Interactive persistant worlds

Feedback, bugs, and general gameplay related discussion.
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Interactive persistant worlds

Postby Areandon » Sun Dec 05, 2004 8:35 pm

I was reading this post and specifically Klurgs comment noting how constant the mud is. This reminded me of a discussion I had a long time ago with some people about the future of Online RPGs. The topic of this particular discussion was how to make games more interesting. Let me pose a question:

Why are multiplayer games more interesting then single player games?

The obvious answer is because the human players make the gaming experience more unpredictable, and thus more fun. This experience is limited in all games,including this one. The players are unpredicatable but the game world, and all its non-human inhabitants are not. The mob-scripts, rare-loads and stuff like that do some to create a small bit of unpredictability, but it can only go so far.

Interactive worlds
How can we make a game more unpredicatable, and hence more fun?

Most game designers answer this question with one term: A.I. or artificial intelligence. However a good a.i. is incredibly difficult to create and usually takes a pretty decent machine to run. Game companies have spent massive resources at this, but the result is minimal at best.

Instead of looking to A.I. I proposed to take advantage of a particular aspect of multiplayer games, which happens to also be extremely random: player behaviour.

From this the term "interactive persistant world" arose, as opposed to the term persistant world, usually used to call game worlds. What we meant with this is that the "state" of the game world changes because of player actions.

For instance if I kill the chief orc in Silver Shield it might affect the mob loads in that zone, or even spawn an orc raiding party near Waterdeep. On the other hand a combination with actions from other players something else might happen. Because a lot of players influence the game in different ways the result becomes unpredictable. Some newbie in Scardale may cause a group of mobs to load in Muspelheim just as a zoning group enters.

We've also spoke about implementation. The idea is to give the mud as a whole, all zones and maybe some mobs state-flags. Based on the flags, or a combination of them certain mobs load, or don't load, certain items can load, or scenarios can be started. The flags themselves are changed by mob-scripts. Killing a mob, stealing items, finishing or starting quests can change the flags. The new state can be influence by the state of other flags as well.

Because 50 or so people are influencing these flags constantly it's impossible to predict what will happen, and the end-result will be a world which reacts a little bit more then the real world.

Story arc
We used the principle i described above to create story arcs in the game. The actions of players pushing the game world into a certain direction. I'll illustrate this with an example.
Waterdeep sends expeditions into the troll infested lands south of Waterdeep. A fearless zone leader takes a group out and kills the troll chieftain in Trollbark, goes on after that towards the trollhills and causes a carnage there. This causes the zones between Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate to change. Trollbark and the Trollhills no longer spawns trolls. Instead tradecaravans, patrols and other mobs spawn on the route between the two major cities. This can also mean other items can load, and even new quests can start. One of these quests could be in Ghore, asking evils to purge the trollhills of these hooman invaders.

This way the world can be changed into a world where you actions matter, and can influence everybody else. It will bring back a lot of excitement in the game, and will give the game something not many other games have. Of course it will require a decent amount of work, not so much codewise as well as in game design.

The game this idea was developed for unfortunately never saw the light of day. The game company went into bankruptcy before the game was completed. But I would still love to see this idea put into practice.
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Postby Pheten » Sun Dec 05, 2004 8:52 pm

sounds exciting.
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Postby Sonon » Sun Dec 05, 2004 9:06 pm

yeah that sounds really good it would make the players become alot more involved with what is going on around them.
Alysia group-says 'Lilen immolates a terrified squirrel to a charred crisp with his devastating inferno!'
Lilen group-says 'where are all da trolls i was promised'
Lilen has left the group.
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Postby kiryan » Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:14 pm

FFXI has some neat features. Guards of your home town and outposts can cast a spell on you that makes your kills go towards a home town influence in a zone. Certain benefits are granted depending on which areas your home town influences. This is implemented as Player vs Player competition however not pkill. The rewards are marginal mostly associated with being able to use the "outpost" in each section which is mostly a transportation and shops thing.

Theres also a general epic story line and you can contribute to "winning" the game by participating in quests that work against the hordes of the "opponent" (Player vs Computer).
and tonights winner in the Toril EQ lottery is demi belt and skull earring!

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