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Thu, Oct. 13th, 2005, 01:20 pm
It was a good game - the rules were simple

I have been having ideas (like the shameless hussy that I am) about Massively Multiplayer games. Such games often spend a disproportionate amount of time working round hackers who automate tasks and hack them game.

Well, that seems a bit silly to me. Embrace the hacking. Make it part of the game. Jos Boumans has a brilliant talk called POE to the Rescue about how he hacked the MM game Utopia (and learnt Perl in the process).

It got me thinking about how you could do a game like this. The problem would be that players could very quickly become virtual gods which would intimidate new players. Perhaps, a bit like the excellent Bruce Bethke book Headcrash you could have levels of players and the higher levels would be so busy fighting each other that the measly rewards for screwing with the lower level guys wouldn't be worth it.

The hard bit would be providing a sandbox for people to hack around in but Second Life, and now Ning, provide similar functionality so it's definitely doable.

At first I thought that maybe as you got higher up the ziggurat you could get more and more people to command (much like an idea for an MMORPG that I had when I was, err, 12. Remind me to document how I had the idea for Super Mario 64 around that time too) and your minions (who might be NPC or actual players) would do your bidding as long as you commanded their respect (or fear) in the hope that you'd lead them to glorious victory and the ability to level themselves up. You meanwhile would eb trying to level up, possibly taking commands from a boss (who may or may not be an NPC) and fighting your enemies (who, also, may or may not be NPCs)

However, recently, lovely looking online games mag The Escapist recently had an article about the Introversion game Uplink which contained this paragraph.

    "Imagine a massive version of Uplink. Hundreds or thousands of hackers 
    moving around a virtual cyberspace, working with and against each other 
    to steal money from banks, engineer viruses and anti-virus programs, or 
    create an organized crime syndicate. Everyone works together to remain 
    just a few steps ahead of the law enforcement capable of killing your 
    online persona with a search warrant. Players could communicate via a 
    souped-up version of IRC and instant messaging programs while they 
    worked. "Younger" hackers could organize diversions while their mentors 
    run through a large network. Currency moves around at light speed, but 
    all that really matters is your credibility."

which really got me thinking. I reckon it's definitely possible but I'd have to think more about the game dynamics and how much work it would be.

Fortunately Yoz and James have been thinking along roughly the same lines, are much cleverer than I am and have some interesting ideas. In particular James has a thing for games with a limited time span which reduces the intimidation factor for new players and has been successfully implemented in a few other web hosted turn based games.

Of course, I'll probably never write it but it's nice to dream.