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Author Topic: A world to fill...  (Read 9861 times)


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A world to fill...
« on: April 09, 2014, 06:43:17 am »

I'll go straight to the point of this topic.

I think that this new trend in videogames that is taking us on maps larger and larger is bringing up an issue that was not remarkable just few years ago.

Emptiness of the world.

What is the sense of having the entire planet earth at our feet if we use only the 1% of it?

even if someone could bring up the ultimate game project that will gather 1.000.000 players at the same time, still we will have problems to meet someone else online in the world...

I think that the usual gameplay structure (mostly the one used in 99% of MMOGs) wont fit this new trend and has to be rethinked from scratch.

I think that one of the possible solution to this issue could be an intense and intelligent use of NPCs.

I don't think it would be possible to have a game based on Outerra (or any other angine that allow such a great area) where NPCs are standing figures with a question mark on their head, giving out quests again and again without having a real impact on the world... or more, merchants created bu players standing all day and all night in their wooden stands selling all their goods... and nothing else.

If this will be used, than the very sense of Outerra and it's improvements get lost immediately and it's better to focus on projects that take a 9 square Km map and fill it with an actual living world.

Like many others here I have a lot of ideas for the "perfect" game, but no skills to develop practically; nonetheless I'd like to share few thoughts on how I think that should or could be.

My example will be based on a Middle-age setting, mainly because it's my favourite game settings and also because it's society structure is fittable to my ideas.

I will take elements from different games and categories, crossing them over to create a game, or, at least, an idea of a game that can take the huge potential given by Outerra and transform it in something new.

I'll start from the setting and the generic info and then I'll go deeper in details explaining my thoughts.

I hope soemone will find this interesting, even a small bit.

I'll have fun just imagining and writing about this.

See you for the first chapter.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2014, 05:48:30 am »

First part: General informations

As I said, the setting of this game idea is "middle age". I could choose any other historical setting, but I feel this one will be fine for what I have in mind.
My purpose is to create a genre that take inspirations from other genres strenghts and put everything in a mixed cocktail that can actually work.
For this to be at least doable, i need a setting that is not so complicated like modern ones (let's say that I'd prefer a pre-electricity setting) and also that doesn't feel weird with the limited amount of people around (NPC included... making some raw calculations, in europe in 1300-1400 there were around 100-110 millions people; nowadays in the same region there are more than 700 millions... not that I'm so mad to think that it is possible to reach the historical number, of course, but still, the gap would be way smaller...)

So, how does the game works, in general.

I think Europe would do a nice starting point, because multiple cultures and languages are present, the mediterranean sea is a great setting both for war and commerce, there is the chance to expand the setting both to south, in africa and in eastern europe... long story short, europe fits just fine.

In the beginning there will be one starting point for every "language". one in Italy, one in France, England and so on. When the number of players eventually grow up those starting points can be added.

These starting points will be NPC's settlements, with a ruler (initially controlled by admins, then by players) , a castle, and everything a small town should have. Players will be given the basic knowledge of the game and works like an "in game" tutorial; they will learn basics of crafting, fighting, usual stuff 'till now.

After getting a little experienced, the player will receive instructions and resources from the ruler in order to move in another location and start a new life.

Player can decide what kind of new life that should be, choosing the profession he want to do and can even decide to refuse the help of the ruler and move along all by himself. This second option gives more freedom, of course, but is more difficult.

When I say "resources" i mean both materials and manpower. Every player will gain "control" of a NPC, someone could call him a "companion", and that NPC will help the player in whatever the profession is. The difference between this companion and the other we usually see on MMORPGS is that he is more a friend than a slave. He will have a house, a life, he won't be always around us even when we go to sleep. If we decide to be a shopkeeper, he could attend to customers while we manage to get a good price from a merchant. If we decide to be a mason, he could help build the houses with us, reducing the time of work. If we decide to be soldiers he could be our brother in arm and, if we ever become knight, our arm bearer or similar.

Anyway, I will dedicate a lot of time to NPC in a further chapter, so I will move along for now.

