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robert4818

Build (almost) Anywhere concept

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This idea (I know, I have alot of ideas. I want my dime...I'm surely at a dozen by now) is a compromise between allowing players to build anywhere, and still maintaining adventureing areas in an MMO.

MMO's that have a build anywhere syle of play suffer from urban sprawl. Much of the open land becomes clogged with player housing. Areas that were once prime hunting grounds become cluttered with buildings. It ends up being a mess, and tends to hurt the game. Games like Darkfall counter this by designating only certain areas for players to build in. Its an ok solution, but it cuts down on freedom a bit much for my taste.

My soulution is fairly simple, and works as a compromise. Players are allowed to build anywhere, but different areas on the map have a pre-set density cap. Players are allowed to build anywhere within that area, but once the cap is reached, no-more buildings can be built. This solution is rather simple programatically as well. (building density, not build anywhere.)

The idea comes in three flavors. Floor space per area, points per area, or buildings per area.

Buildings per area is the simpler of the two. The devs set an area up to hold only a certain number of buildings, and once that's met, its finished. One building can be a palace, or an outhouse though. Which could be a little odd.

Floor Space per area is similar, however, instead of number of buildings, the devs can set up a specific amount of floor space to be allowed within an area. In that case, the number of buildings can vary. An area with a small amount of floorspace might hold a small village, or a single palace.

Points per area is very similar to the floor space concept, however instead of checking floor space, each building is given a certain number of abstract points. A single house might be a few points, a black smith shop is worth more than that. The danger here is an urban sprawl of low point buildings.

When I say area though, I don't mean "zone" I basically mean something like X/mi^2. The devs are able to control this density to lay out city areas, village areas, and isolated areas. They can even set the density to 0 for areas they want absolutely NO buildings in. (though I don't recommend it).

A city might have 10000 buildings/sqmi (basically unlimited building) until reaching a certain point, and then it begins to drop off gradually, until it reaches the density of the surrounding area. A village might have a 10/sqmi area allowing for the construction of 10 buildings. A deep forest might have the density set to 1/sqmi.

As for setting density, the easiest way to do it, IMO, is using a terrain generator as you find for many engines. They have tools that use paint brushes that affect things like terrain height, texture, etc. This would be the area, IMO, to set build density. You can use a simple tool to paint the variable information.

What do you think?

(note, there are many things not discussed here that programmers would have to decide upon, such as whether or not to allow building destruction/abandonment, or how to get rid of buildings that are taking up slots)

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I really prefer the solution that a player's 'estate' is portable, and does not exist in the game world when that player is not logged in. So whenever the player wants to use their buildings for something they plunk them down in a good spot, then when the player is done using the estate it gets put away and doesn't clutter up the landscape.

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A density cap would encourage sprawl, not prevent it. It would have buildings spread further and further.

Also, the players are doing something they want to do. There are players who stay in the wilderness, and players who want to develop it.

I suggest adding more wilderness. Maintain a frontier.

You might also revise the game rules to add more to do in the developed land.

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Original post by JoeCooper
A density cap would encourage sprawl, not prevent it. It would have buildings spread further and further.

Also, the players are doing something they want to do. There are players who stay in the wilderness, and players who want to develop it.

I suggest adding more wilderness. Maintain a frontier.

You might also revise the game rules to add more to do in the developed land.


I think we may be having 2 different definitions of Urban Sprawl here.

If someone builds an inn in a very low density area that is not urban sprawl, especially if that inn ends up being the only building in an entire square mile.

What density planning does, is it allows for those players who might want to have an isolated cabin, lone wizard tower, or possibly even a forrested Palace, while still maintaining more than enough wilderness for adventuring in. It all depends on how you use the density planner.

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I would hate to build a house, planning to expand later, only to find some other player stole all the square feet usage for this zone, and I can no longer finish my house.

I would much rather each area ingame had something similar to these three variables:

1) Minimum distance between buildings
Examples:
A) City = buildings must have a minimum of 5 feet between each other.
B) Suburb = Buildings must have a minimum of 15 feet from each other.
C) Frontier = Buildings must have a minimum of 500 feet from each other.
2) Maximum footprint of each building
    A) City = Each building can sprawl up to 1500 by 1500 feet. 
B) Suburb = Each building is limited to only 100 by 100 feet.
C) Frontier = Each building is limited to only 50 by 50 feet.
3) Maximum height of each building
    A) City = Each building can reach up to 100 stories/floors/levels and 20 below ground floors.
B) Suburb = Each building can reach up to 3 floors, 2 below ground floors.
C) Fronier = Each building can reach up to 2 floors, 1 below ground floor.

And players can file "building permit" requests to moderators, with a rough blueprint of their building's structure and exterior design, to be able to break the hard limits given above.

