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Old 06-23-2010, 08:29 PM   #1
Clover
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Red face At a loss. Want to help?

Hi everyone.
In the mix of coding all kinds of cool stuff into Transgenesis and building rooms at the same time, I have come into a bit of writer's block. So I would like your opinion on some things. Feel free to be as brutally open and honest as you can. Detailed answers are a plus too.

Transgenesis is a post-modern MUD with hints of "The Island of Doctor Moreau", "Shadowrun", "FInal Fantasy" and some others. It is much like earth, with the key difference being that humanity has undergone a mass termination of life, cutting population from nearly 7 Billion to just over a few million. Genetic modification has given malicious sentience to certain plants and animals (sometimes even minerals), brought back supernatural creatures to the world like Demons, Elementals (called Reflections) and many others. The main area is Dystopia, the main city where humans have come together to live. Electricity is expensive so most of electricity-based technology is rare and expensive. Guns, artillary as well as magic and normal melee weapons exist to battle the "darkness." The system is classless and raceless.

So.. here are my questions.

1. In a game such as this, what kind of areas (zones or rooms) would you, as a player, like to see?

2. What types of antagonists do you think would make the game more interesting?

3. Can you think of any non-standard skills or abilities which you think might be fun or interesting to add to such a world?

4. Can you think of anything else that you might like to see in such a world?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:23 PM   #2
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

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Originally Posted by Clover View Post
1. In a game such as this, what kind of areas (zones or rooms) would you, as a player, like to see?
This is a post-modern mud, so I want it to feel like the future. I want technology that makes sense, but that still feels very distant.

Which means I *don't* want normal areas, like city parks or bedrooms, unless there is something special and futuristic about it.

I *do* want areas like:
- Utility fog (where the fog itself can be used, both as a danger and as a tool)
- Modular buildings - Imagine a small apartment with one room. At the touch of a button, the room itself changes. So it might be a lounge room, and I press a button to turn it into a bedroom. How that change happens would depend on your fiction, maybe nanobots pulling the room apart and rebuilding it. Or furniture sliding into the floors and walls. That would allow "futuristic comfort" in a small cramped dystopian style apartment.
- Unusual resource supply. Maybe I get a stream of atoms piped to my room that my item fabricator uses to build stuff. That could lead to rooms and quests around the resource supply. Maybe a terrorist is trying to blow up the piping factory, which would bring the city to a standstill if all fabricators stopped working.
- Some "traditional" areas are fine, but show that there's a reason they are still traditional. Normal forest areas could be fun, but put in some sort of warning about how it's a nature preserve, and don't damage the trees. Or a city park, that is protected under a dome, much like we do with botanical gardens. So the park would be treated more like a museum than a leisure place.
- and on that topic - leisure places! I know it's meant to be dystopian, but give me some awesome leisure activities. A hoverboard skateboard rink. Grav-sailing. Holo-rooms.
- but it's a dystopian setting. So also give me the grime. Back-room drug shootup dens. Illegal body part shops (who maybe buy corpses under the table. And offer replacements when you get damaged.) Not just shining towers where the elite live, but the slums beneath that are tied to them. With the characters that maintain the resources needed for the rich to live comfortably - the contrast will make the slums seem that much worse. Perhaps a ghetto for semi-humans, people who have become too divergent from normal human genetic code, either through adding features, genetic degradation, or cybernetic upgrades. Most of the slums should be poor, and less-than-human, the results of experiments, or the result of not being able to afford proper health/bodies/replacement limbs, etc. (A powerful cyborg who's bought all the best items shouldn't end up here. A cyborg who can't afford upgrades, servicing, and power costs would end up here, with half their systems malfunctioning.)
- Along with those grimy areas, I want a reason to go there. Something I can get from hanging out in the grime that I can't get elsewhere.

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2. What types of antagonists do you think would make the game more interesting?
Your game, your call. I know I'm going against what you've already listed - but please NO traditional monsters. I don't want to fight demons and elementals and skeletons. I don't want to fight orcs and bandits. It's the future, not Middle Earth.
That said, there's nothing wrong with taking design elements or ideas from those creatures and making something truly horrific and futuristic-y.

