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Social/Political based MMO vs 'level' based? (Academic)

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#1 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 05:57 AM

As some of you may know, I rarely find a project that can keep my full attention for long, so I have 20 or so notebooks with design and theory on different games that I slowly refine over time. I have about 4 that I really love and work the most on, this is a discussion on my most ambitious project, and the less likely to actually be coded, but still. The Courts System (the Meat of this Post, skip below for the real ‘start’ of it) The Courts System is what will make (or more likely break) the game. A player (other than the lowest level) may issue a charge against any other player of their own level or lower, and the case is then heard by a Tribunal of their peers (3 players of their own rank). At least one member of the 3 are chosen at random. (Still debating how to choose the other two). Any Judge not satisfied with the outcome may appeal to a player that is One Rank Level higher than their own. They will have 3 chances to request someone support their case and hear it. If accepted by one of the 3 then the case is retried at this higher level. Again any member of the Tribunal may ask a member of One rank higher than themselves to go over the case again in appeal. Once all appeal chances are exhausted (or forfeited by the judges), the highest ranking Charges work as a petition found in many games. One player writes up the charges in a special in game text box, levelling them against one player(maybe options for different sized charges). A charge will eventually collect statements from other players, in support, in defence, or neutral. Each player may argue their case before the Tribunal (or hire another player to argue it for them). In arguments players first make their opening statements, then make a response to the opposition’s opening statements. Each gets to make a defence of their opening statements. Finally Closing statements. Judges make their Ruling Statements. Any Judge may then choose to make an Appeal to a higher Level if they wish, at most 3 times, or they may forfeit their appeal option. A Tribunal may vote as Innocent or Guilty, and may also flag the charge as being frivolous. Should a player be found making a large number of frivolous charges, a Tribunal of his peers (or those higher than him) may be formed to revoke their rank one level, or to Gag the player. Preventing them from levelling charges against other players for a set time period. (this may of course be appealed up the chain as always) Higher ranked players may issue a Protection of Actions to a lower player. This Protection of Actions protects a player from having charges against him for those actions found guilty at any Level below that of the player that issued the PoA. (Players found voting guilty in cases like that face charges of misconduct, which again are required ‘by law’ to be found guilty of. Punishment for ‘misconduct’ is forfeiture of rank.) Real Start Of This Post The background to this game design is an economic game set in a space aged feudal society, and near fully player created. Aggressive Economic Warfare, full Player vs Player with limited 'NPCs'. Open warfare isn't banned, but would be highly discouraged. Blowing resources up is counter productive to high productivity levels after all. The goal is to crush opponents economically, but thermo nuclear warheads are plan B. Each player starts off as a member of their own ‘minor house’. Blurring the line between extremely wealthy upper middle class citizens in the empire, and the lowest class nobles. A player’s Rank in society is far more important than the ‘skills and abilities’ of their Avatar Character. On “Skills and Abilities” Skills and Abilities will mainly centre around relations with lower class NPCs. If you have no history in working with scientists (needed to perform in game research on items to improve their effect or lower their production costs) then you are going to have to either pay far more for better scientists to work in your labs, or settle for lesser value ones that come from a less prestigious school. You will also have skills similar to those in EVE Online, but they will be far simpler, and have less of an impact on the game. Training/recruiting/obtaining skilled workers/pilots/engineers/scientists/doctors will have a greater impact on your performance. On “Rank” Rank is divided into a number of core Levels, core levels can be further subdivided slightly to give minor bonuses in what a player is allowed/expected to do, but the large jumps in power will be in the core levels. For this discussion lets use 7 core levels. Starting at the top, the Emperor (Developers main interaction with the game) a rank players can’t get to. After that are First Class Nobles. Likely around 20 or so. They basically serve as sort of GM players, directly allowed that rank by the Dev. Below them are Second Class Nobles. Around 100 players Third Class Fourth Class Fifth Class, the core players, these are the bulk of the players, and while not very powerful on their own, their main purpose is as soldiers in the Economic War, supporting those above them while at the same time trying to either squeeze into their place or take it over completely. Sixth Class (basic account, limited to next to nothing, possibly free to play) Each player will start out in the lowest rank. Rank decides several things, such as the number and size of ships/bases/warehouses/trade routes you are ‘legally’ allowed to own in game. To advance rank is actually political, rather than going out and bashing bunnies over the head with your Level 1 Wood Club, you have to convince someone of a class 2 levels higher than you to sponsor you, or a group of players your own class to support and follow you. Your level support is based on the political power of those Sponsoring you, and those supporting you (from your own level or those below you). Now we all know that in an online game we will have issues with players not playing fairly, and in the case of this game there would be no real in game block to breaking game ‘law’ (rules for things like blatant cheating and that would be dealt with outside of the game) but someone operating a smuggling ring, building ‘illegal’ products, or illegally owning items they’re not entitled to by rank. (Or general law, such as biological weapons, nukes capable of planetary strikes, combat drones, clone vats, many interesting things on the black market) People breaking these laws are dealt with by the players themselves. Players are free to attack and destroy anything they want by game rules, but in game law is what will ‘protect’ people from wrongful attacks. In all, I think a system like this may be interesting to try. Rank levels 4 and 5 will likely have huge numbers of 'problem' charges laid, which most likely get thrown out. (Level 6, the level all players enter on, is barred from issuing charges against each other). Spam could become a problem with the game, but I feel a game like this would eventually weed out younger/less mature acting players who would find it boring because they had little chance of advancing in the game. Abuse of 'leet speak' and that would also be grounds for "Conduct unbecoming" charges, which can see a player demoted to a lower rank, or muted and barred from talking in 'official' matters in the game. Such a rank system is also one I would use on the game forums. Especially the suggestions forum. Someone would make a suggestion, and people place Support, or Argue statements on the suggestion. After a set (very low) number of posts it would be bumped up to the next level where someone can take it, flag any statement as ones to hide (such as flames or redundant fluff) and make their own statement on the suggestion. It would then start the cycle over, being edited by a smaller and more select group each time. This should remove most of the flames and poorly thought out ideas, or over bias views. People at each level may make forum charges to remove someone from a rank lower than their own. Those above, weed out those below. The system should balance itself in short order. And that took up a good chunk time. I wonder how many people would actually read this. Thoughts, opinions, suggestions, anyone want to call me a fool?

