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Mephs

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Mephs    354
Heyas all, Part of the concept of a game I am currently working on is going to revolve around allowing player GM''s. I''d like to discuss the various issues relating to my ideas as I think it makes quite an interesting topic. My idea is something along the lines of an online game mainly hosted by players with a single server to organise everything (I''m only thinking small scale, not massively multiplayer). The game would likely be a RPG,most likely ina fantasy setting, though I''m considering a Fallout style setting with a few twists. Essentially, the central server would organise the player run servers. Players can move around a map organised by this central server and meet other players in something resembling a lobby area where they may group up with and socialise with other players. GM''s can materialise in the lobby area, and may be treated as a normal player except for the fact that they cannot participate in any physical interaction (no PvP battles etc.). Players would then choose group members and one or more GM to run their game. GM''s would take control of NPCs (though I may consider adding AI as well, but I''m not sure at present), and would have complete power at their disposal to possess and command NPC''s (ie controlling more than one NPC via commands). They would be able to kill NPCs at whim, reduce or increase their stats, abilities and equipment, send messages to players, all the things that a pen and paper GM could do if they wanted to. Now, an issue with such great power is its potential for abuse, but I see a possible way to counteract this. GM''s could kill NPC''s and give the players huge rewards for little/no work. To counter this I suggest that all PvP combat be based around a points scheme, where players are rated in points dependant upon their gear, skills, stats, etc etc. Players may set up a PvP server of their making and limit the points of players allowed in so they are ensured a fair fight. I see this system working very closely to how a traditional p&p RPG worked, as indeed, players could effectively cheat their way to the top, but they gain no advantage over other players for doing so as everyone has the option available. I also see this system with all-powerful GM''s allowing for much more flexible roleplaying, as the GM could allow players to improvise, perhaps throwing a rock away from their position to encourage monsters to stray from a guard post, or some other such tactic, encouraging a thinking mans game as much as an all out point and click combat fest. Several GM''s working together, if well co-ordinated could potentially run quite a complex and involving game. I could also see the role of a GM being an almost entirely separate game in itself, perhaps with a progression scheme in place as mentioned earlier, such that players can give the GM experience points back if they liked their adventure. I would like to keep this entirely positive though, by enforcing that points may only be given and never removed. Perhaps the points gained grant the GM more powers to use in future and perhaps the GM may need to be of a certain level of experience to possess certain creatures. I also am considering having an uncharted expanse of land, which will be home to player created maps, as I plan on distributing my level editor should I ever complete my work. In this area, the lobby would be a standard lobby, but the maps would be player created, and streamed in compressed format to the participants machines (similar to how Gang Wars did for its E3 trial), effectively allowing modders to include their content in the actual game, making the world that much more huge, without requiring extra effort on my part. Anyhoo, I''m straying off topic a little, so if you have any ideas regarding the possibilites of a GM based game (I believe Neverwinter nights did something similar to this?), any issues or suggestions, or anything at all... please post away! Cheers, Steve AKA Mephs

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OmniBrain    148
First I have to say I used to play pen&paper rpgs A LOT for years. Finally my job consumed too much time to prepare some good stories for my regular p&p rpg group, so finally we gave up to play.

All time while playing I also had the idea of a computer aided rpg. The PC would care for all boring things, like moving uninteresting NPCs, animals and such, while having a GM controlling all would add much freedom to solve the adventure.

I don''t see such a game as a PvP platform, but a tool to enjoy adventures of the pen&paper style, lead by one or even more GMs.

So what I want (and what I am working on) is a simulation of a world, where a GM can manipulate items, npcs and some content, and players can log in and have fun.


About your idea for GMs gaining a kind of level or reputation or something to gain control over more powerfull NPCs: I wouldn''t bother. As you stated the server will be player driven, so manipulation can occur everywhere.
Just give a GM the power to do everything, and same time the player know they are under the total control of the GM.
In just no time your player will know who is a good GM and who to blow.

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Mephs    354
Regarding the PvP aspect, some players will want PvP, and having it as an optional element leaves everyone satisfied. Personally I also believe that the greatest opponent will almost always be another human player, and I would not want to leave such an aspect out of the game.

