Design Notebook: themes
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ide



Joined: 21 Feb 2006
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Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 8:08 pm    Post subject: Design Notebook: themes Reply with quote

Like I suspect a lot of people here, I have more theme ideas than I know what to do with -- and ideas are cheap. Some of these ideas I'm just not interested in enough to flesh out or work on very much.

But inspired by KaVir's Ice Age race-war thread, I thought it would be cool to post theme ideas that weren't even that fleshed out, and if someone wants to run with it, they can spin that theme out into another thread. So that said, I have two ideas I jotted down in the last week. Please note none of this has gone through my Stupid Names filter.
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ide



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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Castle

The game is set in a sprawling, mystical castle. When a player creates a character they are 'born' into one room of the castle -- their home. Their goal is to expand their control over other rooms in the castle, which have either been hand created by the game developers, other players, or spawned by the game process. A player can 'win' by expanding their dominion such that they get access to a 'gate', and then that character leaves the game -- the player then gets to recreate with powers and gear inherited from their previous character, but they restart the dominion process. The old character's rooms remain in the game, and are now open for other players to take control of them.
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ide



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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alleys and Alchemists

The game is set in a medieval-era ghetto, and the two classes are thieves and alchemists. Thieves aim to amass more wealth than anyone else, and alchemists aim to uncover more philosophical and alchemical secrets than anyone else. The setting models twisting, narrow alleyways, rooftop pathways, and climbable building walls. Thieves can go to jail, and alchemists might get burned at the stake by NPC guards and mobs if they're not careful.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2007 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread idea, Ide! Here's an idea I've often thought would make an interesting mud:

The immortals

The players are immortal beings - perhaps not true gods, but at least unaging or very long-lived. They could be immortals like those in the Highlander movie/series, or vampires, or elves, or perhaps something else entirely.

The game itself is split into two parts. The first takes place in the present, and if permadeath is an option, this is the only place where it can occur. The present should probably represent some sort of major event (perhaps the Gathering for a Highlander theme, an end-of-the-world event for a vampire theme, a major war for an elven theme, etc).

The second part of the game takes place in the past, which can actually consist of multiple times. Each player can choose to have a 'flashback' to a specific time/place, which effectively moves them to an appropriate area (obviously you can only choose from among available areas, although your options would expand as more areas were added).

Thus two players might meet in the present, and agree OOC that their characters had met once before. They decide when and where, then both use the 'flashback' command to jump back to that date, where they can roleplay out their original encounter - very much like the flashbacks in Highlander, Forever Knight, etc, where a new character is introduced in both the past and the present at the same time.

Note that when selecting a flashback, you should be able to quickly and easily select an appropriate set of clothing for that particular time and place. Furthermore, all messages should reference your activities in the past tense - if you type 'draw sword' in the present then you'll see "You draw your sword", but if you type it in the past would you instead see "You drew your sword".
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 3:17 am    Post subject: Codename: Ghost Stories Reply with quote

Codename: Ghost Stories
Purgatory

Concept: In the realm of the afterlife the rules of reality cease to apply. Ghosts, demons, necromancers and other undead compete in an eternal struggle to rule over their eternal prison. Game focuses heavily on player vs. player combat and a player-driven political system, though deposition of the powerful is not overly complex. World projection is important, drab, neutral tones being a key factor in color encoding and descriptions leaning towards a perpetual state of twilight. Also, in line with the concept of the world playing out in an alternate state of reality, perception and the laws of physics should change drastically, twisting things into strange shapes and leaving imagination open for the creatures who might inhabit the world.

Nifty feature: Instead of the classic "welcome to being born into the world" newbie school, players instead die, then adopting their afterlife "form" and learning the new rules of their afterlife.

-Vopisk

Great thread idea!
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nightlife (idea taken from my post here)

The game takes place in a modern day city (either fictional, or based on a real city). Each mud day lasts 5 real-life minutes, while each mud night lasts 1 real-life hour. At the start of the game you are freshly graduated but unemployed. You can choose which subject you studied, and this will adjust your starting attributes as well as which jobs you can apply for.

