User:Jae/General Game Design Thoughts

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Thoughts on AO and NC

I want something that is a cross between Anarchy Online and Neocron2, both MMORPGs I play. Lots of this is on Template:AO, as I played it more than Template:NC (still play it, don't play NC any more).

  • [AO] vehicles need to be multi-person. And look like *vehicles*. A yalmaha is not even big enough to fit one person. (Yes, it fits one, but comparing sizes, it's a miracle)
  • [AO] player cities: make em different. You buy a plot of land, completely empty. Then you build... different look options. A clan city would never look the way a player city looks.
  • [AO] Cities are more open, not as closed-feeling as in Neocron. Though NC's cities do look nice too. Both should have their place.
  • [AO] You can get out into the wilderness right from the start. NC's Wastelands are dangerous.
  • [AO] Org city shops -> general player shops, since I'd give shops for rent to any player, no AI needed (it would be Free Software anyway...). Maybe an expansion, but no org membership or anything.
    • Share a shop amongst people. Could be used for intra- and inter-account sharing (just put a *very* high price on stuff... then, even *if* somone buys it, you at least have the insance amount of creds). Also good for org-shops, you can have more than one person who can stock it.
  • [NC] You "use" a chair or bench and your avatar actually sits down. I want this in AO. Right now, you have to jump onto a chait, then sit (and Atrox sits very weirdly on a chair. Floor or bench looks okay). The problem with this is that you jump very high at higher levels.
  • [NC] Apartment has initial furniture. What I'd love more, actually, would be a bit of a mix of my DoY and NC apartments. The DoY is too run-down, the NC is too nice-looking. Or... okay, it fits. But the DoY... there are rats you cannot attack. There are boxes which you cannot do anything with. Bad. [AO] has classic apps, completely empty ("padded cell look" someone called it), and Jobe apps. Those have furniture, but you can't do anything with the furniture. And both types are closed, no windows at all.
  • [AO] Alien Invasion
    • Roaming aliens. Alien shoot down ships, and get shot down. So, you run across Rubi-Ka, and suddenly there's an alien vessel of some kind, downed. Small shuttles, bigger ships, you name it. Or you stumble across some downed AO:Unicorns, being under siege by aliens. Cities should have different bennies than "you can get aliens attacking them" (by invitation, sort of).
    • Startup: you might get shot down, you might not. Which of course makes aliens about even more important.
  • NPCs: smarts. Problem of all MMOs I guess. [AO] examples abound. Brandon Thorn: every time you talk to him, you can talk about your having been shot down. Stupid. Travis Molen (ICC Shuttleport manager), same thing. Every time the same long dialogue. Unicorn commander, that female clan field medic,
    Drake Rodriguez... Drake is especially dumb. He talks to some fellow scientists about your progress, but offers the same tests you just did every time you talk to him. This should really be done better... easy too.
  • Status access: in AO, you can look up yourself (or any char for that matter), and get some short info. I'd want to make your whole char's setup (stats, perks, equipment etc) available, publicly (at your discretion, of course). At a very minimum, the whole data should be stored (as a copy, of course) on the client, in some well-documented (or easily understandable) XML file (or a number of files). What would be in: your skills, attributes, perks... everything (both raw and cooked (including trickle-down). Your equipment (what you have on your body: armor, weapons, tools, implants, what-have-you). And all your containers! Inventory, bags, bank... everything.
  • Logging: every transaction of yourself is logged... at least client-side. Just like you can log windows, just better. For example, the damage stats would also encompass heals ("X healed Y for M points (M' max)" M' would be the max the nano executed would have healed, M would be the points actually healed (if Y was wounded for less than M')). Transactions encompass money spend/received (with source/destination, so you'd know what you gave these N creds for), good received... in short, any trade you open (and actually do) would be logged. Likewise for automatic deductions (org tax, mission booth). And NPC dialogues.
  • [AO] Faction. SL's faction system should have been there from the start. That is one point NC has gotten about right. Or at least better than AO (one minus: you need quite a bit more standing with your *own* faction than the default to use your own supply office). So: missions would need to clearly indicate for whom exactly you do this mission, and who you go against (at least 98% of the time or so... a bit of mystery is nice, like "here's what we want you to do", you see it's unclear, it's a dare, but it might be paying better than other missions)
  • [AO] Shadowlands professions. Ouch. Keeper and Shade are bred for the Shadowlands. So, you should choose between Opifex, Solitus, Nano, Atrox for classic, and additionally Shade and Keeper for SL.
  • [AO] Startup: why are you flying to the Morning Star station? For Solitus and Opifex, yes, none-specific to RK (at least I can't remember them being mentioned in the timeline). Atrox: bred for mining. But can move off-world. Nano: cannot live off-planet, mentioned specifically in the timeline. So: nano can't "choose breed".
    I'd prefer to have this selection OOC. Nice try, FC, but sadly failed. Have it OOC, then: start Nano somewhere on RK. Solitus and Opifex can move off-world. Atrox might, but since they can't reproduce...
    Give players the option where to start... RP-like: where were you born? Or simply, where do you start. Period. Shades and Keepers: start off in the Shadowlands, no Arrival Hall thing.
  • [AO] Side change: you can move from Neutral to either Clan or Omni. You can move from Clan to Omni and vice-versa. That's it. No Clan -> Neutral. Not good.
    Neutral can go clan and omni. Clan<->Omni. Both to Neutral. Everything goes... but: with wait times, and punishments, *and* limited times. I mean, after the nth side change, some people might become suspicious...
    Combine it with the faction system... you can only go Clan/Omni if you have enough faction, or rather, if your faction is not too low. You can always go Neutral... but some neutrals might be distrustful. Oh, and there might be a system where people could lookup your history...

