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Acharis

Medieval MMO, thouble with lack of things to do

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Medieval browser MMO with historical kingdoms, the player become a citizen of one of these, along with other players. All roles are played by real players (from a peasant to the king). Sandbox style game. It is NOT WARGAME, while players can fight as groups in kingdom wars there is no raiding other players OF ANY KIND (no farming nobs possible at all). Also players do not have armies, they always are individual warriors that fight in battles of their kingdom (or not).

http://www.europe1300.eu (playable)

Related topic: http://www.gamedev.net/topic/610162-medieval-mmo-stuck-in-design/


What works well

Economy
There is stamina that replenish over time, it works as action points. You use it to gather resources (wood, clay, stone, etc) to work on fields (various crops and livestock) and to craft things (one need to decide what kind of workshop he/she runs). Then these goods can be sold on the market (the market works much better than I would imagine, proper supply/demand and while the player can speculate a bit it is not gamebreaking for sure) for gold. These goods are either bought by other players or by NPCs (consumption).

That part is quite good, but it's not enough. There is not enough to do. Also, it feels artificial because the player does not need any resources for himself (just a few building materials to increase their estate, halfproducts for their workshops and gold).


What works less

Social standing and politics
It's hard to tell how good that part is beacause ther is just a few testers, but I think it's decent. You have influence (from estates/level/etc), it determine your voting power. Then there is election of a king (and please, don't tell me it was not like that in medieval times, because there were countries with elected kings back then and in almost all other the nobles were the real power that had a lot to say who is to become a king). It's not democratic, the more powerful players have unproportional number of votes (so the real choice is made by top nobles in a kingdom while peasants input is minimal). Then the king can distribute offices (most likely to those who supported him) and wage wars with other kingdoms.

Wars
A king can delare a war on another kingdom, then start a battle. All players (citizens of a kingdom) can go to the battlefield and fight. The is no such thing as a kingdom army, the king need to relay only on individual players. If the lowest rank players do not like their king they might not want to fight and the king can do nothing about it.
The sucessful battle determines the prestige of a kingdom (based on difference between the kingdoms, attacking much weaker ones yelds nothing). Also a bit of gold form the kingdom treasury (not player's personal purse!) can go to the victor. A kingdom can never be conquered not lose any territory. That part is not working too well...


Planned stuff (no clue if it will work)

City communal buildings
Each player is a citizen of a certain kingdoms (some kingdoms have just one city, but usually around 3). Each city has a mayor (office granted by the king) who can start constructing buildings (town hall, church, port, arsenal, city walls). Once a construction is started it woudl display a list of needs and indiviudal players would donate these. Those who donated these would get reputation points which gives influence bonus.

Religion
Players can take certain clergy roles (both commoners: nun, monk, priest and nobles: abbot, bishop, archbishop). All clergy from all kingdoms can vote on Cardinals (only a noble clergy can become a cardinal). There would be like 5 cardinals total (everywhere, not per kingdom), then cardinals elect the Pope (that player has to reside on Papal States kingdom, as its ruler). Papal States is a special kingdom, it can not wage wars and no one can attack it. The Pope have certain power over kingdoms (can excomunicate a ruler, give a blessing) and can build monastyrs anywhere (the only building that is not erected by city mayors).


My problems and questions
Well, the premise is nice, thematicaly it's very good, also the economy part is working. Surprisingly the social hierarchy is balanced (the king of France abdicated and became a peasant moving to Kingdom of Norway saying "it is too much of a hassle to be a ruler"! I was shocked biggrin.png), the low rank role players do not feel as underdogs (and to my surprise not everyone wants to be a king, there are merchants, craftsmen, etc, even though the king slots are sometimes not fully occupied smile.png). But overall the game is lacking. There is not much to do for individual players (non kings). Everytime I try to expand I struggle because there is simply not enough varibles to work with (you have stamina which you exchange to goods, the goods sold for gold, then gold can be exchanged to influence and influence means political power). Something is seriously missing there...

