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Hello Everyone! Right now, my team and I are bouncing around a few ideas for different types of mmo games, and we always end up with the same problem. How can we keep up a persistent world, while utilizing an rts type game play? How can we have people logging on and off all the time, while somehow maintaining continuity? It would be a real hassle to have to start all over every time that you log on, so we’re facing a dead end here. I’d really appreciate anyone’s take on this. Thanks, rdaneel

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Have the world really huge. I''ve never played it, but I''ve seen it with my own eyes, "Mankind" is a particularly massive persistant game. From what I understand, they designed a couple hundred thousand worlds and filled a galaxy with them. New players got to pick an unused planet to start on.

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What I meant was that how could I have players log off, and have their resources and bases be preserved, without having ghost towns everywhere.

Thanks,
rdaneel

[edited by - rdaneel on May 5, 2003 6:33:50 PM]

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Well, I''m fresh out of ideas for now... but you could try the Jennifer Government Nation States ( http://www.nationstates.net ) to give you a few ideas.

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Atriarch is a persistant MMORPG. You might be able to get some ideas from how they implimented it.

Basicly from what I gather you have customizeable scripts handle your actions while you are logged off. Also PCs are very hard to kill in this game.



     Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment

[edited by - tstrimp on May 4, 2003 11:06:11 PM]

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What I would probably do if I were designing the game is have it so that every player has a main area were their main base exists. They can, however build more bases and whatnot outside this area, which would be vital for progression.

When they're offline everything bar their main base is able to be destroyed, but they can of course have defences at these bases to protect them.
When they're online everything they have (main base included) can be destroyed.

However you may not want the main base to ever be able to be destroyed so... meh.

Maybe having it so that most buildings can only be constructed outside their main base area would be a way to encourage the construction of new bases.

Maybe when you destroy another player's main base you can now build there and have another indestructable base. So yeah... basically forcing them to play hard when they're online and hope they're heavily defended when offline.

[edited by - The_Titan on May 4, 2003 11:15:23 PM]

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You could put in some time of "off-line police" that will come and help defend the base of an off-line player. As this is a MMO, some players may feel cheated that they have to wait for the other person to be "ready" before they can attack. There is also the problem of logging-off mid battle (do the cops come to help, or are your troop left to fight it out on their own).

One other idea that is might work is to make the players "agree" on a battle. (i.e., both players say it is ok to fight on this planet/region until one of them is destroyed or surrenders) The players could set out the terms in advance. You could have timed battles, CTF battles, ect. There could be an option to continue that battle later if one of the players goes off-line. This, of course, ruins the whole suprise attack idea, and would make the game feel more like RISK.

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This would also be a great time to implement alliance or guild systems to help protect your area while logged off (Friendly kingdoms/areas/whatever could send units to defend your area). Or even hire people to help protect you while offline.



     Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment

[edited by - tstrimp on May 4, 2003 11:38:59 PM]

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Having a system where the player can use one of the game''s resources (eg. Gold) to have their base unable to be attacked when they''re offline might be the way to go. This way if the player stays offline for a long time then their gold (or whatever the resource is) will run out and they''ll be able to be destroyed.

Then players might go the possible cheaper route of getting another player to defend them instead, but this would have a ton of risks involved so it would balance out.

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Well, Mr. Olivaw,

I think the best idea so far would be to have "NPCs" run the player''s empire when he logs off. This is like the president taking a vacation and letting the vice president run things for awhile. You have to make the AI mature enough for this.

Regards,
Jeff

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What i was thinking is that maybe players could have only the units and camps outside the base vulnerable to attacks and bases never to be attackable.

This you would say is boring and how would the base never be destroyable...

Well you could let the player build a base based in limited resources at first making him build his own strengths and weaknesses... This way players can have sort of like a "units killed rank" and never be able to have more than N number of units... trading kills for new units (making his record go down)

This could be expanded very well... Players could conquer places with camps and that could add to the player some extra points but maybe not too much more power.

Want more? just give me a call

angellukar@hotmail.com

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Have all sides be a guerilla/terrorist organization fighting against an NPC world government. When you log off, your members run to safe-houses, tunnels, subways, buses, and so on, and disappear. When you log back on, they come out of tunnels, subways and buses (though not necessarily the ones they left), and you probably command a regroup. Perhaps you choose an area when you log on, where your members will regroup.

This would be a major departure from the standard RTS. You would need different methods of recruitment (perhaps none at all -- you simply recruit units while you remain offline). As the number of terrorists in an area grows, the military is sent in to contain the situation. If you defeat the military and police, you can seize control of the town. At that point, there are several possibilities. You might be able to control the police. You might attempt to seize control of a neighboring town. You might have to start over as a new faction, with your previous units ceded to an NPC AI to function as a police force.

This ensures that no amateur player would suffer -- he could still win victories and log off. This ensures that advanced players would not hold control for very long.

