Seeking Input on a Game Idea

  • Hello, I'm a very, very junior MUD developer working on my first game. It actually started as a dare from a friend to learn Python (he pointed me toward Evennia).

    This game is actually currently live, if in a very raw alpha stage, so I have SOME experience with mechanics and coding and the pitfalls of the trade. But the one thing I keep circling back to without resolution is how to really attract people. There are LOT of MUDs out there, and most of them offer many of the same things - the same story in new words. I want to find a way to really set mine apart.

    I'm relatively new to MU* anything in general, I've played various ones for the last five years or so. So this idea I've been toying with could be entirely old, already tried, and proved a horrible failure. That's why I'm here looking for input on the idea itself.

    In simple terms, I'm toying with the idea of something of conquest meets dwarf fortress, in a MUD. The premise of the game would be a world overrun by a malevolent force and hordes upon hordes of Really Bad Stuff. Then mankind establishes a tiny foothold on the surface.

    This game would include all the elements of a more traditional MUD - you make a character, gain skills, battle monsters, explore the world, learn more skills, complete quests, gather resources, craft and customize items, etc etc. But instead of a traditional map, there would be ONE area, and then a 'wilderness' map that generates itself as players walk through it. So every trip would discover something new.

    But the real draw would be in an additional dimension to the game. Players would be able to establish 'factions' that other players could join - these factions would be very vaguely defined, mechanically, allowing players to customize them to be anything at all, from a cult of fanatics to an order of holy templars to a bandit brigade to a crafter's union - anything. Once established, faction members would be able to gain 'fame' by completing tasks in game such as killing monsters or bosses, completing quests, and so on, and stockpile 'supplies' by creating special items like lumber, bricks, rations, etc. Once a faction built up enough supplies, they would be able to found a settlement on an empty wilderness tile, as long as it was outside the influence of the Dragon Keep or any other faction's holdings.

    Establishing a settlement would create a new room off the wilderness at that location, which the faction leader would be able to expand and develop, running roads, fencing fields, and raising buildings, all with the use of supplies and resources. These settlements would have nebulous 'statistics' like security, prosperity, and so on, which in conjunction with the development of facilities would cause NPCs to migrate to the settlement, offering various services. For example, if you built an inn and the settlement was prosperous enough, an innkeeper would move in and start renting out rooms.

    These settlements could be upgraded and developed to offer different facilities and services, to produce resources, and to include defenses such as walls, gates, or hired NPC guards - all for an upkeep cost, of course. And other player factions would be able to 'assault' these settlements. In addition, wild animals or hordes of Bad Guys could also attack settlements, damaging or destroying the defenses and potentially razing sections of it. If the defenses were not replaced, the settlement would eventually be overrun, its citizenry disbanded and the tile reduced to ruins.

    I have a lot of other provisions and ideas in mind, obviously such a system would be quite complex at the end of the day. But I was hoping to hear from you all some general feedback on the concept itself. Does this sound like something that would be popular? Has it been done before? If so, was it successful? What sorts of hurdles would such a system face? What dangers would need to be provisioned for?

    Thanks in advance to all of you!

  • Pitcrew

    I don't know to what extent it's been done before or not, but this is the first mud I've ever heard of that sounds like something I'd like. I'd play the shit out of something like this.

  • @Chuggur said in Seeking Input on a Game Idea:

    I have a lot of other provisions and ideas in mind, obviously such a system would be quite complex at the end of the day. But I was hoping to hear from you all some general feedback on the concept itself. Does this sound like something that would be popular? Has it been done before? If so, was it successful? What sorts of hurdles would such a system face? What dangers would need to be provisioned for?

    I think it sounds fun, and you have a lot of good ideas. I think there might not be as much feedback on this board since while the systems sound super fun, compelling and has enormous potential, that is very much the macro system of the game and doesn't focus so much on the RP which is a pretty heavy focus on the boards. Nothing wrong with making a complicated explore/prosper style MUD that's not RP focused, just might not have a lot of folks here with strong opinions one way or the other.