For example, imagine a rogue AI that uses nanobots to create drones. Imagine it's low on raw materials, or can only affect certain types of organics - i.e. flesh. So this AI could strip the skin off its victims and put in control circutry, maybe hijack the central nervous system, and turn corpses into drones it can remotely control. You've now, effectively, got zombies - but there's a futuristic explanation. They don't crave brains, they do the bidding of their central controller. Perhaps they can "spread" to other people by infecting their victim with the nanobots that will install the circutry to create new "zombies" - you could even have the equivalent of necromancers, hackers who are specialized in breaking into the control communications and controlling the zombies themselves.

But yeah, that's what I want to see from antagonists. I want science gone wrong. Intelligent AIs that use science in ways that do not benefit humans. Megalomaniac humans who use science for selfish reasons (for example, robots that stalk the alleys to kill healthy victims and harvest organs, which are then sold on the black market.) If you want strange creatures, make them an offshoot of the human development. Uplifted animals may live alongside humans, often as allies. But maybe some went wrong. Maybe uplifted cats just don't *like* humans, and see them as prey.

Some antagonists can be human. Just others competing for resources. So bandits and the like. But not a "jump out from behind a tree" bandit - make their behaviour believable as part of the setting. If water is scarce, have them along the roads to the watering hole. And have them steal water from the travellers. If metal is scarce, make them ignore anyone that isn't in a vehicle. Make it possible to "get along" with them (maybe pay protection money and they leave you alone) and make occasional disadvantages if you kill them. I shouldn't be able to get rich by killing and looting bandits - if you could get rich like that, the bandits would already have done it to each other. If they were rich, they wouldn't be bandit-ing.

On the human-antagonist front, some powerful megacorporations as an antagonist would kick ass. You might not ever fight the CEO, but they can send out corporate police, assassins, etc. - but don't just bump into a "megacorp bad guy" - build that in as part of a story or quest. Let me raid the megacorp storage bay, and run into their hired police force there.

Make some antagonists have justifiable points of view. Maybe uplifted apes also oppose humans, because they want to protect the natural world, and see humans as despoilers of what is good. (And maybe the apes also have human tendancies towards violence) - don't make them primitives with spears, they're uplifted and intelligent. Make them use human technology in a different way. Maybe they highly prize solar cells, because it allows them to generate power in an environmentally friendly way. Give them a culture. Make it different. Make it make sense. Make it something that the players could agree with - but which their character doesn't have the chance to adopt it (you can't join the apes, since they see all humans as evil destroyers, and will shoot on sight, or flee.)

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3. Can you think of any non-standard skills or abilities which you think might be fun or interesting to add to such a world?
Your skills should be designed after you know what gameplay you're pushing for.
If you're pushing for corporate scheming between megacorps, and the hiring of assassins to take out rivals, then you'll want skills to manage business, to detect prime targets, to covertly order hits without being discovered, to cover your trail when investigating.

If you're pushing for straight-up action, where the characters go out with a gun and shoot monsters, then you'll want a range of combat skills that have various strengths and weaknesses, as well as tactical applications.

If you're pushing for a social game, then you'll want skills that allow you to gather information, and you'll have to make sure that information can be used in a productive way. (For example, streetwise or charm skills to gather information when asking around in the slums. Maybe you find out about an experimental data card. Then someone else might have technology skills that can be used to research that data card and turn it into an upgraded decking console. Then a decker could use that console to gain access to level 5 information rather than just level 4 information. And that information can be used to advance plots. But to be meaningful, there has to be a difference between level 4 and level 5 information, and that difference has to be useful.)
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Old 06-24-2010, 09:23 PM   #3
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

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4. Can you think of anything else that you might like to see in such a world?
Life/death/body upgrades. Can I grant myself claws, or the ability to see in the dark?

Can I back up my memories so, if I die, someone can purchase me a new body and upload my memories into that body.

If that is the case, who can get a new body when they die? Anyone? Only the rich? How does that change society? What is it like living in a slum, slaving away for 15 hours a day, when you can't ever retire or die? What's it like, being a soldier that is sent into the front-line against horrific enemies to die again and again and again - does that break their minds? Or do they just adapt and deal with it?

