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Medieval MMO, stuck in design


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#1 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 05:43 AM

A medieval (around year 1200-1400) browser MMO, with higher focus on realism and immersion. I got stuck in the middle of design...
You can check a very early alpha here: http://europe1300.eu but that's not needed, also don't get fixed on how it looks right now, it's on an early stage and I'm willing to redesign most of it.


Core design decisions:
- there are historical predefined kingdoms (players can not create new ones), also historical cities
- the game is multilingual with all players in the same game world (the concept is that players who speak certain language will gather in their national country) (yes, I know, problem with US players, I guess they will have to join England or something; also the size of kingdoms will be highly imbalanced)
- no resets, the game goes on "forever" (the only reset is after finish of Beta test)

Secondary design decisions:
- players play certain roles in the kingdom, each kingdom has elected king who has most to say on how the kingdom is organised and run
- the game should have higher level of realism and immersion than other games, I'm willing to sacriface *a small bit* of gameplay for it
- I'm fine with the game being a niche game (but that's not my goal, I just can accept it)


The 3 big parts of the game:
* kingdom (cooperation) - each kingdom is a group of players that cooperate to make it thrive, kingdoms compete with other kingdoms
* your place in the kingdom (politics, social interaction) - what is your social position in the kingdom, how big your influence is among fellow citizens
* personal assets (individual) - everything that belongs personally to you

Basic mechanic:
You get action points each hour (optimized so you should login once per 18 hours to not waste anything). You spend action points performing various actions.


So far I got the mood and immersion right. There is the map, kingdoms, cool cities to visit, colourful kingdom crests, noble titles. I have several ideas for kingdom cooperation as well. The biggest problem is the individual part. I got really stuck on it. How the player "advance"? What a player builds for himself (estate)?

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#2 geekyware   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:30 AM

Some kind of Fable? Super fable? Being able to build your own "zone", some kind of a small town for yourself, a villa or something like that that you can upgrade. And of course, quests, if they're kingdoms you should be able to speak to the "king" or whatever to ask for quests so you earn money prizes, collection items and all this stuff.

I don't know if the level idea is a good idea, so I wouldn't make the player have levels, but just be able to buy/build better weapons or things like that.

¿Don't you have a slight idea of what do you want? I don't think it's good for you having people making your game, because you will lose interest on it, give your idead so people can improve them.

Good luck

#3 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 06:55 AM

No, no. The king is a real player. He can't give out quests (also, I don't have budget for a quest system, it takes way too much time to implement enough quests).

I'm not sure I can make "personal town" for a player when there already exist predefined cities inhabited by players. Players could have estates, even castles, but cities and towns are shared.

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#4 geekyware   Members   -  Reputation: 102

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 08:27 AM

Being the king makes it a little bit difficult, but you should check out a WiiWare game called FF King Chronicles (or my life as a king), you're the king there. Anyway, if it's a MMO, then you could have unexplored lands outside the towns with active quests (you should try to implement quests, even if they're very very simple, they could repeat or something, it wouldn't make the game look rpetitive if it's a MMO), and you can hire explorers or something to go there investigate, kill, get treasures, etc...

I don't know... Am i giving you ideas?

#5 Arxor   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 12:49 AM

Security advice:


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Never point out difference. It only helps bots to crack passwords since they can guess username and password seperately.

Dunno if you have thought about it as well, but maybe it would be nice to instead of giving the highest ranked player the king rank, you get real elections every <N period>, so you simulate real life even more. But that also includes that kings must have real great influance since the choice of king should be important.