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I don''t think the idea is feasible in any kind of normal RTS way. You can''t think in terms of conquest because a player who logs off can, and should, lose all their territory to more connected players. If you work it in terms of prestige/reputation and units then you may be able to move forward. That is, a player just plays, gaining rank and fighters. When they log-off, all their money and fighters log-off with them and go into storage. When the player logs back in, they can pick-up where they left off with all their personal stats and army, but certainly not their locations. This switches the objectives from domination to prestige, which is kind of interesting, but substantially different from normal RTS games. You can have factions that persist their territorial gains, but individual players can not.

It''s actually quite a simple method to take forward. A player is treated as a mercenary, who joins the battle whenever they are on-line, bringing their money, experience and ordinance with them. The battle continues whether they are around or not, but when they log in they can influence the direction of the battle, and when they log out they get to take all their personal stuff with them.

Last thing to go through a tortoise''s mind before it hits the ground at 40mph? "D3DXVec3Add (Tortoise.Pos, Tortoise.Delta, Tortoise.OldPos"

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You could always have your game so that emphasise is played actually assuming the role of your character and rather assume a a god like role where the character would just be something you control. Sort of like the creature idea with black and white but more straight forward. For example you could make a list of things for your character to do while your offline ie practice fighting. But while online the player would have the ability to "possess" the character and play as normal. This could also allow for people to control many characters. Might be a bit complicated but something to think about.

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What kind of strategy are we looking at, by the way? If its a single world and you want it to remain persistant, I''d highly suggest favoring defense. By this I mean making defensive units stronger, inexpensive, wider range, etc. Otherwise you''ll get gried players who wander about attacking offline players.

However, if you want something more political, I could suggest having the entire strategy revolve around WMD Missiles. Have the players select between devoting time to expansion or M.A.D. grids. Upon being attacked, the grids automatically counter attack. This would shift a lot of the gameplay into diplomacy.

Might make an interesting cold war simulator.

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Hello Everyone!
First of all, thanks for all the responses; you guys had some really good ideas.

The_Titan:
The problem with that idea is that it would still suck to log back online and have everything other than your main base destroyed. But I was thinking of limiting the amount of destruction in some way.

Evangelion:
Yeah, offline-police is a valid idea; I’d like to avoid it if possible though. And as for agree with the other players, you’re right, that really wouldn’t fit into an rts game.

Tstrimp:
Yep, that’s definitely what I’m going to do. We need something in addition though, just in case some backstabbing or other unforeseen things occur. But alliances will add an interesting aspect to the game, especially in that respect.

The_Titan:
Now that’s an interesting idea. Having people pay resources for when they are offline…I’ll have to think about that one J

Rypyr:
Lol, nice, not many people get where rdaneel is from. AI is the obvious option, but it’s always very difficult to implement in an mmo. Because then we would have to have a large amount of complex ai running at the same time, which would require a lot of processing power. It’s a good idea though.

TheShadow:
Yeah, I’ll defiantly have to place some restrictions on what can, and can’t be attacked while people are offline.

FlareLocke:
Thanks for the idea, but we sort of already have a plot for the game, so that wouldn’t really fit in. It’s a great idea though, defiantly unique.

SoaringTortoise:
Also a very good idea. I really need to consider this one. Now, just to clarify, you said that a guild could expand it’s land, where as a single player could not; how exactly would this work?

Inmate2993:
Yeah, the first scenario is more accurate. Actually, I think that we were planning have this be a space-spaced game, but that doesn’t really change anything at this point.

Thanks again for all the responses!
rdaneel

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Allow no micromanagement. The player can tell a unit type what to do under certain cirmcumstances but cannot tell a single unit exactly what to do. Units behave as seperate agents, living out their lives but but are called to action when necessary. The player has nearly as much control online as he does offline. When players log on, they may view the progress of their fortress/city/whatever and then make judgements and change commands and priorities based on what they learn.

Just my 2 coppers. Actually, I see this being difficult to make into an addictive game. But perhaps you can do something with it. Good luck!

- Jay


[ Here, taste this ]

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quote:
original post by rdaneel SoaringTortoise:
Also a very good idea. I really need to consider this one. Now, just to clarify, you said that a guild could expand it’s land, where as a single player could not; how exactly would this work?


I think he was replying to me to provide a slightly modified alternative system.

Let''s say there are 10 factions vying for power in the world. Each one is attempting to gain territory. When you create your character, you sign up as one of the factions, and you can then fight in any area controlled or contested by the faction you''ve joined. If you win, you can move to adjacent territories.

What would happen when you log off would be that your units exit the area somehow (or just disappear). When you log on, you choose an area that is controlled or contested by your faction, and your units go there and you can participate in the battle.

quote:
Flarelocke:
Thanks for the idea, but we sort of already have a plot for the game, so that wouldn’t really fit in. It’s a great idea though, defiantly unique.
To each his own, but it seems rather silly to do the easy part of the design last. To my knowledge, no one''s created a satisfactory method of persistence for online strategy games, so that would seem to be the part you should know before you design the rest of your game. It''s like saying "Gosh this car design looks gorgeous. Now where do we put the wheels and the engine?"

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Let''s say you have a planet. Each faction can control areas of the planet. When you log-in, you can choose which faction to fight for, and from there, which part of the planet you want to go to (you can only go to faction-controlled areas). As you fight, you gain control of areas on behalf of your faction. Each conquered area becomes faction-controlled with a base on the map from which new players can spawn.

