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RolandofGilead

limited-time MMORPG

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I just had one of those ''Ah, ****'' moments when you realize a project could suddenly make a dramatic shift from its original vision. Of course I haven''t written code for this one so it''s not that horrible. Anyway, I have much of the game design and story written and I had that moment. The game is single-player. It has a story. The world could work as a MMORPG, but there are so many. Then I realized that the game(world and story) could be a MMORPG and every player could be an actor, playing their part and contributing to the story yet still doing the usual stuff. The single-player allows creating a character already so it''s not like an online player will say ''hi'' to a band of adventurers and that be all they do. So, first, would that be cool? Second, what happens when the story ends? a)The game world continues, but do the subscriptions? b)The story is retold, but now the players compete for the spotlight. c)The game ends, hence the title of the post and my original assumption. d)Tell a new story. Problems, how much do I let the average player in on? If I promise they''re part of the story they might get mad if they are unable to tell what part they play, though by the end it should be obvious but there is still the middle to consider(during the beginning everything will still be novel I hope). Major problem, what about plot twists? The players know they''re coming if the story is repeated. One thing I can think of so far is that control must be taken away from the players. Of course, foreknowledge is only helpful if they actually cooperate, but even a cease-fire and military build-up without incident and suspicion is enough to upset things, much less a full-blown alliance where there isn''t supposed to be one. The game masters could try to manipulate things and start wars.

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I''m not sure how great an idea this would be. Afterall if you have a story in mind then most likly it involves one or maybe even a few man characters. If its a massive only game where you have 10''s to 100''s of people playing then they will all want to be the main character and if its a story driven game then that simply isn''t possible.


I had an idea for something like what your getting before but decieded it would be to diffiucult to implement. Basicily it was an episodic online game. Where each character is assigned a story by the computer these stories would be dynamically genereated based on the characters history and other events going on in the game world. Each episode would run about 5-10 hours of game play and some would be intermingled with other players episodes. Forcing you to establish a relationship and work together with complete strangers in order to achive your goal.

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This is actually an idea I''ve put a lot of thought into and hope to be one day able to implement.
Anyway, here are my thoughts.
For one you can''t prescript the whole story cuz it''s inevitable that everyone playing won''t cooperate. (Murphy''s law "If there''s a wrong way to do something someone will do it"). Besides it goes against the whole freedom in games idea. This means that your ''plot'' has to be able to survive major changes.
One way to deal with this is to simply have plot elements which will be used by the players to create a story.
For instance a war story could be defined something as
Two nations exist which are at war with each other when one nation loses game ends.
Loss can be when one nations army is less than one tenth the size of the other OR when the five, or similar number of, most powerful leaders in one country are killed.
Players in each country have the ability to struggle to become leaders, perhaps by gathering one of the largest numbers of personal followers OR leading an army to victory OR perhaps even winning an election
Players can gather followers in different ways as well (won''t bother to list as post might get too long)
Players can move up the armies rank in different ways
Players can get votes in different ways

However not all players will want the intrigue of politics and power.
So you also have craftsmen who make the weapons and stuff with maybe a group of master craftsmen certified by each king. Only a fixed number at any time so all craftsmen in nation struggle for this title (by hook or by crook)
Merchants also, with a range of items from common to very rare.
etc.
As well as the national titles there should also be local ones so that people who aren''t big enough to have a hope on the national scale can still struggle with each other on the local scale. and being at the top in any of this areas should have give the player clear distinct advantages over others
Plus there should be goals that the two nations would naturally fight over. eg. there could be only a limited number of practical points of access between the two territories so wars will naturally be fought to control them. other ways might be available but will put the crossing party at a major disadvantage.

If well done this initial network will provide the basis for a hundred stories as everyone vyies for the top position in thier own field and while at the same time working to help thier own side win the war. You should get and kind of betrayals backstabbings etc etc.

However this is just the framework!