During the day you can choose to attend an interview, which is a minigame - each job has a different minigame. If you complete the minigame, you get the job. Each mud day your character is assumed to be doing his job normally, however you can choose to actively work harder if you wish, which involves another minigame - succeed and you get promoted, fail and you get demoted, or sometimes even fired. You may also choose to quit your job and apply for another one. Your job position determines your income, which allows you to buy better clothes and accessories.

During the night you hit the town, trying to seduce NPCs and bring them home, using a social combat system. Like traditional combat systems, your chances are adjusted based on your stats, skills and equipment (i.e., clothing). As you earn experience your skills increase, allowing you to take on and 'defeat' more challenging 'opponents' - although for the higher level opponents you will also need certain accessories, such as an expensive suit, a fast car, and a flashy apartment.
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is an idea I've posted before, but not all that recently: Fantasy Theme Park.

In the far future, bored humans who have too much time on their hands create a sort of Theme Park that is filled with genetically-manipulated inhabitants. The creatures that live there are designed to emulate mythological creatures: dragons, centaurs, etc. However, the inhabitants do not know about their origins. As far as they are concerned, they actually are dragons and centaurs living in a magical world.

The reality is that the whole world is a vast spaceship, and what the inhabitants think of as magic is actually technology. A wand of blinding is really a laser-based weapon designed to burn out an enemy's retinas. A staff of striking is a device not unlike a cattle prod. An urn of destruction is actually filled with high explosive. A palantir is actually a combined TV camera and screen. A potion of strength is a mixture of powerful stimulants and short-lived nanobots that directly enhance the action of muscles. A magical lantern is really a fluorescent light made to glow by pervasive underground RF generators. And so on.

What I like about this approach is that it allows you to ground a whole variety of "magical" effects in real-life physics, and therefore gives a very precisely defined framework within which you can make plausible decisions about how all the "magic" works and what its limitations are. If a staff of striking actually is an electrical device then you can accurately predict what the effect will be of trying to use it underwater, and accurately guess that it will do more damage when applied to the skin of something that is wet. Any well-thought-out magical system has rules, but if the "magic" is really technology then there's much less effort involved in creating a system of rules that seems plausible and is actually consistent, because the system already exists in real life.

Because the inhabitants of the park are not natural life-forms they could also easily have abilities beyond what a normal creature would have. Their genes have been spliced and respliced, perhaps their bodies are even inhabited by nanobots. This means that they can heal from near-mortal injuries in a matter of hours simpy by consuming enough food. Or perhaps they can make their skins as hard as iron, or change colour, or change shape (like an octopus). If you wish to cross from science fiction to science fantasy you could even grant them psionic abilities.

There two possible directions to take this idea.

Scenario A: The park is still active, and players are customers. Their characters' bodies are either short-lived holographic constructs or specially prepared "shell" bodies which the park's inhabitants perceive to be the same sort of creature as themselves. The minds of the players are temporarily connected to the host bodies during playing sessions, but their real bodies are kept safe and remote.

Scenario B: The park was abandoned several centuries ago, and the player characters are simply inhabitants just like the NPCs who have no idea of their true origins. Players are not told anything about the theme park when they start playing; in fact, no one inside the park now has any idea of the real nature of the place. But the final, high-level quest (as a result of which a player can become an immortal) involves discovering the true nature of the world - breaking past the barriers into the machinery that keeps the world running, and glimpsing the stars that lie outside it.
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Virago



Joined: 06 Jan 2006
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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's one the better half thought of:

Radio Tower Tactics

The characters are members of a faction (ideally no less than three, so there's no immediate good-versus-bad polarization) that must fight with other factions for the control of territory. The primary focus of territory are the radio towers (or mystic crystals, or portals to the land of the dead, or whatever works for your game) standing in various locales; control of a radio tower means you can use its frequencies for your own communications, and allows you to access faction channels when in range. You can also carry portable radios (which are big, boxy, kept-inna-backpack things) for short-range communication, to say nothing of linked walkies. Some objects or skills might allow players to jam or intercept enemy transmissions.