However, whilst you are logged out, another faction (with the help of other online players) may take-over the area you just fought for, so when you log back in, you have to re-take the area, or may choose to start at another base.

An interesting off-shoot of this is that you may have players who progress to sufficient rank that start to take a strategic (rather than tactical) interest in the war. As such, they may start to set strategic objectives, which will give other players goals when they log-in.

Some kind of financial rewards system could really heat things up (a commander will reward you with x credits for taking over a particular objective. The more money they are prepared to put into the reward, the stronger the players who take up the challenge are likely to be). Using a system like this, players could participate on at least two levels - RTS on a tactical scale, and slower paced strategy on a much larger scale, setting objectives and rewards.

If you make your game engine significantly complex you could even introduce a later game scale where players could fight on a 1st-person scale, receiving instructions from the tactical commander on each map. But that''s probably pie-in-the-sky for now. That could be really cool though... have strategy folks running the campaign, RTS folks controlling forces on the ground and 1st-person shooter folks receiving tactical objectives from an RTS player.

But I digress. Forget about the last paragraph.

Last thing to go through a tortoise''s mind before it hits the ground at 40mph? "D3DXVec3Add (Tortoise.Pos, Tortoise.Delta, Tortoise.OldPos"

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FlareLocke:
Yeah, I think I get what you mean; that’s a pretty good idea. And I guess you’re right about the design thing, but even though we don’t have all of the details completely worked out, we do have a general idea of what we would like to do.

SoaringTortoise:
Wow, those are some really good ideas. I defiantly like the idea of rewarding people with money, but should this be done by another player, say one higher ranked, or by the computer, using some sort of formula? Also, right now, we’re in the alpha stages of our engine, and are gearing it towards an RTS. We’ve thought about making an rts/fps before, and we might actually go ahead with it at a later point, but we just wanted to start easier; just to see how far we can get with the engine. Oh and one more thing: I was thinking if it would be possible to have players form their own guilds/factions, or if you guys think we should just have like 7 or 10 preset ones, like FlareLocke mentioned?

Thanks for all the great ideas!

Oh yeah, and I check out RuneScape, but I couldn’t really find any relevant information on the site.

Thanks again,
rdaneel


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Hey rdaneel,

I like your thinking... This is for an MMORTS? Wow. This is awesome. While players are away from their computer, you could have the AI take over and just defend for you while your gone. You could have the player say to the AI the maximum amount of gold to spent, the max defense units available, what units to use primarily as defense, what they could use if things get "tough", etc. This idea has great potensial.



- Rob Loach
Current Project: Go Through Object-Oriented Programming in C++ by Robert Lafore

"Do or do not. There is no try."
- Yoda

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quote:
Original post by Rob Loach
Hey rdaneel,

I like your thinking... This is for an MMORTS? Wow. This is awesome. While players are away from their computer, you could have the AI take over and just defend for you while your gone. You could have the player say to the AI the maximum amount of gold to spent, the max defense units available, what units to use primarily as defense, what they could use if things get "tough", etc. This idea has great potensial.


Heaven forbid if your RTS is realtime though. Your SOL if that is the case. Also making a decent AI for an RTS game is damn impossible. Don''t tell me you cannot find an AI''s weakness in Any game and expliot it to the N^th degree, because I sure can. If were talking about a MMO game then Grief players would learn how to break the said AI in a matter of weeks and then you would have to reprogram it to compensate.

Risky and hard as heck to do. But this is just my view on it.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
The question you pose is the reason why Sovereign got scrapped by Sony Online after several years of development.

The only way to make this work is to make each "side" not rely on a single player. Planetside, for example, solves this by defining a few sides, and having players be much smaller pawns. Another game that does something similar, although not persistently, is Wulfram (a k a ShockForce).

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I agree with those that have suggested allowing sub-bases to be attackable at any time, while each player has one permanent main base that is virtually invicible. Everyone has to log off sometime.

Of course, those who spend the most time in the game have the best chance of success, and this should be countered somehow. I like the idea of making special defensive preparations that go into effect when you go offline. A "Vice President" or "Defense Secretary" needn''t be so much an advanced AI as an NPC interface to a collection of options for improving offline defense.

Defensive Options:
- Hire Defensive Mercenaries: Mercenaries are hired on a regular basis as existing troops are eliminated, which continually refreshes the player''s defensive military power
- Minefields: Player can build special minefields that are remote-activated whenever the player goes offline, and deactivated when the player returns
- Defensive outfitting: Players can research special defensive capabilities that can be applied to specified units, which trade offensive abilities for increased defensive abilities.

A Defensive Outfitting example:
A player can research "Stonewall" which lets him/her choose to sacrifice a unit''s aggressive attack stance entirely (meaning the unit will never attack unless its division is attacked, and will never press forward or offensively choose a target of its own accord). In exchange, Stonewall allows a unit to take more punishment before being destroyed, while refusing to fall back.

****************************************

Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@foreverdreamstudios.com

"I create. Therefore I am."

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