So, new settlements will start to grow around the main one like a wave. Those who will follow the ruler instructions will start to build a village near important resources, like stone, wood, gold, etc.
The "price" they will have to pay to repay the help received is that the village they will start to build will be, at the beginning, under the control of the main city and will have to pay tributes, in coins or resources.
The upside is that, when the settlement is large enough, the ruler will appoint one of the players, the best of the settlement (best is a very subjective matter and we will discover more later about this) as noble of that settlement and the land around it and he will become vassal, build his castle, have his army and so on.

Those who chose to be free from the beginning will have the chance to claim land from the start, of course, but claiming is one thing, defending is another.

There won't be limits like in many other games that allow players to walk on "unclaimed" lands, claim those for themselves and then prevent all the others to build, take objects and resources from that land etc.

If someone want to claim some land, he will have to be capable of defending it from others. simple as that.

So now we have different settlements in different part of europe.

Before ending this long chapter, few other details that will describe how the game will work:

1) The basic structure will be similar to many other survival game, where players have to gather resources and all objects are player made.

2) NPCs will be fully defined characters and will have deep and specific identities depending on their job, faith, personality, etc. (a good example of what I think NPCs should be defined is in the game "Democracy 3")

3) An important dimension in game will be the church. Priest will be main figures of every settlement and will have a huge impact on social, political and every aspects of village's life.

4) I'm thinking of taking some aspects even from browser games and give the chance to players to control almost every aspect of their characer life even by "remote", using mobile and other technologies that allow to continue playing even if not "actually" in game.

5) More to come....

I'll explain all the previous points in further chapters...

Today I'm done.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2014, 11:37:03 am »

I like it. Keep going.
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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2014, 06:23:20 am »

Second part: NPCs

As I previously said, NPCs are one of the main features of this game idea.

I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of a thing like this, I mean, it's a quite obvious solution, but I've never seen something done in this direction so far.

If you have ever played games like Wurm, minecraft, but also multiplayer mods for GTA (i.e. SA-MP), you probably noticed one fact: places are usually empty.

Even if you manage to find a good group of people to play with, running around the street of Los Santos, or struggling to nail a plank on your house in any Wurm's village is a quite lonely experience.

And I'm talking about maps that are not even comparable to the one Outerra gives us.

Imagine what that would be...

On the other side, in order to fill the gaps, players gather in small areas, making all the rest of the world (in the case of a game in outerra) useless.

So, I already said that players will find their first companion after the "tutorial".

This won't be the only NPC players will (can) "control".

As long as the power, experience, wealth of a player grows, he can lead or hire more NPCs and have them work for or with him.

Let's say I start a merchant carreer.

at the beginning I'll have to manage all by myself only with the help of "Bob" (from now on the first Npc will be known as Bob... it's shorter)... gathering resources or products, moving around to sell them, buying other stuff to bring back home and sell there, etc. (economics will be the topic of another part, so let's stick with this for now).

When business start to grow and cash start to flow in our pockets we can decide to hire another NPC to help us.
Then we can decide to let Bob and the other one manage the shop at home while we travel trying to find better deals. Then we can hire more to cover multiple trade routes, then we can hire guards to defend our loads and so on. When we become enough powerful and important we can also hire NPC that will manage brand new activities in town or elsewhere. Manage another shop in another town, open a tavern in the middle of the route, or just start a brand new business, making us real medieval businessmen.

That is how, for example, a person could reach important position in the village, feud or kingdom society (Politics will be explained too soon...)

But how does this work in details?

Where do those NPC come from? How can I hire them? What should I do to be sure they're working hard?

Well, NPCs will "spawn" initially at the spawning cities where there will be a building that can offer beds and food for the unemployed. The bigger the building, the higher the number of NPCs available.

If you want to hire someone you go there and choose between the available ones... if there are none, well, too bad... work harder and improve the economy of the region.

That is because the spawning of new NPCs depends on the wealth of the villages and chances to find jobs, have a roof over the head and a warm dinner in the belly.

