All About Gr1pp7
For a number of years now I've had this grand vision of a new type of MMORPG. It is fairly well developed in my head now, and I can't shake the need to share – in the hope that someone bites and makes the game. Although, I think it may be a few years from plausible…
Imagine walking around and exploring a game much like WoW or Oblivion, but the environment is built and altered by you and the other players. No static cities, but rather ones that are constantly being developed or destroyed. Even forests would be destroyed and planted. harvested or burned as a result of war.
The vision is of a game that combines the characteristics of community building/strategy war games like Age of Empires and Civilization with gear/level and immersion intense games like World of Warcraft and war mechanics and controls like Rome: TW. Players would have to band together to build empires with defenses, develop efficient economies and discover new technologies and spells. Ultimately to pose wars against other kingdoms and become the empire that controls the world. Rounds would last some length around 3 to 6 months depending on the skill and layout of the kingdoms for that round.
Overall it would be a first or second person experience, making for a large scale world to be explored (again, much like Oblivion), rather than an aerial only type game like AoE or Rome. However, there would be controls that provide such a perspective when needed.
The basic concept is versatility. Roles wouldn't just be a matter of whether you're a mage or warrior, but whether you focus on perfecting a single character, or building and managing an army of lesser characters. Whether you focus your army on just one potential task, or spread them out to perform many functions. Whether you decide to adventure out with groups of other players and complete quests for your kingdom – discovering ancient technologies, spells and weapons, or stay at home and help build the empire. Whether the things that you build are as per the King's plan, or structures for you own use. Whether you focus you character on perfecting a few key abilities or making them versatile. You may or may not play a role in the government structure. Or maybe you make for an effective king! You could run shops, research technologies, run farm lands and mines or use government funds to train armies of player owned NPCs. Whatever it is that you want to try out this round!
Players could be spies, revealing plans and secrets to their kingdom, stealing technologies or simply laying in wait to sabotage the enemy when the king commands it. Maybe you put your efforts into seeking out such people to protect your kingdom. One could be an assassin, trying to take out targets without getting caught. Or maybe you enjoy being sneaky and spend your time stealing stuff from either you enemies or even your own kingdom to better yourself!
Small groups could be sent to disrupt/distract/harass other kingdoms, or full out campaigns could be staged. The king would lay the plans for where to attack from, who's flanking, who's staying behind, etc. while the owner of each army would direct their army's micro movements and which talents to use much like Rome:TW.
Build Your Army
One of the mainstays of the game, if you haven't caught on yet, is the use of player owned NPC's. Something like slaves that could be directly controlled by the owner, or simply set to perform some certain task. Much like AoE, but controled by smaller groups controled by several players rather than all of them controled by one. They can be sold, traded or set to breed. They could be set to farm, mine, blacksmith, research, sell, explore, follow the owner as protection, build walls and roads and buildings for the kingdom, man kingdom defenses, learn spells to become either better fighters or better researchers or simply practice fighting. Each of these actions would increase experience in those certain categories, and also make research into some relevant topic easier and/or cheaper.
The NPCs would continue to perform what the player last instructed them whether the owner is online or not. They would continue to earn experience, gather resources, sell items (or get stolen from) "create" resource sucking offspring and make discoveries, even while you're gone. They could be amassed by the king under times of declared war to act as an army, being only slightly less effective without the owner being online to issue specific commands.
One could focus most of them on generating income, thus gaining only a slight amount fight-ability, while you develop your main character into a war machine, and maybe a few NPCs – but remember that the time you must spend managing your army will take away from your main characters potential. Or, maybe you want to focus on building your smaller army as war-worthy as possible, sinking large amounts of resources into training them, earning no gold or resources in the process, and thus not being able to afford the best of the best weaponry and research. Or, maybe you want to focus 100% in earning gold and resources to better your kingdom and purchase or develop insanely strong weapons, for use by your weak untrained, but massive – since you can afford the upkeep – army.
And after a war, will they be worth the cost and time to resurrect? Or will you just start fresh?
I think it is important that unlike WoW, an extremely developed character could be taken out by some large number of completely undeveloped characters. I imagine this to be something in the area of 20-40 new NPCs vs. one typical well geared, high end character as a fair match - depending on how easy it is to obtain and maintain an army of that size (and what size/number of players the game can handle for a given battle). This would make the choice between focusing on making a solo badass or the largest army of pawns (or something in-between) all the harder.