#2 MagikalGoat   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 08:28 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed your post. There is one huge concern I have about these sorts of player run judicial systems: corruption.

I played the Korean MMORPG Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds for years. It contained not only a judicial system where players could charge other players with crimes, but also a player run class system, where players could join a sub-class that was run by other players.

The problem that occurred with this large amount of player control was that cliques were formed among the top tier players. These cliques, by the time I quit the game, had grown so powerful that they ruled the game with an iron fist. The developer appointed players (Archons) would use their powers to silence anyone who opposed their Archon character OR their regular character. The sub-class leaders (Elders) would blacklist players from ALL sub-classes by denying them admittance. It took approximately 5 years to rid the game of the "leader" of the Archon clique. After numerous complaints to the developers, an announcement was made that she had been fired, as had the rest of her clique (it was later discovered that the devs had just had them change their names in an effort to stop the complaints).

Another problem, specifically with the justice system, was the actual trial process. A player could accuse an innocent player of stealing an item and two of the player's friends could act as witnesses (swearing that the innocent player did, in fact, steal the item). The court, in light of the testimonies, would convict the innocent player.

So, what might you learn from NexusTK?

1) Checks and balances are needed

Gagging a player and stopping his ability to charge others with a crime is a good start, but the fact that cliques form at the top ranks of societies would mean that the players who are being oppressed by the clique would not be able to fight back ("A player ... may issue a charge against any other player of their own level or lower"). Could a petition system possibly be added to allow a medium sized group of lower level players to press charges against a higher level player?

2) How will evidence be acquired?

Testimonies from witnesses are great, but how can one be sure that they are lying? Infliction in speech cannot be detected in a video game, making it rather difficult to detect a lie. Could there possibly be a system that allows one to enter screenshots into evidence? Could the defense/prosecutor get access to game logs? What about the judge?

3) Players detect corruption better than the developer

As in the case of NexusTK, players knew that the Developer appointed players were corrupt, but the developers just couldn't see it. A good customer relations program with developer-to-player talks might be beneficial, allowing players to voice their concerns.


That is all.

MGP

#3 LessBread   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 09:37 AM

Quote:
Original post by MagikalGoat
Another problem, specifically with the justice system, was the actual trial process. A player could accuse an innocent player of stealing an item and two of the player's friends could act as witnesses (swearing that the innocent player did, in fact, steal the item). The court, in light of the testimonies, would convict the innocent player.


