Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Live the Fantasy

Story is boring! Just let me have some fun!
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After playing Fallout, Arcanum, Grand Theft Auto, and Baldur's Gate, games in which you are allowed to do many more things than normal, story-driven games like Final Fantasy, I have come to a conclusion. I think I really just like screwing around in the environment more than I like actually playing the story.

So I had this idea to take that type of game, remove all the plot that I don't care about, and make a game that is a side quest in itself. In this game, randomized quests will pop up that pertain to whoever you're talking to. There aren't any "special characters," because every time you play the game, it will be different. Here's how...

Every character, including you, has a specific set of attributes, skills, and tags. Attributes are things like level, strength, intelligence, etc.. just like any other game. Just like any other game, skills are things like melee combat, ranged combat, spells, running, jumping, skipping, tailoring, smithing, etc.. There will be a lot of these. But the tags is where this gets somewhat interesting. Certain characters that will be supplied every game will be things like "The King" that will live in the castle with "The Queen," or perhaps he won't have a queen, whatever, it's random... But he'll have that tag of "King" every game. That tag will make him interact a certain way, and will make other NPCs regard him in a certain way. For example, anyone with the tag "Guard" will have an added percentile to protect anyone with the "King" tag in the case the king is attacked. However, if the king has a tag that is... say.. "Cruel" and the guard has "Chivalrous," then the guard will have that percentile dropped, and may even attack the king if the circumstances provide for it. If a guard runs across someone who is tagged "Thief" who is doing his business (thieves will randomly steal, with a random chance of getting caught) then the guard may arrest him. It's all like that.

YOU TOO have tags. You select them at the beginning of the game, and your future actions over the course of the game add tags to you so NPCs will interact with you correctly.

ANYONE who can move and talk (read: any NPC) can be recruited into your party, though some are harder to recruit than others. If you save and quit with an NPC in your party they are saved to your character file along with you, which I will discuss later. All characters use these tags, so if you have two people in your party who reaaally don't like each other's tags, they will get in disputes, and they may even fight each other. It's all based on their tags, which are pitted against your leadership skill to see whether or not they fight in a given circumstance.

That covers social stuff. So how about the rest of the game? Well, it's not meant to have a plot or story, it's just a randomly generated world for you to live in. You can create your own tale of heroics or debauchery through your own actions. If you want to become a guard, you can accept random quests with reputation modifiers from the local guardsmen of whatever town you're in, and complete them, gaining trust with the guards. Of course, if you're doing this just so you can have access to the armory, that's your story.

I would like to also see deeds for houses in this game that you could buy and plant like in Ultima Online. You could become a shopkeeper, a caravan driver, a bounty hunter, a burglar, a mugger, a murderer, a hired assassin, a madman, or even a simple fisher or miner.

It's not a story to unfold, it's a world to live in!

On the thought of multiplay though, I could see it play like this...

In every game you play, there is a world file that saves all the elements of the world you have created and changed through your actions, including specific characters that will always be in there. Shopkeepers, kings, and other such characters that serve a specific purpose will always be saved (so you can build up friendships or rivalries with them, of course), but other characters that don't serve a real purpose can be recreated every time you pop into a new city. The world file will also store any houses that have been put on the land post-generation, and the items held within cannot be removed or burglarized by an NPC. It also stores reputations for specific characters.

Then a character file. This stores all the information, tags, and items currently held on you. Each character will have a specific bit of code based on the appearance, tags, name, etc.. of your character that will be used by the world file for checks against reputation. You can use one character in a completely different world, or even use it in a multiplayer game with a friend. The excuse is "you're a stranger to the land." You have no reputation there, though you retain your tags, experience, etc..


Lank, Apr 10 2002

The Unreal World http://www.jmp.fi/~smaarane/urw.html
Very close to what you're describing, at least in terms of concept. [Pseudonym #3, Apr 11 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Harvest Moon http://www.nintendo...main.jsp?gameId=124
[phoenix, Apr 11 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Ultima Online http://www.uo.com/visitor/
[phoenix, Apr 11 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       Sounds like a complicated version of "The Sims" to me.
ishotpac, Apr 10 2002

       If the Sims could sell, then so could this, I guess.
Lank, Apr 10 2002

       I never know quite what to make of these long game descriptions.  I guess I just don't know enough about these kinds of games to know if what is being proposed is something new and different or just a recasting of a well-known game.
bristolz, Apr 10 2002

       Vernon's long-lost twin, Lank
thumbwax, Apr 10 2002

       Not exactly what you're describing, but very close in gameplay and randomization is the game called Unreal World. It's shareware, but you can only live ten days in the game until you die, unless you register; registration costs 20 U.S. dollars. Best deal on a game you'll ever get.
Pseudonym #3, Apr 11 2002

       Better than a deck of cards, [Pseud]?
bristolz, Apr 11 2002

       *Casually inserts 'computer' before game in the last sentence of his previous post...*   

       Well, unless you can make good money playing poker.
Pseudonym #3, Apr 11 2002

       I think that games are going this way anyway. If you look at Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3) some of the characters are theives and will try to steal your car if you sit still for long enough.   

