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Wavinator

Tech levels, bad settings, duplicate gameplay in RPG

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Wavinator    2017
I've got an interesting set of problems that come from one source: In 99% of all the RPGs out there, you can pick your character, but not the world; and in just about the same percentage, the game world never changes. But what if it did? What if, as a result of your actions along major plot lines, the world changed in ways that caused gameplay to temporarily disappear or become essentially duplicated as the world's tech level progressed. To really understand what I'm asking, think about being an immortal who sees history change over a long time (how isn't important, but if you've seen my other posts about quantum AI/lifetimes/etc. you'll know what I mean). Assuming the game to be broken up into multiple eras, if you were to, say, start (or fail to stop) a war that destroys society in one era, you could be left playing in the ruins in the next. Or, if you cause (or fail to prevent) the society's expansion into space, the gameplay of trading / fighting by aircraft would be duplicated into now trading / fighting by starship, only with different limits and rules. (You don't need to read this whole huge post to respond, btw, I've just provided specific examples below. Sorry for the length![rolleyes])
Basics Everywhere you go, your main focus is on survival and leveling in order to change the game world (for story or your own goals). You accomplish leveling by sneaking, fighting or bartering your way through different environments, either as a person or in some kind of vehicle (ATV, VTOL aircraft, starfighter, tricycle, whatever). You may get into other gameplay (if I can fit it in), in the form of item creation or leading a group of followers, but the focus, again and again, is "combat, stealth, trade."
Era 1: Nanopunk Earth, The Arcology Setting: Earth is a mix between ruins, wilderness and sprawling, sealed arcologies with buildings extending into orbit. We've expanded as far as a few colonies on Mars, and are actively colonizing near-earth orbits (L4, L5) and the moon. Gameplay: You're a citizen in one of these arcologies. You're trying to survive by doing various jobs that involve running around on foot or via transit tubes. To get money for enhancements and RNA skill boosts, you work for various employers against their rivals, which possibly gets you into industrial espionage, dangerous courier work, item creation / selling, or outright crime. You may meet NPCs to ally with, who generate story events; you may also get into minigame gameplay involving hacking, item creation or repair. Transition: When you get enough money, you'll be able to either safely go lower (into the dangerous, rebellious areas of the city); outside (into post-apocalyptic ruins); or up (into space and the colonies) Earth Variant 1: Outside Here there are ruins of modern-day cities, tribal factions, biomech constructs, and storms of corrosive nanobot clouds. New Gameplay: Atmospheric vehicles, starting with weak ATVs and progressing to VTOL aircraft; you also gain the ability to build temporary basecamps to help expand. Earth Variant 2: Down To survive in the lower regions requires good hardware, as you face cultists (using nano for mindcontrol), seditionists and crime gangs. Additional Gameplay: Take over critical resource areas; (abstractly) command or destroy a cult, rebel movement or syndicate, which creates changes in the tower above. Earth Variant 3: Up To survive in the upper regions requires that you start an enterprise, in the form of a top-tower business or starship serving the colonies (starships are huge and expensive in this era). This requires getting connected with the right people, getting parts / equipment you need, and getting financed. Additional Gameplay: Intrigue against rivals; (abstractly) win against other businesses for control of a market; command large, slow freighter or warship (think 2001).
Now let's say that you spend a week or two doing this, and then your character naturally progresses to the next era. Era 2: Wormhole Artifact Setting: Earth is just one stop among dozens of new colonies. The game opens with a probe discovering an artifact in the Oort Cloud, which in turn activates an ancient network of wormholes leading away from Earth. Depending on how you ended the last era, the solar system is either unified or balkanized into states; it may be at war, or in expansion. Earth is either: 1) A tyranny (opposed by free colonies if balkanized) 2) An ignored backwater (with colonies fighting eath other if balkanized) 3) A strong republic (trying to control rebellious colonies if balkanized) Each outcome will depend on how you dealt with factions in Earth's towers, any plots you uncovered, and other freeform moves you may have made (like cornering the market on nanotechnology licenses). Gameplay: You start as a citizen of one of the colonies. Gameplay is similar to the towers, but the items, factions, story-threads and environment are different. Gaining a personal shuttle is like obtaining an ATV, and longer range starships like the upgrade to VTOL aircraft back on Earth. FTL hasn't been discovered yet. Transition: A story-thread involving which human power controls the wormhole governs the next era. The era ends with the first human starship transiting the wormhole, caused by either you or NPC rivals in the game world. Variants... If you expanded a colony and beat out its rivals, your colony becomes the first to the other side; if you've explored space, you'll find ruins and technology which will help humankind deal with threats on the other side; if you've gone back to Earth, you've either set the human race back or again affected whether it is a mighty empire or republic. All of these decisions determine how the human race survives in successive eras, whether it collapses into scattered stellar colonies, how it fares in First Contact (slaves? oppressors? allies? enemies?), etc.
Final Thought I know this is a lot of material to cover, and I also admit it may not turn out to be nearly as flexible as I'm proposing, but if possible I'd like you to focus on what your feelings might be in terms of changing the world but seeing the same gameplay, just in different contexts; or losing gameplay because the technology level no longer supports it. In the different eras, you'll be seeing similar graphics (though some procedural texturing and modeling may be able to break things up a bit). Eventually, you'll start seeing similar patterns in story threads, as well. Also, please note that as the tech levels change, the numbers behind the stats will change. This may change combat, stealth or trade, but (by necessity) it will still be the same system underneath.

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toipot    122
Sounds wonderful, I am the sworn enemy of script in games, and such a dynamic system is really appealing to me.

However, you would have to ensure that there is always enough gameplay to keep the player entertained, and that any overall plot lines (which I hope are not scripted!) are not affected, or are flexible enough to compensate.

This would be a nightmare to develop though, think of all the different variables, causes, effects, consequences. You would have to have a very robust simulation to cope with these, but I think that in some form it's possible.

The game world would have to develop on it's own, without your interaction, and just watching that would be fascinating for me.

Imagine if each time you started the game (in era 1) if you left the computer running for a few days, you would be looking at a completely different universe that in a previous game.

Wars, famines and other pseudo-random events would all take their toll on the environment and society and cause the history of the universe to take a completely different direction.

Fascinating really, talk about replayability.

I do think its important that things are beyond the player's control, the player shouldnt be all powerful, capable of completely rewriting history as they see fit, but neither should the history be static and scripted. Random events would influence other characters (NPCs) in different ways and cause the universe to behave and evolve independantly of the player. However, the player will certainly have some control of this, perhaps as the emperor of humankind they will be able to guide civilisation significantly, but, thanks to those pseudo-random occurances again, the player may be ousted in a coup (thanks to diseases, rebel states etc). Again, these things should not be scripted, but be a natural progression of the state of the universe, and almost totally unavoidable by the player, who may even see it coming, but be helpless to stop it.