Aside from the Planetside feel, you also have to deal with some sort of natural force--restless natives, nasty weather, you name it--that attacks the towers (and possibly encampments) regardless of who controls them. When guarding a tower, do you destroy it if it looks like you're going to lose? When attacking, do you focus on capturing or demolishing the enemy tower? Do you build up your defenses at the risk of being walled into a hopeless siege, or do you focus on attack power and pray your foes can't get close enough to do damage? What about settlements? Do you have large numbers of small ones so your allies always have a place to sleep, or do you focus on having a limited number of fortresses to guarantee safety (assuming anyone can get to them before they're overcome by the environment)?

Frequencies could affect more than player communications; the wider your band of influence, the easier it could be to get supplies or send patrols to keep angry NPCs at bay. You could even make deals with other unaffiliated groups (like entertainment networks) to piggyback off your signals for a fee.

This sort of game is primarily a tactical PvP game with some PvE options for those who prefer them (like myself). Death would likely work best as some sort of respawn/different-guy-same-unit/dial-a-clone deal, or by having skills and abilities tied to the account as opposed to each character, perhaps with easily-grabbable gear in your home base. Issued versus owned equipment might be something to consider (so you can always have a keepsake from home, but it doesn't do anything). Perhaps a comparison of things-fragged to number-of-times-fragged that determines what goods you're cleared to use? Obviously, this type of game is skewed towards player skill as opposed to character skill, and might be entirely levelless outside of clearance totals.

Roleplay isn't exactly a huge focus here, but you could have socialization and crafting in support roles, such as maintaining a base or preparing rations for hungry troops, or even heading out to gather resources for their given base of operations. While they'd never be as powerful in the long run as Johnny Drivesatank, it's realistic in that way, no? It'd be interesting to see how crafting would work in a setting without much of a player-touchable economy (in that money goes towards group gains, not individuals). Perhaps crafters can help produce temporary equipment buffs, or extra ammo beyond autogenerated clips, effectively increasing how much characters can draw from a communal pool before hitting their rationed limits? Go farm mutant turnips for the Motherland!

While my long-suffering boyfriend originally coined the idea in a post-apoc setting, with some work you could easily adapt it to fantasy, more generic sci-fi, a historical sim, zombies everywhere, and so forth.
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MUD DEV

Players create mud teams from classes including Programmer, Builder, and Whiney Player. Races include people and trolls. The goal is to utilize skills such as grep and stack tracing to defeat insidious bugs. A robust crafting system would be necesary to support the formation of snippets and even entire codebases (so Whiney Players can remort to Admin). Ingame clan support allows pointless talking between user formed groups such as mudconnectors and mudlabs.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmurph wrote:
MUD DEV

Players create mud teams from classes including Programmer, Builder, and Whiney Player. Races include people and trolls. The goal is to utilize skills such as grep and stack tracing to defeat insidious bugs. A robust crafting system would be necesary to support the formation of snippets and even entire codebases (so Whiney Players can remort to Admin). Ingame clan support allows pointless talking between user formed groups such as mudconnectors and mudlabs.


Well, while your post was certainly entertaining and somewhat harsh, considering of course that you are a member of both of those forum groups and still feel free to criticize the discussion, it did give me an idea.

I'm not familiar with any really good hacking MUDs. Sure, it's usually an added feature in some neopunk MUSH or something, but what about a game where your character was entirely your virtual persona and you did hunt bugs and fight against other hackers for control of the interweb? Maybe add a little bit of "real-life" flair to it by allowing your player to purchase upgraded computers and all the mountain dew they can drink! Game play might involve writing programs(magic) through a scripting language or brute-force hacking (warrior) your way through. Then of course, some players could play system administrators who do their best to write firewalls and combat the hackers (paladins?).

Neat idea, if somewhat novel a concept.

-Vopisk
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note: This idea is completely taken from Shasarak's post on MC.

