unless he's programmed to).  When characters are retired, the player who is retiring the character to NPC status determines the character's "personality", a list of modifiers that determine what he'll do if asked.

Since information is treated like an object, you can get info with question commands like what, how, where, when, why (although this will generate a pre-rendered response), and who.  Trigger responses that have to do with those objects.  It's like asking for a few gold pieces.  Maybe you'll get it, maybe you won't.  The NPC's "personality" decides how he'll respond to you.  Maybe he has a fondness for members of his own guild.  Maybe he likes pretty girls.  Maybe he only respects strength, smarts, material possessions.  Maybe he'll only talk about that with his family.

So not every NPC will react to every character in the same way.  Then again, this feature is really just a novelty to enhance roleplay.  Not many quests are going to be had from old men.  If they killed the goblin king, then he's not there anymore.  If they looted the dwarven mines, they're empty.

However, this does allow me to sugue into another point raised.  Your legendary monsters.

Every monster in the game has an ultimate form.  There's an ultimate slime, and ultimate goblin, and ultimate dragon, an ultimate everything (sixty in all).  Killing one is like killing a god.  They can, mathematically, only be killed by a party of six players each at level sixty (and that only makes it a fair fight).  It's probably possible to do it with fewer, but not likely.

These ultimate monsters are lifted directly from the book and all uniquely named.  They posess every skill available to members of their "monster family" and other skills right out of the book that can't be learned, each unique to only that monster.  They are like "bosses" and killing one earns you fame, adoration, and the eternal wrath of every lesser version of that creature in the game.

Seriously, the game will create armies for the sole purpose of killing you.

However, you're cool for a year.  Legendary creatures all die and are reborn every year (two months of game time).  This means that if you haven't been able to kill Yoloram, the death lord after eight weeks of trying to get into his castle, you'll have to start looking for him all over again.  If you did kill him, you've got that much time to get ready for his return.

I'd advise retiring and letting junior take the heat on this one.  After all, if you take out a legendary monster, you're pretty much as tough as you're gonna get.  The new character will have the "Child of a Legend" background added to whatever you give 'em.  It's like being the "Child of a Hero", but with the entire spectrum of a monster class gunning for you.  It doesn't unbalance the game too much, but you'll find yourself fighting a particular type of monster more than any other.  

The next generation will have "Child of a Hero" automatically if his parent lives to retirement.

So that's unique monsters.  Legendary weapons are easier, but they're unique.

It is possible to hand down an item instead of a skill to your offspring.  Signature weapons are weapons that "level" along with their owner, improving over time.  These weapons can be handed down to future generations, becoming heirlooms.  It takes a lot of work to get a heirloom or signature weapon how you like it.  After three generations, the weapon becomes "ancestral" and will stop leveling.  It also loses it's exclusivity and can be used by characters outside the family (but only reaches it's full potential in the hands of a family member).

Signature items can also be created for guilds, clans, and races.

So yes, with enough time, anyone can get excalibur, but only the chosen one will use it as it was meant to be used.  There are a lot of signature weapons, items, and objects out there, but each one has it's own specialness.

Tell me you wouldn't take it a little personally if someone stole grampas' battle-axe that he used to kill Agarath, the great dead sea.

Oh yeah...it would be on then.

West Siiiiiiiide!!!!!!

kenjib

How many estimated simultaneous players are you designing for, again?
Kenji

kenjib

Quote from: daMoose_NeoAnd too, are any GM forced to fill roles? Yes and no. They have to play any other character, but some people get off on that, thats how they like to play~ Not saying they should force the players, but they could better provide the characters with a genuine interaction than a series of scripted responses.

I think that's a potentially revolutionary idea.  Take what Neverwinter Nights has added to the online rpg lexicon and expand it to a persistant mmorpg.  Create a GM rights rating for each player account that determines how much and/or often a player can take on the GM role - all players have GM access.  The purpose of the rating is to provide a quality control check on the volunteer GMs.  The more you play the higher rating you have.  Non-GM players can also moderate your rating by reviewing you.  This would allow people to restrict the GM'ing rights of players who abuse them.  A GM can take control over NPCs and monsters, follow players around (seeing through their eyes or other views), spawn new monsters, and other abilities.  Maybe some of them require a higher GM rights rating to do, such as needing a higher rating to spawn a more powerful creature.

I think that could completely change the mmorpg playing field.
Kenji

F. Scott Banks

Simultaneous players?

Well, I'm designing for sixty thousand.  I'm not really expecting that many, just trying to keep from having the game collapse on me.  After desiging a game structured around Massive Multiplayer, it would be embarassing to have it fail because of too many players.

