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This is a problem I have been pondering for some time now. Say I'm a developer interested in developing an RPG game (commercial or otherwise, it doesn't matter). I have a choice to make at the planning stage of the game: which fictional world to set my game in. At first glance this seems like a simple enough choice, I can use one of the following options: 1) Use a fantasy world already developed by one or more Authors, such as Middle Earth, AD&D Forgotten Realms, or Games Workshops "Old World". 2) Get my writers to create a new world from scratch. However, both options can have disadvantages. For 1) you will require the explicit permission of whoever owns the intellectual property rights (copyright) to that world. This could turn out to be a real problem for an indie development team if you set your heart on a specific world and then get turned down by the copyright holders. There is one instance I know of where this is not the case - the 80 year copyright on the world used as the setting for the "Conan" books is actually due to expire soon, after which you can set your game in Conans world without having to ask anyones permission, and without having to pay any royalties. For 2) I think a big risk is being taken. Authoring a detailed and convincing fantasy world is no mean feat, and can take time away from the more important task of authoring a plot/sub-plots for the game itself. Indie gaming teams may not be up to the job. I have thought of a potential solution to the problem though. Why not start a fantasy world as a wiki? Writers, artists and so on could contribute to the wiki with stories, artwork, maps, characters, histories etc. The conditions of contribution would be that anyone could use the material you submit in a game, story, novel etc. as the information is in the public domain. Comments, ideas etc. would be appreciated. Jon

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A decent idea, I think, if executed well. I think it would be important for someone, or some small group, to 'oversee development of the world', such that they can decide if the content submitted is a 'good fit', and is cohesive with the overall general vision of the world (which they would develop). Otherwise, I think it's too open to inconsistencies, etc, across content.

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Original post by RDragon1
A decent idea, I think, if executed well. I think it would be important for someone, or some small group, to 'oversee development of the world', such that they can decide if the content submitted is a 'good fit', and is cohesive with the overall general vision of the world (which they would develop). Otherwise, I think it's too open to inconsistencies, etc, across content.


Absolutely. In a way, thats a bit unfortunate and not very "wiki-like", but some form of editorial control/set of standards needs to be exercised, otherwise you could end up with a thousand pages of junk very rapidly.

Would anyone else find such a site of use? [Assuming it was of a decent standard]

Jon

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pessimist flag : ON

And you will see dozens of teens describing how the character they imagine totally rock this fantasy world. Then you will have dozens of pen-and-papers gamemasters describing how a secret society lurking for millenias is about to take over the world and pull the strings behind the scene

pessimist flag : OFF

Because of all this, you can't set up a wiki and just except it to fill by itself with coherent stuff. However, if you manage to interest enough motivated and mature people, the job of the writter could become the job of an editor : selecting and correcting various submissions that would become canon. I think your best tool would be forums or mailing list with a website that the writter would keep up to date.

See for instance how the OSS game 'Battle for wesnoth' evolved and how various submitters constantly suggest in the forums to add new races to the existing ones (dark elves, pirates, etc...) while occasionally succeeding in interesting occasions (outlaws, drakes)

Btw, I will sound trollish but creating a world for a fantasy RPG isn't very hard. Create a rough map in 5 minutes on a piece of paper, find various names or generate them, append "Barony" "Realm" "Kingdom" "Empire" to them according to their size, imagine a few royal families, design a magic system, choose a technological level, read some random History events of Europe or Asia during middle-age and transpose them (they happen to be in the public domain) and you'll get a good setting.

Ex : The Holy Kingdom of Miara mourns the death of his King, Feretium IV, during his crusade to liberate the Saint city of Guinyst, center of the Haptial religion, from which the famous Haptian mages draw their powers.
Go on with the succession war, the inference of a foreign military power, transforming the province in a group of warring states, etc, etc, etc ..

The setting is often secondary in a RPG game. First the players will see the gameplay and the graphics. The game world has just 'to be working'

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And you will see dozens of teens describing how the character they imagine totally rock this fantasy world. Then you will have dozens of pen-and-papers gamemasters describing how a secret society lurking for millenias is about to take over the world and pull the strings behind the scene


Yes, I'd already thought about this. As suggested above, the wiki would have to restrict editorial access to a small number of trusted people to start with. In addition, a set of publically available guidelines should help: something along the lines of 1) Please do not use superhuman characters, demi-God like characters, ancient secret societies, and so on, as plot devices. 2) Prefer resue of existing locations in plotlines above creating your own, 3) When fleshing out an NPC's background, character etc. discuss the developments with the original author... and so on.

