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Roguelike MMO?

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Joined on: 02 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:10 am    Post subject: Roguelike MMO? Reply with quote

This is anothre one of those "game concept" things that will probably never make it to production, but then again, Blockbound started that way, so here goes..

Rogue Online

Okay, I know the idea's been discussed before and generally dismissed as dumb. It sounds silly at first because most MMOs are about grinding and more grinding, so killing off characters left and right wouldn't seem like any way to play. So to solve that, there's a bit of the "social game" stuff I picked up at Zynga coming out as well as a different approach to roguelikes in general. If you remember the user-generated content MMO, it used a faction system and emphasized lawlessness, which doesn't blend well when characters can die at a moments notice.

The idea here is that each player is the controller of their house. A house is an extended family with an ancestor, patriarch (or matriarch I guess), and the grunts that do that dirty work. Those grunt warrior guys are the PCs. A player has all the characters of their house at their disposal. These are the units that the roguelike aspects apply to. These characters all have one life and are expected to lose it. However, the idea of the house gives something big for the player to keep track of. It also means there is more responsibility for the actions of characters. Even your throwaway characters are representatives of your house.

So, what do houses keep? The most important part of that is item storage. Items can be freely passed arond between characters that stop at the house, and this allows you to deposit items and keep them safe, even if your character dies. This adds an element of risk: do you want to put your best artifacts on your character when there's a chance that they'll die?

Most of the player interaction is secondary, through dungeons. Players can create dungeons to store their treasure rather than keep it in a vault somewhere. Dungeons are open to other adventuring players, who may stumble across them randomly or else explicitly go vault-raiding. Why would anyone leave their items open to theft by other players? Loot collection. PCs that die in your dungeon leave all their items to you. To entice them into your handmade deathtrap, add some decent items in the dungeon. The actual itemized treasure in the dungeon is presented to all entering players, so this acts as bait. Raiding vaults is dangerous, maybe to the point that only very daring players attempt it regularly. To encourage dungeon creation, there are also AI adventurers who stop by from time to time and follow a basic intelligence pattern.

Houses can also ally with other houses (sort of a player friend system) to form alliances. The alliances would be the big units of the game, similar to the factions in the original concept. Alliances potentially share items, resources, and to a lesser extent, reputation of their component houses.

Dungeon design is a big part of the game. The user-created games are meant to challenge your friends or AI adventurers. Houses can also train non-combat positions such as masons, trapsmiths, and others to construct dungeons. There would probably also be a featured dungeon or something like that. Also, if the game is to be monetized, special items can be bought and placed.

It might be becoming evident that this isn't really an MMO sort of game as much as a social one. There isn't much real-time interaction, but that seems to be a requirement of the genre. It's hard to have a multiplayer roguelike because of the turn-based nature. What does player 1 do while player 2 is considering their next step? And what if there are players 3, 4, 5 etc? One idea would be to cut out the player 3+ and just have cooperative segments. For instance, players can raid a vault together, explore a dungeon, duel, etc, but all the interaction is on a two-player basis. Movement might still be a little awkward (I press left, you press left, I press left, etc) but I'm sure something could be worked out. Any ideas?

Another part of the interaction would be some sort of revival system. If your character dies somewhere inside a dungeon, if a friend reaches before a certain real-world time limit, that character is revived, maybe at some cost. Instead of cooperatively taking on the same floor, maybe players working together explore the same dungeon so as to be closer to each other in case of emergencies. This clause also applies in vaults, but the rescuer is still vulnerable to being killed by whatever took down the fallen player.

Also likely is a lite version of the game playable in the browser or through Facebook. In this mode, only one character is available at a time to improve accessibility. The house system is reserved for those playing on a longer term (ie, downloading the game). There's a lot of perception coloring that comes with being a Facebook game, so I definitely don't want it to be the primary platform.

Single player gameplay probably consists of the usual dungeon crawler. Whatever world map (if there even needs to be one) would be minimal. There'd be a couple guaranteed artifacts and that sort of loot to collect, NPC stores as well as player-run ones, and of course, tons of randomly-generated dungeons.

As for the actual combat, think of it as standard roguelike fare. There's plenty of room within the genre for originality, but the theme and design of combat is kind of seperate from the game system in this case. Setting is also kind of independant, but I have a whole different writeup for that. Something a little darker than standard fantasy would be nice without being too REAL DEAL. Just having humans as the only race would be a fine way to do it. Maybe I'll post setting and combat notes later, because those would work just as well for a traditional single player roguelike. For now, just know it isn't that important to the overall system.

Well, there you have it. I'll probably come back and edit this in the next couple days when I go over some chatlogs of #rgrd where this idea was tossed around a bit. Let me know if you have any suggestions or if this sounds great/horrible.
When Wombats Strike!
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