Very, very difficult, but incredible gameplay. I may have gone a little outside your ideas here though :)

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Spoonbender    1258
Hmm, first, I have to ask, is this still the same game? Last I checked, it had the entire galaxy populated with countless alien species, and now, it's about Earth and a few colonies? Or was this just an example of how all this could work?)
Just asking out of curiousity. ;)

But back to the post itself.
First, a few practical considerations.
1) Keep in mind how much wasted effort it would be. No matter what, the player always sees only one path through the game. The way the game changes based on your actions might only really become apparent if you play through the game again or compare notes with another player. I'm not saying it's a bad idea (It does sound damn cool), but keep in mind that the player will only actually experience a tiny slice of the content you create.
2) To keep it manageable, maybe you should consider letting the universe and storyline evolve like you said, but try to hold back on the gameplay bits. (In your example as I understand it, you'd basically have to implement 3 different genres, just for one era. There are two problems with this. First, it's a huge extra load of work, and second, not all of these genres might appeal to the player. It might be better to focus your game a bit more, so the gameplay belongs to (roughly) the same genre, whether you decide to go outside, up or down. If a player occasionally have to play both Simcity, Halo and Warcraft, all in one game, that might put him off the game entirely, simply because only one of those genres actually interests him.

Other than that, it sounds like a brilliant idea, and I'd love to see it in action. As was said above though, don't let the player become all-powerful, singlehandedly determining the fate of the universe.
I'd like to see things happening behind the scenes, powerful factions that each try to tip the balance with or without the player. Maybe it might not even be obvious to the player at the time, that his actions will actually have a long-term effect. (You might just think that you're trying to escape imprisonment, but in fact, you're determining whether the regime trying to imprison you should continue to exist. If they capture you, you might be able to spark a rebellion from the inside. If you escape, you might just run off and leave it all alone. (or the other way around, of course)
Or maybe you just decide to try a bit of smuggling, without knowing that if you succeed, you might actually lay the foundation for a powerful smuggling ring, or even a mafia that will eventually become extremely powerful (probably after you've left the scene though ;))

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by toipot
Sounds wonderful, I am the sworn enemy of script in games, and such a dynamic system is really appealing to me.


I know how you feel. Methinks you and I may have hit one too many floor triggers. [grin]

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However, you would have to ensure ... that any overall plot lines (which I hope are not scripted!) are not affected, or are flexible enough to compensate.


You know, this gives me a interesting (but dangerous) thought. I've been thinking of making plot lines based on "plot objects." For instance, the thing that opens up access to other stars is an artifact object.

So what if you play long enough to get out of the tower, get into space, fight a few wars, expand out past Pluto, discover this thing, open up doorways to tons of different star systems... and then it is destroyed.

Slower-than-light transport now becomes the only viable form of interstellar travel. You're stuck in the solar system.

The same thing might happen if toppling a tower is a plot possibility: You'd get stuck on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Rebuilding would always be possible, but it might take forever.

Now if this happened in most games, you'd just reload. But I'm designing around the idea that it is critical that you not be able to restore the world state. So you might lose access to gameplay for what would practically be a very very long time.


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The game world would have to develop on it's own, without your interaction, and just watching that would be fascinating for me.

Imagine if each time you started the game (in era 1) if you left the computer running for a few days, you would be looking at a completely different universe that in a previous game.

Wars, famines and other pseudo-random events would all take their toll on the environment and society and cause the history of the universe to take a completely different direction.


Unfortunately, while it's tempting to think of a pure world-sim behind everything, gameplay and technology are limits. I can see getting past some of the tech limits, but gameplay I don't. What if the sim develops to the point where everyone becomes your enemy, or warfare destroys the entire playing area? Since these events are outside your control, you will likely feel victimized (most would, because we demand that games be fair).

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I do think its important that things are beyond the player's control, the player shouldnt be all powerful, capable of completely rewriting history as they see fit, but neither should the history be static and scripted.


Ah, but wait a sec: What if, based on the plot, you were a pawn whose job it was to affect the course of history (versus other pawns?) That's the story premise, that you and other immortals are fighting it out for control of humanity's future.

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Again, these things should not be scripted, but be a natural progression of the state of the universe, and almost totally unavoidable by the player, who may even see it coming, but be helpless to stop it.


This issue came up time and again with a friend: What if you've spent weeks leveling up, have a high amount of investment in your character and stop at a city that experiences a nuclear attack. You die instantly.

I think most people would be severely ticked off, especially if they couldn't reload. So while I do want a wide range of possibilities in any given era, they must be clamped for gameplay reasons.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by Spoonbender
Hmm, first, I have to ask, is this still the same game? Last I checked, it had the entire galaxy populated with countless alien species, and now, it's about Earth and a few colonies? Or was this just an example of how all this could work?)


Believe it or not, it all falls under one umbrella, but some of it will have to be scaled back. The focus has always been combat / stealth / trade, on the ground or in space, witha special emphasis on making NPCs extra-important. Since I think I have game mechanics that will let you experience several lifetimes, I'm free to start you on Earth, expand you to a few colonies, then get you into the Mobius Strip, a maze of wormholes connecting the galaxy. My hope is that you walk away with an epic experience, and will want to try to achieve different futures.

The drawback is that by focusing more on Earth, there won't be as much development for the aliens. Everything depends on content limits (graphics, writing, sound) for the most part, and I still don't have a clear picture of those limits yet.


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First, a few practical considerations.
1) Keep in mind how much wasted effort it would be. No matter what, the player always sees only one path through the game. The way the game changes based on your actions might only really become apparent if you play through the game again or compare notes with another player. I'm not saying it's a bad idea (It does sound damn cool), but keep in mind that the player will only actually experience a tiny slice of the content you create.


Would it help to build the entire game's premise around the idea that there are multiple futures, multiple "timelines" as it were?

Also, since I'm trying to hybrid a civ-like empire game and RPG, let me ask this: Why does the player only see one path? I've played Civ games where I've ended up with the Zulus conquering the world, or with a nuclear wasteland all over the globe; IOW, I've played multiple times.

The shift in scale to RPG only matters if each epoch is extremely long. So you could take 2 weeks, experience the lower tower, find out that you don't like it; take another two weeks, get into space, find out you love it, etc.

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2) To keep it manageable, maybe you should consider letting the universe and storyline evolve like you said, but try to hold back on the gameplay bits. (In your example as I understand it, you'd basically have to implement 3 different genres, just for one era. There are two problems with this. First, it's a huge extra load of work, and second, not all of these genres might appeal to the player. It might be better to focus your game a bit more, so the gameplay belongs to (roughly) the same genre, whether you decide to go outside, up or down. If a player occasionally have to play both Simcity, Halo and Warcraft, all in one game, that might put him off the game entirely, simply because only one of those genres actually interests him.


Definitely nix the idea of Simcity or Warcraft, that's not where I'm going despite the implications. That can't be done because of the AI and content overhead.

However, what CAN be done is the semblance of greater control (as SimCity and Warcraft suggest) via NPC interaction. Take Morrowind as an example: You are given choices in how to build a town, after performing missions. But that DOES NOT mean that you're playing SimCity.

Where I do want to take this is: Control some sort of avatar, be he walking, driving or flying, with stats (like stealth visibility) as factors to consider. That, I hope, is more manageable, and should provide a wide variety of gameplay, especially when the era changes.

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Other than that, it sounds like a brilliant idea, and I'd love to see it in action. As was said above though, don't let the player become all-powerful, singlehandedly determining the fate of the universe.


