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Oluseyi

Perma-Death and Continuity

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Oluseyi: If a similar game had animal avatars, for whom possessions are a non-issue...

Interesting, but the game will be played by humans, which are material creatures. We like getting nice items. So most players would probably want items in your game.

I suppose one idea is having "items" that you insert into your genes to give you bonuses or abilities, and you can replace them with another if you want, and these will be inherited by your children. So you might find genes that give you a poison bite, or whatever.

You might even have it that the longer the genes remain in you, the more their power grows. So your poison damage would start off slight (or nonexistent) but will increase over time. If you remove the genes, then re-add them, it will start from the beginning (low/no poison). So although people can splice their genes at any time, it pays to keep some for a while.

And rather than having inactivity pay off (instead of the genes becoming more powerful with time), they can just become more powerful each time you level up. This works also for the genes you start with.

And when you reproduce, your children have the same genes you do, but all at level 1. But it''s better than dying because you have to find those genes, so it''s sort of an item transfer.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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Oluseyi    2103
A host of interesting replies. I''ll try to do them justice.

Saluk:
Death is permanent, as you suggest, but the health is also tremendous - again, as you suggest. We want players to be encouraged to engage in skirmishes whenever they feel like it and not have to worry excessively about permanently losing their avatar based on a single encounter. It thus becomes the outcome of a series of bad decisions when an avatar dies. The "grief" might even serve as stimulus to do better in subsequent play.

We haven''t really developed the parent-child-egg thing yet, but your ideas on guarding the nest and protecting the young are very interesting. I like them because they also allow the player to grow attached to the offspring and maintains a high level of involvement if a parent avatar dies.

quote:
Original post by MagicScript
But why would the player characters want to fight each other in the first place? If you have ''family'' names than perhaps over feud. Even without this, players will fight either because they have something to gain in attacking (and possibly killing) their fellow players or simply because they are being malicious.

Players are constrained to one of two overarching roles: prey or predators. Our animals (lets call them dinosaurs) are something analogous to herbivorous, largely deriving their sustenance from inanimate "life" (we call them microbes; they''re similar to plankton), but it is possible for a dino to become carnivorous and consume other dinos. Doing so gives a fast rate of growth at the cost of a sort of carcinogenic decay due to a substance in the bloodstreams of the victim, set off after a while. The more a predator dino consumes prey dinos, the more it needs to in order to combat the cancer. It is possible to completely extract the cancer, but at great loss of power and/or size. A dinosaur that becomes a carnivore and later extracts the cancer will now have a greater rate of decay should it return to eating other dinosaurs.

This systems hasn''t quite been perfected and is something completely different that we were planning to run by the public at a later date. The idea is to present the user with choices that have consequences, allow for repentance/change of heart but continued responsibility. For this to work, there has to be some downside to playing a prey throughout so players have a legitimate reason to consider both paths. It is also important to us that players know all the consequences of actions upfront. Finally, the offspring of cancer-infested dragons do not inherit the cancer nor the need to prey; it''s a non-transferrable genetic reaction.

Under this scenario, fighting becomes a matter of life and death. Obviously, predator dinosaurs will seek out weak, beginner prey. To give the beginners a chance, we also make some areas "safe havens" by virtue of the presence of certain (micro)organisms that attack predators quite rapidly, but give them enough time to escape. Another option is that the predators are too big to swim, so water can serve as an effective barrier.

Right now it''s very much a thrown-together scheme, and it will be significantly revised for consistency within the game world as well as for balance.

quote:
Original post by MagicScript
Now my question is: when one player in a battle decides he''s had enough and is in danger of dying, what is stopping his enemy from persuing in order to finish the job?

Other than the safe zones (which we might still eliminate), nothing. The upside to safe zones is that they make the supply of "cancer medicine" for predators fairly scarce, thus ensuring a steady stream of attacks and assaults on prey dinosaurs. (predators can eat what prey can; they wont get as much nutrition from it, nor will it fight their cancers).

Predators will generally seek out mismatches in their favor (not because we constrain them to, but because doing so gives them the greatest chances of victory), making prey less vulnerable as they grow.

quote:
Original post by MagicScript
In the event of players trying to gain something from one another, what do you get if your opponent simply runs away (presuming that you let him.)

This is part of why we''re trying to stay away from items. For one thing, they don''t make much sense in the context of our creatures and world; for another they complicate the rules and balance. Viewed in a certain way, though, there is the possibility of our dinosaurs having some possessions - kinda like how dragons supposedly had hoards of gold and precious stones - but it wouldn''t be other dinosaurs trying to dispossess them. It''d be adventurous little creatures - like hobbits and humans.

There''s no punishment for "murder".

quote:
Original post by CGameProgrammer
Interesting, but the game will be played by humans, which are material creatures. We like getting nice items. So most players would probably want items in your game.

As noted above, we might consider an alternative where there are certain items. It is important to us to ensure that the entire game world and gameplay experience are cohesive and consistent. If items enhance this, then we''ll seriously consider them; if they''re detrimental, they''re gone.

quote:
Original post by CGameProgrammer
I suppose one idea is having "items" that you insert into your genes to give you bonuses or abilities, and you can replace them with another if you want, and these will be inherited by your children. So you might find genes that give you a poison bite, or whatever.

