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IonitaDaniel

Lovecraft universe - PBBG Co-op

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Primary Intention

I have a game idea I want to see take life. I've always had a passion for games and for the Lovecraft universe. I want to form a team able to put together this game. I do not know the proper steps to creating a game so I'm posting here in hopes of getting an idea of how I might proceed and also to get some feedback on my idea.

Game specifications


Engine: Browser game
Genre: Horror RPG Co-op Multiplayer, Lovecraft universe.
Number of player: 20-40 per server/town (debatable)
Game time: 10-30 days. (debatable)
Sources of inspiration: Arkham Horror (The board game), die2nite (browser game).

Basic Description (atmosphere)


The game takes place in the Lovecraft universe. I want to create an atmosphere of horror, uncertainty and insanity. The players are investigators working together in the town of Arkham trying to stop one of the evil gods (deep ones, outer gods etc) from awakening, from conquering the world, from destroying the world etc. I want misfortune, death, insanity and injury to be something normal implemented in the game mechanics.

Basic mechanics

The investigators are supposed to communicate and put together resources through the guild they have formed in the town of Arkham, in order to face certain challenges in closing down gates and stopping the ancient one from awakening.

During the day the investigators may spend either action points and/or real time to solve mysteries or take actions in various locations in Arkham. Time spent idle is transformed into action points that can be used at will, but if the time is spent participating to an action, event or mystery it is more valuable. Some events or mysteries or monsters that appear will require more tan one player to solve.

At midnight the forces of evil move, monsters attack players trapped in their location, unstable locations spawn monsters, gates open and horrible things happen. Investigators who are not in a safe location when this happens will suffer for it.

Win condition: Accumulate elder signs and elder seals enough to defeat/seal the evil god away. Or defeat the ancient one in direct combat (very hard to accomplish).

Lose condition: Get defeated by the ancient one in the final combat. Failures in events and mysteries accelerate the awakening of the ancient one.

Other features:

Re-playability:
The re-playability should be ensured by massive content from the Lovecraft universe, by a variety of items, monsters, situations and by the ancient one who changes the game mechanics of each town/server the players enter.

Weather and events: The game should have weather and event mechanics that change the strategy players should consider each day.

Characters: Each character/class will have a unique set of skills and abilities which should differentiate them in game-play from other characters. I'm also thinking character customization/ customized classes.

Arkham guild: Arkham guild is the community of players from one town, resources can be put together in a bank, upgrades/building could be bought/used (determined by democratic vote), player might pick up here what they need to investigate particular locations. I'm also thinking of implementing a leadership hierarchy that can also be determined through votes in order to give players more control over who may take what from the bank.

Pay per month accounts: These accounts will be the finacing source of the game, they will have special privileges, extra costumizability to characters, special game classes, ability to carry an item(or two) from one town to the next, some special abilities. They will not be overpowered, they will still be susceptible to game atmosphere (death, injury and insanity).

This is just the basic idea, i have a lot more in mind, everything is generally opened to change and debate. I haven't started to put anything down on paper yet, but I will if i somehow manage to get into a dedicated team.

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A few things:

This does sound like a fun game idea. I have enjoyed other Lovecraft themed games I have played. That said, yours is definitely infringing on copyrights. To do a Lovecraft game, you need permission from whoever holds the rights at present, and those are expensive/hard to get for a team that is not established. There's no reason that you can't make a game with all the features that you want, but you are not going to be able to use any Lovecraft settings or characters.

Part two: the team. Do you have any practical skills in programming or game development (art, music, writing, etc.) that you can bring to the table? If all you have is the idea, you will have a hard time assembling a team of people at all, and people that you do get are likely to be relatively low-skilled or otherwise unreliable. The reason is that ideas are quite common, and making them into a game is time consuming and difficult. If all you have to offer your team is your idea, you will not have much to do while everyone else does all of the work. You can still form a team this way, but you'll need to offer money upfront-- and making games isn't cheap. Offering profit shares is virtually guaranteed not to work, particularly if you are offering ideas only, so if that's your plan I would focus your efforts elsewhere.