  • [AO] PvP. Hmm, I like what I heard of Eve Online's system: PvP is allowed, no mods. But: in a protected system (AO's 100% "gas" (argh) I think), guards (EO: police ships) will protect you. You get attacked or attack: guards will open fire. Similar to NC's system I think.
    In other zones... everyone can do in everyone. But: you can put out a contract on someone's head. And faction plays in, and the police might issue a warrant too... lots of ways to deal with that other than AO's stupid and non-RP "flagging" system.
  • [AO] Agents can fake side-changes. They do need the reverse though to go back. Bad. Have a side-change nano which runs long (and longer at higher qls), and can be taken down at will. Give them an "impersonating" nano (there is one that sound like it does that ("face-off"?), but it changes appearance only). Then they could play someone else... of course, close friends (how to define this... hm, people who teamed with the person, had /tells with the person, counting the times) will be harder to fool. Closeness x perception = chance to blow the cover.

  • Char setup: more variation, and also more control. [AO] has fixed head setups. I'd like to set the various attributes myself... some default mixes would be okay, but I'd like to be able to say: this skin color, this beard, no hair, glasses etc. Body, same: small, slender figure, big breasts (for example ;-). Like EQ2 does it... that thing I just love (did the trial only, and didn't really get into the game as such, but some stuff in there is golden)
  • [AO] Social clothes are alright... though it would be nice to at least of *microscopic* ACs on them. And maybe some special social clothes with built-in protection; imagine a shirt with woven-in kevlar fibers. Be able to tradeskill these.
  • [AO] More tradeskilling. Allow for professions to be pure tradeskilling... so en engi, for example, could do only TS and still level up.
    • [AO] OUCH: I just found out that you can't level with tradeskilling. At least my trader couldn't. How stupid is that?
  • [AO] Side-Change Paperwork: do not just fill out the form, you have to bring the form somewhere... terminal at least, maybe some office. That's what [NC] did a lot better. Faction offices, all the shops were actually staffed... Maybe you could also bring the form ("Clan Application Form (Filled In)") to some sided bureaucrat. Ah, yes: some recruiting bureau, a crat, or any char of that side, but: level restrictions (you are lvl N, the char must be lvlM+), and wait times, both depending on who you gave the application to. Bureau: lowest wait and no lvl restrict. And a crat gets you in faster and doesn't have to be as high as any other char of his side. Maybe... the higher the lvl of the crat, the faster you get in? Oh, and maybe we should factor in the faction of the char you applied to.