Next we need to add potentially world changing events to the mix. This is much easier if you have an actual GM moderating the whole game. so for instance half way through the war documents might be found indicating the prescence of a powerful artifact in the forbidden forest which might change the tide of the war (it''s important that such items do not regenerate so that once one person has got it noone else can unless they steal it from him or something and the information concerning it should be necesarily vague so that it will take a while for anyone to find it. And obviously the forest has to be dangerous) this of course will launch a host of quests to find it and even after it''s found throughout the game loads of people will be trying to get control of it. And perhaps if instead of using it a craftsman gets control of it and studies it he will be able to make slightly less powerful imitations (which will finally put him on the kings list with such powerful info)

Or perhaps a disease starts to starts to spread and the best way to combat it is for the nations (if they decide to) to work together the alternative being massive loss of life (of course the potential for betrayal and backstabbing should be there as well)

Or perhaps you could even have GM controlled characters whose ultimate goal is the destruction of both parties, or perhaps who want the war to drag on as long as possible so are always sabotaging the winning side (but if/when the players find out what''s happening there should be a way to destroy him/it).


Perhaps I''ve gone to deep into the explanation. The summary is:-
i.) Have a nice framework that encourages competion, teamwork and backstabbing (especially backstabbing :D )
ii.) Create episodic events that will cause a flurry of activity (for a while at least) and make lasting changes to the state of the game world. That way player undertaking the qyest will feel they are making a difference.

Then sit back, put your feet up, and watch the story evolve

---------------------------------------------------
There are two things he who seeks wisdom must understand...
Love... and Wudan!

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I think you''re missing the whole point with a MMORPG when you try to force a story on the players. IMHO, the greatest asset of a MMORPG is that the players should be able to form a story themself. If a certain player finds the Platnium Über-Sword of Doom™ it should be up to him what he wants to do with it, if he decides to become the Great Goblin Slayer of all time, so be it. He should never get any certain path forced on him because the story demands it. "Great, now you found the PUSD. Go out and become the Dark Lord Himself, because I, the omnipotent designer, said so"

I would rather try to encourage the possibility of certain twists (Put the PUSD somewhere so there potentially can be a Dark Lord Himself)

Ok, I guess the whole point of my post is that story based scenarios aren''t suited for MMORPGS, go ahead and make it single-player instead.

-Luctus

Statisticly seen, most things happens to other people.
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Assume that your players have the mentality of a mold spore. If anyone is going to act out a story, it had better be someone you employ. Otherwise, when it comes time for General Bigshot, played by 11 year old Jimmy, to say his famous speech before the entire population, they will instead be treated to a string of gibberish consisting mainly of the word "fart" and "stupid head".

What you can do in the case of this player-vs-player team conflict-with-a-story theme, is give the teams involved a (more) tangible reason to fight each other besides the fact that you told them to fight. Give them access to better resources, better dungeons for levelling high-level characters in (always a problem in MMORPGs), etc.

Drive back the other players, your country/tribe/army gets access or just easier access to preferred game resources. Defend your resources against the other players, you get to keep it. Nothing permanent, however. You don''t want one country to get an Obelisk of Uber Killx0ring in the middle of the capitol with which they can smite an entire civilization just by rubbing the tower with a kitty cat. No newcomers would dare join any BUT that particular country and existing enemy citizens would be wise to study up for the naturalization process. Soon, there will be only one nation in your game and peace will break out across the lands. Everyone will hold hands and sing "We are the World" and there will be lots of free love and mind expanding drugs will proliferate your denizen''s ranks, possibly the implementation of a true communist system, but most importantly, there will be no conflict and you''re out of a fucking job because your game is no longer a game.

What was I talking about? I think I''m drunk, or there''s not enough oxygen in the room, or it''s the heat. Actually, I think it''s the heat. It''s really hot in here. I hate summer. Winter really is nice. My body doesn''t overheat and have to be rushed to the hospital. They don''t have internet access at the hospital. I asked why and the nurse said I can go fuck myself. That wasn''t nice of her. Actually, now that I think of it, I think she didn''t really say that... I think that was the pain killers talking.

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TSwitch, good points, I''d love to see how smart you are with a stable, normal mental condition

Platinum314, Luctus, uh, read my post again carefully and my reply to TechnoGoth

thelurch, someone who understands!, oh my goodness, *sniff* *cry* I think I love you, are you working on anything? would you like to?