If the situation is good, then more NPCs will come and the economy can grow and grow, but the balance is important.

It's important because you have to care about those who work for you, the village must have enough place for everybody, there must be food for everybody, and everybody must receive their payments and must have the means to spend those money in order to make their lives better.

So Bob will have his own place (could be a room, a house, a castle, if you want, and these variables unlock even more possibilities...) and so all the others you hire. They have to eat, sleep, live. If you manage to keep them satisfied (and we will see how this could work) they will stay with you, work for you, and create a bond with you that could be more powerful than money, one day.

When new settlements start to become larger, they can build their own "unemployed" structures in order to "call" NPCs directly there without having to go to the main city.

Of course, in those centers it is possible to find both "newcomers" that will have auto-generated skills and attributes, and NPCs that was already there, already worked for someone and have lost their job (or they quitted it). those will have their attributes that are the sum of their starting points plus the experience they've reached doing their job.

the higher the experience, the higher the costs of a NPC.

I can hire an unexperienced one by offering him food and a bed where to sleep (of course after a while he will start to grow unsatisfied with that situation, but you have the time to improve that slowly) or I can get more valuable help by offering better houses, higher salary, etc.

So, try to imagine a settlement started from a single player, who maybe has invited one or two friends to join him and thei manage to get things working fine with their activities... usually we will have a village of three big houses, few shacks, a ton of NPCs merchants standing night and day in the main plaza...

Here we would have a village with three players who can control 10 NPC each. that village will have something like 15-20 buildings just for the living, then working places, entertainment places, and so on until one of the friends become the noble of that land, kills the other two friends because he is powerthirsty and rule with fear and pain over the unlucy land... ok, i just let this get out of bonds a little, but you got the point... a living place, with players and NPCs moving togheter in the economics, politics and social issue of the village and the region.

Of course more players is better for a village, and that is the main objective, but if you multiplies the number of players that could join a game like this by 10 (and it's not even a huge number... it could be way larger) you can see that having a player base of 1000 will get 10000 characters in the world, and 9000 of them are ALWAYS there, giving to the world at least a small impression of being "lived".

So, NPCs are important for this game, but let's analyze them one by one and see how are they "builded".

Every NPC has a full set of scores that defines him.
These cover the personal, professional and social side of NPC's life and influence how the NPC is satisfied with his life and therefore influence his loyalty, his effectiveness, his decision to stay where he is instead of leaving.

Let's take professional side in detail...

What are the variables that determines his score for the professional satisfaction?
Let's do a short list of the main ones: first, salary, of course... then the chance to improve his business, then the availability of resources (that introduce one of the economic features which is "supply chain") and prices at the market, businesses competition, taxes on his products or on material he need to produce, etc.)

I'll make an example (which is quite "extreme" on purpose) to explain the complexity and interconnection between economics and NPC's mood.

The ruler decide to lower the iron gathering from the mine because he wants more gold from the other mines.
Iron then become more expensive at the market because there is less around (offer and demands will rule the economy around here...).
Smiths will buy iron at higher prices, so they will sell hatchets at even higher prices both because the price of the raw material, and because with less iron there are less hatchets available and the product itself become more expensive. Woodcutter then raises the price of the logs they cut, sawmill will pay more and ask more for planks and refined wood materials...
At the end, our NPC, the furniture maker, decide to close his business in that city because wood has become more valuable than gold and move to another town.

End of the story? The ruler will have a lot of gold but won't have a wooden chest where to store it because our NPC moved away.

Let's now see personal and social sides.
there are influenced by many aspects like friends (yes, NPC can have friends too!), maybe even family (NPC marriages and childs) religion and politics (how much does he likes or fear the local noble, how much comfort he finds in priest sermons, etc.) entertainment (local taverns or public places where to spend his free time and spend his dear golds...).

you can imagine every NPC as a scheme shaped like this:

the NPC is a big dot in the middle. He is surrounded by a circles of other dots (smaller, but still quite "big" (by big I mean important) which are directly connected with him. These dots are the variables of the three sides mention above... their dimensions depends on the basics attributes and features of the NPC (there could be a NPC more interested in work, one more in family or having fun, etc.).
Then, every single dot around the NPC is surrounded by other smaller dots that influence that one and so on, like a small solar system of dots that goes around eachother influencing, more or less, the one they spin around.