[smile] Okay, since this is the second time this has come up (along with the post above), I'd better ask: Given that the game is about going from lifetime to lifetime, what's wrong with becoming all-powerful in a single lifetime? Imagine that you become some sort of Alexander the Great, with the battles and management decisions stripped down into NPC interactions and plots by the court. The gameplay hasn't really changed since you were a peon, but the context has. Is that bad?


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I'd like to see things happening behind the scenes, powerful factions that each try to tip the balance with or without the player. Maybe it might not even be obvious to the player at the time, that his actions will actually have a long-term effect. (You might just think that you're trying to escape imprisonment, but in fact, you're determining whether the regime trying to imprison you should continue to exist. If they capture you, you might be able to spark a rebellion from the inside. If you escape, you might just run off and leave it all alone. (or the other way around, of course)
Or maybe you just decide to try a bit of smuggling, without knowing that if you succeed, you might actually lay the foundation for a powerful smuggling ring, or even a mafia that will eventually become extremely powerful (probably after you've left the scene though ;))


Yes, this is what I'd like to see as well. As I mentioned, though, the danger is that you could tip the balance in a direction that you couldn't perceive and thus may not like.

Maybe I should put in an "parallel universe" mechanism that mixes things up if you really don't like the world you've caused.

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toipot    122
Plot objects:
Hehe, find a mysterious wormhole device, pop through to have a look around, and find out you cant get back, as a war has destroyed it on the other side, earth is lost to you until FTL is developed. Now thats an adaptable storyline.

This idea of plot objects is quite neat, by this do you mean scripted objects of relevance to the plot, but which can be altered or destroyed while the gameplay remains?. Taking morrowind for another example, when you killed a plot character in the game, a message comes up stating that you have doomed the world by severing the thread of prophesy or something like that, in effect removing the main plotline. Having these adaptable plot objects may be a useful mechanism for avoiding such a problem, the plot would be very loosely constrained.

Cutting down on reloads is good, are you trying to cut down on player deaths etc? All these things abruptly end the gameplay experience, damaging the sense of immersion.

A total world sim would be difficult, I see what you mean. A constrained system would be important, but I think given our current state of technology, a good economy and faction simulation should do the job, with factions competing with each other for a larger slice of the economy.

Should the player character come to an arrangement where they are not well liked, they should be able to worm themselves out of it.

Taking from the parallel universe idea, perhaps the PC could just jump into a remote system (outside this mobius strip?) with it's own generated factions, economies etc where the player would be able to effectively start from scratch (albeit, with any assets the player brought with them). The generation of a new, sufficiently large area would be tough but certainly not impossible.

"Ah, but wait a sec: What if, based on the plot, you were a pawn whose job it was to affect the course of history (versus other pawns?) That's the story premise, that you and other immortals are fighting it out for control of humanity's future."

Like some sort of God sim? but with a difference? Trouble is, if you can do anything to the universe, you may stop feeling a part of it. Think of black and white (an extreme example), there is emotional seperation from the world. Making the player feel a little bit more vunerable and powerless against the great forces of the world would, IMO, increase the immersion in a game, and make the universe more believable.

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Jojosh_the_Pi    136
Dynamic plots sound great in theory, but there're reasons why 99% of RPG's use a linear plot. Probably the biggest one is time. Everytime the player has another option, the game creator has to have some way to handle this. If a player's actions can cause a city to prosper, stagnate, or be destroyed, that means additional resources to develop people, conversation, and graphics to handle them.

In addition, the player only gets to see a percentage of the (hopefully) awesome work! Will most players be willing to play many times to see the "rest" of the game? That's a question I can't answer; being out of school, my time is diminished, and I'll play an RPG only once, but I recognize others are not the same.

One idea (which might be incredible): develop the world where non-playable characters would have some sort of "intelligence". It doesn't have to be extensive--characters behave differently in certain types of areas. People would move out of destroyed cities, except for maybe a few who refuse to leave home. Stuff like that. The game creator would control how the world should behave, but without 100% control over what the characters actually do, except for a handful of scripted characters.

That being said, a dynamic plot would be cool, but be prepared to commit extra time and resources.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by toipot
Hehe, find a mysterious wormhole device, pop through to have a look around, and find out you cant get back, as a war has destroyed it on the other side, earth is lost to you until FTL is developed. Now thats an adaptable storyline.


See, this sounds cool, but what about all the stuff you might be leaving behind?

Imagine that you had been building up status, rank and money fighting off pirates who were trying to bring down a colony on Mars, smuggling supplies past Jovian tyrants to Europa, and maybe even putting together enough cash for a base in Mimas.

Now you hit find this wormhole artifact, go through, and are cut off. Wouldn't you be ticked at this possibility? Sure, there might be new worlds to explore and alien races to contact, but the game has just nerfed all your progress, hasn't it?

(Or would wild new possibilities and surprises outweigh being "deleveled?")

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This idea of plot objects is quite neat, by this do you mean scripted objects of relevance to the plot, but which can be altered or destroyed while the gameplay remains?. Taking morrowind for another example, when you killed a plot character in the game, a message comes up stating that you have doomed the world by severing the thread of prophesy or something like that, in effect removing the main plotline. Having these adaptable plot objects may be a useful mechanism for avoiding such a problem, the plot would be very loosely constrained.


I'm hoping to make the plot objects adaptable, as you say, by liking story threads, triggers and dialog to their states. So if you destroy the wormhole object, there are a set of states that go with that.

As I said before, though, it has to be clamped, or you could run into boring or impossible situations (like setting off antimatter bombs that destroy the Earth when that's the only playing field).

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Cutting down on reloads is good, are you trying to cut down on player deaths etc? All these things abruptly end the gameplay experience, damaging the sense of immersion.


I'm working hard to make this idea of being some sort of spirit / energy consciousness that inhabits multiple lives workable. What I don't know is how much to soften up deadly situations, like combat or falling or walking out on the surface of Mars without a helmet. Above all, I don't want death to end the game, but I don't want you to be happy-go-lucky about suiciding, either.

I'm actually planning another thread around this subject. [lol]

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A total world sim would be difficult, I see what you mean. A constrained system would be important, but I think given our current state of technology, a good economy and faction simulation should do the job, with factions competing with each other for a larger slice of the economy.


Hmmm... you know, reminds me of the quote, "All wars are economic."

The one challenge with focusing things on the economy is that you have to hide a certain amount of detail from the player, or they will be able to game the system. I'm working from the pessimistic assumption that I won't have access to first rate game AI, and so will have to make up the loss in gameplay.

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Should the player character come to an arrangement where they are not well liked, they should be able to worm themselves out of it.


Let's say you set off a nuke against a rich, powerful nation. It seems right that you'll be playing the rest of the game running for your life. But the whole multiple lives thing is the ultimate stopgap. If you're caught and executed, you just restart further down the timeline, with the added advantage that if you buried any caches of wealth or equipment, you can go find them and dig them up-- provided the tech level allows this.

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Taking from the parallel universe idea, perhaps the PC could just jump into a remote system (outside this mobius strip?) with it's own generated factions, economies etc where the player would be able to effectively start from scratch (albeit, with any assets the player brought with them). The generation of a new, sufficiently large area would be tough but certainly not impossible.


