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How to start?

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The latest thing I've begun to worry about is how the game will start. I intend not to have any NPCs at all, which might make it difficult for the first few players. Which then leads to wondering how I plan on starting them off. The idea was to start them off with a bare continent and let them build from there. But without shops, quests, or anything, this may prove difficult. They will want to build a city, but since my game will not be very popular, it might be hard for enough people to be together to do so. I may have to design a way for players to build villages without having to come into contact with each other.

So say that my very first player will come into the game onto a brand new continent. He or she will be equipped with the barest of essentials. A tent, a flint, and maybe a small weapon. From there, they will have to set up camp. A camp could be considered a 1-person town. But if more people come on, I would want them to build their camps next to the first persons camp so that it could become a village. So, Ill have to insert a rule about how to build towns by bunching up dwellings, and advise people that building next to an existing camp or village will cause it to grow and provide more resources. Good.

Then the people will need to get things. Say one person wants a sword instead of the dagger he has. Since he is not a blacksmith, he will have to let someone with the blacksmithing skill know that he wants a sword. Ill have to create an in-game classified ads of sorts so that people can read the ads and get their quests from there. Someone with a blacksmith skill reads the ad, and builds the sword. Or if the smithy doesnt have the materials, he'll have to put in his own ad to have fighters go out and collect the materials for him.

It sounds good in theory, but starting out, this game might end up being a bit boring. Or the first few dozen people will have to become a jack-of-all-trades to be able to get what they need. Ill have to wait until beta is up to find out.
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That WILL be very tough -- and practically a polar opposite in terms of online games. Most multiplayer games rely on the world being unchanging; gameplay a constant, not variable. The way the game is played would change radically with how many players there are and how they decide to act.

..Which of course is very cool in many cases, but also makes it easier for a player's experience to be ruined. I build up a nice city for a couple hundred hours, then a gang of baddies run by and torch it all to the ground. Great. Doh. [smile]

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Ive considered that possibility. It wont be easy for the players to regulate what happens in-game while they are away. Ive foreseen a few possible solutions to this.

-Allow some NPCs so that the player can hire them to guard the town while they are off-line. This will be available or shop/tavern owners as well.

-Only allow certain conditions to be present before something bad can happen to the town, for example, 25% of the town owners must be present before anything bad comes about.

-Give the players the ability to let their own characters run on simple AI while they are offline, enough to take care of issues when they occur.

The simplest plan at the moment seems to be to have NPCs guarding while players are offline. And I can also make it tough for players to be able to do large scale damage to a town without a large number of players helping. I will run the game without any of this though and see how it works.

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