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PHP Game - Theorycraft

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I've wanted to design a simple web-based PHP game for some time now. The idea is that a player could log in, quickly manage their account, and log out. And with the recent advent of the iPhone, the range of design possibilities, as well as viability of different game types, have changed. For example, link4 is very popular because of how quickly you can get through a game (though internet/PC version of it were not as popular). I am still working out some design ideas for my game, have considered the following type possibilities:

FF style game w/ build your own monster/hero.

In this, attacks would be turn based, and you could possible team up with friends to take on other groups or boss monsters.

Pros: Lots of possible strategy combinations.
Cons: Combat would probably take longer than a user wants to commit.

FF style game w/ auto resolve combat
Same as above, but battles auto resolve with an ajax style news feed that gives some suspense to the fighting.

Pros: Takes less of a time commitment than the above.
Cons: A lot of the strategy elements would be eliminated.

Twist of FF style game w/ auto resolve combat
Same as above, but with an extra twist. You would have to care for your fighter/monster by feeding them if they get hungry, taking them to the inn if fatigued, taking them to temple if low on spirit, etc. If you failed to log in at least once a day to care for your fighter, they would lose health, mana, power, level, ability level, etc.

Pros: Lots of management required to level up your champion.
Cons: Lots of management required to level up your champion.

I am currently leaning toward the last option, but would like some feedback/ideas on improvements/concerns/etc.

[Edited by - Cygnus_X on August 31, 2010 1:41:01 PM]

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Most browser games I ve played lean towards your second option or a simplified version of the first one. I think you should re think your third option and instead of punishing players for not playing make it a bit more rewarding if they play more.
My main concern about the last one is that a lot of players may be unable to play for different kind of reasons (no Internet connection, other responsibilities) and they will eventually just stop playing if they get punished for not playing, even if 1 minute per day is enough.
You could make a combination of the first two ideas and let the player make some off combat strategy planning (combat stances, spells to be used,weapons)and have his character fight for 12 hours using these options.

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My reasoning for the last option is from this article:

http://www.cracked.com/article_18461_5-creepy-ways-video-games-are-trying-to-get-you-addicted.html


I think too many people adopt the 'spare the rod' policy in their approach to game design.... and I am starting to think that's why a lot of games suck.

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I have to admit that this article was a bit socking and I can see your point in the "punishing system". Still I believe it needs some mixing with a rewarding system like : If you play every day you get more gold but if you fail to log in for a week you will lose some gold or get a stats reduction until you log in again.
In such a case you should give players the ability to "pause" their accounts for some time if they are unable to play for more than a week (because of vacations or exams). It is essential for players to believe that the game they play can keep up with the pace of their lives.

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