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Author Topic: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...  (Read 9549 times)

TrollHammer

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Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« on: May 02, 2012, 03:51:26 PM »

For a while now work has been done to put together an on-line multiplayer gaming experience for fans of Elf Quest.

It has been given the OK by Richard Pini to be made as a not-for-profit Fan Game, and the intention is to make it available free to play.

Even so, it's still in the early stages of development, with most of the effort being in the form of discussion about the details of how the game might feel, as well as exploring how the chosen game engine works to understand what needs to be done to get the game playable.

Other than some basic experimentation no graphics have been started, however the style and perspective have been roughed out.

Currently, the intended game engine is called NetGore, a royalty free, free to use and completely customizable 2D game engine.  The format is Top Down, with the graphics drawn in a foreshortened perspective, similar to parts of Zelda or Age of Empires.

The goal is to make a socially interactive Roll Play type game in which a player can "live" in the World of Two Moons.

I would like whatever thoughts, ideas, concerns, questions, comments... whatever discussion that fans of Elf Quest might like to see in the game.  The more input I can get the more enjoyable the game might be.

I would also like to know if anyone might want to help out with graphics design, pixel art, layout or content advising.
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Emberra

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2012, 10:21:10 PM »

Highly customizable characters would be great! Thats about my only idea right now. :P
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nilla

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 02:17:18 PM »

Highly customizable characters would be great!
I agree with that.
If one is allowed to go and kill off humans as they wish I'd play it.
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DestinysGift

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 10:08:40 PM »

I had this weird idea of where you can also have lovemates and lifemates, different recognitions and such but then I also thought controlling that would be like playing the sims....
It could work... maybe.
You could put where you choose what tribe you are a part of, whether you have a wolf friend if you are with the wolfriders or have it where you can find one later on. But then that would also go towards a highly customizable character.

I tried my hand at making a video game for a contest once, I finished all the preparation but it never actually got onto the program to make it.

I could offer many suggestions, but there is the object of LIMIT.

How much of the world of two moons would it be like?

If you want the full feel of Abode, it would take a lot of work but the outcome would be monumental. For suggestions, I'd offer up some choices. Maybe, the time in which the character is playing. Would the person playing have a choice in what tribe they are playing as? If they are playing as wolfrider, maybe have it where they can choose between Bearclaw, Young cutter, Older cutter, or Ember as the time of Chief they can play. Are they going to play as a Glider? Maybe just a while before Cutter came, then slowly slide into the plot of the elfquest series. Would they play as Go-Back? Same as Gliders, a while before Cutter came and that way the person playing can be involved in the troll wars. They could also play as sunvillager, though I'm not sure about this one, could be a bit boring, but they can probably be a part of the Jack-wolfriders. Maybe be able to play as a Wavedancer. I'm none too familiar with their timeline, but from what I know, you can probably show the conflict between them and the humans.

Let me know if I could offer up any more suggestions! I'd love to see how this plays out. And sorry if I talked too much, games are one of my favorite things along with elfquest.
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TrollHammer

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2012, 03:31:02 PM »

This is just the kind of input I was hoping to hear, keep it coming!

Character customization is a priority, knowing the EQ community. Its going to be a lot of work, but Im hoping that eventually players will be able to play as nearly any tribe with lots of character features.  The engine allows updates and expansions, so more content can be added in waves.

As such, more than likely the initial push will center on the Forest Trolls with Greymung in charge, the Gotara tribe with a Shaman in charge, and the Wolfriders... But Im not sure if the game will be set up as a linear timeline or if it will be an initial setup with arbitrary leadership NPCs.  The goal, as it sets now, is that a version of the World of Two Moons will be in motion with NPCs and as players build up their characters they will take over the rolls currently held by NPCs (leadership, hunters, tanners, miners, metalsmiths, farmers, etc based on what the player's interest is).

Unfortunately, with as rich of content as there is in elf quest, the "world" will start small, perhaps just the forest in the full first release and the Troll caverns as the test server, but it all depends on how mich time I find to work on it and how much help is volunteered.

As far as the dynamic of conflict:  this is a touchy issue that various fans have different feelings about, so here is what I have come up with so far...