    Now about your more specific questions, I've seen similar things but only in the broadest sense. A lot of survival orientated games have a similar angle in the 'start with nothing and then build up from there', and a few MMO style games too, though I'm not familiar with those kind of systems in a MU (I think my approach on Arx is different enough where it's not quite the same feel as what you are going for). I think if you implemented what you described it would be popular, and the hurdles would be ones that are similar to most survival->buildup style games:

    As the world becomes increasingly developed and you have more and more control shift into the hands of players leading the strongest factions, they tend to squeeze out newer players and make it very difficult for smaller characters to feel significant, and in the worst cases, strangle out new players entirely. But if you introduce countermeasures to player control to stop that, often it makes the biggest and most successful players feel cheated, or burn out as they try to compete with the entropy effects that attempt them to stop from taking over the game world. That's not really a direct parallel to what you are describing, but you still might have to approach it from the angle of 'all characters start small, can build big organizations, they only get so big to a certain point then stop, then some post-maximum minigame starts'. That's one angle to deal with the, 'One guy controls every settlement and squeezes out all players' thing that has similar games constantly rebooting and restarting new world instances so people get to experience that initial rush.

    Just my take on the challenges facing the 'build settlements to slowly influence the game world' design. It can be super fun, just have to be careful of the end points.

  • Pitcrew

    Settlement-building has been done on a number of MUDs; however, I think those are all civ-likes rather than actual 'hey, you can make a village at this place with X resources you can get in game'. I would suggest making the construction of the settlement itself something abstract. If your concern is gameplay, however, abstraction isn't a privilege you can afford, so make it reasonable costs. x wood, y iron, z food or something. Or give it as faction perks. Maybe estabilish bigger cities they can spawn villages off of, and have these factions vying over control of the cities to control the areas surrounding it (Ultima Online comes to mind when it's about this. UOF had a similar system with the way they dealt with factions).

  • Thanks so much for the feedback! The matter of 'endless' expansion is one I had considered, and my working theory for a solution is in the lore-premise of the game. The world would be overrun by 'Mist', a semi-tangible force that turns living creatures it comes into contact with into joint-consciousness borg-zombies. While it would be possible to make settlements in the Mist, they would be under constant and heavy assault from hordes of Bad Guys and the Mist itself and would be very difficult to nurture.

    There would be dragons in game, and players would be able to become dragon riders. However, eggs for dragons would be VERY rare (given as perhaps admin-driven event rewards, and maybe an extremely rare random-encounter type quest, or a really intensive faction-wide expedition), and may even stop spawning entirely if so and so many dragons exist in game (one would need to be slain for a new egg to be created). Players would be able to build roosts in their settlements, which a dragon rider player could settle their dragon into, and their dragon's 'influence' would protect so and so many tiles around the settlement from Mist. Settlements under a dragon's influence would still be besieged by Bad Guys, wild animals, and as it grew in prosperity, bandits and so on.

    Also, settlements that were sufficiently prosperous would be able to build 'outposts', such as military posts or trading posts, which would contribute to the security/prosperity of all tiles within so much radius of them, and gathering enough resources would allow factions to build further settlements, not necessarily just one, though each would be under the command of a mayor or governor type role appointed by the faction leader. I suspect (and hope, really) that by spreading control around even within one faction, in the form of governors and dragon-riders being afforded a degree of it, natural inter-personal drama would serve as another limiting factor to 'empires' taking over the game world.

  • I'll throw it out here. Nightmare LP Mud. It was up to players to join together to make cities, pool resources to get various things for their city, like a ship builder or a healer or whatever.

    The original skill system (at the time, its been copied and improved and expanded) was you don't gain XP at all, you have to use a skill to improve it. From any attack/defense to mining to farming to singing to stealing to trading. You couldn't bolster any skill with XP, you had to use it. It missed balance and everyone made up for it (in the offshoots) by giving XP.

    The place I still visit every now and again has an world one can circumnavigate on a ship, its super dangerous at low levels, but one can do it (its Haven MUD, - its dead other than a small handful of hardcores). It has room for islands and all, just its not growing as its more a hobby these days for the original staff with limited time (they should be MUSHing the MUD is more a chat box for them I think).

    I'd play it, the hurdle is how hard is it to get into the game. If its too DIKU, with stats being showing for the prompt and a school to learn to kill things, its too game for me. If its RPI/RPE, I lose interest because I want to grow my own char and explore myself. The Nightmare Muds always had the right mix of social, adventure (quests), exploring (endless ocean), and killing.

  • Pitcrew

    The Empire codebase is similar to what you're describing, and I think there's a current RP-focused Empire mud up called LorenMUD.

    This reminds me of a story the developer of the Godwars code told. In his second or third game he created a dynamic wilderness where players could claim grid tiles, build roads, settlements, etc. The world was completely player created. The game wasn't open for more than a few days before the players had 'built' giant penises and written certain choice words across the world in giant grid tile letters.

    Developers and players often have different ideas of what's fun.

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