I like the GM idea.  I was thinking about it in an earlier iteration (a page or a verse of the gospel allows for the end-user to design worlds and quests).  This is why the game engine has such a simplistic format from a builders standpoint.  Drag and drop floor tiles to make the ground, set pre-programed objects like walls, rocks, trees and such.  A money-changers table makes the area around the table a shop.  A forge makes the area around the forge a smithy.

But, as the idea came to involve more players, I started pulling back on that idea.  However, if it generates a nice playerbase that could support such a system (end-user changes to the game world have to be approved by an Administrator if they're going on the main server) I'll go ahead and do it.  It's something I wanted to do, but it presupposes a certain level of commitment on the part of my players.  If I see any of that commitment, the world-builder will go downloadable (or, as originally intended, attainable in-game).

Oh, I've been thinking of a way to convert this to dice.  I originally designed this game for dice (hence all the multiples of six) but when I decided to move it to the computer, I went in favor of percentages (percentage-based leveling slows powergaming to a crawl, as does having to go to multiple guilds in order to attain that "perfect" set of uber-skills).

If anyone has any advice on how to work the dice system, I'll break down how the computer handles "rolls".

The character attempts to perform one of their skills.

Example:  The character is attempting to cleave an opponent.

Take the skill being attempted and compare it to the character's proficciency in that skill.  

Example:  The character is 55% proficcient in Cleave.

Take the proficciency in that skill and compare it to the base attributes being applied.  

Example:  Cleave would be an application of strength.

The result is determined through a combination of proficciency and the level of base attribute.

Yeah...the computer uses different formulas depending upon the skill being applied, the level of proficcency in that skill and it adds several sub-modifiers depending on where and how the character learned their skill.  A fighter who learned to shoot at straw targets has different modifiers from a ranger who learned to shoot at running deer.  

For a computer game that's neccessary.  It makes the continued performance of a skill (powerleveling) useless in practice.  Skills attained through training alone all suffer a "Toy Soldier" penalty where they critically fail more often than not.

But for tabletop, roleplay is a given.  I'm not big on dice systems unless they're ridiculously simple (I'm putting up one of my pen-and-paper's later on tonight and you'll see what I mean) so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them.

Mike Holmes

Quote from: kenjib
Quote from: daMoose_NeoAnd too, are any GM forced to fill roles? Yes and no. They have to play any other character, but some people get off on that, thats how they like to play~ Not saying they should force the players, but they could better provide the characters with a genuine interaction than a series of scripted responses.

I think that's a potentially revolutionary idea.  Take what Neverwinter Nights has added to the online rpg lexicon and expand it to a persistant mmorpg.  Create a GM rights rating for each player account that determines how much and/or often a player can take on the GM role - all players have GM access.  The purpose of the rating is to provide a quality control check on the volunteer GMs.  The more you play the higher rating you have.  Non-GM players can also moderate your rating by reviewing you.  This would allow people to restrict the GM'ing rights of players who abuse them.

Uh, MUD superusers? Gah. First, this isn't a new idea. Second what it leads to is terrible real world player politics. The game quickly becomes a popularity contest to get the special powers.

Sorry, but I've seen this go awry too many times not to chime in with skepticism. And I'm not even that experienced in these sorts of games. Perhaps others who are could comment.

If you made GMing more of a chore than a privilege, then I think you wouldn't have this problem - but I then think you'd have too few GMs.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

F. Scott Banks

User/Designers

I've played MUD's and I've seen it go wrong in practice nearly every time it's been implemented.  However, with more control, I've also seen player/builders become integral parts of a game's content.

Unfortunately, an MMORPG can't have traditional player/builders.  If an MMORPG makes revenue, then anyone adding content deserves a share of that revenue.  The game needn't even turn a profit.  Contributors to the game's content can arguably lay claim to a share of the operating costs.  Even a game with a specificly written EULA would need a huge legal team on hand to defend it's content if the players contribute to it.

So that's why I went with in-game building.  If you want to create a huge castle filled with evil monsters, then do the following:

Build huge castle.

Summon monsters.

Mix throughly.

This would incorporate someone's idea of creating "monster" races to have interplayer global conflict.  I'm working on the monster races, but until then, there's no reason that an evil human can't worship at the altar of some elder god, obtain mastery over hideous fiends and use them to create a temple of evil.