Edited by Acharis

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Have you played puzzle pirates?  They have minigames which are pirate chores and also craftsmen working in shops, including blacksmith, shipright, rum brewer, weaver, alchemy, etc.  You could have minigames for baker, wood cutter, horse trainer, jousting, archery...

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Hmm, from what I remember of your previous posts for this game it sounds pretty true to your original design. I also recall that you were pretty opposed to changing your design at all. Is that still the case? I'm asking because adding in new features might have an outsized impact existing ones.

With that in mind, how much are you willing to let commoners do? They may need more ability to impact city policies, or to interact with other players beyond trading. The game might change a lot of the peasantry matters for more than toil.

As you're describing it, the game for commoners sounds a lot like a casual RPG, the kind with action points that regenerate every hour or day. There's generally not a lot of depth to those games, but they can still be fun and many are popular. Would you be OK with commoners have a very different interaction with the game than noble players?

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Have you played puzzle pirates? They have minigames which are pirate chores and also craftsmen working in shops, including blacksmith, shipright, rum brewer, weaver, alchemy, etc. You could have minigames for baker, wood cutter, horse trainer, jousting, archery...
Yes. But I can't make minigames for economy activities for numerous reason. For one puzzle pirates is for kids and teenagers while my game is mostly for adults, they don't have that much free time. Also, I don't think it feels within the mood to have as the king the person who is the best at puzzles... Also, making puzzles (or arcade) is not my strong point as a designer and only these genres could be made into minigames. And the list can go on and go on :)

But the minigames idea made me realize I could make a separate game inside the game. A paralell game activity loselly connected with the main game. Like adventures (you go to forest and meet bandits, or go to palace and have court intrigues adventures). Yeah, I know, it's not ideal and have flaws, but I'm making a game where player's rank range from peasant to king, such game simply can't be made without flaws... Hmmm.
Hmm, from what I remember of your previous posts for this game it sounds pretty true to your original design. I also recall that you were pretty opposed to changing your design at all. Is that still the case? I'm asking because adding in new features might have an outsized impact existing ones.

I'm more desparate then before :D I already throwed out some of the already implemented stuff.

Would you be OK with commoners have a very different interaction with the game than noble players?
Yeah... But still, the bottleneck are commoners, noblemen are easier. The key question is how to make it fun for commoners, that's the starting point.

As for lack of depth in these games, I don't know, what I know is that thare is a substancial number of players (at least 50%) who want to be normal people (merchants, craftsmen, even peasants) and I can not ignore it... Edited by Acharis

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What I meant for commoners having a different play experience is that they might have a game like Vampires Live (or any similar games), like you see for iPhone/Android. These have a play style that sounds like what commoners in your game are already doing, and they attract plenty of players. If you were to follow that pattern you wouldn't need a ton of new mechanics, and you would have a much more focused goal for creating any new content or play elements you want.

Otherwise, expanding activitites available for commoners will involve making nontrivial changes to your design. It's not a problem of not having enough variables to work with-- the variables your game uses are the ones designed to satisfy the activities you wanted to include. New activities suggest at least the possibility of needing new variables, and the list of variables that could be included in your game but currently are not is functionally infinite.

What constraints do you want in determining what these new activities are? If I suggest a magic system, that would be a new activity, but that isn't helpful if you don't want magic. What mechanics are you willing to add? Are your testers giving any suggestions on what they'd like to do? Do you have any strong feelings about what you'd like the play experience to be for commoners? Are kings generally satisfied with their play experiences, and could any similar elements be added for commoner players?

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What constraints do you want in determining what these new activities are? If I suggest a magic system, that would be a new activity, but that isn't helpful if you don't want magic. What mechanics are you willing to add? Are your testers giving any suggestions on what they'd like to do? Do you have any strong feelings about what you'd like the play experience to be for commoners? Are kings generally satisfied with their play experiences, and could any similar elements be added for commoner players?

Realism and medieval mood. Historical accuracy, within reason. That are the key points (so magic is out of the question for example). Also I'm avoiding all arcade elements (it's strictly "turn based" (althrough there are no turns technically)), no minigames like in flashgames, nothing like Farmville (with pointless clicking things to gather bonuses), no trivial exchange of time to progress (everything or almost everything has to be limited by some sort of action points). In short it's a mix of strategy, RPG and simulation for adult players.

