Sunday, July 26, 2009

And while I'm on it, a reminder

Baking is a pain, especially when the walkmesh just doesn't do what I expect it to do. So while I bake 10 minutes, make a small change, bake again, change again it seems like this is a good time for another reminder of the initial goal of all this. In my last post I already rambled a lot, now I'm going to list a few more specific things about what I would like to do that others don't.
First of all, like Michael said and, I assume, most others would agree on, I want to build the world I want to play in. Now, there are so many Persistent Worlds out there, and I assume a few of them already did things I want to do, but the perfect mix is still missing. So here are the main goals I have:
  • an immersive world. I want to get lost in it, forget about real life for a few moments and be in a different life.
  • a fair world. Where should I start about fairness? It would be a long long rant
  • a unique world
  • a fun world
First point: Immersion. Immersion is the general atmosphere, and the main factors are probably area design, setting and lore, and the quality of Roleplay. The most beautiful world is not immersive when the playerbase only consists of World of Warcraft-kids. The best Roleplayers cannot get into a world if it looks like a child has quickly thrown an area together. One goes with the other. The area design is what I think I can get done, it is not about the technical skill which I certainly lack, but I think I know what I want it to look like. I'm not a "form follows function" builder who makes a list of area contents and quests, then throws in the buildings as it fits. I have an image of a city or area in front of me, try to build it, then "walk through the streets" and consider what kind of interior a house might have, if a corner would be a good place for a market stand and so on.
The other side of area design is the technical side, to be immersive a world shouldn't be full of bugs, the NPCs should act realistic, scripts just have to work. That's step 2, I'm not even there yet. I'd rather have a nice looking base first I can fill with life, the systems behind it are secondary. Not less important, but when I see the world in front of me I can better imagine how I want it to function.
As for immersive roleplay, there are two factors: The world and the player. I noticed that when a someone's thrown into a really well built world, most people automatically adjust to it. If my server is full of exciting baddies to kill, players will focus on killing them. If my world has a lot of stunning areas, players stop and look around, and might even just want to sit at a lake for hours to enjoy it.
However, not every player is like that, and that's why, as sad as it is, there need to be rules. I hate rules, really, and I want to keep them low in numbers. Nexus had just one main rule, that was:
Everyone gets to have fun - Nobody gets to have fun on another one's expense
That's a good rule, however it's not enough. Not even for Nexus it was, for example there was the rule about no evil characters. There might have been many good reasons for that rule, however I think in an immersive world there's no place for such rules. There's actually not even a place for alignments, if we're talking about realism. Alignments are silly, I despise the whole system and it ruins my fun. The rules for Middleforest would contain different things, but I can live with the Nexus main rule above them all. A few examples for rules I consider necessary:
  1. Roleplay. Live your character. Stay IC. Limit ooc chatter to tells
  2. Strict PvP rules. PvP is allowed for realism, however only in rare circumstances when roleplay justifies it and only if all parties agree on it.
  3. Classes are roleplay tools. Be free, experiment, don't think you have to act like a monk only because you took that class. Be a character, not a build
  4. Be an adult, act like an adult. Adult content is not what a teenager considers adult content, it's about being mature and playing a mature game.
  5. (A few rules to prevent munchkinism, like the 3-level rule)
There are not many more that come to my mind at the moment. Middleforest should be free of those hundreds of rules other servers require you to read. Middleforest will not have character applications, most classes will be treated as tools, not require certain roleplay. Players are required to play out their character build, but they are free to do that however they want as long as it makes sense. Why is that? Because the players know their character better than any DMs.

That brings me right to point 2, fairness. I hate unfairness, and there are many aspects of it. And it starts right with the rules above, and not only when it comes to social interaction between players. Unfairness could be that you don't let the other roleplay their character as they think it fits best. You are a rogue, you have to act like a rogue. Utterly bullshit. It continues to fairness in game mechanics, and the main point Michael's xp system is all about. There are many kinds of classes, and they all play differently, however they should all have the same chance to advance, without having to go completely out of character. Here's an example: In Dammendrech, a roleplay world, a lot of people play characters that are not combat orientated. However, everyone wants to advance, that's the crux with the levelling system of D&D. What happens? At some point they all go ooc grinding alone on different sides of the server, hoping not to be seen by others because IC their character wouldn't hurt a fly.
At that point I miss the relaxed fun of Nexus, where people just had a relaxed adventure together, not terribly in character, but it was fun.
In Dammendrech I rarely have that fun, just like in most other roleplay worlds. Adventuring becomes a necessity, you do it mostly on your own unless everyone agrees it's the half hour of ooc grinding of the day.