Dreamwalkers

Shasarak wrote:
For example, suppose you've been playing a MUD recently where you can heal faster by making your character sleep, but the only practical impact of sleeping (aside from accelerated healing) is that nothing happens on your screen and you're more vulnerable to attack.

You might think to yourself "well, that's a bit naff; why have sleeping in the game if all you get is a blank screen?"

So then you think "okay, how can we liven this up? Could we perhaps make the character have dreams while he is asleep?"

Then "all right, but non-interactive dreams are kind of boring; what if we actually move the character temporarily into some 'dream area' and let him interact with it?"

Then "ah, but in the dream-world we don't have the same sort of logic or the same laws of reality as there are in the real world, so that means we have to have a completely different sort of gameplay while dreaming. What that might that entail? Could there be weapons or spells that only have a useful effect within the dream world? Can people fly, or unscrew their their feet if they get stuck in something?"

Then "hm, I wonder what sort of impact all this dream-gaming might have on the player-character's real life self? Could he maybe encounter a fearsome dream monster and then, by means of an arcane ritual, actually drag that monster back into the real world, like Freddy Krueger?"

Then "Ooh, Freddy Krueger, that's an interesting idea: how about a monster that actually stalks people in their dreams and can cause real-life damage if you don't find a way of taking it down within the dream world? Or how about giving players a variety of dream-crafting skills that could allow them to stalk other players in their dreams?"

Then, after you've been thinking for a while about the dream-world and the real-world interacting with each other, you might suddenly get the idea of areas of the world where the dream-world and the real world actually overlap with one another. So someone who is awake is walking down a corridor and comes to a junction. Someone who is asleep (and whose physical body is consequently invisible) sees himself floating down a river between high cliffs, and coming to a point where the river forks. Physical objects have both a real form and a dream form and may or may not have significance or power in both worlds.


The link

Anyway, I thought this was a really great idea reading it over this morning and felt it belonged here. Specifically if all the characters shared the "dream world". Then the major bulk of the game might take place in the dreamworld, where players fight fantastic creatures and perform super-human feats and can take on any shape they choose, with death having the result of startling you from "the Dream" and knocking you back to the real world for a period of time so that you can go to work to pay for your apartment or go down to the local club and dance the night away. All you might really need for the "real world" setting would be a single city, in which the players' real-world personas reside. This would also allow you to highly focus the world, which must of course conform to those painful laws of physics and capitalism while allowing complete freedom of imagination in the dream world (which would probably highly speed building time).

Players could also choose (at character generation or perhaps as part of in-game advancement) what powers they have within the dream world. Starting with one and working their way up to others. Instantaneous travel, shape changing, conjuring, magic, the amount of powers are really pretty wide open, and perhaps it takes a higher level of player to gain the better powers or to access parts of the dream-world.

A game like this would also allow you to basically dynamically create the "world" as it were every time, since we can't expect things in our dreams to ever remain solid even between one dream and the next. Maybe you'll walk in and see a giant crocodile firing a blaster rifle at a lobster wielding a thirty-foot fiery sword, or King Henry the VIII playing World of Warcraft while sitting on top of a mountain of empty Rockstar cans! Then again, perhaps each player can have their own little corner of the dreamworld that is attached to a fixed central node and another power could be the ability to make permanent changes to the terrain of the dreamworld.

I don't know, I could go on for hours, and might look at starting a project like this (with Shas' permission), but given the amount of time I have to devote to anything, I thought this idea should be posted here for others to consider as well.

-Vopisk
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shasarak



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
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Location: Emily's Shop

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk wrote:
might look at starting a project like this (with Shas' permission)

Knock yourself out! Very Happy

It's an idea that I've been kicking around for a little while, actually. See also, for example, my comments in this thread:

http://www.mudconnect.com/discuss/discuss.cgi?mode=MSG&area=general&message=15236#15236

I've probably posted it elsewhere too, but my memory isn't what it used to be (it used to be my spleen!) so I'm not sure....
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk wrote:
Anyway, I thought this was a really great idea reading it over this morning and felt it belonged here. Specifically if all the characters shared the "dream world". Then the major bulk of the game might take place in the dreamworld, where players fight fantastic creatures and perform super-human feats and can take on any shape they choose, with death having the result of startling you from "the Dream" and knocking you back to the real world for a period of time so that you can go to work to pay for your apartment or go down to the local club and dance the night away.