 

As for testers I tormented them so much with my questions I don't dare to ask more :)

As for kings, the main difference (when we talk about already implemented features only and not planned) is the ability to start wars with other kingdoms. Nothing really to steal from.

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<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="Acharis" data-cid="5014194" data-time="1356459730"><p>
<blockquote class='ipsBlockquote'data-author="Khaiy" data-cid="5014183" data-time="1356456012"><p>What constraints do you want in determining what these new activities are? If I suggest a magic system, that would be a new activity, but that isn't helpful if you don't want magic. What mechanics are you willing to add? Are your testers giving any suggestions on what they'd like to do? Do you have any strong feelings about what you'd like the play experience to be for commoners? Are kings generally satisfied with their play experiences, and could any similar elements be added for commoner players?</p></blockquote>
Realism and medieval mood. Historical accuracy, within reason. That are the key points (so magic is out of the question for example). Also I'm avoiding all arcade elements (it's strictly "turn based" (althrough there are no turns technically)), no minigames like in flashgames, nothing like Farmville (with pointless clicking things to gather bonuses), no trivial exchange of time to progress (everything or almost everything has to be limited by some sort of action points). In short it's a mix of strategy, RPG and simulation for adult players.<br />
<br />
As for testers I tormented them so much with my questions I don't dare to ask more :)<br />
As for kings, the main difference (when we talk about already implemented features only and not planned) is the ability to start wars with other kingdoms. Nothing really to steal from.</p></blockquote>

If realism and medieval mood are the driving concerns, then the game for commoners may be complete. Toil at repetitive tasks for little reward until stamina gives out sounds like peasant life to me. Adding more for them to do will break from realism, at which point it's a question of how much un-realism you're willing to accept. As I said before, the play features for commoners sound a lot like many self-contained games that already exist. So the issue might be that that game style isn't one that your testers happen to like, or that the platform isn't ideal, or that the interface suggests a different play style than the design delivers.

I can imagine an expansion of your current game in which commoners do things like kings do, but on a much smaller scale; things like stealing from or attacking other players, inter-guild and inter-village feuds, etc. I can also imagine ongoing competition for social positions, like you already have for nobles and clergy, available to all players but with reduced or very different bonuses for commoners. This could be done with the same stamina investment per action that you already have.

But again, you may have reached the point for this concept at which you need to start giving a bit on the realism front to provide depth and choices for players. I think that this would be worth asking your testers about, regardless of anything else you've asked them. If they find their play experience lacking, asking them what they'd like seems to me to be the most important first step in giving it to them.

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I can imagine an expansion of your current game in which commoners do things like kings do, but on a much smaller scale;

There is not much to do for kings either. Again, there is nothing to steal from.

 

I think that this would be worth asking your testers about, regardless of anything else you've asked them. If they find their play experience lacking, asking them what they'd like seems to me to be the most important first step in giving it to them.

No, they can't answer this. This is a high level problem that can be solved by designers only. Which they say plainly to me already :) Testers can give feedback how to tweak things, but there is not enough to tweak. The game lacks a huge part of gameplay :)

 

Normally, I would scrap such project but there are too many things that works excellent there. I keep hearing over and over again what great potencial this game has. But potential means nothing if I can't finish it :) And to finish it I need more activities. And I'm not able to derive any more activities form the current mechanics of the game :)

 

I need a completely new mechanic for that game, unless one of you is a genius that can derive/enchance one of the existing ones to provide sufficient time consumption :)

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In short it's a mix of strategy, RPG and simulation for adult players.