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Original post by robert4818
What density planning does, is it allows for those players who might want to have an isolated cabin, lone wizard tower, or possibly even a forrested Palace, while still maintaining more than enough wilderness for adventuring in. It all depends on how you use the density planner.


So we do want some role playing here, then?

It's fine, I get all that, your post just got me brainstorming because it seems like an unnatural interruption to any suspension of disbelief.

We could think up a density cap that's more "in character"...

You could, for example, have lots of areas of very rough terrain that can't be built on, but there's just one spot with enough footprint for a wizard tower if some enterprising player grabs it first.

In other words, have land that is explictly build-on-able.

This is your density limit idea, but basically under an "in character" facade. So you don't run into the situation Servant mentioned where you run into a _surprise_ limit, and your wizard tower fantasy isn't interrupted with a game message about building caps. That'd feel bureaucratic, worse so than going to an in-game King to get a land grant for your wizard tower.

Knowhatimean?

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Original post by JoeCooper
Quote:
Original post by robert4818
What density planning does, is it allows for those players who might want to have an isolated cabin, lone wizard tower, or possibly even a forrested Palace, while still maintaining more than enough wilderness for adventuring in. It all depends on how you use the density planner.


So we do want some role playing here, then?

It's fine, I get all that, your post just got me brainstorming because it seems like an unnatural interruption to any suspension of disbelief.

We could think up a density cap that's more "in character"...

You could, for example, have lots of areas of very rough terrain that can't be built on, but there's just one spot with enough footprint for a wizard tower if some enterprising player grabs it first.

In other words, have land that is explictly build-on-able.

This is your density limit idea, but basically under an "in character" facade. So you don't run into the situation Servant mentioned where you run into a _surprise_ limit, and your wizard tower fantasy isn't interrupted with a game message about building caps. That'd feel bureaucratic, worse so than going to an in-game King to get a land grant for your wizard tower.

Knowhatimean?


I know what you mean, but I'm trying to avoid pre-built spots to a certain extent. I do wish there was a way to "hide" the density limit so that it appears more natural. That being said, I would still like something akin to my system in games, even if the limit was immersion breaking... :(

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Original post by robert4818
My soulution is fairly simple, and works as a compromise. Players are allowed to build anywhere, but different areas on the map have a pre-set density cap. Players are allowed to build anywhere within that area, but once the cap is reached, no-more buildings can be built. This solution is rather simple programatically as well. (building density, not build anywhere.)
So, this is still building limit but there is an exception to first players who take all the tasty spots to themselves and no one else can ever grab them.
It combines worst things from both models.

Upkeep. In places near resources (hunting grounds) there is an upkeep cost, the upkeep cost increases as more buildings to max desired destiny emerge resulting in some players "going bankrupt" and being forced to move to city. Of course players will hate that solution :D

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Or why not make very large maps? or random generated like Daggerfall ? or expandable ? (generate a new patch of terrain where ever a player reaches a new zone)

Another way to limit the player's decision to build the houses is to enhance the AI of the critters, and NPCs. If you build a house in the middle of the forest, it should be frequently visited by bears, wolves and werewolves which can steal/demolish it, or kill the player in a night when he is sleeping, and so on. If it is in a wide open space, thieves and burglars can steal every thing from the house (or how much they can carry), if they know how to break the locked door, or to dispel the "Lock Door" spell the owner used on all the doors in the house.

Building, Castles and Palaces should also be destructible. Heck, i wanna destroy the noble's palace with a guild mate's catapult, because he built it on my land.

You can also make that houses build on a kingdom's land to be demolished, if the owner doesn't pay the taxes to the nearest bank which belongs to the kingdom. If the king sends his army to demolish your house, you can come with you own army too, defeat them, maybe make your own kingdom, and the land around your house to be yours (taken from the other kingdom's land).

(I wrote these examples, having in mind a fantasy MMORPG similar with Daggerfall, Darkfall and UO)

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I like xlad's idea.

You could also influence these factors. Like if you're powerful enough to build a wizard tower, maybe you can have raging hordes of monsters that keep people from building log cabins under you.

Designated safe zones would be home-destruction-free.

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Just make a settlement system with a truly 'wild' wilderness.

If you build somewhere, it will be attacked sooner or later. (Either by wild Mobs, or by human players.) Beasts and Monsters might roam around lowly populated areas, but as populations in a region rise, human bandits then become an issue. If too many people build in a region, then banditry skyrockets and becomes more and more powerful with each successful attack. Players can band together to form settlements that are more easily defended than a lone homestead, and eventually you'll see people either move out of the area or join protected settlements.

Allow the world to expand with the population. Don't put hard caps, but track density as a measure of how quickly to expand the world. If you have run out of land that is below a set density, then it is time to expand the world and make more space.

