Friday, June 27, 2008


I'm having some really random MMO thoughts, despite the fact that I hate the genre...

-One of the things I want to try with it is that the entire game is class-less. Which is to mean you don't build a fighter, cleric, wizard, etc, etc. Instead, it's all about stats, skills, and perks.

The base game engine is D100 based-stats plus skills, minus modifiers. PVP and PVC (Player Vs. Character) will include modifiers based upon how well the other guy rolled to resist. You can level stats up as high as you want, but they cost XP. Skills as well, but only up to 25%, then you have to find a tutor for your next qualification (journeyman), then at 50% you have to find a mentor (expert), then at 75% a sponsor (master), and finally at 100% and beyond a God (heh, Elite). Otherwise, no restrictions at all.

Then, we have perks and disadvantages. Perks and disadvantages "round out" a character, and are first purchased, then can be gained through gameplay. There's a reasonable number of "perk points" you can buy at the start of the game, but if you want more, you have to buy disadvantages.

Here are two good disadvantage examples-
*Nemesis. At the level you buy it, every "real" hour in the game means that your nemesis shows up, on an increasing chance. Depending upon how powerful your nemesis is, he could be weaker, stronger, or equal. If he's stronger, it's good to have friends. And, sometimes, nemesis drop interesting stuff. If you want to get more points, buy a PC as a Nemesis. And, wait as he comes to kill you, steal your stuff, and skullfuck your corpse.
*Incompetent. This is a skill penalty (in the form of more XP to buy the skill), and can cover any one skill, set of skills (magery, for example, is a skill set. You buy a particular "branch" of spells, and if you have the skill for it, you can cast the spells you buy), and how much XP more you need to raise the skill.

This allows for some pretty interesting characters-and a wider variety of them.

-Most games control weapons and armor on the basis of levels, a sort of "you must be this tall to destroy the city" control. But, the game I'm thinking about has no levels-so, how do you prevent some total new guy from doing the whole "I paid a Chinese guy $3,000 and he gave me all the most awesome stuff!" aspect.

First of all, to use some items you have to have minimum stats and skills. Buying Divine Blizzard when your Ice Magic skill is only 30% is a waste of money and could get you killed if you tried to use it. Literally, as in "it rips your character's soul apart, generate a new character" thing. Second, some weapons and items require you to get Certified. This is a quest (or you can buy the basic certifications during character creation) and each certification gives bonuses besides the ability to use certian kinds of weapons and/or advanced weapons of each class and type.

And, let's not forget-if you want to use some of the really unique weapons, you have to go on some pretty hellacious quests...

-Having a reputation is very important. All the more so, in this game.

Reputation is something you can track, between the six major and twelve or so minor factions. Having a good reputation means that you can get deals at the various stores, buy cheaper drinks at the bars, and the City Guards will take your side-with a vengeance-in towns that your faction is in control of. If you're in a town that you have a bad reputation with...vendors won't sell to you, bar fights become more common, and the City Guard will beat you up, steal your stuff, and do other horrible things to you.

And, if the reputation of you in a town is really come with a whole bunch of friends, to conquer the town...

-One of the things I hate in MMORPGs is the power gamers that play huge numbers of hours per day, and build hugely buffed characters. And then take them to stomp on everybody else...

So, you have to include some way to fix this problem. Worlds of Warcraft has the answer in the form of multipliers to XP for the time you stay off of the game-and it has to be a real amount of time. It's a neat idea...but, I think it can be done better.

My idea? Your character, in-game, has a job. Doesn't matter what the job is-tho certain skill, reputation, and perk sets will mean that you can take certain jobs over others. What do these jobs do? You earn money, and some XP. Certain jobs let you work on player character-based will create an eidiolon, which interacts with thing as a NPC bot. The catch? You have to be off-line at least eight hours in a 24 hour period. Spend too much time on-line, and your character becomes a freelancer...which means you have to pay rent, bills, etc, etc...and you don't get the nice and nifty XP bit for doing nothing.

-One of the "fun" things in many MMORPGs is creating objects. Then, selling them. Then, repeating the process.

From my perspective, if I want to do that, I'll get a job making widgets. But, some people find this exciting, so....

Manufacturing items is a tricky thing-and, to produce more than the most basic thing, you need a workshop. Of course, some workshops come in a Portable format (with the cute graphics of you opening up a box...and a whole workshop appears right there...), so you can take them anywhere. This lets you make new stuff, if you have the materials. But, if you want to enchant need nothing more than the materials, the right spells, and time.

Of course, if you goof, you bust what you're trying to enchant, so be very careful....

In game terms, each non-expendable items has a number of "slots" in which you can insert enchantments and enhancements. Some enhancements are pretty simple-new gun sights, careful weights on swords to make recovery time easier, that sort of thing. Some are complicated...carefully shaving off enough metal to increase the rate of fire, adding enchantments so that your blade does elemental damages, adding a status-effect to a mace.

And, we haven't even gotten into Artifact Weapons yet...

Monday, June 09, 2008

More From Idea #2

I feel an urge to talk about our first giant robot, and how "he" fits into the game.

Unit One (they never quite came up with a better name/designation for it) comes in at about 30 ft (9 meters) and nearly forty tons. This puts it in the range of most Type A and Type B Beasts. Fully humanoid, it is covered in layered RHA armor (with later upgrades to a Chobham composite armor on the torso, head, upper arms and upper legs area), with a central cockpit in the rear chest area, mated to a zero/zero ejection seat. The cockpit and design gives the Unit One a distinct "humpback" look.