TechnoGoth, they contribute to the story by doing the usual stuff, and that is an awesome idea you have, I think there is one MMO trying to do that, but I think there will be more human intervention, aceofangels.com

btw has anyone actually responded to the second question, what to do when the story ends?

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It would be an interesting mix to combine traditional D&D premises, in which the world is essentially created by one man as he goes, and the massive online world. You write the game so it can be changed rapidly and efficiently, and without patching routines. Then you have a group of individuals who "conduct" the game. These individuals are under company control, probably employees, so you don''t have to worry about massive mayhem. It would be interesting for the MMDM to map out a story in his mind..play god, mess with the puny player characters...select them to perform special tasks..become heroes...and whatnot. Back him up with a server side semi realtime computer program that "fills in" the story for the rest of the people, who the MMDM doesn''t specifically mess with to shape his story. The computer program would take a look at his recent actions and generate content for the minor players. Now, find a good MMDM and you have a game I would definately buy, no questions asked.



Gamedev for learning.
libGDN for putting it all together.
An opensource, cross platform, cross API game development library.

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I''ve been designing two games that reflect relevancy to your post. One, Infinity, itself a MMORPG, and the other, 13 Cemetery Dr., a RPFPS (Role-played First Person Shooter).

First off, 13 CD. The game can be played single- or multi-player. The single player game is almost exactly the same as the multiplayer version with the exception of each player ''Doing their part'' unforcibly. There will be many predesigned characters (roles) to choose from and each player will be free to decide what their role will do to complete the game. Though players will not be required to team together, it will be quite a challenge to beat the game alone (without teamwork).

The point here is, there is a story, it''s multiplayer, and it does have an ending each time the game is played.

Now, Infinity. A MMORPG built from the ground up to accomidate to the will of the players. The game itself will focus on the ''tale of the lands'', a quite encompasing main quest that players will have the option to persue. The thing is, it''s not detrimental to the game to attempt this quest of quests (in fact, only those who are willing to go at it full force will ever come close to the grandest of prizes ).

Again though, there will be a sort of ending to this game as well, or, more clearly, a rebirth!

Bottom Line - If it''s completely ideal (andcreatively done right) as a MMOG, and you have what it takes to persue it, do it (yes admitantly there''s plenty, but nothing too great yet ). Otherwise, also consider the way of the limited multiplayer setting (13 CD will use client-hosted servers for multiplayer, limited to probably 80 players per game). Besides, try getting creative with what you yourself would enjoy doing in your game.

Just thought I''d offer some good points to your questioning and the thread itself

- Christopher Dapo ~ Ronixus

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Well Idealy your game code and story code should be seperate, That why your MMO is scalabel and modifable. So that when the story comes to an end you can begin a new story. That also adds a history to game older players while be talking about what they did during the great war. While newbies will be able to learn about from history books, or seeing evidence of in game such as cities burned to the ground.

One thing that I think would a great way to keep people playing is if you could realease expansion packs similar to how magic the gathering has expansions. That would be compatiable with the orignal code so that people in the world will still interact as normal wether they have to expansion or not. The expansions them selves would open new areas, and in game option for the people who to buy them.

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quote:
Original post by RolandofGilead
TSwitch, good points, I'd love to see how smart you are with a stable, normal mental condition
??? That was normal... sadly.
quote:
btw has anyone actually responded to the second question, what to do when the story ends?
MMORPG Commandment #1:
Thou shalt not wipe a player's character(s) information, under penalty of pain of having your testicles removed with a spork.

People don't take kindly (this is from personal experience) to having their work wiped out.

Best bet in this case is, for the next story/episode, to have different roles for each general level of characters. Low level characters could gather items or serve as cannon fodder/nurses in PvP battles. High level characters could go into more dangerous places or be the true warriors in the PvP battles.

God help you if you think that wiping characters will make people stay longer. Of course, NOT wiping characters means people will get to that highest possible level (either imposed by the game or by human will). That's not a problem, so long as you keep those high levels entertained. Don't, and they'll get bored and leave. But pissing off your customers will get you out of a job faster.