That is one reason why in the real world there are district attorneys, detectives, police officers etc. In theory at least, those agents must verify the validity of an accusation before bringing it before a court and if they fail to do that they risk the wrath of the judge who might fine them or jail them.

One solution to this problem would be to create a court system that downplays the importance of witness testimony.

#4 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 11:35 AM

Well, as far as proof of an action goes, that would easily be recorded by the game, and be kept in records that could be viewable.

Items, such as mined resources or cargo boxes, may be dropped in space, however in space there is now ownership, so if someone runs off with your stuff tough luck. Even if you charge someone with stealing things it shouldn't do much and you will hopefully be laughed at.

As far as cliques forming, I expect (and would want) factions to form. While the game would mostly be trading and building of mining/refining/production centres, I would still want shooting wars to break out now and then.

With a series of Laws for attacking and taking 'land/space', and things such as declaring feuds, (which give legal rights to war if accepted, with the option of paying a 'fair' settlement). Given that the game can record actions, and the laws are slightly flexible, this means that public opinion of the two parties, and the factions (and subfactions) they are part of will matter a great deal.


Now, them main issue I see is how best to pick the 3 judges to oversee these charges (which are really better thought of as suing another player), and what way to write the soft laws, such as Dishonourable Conduct, Misconduct of a Noble, and the laws behind Feuds.

Do you think something like this would work well with about 3-6 factions for every 2000 players? What do you see as being needed to keep balance? A dev controlled imperial warfleet to go after higher level players (and their followers) that step out of line when too powerful?

#5 LessBread   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 12:39 PM

It seems to me that it might help to separate criminal court from civil court. But criminal court implies the existence of a state whose laws have been violated and given your description of factions, that may not be the case in your game. Civil court also implies the existence of a state, but it need not be so. It could simply be a more civilized method of handling contract disputes between players or factions - provided that both parties to the suit agree to go along with the outcome. Holding them to their promise would be another issue.

I'm not keen on tribunals. I think that a single presiding judge is needed to insure that the rules of court are being followed. Perhaps the tribunal could serve as a form of instant appeal, so that while the presiding judge would oversea the process of the trial, the opposing attorneys could immediately appeal to the tribunal regarding process decisions made by the presiding judge. In effect, the tribunal would be present at trial to provide oversight on the judge in addition to weighing in on the verdict.

To get around the criminal versus civil issue, instead of having one side or the other present evidence, it might be interesting to - it might be interesting to do away with the role of prosecutor. Instead, the court would appoint an investigator whose task was to determine the facts of the case and to present them at trial. Withing the game the investigator could be an NPC who simply "replays" the pertinent game record. If the investigator finds no evidence of wrong doing, the case never goes to trial. This serves to dampen frivolous lawsuits. If the plaintiff can't provide sufficient information for the investigator to begin the investigation, the case never goes to trial. If the investigator finds sufficient information to go to trial, then in the trial each side in the dispute would be represented by an advocate of their choice who would then build their argument based on the findings of the investigator. Doing away with the prosecutor eliminates the conflict of interest inherent in the legal systems that we know in the real world - that is, that the state (viz the police and prosecutors) bring suit in a court that is also run by the state. With the plaintiff providing an advocate to act as prosecutor, the court can better retain it's neutrality. This barrier would also serve to dampen frivolous lawsuits because advocates would cost money and people wouldn't bring suit unless it was worth the cost.

Anyway, I'm just riffing.

3-6 factions for every 2000 players? That would range from 350 to 700 players per faction. To achieve balance it would seem best to have the factions keep each other in check. I don't know about imperial war fleets. If the dev team is in control of the game they could pose as beings with supernatural powers - like dematerializing weapons, buildings, resources or the like - in order to act as a final check on players that become too powerful. If such a brazen display of force is unseemly, you could use nature to act as the hand of God - inflicting earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, pestilence, famine on players or factions that became too powerful.

#6 Kaze   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 12:56 PM

what if you limited a ruling groups power to one planet or zone of space,
make them invest a large amount of money to stay in power but they can collect trade revenue from the area they control. This will give them incentive to keep people happy as they can profit if people want to do business in their zones but if their well know for abusing their power players will just pack up for a new zone leaving them destitute.

