My (Jae) dream MMORPG. Science Fiction setting. Multiple worlds. Spaceflight. And lots more... if ever ;)
In a Nutshell
Everything that has been decided (or dreamed-of in enough detail, meaning it's in my head, but not yet fully formulated).
- Multiple different worlds, at first unconnected (safe for the comment backstory)
- Different "races"/breeds/genetypes (same origin, DNA-recombined; or different species to begin with)
- Spaceflight (not right away though)
- Solo, as in Elite and all its descendents
- Grouped/teamed: larger craft with crew and passengers
- no classes (races/breeds/genetypes yes, but no classes)
- professions, but non-exclusive
- Levels undecided, but unlikely (at least not as one global level; level per-skill (or skill-set), not unlikely)
- Fully dynamic worlds/universe
- Fine-grained (aka overly-complex (I hope not)) faction system, based on
- Organizations ("Guilds" on steroids ;)
We have multiple servers (I'd like to start with 3-4 right away). Those servers are separate worlds (and thus, they're separate, likely w/o any cross-server OOC comm channel).
Mankind was starting to travel space (say, end of the 3rd millenium or so... a couple 100 years in the future at any rate). We travelled the stars, but not really that fast. Faster than light, sure, but... the really huge chasms were unbridgeable.
Anyway, something happened (we expanded faster than expected? Hmm, can you imagine we could leave this rock? Populations might skyrocket). So... just "in time", we stumbled upon a wormhole (natural... or maybe we just thought it was?)
No time for exploration, so...
A number of colonization ships were created (at the beginning of the in-game story this number is unknown). Each one huge, with thousands of colonists in them. The armada flew through the wormhole... and, just as they arrived on the other side, the wormhole exploded. Hurtling these giant ships through foreign space.
Each server is essentially one of these ships. Most have crashed on some planet. We could do one or two space-based shipwrecks. These didn't crash, they got pulled into a solar system without colliding with a planet, essentially becoming a satellite of that sun (those suns).
Each ship is mostly destroyed. Important: engines and comm systems are nonfunctional. Right at the beginning that is. So, no-one can leave the planet, and no-one can communicate off-planet. (It might later show that some alien power created the wormhole and caused the wormhole's explosion, in such a way as to disabled, permanently, the ships' comms. Especially with still-floating-in-space colonization ship(s)... those have to be sort-of intact, or the colonists would all have died)
Each ship would be on a different planet, in terms of environment. One could be on a big gas-giant, with gravity of 2, 3, or more times that on earth. Where a special DNA-resequencing system modified the colonists' DNA, in their cryo-sleep bays, so that they could move/work/live in that gravity. Which would lend itself nicely to a "that's why there are no 1000s of people on this ship/server" (it takes differently long for DNA resequencing, and/or the system cannot do all colonists in parallel, just a couple at a time... (yes, I thought of this DNA thing to explain the lack of people in the beginning :P)
And the hostile atmosphere outside the ship... would be a nice explanation for why there's not a whole planet to explore :P Just, with time, little interconnected settlements. Maybe we could even give players the option of DNA-resequencing that makes their chars being able to freely move (w/o protective suits) outside.
Another server could be a rather lush world, forests and stuff... with lots of dangerous beasties. And I mean dangerous! Think Jurassic Park beasties. Or, maybe rather, Deathworld (Harry Harrison, 1960). So, not much exploration... at least right away. (Hmm, I don't want permadeath, so what to do? DNA manipulation is ever-present, so... just clone yourself. All you have to do is get some of your tissue back :P)
These worlds would evolve over time, without patching... I'd love to actually do server-side visible evolving, changing. Like that re-design FunCom did on AO's Old Athen... wouldn't it have been just grand if you could have watched all that construction work? And watched those bulldings being built? (Even in a quick, nano-tech based way).