So this is where we get into roleplay.  My world-builders will be (after I let the beta testers play with it a little) roleplayers.  Until (and unless) I give my editor program out to the players, the only way to hold sway over vast portions of the game world is to be a damn good roleplayer.  Building a city means making friends with about twenty people (I reccomend farmers, carpenters, and blacksmiths), persuading (or forcing) them to make you their leige, and managing your resources well enough to keep the city functioning.

For now, there's no simple way for players to do what you're proposing.  However, I'm still considering the possibility of finding a way to give more creative control over to the players.

daMoose_Neo

Quote from: WyldKardeFor now, there's no simple way for players to do what you're proposing.  However, I'm still considering the possibility of finding a way to give more creative control over to the players.

Don't exactly turn it over to the "players".
Accept "staff members" based on their ability to GM (play a dice version over an IM or something as a test) and give them the controls to develop limited sections (OR, to adapt something I saw in some Pace play notes, point based- X points = Level 4 Mid-power Monster, X more points = Boss Monster, XX points = X by X map area, X = Friendly NPC (playable by GM)).
You don't WANT a lot of players doing this- that does result in power gaming for popularity and crappy design. Hence the (even initial) advocation for some control- either a hand picked staff from the player base or close friends, to manage the world.

As for player creative control, use the engine as basically a physics engine or a constantly active rulebook and make certain avenues available. As for unplanned/extraordinary attempts or what not, thats where a live GM comes in- they'll have the ability to (suitably) alter things on the fly, whereas a computer only reacts to absolutes.
THAT is why MMORPGs suck, as I think I said- they lack the ability to interpret or react to something unplanned. A live GM with access to alter certain things would be different- they COULD react to something new.

As for content, the publishers of Warlord covered their own butts when they allowed the players to design cards: The agreement that, beforehand, the players creations would become property of the company to use as they see fit (you also see the same legaleeze on a contest of anykind, that your submission becomes the corporate property) and would be considered a gift.
Spell out ALL of the details prior to even testing a possible GM and you would be fine. Someone could threaten to take you to court and all you have to do is provide the disclaimer. Even include it in every GM login screen to cover your bases so you can say there is no way the player could not know what would become of their material.
If you DO charge, reward your GMs who contribute X hours of game time per month with free access~ If they love the game, they would be content with that (WOOT! FREE GAMING!) and would also be considered a payment for their efforts (worth $9.99 per month or whatever)
Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!

F. Scott Banks

Hmmmm, I like that idea.

I hadn't looked too deeply into the "money-making" aspect of this design.  I always considered it to be presumptuous to work a compensation system out when the game wasn't yet playable (though I'm hustling to make dice conversions...no reason I can't simplify the system for an ambitious GM).

Actually, I've been looking into "professional" publishing of my RPG's since I hit forge.  I'm starting to see that although this is our hobby, Forge members seem to have a higher level of commitment to the industry.  In playtesting my old games on other sites, Forge was always spoken of with reverence.

Quote...once you're finished, go to Forge and post your game.  If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

But yes, you have found a way around the sticky issue of "compensation".  My GM's (or Immortals if you're a Mudder) will simply get to play the game for free.  As far as picking them goes, I had only planned on drawing from the best of the playerbase (fans of the game are more likely to follow the original theme of the game rather than a friend who likes the idea, but who always thought it should do this differently).

And I won't need many GM's.  Mundane quests like holding off an invading army (my old army chaplain is helping me out with believable tactics for feudal warfare so I can't wait to get that feature up and running) or assassinating a powerful sorcerer are self-generating through clumping, reactive environment, and simple AI.  When it comes down to killing something because it's goals oppose your own, GM's generally don't have to create those situations.

But, world events aren't self generating.  I can't have the computer all of a sudden decide to create a one true ring of power, give other rings to the races of the earth, control them, enslave them, and usher in an era of darkness.  While only a few commands would make that possible, the result would be unfair to the players, along with forcing them into specific roles, it would be really, really hard.

Even I haven't won a war against Deus.  The damn thing needs to be dumber.

So allowing GM's to make big, controlled quests is something I'd like to do.  The computer plays at war too ruthlessly to allow it to start them on it's own.  And of course, I'll be scripting events as well.  I didn't write the story just to kick back and stop storytelling once I get this running.  This is a way for me to keep telling a story that's already "finished".