To help protect the 'original' settlers in an area, the likely hood of monster attack should increase with the newer your settlement is. This means that the wizard who trekked out into the middle of nowhere to build his tower is very unlikely to be attacked: He's been there for awhile, and the natural populations have adapted to him. The newest person to build has likely built in the middle of some monster's range, one that has no where else to move to.

If you want your peace and solitude, then you have to pay the price and risks.

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Having vary large maps, permanent buildings with tacked-on upkeep, problems if you have a neighbor who has built where you want to expand, and an additional factor of pollution which can render land unusable for farming, can all be seen in Tale In The Desert, where the total result is rather awful.

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If you want to expand, then you sell your current location and go move else where, or you buy up the area around you. (Or you paid upfront to secure the land you want.)

Have a fairly quick reclamation system for land that becomes abandoned, and I don't really see any problems.

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You could have a Scarcity system. That is each time someone buys a piece of land to build on (or reserve for future building) it costs more and more resources (money?) to do so.

For example, say the first house costs 1000 gold, the second house costs 1500 gold, the thrid house costs 2100 gold, and so on. Eventually, it will be more economical for players to build elsewhere and only the value of convienince to continue to build in populated locations.

You could also apply this to upgrades. that is the cost of upgrading a building is based the cost of buying land, this way players who seek a highly upgraded sturctures will prefer to go to distant locations to build as the cost will be lower.

Also, upkeep could be a factor. If you increase the upkeep costs in dense areas as well, then the costs of maintaining a building in the area will drive players from it, thus dispersing the population even more.

You don't use a hard cap, but as the costs increase, the costs of building become too expensive for player to afford.

You could also change some of these costs and flip them around. Say upkeep costs more the further away from other buildings you are. This way it encourages players to group together, but not to group too closely. you would end up with dispersed, but coherent communities.

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One way to ensure buildings are not just built randomly is to make building anything semi-realistically costly in terms of time, money, and effort.

In RL you would not build something in a place that was not well thought and suitable for your designs, because of the ammount of time, effort, and money it costs to do so. You cannot afford to waste that.

This would also avoid the problem of rapid clogging of land. Buildings would appear very slowly over time. Added to that, if houses require upkeep so that they don't fall apart, then you have a way to maintain a balance that you want by adjusting build cost and upkeep cost, (where by cost I mean time, effort, and money).

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Wouldn't it be easier to just have people purchase land to build on? That's how it works in the real world... You don't just get to slap buildings up wherever you want.

If you price land right, it shouldn't really be a problem. Especially if there is a tax on the land to keep it. If you are worried about not having room to expand, maybe save up more money and buy a larger plot of land for any expansions you might want to make in the future.

Of course, larger plots of land would increase in price, not only to purchase, but taxing as well.

The biggest problem with virtual world real estate that I have seen is that once people buy land or a building, it's theirs forever... and then they leave the game, and that space is forever taken. But if there are taxes that must be paid over time, then it encourages people to keep earning money to afford their luxuries, and it keeps people coming back to the game.

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Konidias' idea probably works.

Declare all the land to be the king's land.

You have to get a land deed through some agent of the king.

It could be possible to slice out and resell land rights, if you want to decentralize control.

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The problem I have with upkeep or mobs roaming around is that really powerful players can exploit the mobs attacking more and more to gain exp or maybe annoy the lower level people by buying massive lands/buildings forcing mobs to attack the area. I don't think using money to deter is workable since a lot of long time players usually have too much money anyway.

I thought of using the fantasy world itself to curb this. maybe explain that the world has forest fairies or something that seeks to balance the land. the more houses people build the fairies start planting more trees/vines which block paths/maybe damage houses or cracks appear on the ground. a lone wizard can build his tower in a secluded place but once more people build there (especially if it is in a hunting ground designated place) vines grow very quickly making travel hard, increasing upkeep in buildings. basically everybody gets a bit penalized by building on some ground, once the other players move out (or the wizard player gets annoyed and kills the other players) the vines/trees recede.

If you want to set up a town you have to buy/request really powerful artifacts that suppress the power of the fairies and allow more buildings in a specified area without the backlash from the environment. This could even be a game changing quest. try to destroy several artifacts that guard the city and watch the city get overrun by trees or turn into a swamp (until they get new artifacts or move the town somewhere else). The inhabitants have the incentive to protect their artifacts. (some artifacts may be non-destructible for safe zones etc)

so basically make it annoying for people to build close together but use the lore of the game to provide justification so the players will hopefully be more understanding and improve immersion.


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Part of the point of declaring it all "the king's land" is that "the king" is the vendor and can constraint growth in order to guide the development according to gameplay & art considerations.

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Original post by yapposaiI don't think using money to deter is workable since a lot of long time players usually have too much money anyway.


Correct. Which is why I suggested the required investment to include time and effort as well.