Inter-race conflict will have both tribal and individual pros and cons.  A tally system will be in place in that keeps track of the instances a person tries to make allies or enemies of another individual, race, or tribe. If, for example, a wolfrider kills a human, they would gain stats making it easier to succeed in battle in the future, but would lose the ability to trade with any humans.
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TrollHammer

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 04:00:13 PM »

Sorry, my phone goofed up and dumped me out of the previous post.

Anyway, continuing on, befriending or helping a human would improve trade options or even allow you to become a member of that tribe, which makes other things easier.

Additionally, "killing" actual characters is discouraged, while "besting" someone may be common (competing for leadership or status in the tribe, settling disagreements after a bet or brawling at a pub... Death should not be a goal, it seems.  If this holds as planned, a character who dies cannot just "respawn" and try again. This might sound brutal, but if everything goes well dieing will be very difficult, especially with preservers, healers, herbalists, and healing plants all around. 

A concern has been brought up with this: what about if a gamer that isnt a fan tries to come in and wipe everyone out. If this were to succeed, a restore would be an option, but this should be unlikely. The longer a player or character is in the game the stronger their character will be, so a newcomer cannot "magically" wipe everyone out without an old timer being able to step up and protecting from it. This is still getting worked out, and Im definately open to input. Its just a thought.

Well, im out of time for now, please feel free to keep shooting ideas around. The more input we get the better it will be!
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DestinysGift

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 04:41:22 PM »

So, the idea of it would try to make it like an actual quest game similar to say, WoW or something of the matter, or would you make it like Fall out or oblivion where there may be a small story line to each players experience but they can all interact with other players?

Honestly I could see this more of a single player with possible Multiplayer options like in Fable, where you have your set story line and you can choose if you want a friend to join in. But that would cause a whole lot of work in the process.

But at the same time, what would be stopping a lot of people from trying to make a canon character as who they play as?
If this would be an MMORPG we might have hundreds of "Cutter" 's or hundreds of "Leetah" 's running around, what's to stopping them?
This is assuming you have a generated name system where it would show someone's name if you pass them.

I do like the trying to keep killing to a minimum thing, and gaining experience for certain things, it sounds very interactive.
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TrollHammer

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2012, 04:21:11 PM »

You bring up all the issues and questions I have had over the time, and some issues cannot be easily solved. Here is ehat I have so far, and if there are any other ideas throw them out...

Game type: Personally, I have not played the big MMOs out there, but my co workers talk incessantly about them.  As far as I understand, this game might end up more like Rift and WoW than the story based games with multiplayer interactivity... BUT, thats only a way to look at it. Im hoping it will work out that a player's character will be MAKING its own story, of which a script will be recorded (server logs and whatnot), and later retrieved by either a character with Storyteller ability, or via a forum like autogenerated fan-fic type posting that can be read outside the game.

For example, if you choose to start your character from birth, and develop your character with normal progression in the tribe, it might read:

Barkchip the Wolfrider was born during the time of Bearclaw. He didnt show much magical galent at first, nor any special cleverness when he undertook his Digger Hunt, but he accelled at tracking small game, and aided the tribe through a time of poor hunting and gathering, often being successful in a lone hunt when entire hunting parties failed.

His main interests in lovemates were Bluepuddle and Twig. The three could often be found under the full moon in the clearing near the old hollow stump near the fishing stream.

Barkchip has already went on two spiritquests, but still has not felt his heartsong call out his soul name. He has discovered that he may become somewhat of a plant shaper some day...

(and so on)

If this "story generation" works out, I'm not sure how to make it so it isn't basically a mad-lib template that changes according to the character's story, but it would be... unique?

Anyway, there would be a "general guideline" for the character to follow, and events happening around them that might change their "story", but as the environment would be dynamic and changing based on what the other characters do around them, as well as what the player decides to do, the "story" will be quite dynamic.  It may even have a feel of Fable to an extent, however the path your character takes will never be the same twice, even if you start your character the same way every time.

BLue Mountain example:

While I like the idea that this would be an opertunity for fans to relive parts of the story, perhaps changing it for what they might have wanted their favorite characters to do, the amount of time it would take to develop such a game with all the variances is mind-boggling.  Also, I have always thought that the EQ community was special in that it parallels the social structure of EQ tribes, at least in my experience.  The feel I get is that an on-line game that seperates players so they get what they want all the time would isolate players/fans, and EQ fans don't seem to want to be isolated it seems to me. (IE: one player might want to see what might have happened if Rayak succeeded in aiding Winnie in converting Blue Mountain into the Great Egg, but many might want to see what might have happened if Winnie hadnt been so bad after all.... complete contradiction between the two ideas, so a player would have to have "instances" where they become isolated from the rest of the game world and play out the story or quest as they desire, then "warp" back into "reality" to interact with others, like Raids in most MMOs).