  • Chat/Messaging: [AO] has a rocking chat interface. Very similar to IRC. [NC] has an email system, which I love. Only the contacts list should be better.
    My wish:
    AO with email (internal only). Maybe not like NC's, with terminals, but with a neural interface (grid-based). So, you log on, you get a "you have N messages", you click this (clickable links in chat, great idea), a message interface pops up. You can also get this with a hotkey/menu item.
  • Clubs. [NC]'s are all closed, sadly. End of story, since due to the closed state, I couldn't visit them. [AO]'s clubs are deserted. I'd say because there's the same boring sound loop running all the time. Okay, the one in Reet Retreat's main dance hall (that's in Last Ditch) is quite nice, but after a while... it's just a loop after all.</br >I'd build a microscopic ogg (maybe mp3, but that costs as license) streaming client into AO. Then I'd offer DJs (bands? With custom avatars?) gigs. Get some player(s) to be Club Manager (under the aegis of ARK), they book DJs/bands. Neither side gets money for this. The manager or the band must supply the streaming server. Then, during the gig, the AO client gets, when the player enters that zone, the address of the streaming server, and it starts playing the stream.
    Win-win: FC doesn't have load (all they need to do is send less than 100 bytes of URL), they have lively clubs again, and bands/DJs have free advertising (cost of streaming, of course, is theirs).
    I'm aware of gridstream, but that's not game-synced AFAIK.
  • Friends list/Contacts. [AO] has a great friends list. Only you can't add comments, and you only have a friends list, not enemies, foes, ignoreds etc. You can put people on ignore, but you can't get a list of ignored people. You have to be in their vicinity, then you see (when you select them or have "show names" active) an "IGNORE" sign over their heads.
    • Contacts with comments, like in [NC], but with better integration. Folders ("Friends", "Ignored" as preset, but any custom folder possible). Friends list as in [AO], with a chosen subset of tabs. Better integration means you can add contacts from anywhere, chat window (AO's /cc addbuddy), contacts manager, email interface, friends list. MVC, baby!

  • Profession-specific jobs/missions/quests
    • Doctors: with Omni-Med would get "go to this unit" (some Omni-AF, say) "and assist them". Depending on your performance, you get rewards. Or "in this lab has been an accident, you're with this EMU (emergency medical unit)". Also, performance would be measured by the game and rewards given accordingly.
    • Fixers: they'd have to do some hacking, for example. Oooh, special team missions!
    • Agents: with more good nanos, they'd... okay, change your name, nick and all, your side, and do some infiltration. Need to go in, do your thing (get some documents, sabotage something, whatever), and get out, undetected. Whenever the agent meets someone, there's a check against the agent's concealment and the other person's perception... the higher the other person's perception relative to the agent's concealment, the higher the likelihood that the other person will see through the agent's cover. Hmmm, there could even be a nano to drop the disguise for a very short time... there could be extraction missions, where you have to find an enemy scientist inside a well-protected lab, drop your disguise so that the scientist sees you're here to get him out, then get him out. Of course, you couldn't run, that yould make people suspicious...