Experience earned would need to be distributed. The distribution would be something like: the specific toon (be it NPC or owner) that directly earned the experience would get 100%, while the owner would get 15%, the owners other slaves 10% and the rest of the kingdom 2% - or something there abouts (this would take some alpha testing to get the pace right.) This would make being in, and building a better kingdom worthwhile and make diversity amongst your kingdom desired. The same would be true for weapons and technology. The toon that developed it would be able to master its use or production faster (earn XP for that specific item faster) while the owner and owner's toons would get a slight benefit, and others in the kingdom would be at least able to purchase and use said items, but gain XP at the normal rate. And they would also be able put further research into that branch, but at a lesser rate than the player who discovered/mastered it.
Yes, I think 'item specific XP' would be a real benefit. There would be both weapon 'type' XP – which would increase the rate at which XP for specific weapons of that class would be earned, and weapon specific XP. This would force the decision of spending more time developing better weapons/techs, or stop and master what you have, without punishing those who stopped too early too much. This also creates the question of whether to better your kingdom, or try to catch your enemy off guard and untrained - still in development. Even more, toons could learn new tricks with these items, learn how to add new augmentations, etc. And having such a mastery would increase the rate at which the next best related thing could be developed.
Everything there is to do in the world would provide one amount, type and rate of XP or another. i.e. things like mining would add to strength and toughness and the mace weapon path, while farming would give XP towards agility, slightly intellect and the polearm or staff weapon paths. Spells could be taught to other characters, if you so wish to spend (maybe waste?) your time doing that…
There will be one, and only one, king per kingdom. This player has special controls and abilities. The king will have the ultimate decisions as to what will be built where, what tech paths to place focus on, who is and isn't allowed in the kingdom, who gets cash to focus on pure militant army building and how resources are distributed otherwise.
That's a lot to keep track of; so the king will need officers – people who he bestows access and privileges to certain control panels, menus and options. He could completely trust his minions' decisions or set it so that their plans will be reviewed and discussed. And he will have the ultimate authority in declaring war – this will be the way to capture new land.
The common expectation that I run into when discussing this with friends is that most people may try to be king, resulting in a chaotic world that never really developes. This would be true in the early stages of each round, but after some time the real kingdoms will emerge. As groups get larger they will stamp out these solo kings as it will become easy land for the taking. Moreover, each player that the king recruits to his kingdom will add to his strengths – making it not only desired to form large groups, but that much easier to take out the solo kings. These solo players will have the option of surrendering and joining their attackers, or not.
Kings would need to be very resilient; almost like NPC bosses. My thoughts are that their health would reflect some portion of their kingdom's total health. And to capture a king's estate, the king would either need to surrender, run away or die. And the game wouldn't be won until all other kings (who meet some minimum criteria) have been dispatched of. For this reason, a king's death would need to be a bit drastic – maybe that player isn't allowed to revive for some amount time. Maybe they lose a large portion of their wealth and XP, and the kingdom as a whole (all players assigned to that kingdom) lose some bonuses or XP
For those players who do not want the burden of managing an army, the boredom of doing their own mining (w/o owner NPCs doing it for you) or simply don't like being directed by others, they can still provide benefits to their kingdom. As stated earlier, the XP that they earn will benefit their entire kingdom. Further, each round will have quests (some that can only be completed once in any given round) that yield desired and powerful techs, weapons, spells, etc. that can't be obtained otherwise (or at least occur high in the research tree) and again, the weapons or techs that they win by completing the quests will be available for use and development by the other players in their kingdom, but only completely master-able by them, making them valuable in a war setting.
Focusing all of your energy on quests would be the only way to create truly elite characters. Having these players in your kingdom would be a good way for your armies to develop into fighters without having to pull them away from their work. But having nothing but these types of players would lead to a generally poor kingdom, lacking in defensive structures and researched abilities and items, and a weaker king. This one of the only areas in the game that striking a balance is forced, other aspects may need balance, or pure focus…
Quests could be moved around each round, making it something of a race to even just find them, and incentive to send out explorers. They could even be completely new, altered or removed round to round adding to the mystique and longevity of the game. Of course, a number would need to be static so that strategies and increased competition occur.
Ultimately, the game will be what you, the individual player, wants it to be. An RPG, a tactical game, a management game (ref: civilization), one that takes hours a day or one that needs only a little upkeep… At a basic level the game can be simple, but the massive variety of paths you can take would make learning all aspects a difficult prospect. It would truly be a game for just about anyone. This is what makes me think this would be a big seller.
Thank for you time, and get to making this thing already!
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