Tuesday, September 22, 2009


A while ago I came up with a game concept which I posted on both the Mortal Online and Wolfire Forums.

My OP:
Well I got this idea for a game mostly from playing Mount & Blade and then thinking about free-running and climbing games like Mirrors Edge and Prince of Persia. I got an idea for the setting and it kind of took off from there.

This game would have to be single player or multi-player and I have some ideas on how it could be a persistant sandbox multi-player game based on a Game Master set-up, but I'll get to that later.

The main point of this game is that you are a brownie a tiny roughly 5" man or woman who has a number of possible mounts but the focus will be on squirrels. You will have an army (again like Mount and Blade) and you and your squirrel mounted army ride through the forest conquering different tree-based castles.

This means there is a lot of climbing and jumping between branches. Thin branches would bend with your weight, if they were 'green' they might give you extra bounce, dry they might break. Unlike Mirrors edge however falling is unlikely to kill you. A particularly bad fall might result in some damage, but usually the main reprecusion is that you are not where you want to be in the battle.

There could be a number of other types of possible mounts, most notably aerial mounts- sparrows, hawks, falcons, owls, bats (these last two would have bonuses for night battles). In aerial combat foliage is a big problem, smaller birds can more easily make their way through it than larger birds. It is also important to note that all mounts should require care and feeding so owning a hawk would be great for taking out sparrows but also very expensive. - I've also been toying with the idea that your charisma might take a hit for owning a predator (not sure).

Game Master controlled Multiplayer Mode

I wanted the game to be focused on seiges, but also have features that are simply impossible to acheive in an MMO. This and some of the conversation in the seige warning thread brought me to the conclusion that it would need to be multi-player. However I don't want it be that you log in for a session and then log-out and that session is done. I wanted a persistant game world that develops with your character. This made me think of the advantage that many Pen and paper rpg's had that I know of no computer games having- a dungeon (game) master.

I would want the Game Master to be necessary for any multi-player session. The primary duty of this person would be to get a number of people together , set the hours of gameplay and create the game world. Whether they play too or just created PvE events or whatever would be entirely up to them. They would be setting the rules and the lay of the land though so if they set it up giving themselves a huge advantage and then played PvP style they probably wouldn't keep their group for long.

Some of things a GM should be able to do:
1.)set game time - all characters are persistent within this time frame (perhaps AI orders set by players if they are not logged in)
2.)create the world map - I envision an interface of a giant map and nodes that could be used for procedural creation of the game map. this would include placing all Tree types, NPC spawn points, streams, cliffs etc. The GM would place a stream node for example and the engine would then render the stream according to how it would run down hill on the terrain, place a tree variety node and that tree will propogate based on sun, water, soil and competeing tree nodes. This could get quite complex and I don't know how well it could be implemented but I've seen some very interesting videos on the subject that give me hope.
3.) set rules:
RP only?
damage/health ratio?
chat options?
Full loot/partial loot?
4.) set-up NPC encounters and spawn points
this could include questing options

I would love to hear constructive critiques. If your a game developer please feel free to steal all my ideas as I will never really make this, I just think about these things alot.

A lack of PUG would be the death of such a game, as I imagine the best longest running games will indeed be closed. Here are some ideas I had on minimizing this possibility:

1) Single Player->Multi-player transitioning- When playing in Single Player mode have a PUG wanted chat window displayable (on-toggle) that way you can be scanning and playing at the same time. Also allow for Single Player character import into multi-player games, with a GM decided handicap/boost to level playing field among players.

2)Standard Mode- this would basicly be a standard pvp set-up where all the GM is really doing is setting the game hours and perhaps selecting from several pre-created maps. This would work well if you want to establish yourself as a GM but know one knows or trusts you yet or if you really just want to play your character and not worry about anyone shouting hey no fair you cant play PvP and be the GM.

3.) Community Support - Some things to make forums work well would include an indepth rep system with 'badges' those mini-icons under your avatar kind of like the Escapist forums has. These would be rewarded based on various things: Post count, positive rep, negative rep, GM, established GM, RPer, PvP master, Mod-user, Mod-team, Mod creator, etc.
The last bit makes me want to add that I would like the game to be extremely mod friendly and have mod support. This is one of the strengths you can gain in multi-player when you make the unfortunate sacrifice of the massive.

I think the GM-based multi-player format concept actually has more legs in itself than the setting I've come up with. I think many people would enjoy just some straight up AD&D style action under this set-up.

That said the setting is fairly integral to the 3D platform mounted combat + aerial combat + siegeing gameplay that I'm envisioning. I think most people's first reference to brownies is going to be Willow or something similar. I would like to move away from the comedic style of Brownies people expect, and have them be just medievil warriors who take themselves quite seriously and fight clans of other brownies for territory. They wouldn't see themselves as tiny because the entire world would be from their vantage point and they are normal sized. They don't see themselves as magic, sure they can tame squirrels and birds for mounts, but all brownies can do that. Any humor based around their size should be left to players and GMs and I would prefer that the game not really wink at the audience about it. These are brownies in a brownies world, not in a human-sized world and that (along with wanting the game to focus on just this fighting style) is why I want them to be the only playable race. That said I do have ideas for other creatures and races. I would leave these out of the Standard PvP Multi-Player Mode, have most of them in for single player story mode, and have it GM option for GM multi-player mode.

Humans: To a six inch brownie a six foot tall human would appear to be 12 times there size, imagine a 72' giant. Brownies will not be encountering legions of knights, what I might be willing to include is a single human woodsman or peasant farmer family. They would be epic sized quests to drive them off or steal their food. Strategies for driving them off might include trying to make some family members think one of them is crazy, or that their house is haunted, poison their supplies, or if you feel brave and have a large enough army just attack. I could see them as fighting you with things like a wooden spoon or their shoe.

Goblins: These would be about 1 to 2 feet tall ground dwelling semi-intelligent creatures. They could come in many varieties beaks, tusks, tin funnels for hats, one idea I had for them, sort of ripped off of Ninja Scrolls, is a goblin spider herder who has lots of spiders that live on his back.

Carniverous Wildlife: Foxes, Badgers, Bobcats, Spiders, army ants, any untamed carniverous woodland creature you can think of really.

I think bees/beehives would make a good tree castle upgrade - supply your troops honey and add protection to the tree.

Another bird mount I want is the humming bird. Very low weight capacity/armor/health, high maintenance cost, but has ability to hover and is lightening fast. Good Sniper mount.

Anyway a few of the comments I got, and my own feelings on the subject, sort ran along the lines of "quit dreaming and start making something". Too true, only I'm not a programmer, and I have limited time and talent. So I decided to stick with what I know and started working on a comic. I wanted to aim for a page a week like those transmission-x guys do, two months later I'm almost done with my first page and not entirely happy with it, but I'll still be posting it shortly. If I could actually get this comic rolling it would be nice lore background from which I could pitch this game concept to a company.....maybe.....someday...

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