EDIT:
also you could have some neutral zones that are less profitable but uncontrolled, this will allow for a ruling group to moderate the game but still give players the ability to oppose corrupt rulers

#7 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 01:46 PM

I'm not sure I really like the idea of a "hand of god Smiting" for those that gain too much power, it removes the goal of politics ruling the battlefield, and becomes "You are doing something BAD! BOOOM!" you lose. No defence, no time to surrender, or make choices that might deflect damage from yourself to someone else, you're just dead.


My vision of the game is large space empires, but the setting doesn't really matter, it could be 'modern day' techs, or ancient/medieval/renaissance tech, or even fantasy world.


The idea behind the goal of large factions is they wouldn't be solid hard line factions (hopefully) as players would be mostly free to declare support to anyone else in the game. Sub Factions would form, and maybe even rapidly shift at some times, hopefully at least subtle shifts over time.

The Emperor as a tangible thing in game, presented as something you can resist, could give players hope of being able to actually have a real and very major effect on the game world. Maybe even a handful of Developer controlled accounts holding characters with ranks of first and second class nobles (those just below the Emperor) and have the Emperor changed now and then. I think the idea of being able to topple those above you is needed to keep player interest in the game, replacing the shiny carrot of level 65, with Baron, Prince, or Emperor.

Hopefully the upper 2 or 3 rank levels would be mostly stable with a few change ups, while the lower levels may rise and fall in rank fairly quickly, so the players get what they know is a minor setback, and doesn't lock the bottom of the tier out from any advancement.


As for a single judge, what keeps it from being Biased? With 3 players of the same rank picked mostly at random (maybe some weighting based on faction/alliance interaction, so you don't get all 3 from the same faction) should hopefully insure that at least one is not biased and can call for the lawsuit to be reviewed by a higher court should they feel the other two are conspiring or too biased.

Showing Bias is grounds for being charged with Dishonour, (So as a Judge, your Ruling Statement had best be good and logical. "Hes a nub from Fraction X, kill him" likely isn't going to go well when it comes to setting up your defence at your trial). The same goes for anytime you (as a judge) Appeal the case to another Tribunal, you had best make sure you give good reasons for your ruling.


I'm still struggling with how to handle picking the Judges for the first Tribunal. At first I was thinking the person that files the Charge would first require a Sponsor (at his own Rank, or higher) that agrees and accepts that there is an issue to be judged, and then pick the other 2 (or 4) players at random from the same Rank to fill in the other slots. This does lower the chance of spamming charges as a player that has a history of spamming may be charged for it, and have rank lowered or become muted for a few weeks. (A history of Charges someone starts, and the replies of people they request to sponsor it would follow a player) However, this does bring up the issue of likely causing at the start one Biased Judge.

Is it fair that the party that brings up the Charge requires a sponsor that acts as the first Judge, the person being charged gets to pick the second Judge, and then the last (three?) are picked at random?


Now, as I think I stated in the first post, brand new players are not allowed to place charges against others. I'm actually thinking brand new players shouldn't even be allowed to contact those of a higher rank. Instead they would have a writeup page in their profile. Their chance to give reasons for why they should be allowed to play. These players would be unranked players, allowed only a very small ship and no weapons, and could do simple courier runs. Players in the second to bottom Rank would be encouraged to accept and Sponsor these new players for the extra support they would offer. If enough new players can rally around one, they can elevate one to a second lowest rank, and bring themselves to the lowest rank.

#8 LessBread   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 02:37 PM

Natural disasters might still be a useful addition to the game. As in real life, they could pose reasons why people would band together in the first place. Protecting against them would also absorb resources and thus act as a means of retarding the accumulation of concentrated power.

The role of the presiding judge is to ensure that the rules are properly being followed. Perhaps that judge could be an NPC like the investigator, rendering the procedural aspects of trial as neutral as possible. Another possibility would be to stipulate that no aligned player could serve as a presiding judge.

#9 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 02:49 PM

But an NPC judge can only rule based on hard fact centred around preprogrammed mechanics. This takes all human aspect out of one of a huge part of the game that is attempting to make the human aspect the heart and soul of it, rather than raw number crunching.

I'm not sure, this is looking more and more like something that simply won't work. It needs player freedom, but also a way to keep it from breaking down. Two lines of thought that work against each other.