Quote:

Because of all this, you can't set up a wiki and just except it to fill by itself with coherent stuff.


Yup. I'd need to start with a small group of reasonably experienced writers, and gradually expand. The writers would also need to share some form of common vision, whilst retaining the freedom to express their own ideas.

Quote:

I think your best tool would be forums or mailing list with a website that the writter would keep up to date.


Hmmm. Perhaps this would be a better format than a wiki.

Quote:

Btw, I will sound trollish but creating a world for a fantasy RPG isn't very hard.


Right, creating a fantasy RPG world isn't hard. A 5 year old can do it. Creating a decent, enjoyable, and absorbing world in which many campaigns, plot lines and interlocking narratives can be set is significantly more difficult. I think this is maybe where you and I have diverged in our thought process. In this instance you see the fantasy world merely as a vehicle for a single, possibly very linear, game. What I am trying to get across is a larger, richer world, such as those described for the Forgotten Realms campaigns (which has over 30 years of creative writing behind it), which have led to games such as Baldurs Gate and Neverwinter Nights, both of which are moving the player away from a linear gaming experience, and toward something a little more open ended.

Thanks for the feedback so far.

Jon

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Creating a GOOD world over a day? Very hard.

Working on a world for a few months to a year or more, very easy.

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Original post by Talroth
Creating a GOOD world over a day? Very hard.

Working on a world for a few months to a year or more, very easy.


I didn't mean this to be done in a single day. I was thinking of a very long term project, months, more likely - years. Eventually the project would get to the point where it could be used as a backdrop for games/novels etc., but this would not signal the end of the worlds development. It would keep evolving independently as authors continue to add to it.

Jon

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A fantasy world wiki will have lots of internal inconsistencies, and will turn out cliche because no one is imposing any overall creative vision. Plus, who owns the rights to contributed material is questionable (I bet some copyrighted fan material will sneak in), and what is motivating people to contribute if they aren't getting paid and have to give you the rights to their stuff.

Designing a fantasy world does take time, but I don't see any reason why it should take away from authoring a plot - on the contrary, the best plots are those which depend on a unique way on the worldbuilding, and aren't some generic story which could be told in any world.

If you are paying your writers, you should be able to get one(s) good enough to handle the task, and if you aren't paying them you can recruit more so that the additional time needed is not a problem.

But creating a fantasy world is an artistic task, and just like any other work of art, if no one has a vision and a whole committee of people muck around with it, you will only get a pile or crap. You can't make art by committee.


Also, there are plenty of writers around who have already created a world and are trying to get it made into a game, if you don't have a strong preference for what the world is like why not team up with someone like this? That they have already done a lot of the work will save time, and they will be a committed team member because you are bringing their baby to life.

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Penny Arcade did exactly what you were suggesting with Epic Legends Of The Hierachs: The Elemenstor Saga. A brand new fantasy world complete with all the mythos you could ever want, even if it is a bit on the ridiculous side. Oh, and magically animated talking furniture.

http://elothtes.pbwiki.com/

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I think it's a great idea. In fact I was on the edge of doing this myself. For the past 5-7 years I've been playing message board driven role playing games. I've seen millions of names for them but we had adopted the term Message Board Role Playing Game (MBRPG) for ours.

The idea is great. The admin creates the world in which all players can create a character and interact with eachother. We had ground rules to prevent god modding and such and it worked for a long time. We shut down our site last week due to lack of activity.

Now why do I say this? Because I think that it's hard to make an entire world on your own. Here we were (two guys on their spare time) trying to create a huge world where people would try and fit in their character. Instead, people would invent their own country/realm where they were from. In the end, we had something like 10 neighbouring countries on the northern border. It just doesn't work.

That's why the wiki idea is so great. I was going to use the PA example given in the post above but he/she beat me to it. I think it would definatly work (given you have some kind of editorial staff).

As for the copyright regarding this wiki... Hmmmm I think you should make it "open source". Anyone could use the world as is, and/or add what they'd like to it in their own game. I don't know if you'd like the exclusive rights to the world but I think it would be awesome if anyone who felt like using it could. They'd just have to acknowledge the wiki in their credits. "World based on the XXX world @ www.wiki.rpgworld.com"

Bah... I talk to much.

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