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Bottom Feeding

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Like half of the people here, I''m trying to design a MMO game. Mine is nothing fancy (in fact, its mostly text based), but I''m running into a problem I like to refer to as ''bottom feeding''. Heres the setup.... once you get an account, you''re assigned both a handful of army units and a few settlements that you''ll need to defend. The whole goal at the moment (and i''ll get more creative in version 2.0... I just want to get something out the door) is to become the most powerful kingdom in the game. Ok, great. Here''s the problem.... say I''ve been playing the game for a few weeks.... and some newbie joins up. Whats to keep me from attacking him with my small army of highly trained orcs while he only has 3 basic fighters to defend with? And whats to keep me from attacking him over and over again? I could always impose the old ''you are under a state of magical protection'' for the first 72 hours of game play..... but that doesn''t really do anything. Any suggestions?

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You could maybee do a sort of vassal system where new players would be under the protection of a more powerfull player untill they are self sufficient ( in exchange for gold for example ).

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Have the "gods of the realms" impose a rule: Killing to expand is acceptable, but only if done in a sporting manner. Thus, the justification for a rule where someone can only attack someone within a certain % range of power.

Is my land/army/equipment worth 1000 gold? And the acceptable % range is 10%? Then I can only attack people with a total land/army/equipment value equal to something between 900 and 1100 gold.

-Gauvir_Mucca

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the best method is always just to make it economically unsound to do so, or practically impossible ... depending on your worlds rules ...

for 1, if your world has distances, the "old" kingdoms might be near each other (in the center so to speak) and the "new" kingdoms might be allocated on the rim ... meaning new players are nearer to each other than to old players ...

other similar options include various forms of regional pride / loyalty ... such that all players near each other, fight against one another UNLESS threatened by external forces, at which time they are inclined to band together (this might be enforced as the "will of the people" public outrage, morale, etc ...) This was, it is impossible to wage war on external regions until you are sufficiently powerfull to be at war with the whole region ...

there are many other systems ... the simplest of which is simple to make the game more defensive than offensive, or make players on offensives ripe for being picked off by third parties (so if old players go after newbies ... they can win, but the other old players will pick off their home worlds ... thereby making newbie killing a waste of their time) ...

to further reinforce this, make the "value" of civilizations rise with time / power ... so therefore anyone who leaves their home weak while attacking new players, is going after a low value prize, while leaving their own home open (and it is a high value prize).

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Actually, I play Dominion : ) But I'm not very satisfied with it...

Ok, first, thanks for the suggestions.... Second, I really like the 'not economically sound' idea, so I think i'd like to develop that thought a little more.

Anyways, heres what I'm thinking... each settlement/village/town/castle the player owns will have a 'time of travel' value. So, to attack someones castle (which will be a starting resource) might require your troops to be away from the homeland for... oh lets say... a 48 hour period. The next 2 villages, etc the player obtains will only require 36 hours for other players to reach/attack.... then next 6 might only require 24... and so on all the way down to a 1 hour period. That way, it encourages players to attack stronger opponents instead of preying off the weaklings (who really wants to risk their troops being gone for that long). Of course, this would have to imply that players can't shift their troops around to their own settlements instantaneously.... but prehaps I could add a road/rail system to speed things up. Anyways, let me know your thoughts.


[edited by - Cygnus_X on March 27, 2004 11:27:19 AM]

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sounds like a plausable system ... i''d have to think through the ramifications a little more to really test the design ... but it seems like a good direction ...

as for the internal positions issues, and road / rail suggestions ... YES - never let a person move there units around instantly in any game with other time based constraints ... (it would be ok if no other element of the game used time for tactics ... but not if you add the above suggestions) ... if you let them reposition at will ... you might as well simply remove the idea of position altogether, and simply have a pool of resources, available to be dispatched to any fight ... which is fine for defense, but not for offense ...

oh well, too sleepy to think deeply enough ...

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Yeah, the more I think about it... the more I like it. My next thought was to allow for ''floating'' units that arn''t assigned to a city, but can automatically move to one without user input if an incomming attack was seen from afar (by a watchtower or something). Of course, watch towers can''t pick up every incomming attack.... and building them has the disadvantage of loseing land..... and they''re expensive.... but again, that might have to be a version 2.0 concept.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
You could do it by having only a restricted number of Generals available. Each general leads an army (maybe with his own personality and bonuses/penalties if you want to get more character and personalization stuff into the game). You can''t buy generals, but as your empire grows, you gain new ones now and then. An army without a general can only stay and defend a location; generals are necessary to move armies into enemy territories.

Do you want to tie up one of your generals marching an army into Small Fry Castle? Maybe, maybe not...

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quote:
Original post by SiCrane
You might want to check out how games like Utopia and Dominion handle things. Both seem to have similar game play to what you''re describing.
IMO Utopia didn''t do much to stop it. Every new age they kept reducing the % size range for provinces that you could attack but it never really stopped bottom feeding. That was part of the reason I quit - the other being mass attacks. You spend an age (three months) building up your province and then 5 or 6 provinces will all attack at the same time and destroy you.



Dan Marchant
Obscure Productions (www.obscure.co.uk)
Game Development & Design consultant

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I have an idea that''s kinda based off of what''s already been said. I think this is how it may work in the real world anyway. If a weak country wants to survive to get strong enough it can do it by having good positioning. What i was thinking is any new country has a huuuuuge buffer zone. Between it and any other country would be so much empty space that an army would starve before it could reach the new country. This would give the new country space to expand with a little bit of safety. This would also be very interesting at the beginning of the game. Each country would have to balance between expansion and spreading his army too thin.

One problem would be, how do i prevent the big countries from instantly expanding into the new countries buffer zone and becoming stronger and stronger? Well the solution to that is to make it so you can not expand more than one "space" until a certain amount of time has passed. It makes some sense that way i think. What do you think of this idea?


Here''s a second idea. Simply give any new country an absurd amount of special units that can only defend. This way it would be extremely stupid and wasteful to attack anyone who is starting. These units could disappear after time passes (maybe because you can''t support to pay for them at your small size or something). This idea would be easier to impliment but it doesn''t seem to be based on reality, that''s why i don''t like the idea as much.

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I''m fairly confident that the ''long travel time'' effect will hinder the majority of higher level players from attacking newbies. But, let me explain my reasoning just in case anyone can catch a flaw in my thinking. First, instead of getting a generic army like in dominion or archmage, each military unit will be customizable. Nothing too terribly special, but you can equip items, etc and each unit will go up in level as it gains combat experience. This, of course, will severly limit the size of your army... but I''ll always pass that off with the old ''one units represents a small legion'', or something to that effect. Anyways.... to further explain. If you''ve got a small band of level 10 orcs and you''re sending them in to figt a single level 1 knight guarding an outpost.... you might be able to capture lots of land, but you won''t gain any experience points. Thus, its not economically sound to prey off the little guys all the time because your army will never go up in level. It may be worth the effort on occasion, but certainly not as often as its currently happening in other MMO''s I''ve seen/played.

And heres another piece of the puzzle I''m considering. Instead of listing an overall ''power'' rating for individual players, I''m going to list (publically) the ''average'' power level of each fighter. This won''t entail how many fighters a player has.... or how many are level 50 versus level 5 units he owns. Thus, you might get lucky and hit the player at a weakpoint, or you might attack the town that contains his immortal hero. And there are a few other items like this which should make it fun (spying on other players, finding spies in your own town, etc). But a lot of this stuff, again, will have to be version 2.0 I find that most programmers never finish their projects because they try to do it all up front.

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