EDIT: but I don't like the idea of a "King" vendor. It is too restricitive on the RP scenarios that can be played out. It may well be possible that the RP scenario the developer wants to use doesn't have a "King"... The money cost doesn't have to come from the price of land itself, but can come instead from the price of materials, the price of labour, the price of upkeep, and from the old phrase "time is money".

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Original post by robert4818
MMO's that have a build anywhere syle of play suffer from urban sprawl. Much of the open land becomes clogged with player housing. Areas that were once prime hunting grounds become cluttered with buildings. It ends up being a mess, and tends to hurt the game.

Could you point out some of these games that suffer from urban sprawl?

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Original post by forsandifs
Quote:
Original post by yapposaiI don't think using money to deter is workable since a lot of long time players usually have too much money anyway.


Correct. Which is why I suggested the required investment to include time and effort as well.

EDIT: but I don't like the idea of a "King" vendor. It is too restricitive on the RP scenarios that can be played out. It may well be possible that the RP scenario the developer wants to use doesn't have a "King"... The money cost doesn't have to come from the price of land itself, but can come instead from the price of materials, the price of labour, the price of upkeep, and from the old phrase "time is money".

Players only have too much money if you have a lousy economy in place. If you're already assuming that players are going to have too much money, then you're doing something wrong.

Even if the RP scenario doesn't have a "king" it can have one in a figurative sense. Maybe the area of land is owned by someone in a nearby NPC town. Maybe the land is owned by a goddess spirit and you have to provide 1000 spirit coins or something... But the basic idea is that the player has to pay for the land somehow.

Having it just be a free for all is asking for trouble. I mean, if you're wanting to avoid all of these problems (building too close together, overcrowding, etc)... Then you need some sort of control.

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Well the "king" can be flexible.

I thought that up after remembering that in some countries, the "king" or the government "owns" all the wildlife. There was a case in Sweden where a man sued the government because a wild bird stole his dog. In Florida this isn't the case and if you let your dog drink from the pond and a gator nabs 'em, that's that.

But, importantly, there was also a case in Zimbabwe a few years ago where the govenrment went and tore down a tone of poor people's illegal housing...

This is relevant; actually enforcing the law means going out of your way to tear shit down.

You could, if you want, have a "king" law and have a human control its enforcement, so you can look the other way as the game master.

As for the facade, it can be anything. The king's land, the government's, or if it's a nightmare dystopia, "the people's". Or tree spirits.

So if you have any kind of governing entity in your setting - it doesn't have to be a Monarch - you can protect your wilderness in the same way societies do IRL.

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Original post by Konidias
Even if the RP scenario doesn't have a "king" it can have one in a figurative sense. Maybe the area of land is owned by someone in a nearby NPC town. Maybe the land is owned by a goddess spirit and you have to provide 1000 spirit coins or something... But the basic idea is that the player has to pay for the land somehow.


Renaming the "king" as a "goddess spirit" or whatever, doesn't change the basic gameplay mechanic. You still have what is essentially a "king". And as I pointed out, the artificial "king" or "goddess spirit" or whatever, might not fit in with the desired RP scenario.

Quote:
Having it just be a free for all is asking for trouble. I mean, if you're wanting to avoid all of these problems (building too close together, overcrowding, etc)... Then you need some sort of control.


Yup, which is why I suggested money, time, effort, and upkeep as being the methods of control. I will also add decay rate to the control methods. Adjusting these factors will provide excellent coarse grained control over how many things get built.

Increase the time it takes to build things and less things will get built, increase the active effort it takes to build things and less things will get built. Increase the money it cost to build things and less things will get built. Increase the upkeep cost in terms of these three things and more buildings will erode to dust and dissapear. Increase the decay rate and houses will dissapear more quickly.

This even provides control over what kinds of players can do the building. Want to discourage lazy/not very active players? Increase the active effort it takes to build things. Wanna discourage newbies from building? Increase the money it takes to build things. Wanna discourage impatient players? Increase the time it takes to build things. Still too many buildings? Increase the upkeep costs in terms of time money and effort and the decay rates of buildings. Increase all of these nerfs to building possibilities enough and you will have 0 buildings.

Some areas are too popular? Increase these things in a RP consistent way in these areas. Increase decay rate in forests. Increase effort in rocky areas. Increase time taken in plains, etc, etc, etc.

So you have in effect FULL control over how much building goes on without artificial rules that the OP wants to avoid. I have proposed a very natural and effective solution.

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Original post by yapposai
The problem I have with upkeep or mobs roaming around is that really powerful players can exploit the mobs attacking more and more to gain exp or maybe annoy the lower level people by buying massive lands/buildings forcing mobs to attack the area.


How is it a bad thing to have powerful players attack the powerful mobs that spawn in a region? To me this is a good thing.

As for exploiting it, well like I suggested the newest settlements are targeted first. Meaning you can't go into a region to grief people by building up the region as your new structures would be hit the hardest.

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