Clan system

 
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:41 am    Post subject: Clan system Reply with quote

I've been trying to work out how to handle clans for quite a while now, but I'm still having trouble putting together a design I like.

This is the rough outline so far. Any feedback is welcome.

Purpose:

* Provides a sink for in-game currency.
-- Accessable to most players.
-- Always more things to buy.

* Provides an infrastructure for social interaction.
-- Formalised handling of allies and enemies.
-- Promotes teamplay with fellow clan members.
-- Encourages PK against opposing clans.

* Entertaining
-- Those who have advanced as far as possible still have something to do.
-- Should be fun for all stages of gameplay (including newbies).

Goals:

* Requires no admin interaction.
-- Prevent silly clan names.
-- Avoid having too many or too few clans.

* Provides incentive to join or start a clan.
-- Balance between joining a clan and starting an existing one.
-- Rewards for owning or belonging to a clan.

* Doesn't overly impact those who don't wish to participate in clans.
-- Rewards for clan membership aren't needed for competitive play.
-- Clan battles don't get in the way of regular play.

* Allows customisation.
-- Choose your clan name.
-- Define entry requirements.
-- Select special clan benefits.
-- Design your own clan plane.
-- Create guardians.

Overview:

You spend a fixed amount of currency. This gives a basic clan, complete with a clan plane. You then have to select a name for your clan, which would consist of a prefix and suffix. Examples of prefix would be blood, dark, death, doom, fang, frost, hell, light, night, shadow, spirit, storm, etc. Examples of suffix would be bearer, bringer, ripper, shifter, slayer, stalker, etc. Any reasonable suggestions for new prefixes or suffixes could be added, but this would prevent silly names while allow me to avoid having to authorise each and every clan name.

You could then select a clan type, which would includes things like Bloodline, Cabal, Clan, Conclave, Coven, Guild, Pack, Pantheon, Tribe, etc. These would each have certain minor modifications geared towards certain styles of play - for example Pack might give a bonus while in wolf or hellhound form, while cabals and covens might give spellcasting bonuses, and so on.

Next, you could define ranks of authority within your organisation, the entry cost and requirements, and so on. You could also travel to your clan plane and customise it, adding defensive structures, lairs for guardian monsters, etc. Many of these options would have additional costs (in particular, anything non-cosmetic which improved the power of the clan). You could also select (or purchase) several clan powers, from which each clan member could pick three.

At this point your basic clan would be ready, but it wouldn't provide any income. To get that, you'd need to travel to the 'plane of war', find one of the magical focus points which are scattered around the landscape, and bind your clan plane to it. The landscape at that location would ripple and transform into a mirror of your clan plane, and each clan member would start getting benefits (depending on their rank).

The focus points would vary from very powerful to very weak, and each clan could only hold one of them at any one time. Thus the most powerful clan would hold the best point, and have no real incentive to attack the weaker clans (except perhaps to weaken a greedy rival). A newbie clan would grab a weak focus point on the outskirts, but as they gained in power they'd move steadily inwards.

If one clan attacks another and destroys their central structure, they'd have the opportunity to capture that focus point. The losing clan would then get the winner's old focus point.

Non-clanned players might still travel to the plane of war in search of magical treasure, and could find themselves in the middle of a battle. However they'd also be able to stay out of the way if they so desired.

Clan leaders would have the option of forging alliances with each other, preventing PK between their clan members.

Potential issues:

1. A strong clan could still bully weaker clans, simply for the fun of it.

2. Guardian mobs won't stop a determined attacker, and players can't remain online all the time.

3. Players with alts could use those alts as cheap muscle to protect their clans.
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Somatic Apoptosis



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Clan system Reply with quote

Oh goodie, another one of those questions with no easy answers.

One of the first things you mentioned was controlling the economy, how important is that? Because if its just a "every gold sink helps" approach you could have maintenance costs for certains aspects (keeping a dragon around is nice, but you certainly dont want it getting *too* hungry), or charge for some of the showier cosmetic ones (people will pay just for looks when they can, dont worry).