Anyway, goodluck with the project,,

~Arxor

#6 Pureaqua   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 03:22 AM

hi Acharis,
first of all, nice basic idea. as much as i understand and like the medieval ground rules you layed down as much i think that you are limiting and getting yourself stuck with these rules.
if you want player-progression than its not a good start by giving them the highest "jobs" right away. i understand that players will not be able to build their own cities, but why not giving them a bit of a smaller task at the beginning. let them start as a say rich salesman in a harbor district, in that way you could implement classes:
e.g. class-advantages/disadvantages : merchant-skills + 2 / behaviour -2. the player going for the salesman could say : "hey i dont like what the current king is doing and thats why i have to extend my popularity/influence so i can become the spokesman for the district. After that i can further increase my influence and be the head of a council that administers a big part of the city, etc."
in that way players can start gathering experience on how to play well, if you make a mistake on that level you want be punished by a revolution of the whole city but just by some angry neighbours.
i also like what arxor said. let them be rivals with the other players inhabiting the city. so in one legislation term you have to get your district to be the most influencial of all and then when you have been elected, you have to choose between beeing a good king and doing what is best for the whole city, maybe even to the disadvantage of you own district, or beeing selfish and only securing your own & allies interests....both of the choices must of course have different but equal rewards.

hope my jibberish makes sense ^^
cheers

#7 Arxor   Members   -  Reputation: 103

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 04:36 AM

Oh but problem with the election system is that you have to be careful that a player doesnt create hundreds of alts or bots and vote for himself :D
I would otherwise >: )

So the "worth" of a single vote should be based on player level/advancement/whatever how you implement difference :D

#8 Kekko   Members   -  Reputation: 504

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 10:23 AM

This actually looks like it could be fun one day, and educational at the same time! :)

Anyway, since it's medieval, why not go feudal all the way? As a player grows more powerful he will have more lands than he can control with the action points available to him. Therefore he will have to recruit another player as a vassal to manage that land for him. If many new players arrive causing a shortage of land, new settlements could be built on the fringes of civilization. If there is too much land available (and if it's a problem) then plague, bad crops and other events could make the pool of lands shrink.

So a player would advance by showing his skills as land manager or as a warrior in battle. The most reliable and trusted vassals would be promoted by their lord when new resources or lands become available. You could also make it so there is a maximum number of vassals that a player can handle given the maximum action points available. But have no fear! Your vassals can recruit vassals too, so after awhile you will have a truly feudal web of loyalties, pledges and alliances. To make it even more complicated (and realistic) this does not have to be a strict tree structure. Lord A can rule over some lands that pays taxes to Lord B while Lord B is a formal vassal to Lord A and have to answer his call to arms. You can make it as complicated or simple as you want, basically.

But what would a player do then? As a general rule, you want to keep local troubles from bubbling up and annoy your liege lord. So keep crime low, order high and troops well trained. And when war comes, be useful! I'd love to see battles being lost because a player is too eager to impress their commander and charges into a trap. The lord could also dispatch various "quests" to his vassals, like arranging hunts/feasts, training troops, gathering resources or building structures. The key to good leadership is delegation.
As a lord, you must protect and help your vassals when they need it. Certainly it's your duty to protect them if they're attacked.

Other random idea: Spy networks. I wanna recruit spies among my enemies, my superiors, my vassals and just everywhere in general. This would be a social game, so better keep an eye on them.




This would definitely be a niche game if it would depend so much on player interaction, but it sounds fun to me.

#9 Kian   Members   -  Reputation: 242

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 12:00 PM

I kind of got stuck at "focus on realism" and "people elect the king".

Rather than having this be something that people vote on, let players make up their own factions, and let factions fight each other for control of resources. That way, the 'King' is whoever has the clout to hold the title and keep his faction on top of the others.

As Kekko points out, vassalage is a great tool to model this. Only, don't force the players to comply with whatever their duties are. They are free to ignore orders, and their lieges and vassals will have to figure out how to handle it, whether by tolerating a disruptive element or punishing them in whatever way they can. Maybe a vassal is more powerful than his liege, and would see their positions reversed.

#10 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 05:00 PM

Cooperation
You are overlooking the existence of other kingdoms and think too much into terms of internal kingdom affairs. Yes, there will be internal conflict of some sort and internal politics, but, because there are so many kingdoms (20-25) the key is cooperation with kingdom mates and confict with other kingdoms. A kingdom can not concentrate on fighting internally, kingdom has to concentrate on fighting with other kingdoms, otherwise the kingdom will end up in trouble. Generally, the people in your kingdom are your friends, the people outside the kingdom are enemies.