aka Clans, Guilds, but I don't like these terms

  • Faction system is org based. That is, you gain or lose sympathy with orgs. Of course, the basic affiliation is still there, and your standing with a particular org also depends on your standing with the side the org belongs to. Say, your an orgless neutral... but you have standing with omni/clan (and neutral orgs).
  • Orgs can go into different kinds of partnerships. Official and unoffical. Official stuff needs crats to do the paperwork, so you might let your org's crats do this or hire outside crats (there'd be ICC offices where crat NPCs, neutral to every side, could be found, in case you can't find outside crats to do it)
  • Sub-orgs. Like, Omni-Pol (a real player-based org, accepted by FC even though it's a storyline org!). Omni-Pol (the player org) has a min level (security clearance... argh, don't like it, RP levels directly or differently... would be nice to have IG sec clearance though) requirement of 50. But there are <50 chars in there. So... why not an Omni-Pol Academy. With the leadership of that also being Omni-Pol members (not active duty of course). But that requires, yup, the academy be a part of Omni-Pol.
    This would also make it possible for, say, the following:
  • Every OT employee starts as a member of OT, with a membership in the appropriate department. For example, a soldier would automatically be in an Omni-AF unit. A doc would be Omni-Med. Yes, you'd get special equipment (Omni-AF... cool armor. Not for rookies of course ;-).
    But you'd also have duties. There are org offices where you get your duty missions, and you would have a special button in mission terms. And you'd have to do "N" missions, "N" hours of duty work per, say, month. Not showing up for duty for an extended period of time would be cause for an interview (NPC, very likely, but an opportunitiy for ARKs (mid lev) to gain some practice?). If you had just been offline, it would be a mere formality. If you had been online ("You've been seen there and there..."), you would be sanctioned.
  • Taxes/Wages. AO has a flat tax system, every member (except rank 0, the top position) pays N creds every two hours of played time.
    • Taxes very fine-grained, maybe scripted (by a user-side bot so the system is safe?)
      • N creds for all, every N hours of played time
      • N creds for all, every N realtime hours
      • Prez pays N, Board Members pay M, Execs pay O etc
      • N creds from level 50-100, and M for 100-150, and so on
      • Even "XYZZY pays N creds every hour, even though his bracket pays M creds every two hours
      • Percentages too: every day you pay N% of your current balance. Okay, tricks could be done. So, let the system record the cash-flow, and deduct from the actual income.
    • Wages: the opposite of tax.
    • Always access to org chat... AO denies org chat to members who are in debt to the org.
  • Org bank
    • /org bank add/remove, as AO has it. Only president (highest rank) can remove creds.
    • /org grant. /org grant CHAR CREDS would prepare a grant over CREDS creds for CHAR, who then could get it by doing /org grant receive.
  • Governing forms. There are some nice ideas on AO forums of voting for prez etc.
  • Promotions: currently, promotions as well as demotions must be in-person. Well... that's bad for demoting someone who's offline. So: do "by-proxy" and "offline". Promotions only in-person or by-proxy, demotions also offline. By proxy? Well, hand someone a demotion/promotion form to be delivered to that person. The proxy doesn't have to be of a suitable rank, it could even be someone same or lower than the person to be promoted.
  • Promotions: currently, you can only do /org promote. Which moves the target one up. Why not "/org promote <rank>"?
  • Logging: When any change to the org is done, it is logged in a specific channel which only certain org ranks get access to. Logged would be: promotions, demotions, kicks, invites. Maybe org bank changes, but... naw, they'd go to a different log, like the personal bank changes. All changes would contain who did it, when, and to whom. So, if A kicked B, it would say so: "B was kicked by A", or simply "<timestamp>|A|/kick B", a timestamp plus who did this, and what was done.
  • Custom orgs/names: [AO] has org governing forms which also specify the number of ranks and their names. I'd like more customizability. So:
    • Custom org ranks: specify any number of ranks, and their names, and what they can/can't do. "President", "Board Member", "Department Head" etc...
    • Custom titles. A char with ranke "Board Member" can be "Director of SL affairs" or some such. Both rank and title are shown in info record.
    • A number of pre-defined org forms are available of course. "Templates" if you will.