#10 glBender   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 03:35 PM

I suggest, rather than using checks and balances in the game mechanics to try and control the player judges etc, build it into the actual judicial system. Model it after a real democracy. Use voting, etc. I have more to say, but I have to go, great ideas so far, I like it.

#11 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:36 PM

Quote:
Original post by glBender
I suggest, rather than using checks and balances in the game mechanics to try and control the player judges etc, build it into the actual judicial system. Model it after a real democracy. Use voting, etc. I have more to say, but I have to go, great ideas so far, I like it.


I hope to hear more of what you were thinking. I'm not really sure what you mean by use voting (that is what the 3 or 5 person tribunal is. They VOTE.)

If everything was polled, no one would have time to do anything as they would spend all their time voting. My dream is the players having to balance 3 main things:
1. Developing their own personal business empire
2. Developing their own political contacts, and other things you would expect in a feudal space age system where everyone wants to be king.
3. Dealing with the Law System. You will have the choice to turn down some positions, but you MUST serve as a judge eventually.

And after that, of course, you'll also be dealing with developing your own version of "Plan B". Which is being able to at least go out in a blaze of atomic glory.


I should note, this is my personal holy grail project. A game system where all buildings and ships in game are designed by players, using base components and inside the rules of 'physics' for the game. Players can roam space stations that are full of middle class NPCs that go about their 'lives'. (Sci-Fi aspects let me simplify graphics nicely. Everyone wears a protective hazmat like suit. The more common you are, the simpler it is. High class get to wear outrageous and outlandish costumes with capes and sails, and horribly uncomfortable looking stuff with clashing colours, just because they can) Use of "Security Airlocks" will let me hide load screens.

This is so never happening as I dream, but a simplified graphics form might get off the ground in a few years.

#12 glBender   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 05:54 PM

Well, I guess what I mean is... It seems like your looking for ways to avoid corruption, through certain checks and balances. But I think that - especially in a virtual environment where actions have less real consequence - corruption can't be fixed by your game logic. Aristocracy falls to oligarchy, virtue fades and human nature kicks in.

How do we avoid this in real life? Democracy.

I think trying to control human rulers with game mechanics won't work. You should control the human rulers with the human citizens. Create a republic.

In the situation MagikalGoat was talking about, would the Archons act the way they were if they might be voted out?

#13 LessBread   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:40 PM

Quote:
Original post by Talroth
But an NPC judge can only rule based on hard fact centred around preprogrammed mechanics. This takes all human aspect out of one of a huge part of the game that is attempting to make the human aspect the heart and soul of it, rather than raw number crunching.

I'm not sure, this is looking more and more like something that simply won't work. It needs player freedom, but also a way to keep it from breaking down. Two lines of thought that work against each other.


That's where the three player judges as instant appeals court would intercede. They would validate or repudiate the npc judge's rulings on objections (or other procedural disputes) from the advocates - in addition to serving as the jury. That way the procedural mechanics are mostly left to the npc but the players still have to pay attention to the proceedings - and ultimately pass judgment.

At any rate, whatever you decide to do, you should probably set it up so that none of the judges are from the same factions as either party to the dispute.


#14 glBender   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:47 PM

So, you are aiming to create the realistic power struggle and interaction between empires right? In real life, these struggles aren't 'fair'. People are giving you advice on how to cut down on people gaining too much power, etc, but that's how it is in real life. I think you need to figure out how much you want it to be like real life, and how much you want to use artificial mechanics and controls to balance the game out for all players.

#15 Si Hao   Members   

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Posted 20 May 2007 - 10:47 PM

How about a panel of selected judges who are randomly chosen from the population. The judges will be selected from people who have the same rank as the defendant.

They will be presented with the case, evidence and arguments from both sides. They will then make a decision, the verdict will be based upon vote of majority, example, three out of five voted guilty.

The judges will not know the identity of the people involved in the case to remain fair in their judgment.

Both sides can appeal the decision, but that will probably need some kind of sponsorship from someone of higher rank or payment to prevent automatic appealing whenever someone loses a case. When a case is appealed a new panel of judges will be selected from the next higher rank.

If both sides keep appealing the verdict, the case could end up with the king or emperor who will make a final undisputed decision, the cost of appealing to this stage should be very high.

