Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Aim, expectations and some other ramblings

SM asked me to update my blog, and so I do, even though I'm still waiting for the darn patches and haven't gotten a single thing done since my last update.
However, I'm currently in the state of a "Roleplay server depression" again which gave me some ideas about what to do and what to avoid in my own module.
So here's some stuff I definately want to do different, it's about the main rules and game mechanics.

First of all, I want a roleplay world and an immersive world with a lot of realism. Yes, powergamers, that means totally uncool stuff like resting restrictions, being expected to stash your sword while talking to friendly NPCs, not running around in town without a reason and all that. I know some people already call that kind of behaviour crazy, but it's the least you should expect from a roleplay world.

However, there are a lot of things common in average roleplay worlds I can't agree with, and with those mechanics or philosophies I'll start.

First: Gaining xp is bad, action is bad, levelling is bad.
I totally disagree with this. Roleplay does NOT mean sitting in a tavern all day, and the greatest roleplay situations I've been in have often been in a battle. Adventuring is fun, exploring is fun, making some xp from baddies is fun and it's a thrill to get that big boss down. This is how games like NWN work and I'm not gonna cut that part out. Exploring and adventuring is of course allowed and encouraged.
However, staying in character all the time should be obligatory.

This brings me to game mechanics, usually aimed at keeping the level of roleplay high, the level of immersion higher and the level of levelling low. Death penalty is one of the very good examples, and one thing I'm still not sure how to implement. Let's say, the usual action mod uses Bioware's standard and has raise dead scrolls, resurrection scrolls and all that all over the place. The average xp rewards are high, powerbuilding common, okay, that's what I don't want. Death should mean something, the penalty should be harsh enough to make a player think twice about going into a fierce battle.
What I absolutely dislike: Penalties that cut your xp in half and strip off half of your levels. Permadeath. That's where the fun ends. You want realism? Go out and ejoy real life, here you got it, it can be fun but it's for sure permadeath. Okay, fine, the general answer in RP worlds is: Party up, never go witout a cleric. A cleric will be able to raise you for only xxx xp or xxxxx gold, so where's the problem?
The problem is, your server might not be as well populated as you wish. And if you make it impossible to level up, there will be for sure no midlevel cleric who can actually cast a raise dead.
In a perfect world you might log into your favourite persistant world and your whole party will be waiting for you. The dwarf in front, the rogue in the shadow, the mage and the archer in the back, the cleric nearby with a number of resurrection spells ready.
Oh, but what if nobody's heard of your world yet? What if there are only 4 people playing at peak times, all at low level? What if the player is in a different timezone than the base? Yup, he's screwed. He might log in at 4 am next week to get a raise from a cleric, or cry on IRC or whatever. But that's for sure no fun and the result is players who are scared to make a weak character and go for powerbuilds. It's simple like that, if I'm scared to die I try to avoid it, and that means I'd rather go out with a tough tank than a weak bard.
So here's my aim for death penalties: Enough that it really hurts, but not so much that it can't be regained in, say, one day or two. Furthermore, players should get a little kickstart at the very low levels to create the plateau I mentioned in an earlier post. Kickstart does not mean, instant level 4 from one quest, but it should be straightforward and not too painful to overcome he state of "too weak to kill a rat".

Now to the resting limitations. A lot of action players hate those with a passion, but in my opinion resting limitations are essential for balance, furthermore, they encourage roleplay and add to the immersion. However, it can be overdone, and it's overdone a lot. Carrying a whole backpack full of items just to be able to rest is just ridiculous. I also don't think rations should really be required, noone needs to eat to be able to sleep (although it might help). Not every rest must be considered a nap either. But however it's implemented, the real proble is the time. How many RL minutes are required between rests to keep mages from the usual cast-rest-cast rampage, but to not annoy any players who just accidently essed up their spellbook during preparations?
I guess it should not exceed ten minutes, even 5 might be enough. Furthermore, there should be areas like Inns without any resting restrictions. As for the required items, I think a blanket and a nearby campfire is not too much to ask from a player, once you get used to it it won't be too much trouble. Water canteen, rations, a tent, bedroll, campfire kit, flint and all that... um... let's keep it simple, a game should be fun.

To make a long story short: My aim is building a world with a lot of roleplay and opportunities to socialise, but I'm realistic enough to know that there might be people playing alone, and for those I want to make it fun too.

Enough rambling, I think I'll go back to haks and building in my next post...

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