  • I don't like AO's impersonal shop terminals. Vending machines, yes, but you only can sell to NPC-staffed shops? Or like that. Lots more real shops... they are there, but are virtually unused.
  • GUI: a better interface. I prefer NC's marking of equipment depending on whether you can use it/afford it.
  • clothes shops with dressing booths. So you can check out clothes without having to rely on low-res icons. You go into a shop, pick up whatever you want to wear (pick it off a shelf even, that would rock), try it on. You can't leave with the stuff... or, you might be able to, but be followed by the shop owner, and chased by guards, and marked a criminal (get an entry in your records) -> faction points minus. When you decided what you want to buy, you either just go to the clerk with everything and tell him/her what you want to keep and what you don't want to keep (with an interface like now: a list of unpayed items in your inventory, and you can mark which you take and which you don't). Or you can put back the things you don't want manually yourself, and then buy all unpayed items in your inv in one step (hmmm, I remember seeing like this in some other game).


Mainly on AO

  • Get mission rewards that are useful to you, at least 95% of the time.
  • Return item missions: never get those from a mission terminal. Always from some humanoid contact.
  • Missions have three possible rewards: cash, an item (or more? hey!), and faction (with the faction system below) The "sum" of these three is proportional to the difficulty.
    Item and cash can be missing. Faction is automatic, since every time you do something for somebody, their faction will like you. Okay, the higher the faction, the lower the effect.
    Much more diversity that way, many more options. So, do you take the mission that gets you no item, a normal faction bonus, but lots of cash? Or do you want to be a hero, and forego cash and item reward in exchange for a huge faction bonus?
  • Note I don't have an XP reward in the above. I don't actually like that. At least it shouldn't be listed in the rewards list, *and* it shouldn't be selectable, I think. Or not in the "money <-> xp" slider, it should be more IC.
  • Different effects on NPC-gotten missions.
    You decline a mission offered you? Might be you lose standing with the faction due to this. Especially if it's a "we need your help, we can't pay you, and have only this little token of gratitude" mission.
  • More storyline-related missions. Like, for an agent, an espionage mission, in hostile territory.
  • Courier missions, like in [NC]. But not as repetitive (had the same bring this package three times... same source, same destination, same guy I got my reward from)
  • Special team missions: sometimes, a mission terminal (only one, with a button "team mission", not separate "team/indiv" terms) offers you a team mission, and gives a list of professions needed. Accepting the mission would mean you have N hours to assemble the team, then return a token to the terminal (or any other, that return to this is stupid) and get the mission. Now, the mission would require every profession's unique abilities. Like, you might need a fixer, who has to disable some security mechanism so the team can enter a building. Etc pp


[NC] has it right (as I mentioned). You need NPCs working there. But not as dumb NPCs as in NC. People should mill about more than they do in [NC].

  • Org office: an org should be able to rent an office in some office building. Like NC's faction office and org appartment combines. So there's some building in a city, you go in and find your own org's office (or the office of the org you want to join) in 312 (floor 3, room 312). There'd be officers of the org, and an NPC who'd give you an appointment when no officer is in the office.
  • Org office and cities: an org could have a city *and* an office in a major city (or maybe in more than one... bigger orgs would have offices (different sizes?) in most major cities (AO: a major clan org would have offices in OA/WA, Tir, Borealis and NLC).


  • Nice in AO, very nice. But even better would be custom emotes. Have a powerful script language... but only do it on the server! So, and user-suplied emote script must reside on the server. I hit "dance the rumba" and it triggers the server-side "rumba" script.
  • Hmm, pair emotes? Like actual dancing? Or even more complicated stuff... like, throw someone up in the air. Possibilities are endless... if you can implement it! ;-)
  • Some emotes are breed-dependent... custom emotes would improve this also. At least let the user have a choice. Like, the /bow emote as the Atrox do it is very fitting for any MA, but, well, only Atrox do it that way. Maybe profession-specific emotes/emote styles?


