A persistent universe online science fantasy with 3 different clients.

The Sim Game
The people playing with this client don't represent a person as much as they do a government. Their game is turn based. They control the laws, politics, taxes, development, etc of their world (or nation, or city). Much like Simcity.

The Strategy Game
These players control a group of some sort. They deal with large amounts of troops (or workers, etc). Much like Age of Empires or Starcraft.

The RPG Game
These players control a single character. Just like Ultima Online or Everquest.

All 3 of these games would be played out together in the same world. The Sim players make the laws and give the orders that the Strategy players enforce to shape the world of the RPG player. This makes for a game that is way more complex and realistic than any normal online game could ever be.

I am going to use the Star Wars universe for my examples here.

Sim player Bob (who represents Mos Eisly spaceport) decides to send troops to knock out a Jawa encampment.
Stategy Player Jenny (the Mos Eisly police) controls those troops against strategy player Chuck, (the Jawas).
Meanwhile RPG player Thomas was in the middle of burglarizing the Jawas' sandcrawler when the battle breaks out.

The Commander of the Death Star (simplayer) mounts an attack on the Rebel Base. Sending out several wings of fighters (strategy players), a few Imperial Officers decide to join the battle also (RPG players). The Rebel Base leader (simplayer) hears of this and sends out a Squadron of fighters (strategy player), while many rebel officers also join the battle, (RPG players).

The possibilities are limitless.

Some problems were pointed out by Kelrin with the 3 Client system mainly players dropping in and out.

This should not be an issue with the Sim Players at all because their game is turn based. My idea is that all actions they do are stored up and executed daily at the same time. (Just like in old Play By Mail Games.) (With the exception of orders to strategy players which would be sent instantly). The only way to truly defeat a sim player is to destroy them politically.

While the Strategy players troops would have to have at least some sort of AI to allow them to make some decisions on their own. In the event of a player dropping I would suggest an automatic strategic retreat of any troops that are outside of their normal territory.

The problem of RPG players dropping out is more complex. If they drop out in a non-combat situation they could simply vanish. In a combat situation I would have to suggest the same strategic retreat that uncontrolled Strategy troops would use.

There is also the question of loyalty to your superiors. There is nothing to stop the Strategy players from disobeying the orders of the Sim players. (Or even going independent altogether). Except that if you were a the Death Star commander and a squadron of your fighters went rogue, you would certainly send a couple of squadrons after them.

3-D Joust seems like it would derive a large portion of its coolness from gameplay-irrelevant factors, including nostalgia and setting. Fundamentally, it seems like it would be very similar to an arcade-style combat flight sim. That doesn't mean it couldn't be a fun game, but since games based on a license or a setting often rely on this rather than developing innovative, interesting gameplay, it seems prudent to consider this early in the development cycle.

The 3-client system mentioned by TheBooBooKitty seems extremely cool, but there are also serious problems. Most importantly, the game needs to be flexible enough to deal with players dropping in and out all the time, because of phone calls and dinner and whatnot, and also with longer-term play variations (for example, the decreases caused by finals). If I were the sim player sending my Mos Eisley force out to smear some pathetic little jawas, I'd be a little pissed if Jenny the strategy player got a phone call halfway through and quit, leaving my leaderless forces to get creamed by a bunch of three-foot-tall weenie traders while standing around like brainless towers of Jell-O. So something would need to be designed to take care of that. The same problem seems to crop up with a lack of continuity of players--what happens when the person playing Mos Eisley decides to go have a snack, or take a month-long vacation?

That said, the basic idea of game with attention paid to mutliple levels this way, allowing all sorts of things to change, seems to be absolutely fantastic. If done correctly, this could totally eliminate the problems that seem to occur with many online RPG's, that the basic structure of the gameworld not only doesn't change, but doesn't interact in any way, on any level, with the actions of the players.