Well, I'm pinning everything on mixes between procedural generation and hand-created content-- that's the only way to give you multiple worlds, let alone solar systems. While you will inevitably being to notice patterns (A is at war with B over X, which can be changed by Y), my hope is that by the time you see them you'll be engaged in a larger metagame, which is worldbuilding across lifetimes.


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Like some sort of God sim? but with a difference? Trouble is, if you can do anything to the universe, you may stop feeling a part of it. Think of black and white (an extreme example), there is emotional seperation from the world. Making the player feel a little bit more vunerable and powerless against the great forces of the world would, IMO, increase the immersion in a game, and make the universe more believable.


I see what you mean. Let me clarify: You're always going to be a mortal (in a rotting suit of flesh, as one of your rivals will be saying). You'll always be opposed by nemesis NPCs, who are initiating Big Brother plots to change the world (though you can keep your head down and just suffer the changes they make); and you will always be limited in what powers you can exercise, because the world is made up of strategic nodes. So you'll have limits, still be vulnerable, yet eventually have the power to raze or raise cities.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by Jojosh_the_Pi
Dynamic plots sound great in theory, but there're reasons why 99% of RPG's use a linear plot. Probably the biggest one is time. Everytime the player has another option, the game creator has to have some way to handle this. If a player's actions can cause a city to prosper, stagnate, or be destroyed, that means additional resources to develop people, conversation, and graphics to handle them.


Good point. The question here is whether or not you should put time and effort into making a bunch of different places, or making a few places that can change a bunch of different ways. It really is a toss up. Over and over I hear players of RPGs disenchanted because they cannot affect the world. My gamble here is that having a few places that can change dramatically, along with some procedural tricks to vary dialog and graphics, will compensate for not having a bazillion unique locations.

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In addition, the player only gets to see a percentage of the (hopefully) awesome work! Will most players be willing to play many times to see the "rest" of the game? That's a question I can't answer; being out of school, my time is diminished, and I'll play an RPG only once, but I recognize others are not the same.


Actually, I strongly agree with you here, but maybe for a different reason. I have limited time as well, but will replay an Alpha Centauri or Civ over weeks (in bite sized chunks) because I don't know how the game will turn out.

Yet, as much as I loved Morrowind, I'll probably never play that game again. I know where everything is, and the world holds no surprises.

That's why I've thought a fusion between empire and RPG would work, because the world would change. The downside is that in fusing them, you make less an RPG and less an empire game and more of something that's completely new (which people may or may not like, can't say until it's done).

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One idea (which might be incredible): develop the world where non-playable characters would have some sort of "intelligence". It doesn't have to be extensive--characters behave differently in certain types of areas. People would move out of destroyed cities, except for maybe a few who refuse to leave home. Stuff like that. The game creator would control how the world should behave, but without 100% control over what the characters actually do, except for a handful of scripted characters.


Can you explain this a bit more? I'm not exactly sure I understand. Are you saying that the NPCs would make changes as you play?

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That being said, a dynamic plot would be cool, but be prepared to commit extra time and resources.


Oy, don't I know what you mean. But if ya can't have the latest next gen graphics, you might be able to kick butt by having an idea that few others are interested in doing. [wink]

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TechnoGoth    2937
I like the idea its always something I've was lacking in most games. I've always wanted to seem more games embrace the idea of allowing the player to shape the world they play in. A few older games allowed some aspects of such is in helping a town grow. But they put a limited amount of world shaping into games and I always wanted more. I'd love to play a game where as a single character I can help shape the world. Things like an election in a tower arises and I can help shape the towers future by trying to convice npc to support my chosen canditate.

As far as the plot objects go, they seem like a good idea. But I suggest making them mutable but not destroyable. For instance the jump gate in chapter two that you mention. It should not be possible to destroy the gate until its purpose has been resolved. Meaning that since the chapter ends when the first ship leaves the solar system. Then the gate can only be destroyed after its secerts have been discovered. So until at least one faction has learned enough about it to build another then no one can destroy it. Since destroying it would effectivly stagnate the entire game. Not that you can't have other ways to achive FTL but to keep the game cohesive and possible to finish would a small army of content developers, each chapter should start and end at the point. The state of the galaxy could be very diffrent in diffrent plays. But chapter two always starts during the solor development era, and chapter three always begins 20 years after the start of the galatic colonization movement has begun.

Lastly I strongly suggest that you have automatic saving at critcal points in the game. Thing of them as chapter and section markers. So that you can allow player to start again from the begin of any chapter in the characters history. Yo've won the game the galaxy is controlled by a massive trade guild that your president of. But you can't help but wonder what would have happened if you choosen to fight the seiger in chapter 5 instead of getting rich selling weapons to various other factions. Since the game saves the start of chapter you can easily.

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VThornheart    246
Hmm... this poses an interesting technical problem! I really like the idea though, and I think it could be good if we think through it.

Okay, let's examine a really small example history line:

Stone Age -> Industrial Age -> Space Age

Will be the only three ages we'll look at, just for examples.

Okay now, basically for each of these three examples we'll need the graphics, any interaction/dialog, and ideas for what can be done in each.

It sounds to me like they can be shifted back and forth, which is where the interesting part comes in.

* Altering the Tech Tree

You could have, as a set of objects in your game, a "generic" tech tree, that refers to everything your "God" character can do but in a generic way that doesn't apply to any particular age. For each object in that generic tree, there would be a child for each age you wanted to create.

Then, it would be a matter of, whenever you needed to use an ability, casting the generic tech tree object into the specific tech tree object you're using at the moment. So if there's a cGenericProjectileWeapon object, it would have cProjectileBowAndArrow (for Stone Age), cProjectileGun (for Industrial Age), and cProjectileLaser (for Space Age). Your "God" would have a cGenericProjectileWeapon object if he'd gotten to that in the tech tree, but depending on the "Age" he's in it would be cast to "bow and arrow" or "Gun" or "Laser" on the fly whenever you needed to use it.

This is, of course, just in theory. I have never tried anything like this.

* Handling the Destruction of Possible Plot Elements

Hmm, I suppose there's a lot of things you could do. For NPC reactions, perhaps you could create an object that holds a list of everything that can be done in the game... like this:

"Everything that can be created/destroyed" table: Names of towns, technology, specific people, etc...

"Everything that can be won/lost" table: Wars, competitions, quests etc...

And in each of these "tables" (however you would implement this, I'm only now just thinking about it so I don't know how feasable it is or how it would even be implemented), you would add slots whenever something was created or something had the potential to be won or lost. In the table would be information about the state of that "event" or "object": Was it successfully created? Was it destroyed? Was it won? Was it lost? Is it in the process of being created or destroyed? Is the tide being turned against the player? etc... Then, NPCs could refer to that table and randomly extract something from the table (or maybe not randomly, depending on the NPCs focus) and talk in a generic way about it depending on the current "state" that this "event" was in, and also perhaps some variable held in each NPC determining his "demeanor" or how he would respond to things going well for you or going poorly. Like a personality variable held in each NPC.

For more important NPCs, ones that actually interact with you for quests and the like, I think it is perfectly feasable to flag a quest as uncompletable until, perhaps, you work back to the tech level needed for that NPC to exist (perhaps build a belief in reincarnation into the game, simply for the purpose of not having important NPCs die out forever).