If you do have a skill to offer in the game production process, you will have a slightly easier time (depending on the skill). Getting as much of the game done as you can will make your project more attractive to others, and more likely to join up. Certainly getting the core programming done will be a bigger help in this than just writing out character class designs or drawing concept art, but anything you can do will be better than nothing. You can post your project in the help wanted section

Part three: game-making steps. Writing a design document (all the mechanics of the game, how they work, and how they interact with other elements) is very important for a game of any real scope. If you don't have much programming or design experience, be ready to alter that document quite a bit as it will be hard to tell what is feasible and what is not at first. If you can program, find an engine that looks like it will do some of what you want and can build the game around, code up some prototype features. If you're more on the art side, you can draw concept sketches, write out plot samples, etc. More than this is going to be premature until you have a team, and you won't have a team without this (unless you've got a lot of money).

So to recap: find a way to use your mechanics outside of the Lovecraft universe. Get as much of the game laid out as you can (design document at a minimum, prototypes if possible) to attract people to your team. It'll take some skilled people to make an online MMO-type game (even a browser game), so you'll need to offer something to get them really excited to work for free. Alternately, raise a lot of money. And finally, post in the help wanted forum to start looking for people (there are other sources online too, but they skew much more to the paid-in-cash-only side of things).

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I thought that the copy rights for Cthulhu Mythos expired a few years ago (2007 - 70 years after the author died), if this is not true than this cannot work, I'm motivated by my passion for the Lovecraft universe.

If i can indeed use any elements from the Cthulhu Mythos, getting a team together will probably be the biggest challenge. As for skills on my own i intend to participate in writing content, i also understand programming and I have a pretty good idea of what is feasible and what is not, I can also draw visual schemes in order to help with programming. I will also put down most of the game mechanics and reinvent them if they are not feasible with programming.

Thank you very much for the feedback, very useful , indeed I have thought of starting this in the wrong way.

On a side note, if i put my semi-complete idea down in a forum, say I have worked really hard on it, game mechanics and all. How do I know that it won't just get taken and used by someone else ?

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You can't guarantee your ideas will not get stolen. However, coming up with ideas is easy and everyone has their idea of a good game. To steal an idea means you're willing to invest hundreds of hours developing an idea you randomly found on a forum over one of your own ideas. Unless someone is completely uncreative, nobody will steal it. If they do, they will still have to fill the gaps and polish the thing which will be very hard since they did not come up with the original idea.

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Tiblanc summed it up well. There are also a few articles around explaining the whole idea. Although they often come across as trying to be "edgy" by slamming on people's ideas they bring up some noteworthy points. Code or art assets could be stolen but it's very very rare for whole game ideas to be stolen, let alone be recognizable on release. The game design document is also still "alive" throughout the creation of the game so by the end anything you would post here will only represent a maximum of say 50% of the final game.

The copy right issue will change from country to country. There's a problem that A it might be CR'd in one country meaning you can't legally release it there and B even if there's no CR you open yourself up to easy competition.

The game idea itself is ok. My first thought was to get rid of the MMO tag. It will put more people off making the game at the moment and to be honest it doesn't quite fit the style of game your making. It's a tag word at the moment really and will only mislead people about the game. My advice would be to call it a multiplayer co-op game or a PBBG (persistent browser based game) at the moment.

Watch out for the payment systems and the benefits they give, it's very easy for a system such as that to be "broken" and turn players off. I would personally just go for a pay X to play the game at the moment especially if you have no experience in marketing and sales.

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I thought that the copy rights for Cthulhu Mythos expired a few years ago (2007 - 70 years after the author died), if this is not true than this cannot work, I'm motivated by my passion for the Lovecraft universe.