Here a simplified scheme:

You understand that keeping a NPC happy is not something easy like "give 'em food and roof", but is' more complicated and challenging.

The reward, of course, is worth the game because a lot of NPC working for me means that I can care of the thing I want to (and leave the boring, but necessary ones to them... no more hours spended in mining stones or picking herbs...) and i can get a huge load of golds from my activities... I only need to be careful and take care of my employees, by treating them good and paying them the right amount for their precious job... or just treat them as slaves and scare the ...... out of them and threat their lives if they do not do what I order them to do... in the end... this is a mediefval setting...

There is way more to say about NPCs, how they can marry, how you can have a NPC family (and children that you can, once your main character dies for whatever reason, control... think of something like "the guild", but with no bugs), how they can even create and manage settlements on their own if the contingency allows them to.

But I think it's enough for today.

See you.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2014, 07:29:28 am »

Interesting ideas, it reminds me a bit of "The Witcher 2" with its NPCs in the bigger cities, who have a daily schedule.

I would say you want NPCs who go about their daily lives, like real people,
and thereby influencing an existing simulated economy within the "medieval game", where the state of the economy can influence how the NPCs behave and react to eachother and what kind of decisions they make. Also real players can influence what NPCs do.

I wanted to add that NPC wildlife could go a long way in living up the world, if they can be hunted and hunt each other and so on.
Or they could react to the different seasons, like some animals would hibernate in the winter in the appropriate regions of the world.

So many interesting possibilities.
I wonder what the framerates of a game built in OT will be, once features like a tree generator, possible buildings generator, clouds, a weather system, maybe dynamic snow and so on and a networking system are in place. And then also thousands of NPCs.
But then the power of graphics cards goes up to, so I'm thinking it will be worth the wait.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2014, 07:40:28 am by SpaceFlight »
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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2014, 07:28:20 pm »

I thought of this kind of thing years ago and had a go at trying to code this up some years back. Have a read on this topic in the cartographers guild.



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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2014, 06:56:48 am »

Third part - improving skills

So now we know how to begin, how to develop a new village.

But what can we do to live our life in this game?

Since the "limit-free" nature of this idea, players won't have to choose a class when they create their character. They will have to create their alter ego choosing the main features (classic stats like strenght, constitution, carisma, etc.) and nothing else.
They will discover all the other stats right in game and always in game they will develop them.

I don't have any important feature for this side of the game... I think that the complexity of WURM skill-tree is something that explain quite well what I have in mind.

The only difference is how the development of those skills works.

I don't want a game in which I click, wait and hope for the best.

I think that the ability of the player should be something that determines the outcomes of activities in game; this brings me to think that a huge series of "minigame" should be part of this system.

Let's explain this in more details.

I'm a "level 0" walking just out of the tutorial zone and starting my new life elsewhere.

I want to gather wood in order to build my new house.

Some trees are easier to chop than others, but I can immediately try tto chop the hardest one, nothing will prevent me from doing it... apart that the "cutting wood" minigame will be almost impossible for my (player) abilities.

Of course, if I'm an ex KGB agent with years of special training behind I could manage to accomplish even that minigame, but if I'm just an average guy I will proably not.

So I shoud try with something easier.

This goes, of course, with every activity in game, wood cutting is just an example.

Anyway, i start to cut easy trees, sometimes I will succeed, sometimes I will fail.

An important features (similar to another game or...half-game, which was Roma Victor) could be the "learning by failing".

I'd separate the improvement skill in two different "pools".

The first is the "getting batter at what you know", the second is "learning something new".

Those two pools are the two variebles that allow you to increase your skill and both of them are needed in the process.

So if you cut easy trees and you succeed, you will increase the "first pool" because you see how you can succeed and understand the right way to do thing.