Sooner or later (at the players speed, of course!) we'd get off these planets. We'd get comm systems. Interplanetary. Interstellar. And finally, it would be... sweet and grand. :P
How It Begins
Or how I'd like it to begin... ;)
The first worlds will open with a minimal population. A couple hundred at most per world. Active players, only limited number of alts. Storyline reason: colonists cannot be cloned quite that fast (maybe due to the damage sustained). And the autonomous systems wouldn`t create thousands of colonists right away anyway, they're programmed to release/create a scouting force (damn, I'm missing the right term right now), and after that is successful, release more colonists in "batches".
From a devel perspective, this makes it possible to not have a full planet right away, but release the "colonists" as new areas would be created/finished.
Passing Control from NPCs to Players
Scenario: Planet's main colonist faction is military. In the beginning of the colonization, the control of the whole organization is in the hands of NPCs (read: controlled by GMs et al). Over time, people rise in rank (automatically and manually, probably more automatically in the lower ranks). Until, at some time, the whole force might be under the command of an actual PC.
In practice: say we (GMs etc) have planned on creating two outposts. The actual establishing, building, defending is in the hands of PCs, mostly. The commanding officers of the outposts might still be NPCs... depending on progess of PCs through the ranks til that point.
PCs which did well in their duties will be promoted, of course. The higher the rank, the more control, and the more influence, they'll have/get over where the planet and thus the game goes.
The colonists are not suspended in cryogenic sleep (as might be expected), but as DNA samples (which are stored in a computer, digitally). There are four major sections to each ship (with variations, perhaps):
- Living/working section for the actual flight crew (one or two dozen people or so... but they all died anyway when the wormhole collapsed :P) High shielding and/or well-distanced from the engine/propulsion section. Basically, it's in the bow of the ship, and engine/propulsion in the stern.
- DNA storage. Very well protected against radiation and other external influences. (This section takes very little space, so the shielding being tough/heavy/thick is not a problem)
- Storage for "goo" for recreating the colonists on arrival at a suitable planet. Lesser shielding, due to it being just inert "goo". Any "damage" it might take from radiation is "overwritten" on DNA insertion (or some similar technobabble :D
- Engine/propulsion section. High radiation.
We need factions...
The "armada" mentioned above wasn't a uniform entity. It consisted of all kinds of ships by different factions. Some were even collaborations by different factions, due to none of them having the means to build a ship to cross the wormhole. Some others had factions inside their ranks (unknown to them, some of their members were actually aligned with some other group... same as before, this hidden group not having the means to build a ship, the "hitched a ride").
And even the "uniform" groups... take any large organization, and you'll find any number of internal factions, struggling for, at the very least, influence (to get their pet projects done), if not power. So, even a ship built by one single (huge) company... could (and would) split into different factions after a while.
First, everyone is required to have/get a full name (though not required to publicize it).
So, no single name, but a real first/last (even more if you like to).
This will work similar to Second Life's naming system. Means, guide players with a list of known names.
What if a player wants/needs more freedom? Well, we only guide. If a player wants another name, he/she can, but this will have to be confirmed by a GM (or the player base, depending... yes, democratic servers :P )
Hmm, maybe have something like AO's ARKs, with more powers, like the power to accept as-yet-unknown names.
New idea: for the first big chunk of colonists, we could have a pre-made/pre-generated list of names. So, you wouldn't choose a first name, and then a last name, but select a full name. "What do I take. Oh, yes, Fred. And last name? Brooks!", but "Hmm, Joe Diaz? Fred Brooks? Jimmy Taylor? Ah, I take Fred Brooks!".
What about giving those people histories? At least in the way of relationsships with other characters... say, there's "Fred Brooks", and then there's also "Peter Brooks", and it's in the records that these two are brothers?