I want social distinction between humans, human-brains that are simulated, such as a human who uploads themselves into a robot body, and was-never-a-human AIs.

I want many of my skills to be "external" to my body. I might be able to learn kung-fu and hold my own in a fight, but I *also* want to be able to learn to hack into the building security systems and use the automated sentry guns to hold my own in a fight. Or to manipulate the utility fog to create a golem that fights on my behalf. Or to use my hacking skills to view a remote camera feed.

I want "intelligence" skills. If I can have a computer in my head, I could have skills that let me learn foreign languages in seconds, that tell me about a creature by checking a database, even if I've never seen that creature before. That remind me to flush the toilet if I forget. I want skills that tell me the social reputation, job, criminal record, and rank of someone when I meet them. I want skills to have superhuman mathematical abilities, and I want challenges that require superhuman mathematical abilities (such as repairing a nuclear reactor by manipulating plasma fields.)

If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you have a look at the tabletop RPG "Eclipse Phase"
You should also read "Accelerando" by Charles Stross.
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Old 06-25-2010, 03:42 AM   #4
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

What is "Eclipse Phase" and "Acclerando"?
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Old 06-27-2010, 05:45 AM   #5
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

Eclipse Phase is a tabletop roleplaying game. So a game more like Dungeons and Dragons, rather than a computer game. It is set in a post-singularity future. Homepage | Eclipse Phase

Accelerando is a novel by Charles Stross about someone who is really good at coming up with new ideas that will help create the future. As the novel goes, technology develops at a faster and faster pace, and he gets left behind - it's hard to describe, but is a brilliant story to showcase how advancing technology can completely change society. It's fun to see what changes and what stays the same. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerando_(novel)

Cheers!
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:30 PM   #6
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

For distant-future stuff, think Dune! Not in the direct sense, but I like the idea that the culture and technology retain peculiar echoes of things we see in the world today. More specifically, thinking about the kinds of accommodations a sentient mineral or plant would require could lead to some really neat areas. What sorts of resources would they want from each other? How would allegiances unfold? Do mineral-people worship organic life for its complexity?
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:45 AM   #7
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Re: At a loss. Want to help?

1. In a game such as this, what kind of areas (zones or rooms) would you, as a player, like to see?

For Dystopia, I'd say you should have your common amenities (clothing shops, pharmacy, food stands in the streets, newspaper stands (if that's canon), some sort of public transportation (if there was once a subway, maybe it's abandoned and infested with indigents/creatures?), living quarters, and government buildings. Maybe a library and/or data center for distributing common knowledge and lore in the game. For the more abstract, you could have tinkerers who are working on experimental technology, blackmarket electricity/technology shops, hospitals (legal and illegal).

For outland areas, you might have shanty towns outside the city proper, which gradually tapers out into unlivable areas. Lots of ruins of long ago cities and structures (depending on where your city is, you could have recognizable ruins of things like nearby observatories, museums, historical sites, etc). Harbors, beaches, national parks left to seed, so on and so forth.

2. What types of antagonists do you think would make the game more interesting?

There should be factions of NPC groups fighting (literally or in a boardroom) over resources. Factions would probably be separated by economic class and power structures. If there's a government type in the city, it could either be benevolent or not-so-benevolent, and key figures in that group might be working to actively harm people in the city.

As for creatures and stuff you'd combat, you could do practically anything with the newly-sentient things you mentioned in your game description. Maybe there's a hive-mind sentient plant species that took over ruins somewhere and is looking to (literally) spread out into Dystopia.

3. Can you think of any non-standard skills or abilities which you think might be fun or interesting to add to such a world?

I wish I could think of something to suggest, but I'm sadly not that creative.

4. Can you think of anything else that you might like to see in such a world?

I think it'd be cool for a lot of the equipment in the game to be tied to body upgrades and implants. Sort of separating from the wear clothing/armor to get stats. Not that there couldn't be body armor and IC-appropriate clothing, but maybe the majorty of your character enhancements could come from technology and genetic engineering that you earn through completing areas and/or quests.
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