The Gladiator Game My own idea is that there should be a fighting game with RPG elements based on being a gladiator (with possible tie-ins to the movie by that name). It's absurd that there have been so many fighting games made without a decent historical use of the most obvious situation in history which conforms to their conventional constraints of fighting between unusually-armed combatants in an enclosed arena. Rather than a single bout, or a serious of essentially unconnected ones, there could be a complex method of progression, including the following elements:
  • Initial character creation: the player should have the ability to choose the location of origin for his/her character--each location should be associated with certain influences on basic statistics like height, strength, agility, skill with certain weapons, etc., which would then be randomly determined within those constraints. Other benefits or detriments could accrue, as well--for example, choosing someone who originates closer to Rome could result in slightly lower stats, but a greater chance of moving to the biggest stage of all more quickly.
  • Multiple locations: there should be multiple arenas, scattered around the world (say, a bunch in Europe, a few in Africa, some in the Middle East, and one or two in East Asian locales)--characters should tend to start in one of the outlying areas. If they do well there, they may be selected to compete in a larger, more interesting venue, eventually Rome itself.
  • Style should matter. Since a very entertaining gladiator is a greater asset than a boring one, the owners of the gladiators should be more likely to give the most entertaining people better equipment, training, and living conditions. Thus, though winning certainly is important, there should be an option to turn on when the character is created to allow style and entertainment to matter. If it is, players should be allowed to address the crowd or their opponents, and their reactions should factor into the style rating. Rather than having specific sayings, it seems as though the player could control the speed and aspects of the tone of the character's comments, which should be essentially gibberish, but realistic-sounding, origin-specific gibberish (for example, a Norwegian gladiator should be selecting from a vastly different sound set from a Chinese one). The crowd should react positively to things like catchphrases (similar speech over time), relative brevity, and bluster; negatively to overly long or short speeches, repetition, and monotony.
  • Inter-bout training: players should be able to train between bouts to improve their stats. The seriousness of their injuries in the previous match should affect how long they must spend recovering (simultaneously reducing available training time)--this would add a further point of interest to bouts, in addition to winning and entertaining, one must also try not to be even scratched.

The possibility of events other than one-on-one combat is intriguing, but it seems difficult to implement well in the context of a game based primarily around such single combats.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

The following is an excerpt from the news post by Tycho of Penny Arcade fame, from June 23, 2003:

In a strip entitled "Occupational Hazard," we discussed the difficulties of maintaining exclusive magazine content in the digital age, or something. The guy pictured in the strip isn't just some imaginary entity, though - that's actually the editor of the official Xbox magazine. I subscribed to it back when they had a really good Christmas issue, and since then the magazine has been so-so, but they made up for it this month. Made up for it a thousand times over.

For one thing, it's got five or six pages just on the new Splinter Cell, which made me swoon. I hadn't heard half of this stuff, and the fact that they were able to keep it out of enemy hands - by which I mean, my hands - is pretty astounding. They also have a bunch of stuff about the Xbox version of CounterStrike, which I had sworn to oppose as unnecessary but now I'm not sure. It also has other things. The crown jewel, though? A playable demo of Gladius.

It's possible that I'm the only person who cares about this game, I rarely read writing with any vigor about it. Though it graces the Xbox magazine's coverdisc, the game will actually see release on all consoles simultaneously, I think they're looking at mid to late August. Essentially, the game is an answered prayer. We're talking about a turn-based gladiatorial combat game, where powerful attacks involve small minigames to determine their effectiveness and different regions have different rules and talent to recruit. I hardly know how to react when a company siphons out my most wonderful dreams and makes them flesh. This demo ain't bad, either - it needs some work, as they establish before it starts up. There are sounds and animations that are clearly not going to be in the retail release. But it's rare that a turn-based game receives this kind of affection in the graphics department, and just seeing what I have already makes me believe that - like R. Kelly - I am capable of flight.

So it looks like my wish will be largely granted. Woohoo!

The multi-client persistant universe game could easily be the future of gaming. No other type of game could possibly bring in as many players as a game like that. But why stop at three clients? The game universe could house every kind of game all at the same time. All of the online sports games could exist in this world, as could racing games, first person shooters. Even a family client such as The Sims could live in the multi client world.

When your RPG character visits the Pod Racer track, he would be seeing races run by real people. If you break into a house for a little random theivery, you could be breaking into the house of someone using the family simulator client. The possiblities are endless.

Look over your game collection. I have looked over mine. Almost all games could be integrated into this new combined universe, Sim Farm, Dungeon Keeper, Mechwarrior, you could probably even manage to integrate games like Who wants to be a Millionaire, and all of the various Las Vegas games. Online gaming could finally have some semblance of true reality. A game where everything is real, everything is player controlled. That is the future. The company that does it is going to own the online gaming market for years to come.

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