Ben O'Neal

You could implement a roster for GMs, ensuring that there are never too many or too few GMs at any given time. You might also make becoming a GM "invite only", in that a GM must invite you, and you must be approved by all the existing GMs. If you start mucking up, like editing monsters to be really easy, or sending plague after plague against a nation you don't like, then you could just be "voted out". If you establish an elite community such as this, you will automatically be establishing the seriousness of your project and the rules for players. Taking the Forge as an example, unlike many other forums, there are only 2 moderators, and there is no chance for anyone at all, regardless of friendships or contributions, to permeate that barrier and become a mod (as far as I know). Additonally, Ron and Clinton keep a very tight set of rules around here. And that's all there is really. It's not magic. Just build it like that and it will automatically be seen as a respectable place. Not only for the GMs (moderators), but also for the players (us forgites). Human psychology is strange sometimes, but sometimes, it is really easy to manipulate.

So if you did that, you really wouldn't need to worry about providing any sort of incentive for being a GM. The simple honor of being invited into an elite group will be enough for that. Hell, you could even very easily establish that as a basis for many other things, like guilds and such. Just say "this is a group, you cannot join" and instantly you've created a desire in others to join that group.

But you know what I think would be really super massively fun? Making a sort of sublevel GM who would be the "Kings" in your world, each with a nation that is "theirs". Just don't allow them to alter the world or the creatures/players in it directly. You could give them the ability to issue decrees that would appear on signs throughout their towns, give them messengers, access to reports on their nations status, and of course, a very large coffer determined by their nations status in varying aspects. Just took over another nation?: have a bigger resource pool, and hell, now you can mine that gold vein. That way you are giving them massive incentive to provide their "people" with challenges to boost them, to encourage the formation and recruitment of large groups of people in all different areas to boost economy and armies.

It might be impossible, but I just love the idea of hundreds of players meeting hundreds of other players in a battlefield for war, and players being sent in to spy on other nations, and the counter-spies that you would recruit within your own nation to find other spies. And having players engage in ruthless marketing tactics to boost their own ecomomy and wealth, like espionage, sabotage, and theft, along with clever manipulation of the market. This sort of stuff might just "happen" on it's own, but it would be so much more likely and powerful if it was in pursuit of competition between rival kings seeking to make their own people posper the most. Hell, you'd even get "missionaries" popping up, trying to convert players to other nations, and all the hilarity that would ensue. Oh yes, that would be so cool.

Of course, it should be a very strong rule in your GM clique that no GM is allowed to show favouritism to any player or group. The last thing you want is natural fortifications like mountains and canyons appearing around nations and cities, and natural resources suddenly becomming very sparse in other areas.

As a side note though (heh), your system of "PC dies: new PC spawns who is child of that PC" could be made a bit more interesting. I don't know how you have it exacly planned, but maybe you could make players only able to pass on their gifts to a new character if they have have found a PC of the opposite gender to mate with. Of course, only females could reproduce, so what you might do to make things interesting, is give female characters full power over whether or not the father character gets to take over a child when the father dies. This would provide incentive for the father to be nice to the mother, and incentive to make sure that he is the nicest to her out of all other men she meets. In this way, babies would become a resource parrallel to "lives" in other systems, in total control of the mothers. Female PCs would be incentivised to not get killed, because whilst they would get to choose which child they take over, the other children would become "free property". Hell, children whose parents have died could be the only way to make a new character! Now that would be very, very cool. Also, say tom fathers a child to sue, but whilst he's out getting stuff, she meets bill, who has lots of stuff already, and needs more "lives" because he plans on living a dangerous life hunting dragons or something. So now tom comes back and finds sue is now with bill, so tom has lost his "lives", and bill has gained some. Of course, sue could tell them all to get bent and keep all her lives for herself when tom and bill die. I think that sounds hella cool. That simple mechanic of babies being a resource controlled by females makes so much shit really interesting and incentivises a shitload of PC interaction. So in summary, if you sire a child, you have a strong say in it's stats when you take over it, becaue they will reflect your stats and the stats of your partner, but if you are creating a character for the first time, or otherwise get stuck with an orphan, you have no say because it's the child of other people. Man I love that idea so much, I might make a TRPG out of it sometime. There's just so much stuff that can come from it, I couldn't list it all. What do you think?

-Ben

Christopher Weeks

Out of curiosity, WK, which MMORPGs have you played?

Chris

F. Scott Banks

Well, the low-level GM system is already in place.  High-level characters can easily create their own guilds, run their own cities or kingdoms.  In fact, it's the whole point of the game.  It really gets fun when you're commanding a batallion of mercenaries.