EDIT: Or maybe, if a character dies, another NPC somewhere inherits the higher responsibilities that this character had: so that, somewhere in the world, someone is allowing that quest to occur.

Anyways, I hope this all helps... these are all really new concepts for me, and I'm not 100% on how it would be implemented... but I do hope it helps to stir some ideas. =)

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
I'd love to play a game where as a single character I can help shape the world. Things like an election in a tower arises and I can help shape the towers future by trying to convice npc to support my chosen canditate.


Cool example. I was thinking more physical objects, but it reminds me that some objects must be abstract. The problem is that I'm not sure how you'd interact with abstract objects, such as "elections." If it were something like a "wormhole gateway object" then that represents a physical place that could be affected using the established game rules.

There'd also need to be some place to refer to abstract objects. You can see the state of physical objects, but not so with something like elections (how are things, how close am I, who is threatening the elections, etc.)

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But I suggest making them mutable but not destroyable. For instance the jump gate in chapter two that you mention. It should not be possible to destroy the gate until its purpose has been resolved. Meaning that since the chapter ends when the first ship leaves the solar system. Then the gate can only be destroyed after its secerts have been discovered. So until at least one faction has learned enough about it to build another then no one can destroy it. Since destroying it would effectivly stagnate the entire game.


Yeah, I'm really struggling with this one. On the one hand it would be cool if the system could create new plot objects once you destroy one, I can imagine it would make it even more of a PITA [wink] than it already will be to create.

In terms of stagnation, imagine having a list of counterbalancing plot objects that appear when one is destroyed. So if the "wormhole object" gets destroyed, you decide that this triggers either the "alien invasion" or "FTL discovery" plot objects. Obviously this could get hairy, but from a gameplay standpoint I wonder if this would be more fun, or if it would negate the player's changes. I mean, why else would you destroy a plot than to prevent it from happening, meaning you want something else to occur?

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But chapter two always starts during the solor development era, and chapter three always begins 20 years after the start of the galatic colonization movement has begun.


I don't want to start relying on this, but as an aside I've got some idea of giving you a "time passes" option, where you automate several actions as years pass. So it *MIGHT* be okay (depending on if I can make this "time passes" option not suck.)

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Lastly I strongly suggest that you have automatic saving at critcal points in the game. Thing of them as chapter and section markers. So that you can allow player to start again from the begin of any chapter in the characters history. Yo've won the game the galaxy is controlled by a massive trade guild that your president of. But you can't help but wonder what would have happened if you choosen to fight the seiger in chapter 5 instead of getting rich selling weapons to various other factions. Since the game saves the start of chapter you can easily.


I did not think of this, great idea. You may want to go back and see how things would have turned out otherwise. I like it.

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Wavinator    2017
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Original post by VThornheart
Hmm... this poses an interesting technical problem! I really like the idea though, and I think it could be good if we think through it.


Thanks for the help!

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Okay now, basically for each of these three examples we'll need the graphics, any interaction/dialog, and ideas for what can be done in each.


Okay, graphics are the nastiest challenge, but it really falls into specific areas: Ships, cities and characters. Ships will be mix & match prefab pieces, so I think that's okay; cities I'm not so worried about changing, they'll just expand; and for characters, I think I'm going to see if I can procedurally generate textures on a set of costumes and call it a day (there's only so much variety that can be created-- and we expect less from the future than we do from the past, I hope)

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* Altering the Tech Tree

You could have, as a set of objects in your game, a "generic" tech tree, that refers to everything your "God" character can do but in a generic way that doesn't apply to any particular age. For each object in that generic tree, there would be a child for each age you wanted to create.


One of the things I was thinking about doing, rather than trying to generate a tech tree, would be to create abstract techs that are stat-based, but apply interesting names to them. Behind the scenes, you'd have Propulsion (Fuel Cost: 500, Build Cost: 2000, etc.), but it's called "The Takahashi Drive"

I could use what you're talking about to enhance this, I think, because there'd be predictable links and you'd drop in the specific techs. What might not make sense is why one tech is related to another, though. OTOH, these are future techs, so if the "Takahashi Drive" links to "Dimensional Miniaturization" it might not have to make sense. (I think people really puked over Alpha Centauri's well-thoughtout tech trees, unfortunately, so I don't see a need for hard SF)

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Hmm, I suppose there's a lot of things you could do. For NPC reactions, perhaps you could create an object that holds a list of everything that can be done in the game... like this:

"Everything that can be created/destroyed" table: Names of towns, technology, specific people, etc...

"Everything that can be won/lost" table: Wars, competitions, quests etc...
...


We're on the same page. Spice it up with opinions related to factions and personality, and I think you get statements like "I'm worried we'll lose the war to those damned Centaurians" generated procedurally.


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For more important NPCs, ones that actually interact with you for quests and the like, I think it is perfectly feasable to flag a quest as uncompletable until, perhaps, you work back to the tech level needed for that NPC to exist


You remind me of another, peripheral question: If a plot object is destroyed, but can be rebuilt, should this automatically happen over time? I'm thinking yes. So if a rocket pad will help restore spaceflight, and you destroy it, the NPCs would keep trying to rebuild it.

However, that could get annoying. Maybe it only happens a certain number of time?


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EDIT: Or maybe, if a character dies, another NPC somewhere inherits the higher responsibilities that this character had: so that, somewhere in the world, someone is allowing that quest to occur.


I like this more. Tougher, but it gives the world more redundancy.

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rmsgrey    153
On the "Takahashi Drive", is that a static name, presumably reflecting a pre-destined inventor, or is it mutable - so one game has the Takahashi Drive, while the next time through you get the Graham Drive etc - could also have multiple implementations depending on tech maturation - so the mature "{inventor} Drive" is always the same specs, but the original prototype varies from game to game, and early production models gradually improve until you reach the mature form.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by rmsgrey
On the "Takahashi Drive", is that a static name, presumably reflecting a pre-destined inventor, or is it mutable - so one game has the Takahashi Drive, while the next time through you get the Graham Drive etc - could also have multiple implementations depending on tech maturation - so the mature "{inventor} Drive" is always the same specs, but the original prototype varies from game to game, and early production models gradually improve until you reach the mature form.


In theory, the name should vary from game to game, and the initial specs would vary somewhat (but not wildly or there will be no way to QA it). So in first it's the Takahashi Drive with a certain fuel and build cost, but if you somehow intervene (kidnapping or subverting her), then because it's a plot object it will need to be picked up by some other NPC.

If you decide to restart the game, it might be the Graham Drive, maybe with a huge fuel but slight build cost (whatever varies gameplay).

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Cool example. I was thinking more physical objects, but it reminds me that some objects must be abstract. The problem is that I'm not sure how you'd interact with abstract objects, such as "elections." If it were something like a "wormhole gateway object" then that represents a physical place that could be affected using the established game rules.

There'd also need to be some place to refer to abstract objects. You can see the state of physical objects, but not so with something like elections (how are things, how close am I, who is threatening the elections, etc.)


