I’ve been looking for something to develop in order to have an excuse to create an open-source MMOG engine.
I think I’ve come up with one.
- Persistent planet
- No-zoning engine
- Vector-based loading
- Distance-based rendering
- Ruby or Stackless Python (or both!)
- OpenGL and DirectX (and XNA?)
However, you might ask, how does the project make money?
The service itself to play will cost, just as with any other massively-multiplayer game. Accounting systems, of course, will be separate from play systems. The abstract concept is a war-game that has a new one starting every day. You are only allowed to participate in a certain number of wars, arbitrarily set by the administrator(s). The war doesn’t stop until you’re eliminated or everyone else is. The war starts with defense-design. For thirty days before the actual first shot is fired (political and subversive attacks notably excluded), you’re given a chance to tweak the economy and defenses of your plot of land and town. Alliances may be formed at this time, including merging with direct neighbors for shared control over more resources. Once the game starts, management of the resources from that point forward is handled by the network. Upgrades and updates can be made by the “owners” of the area, but the majority of what they’ll be managing is troop recruitment, training and purchases. You can be eliminated on the first day if you didn’t spend your 30 days wisely, leading to someone else gaining your resources. This means you now have an open slot for that day’s new game.
Since we’re talking planetary-scale for the war game, we can have a large number of players without running out of space. It also allows the war’s date to be as far back as one can imagine, and as far forward as the developers wish to go.
The key is dynamic content. Throughout gameplay in the first 30 days, there should be allowance to teach the player a simple “language” to upgrading their technology. In a current-day setting, this would likely be disabled, but who knows? It could be as simple as certain types of objects, guns, vehicles, etc. have different traits that can be plugged in by dragging them around, or as complicated as scripting functionality for those devices in ruby or stackless python. Allowing both in a single game would need to be evaluated closely for fairness. If the players can make their own advances, or create a chain they want to advance throughout this war (pre-planning), it creates infinite possibilities for the outcome of the “war”.
The next part of dynamic content is the landscape and its contents. The city manager will build as necessary for expansion, but the player should be allowed to choose a few basic structure types (A-frame house, etc.) and apply changes where the object allows to create a different look – or a whole new building – for their growing (if capable) city. Again, this could be simple point and click, or scripted, giving someone the ability to create, for example, a mobile iron mine that has a built-in refinery system, along with a lumber processing system. Perhaps the more functions the person creates on the object, the more negatives from a pool they have to add? After a certain amount of time in use, “improvement” points can come along, allowing the creator, or an enterprising owner of said device, to improve output or decrease the negative effects, or with enough, add on whole new functions. The art, of course, would have to be from a pool of generic looks. Something like legos, but without the blockiness.
The players should be given a good amount of land, enough to expand for a month after fighting starts before they’re forced to take more land. Who owns the land? That’s a little more complicated.
A weights system would be used for land ownership. The lower the security rating of the land, the less claim anyone can have over it. If you can claim, for example, fifty percent of the land, it’s yours to build on. Security rating is dependent upon warefare actually happening within a certain distance of that land, the closer it is, the more dramatic the effect is upon the security rating. No action directly on the land causes a positive increase equal to a percentage of the current security level, to a minimum. If there’s lots of war several miles away, it will hover a little above 50, if it’s adjacent, good luck keeping it above 10. The security rating, is the maximum share of control someone can have over the area. Control is determined in a similar system, but based on the amount of troops near, or on the location. Most likely this would be an area equal to something along the lines of an acre.