Building an idea.

All of my thoughts right now seem to be focused around game design viability.

I have a rough outline for a game right now. More or less, anyway. Consider: take the codebase from say, EQ, or DAOC – some fairly simple game (there’s that phrase again!). Now, implement all sorts of shifting story goodness – sort of like AC1’s old story arcs on overdrive. The city that is under seige might actually have the seige lifted, if enough players pitch in to help. Another city is worried about the seige, and is asking for help to build walls, make spears, and do a few other odds and ends. And through it all is knitted an ongoing story that is actually impacted by the players. Weekly (?) content patches arrive that alter the face of the world based on what has been happening recently.

It’s really not a new game. You could probably do this with a UO or EQ emulator (if they were not illegal). It’s just a new take on how that game is run. And how players interact with the world and with each other.

Horizons was supposed to do this: a pve adversary that actually responded to what players did, attacking their towns, trying to take back territory, fighting off incursions. Players able to rebuild old ruined towns, bridges, and such. Some decent ideas there that never really launched well.

Story, story, story – a game where the story IS the game, really, instead of just being the backdrop to create a threadbare illusion of being in a fantasy world.

What I am pondering now is:

Could a game that basically used some “standard game” dynamics, but refocused the entire content base on evolving story, work out? Is there a niche market interested enough in an immersive roleplaying, story-oriented game to snag a small subscriber base? It hasn’t been done, at least not in the modern MMO era. But is that because there are inherent flaws in the concept, or because it just hasn’t been done yet?

This rather goes against the grain for me.  I have spent most of my daydreaming time these past years thinking of grandoise MMO designs with intricate, complex systems.  New and innovative features galore.  Tons of exciting examples of “the way it should be done” – all those cool things that would be designers talk about on various forums out there in the internet.  Instead, here I am basically talking about a game design where the only major innovation isn’t even really a part of the gameplay.

It’s also something of a leap of faith.  I’m a decent writer, and was always a pretty good tabletop GM – but am I a good enough writer and GM to keep a large number of players interested and engaged for a goodly period of time?  It’s certainly something I think I can do better than your average mainstream game – which makes it a GREAT way to differentiate the game from the pack.  Everyone talks about story, but the delivery is usually so bad that you *hope* you can ignore it.  A game that can really deliver on good story might just work.



Filed under April Archives, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Building an idea.

  1. I think this is where the Indies will have their advantage. This leap of faith you talk about. Since this is a contest, why not take that leap of faith, and see how people respond to this concept.

    I know when I ran my UO EMU, I did this very thing and had a player base of around 200-500 players on at all times (based on peak times and off peak times of course). So the players chewed it up, the problem I ran in to, was to create the content last long enough for you to make more content as the game went on. When I ran out of time for the project, the numbers slowly dwindled because there wasn’t anything new too much anymore. Sure you had your base of hardcore players, but slowly things slowed down until it got to the point where I shut it down.

    So the key is either planning enough story content so that as players chew it up, you can replace it just as easily. Or another method would be to plan out an epic story or two. Then make a time table of when you play out each piece of the story. This way you know where you stand, and thus can easily replace the content with new content.

    Of course, I’m not sure how good my ramblings are for ya. :-p

  2. owyn

    Actually, your ramblings are great. =) I’d be pretty happy with a 200-500 concurrent userbase – that’s quite a few players in total, and a great place to start from.

    The trick would seem to be not running out of time to keep refreshing the content. Hopefully, I can make something interesting enough to support that sort of effort through some manner of modest fee.

    I think they key will be a bit of both epic and replaceable content. I intend to have an overall main plot, with several major subplots (some involved in the main plot, others not), and a number of minor plotlines and spot incidents running at any given time.

  3. Nice, that will definitely be something interesting!

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