Unit One uses a combination of hydraulics and linear motors for control and movement. The A/O generator is located just below the cockpit and must be activated for Unit One to even stand up, let along move. Nuclear power was rejected for obvious reasons (Unit One engages enemies in close combat), but the battery power system has a limit of six minutes at full combat power, ten minutes at "standby" walking speed.

All versions of Unit One were built by Tojo Heavy Industries in Japan, and were shipped to various locations along the Ring of Fire to defend against attacks, with the exception of (then) Soviet territory. Twenty-two Unit Ones were built, the first on March 11, 1968 and the last on June 19, 1968.

The Mod One version of Unit One added upgrades to the computers and added newer linear motor arrays to the hands in the mid-70s. The Mod Two version replaced the torso, head, upper arm, and upper leg armor with lighter but equivalent Chobham armor plates, and revamped the control and monitor system in the late-80s. No further modifications were to be made, and there was serious talk about retiring Unit One until the Second Great Monster War.

Unit One, initially, relies upon a 30mm "rifle" and it's reinforced fists for combat. To use the rifle or to engage in combat with Beasts, Unit One needs to "erode" the A/O field of an enemy Beast, enough to engage it in combat.

While old and somewhat would form the first line of defense when the Beasts came back. And, it can be upgraded and the basis of the design is one of future giant robots...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's Not Quite The End Of My Anime World...

...but, you can definitely see it from here.

Steve DenBeste has commented that he is nearly hitting the end of anime, and I'm starting to see the edge of the universe, myself. In my case, I'm not fitting in the demographic that seems to appeal these days to buying agents for American anime studios.

The only things coming out on DVD so far that appeal-
  • Gao-Gai-Gar Box Set One-After the last decade or so of high-angst Eva-derivative giant robot shows, a modern series of GUTS! and BRAVERY! just appeals in ways that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Gurren Lagann-After a long, torturous road, we have the latest from Gainax. What's really happy-making is that Bandai has their first release of 9 episodes in one pack. This is a Good Thing, to me-more episodes to a pack means I can have the whole series faster.
And...that's it. Macross Frontier may never make it to the United States due to licensing issues. There is no news on when/if Gundam 00 will come out. Reideen won't come out, either. No news on when Real Drive will come, either...

Mind you, this is a Good Thing (TM)-it saves me more money for sci-fi and computer stuff. But, I feel a touch sad. It's almost like the end of an era...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Back To Idea #1...

I'm working again on Idea #1 (which, for future reference, will be graced with the title of-until further notice-of Our Worlds At War). There are three big concepts that I'm working on with it. These three concepts are tactical behaviors, experience control, and deformable battlefields.

Let's start with the first. Each unit has a type of tactical behavior, which is engaged by changing three sets of settings (or selecting a pre-defined "default" setting/macro). The first setting is Aggression-which can be set to one of three levels-aggressive (the unit will close to engage a target, getting as close as possible to use it's weapons), neutral (the unit will try to balance attack distance vs. range-trying to choose a range where it does as much damage as possible while at about half the unit's combat range), and cautious (the unit will try to keep a target at the maximum possible engagement range).

A second setting is vigor-how quickly a unit will engage a target. A unit can be hungry (where it will leap right off the bit and start following anything that it detects or targets), neutral (units will attack a target, or try to find a target within pre-determined norms-if it loses contact, it will try a short search, then stop), and full (units must be controlled to choose a target, and if they lose contact, they will stop and respond according to other rules).

The third and final rule is formation. We have a wide variety of formations, from lines to echelons to a circular formation. With these three choices, you have a wide variety of possible attack options. For example, a unit that is set for a neutral aggression, hungry vigor, and a circle formation will try to find a target, encircle it, and shoot it from every direction-with indirect fire units at various ranges with artillery and direct fire weapons trying to engage a target in a hull-down formation. Another set of units set for aggressive aggression, neutral vigor, and a echelon left formation will try to keep it's target on the left side, engaging them as close as humanly possible.

This set of rules will dictate a wide, wide range of reactions in units. And, it takes away a lot of the micro-management that quite a few games tend to indulge in.

A second factor, which relates to the first, is experience control. Call it "tactical intelligence" in games-if a unit encounters a unit that it has never seen before, it will engage in a sort of "poking" behavior, trying to make it do things such as attack, maneuver, escape, etc, etc. As it builds up a database of experience, it gets easier to engage and kill to hostile unit. Let's take an example-a group of human Strikers (tier 2 infantry) encounters a newly made Venusian Whisper (light, tier 1 recon vehicle). They will try to close with it, fire their weapons, and see how it responds. In game terms, the Strikers will not do as much damage, and will get closer than might be safe (Whispers have a secondary anti-infantry attack that only works at close range), etc, etc. However, as long as the fight continues, human units will learn how to engage the Whisper better-they won't get as close if they're infantry, armor will engage very well indeed...

And, this gets to our third factor-deformable battlefields. One thing that armor and infantry will do (our terrain is 3D), if they have defensive behaviors set, is to try and find a "hull down" position-where as little of their vehicle is showing to a potential target. But, if a weapon is powerful can shoot through dirt. Or sandbags. And, if you hit the ground with a powerful enough weapon, you can create a crater. Or your engineering unit can dig trenches and revetments for your equipment. There is a absolute "floor", but you can pretty much carve yourself all the way down to the bottom with enough explosives. Oh, and water flows into holes, too.

More ideas as my brain works on them.