If i can indeed use any elements from the Cthulhu Mythos, getting a team together will probably be the biggest challenge. As for skills on my own i intend to participate in writing content, i also understand programming and I have a pretty good idea of what is feasible and what is not, I can also draw visual schemes in order to help with programming. I will also put down most of the game mechanics and reinvent them if they are not feasible with programming.

Thank you very much for the feedback, very useful , indeed I have thought of starting this in the wrong way.

On a side note, if i put my semi-complete idea down in a forum, say I have worked really hard on it, game mechanics and all. How do I know that it won't just get taken and used by someone else ?


Copyright law is complicated, particularly for works copyrighted before 1978 (I think that's the big year). Even if the initial copyright would have expired by now in the US, that doesn't mean that it couldn't have been renewed by another group, which would seem likely given the businesses that have Cthulhu mythos products out there have money on the line. And even if you are technically in the clear you don't want to get slammed by Bethesda for being too similar to Dark Corners of the Earth. But random people on a forum aren't a reliable source for this. If you're serious about only progressing with the actual Cthulhu characters and settings, check with a lawyer before you do anything. You don't want to have a Nosferatu situation on your hands.

However, given the pervasive atmosphere of mystery and the unknown (not to mention unknowable) in Lovecraft's works, I think that you can capture everything that's great about them even without the actual Cthulhus and Shoggoths. The color in the Color out of Space isn't what makes it great, it's the atmosphere and the creeping sense of dread. Cthulhu, for all his fame as Lovecraft's best known character, is barely in the stories. In all honesty there might not be enough content to fuel a persistent game in Lovecraft alone, meaning you would need to create new stuff too. Why not just go straight to the new stuff? Mood, while the hardest part of Lovecraft to imitate, is also the only part that made his stuff as great as it is.

As for posting your ideas, the people above me are right. Theft is not a realistic concern with video game concepts and designs from an indie team. Big studios would almost certainly not do it, and other indie teams aren't much more likely, and those teams are even less likely to produce and release the game. Additionally, you probably won't be posting your whole design document online. The stuff that you would be posting, like sketches, outlines, and demos, are far harder to just take and use in a different project. For now I would focus on getting bare-bones prototypes of core game features together, and then coding yourself/hiring a coder to get them running on a computer. That's something you can work on now, and will be far more likely to attract a decent team than a design document alone.

And I 100% agree with Bigdeadbug-- lose the MMO bit. That will only scream to potential team members that the project will never happen and doesn't appear to be your intent anyways.

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I had no idea people had so much aversion towards the word MMO. :lol:


It's more about being realistic in the design of the game. Putting MMO in it shows that you probably aren't being realistic.

This sums it up pretty well (from the "Going to post your game idea? Read this first" thread):

1. Don’t post your new game idea if it is a MMORPG, unless your idea is purely theoretical, in which case it should be made abundantly clear at the very start.
The reason being unless you are a millionaire or in charge of a very large gaming company, you are NOT going to make that game without massive funding. Even if you are very passionate about your idea, no one will take you seriously until you have proof you have the hardware to make it happen. No matter how good your idea is, no-one will take you seriously, and you wont gain respect.[/quote]

It doesn't matter too much here but if you ever post it on the Help Wanted section or any other site it could make the difference between you getting a team and you not.




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This sums it up pretty well (from the "Going to post your game idea? Read this first" thread):

1. Don’t post your new game idea if it is a MMORPG, unless your idea is purely theoretical, in which case it should be made abundantly clear at the very start.
The reason being unless you are a millionaire or in charge of a very large gaming company, you are NOT going to make that game without massive funding. Even if you are very passionate about your idea, no one will take you seriously until you have proof you have the hardware to make it happen. No matter how good your idea is, no-one will take you seriously, and you wont gain respect.


It doesn't matter too much here but if you ever post it on the Help Wanted section or any other site it could make the difference between you getting a team and you not.
[/quote]

Plus, shows how much you pay attention to FAQs/Pinned Topics :)

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