I wouldn't suggest having people pay on a per-story basis. If the story lasts too long, you aren't going to make money. If the stories are too short, you're going to be working your freakin' tail off making up new ones. Just have a per-month, bimonthly or whatever period for a subscription and make reasonably long stories, ones that take at least a month or two.

I don't know why you would consider ending the game itself. This goes along with the whole "don't wipe characters" thing. I don't think many people would want to play a game that is over as soon as you finish the story. That's called a single player game. You made a persistent world only to have it end ?

[edited by - TSwitch on July 8, 2003 11:48:53 PM]

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CpMan, couldn't follow

Ronixus, interesting, thank you for your post

TechnoGoth, don't worry, I always code with that mindset.
Lasting effects will indeed be lasting.
You've actually partly hit upon how the game's story develops as well(single and MMO). New lands means new peoples means new desires means new stories. With that insight may I extend the sentiments I extended to thelurch, 'someone with insight! *sniff* *cry* are you working on anything? would you like to?

TSwitch, I'm glad you posted, it saved me from typing and trying to explain a couple of things. Same sentiments, blah blah blah blah
quote:
Original post by TSwitch
quote:
btw has anyone actually responded to the second question, what to do when the story ends?
MMORPG Commandment #1:
Thou shalt not wipe a player's character(s) information, under penalty of pain of having your testicles removed with a spork.

People don't take kindly (this is from personal experience) to having their work wiped out.

Best bet in this case is, for the next story/episode, to have different roles for each general level of characters. Low level characters could gather items or serve as cannon fodder/nurses in PvP battles. High level characters could go into more dangerous places or be the true warriors in the PvP battles.
Good idea. In the single-player version, the episodes are at least one generation apart(finally justification for starting out with no powers even though you killed a god in the previous title).

quote:
I wouldn't suggest having people pay on a per-story basis. If the story lasts too long, you aren't going to make money. If the stories are too short, you're going to be working your freakin' tail off making up new ones. Just have a per-month, bimonthly or whatever period for a subscription and make reasonably long stories, ones that take at least a month or two.
That is indeed the possible plan. Except, remember this was originally a single-player story, translated to MMO. I was going to make each episode last a year at least(4 total).edit: last a year for the MMO version, single-player takes as long as events happen.

quote:
I don't know why you would consider ending the game itself. This goes along with the whole "don't wipe characters" thing. I don't think many people would want to play a game that is over as soon as you finish the story. That's called a single player game. You made a persistent world only to have it end ?

[edited by - TSwitch on July 8, 2003 11:48:53 PM]
There's the rub, I wouldn't make it persistent only to have it end, I would make it persistent so that instead of everyone enjoying it by themselves, everyone could enjoy it with everyone else. That's the point of doing it.

The real problem with the ending as it is, is that I don't know what happens next.

Also, I think this would greatly clarify things. Story may be a misnomer. There is a world. There are major events taking place in that world. You are a person in that world. That is all. Naturally you are guided toward these events cause it would suck to be out adventuring when all of a sudden the world gets destroyed.

[edited by - RolandofGilead on July 9, 2003 1:24:25 AM]

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quote:

Also, I think this would greatly clarify things. Story may be a misnomer. There is a world. There are major events taking place in that world. You are a person in that world. That is all. Naturally you are guided toward these events cause it would suck to be out adventuring when all of a sudden the world gets destroyed.



But what if it just changes when an ''episode'' in the world''s story has ended and a new one has begun?

Infinity isn''t just a fancy title BTW

- Christopher Dapo ~ Ronixus

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quote:

thelurch, someone who understands!, oh my goodness, *sniff* *cry* I think I love you, are you working on anything? would you like to?



Eeeewwwwww!! Stay back!! Stay back!!! I''ve got garlic and I''m not afraid to use it!!

I have a couple of stuff I work on, on weekends. I''m a bit wary of internet projects though as my timetable makes it difficult to keep up. You can email me though.