Well depending on your game rules, an abstract object could be just as easy to interact with as an tangible one, but with less art [wink]. An election object could be a simple as a list of canditates, who have a list of supporters. The outcome is determined by which ever canditate has the most supporters on election day. The player can interact with election by manipulating canditates and supporters. Blackmail the most popular canditate to convince them to drop out of the election. Hand out propeganda to supporters to try and swing them to your canditate.

Checking the current election standings would be as simple as opening your PDA and looking at the polls.


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Yeah, I'm really struggling with this one. On the one hand it would be cool if the system could create new plot objects once you destroy one, I can imagine it would make it even more of a PITA [wink] than it already will be to create.

In terms of stagnation, imagine having a list of counterbalancing plot objects that appear when one is destroyed. So if the "wormhole object" gets destroyed, you decide that this triggers either the "alien invasion" or "FTL discovery" plot objects. Obviously this could get hairy, but from a gameplay standpoint I wonder if this would be more fun, or if it would negate the player's changes. I mean, why else would you destroy a plot than to prevent it from happening, meaning you want something else to occur?



Well... It depends if plot objects and plots are interconnected then that might provide a reason to destroy a plot object. Such as destroying the gate to prevent an alien invasion, or rivial faction from gaining a stanglehold on galactic commerce. But then you have to ask yourself does each era have a goal? If each era reflects an important chapter in earths histroy then, there most have been something of importance the occured during that chapter, and which brought it to a close. Then event that brought the chapter to a close would also be the goal of that era and as such something the must always occur.

If you create multiple ways it can occur that can usual be a good thing, but the resource required go up. But then you also run the risk of either alieniating the player by allowing them to prevent all but one event. Or trapping them by allowing them to prevent all the events.

So if the goal of chapter two is for earth to gain FTL capability, and the three ways are the gate, discover the tech, or alien invasion. Do allow the player to successfully prevent the first two they attempt and not the third? Leaving them to feel cheated? Or annoy them by allowing them to stop all 3 and thus never finish chapter 2?

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rmsgrey    153
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
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Original post by rmsgrey
On the "Takahashi Drive", is that a static name, presumably reflecting a pre-destined inventor, or is it mutable - so one game has the Takahashi Drive, while the next time through you get the Graham Drive etc - could also have multiple implementations depending on tech maturation - so the mature "{inventor} Drive" is always the same specs, but the original prototype varies from game to game, and early production models gradually improve until you reach the mature form.


In theory, the name should vary from game to game, and the initial specs would vary somewhat (but not wildly or there will be no way to QA it). So in first it's the Takahashi Drive with a certain fuel and build cost, but if you somehow intervene (kidnapping or subverting her), then because it's a plot object it will need to be picked up by some other NPC.

If you decide to restart the game, it might be the Graham Drive, maybe with a huge fuel but slight build cost (whatever varies gameplay).


I was thinking that having a constant "mature" form (or range of forms) of the tech would ilustrate consistent underlying "physics", while having early versions with variable stats would reflect player influence - so the Takahashi Drive might be highly fuel efficient, but have a low acceleration, high cost to produce and weigh a ton, while the Graham Drive would have high aceleration but be a gas hog, heavy and expensive, but the Improved Takahashi Drive and the Improved Graham Drive would both have good fuel efficiency, high aceleraion, low mass and reasonable cost.

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Spoonbender    1258
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Original post by Wavinator
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Original post by Spoonbender
Hmm, first, I have to ask, is this still the same game? Last I checked, it had the entire galaxy populated with countless alien species, and now, it's about Earth and a few colonies? Or was this just an example of how all this could work?)


Believe it or not, it all falls under one umbrella, but some of it will have to be scaled back. The focus has always been combat / stealth / trade, on the ground or in space, witha special emphasis on making NPCs extra-important. Since I think I have game mechanics that will let you experience several lifetimes, I'm free to start you on Earth, expand you to a few colonies, then get you into the Mobius Strip, a maze of wormholes connecting the galaxy. My hope is that you walk away with an epic experience, and will want to try to achieve different futures.

Wow... Certainly sounds epic. :D

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The drawback is that by focusing more on Earth, there won't be as much development for the aliens. Everything depends on content limits (graphics, writing, sound) for the most part, and I still don't have a clear picture of those limits yet.

Just dont spread yourself too thin. The current Earth-based stuff sounds awesome, as did the "older" galaxy-wide stuff, but trying to cram it all into one game is risky. Nothing worse than a shallow game that tries to do everything, but doesn't have the resources to make it work.
(But you're probably aware of that already ;))


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First, a few practical considerations.
1) Keep in mind how much wasted effort it would be. No matter what, the player always sees only one path through the game. The way the game changes based on your actions might only really become apparent if you play through the game again or compare notes with another player. I'm not saying it's a bad idea (It does sound damn cool), but keep in mind that the player will only actually experience a tiny slice of the content you create.

Would it help to build the entire game's premise around the idea that there are multiple futures, multiple "timelines" as it were?

Also, since I'm trying to hybrid a civ-like empire game and RPG, let me ask this: Why does the player only see one path? I've played Civ games where I've ended up with the Zulus conquering the world, or with a nuclear wasteland all over the globe; IOW, I've played multiple times.

As you say, you've played Civ games.
In each individual game, you only follow one linear path. Yes, you may play it again, and things might happen completely differently, but in a single game, it's logically impossible to experience mutually exclusive paths through the game.

But even in Civ, you don't really see much unique if you play through it again. True, the Zulu's might start somewhere else, and someone might start tossing nukes at you, but the game is still the same, and the (lack of) story is still the same. But the basic game is still the same. Only the AI differs a bit in it's choices. The background setting or storyline doesn't differ no matter how many times you play it, so I don't really think Civ is a good example.

Look at Deus Ex instead, for example. At the very end, you get to choose between three branches, three different endings. Why at the end? Because otherwise the player would most likely never get to experience more than one of them. They might not even be aware that playing the game again would unlock an entirely new experience.

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The shift in scale to RPG only matters if each epoch is extremely long. So you could take 2 weeks, experience the lower tower, find out that you don't like it; take another two weeks, get into space, find out you love it, etc.

Ok, I didn't realize you could backtrack and choose a different path in this example. But no doubt in many others, once you commit to one action, you're stuck with the consequences of that, meaning that to experience all the alternative possibilities, you'd have to restart the game. And meaning that while you have to provide content for countless branches each changing the world and the storyline, the player only sees one route from the beginning to the end of the game. As you said in the original post, "if you were to, say, start (or fail to stop) a war that destroys society in one era, you could be left playing in the ruins in the next." In other words, the player would only experience playing in the ruins in one game. He'd have to start over and take different actions to experience the non-ruined world in that epoch.
Or, like someone above mentioned this history line:

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[smile] Okay, since this is the second time this has come up (along with the post above), I'd better ask: Given that the game is about going from lifetime to lifetime, what's wrong with becoming all-powerful in a single lifetime? Imagine that you become some sort of Alexander the Great, with the battles and management decisions stripped down into NPC interactions and plots by the court. The gameplay hasn't really changed since you were a peon, but the context has. Is that bad?