If you fail you will increase the second pool, because you understand how NOT to do things and therefore you will have to find new ones, learning something new.

I could call this the Edison skill system (the story is that Edison tried 2000 different times before he could create the light bulb, so he has found 1999 ways not to make a light bulb and one that works).

When you becvome so good in doing one thing it will be almost impossible to fail in the minigame, so, if you want to increase your skill while doing that particular activity, you will have to move to something harder.

In conclusion, this system always make you earn something when you practice... it could be material (or any product) or experience... but you always "win" something.

Of course the basic features of characters will determine the level of difficulty of the minigames... strenght, endurance, agility will all be important variables and will improve a little anytime you attempt to do something... this is similar, for example, to the elder scrolls system.

This system won't include the combat skills.

i really like the Mount an Blade combat system and I think it would do great in this game concept. That is only player skill based and I like it to be that way. Of course your character strenght, agility etc. will have effects as well as the equipment you have, but that is all. You have to swing your sword or aim with your bow. If you hit the target depends on you, how much damage you do depends on your equipment or stats. that's all.

I think there is nothing around that could beat the fun of that system right now.

That's it for now, but let me answer to the replies this topic got.

ZeosPantera: glad you like it. I'll keep writing this as far as I have something interesting to say hoping that someone will enjoy reading this. Unfortunately I don't have the skills to translate this text into something "real"... the only contribution I could give to a videogame is in storywriting, quest making and lore, nothing else, but I still enjoy "dreaming" of this... eh eh

SpaceFlight: all the ideas i bring up here are probably already in use somewhere else, I know. What you say about the Witcher 2 is probably true (I still have to play that game... I'm awfully late...) but there are a lot of single player game that show us "living" NPCs... what I've never seen is the same thing in multiplayer game... I don't know if it's because of come technical issue that prevent those schemes to be used in multiplayer game, but I think that this is a detail that has to be addressed by game.designers in order to keep up the pace on all the other improvements (Seeing WOW-based games going out nowadays taste like lazyness to me...) Wildlife will have a geat role in a game like that.. hunting could be absolutely a great job to do (how fun  could it be in a great world like Outerra?!?).

Redrobes: I've already had a look to that topic of yours (you linked it in another topic around here) and I've found it very interesting and even more complex, in the village creating side, of what I have in mind.
I really think that videogames could (should!) start to take inspiration from the economic and social model that are commonly used in academic studies...
I mean, if urbanization in real world follow certain rules (from eceonomy to social needs to anything else) that are already present in real models, why cannot we use the same model in virtual worlds?

See you all for the next chapter.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2014, 09:19:49 am »

This looks great. If this was a successful mod for Outerra I wouldn't stop playing. Especially if there would be battles and tactics involved as well. I would like to help you make this into a reality but I need to learn how to be useful at modding and such first. XD
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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2014, 12:01:27 am »

Now imagine this as a huge RP environment. Each user plying their part whether it be a cop, a criminal or farmer, woodsman or salesman. Like an open world sandbox, no special skills or magical weapons or mythical creatures etc, just normal earth type life.

Build your own home using bricks and wood made by other players, furnish it with goods from players who make furniture and so on. A bit like Another life but without the cash shop. Imagine a load of people being dumped on this world with nothing but their bare hands to work with. Now make a world worth living in.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2014, 05:13:24 pm »

Greatest idea and software ive seen being developed in a long time
When done you pick any area to make your own game.
 A full world to work with, air naval armor armed combat
all great potential.
Keep up the good work.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2014, 07:53:18 am »

I've had a similar idea for a long while after discovering Outerra engine.  For example, I would love to see options for simulating historical events like landing of Pilgrims in North America, The Lewis and Clarke Expedition, ...continue a line of history through decades including social, industrial, financial evolution.  This might also become a big market in the field of education, especially among elementary through high school.  Could be some serious money to be made for developers in this arena.  Would do it myself if I had the technical knowledge and skill.


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Re: A world to fill...
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2015, 07:50:07 am »

This is a good example of a mechanic I'd like to see combined with outerra....