My thought is to make some high level quests' outcomes base on what the community of players does, if that makes sense.  Using Blue Mountian as an example (when that part of the game opens up, of course), Blue Mountain might be seeded with some fairly neutral or "story feel" NPCs (chosen 8, Winnie, Lord Voll) just like any other area of the game. As time goes by, we see NPC Egg is the only rock shaper putting effort into creating the Great Egg out of Blue Mountain.  He's been there for countless turns of the seasons and by himself will be there for countless thousands more. (Game mechanic= Blue Mountain requires say 1,000,000 points of effort in Rock Shaping channeled through Egg to transform into the Great Egg.)

So, we have a dozen or so players that have characters with rock shaping ability currently in play (for the sake of argument). Three of them are Gliders, and put every moment of their spare time into aiding Egg.  Winnie also spares some of her Will to boost Egg's ability, and combined with Egg, they put about 10,000 points a day into Blue Mountain.  At this rate, it will take over three months for the Transformation to happen. (up to and during this time, other tribes in other part of the world are having other struggles or taking it easy as well, their own adventures).

Blue Mountain is around 450,000 points toward transformation when six wandering rock shapers happen across the going's on at Blue Mountian.  They sneak in, breaking up into a group of two and a group of four.  They find out what's going on, but in the process the pair are captured by Winnie by mind-snare, and she works on them.  One doesn't have a strong enough WIll to keep from turning into her puppet, and his efforts are turned toward the transformation (adding say 3000 points a day). The other rock shaper his held captive in a brightmetal cage and cannot escape.

The other four send on of their party to get help and start combining their efforts into undoing the magic done by Egg.  They are able to channel 9000 points a day against Blue Mountain, which brings the net points per day down to (10,000+3,000-9,000=)4000 points a day... staving off the transformation for another five months if things remain as they are.

The fourth rock shaper succeeds in bringing four more rock shapers and some strong willed fighters (all player characters) to free his friends and end the threat of Blue Mountain.  This adds five more shapers (11000 points a day, we'll say) against the transformation, depleting the pool by 7000/day.  The fighters eventually might free the prisoner (who can add say another 3000 against), or break Winnie's will over some of the other shapers (NPCs and captured player characters, who would then get a notification that their character was liberated), and these might add their points against the Mountain...

Or... a large number of rock shapers might decide to push Blue Mountain through to completion... and now a flying fortress can visit the different areas of the World of Two Moons as those players see fit...

This would be an example of how the community of players deciding the course of events in the story.  The same would hold for tribes making allies or enemies with other tribes...  each thing having little or large differences in the lives of other characters.

Infinite unique character solution:

(running out of time again.. Cliff's notes version): Players will create an account, and are allowed a finite number of characters on their account  (I'm thinking like four or five should be plenty).  This way they can have a Troll, a Wolfrider, a Human, and a Go-Back (or any other combination of whatever tribes are available).  They can name each character if they wish, or (and I'm not settled on this) use a pre-constructed character from a list based on origional EQ characters, perhaps with the character's name or one of the player's choosing....

The "True characters", such as Bearclaw, Cutter, Chief Ember, King Guttlekraw, etc, will be NPCs, and will have name placards either colored, bordered, or otherwise denoted as being an NPC or "true character".  A player's character will either have a dual name ("Account name"-"Character name"), or just the player's account name in a different placard.  When text-based conversation occurs (such as when an NPC gives the player a quest), the character's name would be used. For example:

Account name: TrollHammer
Character 1: Hail
Character 2: Blueriver
Character 3: Picknose
Character 4: Cutter

On-screen, the name "TrollHammer" or "TrollHammer-Cutter" would show over my character when I play Cutter.  If I talk to a Quest Giver, and they talk to me, it might show up: "Cutter... you must find my cub! She wandered off toward the Five Finger's Camp!"

So, while there would be nothing preventing a dozen players having two Cutters on their accounts, you'd still be able to tell the difference, but the players could go on in the game with the game responding to them as though they were they only one with that name.  Make sense?