#16 stormwarestudios   Members   

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 01:24 AM

Quote:
Original post by Talroth
But an NPC judge can only rule based on hard fact centered around preprogrammed mechanics. This takes all human aspect out of one of a huge part of the game that is attempting to make the human aspect the heart and soul of it, rather than raw number crunching.

I'm not sure, this is looking more and more like something that simply won't work. It needs player freedom, but also a way to keep it from breaking down. Two lines of thought that work against each other.


A surefire method of guaranteeing that a criminal committed a crime and is really a criminal is a simple matter of a log of crimes committed. However this doesn't represent the (fun) characteristics of Real Crime, which includes all of the blackest things that humanity is capable of, such as lying, extortion, drug influence, neglect, and making an offer one can't refuse.

If you take a look at some popular sources of related media in Hollywood and on TV, such as Law & Order, the Godfather movies, (haven't watched it but I assume) the Sopranos, Casino, Inside Man, Ocean's 11/12/13, the Italian/Brazilian Job, etc, there are hundreds of factors in every crime, it's never a simple matter.

What I would recommend is a number of pre-defined laws to be decreed, and determine ways to record 'if' they happened. In a sci-fi game, you might have the following galactic crimes, and their associated evidence:
- murder (fingerprints, ballistics forensics)
- piracy (record of sales, or bank-credit transfers)
- acts of aggression inside a neutral zone (witnesses, ship logs)
- extortion (witnesses)
- speaking out against the government (witnesses, particularly by a government official)
- transporting wanted criminals (ship logs, crew and cargo manifests)
- etc

In-game, some of these crimes must be witnessed in order for the perpetrator to be considered for legal reprieval, but if the game can design a paper-trail of checks and balances for certain actions (e.g. a ship automatically records your communicator's signal when you enter or leave a ship... all it takes is one complaint before the cops impound your ship and check the activity logs), then you have a means by which law and order (or at least some semblance thereof) may be maintained.


#17 Luckless   Members   

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:59 AM

I think before working on the Judaical concepts more, I'll have to more clearly define the laws, and how the rest of the game actually works. Thinking of its design abstracted from the rest of the game isn't really working that well.

The game world will ideally contain 1000 or more star systems, with 3 main modes of interstellar travel, and 2 for stellar travel.

Star systems will have planets, moons, and asteroid fields as you would expect in most space games, as well as Lagrangian points in solar or planetary orbits (positions in space where things like space stations will remain 'in position' relative to two large gravitational bodies.) to be used for player built 'drifts' or 'stations'. Moons and Planets may also have 'bases' places on their surface.

Moons and Planets will be 'fully mapped', either procedurally or using a 'tile' based system of hightmaps to make storing the 10 to 15 thousand planets and moons easier. Allowing players to place buildings on the surface, such as landing pads, space elevators, mines, refineries, factories, power plants, storage buildings, different levels of housing, and public market areas, as well as more artistic buildings, and things for local government.

All buildings and ships would be made up of predesigned pieces, connection passages, air locks, storage bays, weapon hard points. That sort of thing, which could be modified slightly, and positioned to form new ships and buildings. But that is a whole other thread. Assembling a ship or building in a new design will be easy enough, but to make one that is highly efficient will take a lot of time and in game resources, which will cut down of people spamming large numbers of random designs.

There will be 8 resources to harvest and refine. Going with the idea of 'all matter is energy and you can convert between energy and matter', the 8 different resources will simply be element's core energy layout, and be explained by my favourite science fiction means of "We were slightly wrong".

1. Bio-Common, mostly used in producing food and other life support goods. Some use in alloys. Second most common element.
2. Bio-Rare, mostly used in advanced medical supplies and life support (and illegal cloning). Rather rare.
3. Metal-Common, used in almost all manufactured goods in large amounts. Most common element.
4. Metal-Rare, small amounts used in a lot of things. More advanced thing will of course use more. A very rare elements.
5. Metal-Conductors, used in power systems and computers. (used for illegal Combat Drones and AI minds) Rather rare.
6. Fuel-Common, used in most reactors, and some weapons. Not that common, but not much is really needed.
7. Fuel-Rare, like the rare metals, used for more advanced and more powerful fuels and weapons. (Used for illegal nukes). Very Rare.
8. Exotic-Element. That ultra rare thing used in small amounts to those highly expensive things few people ever see.