This could be handled by the members of the clan paying dues, which go into a clan vault, whose cache can only be depleted by buying things for the clan. The amount of the dues can be skewed through any number of factors, such as clan expenditures, clan size, the power of their control point in the plane of war, member's position in the clan, any repair that needs to be done due to damage caused by attacking clans... also, since enemy clans wont be competing exclusively only on the battlefield, you can have dues scale to favor leaders, or members, or be nuetral... of course, since there will be more low level members they will be able to handle the increased cost fairly easily, however grudgingly. Leaders trying to carry most of the weight should be extremely difficult, to make inciting defecting to your clan due to incentives like lower dues feasible, if difficult.

Sorry, meant to adress each of your points in greater detail, but I have to go.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
One of the first things you mentioned was controlling the economy, how important is that?


Not overly, but I could do with some cash sinks, and this seems like a good one.

Quote:
Because if its just a "every gold sink helps" approach you could have maintenance costs for certains aspects (keeping a dragon around is nice, but you certainly dont want it getting *too* hungry), or charge for some of the showier cosmetic ones (people will pay just for looks when they can, dont worry).


I'm not overly fond of maintenance costs as a general rule - they remind me too much of rent. Still, perhaps it could work in moderation, requiring certain buildings to be repaired and guardian golems to be recharged. Skip payment, and that particular defence would be weakened until you paid its repair/recharge cost again.

This could also be used to help balance out newbie clans against the more experienced clans, with relatively cheap basic defences providing a solid bonus, and each step upwards providing a weaker bonus for a greater cost. To have every possible advantage you'd want to stock up on the really expensive buildings and guardians, but someone could have only slightly weaker defences by spending quite a lot less.
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Somatic Apoptosis



Joined: 10 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I hate using other peoples computers, especially when they wont let me install a good browser. I just lost an hour 20 minutes of typing up an extremely lengthy reply to this due to my session expiring. Ill highlight some of the bigger points I brought up later...

*curses*
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Somatic Apoptosis



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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem with real life rent is that its expensive. Its also something which inconveniences the low guy on the totem pole more then a big fish. You are correct in thinking that implimenting it into a MUD wouldnt solve any problems, and just correct some. My concept, however poorly written, was slightly different.

Make the upkeep minor - some pocket change that players will very nearly always have on hand. This is a reasonable approach to actually use because players will not be greatly inconvenienced by it. At the same time, it will be sucking money out of the economy without really encouraging any extra farming.

And thats a concern, to be honest. Personally, Ive seen games with upkeep great enough that all it accomplished was, basically, forcing players to farm. In response, players exploited a few poorly designed mechanics to farm large amounts of gold very quickly. The admins then made farming very difficult, resulting in large stockpiles of gold on old characters and very little on new characters, who spent the majority of their time farming just to try to be competitive. In response to a slight decrease in the cost of upkeep, players farmed as much as they did before in order to "save up" for one reason another - an upcoming nerf, fending off a serious attack, etc.

In other examples Ive more commonly seen upkeep, designed to keep the economy in check, increased the inflation of a MUDs economy due to making everyone farm DISPROPORTIONATLY MORE to maintain what they considered a reasonable stockpile of cash.

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What I would consider, KaVir, is to think of what tactics you want clans to use against each other, and then model a game which will encourage that sort of play. Do you want swarm fighting, maintained pressure (siege warfare), spiking (taking a single powerful target down fast), or skirmishing to be the best tactic? How important is psychology in your game model (can you try to trick your opponet, or force them to make bad /tactical/ decisions under pressure)?

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I know that if I played on a game that didnt let me pick my clan name Id be kinda pissed - and I mean that in the sense I already have a name for my clan (guild actually) and it wouldnt be in your 'acceptable noun adjective combination' list. I would pick a suitable temporary name then ask the admin to change it. Perhaps you should allow clans to (for a fee, why not?) request a change from your list to a specific string. To prevent excessive requests, go ahead and make the fee steep, and get much steeper with each successive request. Its a big one time gold sink, and one players wont mind too much - a proven (or growing) clan can purchase a unique title for itself as a status symbol.

-

You say you do not want CvC (clan vs clan) to interefere with normal game play... and yet, that seems pretty much impossible to me. Clans WILL interfere with normal game play, all you can do as a designer is limit the impact this has on a persons game experience. For example, if your normal game (I assume this is PvE grinding for PvP (PK) prowess, yes?) promotes long periods of time invested for big pay offs, and CvC may require fast responses by clan members, then you have a problem.