Hmm, ok first, I wasn't aware that you'd play through multiple lifetimes. Of course, that changes things a bit. [smile].
But my main point was just that it doesn't really seem like a real, coherent world, when one person is able to follow his own personal agenda and shape the entire world as a result, no matter what anyone else does, and with no one else trying to take advantage of it.
Even Alexander the Great no doubt had countless people trying to use him as well as help him on his way, not because they wanted him to become a great hero, but because he was a pawn in their own power games. Because if he managed to succeed at his own plans, it would help them with own agenda as well.
He wasn't a big one-man show, he was the result of a lot of people working behind the scenes for and against him, and all trying to change the outcome to suit themselves.
If more people had seen him as a potential threat to their own plans, then he might have been assasinated before he'd even considered his future career. Or maybe if someone had decided that he had other talents they might profit from, they might have convinced him to become a tailor or a writer instead.
My point is just that it shouldn't be just you alone who decide the shape of the world. People will always try to push you to do what suits them (and you might not be aware that you're helping them), and they're sure to try to turn any of your actions to their own advantage, possibly taking things in a radical new direction that you had no idea about.

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Yes, this is what I'd like to see as well. As I mentioned, though, the danger is that you could tip the balance in a direction that you couldn't perceive and thus may not like.

Well, how bad could that be? Keep in mind that no matter how much people try to use your actions to further their own plans, it still doesn't change what you actually did. If you save a planet, then it stays saved, even if someone decides to exploit it by, say, selling postcards and plush dolls depicting you on the planet, and even if they eventually make so much money on it that they manage to start a major interplanetary corporation and so become an important actor later on.
Maybe I'm missing a point here, but I don't see how it could turn in a direction you may not like. Got an example?
Wouldn't you just take it as a challenge if in one epoch, the world has turned into something you don't like, because someone took advantage of you in a previous one? Wouldn't it just encourage you to change the world again, to put it right?

I think that apart from anything else, it would be really cool to look at the world in one epoch, and be able to trace it back to how it relates to what you did in the last epoch, and look at how the rest of the world reacted and took advantage of your actions.

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Wavinator    2017
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Original post by rmsgrey
I was thinking that having a constant "mature" form (or range of forms) of the tech would ilustrate consistent underlying "physics", while having early versions with variable stats would reflect player influence


Why is consistency important ? For immersion? I ask because I'd think replayability and surprise would be more important than underlying science principles. But maybe a focus on reliable rules would give the world more gravitas, and thus make it more enjoyable?

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Wavinator    2017
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Original post by Spoonbender
Wow... Certainly sounds epic. :D


[lol] Yeah, now the only trick is come up with the content generation and gameplay rulesets to make it work on a shoestring budget!


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Just dont spread yourself too thin. The current Earth-based stuff sounds awesome, as did the "older" galaxy-wide stuff, but trying to cram it all into one game is risky. Nothing worse than a shallow game that tries to do everything, but doesn't have the resources to make it work.
(But you're probably aware of that already ;))


Yes, plenty of material for nightmares here, thank you very much. [wink] However, even the galaxy-spanning gameplay was never going to rely on a high-content approach. That's just suicide!

I see only two ways to do this: Vary stats on stuff you care about; and throw in lots of dynamic changes so that you experience variety of encounter. The first creates a functional difference between locations that softens the inevitable visual/audio repetition; the second (I hope) will create enough surprises to totally forgive that repetition.


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As you say, you've played Civ games.
In each individual game, you only follow one linear path. Yes, you may play it again, and things might happen completely differently, but in a single game, it's logically impossible to experience mutually exclusive paths through the game.


Unless you reload, and try a new approach. Now I know people do this, but your point is well taken. The deeper the experience and details, the more likely I think you are to pursue a single path.

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But even in Civ, you don't really see much unique if you play through it again. True, the Zulu's might start somewhere else, and someone might start tossing nukes at you, but the game is still the same, and the (lack of) story is still the same. But the basic game is still the same. Only the AI differs a bit in it's choices. The background setting or storyline doesn't differ no matter how many times you play it, so I don't really think Civ is a good example.


Here I think you're severely underestimating the difference in play experience. These games are not the same. I may see the same graphics each and every time-- same continents, city screens, terrain. Yet the game occurs at a higher level so that it doesn't matter.

In one game, I'm fenced in on all sides, insecure, and constantly at war. In another, I'm isolated and desperately cut off from allies, but able to develop infrastructure (gardening gameplay) in peace; in yet another, I have just enough mountains to my west to center the game around a desperate Maginot Line defense that saves my bacon the ENTIRE game; in yet another, the rest of the world is on fire and I'm the primary cause, safe amid conquered allies and projecting power overseas.

What I'm trying to express by these examples is that there is a metagame experience that transcends surface gfx/sound similarities.

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Look at Deus Ex instead, for example. At the very end, you get to choose between three branches, three different endings. Why at the end? Because otherwise the player would most likely never get to experience more than one of them. They might not even be aware that playing the game again would unlock an entirely new experience.


You know, I'm more convinced than ever that games like Deus Ex, Fallout and Morrowind have to advertise, in-game, what they have to offer. But that's a topic for another thread.

But beyond the possibility of wasted resources, what would the gamer's main complaint be? Overwhelm?

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My point is just that it shouldn't be just you alone who decide the shape of the world. People will always try to push you to do what suits them (and you might not be aware that you're helping them), and they're sure to try to turn any of your actions to their own advantage, possibly taking things in a radical new direction that you had no idea about.


Okay, I keep doing a poor job expressing this, maybe because I'm changing so many things. I see this as being what you describe, with you having the power to change the world, but having to follow certain means and contend with certain challenges to get there. So it's not a free ride, where you're a god without contenders.



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Well, how bad could that be? Keep in mind that no matter how much people try to use your actions to further their own plans, it still doesn't change what you actually did. If you save a planet, then it stays saved, even if someone decides to exploit it by, say, selling postcards and plush dolls depicting you on the planet, and even if they eventually make so much money on it that they manage to start a major interplanetary corporation and so become an important actor later on.
Maybe I'm missing a point here, but I don't see how it could turn in a direction you may not like. Got an example?
Wouldn't you just take it as a challenge if in one epoch, the world has turned into something you don't like, because someone took advantage of you in a previous one? Wouldn't it just encourage you to change the world again, to put it right?


We're on the same page story-wise, yes. If you change the world, then some evil (heh, or good) powermonger undoes that change, I see you as being motivated.

My concern was more along gameplay, which is hard to really guage considering that there would be a few different ways to play. But let's take combat for example: (off the cuff example) Let's say that you get used to a certain frequency of combat encounters, then manage to either unleash a flood or stopper activity to a trickle. Both could create undesirable changes that you might not necessarily forsee.

In another example, perhaps you travel through a wormhole and accidently lead back a conquering force which essentially eliminates overt combat. Now you must switch to subterfuge, stealth, and rag-tag hit & run gameplay.

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I think that apart from anything else, it would be really cool to look at the world in one epoch, and be able to trace it back to how it relates to what you did in the last epoch, and look at how the rest of the world reacted and took advantage of your actions.


I think this holds a lot of possibility for softening dismay that you may feel at gameplay that can swing (wildly) one way or another. If the point of the game isn't hacking & slashing, but rather worldbuilding, then maybe you get to a point you don't like and I use another mechanism I've been planning-- a "time passes, the world changes" metagame which could allow things to instantly change again.