There's a (now rather dated) science fiction film called Dreamscape which does something similar, except that killing someone in their dreams really does kill them. The story revolves around an assassin attempting to murder the US President by entering his dreams, and a psychic who tries to prevent him. The two fight it out within the landscape of the President's nightmares, using their control over dreams to shapechange, summon weapons, and so on. Note that within the movie, each person has their own dream world, and you have to be quite close physically in order to enter someone else's dream.

Were I to implement something like this, I think I'd probably give each person their own dreamscape that they could customise freely, with higher sleep states moving you to a shared dream plane (I think the Wheel of Time books work a bit like this, too). I'd then have three levels of difficulty for dream manipulation - your own dreamscape would be easy to control, the shared dream plane would be of medium difficulty, and other people's dreamscapes would be hard to manipulate.
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jmurph



Joined: 19 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vopisk wrote:


Well, while your post was certainly entertaining and somewhat harsh, considering of course that you are a member of both of those forum groups and still feel free to criticize the discussion, it did give me an idea.

I'm not familiar with any really good hacking MUDs. Sure, it's usually an added feature in some neopunk MUSH or something, but what about a game where your character was entirely your virtual persona and you did hunt bugs and fight against other hackers for control of the interweb? Maybe add a little bit of "real-life" flair to it by allowing your player to purchase upgraded computers and all the mountain dew they can drink! Game play might involve writing programs(magic) through a scripting language or brute-force hacking (warrior) your way through. Then of course, some players could play system administrators who do their best to write firewalls and combat the hackers (paladins?).

Neat idea, if somewhat novel a concept.

-Vopisk


I apologize if you took it as a criticism as my tongue was firmly lodge in cheek on this one. The reference to the forums was more of a general poke at guilds/player groups and was probably a bit too rough with both forums (that I feel are invaluable mud resources). So, to the degree it was inspiring or comical, I accomplished my goal. To the degree I offended, I apologize- I meant to rib, not to slice!

Back on topic, bug hunting in a virtual world has appealed to me as a theme. I picture a Matrix like environ where players could hunt down hostile elements and craft by manipulating "the code". I suppose it could even be a subgame in a sci-fi/cyberpunk themed mud....

Interesting that it also parallels the dream discussion.....
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
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Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
Vopisk wrote:
Anyway, I thought this was a really great idea reading it over this morning and felt it belonged here. Specifically if all the characters shared the "dream world". Then the major bulk of the game might take place in the dreamworld, where players fight fantastic creatures and perform super-human feats and can take on any shape they choose, with death having the result of startling you from "the Dream" and knocking you back to the real world for a period of time so that you can go to work to pay for your apartment or go down to the local club and dance the night away.


There's a (now rather dated) science fiction film called Dreamscape which does something similar, except that killing someone in their dreams really does kill them. The story revolves around an assassin attempting to murder the US President by entering his dreams, and a psychic who tries to prevent him. The two fight it out within the landscape of the President's nightmares, using their control over dreams to shapechange, summon weapons, and so on. Note that within the movie, each person has their own dream world, and you have to be quite close physically in order to enter someone else's dream.

Were I to implement something like this, I think I'd probably give each person their own dreamscape that they could customise freely, with higher sleep states moving you to a shared dream plane (I think the Wheel of Time books work a bit like this, too). I'd then have three levels of difficulty for dream manipulation - your own dreamscape would be easy to control, the shared dream plane would be of medium difficulty, and other people's dreamscapes would be hard to manipulate.


That might be a better way to handle things. It would be fun customizing your own dreamscape and booby trapping it to make short work of any pesky invaders, also giving you a place to rest and explore yourself when you don't feel like dealing with others. Plus the idea of breaking into someone else's dreams would add another element to the game that was missing from my previous idea.

-Vopisk
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