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JLW

Setting information in multiplayer games.

9 posts in this topic

I'm curious as to how to convey setting information through multiplayer gameplay. The reason I ask is that one of my three larger-budget concepts (not yet uploaded) is a multiplayer science-fiction shooter RPG. (Also a vehicle sim, with a "skirmish" RTS mode. There's a lot here.) There won't be a campaign, when it starts it will only have five maps, but it still needs to get the setting across and more importantly communicate the character of each faction.

While the text descriptions and database will have plenty of information, I wholly expect most players to ignore both entirely, so this is unreliable and I need to rely on things other than text. (And ignore the idiots that judge the factions entirely on their appearance.) Part of this I know how to do through gameplay and statistics. For example, simini place a lot of importance on themselves and their safety and care nothing for other species. This is communicated by simini units and abilities having the best defensive power and restorative abilities, but simini being able to capture civilians and use them as slave labour and cannon fodder without their normally great defensive power or restorative abilities. Their bahaar servants, on the other hand, were created to exterminate the enemies of the simini, and place high value on personal power and improvisation. They are a very strongly offensive faction, with great natural power and mobility, with higher than normal low-level power and great offence and flexibility early in skirmishes, (they work best with "zerg rush" strategies) yet their gear is primitive and improvised, they progress slowly with low level caps and have lacklustre power later on in skirmishes.

What I'm looking for is more suggestions on how to convey these things through means other than text. Not just mechanics, but also aesthetics.

Edited by Jeremy Williams
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Very extensive work there, Jeremy.

 

But I think you misunderstood Cablefish a bit. It wasn't about copying some historical styles. I think he meant that you should study existing examples of alien races / human cultures that portray various aspects. Like how does one convey words like "arrogant", "noble", "pragmatic" audio-visually in general. Certain shades of colors or musical styles lead to certain assumptions by the viewer. I would have tried to answer in similar way myself, maybe we got your question wrong.

 

I'm fairly certain Cablefish didn't understand my intent, rather than me not understanding Cablefish's response. In hindsight, I probably could have worded my question better.

 

I personally find the alien races you've created a bit one-dimensional and extreme. Seems like you wanted to make all of them different from humans but they don't seem so different from each other? Cold and machine-like thinking lacking the softer side altogether.

 

No. While bahaar are unquestioningly obedient, they aren't cold or emotionless at all. They're like a dog, they jump right to master's orders without a second thought, but they do it because of their emotional attachment to their master. Simini are possibly the most emotionally-driven race present, save the andhieli which I didn't describe, which is implied by me saying they are arrogant and prone to tunnel vision. Arrogance is an irrational emotional construct, as is tunnel vision. Their extreme phobia of their ocean (and anything resembling it) is also an irrational emotional construct. The only "cold, emotionless" species would be the ferroningen, and it's an act. While ferroningen are amoral in nature, they are still emotional and simply seek to hide it and cover it up, usually holding them in until they explode. (Not literally, of course, although literal explosions may be involved if they go postal.)

 

On the other hand you didn't try to describe kokome in short summary of their ideals. Rather you write many chapters about how they have various kinds of x and y without extremities. Why is that?

 

Different context within the post.

 

Because I was starting to wonder if you can really make such a rule for the alien races consisting of billions of individuals? All kinds of humans exist and even small nations or counties aren't homogeneous in morale, social values and nature. Every day people fall victim to stereotypes and misconceptions so on the other hand I would like to see some sci-fi handle alien nations a bit more in-depth. Maybe that was your intention and it was just misrepresented due to the different motives in that post.

 

If I were to say, for instance, "men tend to be strong, women tend to be flexible", would that mean that the sexes were homogeneous in their physicality? Would it mean that men were always stronger than women, and women always more flexible then men? No. All it would mean was that men have greater strength then women on average, and women greater flexibility than men on average. Same concept here. If I say simini tend to be arrogant, does that mean all simini are? Or does it mean that, on average, simini tend to be more arrogant than the accepted baseline?

 

Well, good luck with your project anway. You've done lots of writing and you'll have immense amount of work ahead of you when you turn that novel into a game smile.png

 

"Novel?"

 

As for the game, I've got the concept up here in the game design section. It's also not the game I'm going to be working on first, it's just a creative exercise at the moment. I'm probably going to do it later on, as I don't like wasting good game ideas.