I don't think it's true that adults don't have much time; people who play games play them to spend time being entertained.  Also, other genres can work as minigames, though they are less common.  But you want more things to do in the game, so let's start from this quote.  If the game is strategy, rpg, and sim, there should be strategy things to do, rpg things to do, and/or sim things to do in the game.  Let's make a list - what are typical things to do in each of these genres?  Strategy is mainly resource gathering, building units and buildings, worker placement, exploring/capturing territory, upgrading/unlocking more of the tech tree, and combat.  RPG is mainly spending stat points, upgrading weapons/armor, combat, and quests, plus the occasional puzzle or dialogue puzzle or minigame.  Sim is mainly producing items (by growing plants, breeding animals, or crafting), selling these items, spending the money on upkeep and upgrades, and expanding one's property/production capacity.  So, you should add something from this list to your game, because these are the only activities appropriate to your three genres (unless I forgot some ;) ).

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A few ideas to make social part of the game more interesting.

 

1. Introduce Kingdom goals. Kingdom goals are set by the King of a Kingdom, this goals can be predefined  (e.g. accumulate 5 million gold or constructing some kind of monument), basically something that requires a certain level of unity within a Kingdom to accomplish.

 

2. Accomplishing the Kingdom goal translates to huge rewards to the King. The King will also be able to dispense/share the rewards with his subjects once the goal is reached.

 

3. Give the King some form of power over his subjects, nothing permanent but definitely felt by whoever is being punished. This allows the King to "unite" his subjects to accomplish the goal he has set. Of course doing so may actually "unite" players against a tyrannic King. This makes playing as a King a balance between carrot and stick to gather support for his goal.

 

4. If a subject has enough power (influence?) in game, he may lessen the punishment a King may be able to place on him. Realistic to a certain level as it is easier to punish a commoner compared to a powerful Duke. 

 

5. After winning a war, if the winner is the attacker, the attacking King may delay the losing Kingdom's Kingdom goal in some form.

 

Basically I think adding some form of goal be it long or short term and more interaction between players will improve the social component of the game.. who knows you may end up having some disgruntled subject/faction working with another Kingdom to sabotage his own King's Kingdom Goal. biggrin.png

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 In short it's a mix of strategy, RPG and simulation for adult players.

 

I am not sure what you mean by "for adult players". What features of your game makes it more suitable for adult?

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 In short it's a mix of strategy, RPG and simulation for adult players.

 

I am not sure what you mean by "for adult players". What features of your game makes it more suitable for adult?

It means kids are not allowed to swear (in the in game communication channels) and horny teenagers are not allowed to post links to porn sites :)

Also, the game play intensity is acceptable for someone who work long hours and come back home and launch computer to relax. Also there are relatively big letters because the player is assumed to have poor eyesight and there are no fast moving objects on the screen :)

The game is also playable to all ages at least to some degree (I have families like mothers playing with their kids and other huge age disparity cases).

 

Anyway, there is not much to read into that statement. It's familiy friendly, adult friendly and easy enough for a not too bright kid to play it at the basic level at least.

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Also, the game play intensity is acceptable for someone who work long hours and come back home and launch computer to relax.

Do you mind elaborating? E.g. examples of games with play intensity that is not acceptable, or how you have gone out of your way to make it acceptable?

I always thought most games are acceptable for the working class. All the major titles allow the players to jump in and play whenever they have time, and allow them to play as much or as little as they want during each session.

There is one type of game that are quite unsuitable: Those that forces you to log in everyday to spend "turns/energy".

The problem with those games is that you can't be casual. You're forced to commit to logging in everyday for 10-30 minutes to spend your turns. When was the last time we manage to commit to anything (exercise, practice, housework etc) with such regularity?

Also, people who work long hours tend to need rest/sleep, time with family, or simply have no time during the weekdays after work. They might have a few hours during the weekend to play some games but then they'll feel bad losing a week of turns (usually only allowed to store 1-2 days worth of turns). After 10-30 minutes of playing, they can't continue playing anymore, so they have to find other games.

IMHO unless they allow players to store 3 weeks worth of turns (offices often go into "crunch time" where you have to work non-stop for weeks without much breaks), people with long working hours will not be able to play the game properly, or even catch up to their peers who managed to play everyday. Edited by Legendre

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Is the intent to have gameplay that is historically accurate?

 

Not exactly. It's a game first, it has to be fun first. Still, I want to save as much realism (more in terms of the medeival mood, not the exact letter) as possible.

 

 

Do you mind elaborating?