Hierarchy
"when you have been elected, you have to choose between" - ignore it. Kings will be a small minority, they are not important :) And please do not think in terms "if I become king" because statisticly it will be "when someone else become a king" :D The game has to be fun for those who are not kings, the fun of kings is not important (because they get ego boost, if they find it boring to be a king then can always abdicate, there will be hordes of players who would want to be kings no matter how boring, tedious, uneventful it would be :)). Non kings are the ones the game should be designed for.

The same goes for "your vassals". As in each pyramid scheme the majority are at the bottom and have no vassals at all. And they can not gain vassals. It does not apply to all, but still to at least 50% of players. The game has to be geared toward the very bottom of the food chain. Those players are to have fun, that's the key (because, if you have any real players you rule over then you enjoy the game no matter how crappy the game is, because you have real power, therefore the high hierarchy players will accept almost anything and it is a waste of time worrying if they will like something :D)

In theory, the pyramid hierarchy is bad and will not work in multiplayer. I still decided to go for it because of immersion and realism. But even then I will try to make the hierarchy rather flat and not gamechanger. The worst thing that would happen is if everyone set their personal goal "to become a king".

Note also that I estimate some smaller kingdoms might have like only 10 active players (I'm an indie dev, my promotional budget is very limited). Only bigger kingdoms will have enough players to build a real hierarchy system.

Progression
This is where my biggest obstacle is. This would be my first game with no resets, I have no experience with that part. So I have to be careful what permanent assets players get (avoidance of snowball effect). I guess, over time the gameplay will degenerate (like to reach next level you need to play a year), but well, I can live with it. The choice I need to make is either short term fun and fast progression or longterm balance and longevity. I don't know how to bite it.

"if you want player-progression than its not a good start by giving them the highest "jobs" right away." - yes... I went the "everyone starts as a noble" route which has disadvantages. Generally, I dislike the whole titles/rank to be an indicator of progress. Probably some sort of personal estate which you care for and improve would be best as the focus of the game.

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#11 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 05:19 AM

Do not delete the accounts.
What about this idea:
Transfer their kingdom to the zombie area of the map. So the punishment for not being active is being relocated, but you still get to keep what you had, just in a different spot.
And assign their previous position in the map to newbies. So players who play a lot will be close to each other.
How do you handle newbie protection?

I will reply to this here, since this topic is more suitable for general stuff about the game.

Inactive players have to be removed from the game, otherwise it will be totally infested with inactives after a while. Transfering to "inactive area" won't work for this game because here you have limited offices. An inactive player should not block an office...

There is no need for newbie protection because there is no individual PvP. The only combat is between groups of players (kingdoms). The protection of smaller kingdoms will be done via power/prestige difference (attacking much weaker kingdom yelds no reward).

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#12 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 19 October 2011 - 06:45 AM

There is no need for newbie protection because there is no individual PvP. The only combat is between groups of players (kingdoms). The protection of smaller kingdoms will be done via power/prestige difference (attacking much weaker kingdom yelds no reward).


... Which does not stop people from mashing noobs. There needs to be a hard, mechanical STOP sign that prohibits players from doing that at all.

Unless you have a really small space to work with (CPU, RAM, HDD wise), there is no reason to delete people. Players aren't drawn to games that have small figures -- a game claiming to have 100k users sounds better, and barelly anyone cares to check who is online anyway (given it's browser based, people may play at any time, so activity at certain hours isn't a measure here).
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

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#13 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 02:21 AM

Vassal system
It seems I have no choice, like 50% of people I ever spoke to were very excited about the ugly hierarchical vassal system. I will have to include it no matter the drawbacks :)

There are 5 tiers of ranks.
Tier 1: Peasant, you start here
Tier 2: Commoners (craftsmen, merchants, lower clergy, minstrels, etc)
Tier 3: Noble knight or abbot [can have vassals]
Tier 4: Noble baron or bishop [can have vassals and a castle] {vassal quota required}
Tier 5: Noble count or archbishop [can have vassals and a castle] {vassal quota required}

Up to tier 3 you can upgrade yourself with pure in game advancement (althrough, you might want to stop at tier 2 if you want to play a commoner). To enter tier 4 and 5 you are obligued to met a quota of real human vassals.