Ideally you will want to minimize the number of times a character is told "come do clan related stuff... now! oh, your fighting a dragon? i dont care, run away and get here fast!" to as close to 0 as possible. Obviously you will need clan members to do clan activities some of the time, often all together (kinda the whole point of a clan). These times should be known as far ahead of time as possible, and/or have a bit of a leeway on when a player needs to devote his time to the clan.

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This is more of a thematic change I would suggest, to try to promote healthy design. Change the 'focus points' from points on the Plane of War to demi-planes. This gives you several tools you can use to your advantage:

A) Seperation - travelers in the Plane of War no longer have to worry about running across a CvC in progress and getting screwed by it.

B) Control - you can much easier control how people enter clan halls, and thus how clan battles are held.

C) Design Freedom - you can do alot more with a demiplane then you can a location on a plane. of course, there could still be fortified locations in the primary plane, too

D) Locomotion - by making a clan hall reside in a demiplane you make it much more feasible to move it about the Plane of War, ideally with tactical ramifications

-

Relatively, how powerful are each of the focus points going to be? How numerous? Will the focus points be purely linear in power (each weaker then the last by a percentage), or will there be notable drops in power, every few points?

The model I like is this:

There is one single focus point which is more powerful then all the rest (rank A+). It has a very slight over the second most powerful group, as low as a single percentage. Holding this point is basically a bragging right.

The second most powerful point (rank A) is where the big boys play. There are 2-8 of them, depending on the size of your MUD, the number of clans, etc. As already noted, there are no major differences between the power between A+ and A.

The third most powerful points (rank B) are the most numerous, and are for the more 'run of the mill' players. This has 4-20 slots, and has a notable, but manageable, difference in power compared to Rank A.

The fourth most powerful (rank C) has a little bit more points then rank A does, say 3-12. Its lack of power is similar to Rank B as Rank B's lack is to Rank A.

Each of these would have a position that is tactically beneficial to varying degrees, so one Rank A position might not give any hard stat buffs relative to any other Rank A, but it might have impenetrable walls on 3 sides.

I would impliment this along with my idea of demiplanes being attached to focus points, rather then clan halls being made around focus points.

You could then even move your demiplane from the focus point, and move it adjacent to a foe to attack their clanhall. You could have the demiplanes mesh together, so your two fortifications are forcing each other.

Of course, you would then have to defend your own focus point while you are attacking their clanhall, you can do this by building fortifications in the landscape immediately surrounding the control point in the plane of war.

Itd be sensible that you could only attack a clan hall in this manner after you had destroyed the fortifications surrounding their focus point. You could make these focus point fortifications more or less dispensable - they are something you would have to reassemble every time they got attacked. Making them disposable front line defenses gives it more of a war-time feel (what I like with CvC personally).

Another idea I like with this is having a daily cycle the demiplane follows, which I will use my super-lame powers of naming to call 'power cycles'. Each day you pass through one of three 'power stages', which you could further identify with some descriptive titles. During the 'defensive stage' you will be immune to attacks, but unable to attack. During the 'passive stage' you will be vulnerable to attacks, but cannot initiate attacks. During 'aggressive stage' you can attack and be attacked. Different clan types can cycle through these stages differently, based off of preference/focus point etc. Perhaps you can add an 'enraged stage' for special circumstances, in which a clan can attack but not be attacked... such as an IRL/IGN full moon for a werewolf pack.

Of course you could always say that demiplanes are mostly 'inner sanctums' unique to the focus point, while the external fortifications are where the real meat of your defenses are.

Or you can enter a demiplane by fighting through the (extremely tough) outer fortifications, or by opening a portal from demiplane to demiplane, which can only be done during certain hours. This lets you do 'late night raids' but they are much harder then fighting normally during the day. You can also have a tactical advantage to breaking through both levels of defense by allowing flanking.

Or the demiplane is static, and unique to the focus point, with its own flavor. Perhaps it has a unique way to capture it, which will allow clans to fight for specific focus points with strategies benefitting their tactics.