Sorry, but I don't want this topic to go off topic :) The question is how to make more things to do in the game, how to make it fun and how to make the game finished and ready for release. I need to focus on this and the rest is a minor detail :)

 

 

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I got a bit more desparate, willing to do more crazy changes if needed :)

 

 

I was thinking and maybe I diagnosed the problem wrongly. The problem with this project might be the lack/weak of player's progression. I have a tendency to make elegant and longlasting games, and I was worried what will happen after X years of playing, what will get broken then what will be boring then. The longlasting fix is making slow progression :) But then, it makes no/slow progression at the beginning and maybe too boring game at the beginning :) So I wonder, maybe I should dump the longevity and assume a player plays it for one year and all (content and mechanics) is balanced to last for one year and then it gets more or less stagnant?

 

For example, now you almost can't increase your rate income (daily). You have skills that let you produce more, but you can max out these quickly and they increas a small bit (up to +30%). It's nice for balancing since everyone is assured around the same income (2-6 gold coins per 1 point of stamina used, depending on player's skills and brains and dedication) but...

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The problem your having is your controlling the element of gameplay to much.

 

War, unfortunatly is something that players love to do. The reason being is competition. Mind you not everyone wants to do it, but there is 0 competition in your game right now. You need some element that keeps everything at bay, keeps you holding onto the game, keeps you coming back for more. Right now as it seems, what you do in the game is...well nothing. There is no penalty for not doing anything and no penalty for just doing things. The progressional chain that you have reeps no rewards towards a show off system.

 

You could add some way to make it so you earn items, collectibles etc that give an advantage. Or hold a social aspect of voting for best town, house, farm something. What you need is a socially driven magnet on making someone better than the joneses. Or add in PVP and allow people to kill eachother off. That will form alliances, guilds. Maybe accelerate your time a little, you said you wanted it close to historically accurate right? Why not have contributions towards a war that happened, have people make blackmsiths, do missions making weapons etc. You can have alliances that attempt to make more resources for the war.

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This game reminds me of the minecraft sever Kingdoms at war. You can choose a country and fight for it and declare wars. When you said about having minigames its reminds me of how when you declare wars on the server, there are seperate maps called battle fields where the players can fight. So I suggest that when a country is at war with another, there should be a seperate map where thebattle take place. Also instead of religions they should be called professions or classes, because an aristocrat doesnt have to be religious. You should also have a sense of trade and commerce for the countries, as well as alliances between them. Also each country should have a special economy, for example, Country X is an agricultural based country while country Y is a manufactoring country. While at war, the player shouldnt be allowed to enter the oposing country. Also there should be clans or political parties, such as the Republicans or Democrats who compete to rule the country. The clan with the most members gets to rule the country for a certain period of time. This political system is similar to the one of the united states. And as other people have said, there is no goal in the game. I suggest to make the game better, to add a goal. Try something like to gain enough money or members to start a clan so you can get control over the country. If this sounds to advance for your skill, make a more simple mmo like WoW or runescape. Please reply if my suggestions sounds ambiguous or to vauge. Thanks for your time.

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Please dont tell me my clans idea is not the old style. The clan idea gives every player a chance to take part in polotics, and the election of a king in a game would make no sense. In clans, there would be a king, but the decisions of war should be passed to the congree. The king cannot vote in congress, but has the ability to choose if the vote in congreas is tied.

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Hmmm, so you think the lack of goal is the core of the problem as well... Therefore, if I add minigames there it would not solve the problem, it would add things to do, but not a real goal to strive for...

 

This brings me to an important question, can that goal be only from competition or maybe from cooperation as well (I'm asking in practical sense, I know we can theoretise and prove it can be done both ways, but I'm asking more if it mmakes sense and if it makes sense for this game)?

 

My original way of thinking when I was designing this game (I wonder if it's not all wrong... PLEASE COMMENT on this):

The core is a medieval world with predefined historical kingdoms, the players would join a kingdom (most likely their real nation) and then cooperate together (more or less) to make their kingdom "the best" (by constructing shared public building and participating in wars of their kingdom). Also they would have individual assets (the whole economy/production thing). The game is everlasting (no resets), all positions/roles are filled by real players (from the king to a peasant).