The king is an office, it does not change your "standard rank". Althrough, to be a king you have to at least be a noble. King is elected by kingdom members.


There is no need for newbie protection because there is no individual PvP. The only combat is between groups of players (kingdoms). The protection of smaller kingdoms will be done via power/prestige difference (attacking much weaker kingdom yelds no reward).


... Which does not stop people from mashing noobs. There needs to be a hard, mechanical STOP sign that prohibits players from doing that at all.

Unless you have a really small space to work with (CPU, RAM, HDD wise), there is no reason to delete people. Players aren't drawn to games that have small figures -- a game claiming to have 100k users sounds better, and barelly anyone cares to check who is online anyway (given it's browser based, people may play at any time, so activity at certain hours isn't a measure here).

Login to the prototype http://europe1300.eu/ and click "Ranking" (the last round button). Right now there is no deletion of inactives, all those with skull icon are inactives. Do you like it?

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#14 Zethariel   Members   -  Reputation: 310

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 02:46 AM

If you point them out with contempt, then no, I do not like it :wink:

Why make is so obvious? Why do you care so much to have a "pure" game? Even if they are inactive husks, they can provide good sport for raids, and if there is a mailing system attached, who knows, maybe some players could be drawn back in by an e-mail or a friend request.
Disclaimer: Each my post is intended as an attempt of helping and/or brining some meaningfull insight to the topic at hand. Due to my nature, my good intentions will not always be plainly visible. I apologise in advance and assure I mean no harm and do not intend to insult anyone, unless stated otherwise

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#15 Leartes   Members   -  Reputation: 177

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Posted 29 October 2011 - 03:30 PM

Just read the agriculture thread and this one.

I think I really love the direction you chose for this game. If you manage to make the whole management of the estate worthwhile (no stupid clicking like in all those facebook games) and interesting (some choices to make that have meaning - like a none trivial crop selection) I will love it.

If you point them out with contempt, then no, I do not like it :wink:

Why make is so obvious? Why do you care so much to have a "pure" game? Even if they are inactive husks, they can provide good sport for raids, and if there is a mailing system attached, who knows, maybe some players could be drawn back in by an e-mail or a friend request.


This notion seems to be fairly common and I don't get why. Why does anyone want to raid inactives? Why does anyone join a game with 1k active and 99k inactive players? I have joined so many browser games, clicked the highscore, looked up rank 1k+ and decided the active community is too small...
Anyway I think deleting them is harsh if you are unable to go online due to unforseen circumstances. I think you should auto-delete everyone on tier 1 due to inactivity. Tier 2 and above should be put in some vacation mode for at least a month - maybe two.

#16 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 06:55 AM

It might be true I'm trying to make the game too "pure" :)

As for raiding inactives, no matter how many times I repeat that you can't raid individual players, no one listen :) I guess, the Ogame/Travian games style made such huge impact on players brains that they will always assume ruthless combat and bottom feeding :) So, in a futile attempt I will say it again, there won't be raiding other players of any kind at all, even the tiniest small bit :)

Estate management will be probably OK, but I doubt it will be the selling point of the game. There is a limit how much interesting I can make that part. It will be basicly about spending your stamina (time) in the most efficient way. Your choice will be affected by your workshop type (specialization - you can change it for a price) and by current market prices for various goods.

I hope to develop the vassal system more, since so many people were excited about it...

Deleting inactives. I can keep them up to 3 months. Longer is pointless I guess. But offices had to be removed earlier (so other players can get them).

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#17 ImmoralAtheist   Members   -  Reputation: 118

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 10:09 AM

@acharis
If you don't focus on controlling geographical areas, like tribalwars and stronghold kingdoms, I would go away from the middle age's vassal system.
I'd rather go for the more "democratic" system in rome. A country exists primarily of a few important towns/cities, and it is here you rise through the ranks.

You start of as a poor citicen, but can gain wealth. You get better jobs, maybe be rewarded (or buy) a farm outside the town (managed primarily by slaves), etc.
Eventually you may start to try to make claim to the limited positions. These are typically political positions, and you're in direct competition with other players over these.