This is an interesting idea. If you don''t mind me adapting it more to a technologically primitive world populated by "low-order" animals (ie, no man) based on science as opposed to Magick, perhaps the consumption of certain herbs/fruits/etc give certain physical/intellectual benefits (increased acuity of hearing, venom?). Finding, controlling and concealing the source of such substances would then be important (and could serve as an item detached from the individual) while some items would eventually be absorbed into the system (much like how some people are immune to certain diseases) in a way that can be inherited.

What do you all think?

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The problem, as I see it, is that we like to horde items, to be possessive. Bushes that produce fruit with temporary effects can''t really be possessed; it''s never yours, it''s always everyone''s for the taking. It''s a good concept for certain types of games, like in a strategy game where controlling the bushes allows you to buff up yourself or your units. But I don''t think it satisfies our material desires. It would be like a thief coming up to you and stealing your favorite sword.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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Oluseyi    2103
quote:
Original post by CGameProgrammer
The problem, as I see it, is that we like to horde items, to be possessive.

I concur, and I also see it as a problem. If we''re asking a player to inhabit a role, then that role may have certain logical restrictions (or actions with repercussions). I mean, what kinds of items can we give a dinosaur to possess? Would the lack of possessions and items cause players not to try/stick with the game?

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Saluk    127
Grr, this is starting to sound like a super original game I thought up years ago, involving dinosaurs, and, eggs.

In my old system, the plant eaters were basically a team against the meat eaters. The meat eaters have to eat plant eaters to survive, while plant eaters have to avoid meat eaters to survive. You can mate and prodoce eggs which serve as respawns, although you don''t necesarily get to respawn as you''re offspring. What would happen is, if one team was signifigantly winning, then the other team would grow smaller, and smaller. They would be running out of respawns while you would be ammassing large amounts of eggs. It was kind of set up for one team to wipe out the other. The neat thing is, the plant eaters don''t have to fight to kill off the meat eaters - they only have to avoid them for long enough.

My problem with it being an mmorpg though, was that I couldn''t think of enough for the plant eaters to do. Running from meat eaters might be fun for a while, but really, EVERYONE would want to be a meat eater. I never really solved the problems, although it would probably be GREAT as a non-persistant skirmish game rather than a persistant huge world one.


Your game is sounding like it has the same problem though - if you don''t collect items, what DO you do? Fight things? But if everyone is a herbivore, and you don''t need items that enemies drop, WHY fight at all? To level up just in case someone with cancer comes to get you? Or are there so many monsters out there that getting food is a life-or-death situation anyway?

I see a few great opportunities for gameplay, but I also see A LOT of gameplay missing. Just some things to think about.

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Oluseyi    2103
Saluk, there are a significant number of similarities between your design and ours. There are also some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) differences. I don''t believe in hoarding ideas, but I can''t divulge details without consulting with Silvermyst, so...

quote:
Original post by Saluk
Your game is sounding like it has the same problem though - if you don''t collect items, what DO you do?

The game is being set up to encourage exploration. We haven'' quite decided on a rewards system, but we want the users to visit far places, to consider circling the planet (this isn''t based on earth, so we''re able to think up some creative things - all bound by contemporary physics), and so forth. We want their to be challenges and many clues that point to interesting things to do. Some of those "quests" will require more than one dinosaur to complete, providing the incentive for social interaction between players, which will be a big part of the game. See Silvermyst''s thread in this forum on Cavemen communication for a very early preview of some of our communication ideas.

Another important factor is that we want this game to be friendly to the casual gamer. We don''t want a world where unless you spend hours a day, you simply can''t compare/compete/enjoy the experience. The game world will hopefully feature archaeological and paleontological (did I spell that right? can''t be bothered to check right now) data that may somehow contribute to some other overarching goal. We may (depending on skill and time) also include other species that slowly evolve and affect the world.

You''re quite right when you say that a lot of gameplay is missing. For us, what we''re interested in doing right now is building a prototype that we can publicly demo (don''t hold your breath; we''re still writing the first draft of the creative design document, to be followed by the technical design document, iterative editing and synchronization of the two with some initial programming, and finally application development - which includes a preproduction stage of sketch artwork, CG renders and storyboards to give us a good idea what exactly we''re trying to accomplish). At that point (probably two years down the road - and that''s a very optimistic guess) we''ll present the demo publicly for beta testing and seek comments on expanding and balancing gameplay. This might even evolve into some sort of community development thing (a la Open Source). We''ll see.

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Saluk: Running from meat eaters might be fun for a while, but really, EVERYONE would want to be a meat eater.

Not necessarily. Your carnivore/herbivore idea sounds like a very good one, I urge you to implement it! But your mistake is in thinking that herbivores avoid carnivores. Not true. Some run, some hide, but others fight back. For example, many plant-eating dinosaurs had large skeletal plates acting as armor, in addition to things like spiked or clubbed tails that they swung at attackers. Attacking something like that was actually dangerous, and a gamble on the meat-eater''s part.

