Theme: Alleys and Alchemists

 
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 105
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 5:20 am    Post subject: Theme: Alleys and Alchemists Reply with quote

I posted briefly about this in the Design Notebook thread, and I'm rather fond of the idea so I've expanded it a little stream-of-consciousness style. My main goal is to go beyond some of the normal mud gameplay; though much of it is still rather typical, I'm trying to avoid some of the cliches of mud design. The typical design strategy here is to steal as many good ideas from MudLab as possible, thus creating a Super MUD TM-- half machine, half transcendent spirit.


ALLEYS AND ALCHEMISTS

Love, Death, and Taxes in the Strange of the City of Pearl

For a quick summary here are the MudConnector search parameters for Alleys and Alchemists (AAA):

Quote:

Select a server type: Any Code Base
Select a location: Any Location
Select a language: English

Not Extended race selection
Quests available
Ansi Color Used
Not Pay to play
Equipment Saved
Detailed Char Creation
Levelless System

Player-kill and Multi-Play Options:
Restrict search to muds allowing restricted or full Player-killing

World Size/Originality Options: All Original

Choose a Roleplaying Model: Roleplaying is Accepted


The four buzz phrases for AAA are Time, Space, Multiplayer, and Narrative Representation.

AAA follows a model of data-driven plug-and-play agency -- the players have a lot of freedom, but within the constraints and data defined by the game.

Typographically the game is very clean with a lot of configuration display options. Minimum (i.e. nothing) for out-of-game rules and policy.

The Strange of The City of Pearl, better known as The City, Pearl, or The Pit to its locals, is a mash-up of 9th-19th c. Euro and American New York culture. The printing press, guns, clocks, gas and water piping, guilds, churches, sects, mercenaries, bloody barber-surgeons, leeches, seances.

Gameplay:

  • Exploration (of the city).
  • Research (of old mysteries, new technologies).
  • Politics (the city as NPC, its wars, foreign relations).
  • Economy (trade, foreign trade, thievery).
  • Development (real estate -- little building blocks and lots for players, like mud legos within a tightly proscribed environment).
  • Groups (cults, gangs, guilds, cabals, circles, clans, clubs, sects, followers).
  • Assets (skills as resources -- wealth, tech, followers).
  • Nature (natural disasters, weathers, plague -- nothing complex, mostly for color and to affect foreign trade inputs somewhat randomly).
  • Slices of life (instanced actors and tales for players)

Geography: coordinate-based, paths and buildings; climbable buildings and rooftop pathways; overhead map; descriptive text and ascii mini-map, displayed side by side or alternately depending on player configuration.

One race of man...

Dangerous beasts and spirits inhabiting...

Multiple planes, because one plane of existence is never enough.

3:1 game time to system time.

Characters: Players create as a Mob -- a faceless man or woman. They can mix and match appearance, dress, obtain gear, and add or drop histories and backgrounds. To advance in the game beyond simple tales and tasks they choose one of three classes, Essence, Spirit, or Lucre, that define their soul.

New Essence characters are alchemists and summoners. They research formula, walk in other planes, bind infernal beasts, build esoteric libraries and laboratories.

Spirit characters are priests, cultists, charlatans, evangelists. They gather followers, see visions, lead crusades, pass edicts, create and condemn new ways of morality, influence culture, make movements.

Thieves, merchants, and politicians are Lucre characters. They buy and sell, steal, create and abolish laws, invest, and build.

Characters exist outside of the game time, in a way. If they die, their soul returns. Players can change elements of their character's appearance, their background and histories, as they wish within the logic of the system; in the same way the soul is assumed to return to another form, but always of the same class.

Narrative representation in AAA means that not all game objects need to be represented on a 1:1 basis with physical objects every character can hold or look at. This goes for events as well as objects. For example, combat between two characters could be finished and displayed in a single paragraph, as an event that happened in the past somewhere else. Player homes exist in the city, but can't be directly accessed from the map -- they are accessible through game systems in an abstract sense, but not from a specific coordinate. Character families are instanced and not directly accessible by other player characters...and so on.


I would be interested in hearing what sounds weak or what has potential.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
For example, combat between two characters could be finished and displayed in a single paragraph, as an event that happened in the past somewhere else.


Do you mean that after the fight, a descriptive paragraph would be generated and displayed? Or are you suggesting replacing the entirety of combat with a single descriptive message? Eg:

> kill orc
You lunged towards the orc, longsword held low, and drove your buckler into his face. The orc fell back, wiping the blood from his broken nose with the back of one hand while drawing his axe with the other. Striking again, before the orc had a chance to recover, you swung your blade in a wide arc across his throat. The orc's headless corpse crashed to the ground, closely followed by his severed head, and you stood victorious.


The former approach (generating a description after a normal fight) might feel more as if were tacked on than being part of the actual event - at worst, it could end up as an undesirable chunk of often-repetitive spam at the end of each fight.

The latter approach (reducing the entire combat to a descriptive summary) sounds conceptually cool within the context of narrative gameplay, but I fear it might be abstracting combat a bit too far - while you could still allow for tactical planning, it would completely eliminate the concept of mid-fight skill.

Alternatively, perhaps you're thinking of some sort of middle ground? A turn-based combat system, for example, where the players have a minute or so to plan out their actions for the next turn, with a descriptive summary of events displayed at the end of each turn.

Regardless of which approach you're planning to take, it'll require a lot of work to avoid repetitive descriptions.
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
Posts: 105
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 6:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
Do you mean that after the fight, a descriptive paragraph would be generated and displayed? Or are you suggesting replacing the entirety of combat with a single descriptive message?


Yes, the latter. My main inspiration here are old PBEM games, which would report combat (sometimes in great detail) as past events from the completed turn.

I wouldn't abandon 'contemporaneous' combat entirely though; 'past combat' would just be a facet of the combat system, the idea being that the events of a character's story don't all happen when the player is sitting there moving their avatar around. Not exactly persistence between a player's active sessions, but getting closer to it.

Quote:
Regardless of which approach you're planning to take, it'll require a lot of work to avoid repetitive descriptions.


Yeah, some degree of repetitiveness is going to be inevitable. However I can add a few more parameters, such as location, time of day, weather, NPCs, than are usually considered in mud combat systems -- by abstracting the fight you can fake the extra complexity a little more easily.
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