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To change the world you have to change the world

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What if in a single player game you had to actually change the world to make the world change. Now what did I just say? What I mean is the entire game is a truly dynamic world where you don't change the world by triggering a single preplanned event but instead the world would go on just fine without you if you didn't do anything significant. What I have in mind is a standard Tolkien fantasy game where the player starts in the middle of a war as a soldier in an army trying to hold a bridge. If the player successfully defends the bridge, they are promoted and given some time to rest before given their next mission. Alternately they can kill their fellow soldiers, allowing the enemy to take the bridge and winning the respect of the enemy. If the player chooses to defend the bridge they can take their time off to practice fighting as an individual, practice leading other soldiers, practice making weapons, explore or try leveraging their new found status politically. Based on what they practice, if they become good enough at it before their next assignment an NPC might notice their skill and suggest they work for them. The player can then decline their next army assignment, decline the new NPC or try to both jobs at once. If the player becomes a good individual soldier they eventually can become an assassin or something similar and gain more recognition by killing more important people. From there they can assassinate the king or become his right hand man with the possibility of becoming his successor. If the player becomes a good leader of solders he can gain recognition by taking strategic targets and use the increased fame to gain status with this path. If the player becomes good at weapon smithing, the player's weapons can turn the tide in the war. If the player becomes good at exploring, the player can find new resources or strategic positions or perform reconnaissance and find weaknesses in the enemy lines. If the player is skilled at politics, the player can gain allies for his king and use them for his own ends should he choose. Or the player can do a combination of any or none of these. I would love to see something like this as a single player game but I'm wondering if this is too much to put into a single game?

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What you are talking about is the ultimate in sandbox RPGs (a la GTA et al). Certainly it is a good idea albeit not necessarily practical.

One of the major issues you would face, however, is either massive amounts of content creation that would largely go unused or such a dynamically responsive world that it would be a bitch to tune properly. Either way, it's a matter of having too much scope in play at one time. There are reasons that there are limits to what you can do and with/to whom in GTA. It would get unweildy very quickly.

Alternately, an MMO environement unburdens you somewhat from the responsiblity of creating all that interactive content. The other players would react accordingly to what any one of them does - in as far as they know about it. However, that has its own set of issues in that, while there may be thousands of people on a server in an MMO, they each really don't give a crap about 99% of the other people. They go about "life" in their own little microcosms with their own agendas - really in parallel to all the other microcosms. The challenge in the MMO environment is developing that sense of community (either pro or con) so that people care what is going on around them. I'll leave the suggestions on how that would work for others - perhaps in another thread since it is branching off topic.

Either way, I like the idea, but it would be a bitch to implement.

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Bah, posting on work breaks = bad some times. What I wrote was the target of my idea, not really the basis.

...

On the other hand... I was going to write my idea of the basic method to balance the system but then I started to go down the paths of AI balancing and stat balancing at the micro and macro level and realized I need much more consideration on this topic before I can post thoroughly enough. I am retreating back to the drawing board but feel free to discuss the topic if anyone feels like it.

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Agreed. You've just described the rationale behind the ideal sandbox game. That's what sandboxing is all about. Several games that are already out there came pretty close to your suggestions.

Unlike real life, something specific can't happen within a sandbox game unless the designers and programmers make it possible. That's where the challenge comes in. Creating thousands of possible scenarios that are all flexible enough to work together (and apart), but still specific enough to be interesting.

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As I pondered the situation I can see this likely being a massive AI platform but once you start putting in this much AI processing you likely need the support of an MMO system to do all the crunching and the possibility of putting this in a single-player game start to plummet.

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There's no disadvantage of puting extreme complexity into a single player game. I think Fox meant that extreme complexity can be automatic in an MMO, since real people don't need AI to think.

There are virtually no limitations for single player games, other than the work the development team needs to put into it.

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i would say that putting it in a mmo would be massive more complicated because you have to deal with people trying to exploit the system

EDIT:
the only games that i would call sand-box like are fairly easy to break, in a mmo you can't have one player being able to break the entire world

if you look at most mmo's they are completely static yet still have to place tons of limitations on what players can do, doing this in a sandbox game would basically eleminate the point of a sandbox game

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MMO Sandbox = Living Agony.

Look at Second Life, the game plagued with exploitation and buried in legal crap.
"Sandboxes corrupt, Massive sandboxes corrupt massively."

But on the original topic:

To make this kind of sandbox, you'd have to make generators that create content around the player. If whatever the player does will play a key part in the game, you have to make the game create tons of content around your actions, and it has to feel right.

In short, procedurally generated content just can't match the power of scripted, pre-set, linear single-player experiences. They tend to be more fun than playing in a sandbox, because they have a point. In a sandbox, it may have a point, but you might waste time wandering around lame side-quests and collect-the-100-key-shards quests.

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Ahhh... the sandbox idea where you could just watch the world pass by while you sit around being a sloth. =)

I tried that, wasted a month. There were just so many stupid npcs to fix, thousands and thousands of bugs, so many that I became discouraged and gave up.

XD I wish you a great fortune =D

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