Also, I've finished a rudimentary racial conflict system.  There are three new races to oppose the standard human races.  Also, the human races now have better defined cultures.  The Cyrilli, Vashar, and Gurtha races live in different regions, thrive in different terrain, and eat different food.  Therefore, what one race would not want to have near them, another race needs to survive.  The game forces the races to fight over land.  Cyrilli, for example, live in trees.  Humans use trees but only to cut them down.  Gurtha live in swamps and need the stagnant muddy water to breed (don't ask, it ain't purty).  Cyrilli and humans tear swamps up for different reasons.  Humans to obtain spell ingredients, Cyrilli because Gurtha consider Cyrilli young to be a delicacy.

The Vashar are a desert-dwelling cat race that exist only because they exist in the book.  For the purposes of the game, there are Vashar sub-races that thrive in every climate.  This makes the Vashar compete with other races moreso than the one human tribe they compete with in the book.

The reason I did this was to expand the warfare engine.  High-level characters can wage war on other high-level characters, and the lower-level characters who follow them.  This makes the creation of Clans (which I've noticed seems to happen even if there's nothing to support it) not only possible, but also a wise choice.  I wanted the players to have differences that were more than personal.  A Cyrilli king might have to destroy a human settlement to protect his sacred forest, whereas a human lord might have to wipe out a Vashar encampment in order to ensure there's enough wild game.  Players are forced into conflict.  They may find a compromise, (Vashar hunting while humans grow crops) or they may just unleash holy hell on each other.

Either way, the choice of taking on a larger role in the game as your character grows larger is not entirely optional.  It's burned into the program.

F. Scott Banks

Since I've come to the forge, I've made considerable changes to the system based upon your suggestions.  However, there are still a few things I'm stuck on.  I think that I've answered all of the initial questions pertaining to, "How are you going to avoid this common mistake?"  Now, the questions are starting to get into the arena of "You know, it's never been done this way before."

This is where I was hoping we'd get.  In the past, I'd never been able to get past the initial arguments of "It'll cost too much.", "How is this different from everything else out there?", and "MMORPG's suck so this will suck."  I had answers to those questions, but it seemed the people I was talking to couldn't hear them.

God I love this site.

Anyway, now I can get down to design goals.  I didn't want to lose them in the onslaught of flame that I expected after starting this thread.

What I have so far...

An engine that (on a synthetic network where most "players" were robot programs) allows for multiplayer input that can be viewed globally by specific players (generals watching the battlefield where individual troops are fighting).  This has been tested up to six hundred "players".  I expect beta testing to reveal any problems inherrent in the system, but this is encouraging enough to proceed.

An automated GM that is a seperate entity from the game system.  The game's ruleset works for and against the computer and the players equally.  The GM is limited in the same ways that the players are.  The GM is also fractured in that certain "boss" monsters will work towards their own goals regionally instead of working towards a collective goal globally.  This prevents unstoppable onslaughts when the game launches massive attacks against player-run cities or kingdoms.

Catalyst-driven quests that happen spontaneously through player actions.  Although they can be scripted events, most quests can be generated through a combination of mundane actions.  i.e. An evil necromancer kidnapping children to generate fuel for his army of the undead...either the town will have to stop the wizard or turn into a ghost town that will serve as a dungeon-crawl for future adventurers.

Actually, I've been implementing ideas from suggestions made and questions asked in the forge.

Quote from: Sydney FreebergYou 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.

I'm coming up with racial "profiles" for other races from the story.  Something that's important to me is that races are truly different, with wildly different goals and needs.  My elves aren't just fast, magical humans with pointed ears, they're completely different from humans (they also don't have pointed ears).  For races that are just slightly faster or stronger incarnations of some "core" race, I implement different cultures.

Players from different races (that live within communities of members of the same race) will be juxtaposed against communities of other races.  This isn't a forced gameplay mechanic though, remember, there's a racially diverse community in the game as well, raised to benefit from the strengths of other races.  Players can either create a dwarven empire, or just be the dwarven king of a mixed kingdom.

Quote from: The ForgeAnd too, are any GM forced to fill roles? Yes and no. They have to play any other character, but some people get off on that, thats how they like to play~ Not saying they should force the players, but they could better provide the characters with a genuine interaction than a series of scripted responses.
    -damoose_Neo-[/list:u]

    Create a GM rights rating for each player account that determines how much and/or often a player can take on the GM role - all players have GM access. The purpose of the rating is to provide a quality control check on the volunteer GMs. The more you play the higher rating you have.
      -kenjib-[/list:u]

      Uh, MUD superusers? Gah. First, this isn't a new idea. Second what it leads to is terrible real world player politics. The game quickly becomes a popularity contest to get the special powers.