Nah... I want RP, and for that people should be free to choose, not be pressed into a prefab'd corset. Maybe players could establish these relationships, later? And, of course, by mutual consent. For example, if "Peter Brooks" wants to make his char a brother of "Fred Brooks" (who is on the records as soon as he is "created"), then he'd maybe just do so, with Fred Brooks then having to confirm it. As soon as Fred does, the records show this relation between them. Hmm... why didn't it show that right away? "Because every colonist record is sealed until that colonist has been activated", an NPC might tell you. Why? Hmm, beats me... :P
Oh, and I'm still toying (on the side) with permadeath. Then if "Fred Brooks" dies, his player might choose "Peter Brooks" and make him Fred's brother, who's out for revenge (maybe just on the local wildlife, depending on the circumstances of Fred's death :D )
Every character will have a PDA (barring specific world constraints). Which is used for all kinds of things, like
- Sharing in-game info (resource locations, contact information, something like "vcards" (add a friend/contact via your PDA, see Contacts List)
- Mail. Send personal mail, org mail, route mail
- Packages will be delivered either to were the postal system expects you to be closest to (at time of sending) or to a location the sender designates. Via your PDA, you can reroute packages to an office that is most convenient to you (maybe at additional cost you can have it delivered to where you are right now)
- Organization management.
- Contacts List.
UI: I have something along Splinter Cell's PDA in mind. Of course, adapted (for one, so it fits better (most functions should not obstruct your view) and for another, for obvious copyright reasons ;)
Names and Communication
Characters will get a unique handle, by default, a serial number. Yes, they all have serial numbers. Like 11727A23. And a 11727A23.5 in an info window could tell you that 11727A23 is on his/her 5th clone.
Think of the serial number as an email handle (email@example.com, anyone?).
Then, a player can give aliases to ids. And of course there'd be organization role emails, another kind of alias. To talk to a recruiter of, say, "The Lost Souls", your character sends an (in-game) email to recruiting@thelostsouls, for example. How this "thelostsouls" part would/could look, how to find out how it has to look, needs to be fleshed out.
Death & Cloning
TLW has no permadeath. Toyed with it (still toying with it... maybe some world(s) could have, but need to find a way to fit the theme). But since colonists are cloned to begin with (their DNA/memory/personality is stored in a special storage section)... it just makes sense.
Though death is something you'll want to avoid. For one, you lose all progress since you last "scanned" (load a new profile into the databanks). All (physical) skills you gained, everything... gone. If you were level 14 on last scan (no levels here, just for illustration), and you die at level 18, you get cloned as you were, level 14 and all. All mental skills are still there (maybe depending on the clone's limitations, akin EVE's model), since those are mental, and thus bound to your soul, spirit, life essence (or whatever you might call it).
Physical skills will be learned "back" faster, though, since you still remember what you were able to, just your body needing the regain the strength (etc), and adapting.
You will lose all the stuff you had on you, of course. It's there where you died, if you don't manage to get there in time, it's lost (either looted by some other character (even NPCs might do that), dragged away by animals with your corpse, or just decayed).
So, in a sense, that's permadeath without the perma. Dying in TLW is quite harsh at any rate, lots harsher than in (most?) other MMO(RP)Gs.
Evolution & Change
As has been hinted at above, the world(s) will change. Irreversibly. So, someone who joins, say, 2 years after launch will play a very different game than someone who played right at the start. Yes, that's normal... but in our case, it's not due to actions by us, the designers/developers, the "company" behind it, but mostly (of course design involvement is important, nothing is possible w/o us making it possible) due to player action. If some world/server doesn't put resources into researching ways to leave the planet (or, generally, into research that in the end will result in such ways), then they won't get off. Until/unless some other server does, and finds them.
Of course, as mentioned, there is designer/developer involvement. So... if it turned out that one world just doesn't want to "play", if you will, we could force them, in that we somehow (forcefully) lured the other, space-travel-enabled, worlds to that world. But that should be as low-key as possible. Dropping hints via NPCs and such. Nothing big. And certainly nothing (too) obvious.
Stuff like implants is covered in Augmentations
There are two general categories of skills: physical ("body") skills and mental ("spirit") skills.
One weird skill I had come across just now: "Technobabble". It's a passive skill (only understanding). Maybe too non-serious to actually put in. ;)
The worlds I'm thinking about have their own (growing) page (mostly due to transclusion not really cutting it concerning headers).