  • [AO] Gives you three pet classes, Engineers, Meta-Physicists and Bureaucrats.
    • Engineers have at most 2 pets: bots and mechdogs.
    • Meta-Physicists have at most 3: one attack pet, one heal pet and one mezz pet. Attack and heal are obvious. Mezz pets mesmerize mobs, which then just stand there and do nothing.
    • Bureaucrats have one droid, and potentially multiple charmed mobs.
  • Changes:
    • Bureaucrats use a nano to summon a droid shell into their inventory, which then is activated by right-clicking ("use" in AO's UI). Since 'crats "summon a shell from the home-office", why not make this into an order form, which when used gets em a shell. These forms work like the nano program... but they'd take up space in the inventory. Hmm, maybe give 'crats a special "briefcase" thing, independent of the inventory, holding forms and documents and stuff? How are these forms transmitted? Grid of course. Or maybe you'd have to visit some office to get a droid... then it should not time out, like the Engi bots.
    • Crats' charmed mobs: have more than one, maybe unlimited. Limited only by, say, NCU, where the nano needs N units plus M units per charmed mob. Say, 5NCU + 1per mob. So, you could have 5 mobs charmed, with 10 NCU needed. Of course... you'd need to keep tabs on the charms running out. Oh... charms would also be breakable (but hard to break).
    • MPs, well, they just have an attack, a heal and a mezz pet. No changes necessary. And they get activated right away.
    • Engineers... now, they should create their bot out of parts lying around. Maybe: spend the money on a blueprint (not a shell!), and then take parts ("Robot Junk" and other crap) and build a bot. Without the blueprint, you get an inferior bot (higher skill cost for same ql bot). Imagining a much better gfx engine (thing HL2 or FarCry), I'd love it if I could be more hands-on: weld parts together, have a physics simulation simulate the result, and... well, more on Stranded! (just temporary, needs to be moved)
    • Crats can charm players... yes, why not? It just doesn't make sense that they cannot. I think that would rock... suddenly, you don't play yourself anymore, but can just watch. Oh, you would get XP! Hehe. And faction... well, you're not in control of yourself, so attacking your own faction would not have a negative effect. Ah... and you can still play, just not select your target yourself. But everything else (using nanos, like Mongo, or choosing which perks to use) is still under your control!

Lots of incoherent rambling

(From two comments I made on, and, well, they don't really belong here)

I was pretty disappointed when I found that Engineers in AO just got a nano formula (= spell) to get a bot. What I would have absolutely adored was if I just looted “trash” (fully functioning or somewhat broken bot parts) and built my own bot from those. And then, instead of upgrading to a better bot nano, just upgrade my bot: better frame, different engine, better cpu etc.

Just imagine: two 200+ engineers, both with very different bots. One rolls around on big threads, has a massive cannnt, is huge. The other bot… looks like that very first bot you get. But all its component are of the highest quality. One is huge, the other… is an understatement. I’d *love* this kind of flexibility. Oh, yes, flexibility. As in Lego blocks (still love them).

How’d I balance this? Think Battletech: you can put in a very very powerful radiation cannon, but that means lots of radiation on firing, which requires better shielding on the bot’s CPU, which means more weight, which…

(Actually, I dream of a system where you actually could weld all kinds of weird parts together. A sheet of metal here, some metal there, a connecting steel rod over there… Put in a kinda “Crazy Machines” simulation engine in (just for checking whether that design works (can drive/walk around and so on), and how it behaves. Simulation result would give some kind of stats, so you don’t have to simulate the bot, machine, whatever all the time, just in the building stage)

And something a bit more on the topic: Why not have both (deep crafting, for "pure crafters" and simple, streamlined crafting)? I mean… everyone can learn a *bit* of “crafting”. Like what I don’t like about WoW is that you cannot learn *repairing* things. Huh? (One comment I read somewhere comes to mind, about how you can be multiple professions at once, and be good at them, as in Annakin Skywalker in SW Ep1,2,3: he's a great figher/Jedi, but also a very accomplished bot engineer).

Every soldier needs to know how to maintain their rifle, right? Cleaning, oiling, taking apart, putting back together… without actually having to be able to *build* a rifle.

Maybe it could work that everyone can learn “crafting” skills. And thus could do simple repairs/maintenance (any MMOG out there that lets you / makes you have to maintain you weapon?). But only with dedication (”Queen of Tedium” :P ) could you become a real crafter, building new things, maybe do more complex repairs.