      If you made GMing more of a chore than a privilege, then I think you wouldn't have this problem - but I then think you'd have too few GMs.
        -Mike-[/list:u]

        But you know what I think would be really super massively fun? Making a sort of sublevel GM who would be the "Kings" in your world, each with a nation that is "theirs".
          -Ravien-[/list:u]
Having successfully tested an organized battle with six hundred individual players launching an assault against six hundred game-run monsters, it is possible to allow for warfare and commanding NPC's on a massive scale.  Therefore, the "mayor" player-character can now attain levels closer to a King or emporer.  Command can also be divided through a military system.  Meaning that generals can lead individual groups of units into battle while captains command the actions of smaller groups.  Players can also command "Squads" of ten or less troops (though I haven't yet come up with any use for this in feudal warfare, I'm sure some interprising player will).

Therefore, players can influence the game to a greater degree by launching wars against other players.  This adds a level to character interaction that wasn't there before.  Since the NPC's are relatives of active characters, do you run the risk of having them move away because of your warmongering?  I've already started a system where the commands of a general appear as an "optional" function for the subordinate captain and all NPC soldiers are being tweaked with a "morale" function.  Player-characters will have to decide for themselves when it's a good idea to turn tail and run.

Of course, I'll have to balance it so it doesn't turn into a new form of griefing.  Sending newbies into war could be just as bad as hunting them down and killing them (the body counts during this dry-run of the warfare engine were very high).

So, I have been using your suggestions to strengthen the back of this beast.  However, there are certain aspects of this design that have been giving me no end of grief.  Without these problems solved, I can't integrate these seperate pieces into a fully functional engine.

Food...

The economy is agricultural.  Land is a key element because of the food it produces.  Farm production determines the size of a community.

But my characters don't have to eat.

The game never makes you sit down and eat a sandwich, anything.  I'm still working on a realistic system for food involving nutrients and calories.  Players need to eat a certain amount of food (calories) of a certain quality (nutrients).  This makes cooking skills important instead of a throwaway statistic.  Skilled cooks would be important because they can efficiently feed players for low cost (handfull of grain into a loaf of bread).  Players who can't cook have to either buy their food or eat it raw (nutrients and calories satisfied, but due to sickness, player may react as if they'd not eaten at all, or been poisoned).

Anyway, I'm kicking around about a hundred ideas because it doesn't make sense for food to be important to the game but unimportant to individual players.  I'd hate to have to fudge this one.

Skill relationships...

Not something I'm struggling with systemwise, but I need more skills.  Creating this system from tradional RPG systems, skills are largely employed in combat.  Even there, I haven't touched on all of the possible skills players can have.  When I extend skills to things like crafting and military command, I'm getting into largely uncharted territory.

In short...help.

So, now that we've pretty much answered every question (so far) regarding how this attempt at making an MMORPG is different from any other, we can get into design.

Thank you.

Ben O'Neal

QuoteFood...

The economy is agricultural. Land is a key element because of the food it produces. Farm production determines the size of a community.

But my characters don't have to eat.

The game never makes you sit down and eat a sandwich, anything. I'm still working on a realistic system for food involving nutrients and calories. Players need to eat a certain amount of food (calories) of a certain quality (nutrients). This makes cooking skills important instead of a throwaway statistic. Skilled cooks would be important because they can efficiently feed players for low cost (handfull of grain into a loaf of bread). Players who can't cook have to either buy their food or eat it raw (nutrients and calories satisfied, but due to sickness, player may react as if they'd not eaten at all, or been poisoned).
I think you've answered your own question here. When I was reading that I was seeing a "health bar" which would decline with time and maybe even decline faster when you are more active. When it hits zero, you start suffering cumulative penalties to your stats, effectively duplicating getting weaker and more irritable. Eat, and you can recover the penalties and restore your "hunger" bar, depending on the quality of food. Just make food work like health potions in that regard. I wouldn't make going hungry effect your "hit points", because realistically you can live for around 60 days with no food, you just get very weak. Water could be a seperate bar, because you need more of it more often. So thirst would now become a very nifty little thing to have to worry about in a desert. You could have whole wars fought over small oasis'. That is very cool.

But definately make the players need to eat and drink. You might think it would be too much micromanagement, but you could easily incorporate a little toggle button for automatically having a drink so long as you have water in your inventory, and automatically eating whenever you aren't actively doing something, like if you're just walking around. Players could turn off the toggle if they need to ration their food, and this might represent the added concern for sustenance that you encounter when food is scarce. But it certainly makes the economic factor really kick in.

QuoteSkill relationships...

