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jefferytitan

Sci-fi Planetary Exploration

8 posts in this topic

Hi people, please suppress your groans over another MMO idea, this is totally speculative.


The idea:

Think of the frontier lifestyle applied to colonists exploring an alien planet. Initially danger, limited resources, exploration, new and old hazards. Followed by claim staking, riches, lawlessness, and finally governance. The corporation funding the mission only offers you better gear if you make it worth their while by finding resources, curios for the folks back home, do agriculture, make important archaeological discoveries or create a tourist industry.

There would be room for prospectors, farmers, thieves, lawmen, politicians, businessmen, researchers and hunters of the various critters on the planet.

Certain things could only be achieved by people uniting together, such as getting together money and resources to make terraforming equipment. There would be politicking both on-planet and between the planet and earth. And some mysteries about both the planet and what's going on back home, due to the colony's limited ability to get technology and information.


I have three questions that I'm hoping to get answered:

1. Does it sound like an idea that players would buy into?
2. Is there already something in that space? I did a little research, but most space-based MMOs I found focused on battles, hopping between planets and hostile aliens.
3. Are players likely to buy into an MMO which isn't very quest-based, and primarily focuses on PVE rather than PVP?

Thanks in advance!
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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1327969838' post='4907824']
1. Does it sound like an idea that players would buy into?
[/quote]
The basic concept sounds interesting to me -- from other things you've mentioned it sounds like you're specifically thinking of an MMO[i]RPG[/i] (not[i] all [/i]MMO games have to be role-playing!), but to me the concept sounds much more suited to a city-builder/manager type game similar to Sim City or the various "Tycoon" style games. Rather than playing the role of a single character the player could control a settlement, controlling a collection of characters with varying capabilities and trying to pursue one or more of the goals you outlined by creating a township which meets certain needs. You could then trade with, steal from, or attack neighbouring settlements, or perhaps even set up symbiotic relationships where each settlement's features and capabilities help the other to achieve individual goals.

While I'm sure a more role-playing style game would also work, things like "creating a tourist industry" seem very unusual for that type of game-play, and strike me as something that could be tricky to implement in a way that will engage and entertain players.

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1327969838' post='4907824']
2. Is there already something in that space? I did a little research, but most space-based MMOs I found focused on battles, hopping between planets and hostile aliens.
[/quote]
I'm not familiar with any role-playing style MMOs that feature much of what you describe in more than a trivial 'tacked-on' sort of way, but if my suggestion of a sim/management style game interests you at all you could take a look at some of the popular Facebook games such as Farmville or Cityville, which are very much a simplified (but still reasonably complex and technically impressive) version of what I was picturing when reading through your original post.

Oh, and don't get too caught up with your setting/world/background if you're researching for similar games -- while the space setting is a good one for this, there would be no real tangible changes needed to make exactly the same game with a "western" (i.e. cowboys and indians) style setting or I'm sure any of a great number of other settings.

[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1327969838' post='4907824']
3. Are players likely to buy into an MMO which isn't very quest-based, and primarily focuses on PVE rather than PVP?
[/quote]
Probably not the [i]same[/i] players who tend to prefer standard MMORPG titles, but there may be a separate market for the type of game you're describing. Depending on how the idea turns out it might also appeal to fans of adventure games, sim/management style games, and even those who enjoy interactive fiction. Really, it would depend on the implementation as well as how well you were able to advertise and hook people in.


Hope that's helpful! [img]http://public.gamedev.net//public/style_emoticons/default/smile.png[/img]
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Thanks for the reply. It probably is closer to MMORPG in technical parlance, but I felt a little uncomfortable calling it that because I don't like the aspect in traditional RPGs where people level up their powers until they have well-nigh godlike abilities. I think perhaps one root of the idea was when I pondered what it would be like to be a regular person living in Megaton in Fallout 3. Obviously I'm aiming at grittier, spacier and non-50s, but you know... ;) Another root is the knife edge of danger and opportunity that prospectors and frontier people had to live with in the Wild West. You may be right about tourists. That doesn't fit so well, it was more of a brainstorming thing.

I do appreciate what you mean about certain aspects of the game being window-dressing. It's just a particular angle that inspires me story-wise, despite my lazy slung-together post hardly showing myself much of a wordsmith. ;)

I think you may well be right about the potential audience. Some people like grinding to get to level 99. I'm just not one of them.... any more. ;) In a way it's a reaction to the farming and instancing which irks me so much about WoW and similar games.
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You might want to google The Repopulation.
Its basically very very similar to what you described.
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[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1328026299' post='4908043']
You might want to google The Repopulation.
Its basically very very similar to what you described.
[/quote]

Thanks for pointing that one out. I still feel that the concepts differ, but I can see that it would be very difficult to convince anyone else of that in a 2 minute pitch.
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[quote name='jefferytitan' timestamp='1328048643' post='4908182']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1328026299' post='4908043']
You might want to google The Repopulation.
Its basically very very similar to what you described.
[/quote]

Thanks for pointing that one out. I still feel that the concepts differ, but I can see that it would be very difficult to convince anyone else of that in a 2 minute pitch.
[/quote]

I was just suggesting that you see how they did some of the things you want to do.
You have some different mechanics with corporations and stuff.
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I'm wondering if this actually needs the "massive" aspect? I also like to occasionally think how a scenario similar to the Mars trilogy (mostly red mars in this context) could be made into a game. I think it would be entirely reasonable to just have a "large enough" group of friends. Basically similar to how people run minecraft server without minecraft being an MMO.
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[quote name='japro' timestamp='1328056344' post='4908214']
I'm wondering if this actually needs the "massive" aspect? I also like to occasionally think how a scenario similar to the Mars trilogy (mostly red mars in this context) could be made into a game. I think it would be entirely reasonable to just have a "large enough" group of friends. Basically similar to how people run minecraft server without minecraft being an MMO.
[/quote]

You have a good point. I actually feel the gameplay may suffer with more than about 50 players, unless there was a mechanism to force new settlements be split off. The problem is that I had various world events in mind, which would either mean people on different servers can read a walkthrough that destroys the mystery for them, or that excessive server management would be required for people to have varying experiences. Perhaps the events on the servers are procedural around a theme? Tricky.
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Can't say how to use it but the game Space Colony was an interesting one along the lines of what you are talking about. Single player so it would have to be adjusted for multiple players but I liked a lot of the way the colony was built in that game.
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