Edited by Jeremy Williams
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Maybe we both misunderstood elements of each others points. However it looks like you have a lot of lore design going for you. At least in your head you seem to know a lot about the cultures you're designing. What i failed to realize from your original post was how much the problem was communication or conveying. How to communicate the lore information from your head to the players who're going to be playing the game.

 

If i we're you, i'd start writing a library/document with information on all the species. The post you wrote as a reply to me could be a start. Something tells me you've might have already done this.

 

Why yes, that thing would be the original post that mentioned the database directly. It's not accessible during normal play, but can be found easily from the menu outside of matches and from the portable command console leaders carry and especially the stationary command console commanders work from.
 

Then i'd start organising the gameplay elements. Think a chart describing all the possible objects of impression or interaction the players will face. Will the species have special attacks or skills? Will there be loot or unique inventory items? This will enable you to start figuring out names and design for various text pieces of equipments and weapons. 

 

Simini have a variety ranging from poison claws to energy projection. (Simini are naturally "squishy wizards"  and their emphasis on defensive tech works well with this.) Andhieli have four arms and four legs, and move completely differently from the others. (And, of course, their ability to wield twice as many weapons helps to some extent.) Ferroningen are covered in natural weapons. (A sickle-blade on the end of their tails, toe claws, hard pointed finger tips and spikes lining their backs. They also have crocodile jaws, but don't bite in normal combat.) Bahaar don't bleed, feel pain or get fatigued by injuries unless they hit vitals. (or for the former, if a major blood vessel is struck) Kokome regenerate, advance faster than other species and have a list of traits to choose from that benefit them. (Things like "determinator", which reduces penalties by an amount proportionate to their resolve.)

 

Maybe the Simini light handguns we're used to subdue unruly slaves or 'savages' and could be called a "Light Pacifier" for that reason?

 

There will be no stunlocking abilities in this game. 

 

Remember Baldurs Gate? You could actually right click and read background information on every single gemstone in the game and read about their cultural significance and so on. 

 

Uh, no. I never played Baldur's Gate. I have played a lot of games with extensive item descriptions and/or databases, however.

 

We might however need some more information about the kind of game you're creating before we can start guessing towards the means of communication will be at your disposal.

 

Have a link.

Edited by Jeremy Williams
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Why do you put such a big importance on the cultures of the factions ?

I would underline their strengths and a bit of their weaknesses, especially for a multiplayer-game.
(an offensive faction having more tough talk when you click on them, scars and powerfull symbols,

a more defensive faction having all carrying their symbol of the hospital(have it being a red cross to make the player understand it faster)
more whispering and talk about planning)

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Why do you put such a big importance on the cultures of the factions ?

 

This is a question that doesn't need to be asked.

 

I would underline their strengths and a bit of their weaknesses, especially for a multiplayer-game.

(an offensive faction having more tough talk when you click on them, scars and powerfull symbols,

 

Except that their cultures are radically different from that. Bahaar are one of the two offensive factions. They are strictly regimented and very stoic. Their comments are quick, direct and to the point. ("Orders, sir?", "Yes, sir.", "Taking fire, sir!") They also do not say anything most of the time they are selected. They're also furry, so if they were scarred you probably wouldn't know. They don't use any symbols or markings, because for them these are to symbolise which house they are under the direct command of, and in this case they are not under direct command. Andhieli are the other, and they're the polar opposite. They're juvenile, excitable, undisciplined, eager and trigger-happy. (VERY trigger-happy. Expect them to shoot a lot of nothing they're supposed to.) They move around a lot, even when idle, and often detour or deviate from your expressed commands. They're also snide and disrespectful. ("Oh, no, I wasn't busy or anything.", "Alright, not like I've got much to live for anyway." "Hey! If you're not too busy connecting with your tac officer, we could use some help!")

 

a more defensive faction having all carrying their symbol of the hospital(have it being a red cross to make the player understand it faster)

more whispering and talk about planning)

 

I'd rather not do something that will make the players assume the setting's primary antagonists to be the good guys. I'd also rather not associate the red cross with anything the simini do. Further, simini are arrogant, snobbish, xenophobic and conceited. Rather than whispering, they speak loudly and clearly. Rather than talking about planning, they dismiss their opponents. ("And you need, sir?", "Let's see what those stupid monkeys think of this!", "That better not have left a dent, monkey!")  Their nobles are more polite, but are also much more arrogant. ("What is it you require of me?", "They shall not be able to stop us.", "Oh my, they seem to have chipped the paint.")

Edited by Jeremy Williams
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