Back to topic:
About ending the game. I was going to suggest two options but one of them has already been discussed, ie the world doesn''t have to end but you could have new events constantly creating new stories (e.g. a new nation sails across the sea from a distant continent and now joins in the battle).

But you could also actually have something like different stories running on different servers and everytime a story ends it simply restarts (perhaps with a slight randomisation so people who have played before don''t instantly know where Tswitches tower is ). The player keeps paying his monthly fee and can join any story he wants preferably within a couple of weeks of it''s starting (You could let them start late but you should warn them that they might be at a slight disadvantage). I tend to lean towards having them restart from a blank slate every time. So that it''s more like a single player game with lots of players. I think players will be less worried about losing their characters they''ve been working if they are well informed right from the beginning (Alphacentuari is a one player game but I think it has some aspects which might apply here)
Alternatively you could let them keep thier characters and have stories which are tailored for different character levels. So each story should have a maximum character level allowed to join (course if a level one character wishes to try out a level 25 story who are we to complain - although you might want to have a minimum level as well so that the player has something to look forward to, also it''s possible that he won''t have any fun and will blame the game design)

Also I think a year is a bit too long for a story. Remember each story is defined by a single theme (a main plot) once that comes to an end whatever sub plots were being dealt with get cut off wherever they are (if the world is destroyed no one will be too worried about becoming the most famous carpet maker ever). If one theme drags on too long people may begin to lose interest. But our goal is to give as many people as possible the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a game. That''s what will bring them back

Some of this stuff may go against standard gaming norms but I think as long as the player knows what they are in for and always have the choice to control thier destiny in the game (whether they decide to use it or not) they will love it.

Oh and Tswitch
quote:

You don''t want one country to get an Obelisk of Uber Killx0ring in the middle of the capitol with which they can smite an entire civilization just by rubbing the tower with a kitty cat.



This is not really a problem, the other country will just set a billion credit bounty of every dead kitty cat delivered to them .

---------------------------------------------------
There are two things he who seeks wisdom must understand...
Love... and Wudan!

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Ok, so you have global events in the world, where every participates and when they''re over, they''re over. Otherwise, you''ve just described something like a quest.

I guess I can''t see what kind of stories you''d have that would work both in single player mode and MM mode where lots of people can work on it. If you take the single player game over to MM, you''ve got simple little quests because you took an event intended for one person to complete and put it in a system of thousands of people. If you take MM events and put them into SP, how can you scale it? If the online version had the players fending off an Orc invasion... how can one level 10 barbarian stand a chance? Alot of AI help?

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quote:
Original post by Ronixus
But what if it just changes when an ''episode'' in the world''s story has ended and a new one has begun?

Infinity isn''t just a fancy title BTW

- Christopher Dapo ~ Ronixus



Because I hate Wizards of the ****ing Coast and what they did to Magic, having to keep up with new expansions and rules all the ****ing time. rant rant rant rant
Where am I?
Oh, yes, well I suppose these are very different formats, and the point of an MMO is that you keep on paying every month. Still, if this is successful I could hire writers. Or, even cheaper, I can let players write plot changes. (I''m a cheap bastard.)

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quote:
Original post by TSwitch
Ok, so you have global events in the world, where every participates and when they're over, they're over. Otherwise, you've just described something like a quest.

That's exactly how it works, both versions.
This forum seems to have a short memory.
Look back at all those threads about dynamic MMORPGs and quests created not by designers but by the conditions presented in the game world.
quote:
I guess I can't see what kind of stories you'd have that would work both in single player mode and MM mode where lots of people can work on it. If you take the single player game over to MM, you've got simple little quests because you took an event intended for one person to complete and put it in a system of thousands of people. If you take MM events and put them into SP, how can you scale it? If the online version had the players fending off an Orc invasion... how can one level 10 barbarian stand a chance? Alot of AI help?


Why is it that no one trusts me when I say it could work as either or? It distracts from my purpose.

Really, the point was what happens when what I've written runs out and how do I handle the mechanics of adding these major events?