In a game, merely avoiding the meat-eaters will not be much fun in the long term, but being able to fight them if it comes to that will. You can have it that the plant-eaters have high hitpoints but low damage, as this would be a pretty good interpretation of reality (not all actually did low damage, some could kill in one hit with their tail if it''s well-aimed).

But the difference in the sides can be that the plant-eaters are best off avoiding meat-eaters - running or hiding, only fighting if need be. This works for a class-based approach, because you can have some herbivore dinosaurs that mainly hide, others that mainly run, and others that mainly fight. So the fighters could fight while they others run away, and the hiders can be scouts, and so forth. The very tall dinosaurs like bronchosauri and dipplodoci have lots of hitpoints but are slow and can''t attack, but they can go in deep water unlike any other dinosaur.

The carnivores will just have a variety of stats and attack types - velociraptors which are quick and dexterous (that''s where the "veloci" comes from) and Tyrannosauri which are strong but relatively slow, and Allosauri which are faster and do more or the same damage as Tyrannosauri, but with less hitpoints (I think this is sort of accurate, not sure though).

To give the plant-eaters something to do, look to reality! They must always be consuming plants. To do this, they go where some healthy green plants are (that are in reach - only tall dinosaurs like bronchosauri and dipplodoci can reach tall trees) and stand there. Standing still makes them automatically eat anything within melee range. Plants are consumed and the leaves don''t grow back for a while (one real-life hour?), so plant-eaters need to always be moving to the next patch of fertile land, which puts them in danger. They also can''t go long without eating anything, since each individual plant only slightly lowers their hunger.

The meat-eaters, when they kill a plant-eater, stand over the corpse to automatically eat it. Each corpse can fully replenish the stomache of one carnivore. So the carnivores don''t need to eat as often as the herbivores.

Obviously with a system like this, it will not be very eventful. More suspenseful. The meat-eaters will usually not know where the plant-eaters are and will have to hunt them, and the plant-eaters will usually be doing nothing but eating. So it would be a more relaxed, social game - players can just chat and stuff while their characters eat, or whatever.

But the system I described won''t work as a MMORPG - just a 32-player game or smaller, probably.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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Saluk    127
Yeah, that''s what I was thinking. A 32 to 64 player extended battle experiment. You might log in every so often and do some fighting and eating, and the battle might last longer than a few hours (maybe up to a few days) but it would be a game with and end and a goal. The herbivores goal is to overpower the carnivores, the carnivores goal is to overpower the herbivores. The herbivores aren''t strong enough to overpower the carnivores directly, survival for them is more important than assault. Breeding rates could be a factor, having to eat the right kinds of food before you can breed. And those certain kinds of food may very well be guarded by some carnivores. Also, some kinds of food is very deadly, so it''s important to be careful not to eat it. Herbivores will need to eat much more often than carnivores, possibly having their energy reach zero in mere minutes. Balancing would be fairly difficult, and the combat engine would have to be REALLY good. I don''t have the time or the skill to implement it really, so my ideas are free to use

I have a lot of good ideas that I keep close to me for when the time is ready to unleash upon the world anyway.

Oluseyi: I really like the idea of exploration, that to me is what''s most fun in nearly every game I enjoy. And the quests sound good as well; I just wish I could help you with rewards.
You could have map of explored area, and every time someone goes somewhere new, that area is marked on the map with their name. So it could be a goal of explorers to try and get their name to the most places in the map. Now of course, most of the interesting places wont be all that easy to get to, and various obstacles could make some of the most valuable real estates empty black splotches on the map for ages to come. If food is important in the game, areas with an abundance of food will likely have an abundance of players congregating their. If food has different properties, different effects on characters, that could make finding and trying different foods interesting. There was this game for the gameboy a few years ago called Survival kids. You go around on a desert island and have to survive, eating food and the like along the way. It was interesting trying different things and seeing what kinds of effects it has on you.

I''ll look out for the game in 2 years, hehe.

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deClavier    122
addressing the issue of death and continuity, maybe the solution is to define characters as part of a system thereby eliding the question of individuality and rephrasing the loss of one as an inconvenience for the whole

alternatively, you could define characters as amorphous, being greater or lesser in their capacity to communicate with the gameworld but never totally excluded from such.

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But who doesn''t want to be an individual? In fact, I think something like Warcraft III could have been much better if we had only one hero per person, but could customize them ahead of time just like an RPG hero - appearance, name, class, etc. So instead of merely controlling an army, the players actually had an individual unit they could call their own.

~CGameProgrammer( );

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deClavier    122
quote:
Original post by CGameProgrammer
But who doesn''t want to be an individual?


Someone who wants to work for a system...

All I''m saying is that continuity is easier to maintain using an external, rather than an internal, reference point. Say you die; becoming a new character makes more sense (continuity-wise) if your focus is being part of a clan which uniquely identifies the role you will continue to play, regardless of who you are.

The alternative, as I said, is to be amorphously defined. That way you can die, become a tiny blob and then grow somewhere else.

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