       The characters also remember what you've done to them. Take their car and they'll either run off screaming or try to take it back, depending on their character.   

       Where GTA3 falls down is the longevity of that memory. Go out of sight (sometimes not even that) and they forget what you've done to them.   

       The reason for this is memory and processor power. GTA supports (I would guess) about 30-50 simultaneous Artificial Intelligences (AIs) (plus a weather system and a good cache of scenery). Lenthening the memories of these non-player characters would increase the memory required and the processor power to keep them interacting while they're off screen.   

       Lank: I think what's holding this back is the power of games consosles. I think that you're pointing the right way (hopefully the same way that games designers are thinking) and so, croissant.
st3f, Apr 11 2002

       Ultima Online is like this, though I don't know the status of NPCs. I believe most of the characters are human driven, but beyond that it's a free-for-all.   

       I'd also suggest Harvest Moon for Nintendo64. No bloodlust, no plot (per se), but it is possible to recruit (marry) an NPC.
phoenix, Apr 11 2002

       [Lank] that was the longest bunch of words put together thats I've read in a long time, so due to my laziness i didn't read the multiplayer part.   

       But as far as GTA3 goes, i would be bored of it in a week if it wasn't for the story and actual game. Yes, it's fun to get the Barracks OL and run down police cars or stand on the back of pickup trucks and shoot the passing pedestrains, but I always go back to the missions.   

       Plus, I was actually interested in your idea until I got to the 3rd paragraph when you started talking about professions and ranks and tags. Not many video games that I can think of (well, none) have whatever any given person's 'dream job' would be and actually carry out the goals of each of those jobs. They just dont have enough power/memory/whatever it is. I mean...there are a lot of jobs...
DonutBox, Apr 11 2002

       Just go join the SCA or your local gaming group already.
bookworm, Apr 12 2002

       The easiest way of getting some experience with this is to do it in text.   

       Join a programmable MUD (e.g., LPmud), play for a while, become a wizard, learn to program objects and non-player characters, write a few simple quests, and observe other people playing them.   

       The main thing I learned by doing that is that open-ended, "distributed" storytelling is very hard work with very small rewards and grows boring fast, even in a cushy environment (that already understands what it means for two people to fight, say). You end up specifying a lot of potential interactions that never really happen to most players. You'll think that things just "fall into place" given the right stats and behavior patterns, but they really don't; almost everything that's interesting has some wrinkle or detail in it that's surprising, that precisely _doesn't_ just arise from a comparison of stat A + luck with stat B.   

       I think the Sims work because of a lot of planning, carefully limited behavior patterns that still seem relevant to the onlooker, and a lot of work. Non-computerized roleplaying works because there's a human storyteller that can take care of the loose ends once the participants have chosen a direction.
jutta, Apr 12 2002

       Allow me to note that...   

       1) This would be planned for a PC. There's no doubt in my mind that this game would flop on the console industry.   

       2) To phoenix, who suggested UO, the problem with UO is the other people. Other jackass players ruin the game for people who want at least a partial roleplay experience.   

       3) As far as professions and ranks and tags go... Tags are just there to dictate NPC reactions. There are professions, but they're just implied. I wouldn't make you have to have a little marker over your head that says you're a tailor, you're just a guy who happens to be able to sew and maybe owns a building that happens to be used as a shop. Ranks? I see no reason to have any sort of rank. I don't even see the point of having levels, when you can simply increase your skills over time and use instead.   

       Kind of like UO, but so much better and so much more.
Lank, Apr 12 2002

       Jutta: The key reason that the Sims worked so convincingly, and this is an approach I'[d/ll] definitely take the next time I work on anything MUDlike, is that the AI system is highly distributed. Sims don't in themselves know what a toaster is, only that they like toast. It is the toaster object itself that contains the mini-brain/program for "how to make toast", and Sims can temporarily make this a part of their heads in order to operate the device.   

       That's a really impressive piece of backwards thinking, one which has made the Sims a hugely successful and expandable toy, and one that I suspect would make games of the kind described above far more viable, convincing and fun. Apply it to a MUD, f'rexample, and the AI's will automatically pick up and use discarded weapons, armo(u)r and assorted junk without requiring an MEng-worthy degree of brain code.
Mharr, Apr 12 2002

       No plot? WTF? I am not even going to bother explaining how much this sucks. Fishbone.
NeverDie, Apr 13 2002

       You must hate puzzle games.
Lank, Apr 14 2002

       sounds cool.   

       my idea is a little weirder: How about an rpg, where the world is allready being saved by some hero. so in other words, the moment you`re in the game, there`s allready some "hero" somewhere saving the world from some "evil dude". And then there`s you, randomly lurking around. and maybe even meeting the hero, and killing him (oups) or helping him.   

       or you could buy out all the shops before the hero arrives at a town. so he can`t buy anything worth to fight with. :P   

       the best idea would be to make a mod out of it, and add it to your idea. That way, you can even program plots into the game. ;)   

       now all we need to do is find a company (or a programming group) crazy enough to create the real deal :P
Keeper of the Blue Flame, Jul 06 2004


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