I discarded most of the individual competition because of the everlasting nature of the game (those who start early would be on the top forever, which is not that bad in case of cooperative game but much worse in case of a competitive game) and tried to fill it with prestige only competition and cooperation (noty sure if it can work through).

 

Note: if you see something wrong with my way of thinking/approach please say so, I have incredibly thick skin, you won't offend me. I desperately need to know what is wrong with this game and I would gladly sacriface my ego to make this game finished if needed :)

 

Please reply if my suggestions sounds ambiguous or to vauge.

No, no, it's all right. I mostly need a general direction right now, not details. So vague is OK at this stage.

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For cooperative elements you might consider looking at A Tale in the Desert, which has a collaborative setup for players and little if any competitive aspects.

As you've laid it out, you want a continuous server for all players as they contribute bit by bit to the glory of their kingdom. In this case the goal isn't players developing their characters but each one finding a way to add something to everyone else's work. Players would probably need some way to distinguish their own contributions from those of others, but most of the focus on the works they build together.

If this is a decent read of your intent, then you need to design kingdom-level works for players to work on. It's all well and good for players to make bricks or do whatever else they do in exchange for payment, but what are the bricks for? Or the payment, for that matter? But if one section of the kingdom is building a cathedral that needs 10,000 bricks, every stamina point that brickmakers invest has purpose and works towards a specific goal. And if that same cathedral needs 20,000 units of labor to complete, that adds something for players not engaged in brickmaking to do. Artists can invest their labor to make the cathedral more beautiful or prestigious.

If you have a kingdom-level goal structure, that opens up lots of possibilities for players. Kings can decide which projects the kingdom should undertake, and allocate money for paying workers or buying materials. Religious leaders and their groups can try to get their favored projects built. Individual players can produce wares in hopes that someone will buy them, contribute to a specific project, or lobby the king to build something that uses what they produce. Maybe as players amass wealth they can afford to build their own things, for their own purposes.

Individual assets might no be very important. What would they do? War without conquest or loot sounds similarly unimportant. And while you can keep "medieval mood", historical realism may not be doable.

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If this is a decent read of your intent,

Not exactly. Focus on cooperation was merely my *original* concept. It was more like a tool, to achieve other things (listed below), not the goal. I just thought cooperation would work best for the kind of game I was making. I'm not tied to the cooperation aspect too much.

 

The primary design objectives (I want them at all cost):

- medieval, historical theme with predefined real kingdoms (players can not create new kingdoms)

- everlasting game (no resets)

- players are citizens of a kingdom of their choice (a kingdom is shared by many players)

 

Secondary design objectives (it would hurt me to remove these but I can sacriface them if needed):

- the ruler (king) of a kingdom is one of the players

- some form of hierarchical structure within a kingdom

- keep the current market feature (since it works much better than I expected)

 

Trietriary design objectives (I find these very benefitial and appealing to some players, but I can sacriface them for a greater good)

- players can be non nobles (peasants, craftsmen, merchants) if they choose to (surprisingly, many want just that, they don't enjoy being nobles or rulers for some reason...)

 

War without conquest or loot sounds similarly unimportant.

Conquest, as for taking over cities is out of the question (the last time I checked eRepublic Poland took half of the world and was fighting rebels in their USA province :D I would like to avoid this). As for loot, at the moment there is no individual loot, but a kingdom can rob another kingdom (kingdom treasury not the citizens).

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I think that most of your design objectives could be kept with a setup like the one in my previous post. The keys are kingdom-level goals, and then ways for different players (be they kings, noblemen, craftsmen) to make distinct contributions to those goals. It may not change the things players do in-game, but the added context can supply a reason to do them, which is what it sounds like your game might lack.

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The keys are kingdom-level goals

Let's forget about everything that was said for a moment. Do you, as a player, find this kingdom oriented goal gameplay appealing? Do you find it more appealing that a goal centred around your individual assets/achievements/power?

 

Personally, the descripton of A Tale in the Desert put me off. I didn't make me want to play it...

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