One last thought before I go tonight:  How would people feel if accounts could only be created after being verified through one of the main Elf Quest sites, such as this one (www.elfquestfanart.com), Elfquest.com, or others that fans feel are proper fan sites?  This would prevent a WoW player or spammer from trying to get in because they would first have to become members of one of those sites.  A lesser way of doing this would be to just require some minor EQ trivia from the OQ (who was next in line for Chief after Bearclaw?) as a filter.  Or does anyone feel like there should be a filter?  I'd like to get more people interested in EQ in general, but I know that there are gamers out there who just want to best everything in their path and don't care about community or fun for others.  Thoughts?

Thoughts on any of this?
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 05:33:25 PM by TrollHammer »
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DestinysGift

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 09:52:38 PM »

Sorry for not replying, long day full of fun. And sorry if some of this isn't worded well... I'm a little tired.

So in my mind I am trying to compare what you described to me to different games.

What I got so far is that the world is like Fable where you can see other people's characters but it doesn't effect your world, also like Runescape and probably others.
But there will be similar quests for each world in which you can invite other people to partake on with you to achieve the goal but the outcome of the story will be different each time.

Like the strategy game, Facade.
Where based on how you interact with the environment, the game will adjust it into what happens while you play.

I like the name thing. Of it being different for NPCs.

As for the becoming members of fan sites or the main EQ site, I think it should just be suggested but have this on a website that you have to sign up for, one that has a spam filter or manually have people accept new members. That way they can be in the community and have a forum for conversing or bug alerts etc..

As I read about this, it seems like there'll be a lot of work needing to go into this, definitely updates for quests and such even after the game is released. But I think even non-EQ fans will enjoy it and you'll introduce people and make them EQ fans with this. My friend recently became an EQ fan and I know she would enjoy seeing it in a game form.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2012, 09:57:11 PM by DestinysGift »
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TrollHammer

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2012, 01:21:45 AM »

Growing community has been a goal of mine for a while. I seemed to have missed the glory days of holts and all in the past, and especially after the WB disappointment, I want to see SOMETHING happen (not that there isnt a lot going on here, of course). I tried to get into storywriting, claymation, cartooning... And seem to have lost my ability to focus on highly detailed work. Since I am working with similar coding at work as the game takes, and putting the game together is more or less copying and reformatting the story content into game content, it is hopefully somethingthat might get done. That said, I still need help with the graphics.

Nevertheless, I have gotten a bit farther in understanding the language of the program due to work related projects, so some of the trickier things I thought might not be possible might not be too far out of reach.  At the same time, work deadlines are taking presidence and the game has taken a back seat for the moment. I did get ahold of a new camera, though, and this may aid me in getting some test textures together quicker.

As far as gameplay, Im really shooting for a "your world, your quest, your choice" type atmosphere that is both a little simpler and more complex that what you mention. In a sense, each player is on their own, but only to the extent a player wishes to be. If a player wants to be a part of a tribe, and help the tribe out (kind of like a guild, but more family feel in a way), they can. I they want to part with the tribe and wander solo, that's their choice as well (though we saw what can happen when rock shapers wander off alone...).If a group of mixed races wants to form a "tribe" and join their efforts, thats their perogative.

As far as how one player's actions affect the whole: this is still being worked out, and would like input, but the rough idea is that some things (like hunting) affect the local area (kill to much game, there isnt enough to go around), while others (bigger quests like building/defeating Blue Mountain) can be influenced by all players as they feel they wish to and can affect everyone (if it or the Palace were to time travel, which still needs worked out, or move to a different contenant, players might be cut off from it or have to travel a lot farther than they were hoping).  building up a home/holt can have benificial gains for that tribe... The list goes on.

I like the idea of having a seperatr game forum, as I know those are popular and a good way to learn about bugs, but at the moment it is a little beyond my skill set to set it up. If someone woul like to help set it up down the road, let me know. I have a software package for handling the "homepage" and statistical display of whats going on in the game, but at the moment I cant remember if it has a forum built in or not.

Further, it will need graphics. I guess when the game goes into beta then we can have a contest or something for logo/banner/splashpage to make it more fan-made?

