Reactive blogger that I am, and bored with all that is MMO at the moment, I decided to take up Tobold’s $50 Million Question, so here goes. Anyone who’s been reading for while might recognize some of the themes I’ve touched on before.
Name of the game: Lost Colonies (working title)
Short description of gameplay: 3d space fantasy (sword and planet) universe with action taking place both on planets (cities, zones), spacestations and in interplanetary space. Several unique aspects– multiple modalities of gameplay from traditional hack to ship based combat to non-combat tycoon activities. Players and guilds could occupy and control planets, moons, asteroids etc. Another unique aspect would be a reconceptualizing of the guild system– players could belong to multiple guilds simultaneously and guilds would be able to own and operate property in its own right (more on that below).
Business model: I’ll be boring and say box + low monthly + velvet rope
The backstory similar to that of Eve or Battlestar Galactica, DS9 or any number of other sci-fi IPs: colonists of Earth long ago departed for the far reaches of the galaxy after discovering messages being transmitted from some ancient beacon. The unravelling of the beacon mystery is the epic storyline that unites all the factions. Technology being what it was at the time, the colonists departed on what was understood to be a one-way journey, each headed off to the location of a different beacon.
Colonists arrived, adversity ensues, generations pass and each ends up taking their own unique adaptive and evolutionary course based on their unique circumstances. At the time the game begins, the sundered colonies are spread out over a large but navigable sector of the galaxy far from the now mythical earth. Each of the colonies has devolved into factions that don’t necessarily get along with each other. Only in recent generations has each developed to the point where travel and communications among the various colonies has become possible.
Five homeworlds representing the five defacto races each with different archetypal traits as a result of their independent divergent evolution since their departure from earth. Each of the archetypes would have rock-paper-scissors like strengths and weaknesses:
Colony 1. Humans 1.0. First would be basic humans which pretty much survived intact and suffered the least differentiation from their Earth ancestors. Like the Terrans in Starcraft, they are versatile but equally vulnerable.
Colony 2. Biological Mutants. Crash landing on an environmentally unfriendly planet resulted in a massive loss of life and the survival only of those resistant to the initial effects of radiation and environmental hazards. In order to survive, the mutants became extraordinary genetic engineers and developed ways to influence and select favorable mutations in themselves and organisms in their worlds. Mutants have unlocked previously unknown abilities of the human mind.
Colony 3. Cyborgs. Similar to mutants, they were dealt a different set of cards and evolved to developed and exploit technology and augment themselves to adapt to their circumstances. Resistance is futile.
Colony 4. Convicts. One of the great colonial experiments was to offer commutation of sentences for convicts who volunteered to leave Earth to earn their freedom and a new start on a new world. Old ways died hard and the convicts usurped their masters to set up a civilization that ran by their rules. Don’t drop the soap.
Colony 5. Capitalists. Similar to the convicts, the capitalists usurped civilian rule to establish an amoral state focused entirely on economic exploitation of space and their neighbors.
Most of the traditional MMO features but with a bit less emphasis on the individual. Player combat would be somewhat MMO-FPS like– swords, blasters and psi-magic. Ship combat would be less Eve and more X-Wing fighter.
Character advancement would be largely skill based with strengths and weaknesses of the various archetypes impacting but not limiting the ability to specialize in various areas. There would be no classes or professions per se– they are in essence one and the same and mastery is attained by deploying skills toward your desired end. The entire amount of skill points deployable would be limited, so that even though a player could choose to master anything, they would not be able to be a master of everything at once.
Careers could be changed, though not instantaneously.
Players and enterprises (discussed next) could colonize existing planets, moons, asteroids, etc. and build outposts, factories, facilities in space.
For want of a better term, I’ll retread Eve’s Corporations aka Guilds for a player affinity group I’ll call Enterprises. Enterprises, operate like simplified corporations in our world: they are in effect persistent gameworld entities that can own property in their own right, have their own internal set of governance rules and allow different degrees of individual ownership.The big innovation is that a player is not limited to one enterprise.
Items and structures can be owned by an enterprise outright, not by its members individually, so individuals could set up say a mining processing business by building a structure on a planet, moon, asteroid etc. and set up shop. In this instance, the facility could actually serve the public (for a fee) if desired. An enterprise could buy, sell and build assets and the proceeds would be distributed automatically to its members in accordance with their ownership interest.
Each enterprise would have a governance system established at its founding and could only be changed in accordance with its determined ruleset. Board of governors or single iron fisted executive, you choose.
Since players could participate in multiple enterprises, there are many many opportunities for “orthogonal” gameplay and player collaboration.
It has to be there but on the frontiers of civilization. I think Eve got this right with the concept of security space. Out in 0.0, its anyone’s game. In 1.0, its basically carebear PvE. Players would have individual faction with different “realms” but their actions would contribute toward RvR status. If the Convicts are raiding a lot of Capitalist shipping, a state of war could result turning each into attackable opponents and KoS to NPCs unless individual faction was high enough to “trade with the enemy”.
Player activities would influence the RvR state– real and economic warfare could result in a “victory state” occurring such that hostilities cease and the benefits of victory persist for some period of time– i.e. favorable exchange rates, prices etc. for the victor and likewise unfavorable tolls and fees for the vanquished. Likewise, diplomatic and trade activities could result in an Alliance state developing with similar benefits to all of the alliance members.
Finally, the more a faction occupies an area of “neutral” space, it will eventually become that faction’s territory.
For the solo player, canned career groups or enterprises would be available. Stay in the Terran Navy for your entire career, join the Capitalist Geological Survey or launch your own enterprise when you’re ready.
Epic Story Line
There are two natural overarching story lines just waiting to be explored– Is Earth real or just a Myth and Who or What is Responsible for the Ancient Beacons?
With a space based game, there are no natural limitations to the game space allowing for the easy addition of new worlds. A velvet rope business model would allow both devs and players to incrementally expand. Traditional big expansions could be implemented for major content additions, but incremental expansion could drop in new content which players could unlock for a small fee, expanding the playable universe for them.
Alright, this has gotten long enough. Back to thinking about Diablo III.