Secondly (and I''m sorry for picking out the negative points but I''m rushing as I''m at work!!), my propsal regarding the GM experience system, is somewhat of a compromise of my beliefs. In essence I agree with what you are saying, that a GM should inherently have access to all the possible powers he can, but in practise, if any money is to be made from the game, there needs to be some kind of a progression system wher eplayers are rewarded, including GM''s to keep the community alive. I appreciate that other aspects of the game could compensate for this, but I feel it would be good to give GM''s a challenge, just as the players get a challenge. Otherwise we may end up with a total slant towards people playing standard characters, and not enough GM''s because there is nothing to keep them hooked in the long term other than the pure playability of the game.

Anyhoo, please try not to focus on my specific system too much as that was not my intention, I''d rather discuss the general points regarding the idea of having in game, player GM''s and the possibilities that could arise from such a setup, ways to make such a system even more flexible, etc etc.

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gamecreature    122
I like the idea of such a game. You probably get some players who are becoming friends with the GM to get some extra stats... What also sounds nice is to have the GM think out quests that the players have to do, this way earning the favor of the gamemaster.

It sounds like a good idea, but it must be possible for the system to detect uncool/cheating gamemasters.
Maybe there should be a sort of gamemaster commity, where all the gamemaster can vote for expelling other gamemasters or adding new ones...

When did you say, the game is finished? I can't wait to play it...

[edited by - gamecreature on May 25, 2004 7:29:54 AM]

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Mephs    354
I''m actually not considering adding any form of ''expelling'' GM''s as I know this would be taken advantage of by griefers ganging up on good GM''s and forcing them out. Rather I would leave it up to players to choose their GM''s wisely, and give them the ability to leave a quest at any time should they be disatisfied (just as you could log off at almost any time you choose in any other online RPG.)

The game is far from completion, though if you have ever seen any of my other posts, I do currently have a level editor in progress that will form the core of my game. Currently I''m working on editing the terrain and have the facilities for huge landscapes streamed from disk, using Charles Blooms splatting method. You can edit the terrain texture in realtime (and it looks pretty sweet at the moment) and I''m about to implement manual vertex editing. Once this is complete I''m working on adding support for water, vegetation and scenery. At this point I will progress onto the exciting things such as gameplay, handling the player and NPC''s, and the user interface. So while it is not complete, it isn''t some dead end project that will never happen as it is already well under way!

Anyways, I''m going off topic again so I''d best go now as I''m still at work.

Cheers,

Steve

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Jotaf    280
Ok sorry for the long post, it has a lot of stuff in it though so there is really no other way

Well, I just had an idea to keep the GM community clean: The GM community is a restricted circle. When someone wants to be a GM, they have to send a kind of a resumé, like a piece of an original story to show that they''re committed to being a GM (any idiot can press a button on the game that says "I wanna be a GM!"). Then, there''s a kind of a test: the people who volunteer to review the story also get to play, while the new GM shows them what he/she can do in a kind of a test game. Two easy and IMHO very reasonable steps like this would help seperate the wannabes from the talented GMs. If the GM community needs more people, they will accept a wider variety of talent Maybe they could also expel bad GMs. I think a system like this should be able to regulate itself. Decisions can be made using voting which is pretty simple. A good set of forums could handle the job

I also want this system on my RPG, so I thought a lot about this issue: obviously, no matter how clean the GM community is, they''ll always be tempted to give the players their Mighty Sword of Doom+100 on their most epic quest, and stuff like that will disrupt the balance of the game (once a player has an item like that, he can take on anything). My answer to this is to simply not have levels; instead I use a skill system, and still, it''s not like you can have super-human powers no matter how good you are. Same thing for uber-items. Magic/epic items have to be carefully thought out, so if a sword makes a lot of fire damage (but not enough to take out an army or a dragon of course) it should have a lot of downsides - curses, unconvenient recharging, added weaknesses etc. There''s also a cap on the amount of treasure that a GM can hand out to a player on a quest, based on the time spent (it''s not like you can make 20x500 gold for making 20 quick quests in a day). There''s still a problem because the players are continually receiving excellent gear and treasure all the time. I dunno how to solve this. It just occurred to me that an interesting mechanic might be: you receive a fixed amount of treasure in each quest, and it can be used to "buy" a single special item that the player finds in the quest (everything else just vanishes at the end); in addition, you can only take 3 special items with you in each quest. Any ideas?

About GM levels, your intentions are all good, but maybe you''re not familiar with the Bartle types. Basically RPG players are of 4 types: achievers/killers, explorers, and socializers. GMs are definitely NOT of the "achiever" type, and levels are content geared specifically towards those people - explorers and socializers just don''t care. The GM community would just see them as an hindrance to their creativity.