Well, keep the questions and ideas.coming. Good night for now!
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DestinysGift

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2012, 11:10:14 PM »

Setting up a forum for it, you wouldn't need to look too far in the EQ community for help on it. I'm sure anybody would be willing to put the work into doing it. And as for the Logo/banner/splashpage, you can bring it up to Maggie or Treefox and I'm sure they'll be willing to help you with it, it sounds like a fun idea.

Quote
As far as how one player's actions affect the whole: this is still being worked out, and would like input, but the rough idea is that some things (like hunting) affect the local area (kill to much game, there isnt enough to go around), while others (bigger quests like building/defeating Blue Mountain) can be influenced by all players as they feel they wish to and can affect everyone (if it or the Palace were to time travel, which still needs worked out, or move to a different contenant, players might be cut off from it or have to travel a lot farther than they were hoping).

Kind of unsure about this though. Sounds very complicated and might put some people off, but I like the idea of the palace being available to those who want to travel far, have you thought of a time system? Like, not depending on your local time but instead on in-game time. When the player logs in, it starts at a time that everyone else has, let's say its night. They are at blue mountain and need to travel to the go-back den. They can either take two days and so and so hours walking or take the palace and be there in a few minutes. Let's say they choose to walk. Maybe have a fast travel screen, showing how much time has passed, day to night, day to night, and the sun just getting ready to rise. That way the player can interact more with the environment, and maybe have different creatures for the times, like day have humans and night have trolls. And also for different times have different dangers too. A wandering sunvillager, as an example. Not used to the night, they might not be able to see as well. It would be more dangerous for them to travel than a Wolfrider who lives by the night. With the newer players, fast travel screen might be a better way, then they won't have as many monsters to worry about. Will the be a solid leveling system or just points to see "Your character is getting stronger by thiiiiiis much..."?

These are just some ideas I was brainstorming. But it seems it would work better to the game world. Have you figured if your going to have the person able to save anything? It might be frustrating to have a character you work hours on and not be able to come back to later. But the die once and for all thing is kind of cool, it makes the player more cautious.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 11:13:00 PM by DestinysGift »
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TrollHammer

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Re: Elf Quest Multiplayer Online Game...
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 05:30:53 PM »

Sorry I haven't gotten back to this in a while.  It's still a project, but my coding time has been all taken up with work (RL). 

The engine has had a major push to update and make better, and I've been checking in on it to see how this affects things. So far, I've seen nothing but positives.

Still, a MAJOR stumbling point I'm having is that I can't see anything without artwork, and I'm trying to figure out what the best direction will be on this point.

By the way, if anyone wants to work on generating character templates or backgrounds or ANYTHING, feel free to post, contact me, or what have you.  At this point I'm getting less and less picky.   I apologize for not providing examples.  If you are wanting to get a feel for how the game perspective is laid out, go to www.netgore.com and look up "top down" or to see what someone has already done look at some of these: http://www.skyon.be/category/image-galleries/offical-screenshots

Since I'm not really figuring that I'll get anyone interested in artwork until I have something to work off of, I'm trying to figure out some ideas to get sampple graphics going, if only to see the thing running and spark some ideas.

I can either spend more time that I have drawing some characters pixel by pixel, which I could have done for the last year or two, but obviously haven't.

I could just use place holder graphics from other games or the demogame, but it would look terrible, and one thing I've noticed among all discussions I've started on EQ is that, if it doesn't look like anything, no one will be interested in seeing passed the bad imagery to look on how to improve it.  Again, I could have done this already, but haven't.

Finally, the current idea I have rolling around in my head is to use live bodies as templates, using a camera to capture poses, and reducing resolution or otherwise 'shopping the images to scale to the game. I (or someone else) could far more easily modify the images into character sheets, backgrounds, items, etc.  It would also be far less time consuming.  Currently, however, my issue is cost, as ideally I would use 8 cameras, set up in a circle, slaved together to get the 8 directions the character could be facing on the screen.  This would be ideal so that each pose would be more closely the same and I wouldn't have to worry about forgetting actions or poses when rotating the model.  The camera(s) would be roughly a 45 degree angle from the subject, at a height sufficent enough to reduce the fisheye effect from the lens. (of course, that means high ceilings or outdoors, which then you have to worry about light... yeesh. If any of you actual artists have a better way of doing things, PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!)