Most ores can be found in any system, but large enough concentrations to make the mining and refining process cheap will usually only occur as a single ore type. (meaning a player that takes control of a single system and mines everything for themselves will still be able to make that 'Big Ship of DOOM!', but the players that trade between systems will likely get more for the same cost)

Mined as ores that will carry different amounts of the above elements, they are then refined and yield raw elements based on what refining process is used. (what the player sets his refinery to focus on producing. Better and more expensive equipment will allow a larger portion of the possible ore to be refined.)These are then used in factories to produce a wide range of basic parts, like Hull Plating, Computer Chips, Food Stuffs, other things. Advanced Factories can then turn some of these lesser components into things like prefab building/ship parts, that can then be assembled.

Most cargo is stored in external cargo boxes, in several standard sizes. Smaller internal cargo boxes for the more rare and valuable things, or cheap common things that are just used in smaller amounts. Most cargo ships will have a look similar to a Dune Carry-All, except larger ships being a few km long, and carrying Cargo Boxes the size of a modern day ship.


Ships will be built to classes. A class is the size of the frontal square cross section. From a small 5m shuttle class, a little 20m Transport class, 100m hauler class, and the 200m Freighter class. Anything above that is considered a Super Class, and can not dock at a standard dock class. The length of a ship won't matter too much.
Other aspects binding ship design are, the size of their reactor and the Transit Field they can generate. The larger the field, the more energy it takes, the more energy you are using, the brighter the light you are on sensors. And thus an easier target should the shooting start. Fields will generate a 'blue', a 'green', a 'yellow' and a 'red' line around the ship. Passengers that you would care about must travel in the green zone (blue zone lacking things such as proper artificial gravity, and yellow zone having a higher risk of damage while transiting. Anything that is in the Red Zone will likely be sheared off when you try to transit. These zones may also play a part in things like sensor accuracy, forcing players to retract/extend senors) Good warships will be very hard to design.

Travel will be as I said, one of 3 ways between stars.
A 'FTL Stream Drive' style, worm holes that lets you go nearby stars, get close to the edge of a system and open the portal and travel to a star nearby. Want to go far with this? You'll have to jump between multiple stars. Cheap and effective.
A 'FTL Fold Drive' style. Charge the drive, and pop, you are in another star. Draw backs are far more expensive than slip stream, and higher chance of getting 'lost' the closer you are try to jump to the max range of your drive.

There are no 'gates' and no gate camping as you'll find in other games with these two styles.

A 'FTL Gate System'. Gates of different sizes, from small things a human can push a cart through, to a kilometres wide for space ships. Two way portal. Expensive to setup, expensive to run, but rarely fails, and has no real limit to how far they can go. The farther you set gates apart, the more power it takes. Prime targets in war.

Inside star systems you have your FTL Pulse Drive, and short range gates.

Pulse Drive works like warp drives, your ship points at where you want to go, and you travel faster than light toward it. Still takes a minute to cross a whole star system however.



And back to the Law System.
'Illegal' things will be highly subjective. The use of Atomics, 'Illegal AI', Combat Drones, in and of itself is not illegal, but the conditions and reasons that you used them for may be. I guess what I really need is help defining the conditions (which should be flexible) that make things 'illegal' and other illegal activities.
What actions should a player be allowed to do.

No 'Safe' zones, no NPC guards to protect you from other players. Everything is player made, and player run.

(Still studying economics for how best to run that. But players will likely start with debt from the Crown and have to buy things off the player market. This will require a bit of seeding of the world to get thing started. To keep players from starting a new trial account, buying things, and then dropping them for others to pick up, items owned by a player with debt will be tracked. If you buy something under market value from a player with debt, or pick something up that was owned by a player with debt, you are then responsible for paying the crown the cost of that object should that player go bankrupt.)

#18 evolutional   Moderators   

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 12:58 AM

I wonder what it would be like with 3-5 main factions in the game, each of which has opposing beliefs, ideals and requirements so that the game directly prevents factions from allying in some way and keeps the galaxy in a state of political tension. The 'tribunal' system would involve a galaxy wide decision, effectively requiring representitives from each of the game's major factions to cast a vote for the charges against the player. The game should also detect bias and favouritism (eg: a faction constantly voting for another in one direction) and alter circumstances (perhaps by punishment or rule changes) accordingly.




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