The trouble is that you'll never quite know what the player likes, and will always run into the danger of them being ultrafinicky because it takes a long time to learn how to play in any one way.

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Spoonbender    1258
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As you say, you've played Civ games.
In each individual game, you only follow one linear path. Yes, you may play it again, and things might happen completely differently, but in a single game, it's logically impossible to experience mutually exclusive paths through the game.


Unless you reload, and try a new approach. Now I know people do this, but your point is well taken. The deeper the experience and details, the more likely I think you are to pursue a single path.

Exactly. Even if you reload and try something different, that only leads to the next "branch", where you have to choose again. No matter what you do, you're not goign to explore all these options. Most likely it'll be a linear path, with kinda fuzzy edges and a few small offshoots where you did one thing, then regretted, reloaded, and continued on another path. But the majority of the branches will still go unexplored.

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Here I think you're severely underestimating the difference in play experience. These games are not the same. I may see the same graphics each and every time-- same continents, city screens, terrain. Yet the game occurs at a higher level so that it doesn't matter.

I know what you mean, and it works fine for Civ. The reason I said it was a bad example is because I'm not convinced the same applies to your game. A RPG (or a hybrid like yours) tends to be a lot more, well, personal, tailored to the player. You want conversation options to change based on your options, you want individuals to react differently depending on your previous actions, and you want the entire storyline to progress, while *still* seeming like a consistent one, and not something autogenerated from a few fragments of data about how powerful each faction is, or who has the best technology.

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What I'm trying to express by these examples is that there is a metagame experience that transcends surface gfx/sound similarities.

In Civ, yes. In something more RPG-like, I'd like to say yes too, but the fact is that the presentation matters a lot more. You want the game to react to *you*, not to some anonymous faction deciding to send a nuke against the Zulu.

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But beyond the possibility of wasted resources, what would the gamer's main complaint be? Overwhelm?

Good question. I don't remember it ever being an issue before. [wink]
I wouldn't worry about the player feeling overwhelmed.
The only issue really *is* those wasted resources, although there are two sides to that. Of course, it sucks for you to waste so much effort on something players don't even get to see, but it might also suck to the player to know that there's actually plenty of content in the game, he just can't get to experience it, because it's all mutually exclusive. (But of course, that part is only a problem if the player feels that the game is too shallow or spread thin, like we discussed above)

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Let's say that you get used to a certain frequency of combat encounters, then manage to either unleash a flood or stopper activity to a trickle. Both could create undesirable changes that you might not necessarily forsee.

In another example, perhaps you travel through a wormhole and accidently lead back a conquering force which essentially eliminates overt combat. Now you must switch to subterfuge, stealth, and rag-tag hit & run gameplay.

Ah, I see what you mean now. But even so, how much of a problem will that really be? In the first example, I'm assuming we're not talking about random encounters, because those (if they exist in your game) shouldn't vary the frequency too much. They just get annoying anyway. ;)
So, what it might affect is the military power of one specific faction, and then, if you don't want to spend the next week fighting them, you just have to either stay in areas they don't have as much influence over, or just don't make them your enemies.

In the second example, I don't think it'd be that drastic. If you have the muscle required to rely on overt combat, then surely you can at least try to hold out against this force, or at least allow you to retreat to an area outside their influence, where you can keep playing as normal. Of course, you might fail, and have to resort to covert actions after all, but I wouldn't allow it to become so powerful it just wipes you out when you even attempt overt combat. Or if it does become so powerful, perhaps thats a good time to switch to the next epoch? This conquering force took over the entire sector of space (or the entire Earth, or whatever the current playground is), and you have to deal with that entirely new setting at some point in the future.

I see your point, but I think it can be managed. You have to limit how much these "unforeseen consequences" can impact the gameplay. And use your epoch concept to get around the truly huge changes. (If you happen to trigger some truly massive changes, just give the player an emergency exit by letting him transfer to the next epoch, where you can now create a massively altered setting.

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I think this holds a lot of possibility for softening dismay that you may feel at gameplay that can swing (wildly) one way or another. If the point of the game isn't hacking & slashing, but rather worldbuilding, then maybe you get to a point you don't like and I use another mechanism I've been planning-- a "time passes, the world changes" metagame which could allow things to instantly change again.

I'm still not convinced that the "get to a point you don't like" part is actually going to be a problem. I think the gameplay implications can be managed, and from the storyline point of view, I don't see it as being a problem in the first place.

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rmsgrey    153
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Original post by Wavinator
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Original post by rmsgrey
I was thinking that having a constant "mature" form (or range of forms) of the tech would ilustrate consistent underlying "physics", while having early versions with variable stats would reflect player influence


Why is consistency important ? For immersion? I ask because I'd think replayability and surprise would be more important than underlying science principles. But maybe a focus on reliable rules would give the world more gravitas, and thus make it more enjoyable?


Keeping the framework consistent means the player has some way of transferring experience from previous passes through the game, and gives them a handle on how their actions effect the game. In the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game, at one point, picking up an item (I think it's a screwdriver) directly causes a tree outside the window to fall over. If you don't have some consistency, then the gaame may start to feel like it's a bunch of screwdrivers tied to trees, and the only way for a player to anticipate the consequences of their actions is by using some external reference (guide/walkthrough for instance).

If the improved *name* Drive is the same in each game, then the player can say to himself "ah, yes, that's the same device as I encountered before, but with a different name because I changed history, and with a different prototype, ditto" rather than "this device is totally unlike anything in the previous game, the game must be generating transport randomly"


As an aside, it should be possible to use (imperfect) hashing routines or similar schemes for automatically generating object statistics to ensure that a given *name* Drive with the same inventor is (almost) the same in the next pass through the game (barring significant player variation).

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Jotaf    280
Hi! I'm sorry if I'm restating what someone else already said, but I only read the first few posts.

This seems like an awsome idea, but maybe you're making it a bit more complicated than it should. I mean, the world IS there all the time, even if you're just starting out; what you're suggesting is simply to have some sort of scripted events happen, to propel the story forward. Since these events are pretty generic and simple, you don't really have to think about every single possibility like it has been suggested (I don't know how to explain this any better, but if your simulation is good enough, you can just at some point give the player and the factions/NPCs a way to travel to other planets, period - without worrying about any details; it's like tumbling the first dominoe piece and all the others fall in succession).

Anyways, I think you're also worrying too much about catastrophic events. Of course that if a faction is about to launch a nuclear warhead or do something that will instantly kill him/her, it should first check if the player is there. This is the sort of hard-coded stuff that you should have for the sake of not annoying the player. You don't have to do the same about every disease, or attack, or a tower's water supply breaking down. These critical problems should be solved by the player, or by the game's NPCs/factions (if they're advanced enough; I really think you need planning AI :P ). Besides, if a tower is completely destroied, there's always another one. There should be quite a few at the beggining. Same goes for the colonies, human or alien. Ideally, since anything can be destroied, anything should also be rebuilt, even if at a slow pace; this way you would ensure that everything is balanced. But anyways, assuming that under normal circumstances the player doesn't run out of whatever it is he enjoys, you can still give him the chance of obliterating all life on Earth if he wants so. Talk about replaying value ;)

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