Setting up a forum for it, you wouldn't need to look too far in the EQ community for help on it. I'm sure anybody would be willing to put the work into doing it. And as for the Logo/banner/splashpage, you can bring it up to Maggie or Treefox and I'm sure they'll be willing to help you with it, it sounds like a fun idea.

Kind of unsure about this though. Sounds very complicated and might put some people off, but I like the idea of the palace being available to those who want to travel far, have you thought of a time system? Like, not depending on your local time but instead on in-game time. When the player logs in, it starts at a time that everyone else has, let's say its night. They are at blue mountain and need to travel to the go-back den. They can either take two days and so and so hours walking or take the palace and be there in a few minutes. Let's say they choose to walk. Maybe have a fast travel screen, showing how much time has passed, day to night, day to night, and the sun just getting ready to rise. That way the player can interact more with the environment, and maybe have different creatures for the times, like day have humans and night have trolls. And also for different times have different dangers too. A wandering sunvillager, as an example. Not used to the night, they might not be able to see as well. It would be more dangerous for them to travel than a Wolfrider who lives by the night. With the newer players, fast travel screen might be a better way, then they won't have as many monsters to worry about. Will the be a solid leveling system or just points to see "Your character is getting stronger by thiiiiiis much..."?

These are just some ideas I was brainstorming. But it seems it would work better to the game world. Have you figured if your going to have the person able to save anything? It might be frustrating to have a character you work hours on and not be able to come back to later. But the die once and for all thing is kind of cool, it makes the player more cautious.

Lets see here...

Thanks for the pointer on who to contact, when it gets far enough along that someone can get a feel for what it will be like, I'll contact them.  I'm also going to be setting up a test forum using my friend's server and using off roading as a theme to get some practice.  I'm still not sure if it would be better to set up a site and a forum before a beta-test is ready and bring in all those that want to work on it there, or wait until there's something to actually talk about.  ???

As to the Palace and time system...

Palace: with the cliffhanger left us a the moment from WaRP, doors have been opened for using the Palace for travel.  No, we don't currently know where the pair are going, but we know they are going somewhere else, and that's good enough for a mechanic.  So far as it looks at the present time, as long as someone with piloting skill (or whatever it ends up being to fly the palace) is present, a transport bubble can be formed from the Palace and go whereever. According to the theories of the Elves discussing the creation of the pod, there may or may not be a limit to the number of these pods that could be split from the palace. (for that matter, it seems to hold that such things could be done with the Little Palace as well, I would think.)

Time content:
Hmmph.... This is the beast I have been battling with for quite some time.  I want time travel to be a part of the game, but it is EXTREMELY hard to make it work without actual, RL time travel, which is impossible, so why am I talking about it? Be quiet. ...No, you be quiet. ...No seriously, you are starting to tick me off. ...Well then leave.  ...I would but we are kind of attached. ...Uh, do you realize we are still typing? ...Oh, sorry, I'll shut up then...

*Flogs Muse and Self with furvor*


Anyway... I don't want to make the Trolls and Humans pure NPC factions or races.  When the origional Warcraft 2 came out (well before WoW), I was quite frustrated that everything was Human centered. You could play Orc if you wished, but there wasn't as much content or "fleshing out" of the Orcs as there was for Human, and while the Undead NPCs were an available faction for map building, you could not play a third party/race/faction, and you couldn't do anything with the Undead except set up NPCs.  NPCs are necessary, but if we demoted Humans and Trolls (and perhaps Preservers, not sure about them) to NPCs that you could use the skin of as basically a troll-looking Elf, I think it would be a mistake.  As such, setting certain races as primarily time dependant NPCs isn't really on my to do list.

I'm not saying that there won't be times and places with specific races.  I figure that all OC tribe locations and times will be populated with NPCs appropriate to the time or place.  Father tree forest will have Wolfrider NPCs running around mostly at night. Troll Caves will have Troll NPCs running around in them. The Citedel will have Humans running around in it...  This is necessary anyway, as the NPCs would fill roles to make the game playable, such as Quest Givers, Stores (people to get supplies), Guards, elders, leaders, storytellers... stuff to fill the worlds when there's not enough players to do all the functions needed to have a tribe work.

But as for Time... now that's a tricky one.  I want time travel.  I don't care how impossible it is. I want this game to have a semblence of time travel, since it's such a key part of EQ and potential outcomes of quests...  It's in the script, darn it!