Okay, the story is more than just the events. It's about how there is a faction fighting for every outcome of these events. See? If it's SP then it's a sandbox. If it's MMO, then everyone simply plays in the same sandbox.

thelurch,
internet projects, yeah, I'm wary too
time scale, mmmm, not really, think about how the break up of the Soviet Union has affected politics,
and even better(but I don't know how to apply this particular change to my story) think about the Protestant Reformation.
World-altering events take time to proliferate.

edit:
#define KITTY_CAT_BOUNTY 1000000000

[edited by - RolandofGilead on July 10, 2003 2:59:10 AM]

edit2:
quote:
Look back at all those threads about dynamic MMORPGs and quests created not by designers but by the conditions presented in the game world.

Now I realize why I've been hesitant to join Planetside or Dark Space(darkspace.net). It's combat without purpose, which I enjoy immensely, but not if I have to pay for it or feel an obligation to play. I'd rather do occasional multiplayer or have a mission editor. I have lots of games with mindless violence as an option but I don't play everyday, I'd get bored if I did, thus my subscription would be underused and thus not worth the money. OMG, this facet of gaming might actually deserve a post. Should I take this opportunity to actually post something good? Nah.

[edited by - RolandofGilead on July 10, 2003 3:07:21 AM]

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Heh, the musings of a tired man.

I''ll sum it up:

1) A "Dungeon Master" for the MMORPG universe who directs a storyline, messes with the character, etc. according to his will, giving main characters who he might pick, tasks, etc.
2) A computer program backing him up filling in the story for the rest of the people.



Gamedev for learning.
libGDN for putting it all together.
An opensource, cross platform, cross API game development library.

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quote:
Original post by TSwitch
Ok, so you have global events in the world, where every participates and when they''re over, they''re over. Otherwise, you''ve just described something like a quest.



Consider the main plot line like a global quest which every player has the opportunity to affect in one way or the other and whose outcome will affect the whole world.
E.g. The dark Lord of the nether regions is about to rise again.
Whether or not any particular player decides to help prevent (or assist) this he knows that if the dark Lord does finally rise the world will be destroyed and the game will end. Alternatively if the dark lord is destroyed they will be widespread rejoicing and the game will end.
There will be hundreds of quests and subquests most of which will be aimed at helping or hindering the main one.

So it becomes similar to a single player game with an open structure (e.g. black and white or Alphacentuari)

As for actually having the same game capable of being able to work both as single player and MMO you''ll probably be walking a rusted razor''s corroding edge, ...a couple of miles long.

AS for the timetable. I was actually refering to 3 months of real time (game time will probably run significantly faster). The goal being you want as many people as started the game to be there when it finishes rather than getting bored with a story that stretches too long.
Plus there might be a small time gap between when the story actually ends and the game goes offline. That way people who weren''t online at the specific moment can still log on and see the result of thier actions (or inactions) for (hopefully) dramatic effects


---------------------------------------------------
There are two things he who seeks wisdom must understand...
Love... and Wudan!

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quote:
Original post by thelurch
So it becomes similar to a single player game with an open structure (e.g. black and white or Alphacentuari)

As for actually having the same game capable of being able to work both as single player and MMO you''ll probably be walking a rusted razor''s corroding edge, ...a couple of miles long.



Exactly, except for the razor thing.
Oh, come on, this is basically the same as Luctus''s ''MMORPG = Subscribed Single Player'' thread. Y''all loved that idea.

Also in that thread was the 10,000 NPC idea by TechnoGoth, I mention it cause that is one way this MMO might introduce characters into the world. Replace players with NPC''s and you have the single-player version.

I suppose I could have two versions.
Ooh, that could work, the non-MMO for people who don''t want the subscription.
Just like Neverwinter Nights, people could contribute stories to the single-player, with a charge for each download, and the authors getting a share(does NWN have that?). The world is large enough. Heck, contributed stories don''t have to be in the game world(story would allow for that). When incorporating them, though, you could take stuff back to the game world and the game could somehow insert clues and links to the game world in the contributed stories. Plot leakage won''t matter either. Everyone''s story is different according to how they play. Freaking fantasitc!

I still have no idea about the sequel. Still, a fun run.

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