Or limit the amount of damage the central structure can take per minute/hour. This cap could increase over time, be effected by the focus point/clan powers/repair rate/etc. Have there be a penalty for trying to bring it down too fast, or have repair capabilities become more expensive when used repetitively, or anything to add tactical depth.

Or any number of things, Im just running with a concept here.

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You say that you want clans to provide tangible combat bonuses which dont affect normal gameplay, and are not required to remain competitive?

Sorry, not gonna happen. People trying to be competitive percieve every single combat-effecting point they can gain as being vital to their success. Case in point, the game I played prior to this was Guild Wars. In Guild Wars, player dealt damage is fairly small compared to MUDs. Swords dealt 15-22 damage vs base caster armor, and could add 30ish damage with an average attack skill.

Now, the amusing thing was how much a single extra point of damage mod was worth. Weapons could have a damage mod for 10% to 15%, applied after a +20% dmg bonus for customizing the weapon irrevocably to that character. Both modifiers applied to only the base damage of the weapon - not the skill damage. This meant that if your weapon had a 15% bonus you dealt rand(15-22)*1.2*1.15+30 damage. If it was 14%, youd be looking at rand(15-22)*1.2*1.14+30 damage. The 15% weapons were worth more then 10x as much as the 14%, and anything else was considered "worthless"... even though the damage bonus was imperceptable in many tests!

Instead of trying to give people a small bonus which wont impact normal game play significantly, give them a decent sized bonus which wont effect it AT ALL. My proposal is this:

Give clan members theme-appropriate bonuses when attacking an enemy clan hall. Afterall, when else would a Werewolf be as fiercesome as when he is fighting alongside his Pack? Surely a Coven could, together, cast spells more devastating then alone? This gives not only flavor, but enhanced tactical control of CvC, as you can assign penalties, bonuses, and new skills without breaking normal gameplay.

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I would have clan based powers be earned by doing things with your clan - be it CvC or engaging in 'hey look its a blood! get em!" gang PK in the normal game. I mean clan warfare.

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I know its not what you are looking for exactly, but you might want to consider at least looking at how Guild Wars has their GvG (guild vs guild) set up, as it is the primary focus of the game with game mechanics tailored specficially for it, with the rest of the game being a secondary concern.

-

NOTE: To avoid loosing my work again (as I am still on someone elses laptop) I will be simply editting this post every couple of paragraphs, cuz I like looking at this alot better then notepad.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I know that if I played on a game that didnt let me pick my clan name Id be kinda pissed - and I mean that in the sense I already have a name for my clan (guild actually) and it wouldnt be in your 'acceptable noun adjective combination' list.


Well as I said, any reasonable suggestions for new prefixes or suffixes could be added.



Quote:
You say you do not want CvC (clan vs clan) to interefere with normal game play... and yet, that seems pretty much impossible to me.


For those who "don't wish to participate in clans", yes.

Quote:
Clans WILL interfere with normal game play, all you can do as a designer is limit the impact this has on a persons game experience. For example, if your normal game (I assume this is PvE grinding for PvP (PK) prowess, yes?) promotes long periods of time invested for big pay offs, and CvC may require fast responses by clan members, then you have a problem.


No, I don't mind that - if someone has chosen to join a clan, then I want them to be heavily involved in clan wars and the like. What I'm talking about are those who don't belong to clans, or have any interest in clan-related activities.

In particular, I don't want wandering newbies to get flattened because a clan war spilled over into the zone they were walking through.



Quote:
This is more of a thematic change I would suggest, to try to promote healthy design. Change the 'focus points' from points on the Plane of War to demi-planes. This gives you several tools you can use to your advantage:

A) Seperation - travelers in the Plane of War no longer have to worry about running across a CvC in progress and getting screwed by it.


If they wish to travel to the Plane of War, then I actually want them to have that risk. The Plane of War is designed for clan play, but if a solo player wishes to risk it that's their choice.

Quote:
B) Control - you can much easier control how people enter clan halls, and thus how clan battles are held.


Building up your defences so as to make your 'clan halls' as inaccessable as possible is intended to be part of the strategy.

Quote:
C) Design Freedom - you can do alot more with a demiplane then you can a location on a plane. of course, there could still be fortified locations in the primary plane, too


I can't think of any additional freedom it might give. Note that the clan planes are already separate planes - it's just that they can also be tied to the nodes (the landscape around the node is replaced with that of the plane).