So what I have come up with is this:
The game engine generates logs of what's going on in the game. Normally, these logs are used to tweak performance in the game, spot glitches, and catch cheaters.

Way back when I started this thing, I thought about dear ol' Pike, and thought, I wanted Storytelling to be a part of the game.  I wanted to have Storytellers actually be able to tell uncanned stories about things that happened in the game, to characters that had died, or living legends, I figured that a handful of Dreamberries would go a long way to making an interesting aspect to the game.  At the time I wasn't thinking about the logs, I just figured I'd 'invent' something to generate a storybook, and characters could access this "Scroll of Colors" within the game, and outsiders could read the stories outside the game.  So how does this play into time travel?

Without getting all phylosophical (which I started a thread on EQ in one of my sub-groups if you want to discuss it), "real" time travel does not allow for changes to the past, which is just fine for the game.  What I mean is, a character can instance an event where the player's character interacts with an environment at a different time frame than the other's characters (at least as far as the Scroll is concerned), and other characters can go to that same time frame, just like an auto-generated map that is created when a character goes somewhere that other characters can go to, we just say that the character is in the "future" or "past" and just don't let them interact with other players that aren't in their time frame.

The log will still timestamp the events that the characters go through, but "date" the shorthand as happening at a previous or future date or time, so that when someone accesses the Scroll, they can see what "went on".

For example, lets say we have"

Cutter and Skywise leaving for a jaunt through the forest. They don't time travel, they just go from Sun Village to the Father Tree Holt and meet up with Pike.

Meanwhile, Leetah and Ember take a palace-pod to go look for missing tribesmates. They go to the future a few centuries to see if they can find someone to tell them what happened to those villagers and where they went, so they could go back and look for them whereever they ended up.

The pair of villagers, We'll call them Bob and Jenny (I don't have the drive to come up with elfy names at the moment), fall victim to a pool of bad magic that sends them back in time to when the Palace crashed.  As a result, they putter around for a few thousand years looking for beings that won't kill them, and then settle in with a (now AU) tribe of Gobacks for the long haul.

Cutter and Skywise, in their "time" finally meet up with Pike, who tells the tale of Bob and Jenny turning the tide in the battle with the Trolls at some point in the past, and whatever results there was from that (but as the full story of those two characters may not be played out yet by the player who is playing them, Pike's story would have to end and "wait for some other time, I'm out of Dreamberries"), But he would not know anythign about Leetah and Ember.

Leetah and Ember come across and Elder NPC who recalls Pike's story (if they run into the elder after Pike has told his story), or quest around until they find someone who can say something about them.  Obviously, if one player is trying to get time-distorted information about another player/character, they can't know what happens until after it has happened.

So, what it boils down to is, essentially travel (time or space or both) generates story (in the form of server logs), which can be accessed by characters with special skills (fortune telling for future reading, storytelling for recounting the past).

The server log generated about everything that goes on (each character gets a log, BTW, this is what is, in essence, the characters' save game file), will be in a shorthand that a process can convert to a "story", or plain text using grammer rules.  It's a gimmick, but it's what I have thought up after watching five seasons of Dr. Who in three weeks.

In regards to your final question, yes, of course you can have your character saved, I just haven't figured out how it will mesh and flow with the feel of the game. Traditionally, you would find a place to sleep and go to bed, then when you started the game again you'd wake up and keep playing.  This, however, does not account for server/client crashes, loss of network connection, or other issues. It also does not account for what happens if the place a person decides to sleep gets destroyed. (such as the Father Tree getting burned down, or troll caves collapsing), or if a player decides to go to sleep in the middle of no where and someone or something decides to have some fun with the sleeping character. I haven't figured that out yet.

Usually, if there's a technical problem, your character will say wherever it was for a short while, then is swept back to a "home base".  There's no allowance for this in Elf Quest, though.

The only thing I have been able to figure out is to convered all player characters to NPCs on logout or disconnect.  Depending on how good I get with working with the engine, the player's character could have a user editable behavior that takes over when the player leaves the game.  This would kind of be like a game that is made up of all NPCs, and a player seizes control of a character for a time, then releases it back into play.... I think this would be a good way to think of it.  The saved/sleeping character would just avoid danger and follow the local population of freindlies.  In this way, if the forest burns down and the Wolfriders run away, your character would run with them.

Just a rough thought.
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