Now, with Michael's XP system I hope this one problem (My character would not kill, but I have to) will become obsolete. More ways of making xp that are not combat-focused is absolutely necessary. And good RP rewards. Back in Nexus, we could make a 1000xp by grinding for a half hour, but a RP reward for 4 hours was like... 100xp? People, I see that on most RP servers - RP needs to be rewarded, for many servers without a nifty xp system this is the only xp income for non-combat characters. And they are playing their ass off. Reward good RP generously, not like a small nod. The players will otherwise just be grinding again as soon as you turn around.

So, XP system and RP rewards, one thing. The other is encouraging party play in every aspect.
As much as I hate people around me only chatting oocly and grinding like mad like on most action servers, I also don't want to enforce an absolute strict IC rule. Sometimes it's necessary to relax a little, be half IC, but up for adventuring together even if your character might not fully agree. Everyone needs to let some steam of sometimes, and it's more fun together. It's fine, forget about it the next day, but it's a multiplayer game, it's a community game, it's not a singleplayer game. If there are four people on the server who are just in a killing mood, hell, please team up, do it together and enjoy party fun. It's better than seeing it as a monotoneous work and an evil necessity that has to be hidden from others. As long as it does not get out of hand and you don't annoy others with it. When a DM pops up players should be ready to RP, when someone else comes in and starts roleplaying I expect an immediate stop of ooc chatter (which should be kept to tells and party anyway) and appropriate IC reactions. For those who knew Nexus: The dock chatter there was fun at times, but it totally got out of hand. Real Life stories are a subject for tells, or go and look for a quiet room where nobody else comes along and talk there. I hope all this is not too much to ask on a RP server.

Now, for PvP I don't think there's much to say. This won't be a PvP server, PvP is only about realism and a last ressort. PvP is usually a thing that happens in RP, not in brute force. There are characters that don't get along and one might hate the other IC, however, there are almost unlimited ways to play that out without actually attacking the other. If there's absolutely no other way, then the fight must be IC, it must be in consense, and I'd prefer if a DM is around. There's no WoW-style "kill the n00b because I'm an evil rogue", such players are simply not wanted. We're all mature and expect players to behave like that.

Mature brings me to adult content, my favourite subject. 18+ = Oooh, pixelporn? No Sir, 18+ means 1. It's not a kindergarden but a mature game with mature storylines and yes, I'd prefer a mature playerbase. 2. I don't want to have anyone complain if a prostitute shows some skin or a drunken sailor uses dirty language. That's realism, and not pixelporn.
When I say 18+ I mean the average US-american rating by the way, I wrote more about that in an older post. In most european countries it would be 16+. There will be nudity if I decide it fits the context, there will be foul language if it's realistic, maybe even some minor erotic content. But I'm not building a "social" server where players meet to roleplay the act of reproduction, such players are as welcome as WoW-kids trying to get from 1 to 30 in a week. Saying this server will be adult-only is a precaution, nothing more. I don't want angry parents complaining about my content, as I've seen elsewhere. Expect adult content to be presented in a mature way.
Last, for the rules, the anti-munchkinism rules. It's quite simple, I like unusual builds and interesting combinations, but there's just the old issue of cherrypicking for power. And even if it can be explained IC, there's always a foul stench around builds like a Rogue29/Shadowdancer1. A class can mean anything the way you RP it, but it should matter nevertheless. I'd like to see people playing out the classes somehow and not pick it for just a single feat. So there's the 3 levels of each class rule that still stands, maybe I have to redefine that a little for NWN2, I might end with 2 of each, we'll see about that.

Now I think I covered most points of the lists above. The hardest thing is still making a world unique and stand out, and even with all those technical details, it's mainly the setting that makes the difference. Where will Middleforest stand out, if all my plans become reality and I really get all done I want to be done? Well, I think it will stand out in a quiet way, not outshine all the rest. I'm not aiming for an extreme world, I will stay close to what players are used to in NWN2, the differences being in the detail.

  • There's the setting. It won't be on the moon or underwater, it will be a fairly realistic world with some fantasy in it. But much more european than the original game and D&D, with more european (folk)lore and artwork.
  • The system. If I get SM's system in, it'll make a major difference.
  • the quality. I hope.

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