Not something I'm struggling with systemwise, but I need more skills. Creating this system from tradional RPG systems, skills are largely employed in combat. Even there, I haven't touched on all of the possible skills players can have. When I extend skills to things like crafting and military command, I'm getting into largely uncharted territory.
I hate plugging my shit, but you asked for help.... have you seen my social interaction mechanics? They would be a cinch to integrate into a computer game, and the players wouldn't even need to know they were there. They could just "happen to notice" that they do better at stuff when they are around friends, and when they are fighting enemies, they would notice that the more they hate their enemy, the more effective they are at killing them. Have a look and see what you think. I'd be happy to help you if you are interested.

Military command should be easy though. Have orders passed down the ranks, with bonuses attached which accumulate according to the number of officers involved in the heirachy of command. For example, if you're a grunt and you get an order from your second lieutenant, then you might get a +1 to your rolls when carrying out those orders. However, if your second lieutenant was given orders by his lieutenant, who was given orders by his captain, who was given orders by his major, who was given orders by his lieutenant colonel, who was given orders by his colonel, who was given orders by his major general... yadda yadda yadda, all the way up to the field marshal, then you, as a grunt, would get +10 to all rolls when following those orders. Alternatively, if you wanted, you could turn this into a penalty for disobeying the orders. But I like the bonus idea better.

But to make things interesting, you could have skill modify how big a bonus is carried down. Above I assumed that each rank carried a standard +1 bonus which accumulated through the chain of command. But if a field marshal had high leadership or whatever, then he might contribute a +10 all on his own.

Just an idea though.


But there is one question you haven't addressed, and that was my question "what do you think?" in reference to my proposed additions to your player generational mechanics in the forms of children, how they are accumulated, how they are handled, and what they mean. Interestingly, if you incorporate food into this, then the simple addition of food requirements and children as a life resource which need to be fed instantaneously makes this game one I would play even if it had nothing else in it. I'm serious here. If my male character had to sire children in order to ensure my progression through the game is not wasted when I inevitably die, and in order to sire children I had to find a female character who was willing to share her children with me as a life resource, providing she was sufficiently provided for, and in order for me to be successful I would have to meet the needs of my children to keep them alive and any additional needs of my female companion, then those two facts: children as a life resource and food requirements to maintain them, would ensure that I did my best to adventure/farm/kill shit/rob people/whatever it takes. If I was playing a female character I would also need to have children to ensure that my time spent playing was not wasted, but attaining resources would be much easier for me, because I could just find some guy. Then, I could choose to stay with this guy and share my kids with him as a life resource, or abandon him for the better guy over there. Of course, if my previous guy was a loser, my new one could probably protect me from him, but if he was a master assassin, then I might fear leaving him simply because he could kill me quite easily. Hell, if I played my cards right, I could have multiple guys providing for me in the hope that I would share my kids with them. As a guy, I could also try to get away with having mutliple females giving me kids, but doing so would be incredibly costly to maintain. See, I'm getting excited just thinking about all the awesome play possibilities that could arrise from such a simple combinatin of ideas.

Fuck everything else, the need for children and the need for food provides all the incentive I need to play this game. I honeslty believe that if you could pull this off with everything you've already done, then you could best The Sims with playability. You would also no doubt garner a shit load of people willing to help you code the game into a graphical one, thus drastically increasing the aesthetic appeal and reaching a huge market. Think big dude. Aim for the stars, land on the moon. The higher you aim, the more people you could get to help you out if you need it.

-Ben

F. Scott Banks

Hmmm, as far as the idea with kids goes, I'm starting to see room for invention in what was originally a way to permadeath players without them getting pissy about it.

I'm thinking about making it more involved, but I'm not sure how to do it in terms of game balance.  After all, the obvious problem is...if two players have one child...who gets to control the child.  The child develops as an individual and they are merely influenced by their parents.  To have two players each controlling the child would create a logistical and roleplaying nightmare, so sharing is out.  I don't want players to raise children, (although some players might like the idea of grooming their next character from the ground up...hmmmm) I want them to develop their character and create something worthwhile for that child to live up to.

So I'm trying to strike a balance.  When you have players who develop their characters, you have the type of role-playing game I'm shooting for.  But when you have players who develop characters who in turn develop other characters, then things get blurry.  I struggled over adding a feature that allows players to train and raise monsters for this reason.  It would upset game balance in terms of goals.  While the "Monster Ranchers" would go about their business, there would be players who, inevitably, would kill those monsters to satify their own goals.  