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Luctus    584
quote:
Original post by Jotaf
Basically RPG players are of 4 types: achievers/killers, explorers, and socializers. GMs are definitely NOT of the "achiever" type, and levels are content geared specifically towards those people - explorers and socializers just don''t care. The GM community would just see them as an hindrance to their creativity.


You don''t think that the GM''s are explorers/socializers?

As for the issue with inbalanced GM''s, and the issue of griefing GM''s as well; You could let the GM''s gain levels based upon the rating from the players. So, a good GM would become a very high level GM, and would be allowed to produce more valuable quest-items etc.

Of course, that scheme introduces other issues, like dealing with GM''s who only host "mock games" for friends to get a higher rating..

-Luctus
..I''m also moronophobic
[Mail]

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Jotaf    280
They''re certainly not achievers! Their reward comes from the satisfaction of entertaining players, so they''re mostly socializers. They can have a bit of the other types in them, but because of their socializer nature, they would see the level system that restricts their quests, their creativity, as nothing more than a nuisance. Plus, levels are perceived as social differences, and I don''t have to tell you how that would scare off the socializers. The most social MMORPG I ever played was Graal Online, simply because it didn''t have levels, and possessions in the game mean nothing. Please do some research and some thinking before you come up with features that add nothing to the game, and worse, can even ruin a perfectly good project.

The best rating system I can think of is one where each player can have a single rating for each GM. They can only change their rating for each GM, not "add" another rating (which would screw up the votes like Luctus said). Any GM can have a lot of "excellent" ratings from his best friends in the game, but that''s it - in the end only the GMs who run the best games will have tons of "excellent"s. There could be a list of the best GMs in the game for bragging purposes, but enabling a better GM to do more stuff or hand out better items would probably hurt the game. Especialy if a GM always gives the players the best gear so they rate him "excellent", so that he can hand out better and better items, disrupting the whole game.

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Luctus    584
quote:
Original post by Jotaf
...but enabling a better GM to do more stuff or hand out better items would probably hurt the game. Especialy if a GM always gives the players the best gear so they rate him "excellent", so that he can hand out better and better items, disrupting the whole game.


True, but don't you think it would be hard for a GM to convince people "Hey, rate me exellent and I'll give you the L337 stuff when I've collected another 15486777339 exellent votes"? Point is, in the beginning a GM would have to rely on just doing good quests, then only good GM's would become high level...but maybe I'm overrating humanity here

Player votes shouldn't have an absolute value either, it should rather be relative to the other votes he's given. So a player who gives everyone very high or very low ratings wouldn't have as much impact overall.

EDIT: Besides, a quest would typically involve about 5-15 people, right? So, there would have to be one really high-level GM that was able give away extraordinary gear to everyone . So, a GM trying to raise his rating that way would only get one good vote (from the one he gave the good item to) and bad votes from the rest.

another 0.02€ in the bucket

-Luctus
..I'm also moronophobic
[Mail]


[edited by - Luctus on May 28, 2004 1:11:40 PM]

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Never assume anything of people who play. Everyone will not like your design even if they get paid to play it. They will find a way to exploit your system, expect it. People are all kinds of things; everyone has a different reason for choosing a path. As soon as you give any benefit to being a GM they become achievers.

James Dee Finical
MMORPG Designer

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Jotaf    280
James Dee said it all in the last sentence of his post If the GM role provides content for achievers (levels, power rewards...) then either you''ll have a community of good GMs (socializers) that hate the system, or a community of bad GMs (achievers) who love it. Neither of them is good for a game

Luctus that''s a really good idea, non-absolute ratings.

Hmm... what kinds of features would be good for a GM client? There''s all the regular stuff that comes with most map editors: creating items and NPCs, monsters, traps and the usual map features, draw the maps as the players move around, like chosing the next room or something - BTW a GM can''t draw the maps tile by tile on the fly, how could this be done so that it''s easy but at the same time all rooms don''t end up being xerox copies of each other? (Neverwinter Nights suffered a bit from this)
Most of the actions that the scripts have access too should also be available for the GM - opening doors and manipulating the environment, changing HP or adding buffs to the players/NPCs/whatever, ordering NPCs to do stuff. Being able to possess an NPC and play it like any other player to chat with the players and stuff should also be available. There could be a nice built-in dice roll utility to help the GM make decisions. Anything else?

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