Quote:
D) Locomotion - by making a clan hall reside in a demiplane you make it much more feasible to move it about the Plane of War, ideally with tactical ramifications


It can already be moved freely, but I only want clan planes to be placed over the specific focus points - one of the main design ideas is that players should defend their focus point.



Quote:
Relatively, how powerful are each of the focus points going to be? How numerous? Will the focus points be purely linear in power (each weaker then the last by a percentage), or will there be notable drops in power, every few points?


The power difference between each focus point should be small enough that it won't make any noticable impact when a clan attacks the clan above it - but large enough that there's an incentive to actually launch that attack. I also envision the weakest of the focus points being in highly defendable places, while the strongest of the focus points would be in much less defendable locations. Just like a craggy mountain provides a good place for a castle but little in the way of usable land, while a rich plain provides good ground for growing but a poor location to defend.



Quote:
Another idea I like with this is having a daily cycle the demiplane follows, which I will use my super-lame powers of naming to call 'power cycles'. Each day you pass through one of three 'power stages', which you could further identify with some descriptive titles. During the 'defensive stage' you will be immune to attacks, but unable to attack. During the 'passive stage' you will be vulnerable to attacks, but cannot initiate attacks. During 'aggressive stage' you can attack and be attacked. Different clan types can cycle through these stages differently, based off of preference/focus point etc. Perhaps you can add an 'enraged stage' for special circumstances, in which a clan can attack but not be attacked... such as an IRL/IGN full moon for a werewolf pack.


Nice idea! To plan an attack on another clan, you'd have to compare your "windows of opportunity" for the best time. You could even have some sort of in-game calender which showed the convergence of different power cycles, and use it to judge when attacks are likely to take place.



Quote:
You say that you want clans to provide tangible combat bonuses which dont affect normal gameplay, and are not required to remain competitive?

Sorry, not gonna happen.


Sure it is - the bonuses can provide additional options rather than additional power. A clan-specific weapon which is on-par with other weapons. A clan-only demon warp which is on-par with other warps. A clan-only talent which is balanced against other talents.

Assuming options X, Y and Z, each balanced against each other, Z would be clan-only. Non-clan members who selected X or Y wouldn't be any less powerful than the clan member who had Z.

Having said that, I don't mind it affecting normal gameplay, as long as the impact isn't too severe. I fully intend for clan warfare to be part of the "higher game".
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
You then have to select a name for your clan, which would consist of a prefix and suffix. Examples of prefix would be blood, dark, death, doom, fang, frost, hell, light, night, shadow, spirit, storm, etc. Examples of suffix would be bearer, bringer, ripper, shifter, slayer, stalker, etc. Any reasonable suggestions for new prefixes or suffixes could be added, but this would prevent silly names while allow me to avoid having to authorise each and every clan name.


I like the prefix/suffix idea as a way of generating a large number of "legit" names. However, why do you want to use it for clan names? IMHO it'd be better used for something that players like to change around often and on a whim, for example custom titles (after a player's name or on an item).

Why not just spend the extra 30 seconds it takes to approve or reject each clan name manually? Unless you plan on having hundreds of clans springing up and going under on a weekly basis on your game, I don't see the benefit of having an automated system (time saved on approving/rejecting names vs. restrictive/rigid naming structure).

If you absolutely don't want to deal with rejecting and approving names, you could always appoint some kind of moderator or player-regulated council to deal with it.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grabnar wrote:
Why not just spend the extra 30 seconds it takes to approve or reject each clan name manually?


Generally I try to avoid things that require administrative work, as they have a tendancy to build up. In this case, however, I've been convinced that player-chosen names are worth the effort, so I'm going to go that route.

It's generally much less aggravating to approve/reject clan names before they're in use than to tell a player they have to change the name they're already using, plus it avoids really bad names from entering circulation before I can get to them. However I don't want people to have to wait for approval before they can even use their clan. So by default I think I'll just name the clan after the founder and clan type ("KaVir's Cabal", "Grabnar's Pack", etc) and let the player choose a new name which is only visible to admin until approved.
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