This idea has promise, but it has to contend with two things (there are probably more, but I can only think of two right now).  First is character selection.  You create characters during the character selection process, which is designed for balance.  You cam make unique characters, but they're all at the same level.  To raise heroes allows for a different type of powerlevelling.  I'd get powerparenting (although a soccer mom with a +4 to backstab is so cool I might do it anyway) players.

Hmmm, I like it so if you're willing to work out the enevitable kinks in this system, get at me.  I'm just a little concerned about the player who tries to take out his opponent by killing his wife and children first (realistic roleplay, but so is waiting until a player logs out to rob his house).  Until I can think of a way to prevent that type of gaming, I'm sticking with the contrived (but effective) device of having children of legal age just pop up around the time daddy gets ready to retire.

Ben O'Neal

QuoteTo raise heroes allows for a different type of powerlevelling. I'd get powerparenting players.
So? I'd say "Congratulations, you've just invented an innovative approach to gaming!" Piss off the standard "level up, kill monsters, level up, kill more monsters" shit, and replace it with a much more roleplaying oriented "level up so I can raise my daughter good and proper and make sure my wife don't leave me". Remember how people were concerned how you'd make this encourage roleplaying? Well this would do it. What would one player care if another PC just got them pregnant and then fucked off? Not one jot. They'd be more likely to share that kid with the PC who they have more attachment to. Figure out the people playing, and you figure out what the characters will do. Which brings me to your first concern:

Who gets control of a single child? As I stated earlier, the mother does. Kids can be a female's resource. If a male PC wants their next character to be good, then they need a female to give it to them. Kill the mother and the child becomes an orphan. Orphans are the only characters you can get if you haven't found a female to raise a kid with. Conversely, if you are a female, you only really need a single kid, because when you die you can have that kid as your next life, and it will reflect your previous character. Hence females become a very valuable resource, and one which should be protected. Men won't want women fighting because they can make and distribute lives. But if a woman's child is threatened, she will have every reason to protect it at all costs. Does this seem familiar at all? In essence, children and food are the two most fundamentally important aspects of human life, so if you model them with reasonable accuracy (artistic licence included), then human-like behaviour will just naturally emerge from that.

So if two PCs have one child, its stats can be a random combination of both of theirs (computers are great for that). Thus any given PC will want to find the best mate possible to ensure the best children. Simple aspect,  effective result. One child isn't gonna be much good to a male character, so he'll probably want more kids. More than one kid isn't much good to a female character, so any more than one could easily be distributed as the father's lives for when he gets himself killed. More children cost more to provide for (you could be really cool and make the kid's stats a function not only of the parent's combined stats, but also the quality of the food they eat, as measured with your nutrient system).

QuoteI struggled over adding a feature that allows players to train and raise monsters for this reason. It would upset game balance in terms of goals. While the "Monster Ranchers" would go about their business, there would be players who, inevitably, would kill those monsters to satify their own goals.
So the ranchers have to protect their crops.... so what? This idea seems really awesome, and I don't know why you'd throw it out just because some players would want to kill the crops. Killing crops could be an awesome way to kill off competitors. This also creates a market for hired guards, which is cool too. I have no idea what your problem with this cool idea is.

QuoteThis idea has promise, but it has to contend with two things (there are probably more, but I can only think of two right now). First is character selection. You create characters during the character selection process, which is designed for balance. You cam make unique characters, but they're all at the same level.
Ok, my suggestion, would be to forget the typical "create character from scratch" thing, and just plop new players into the world with a random orphan as a character. Orphans are all non-levelled, because they have never been played, and their stats will be a function of their parents and the food they were given until their parents died. So there would be good orphans and shit orphans, but players have an even chance of ending up with either, so it is still a level playing field. And after a few generations, it won't matter anyway. The threat of being thrown back into an orphan would be enough to make players want to procreate and provide for their kids.

Quotealthough a soccer mom with a +4 to backstab is so cool I might do it anyway
You're damn straight it is!

QuoteI'm just a little concerned about the player who tries to take out his opponent by killing his wife and children first (realistic roleplay, but so is waiting until a player logs out to rob his house). Until I can think of a way to prevent that type of gaming, I'm sticking with the contrived (but effective) device of having children of legal age just pop up around the time daddy gets ready to retire.
Want to piss a man off, more than anything in the entire world, enough to fill him with righteous hate and a bloodlust to seek flaming vengeance? Kill his wife and kids. If you incorporated my social interaction mechanics, then the guy would get a huge bonus to his rolls to kill his family's murderer. Hell, other PCs might be sympathetic to this guy and help him out. I can't say enough good things about how awesome this is. Compared with this, your alternative looks fantastically bland and uninspired.

-Ben