So, no vassal system, but you can gain job seats, that are limited, and the best seats, only a few players will get. They give you political powers.
You may have limited options in directly targetting individual players, but city leaders deciding to ban brothels, can have a big impact on the players who owns them.

There are problems in having a king as a player, but if power is spread out over many individuals (a senate), then I believe that could work out much better.

I also believe you should consider the use of npc's being controlled by "game masters".. A powerful positions, would not be player controlled,
nor would it be a static ai. It could be controlled by a game master, trying to make the game more interesting and dynamic.

#18 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 02:58 PM

@acharis
If you don't focus on controlling geographical areas, like tribalwars and stronghold kingdoms, I would go away from the middle age's vassal system.
I'd rather go for the more "democratic" system in rome. A country exists primarily of a few important towns/cities, and it is here you rise through the ranks.

You start of as a poor citicen, but can gain wealth. You get better jobs, maybe be rewarded (or buy) a farm outside the town (managed primarily by slaves), etc.
Eventually you may start to try to make claim to the limited positions. These are typically political positions, and you're in direct competition with other players over these.

So, no vassal system, but you can gain job seats, that are limited, and the best seats, only a few players will get. They give you political powers.
You may have limited options in directly targetting individual players, but city leaders deciding to ban brothels, can have a big impact on the players who owns them.

There are problems in having a king as a player, but if power is spread out over many individuals (a senate), then I believe that could work out much better.

I also believe you should consider the use of npc's being controlled by "game masters".. A powerful positions, would not be player controlled,
nor would it be a static ai. It could be controlled by a game master, trying to make the game more interesting and dynamic.

King as a player position has to stay. That's the kind of game it is. I know about the potencial problems, I'm willing to pay the price. But I will reserve the right to dissmiss any king level position by the game staff, also additional roleplaying rules will be imposed on such players. In short, if you want a total freedom you have to play some lower level role.
Anyway, a king is not the biggest problem, the real one will be the Pope position :D

But the amount of power the king has will be limited.

I agree a vassal system is not ideal for such game but... there are too many players that want it, I simply can not let them down :) Generally, I plan the vassal system as a paralell to kingdom structure. Everyone belongs to a kingdom also you usually have a senior(lord) which not necessarily belongs to your kingdom. The vassal structure is not affected by the king (he has no power over such structure), it basicly ruled by the topmost lord (usually a count, rarely a baron). This also would help soften the problem of kingg's power you mentioned.

The kingdom will have offices (amount of offices depends on kingdom size and kingdom infrastructure). Each player can have up to 3 offices. The offices will come in different "value", so there will be enough low level offices to give to relatively new & unimportant players (I plan to let at least 50% of players to have at least 1 office). Offices are distributed by the king (and can be revoked anytime; this can be especially expected when a new king takes the throne :D).
The kingdom "attributes" (like stability, kingdom income) will partially depend on the skills of people who hold offices (so, the king might try to give taxcollector office to those who invested in accountiung skill; of course only after his supporters get rewarded first since keeping the throne is a priority :D).
I'm also thinking to let some higher nobles (barons, counts) distribute some offices. Each of them can build a castle, so they could give some castle offices to their vassals. This could be useful for some stronger groups within a kingdom that don't like each other with the king, they won't need to depend on him that much for offices.

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#19 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4003

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 10:55 AM

I was thinking about inactive players. Maybe indeed deleting after a month is too harsh...

Maybe like this?
- after 14 days of inactivity the player gets easily visible skull icon, also if that player is a ruler he can be "forced to abdicate" by any citizen ragardless of influence.
- after 30 days of inactivity the player disappears from the ranking list (but still appears on the kingdom list and city list), also his workshops does not count in the global game statistics.
- after, I don't know maybe 3 months, the player's character is deleted (the account stays, when he/she logins next time a fresh one will be created).

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#20 Arhim   Members   -  Reputation: 223

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 12:24 PM

I don't know if it helps, I played a game similar to the concept but it was set in modern age, I think it was called Coloniam. It has implemented a voting and political party system and you vote for the people that you want for the president.

Just my piece of mind.




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