Cop Out Two – Son of Cop Out

My first week of teaching is over (hooray!) but I am lousy with disease and so I am going to cop out again this week.

My hard-drive is a treasure-trove of history – I never delete anything that can’t be replaced. A few incidents over the years have resulted in me occasionally losing stuff, but it’s more or less complete since 1999 when I started mudding.

Here are two more historical documents from the recent past. One is the pitch document I first wrote when the situation on Discworld was starting to get to me – it’s the original conception of Epitaph, written on the 2nd February 2009. I forget exactly when I left Discworld, but it shows that 8-9 months earlier I had already been constructed my escape plans.

The second document is for what was going to follow the completion of the development plan I talked about in the last post – it was going to be a new guild, one that filled several niches that would suddenly exist in the grouping model (specifically, they’d be about undoing the enemy’s strategic decisions).

Normal service for the blog will be resumed – hell, I don’t know. Maybe I will just post historical documents forever. Maybe I will put on a hat, grab a whip, and call myself Drakkos Jones, adventuring archaeologist.

Historical Document 1

So, here is my pitch for a MUD. It would be based on the next release of the Discworld Mudlib (whenever that happens), which we will GUT and take out all the useless, tedious crap that has plagued it for the past decade. Essentially what I see this project as is a fork of the mudlib, with a new and interesting game theme.

The theme is bespoke – a kind of pastiche/satire of survival horror movies, books and television shows, along with a healthy dose of Cthullu-style mythos and dark secret agencies. It would also be adult themed – so our dialogue can be more ‘gritty’ than is usual.

The key features of the MUD would be:

  • Very limited area development – it should be claustrophobic.
  • Focus on richness rather than size.
  • Emphasis on co-operative play
  • Achievement Driven with quests for puzzles
  • Faction driven, with reputation given for factional advancement
  • Instances
  • Stronghold based
  • Adult themed
  • Strong narrative

We can’t get away with no areas, but the vast bulk of our world can be randomly generated. We know players don’t really care about deep, intricate areas. The kind of thing I have in mind for these would be:

  • Randomly generated buildings, containing random apartments and random loot.
  • Randomly generated stores and superstores, containing supplies for building strongholds.

Imagine for example, Everytown USA – aside from a few hand-crafted instances and questing zones, it’s all defined in a few automated files. A bit like New AM, but less lame. By focusing on making random buildings *properly* interactive and featured, we can make it interesting to play. For example, you enter the high-street – all the cities look much the same these days, because – you know, apocalypse. You see a door to the south, leading into a building. But, because it’s a building, there is also an alleyway to the side. You go down the alleyway, climb the fire escape, and smash through the window into the apartment.

The sound alerts the zombie in the bathroom, which shambles towards you. It also alerts the zombies in in the hallway outside, who start to claw at the door. You take down the zombie in the room, and do a quick search of the apartment for useful items. You find a few knives, some food in the kitchen, some medicine, and a laptop. You slip them into your backpack just as the zombies break through the door, and you slip out the window and up the fire-escape. What you do then – well, it’ll depend on the zombies. Some are slow and shambling. Some are quick and can climb ladders. Some are just Fucking Scary.

Rather than having thousands of items, we have a smaller number of items but make them genuinely interesting. The laptop could contain useful information, instructions, or maybe just porn. Furniture can be salvaged for useful materials (wood, metal, etc). Abandoned cars on the streets can work like a scavenging system, whereby you search them for useful items. Newspapers can hint at the events leading up to the situation.

Essentially what you are looking to do as a player is either survive on your own (incredibly difficult), or setup a stronghold where you survive with other players (easier). Strongholds are any room you choose to make into one – you make it a stronghold by barricading it up and getting some kind of sustainable supply of food, medicine, and water. Oh yes, food – we’ll have eating as a required action, but done sensibly. Food should be a resource people need to gather in order to survive, but they’ll only need to eat every eight or so game hours.

Every now and again, we drop in a hand-crafted area for instance or questing fun. This ties into the factional system, whereby you can grind rep for factions (here’s where our conspiracies come in – Cthullu Cultists, Illuminati, some crazy biomedical research centre, and so on). High rep with factions will uncover more of the story, give access to new skills, new commands, and new areas.

There won’t be any guilds or classes – and we’ll have a different take on XP too. It’s all taskmaster based, with additional advancement gained by something like ‘heroism points’ which are gained for doing great things.

Historical Document 2

New Guild – The Fools Guild

I have been thinking, not as a new thing for us to do as part of the Plan, but as a potential thing after it – a new guild!

One of the problems we’ve had with putting new guilds in place in the past has been ‘Meh, why is it any different from the others?’, but I think group roles give us a way of providing that distinction.

So I am thinking – the Fool’s Guild would be a great, and unexpected, new guild with a real, unique role – like the witches, it would be gender exclusive (it wouldn’t admit women), like witches, they’d be about controlling fights. Unlike witches however, they’re about sowing confusion into the ranks of your enemies. Witches are about stitching the elements of a fight together for your team, while a fool is about unstitching the ranks of your foes. Witches help you ensure the smooth control of a fight, while fools make sure your enemies are in disarray.

It just strikes me as a great opportunity – everyone thinks that if we ever added a new guild it would be the monks or merchants or such, but I don’t remember anyone ever saying Fools, and they are just so out of the norm for these kind of games. They have their own martial art (Sloshi), around which we can build solo viability, a hugely interesting group role, and a moderately well defined scope in the books. The only downside really is that they are very AM centric, but we’ve never let that stop us making ‘flavours’ in the past for other areas.

Some example group commands:

  • Something With A Ladder : wandering into the middle of your enemies, and turn around while holding the ladder, knocking one down. Turn around again to see what just happened, and knock down another
  • Throwing custard pies : render an opponent blind and unable to focus on a specific target while they get the custard out of their eyes
  • Pratfall : Aggro dump, used to get out of danger once one of the commands has been used
  • Tying shoelaces together : A kind of crowd control, stops someone leaving or entering combat until the shoes are untied or removed. Any attempt to move causes damage and for the opponent to fall prone.
  • Switcharoo : Replaces an enemy’s weapon with something else, like a fish or a squeezy toy

And so on…

In addition, if the Fool performs these tasks very well, one (or more) of the bystanders are overcome with laughter.

Other guild locations:

La Sorbumme – Quirm

Jokes, Japes, humourous anecdotes

A variation of the Swordsmith spell system[1]

Other ideas for Grand Plan 2:

Player-Generated Factions.  Linked to strongholds – should people be able to generate their own factions?

Guild-Themed Instances.  Gem heists, intricate assassinations, etc

New Combat System.  Will it be needed when we’re done with GP I? Who knows!

[1] In between Drakkos@Discworld 1.0 and Drakkos@Discworld 2.0, I started developing my own ‘ground up’ system for building top down 2D MMOs. Unfortunately the working wiki for that is now archived away so I can’t just point you to this, but the spell system essentially worked by combining keywords with certain properties together into a uniquely crafted spell.

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