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CavemanJoe
 Thursday, October 30 2008 @ 04:36 PM UTC (Read 6722 times)  
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Improbable Island is one of the most open games you're ever likely to play. Use this forum to determine for yourself how Season Two turns out.

We need opinions from both newbies and experienced players, and everyone in between. The objective of Season Two is to make the game more fair and fun for everyone.

If you've got an idea or an opinion on Season Two, please make a new thread for it. I'm going to be a little less easy-going about taking threads off topic in this particular forum, because the stuff in here is pretty important to the continuation of the game.

Have fun!


 
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hajen
 Thursday, October 30 2008 @ 08:12 PM UTC  
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i'm still new at this, Oops!
if i knew how, this post would be deleted, since it doesn't belong here.


"tis better to be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt"
 
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crashtestpilot
 Thursday, October 30 2008 @ 09:45 PM UTC  
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Dear all,

What, this thread is open for 15 minutes, and no one posts? Slackers, the lot of you. Let me kick this off.

The central theme of this post is an attempt to answer the question, what game would I like to play, using II as it is now as a starting point.
There will be some radical changes proposed (though I'm trying to minimize those), along with a small lake full of tweaks. What I'm trying to do is take the theme of the game, its existing assets, and attempting to streamline those along the lines of what could be successfully argued as organic growth. The next layer of muscle on the skeleton. The chips that go so well with fish.

That's the preamble. Let me light up a ciggie and get this banged out.

I. The Vision


A. The Success of the Game, The Community and Dan

i) First and foremost, we all have enough time invested in this game to want it to succeed, both in terms of a large community for us to interact with, as well as an economically viable model to keep Dan a happy codemonkey. This means he needs an income. All ideas that can ensure this effort of Dan's is a cash-flow positive, and later profitable enterprise will keep us AND HIM coming back each day like we do. If it fails, we'll find other games. But we won't find this community, nor an Admin like Dan for either years to come, or possibly forever. I've been text-mudding for 25 years, and I assert that Dan's among the rarest of eggs in my experience. Even Pavel Curtis could learn a thing or two from him.

Therefore each good idea for Season 2 must accomplish one of several objectives:

* It must increase the appeal of the game to avid geeks, and to a lesser extent, the public at large. Because if you're not avid, you're going to hit and slide, versus hit and stick. Sticking is what is crucial.
* It must be comparatively easy to code.
* It must look to increasing pageviews, without being grindy.
* It must be thematic with the game, perhaps refining the themes, or filling in backstory.
* It must have appeal to players at every level.
* It must create opportunities for interesting changes over time.


B. The Player Experience

i) The Newbie Experience (0-10 DKs)
New player wanders into an island. What does s/he see?
* A robust, generous community of players who will assist them in learning the game, and getting their "island legs."
* A generous network of cities with many interesting areas to explore; minigames to play; items to buy, build and discover; and a storyline that evolves over time.
* An island teeming with interesting players, monster encounters, and event-based locations that change over time. The idea here is that there's always an upside to exploring and socializing, versus staying on fixed paths to success and grinding.

ii) The Mid-Player Experience (10-25 DKs)
* Incentives for being generous and cool.
* Incentives to donate (ala subscription)
* Incentives to contribute content
* Improbable change over time. As each DK racks up, there should always be something new to fight, buy, discover, or participate in.
* Enhanced methods to communicate with one's fellow players, and organize efforts. The game is the attraction. The changing nature of the game is an incentive to continue participation. But one's bonds to one's community is also a major element of stickiness.

iii) The Expert Experience
* As above but more so.
* Streamlining of paths to attain ubergoals (Think Hall of Fame metrics -- most charming, most PKs, etc.), but also think about community even harder. Godlike players -- like God when he created the Devil -- grow bored. They need to feel powerful, and able to change things for their fellow communitarians. Their acts should have clout beyond appearing on a board with the mostest of something.

C. The World

i) The Island
As of this writing, the Island has 7 outposts, two rivers, a nice mountain range, a surrounding ocean, some swamp, some nice beaches, and lots of jungle.
Player behavior that participates with this world at this time includes traveling between outposts via catapult, travel on foot (mount or non-mount assisted), remaining in town, punctuated by occasional visits to the failboat -- whose location may never be known.
Ironically, as a newbie, I got to see more of the Island (I didn't know what was out there, and I'm an explorer by nature) than I do as a mid-level. (See my post about Outposts). When I discovered that there was little "out there" other than critters, crates, and event-based locations (ferryman, Raven Inn, the 'henge, etc.), I lost my taste for overland travel, and focused instead on those actions that gave me more game benefit (kill the critter, grab the loot, occasionally troll through forest in search of crates, hang out in one outpost on a quest, and scavenge like the dickens).

I would like to see the following:
a) Jungle Love
Either eliminate the "private jungles" for each outpost, or make REAL jungle tiles more rewarding than the outpost jungles, with the aim of: providing a clear benefit for players traversing the island, and using their travel points. It would: make medkits have more meaning, and be worth stockpiling and trading; would send players all over the island -- and make PKing more interesting by having to search for prey; would make mount selection more meaningful, particularly as mount choices expand.
b) Mount Up!
On the topic of mounts, I reiterate (See my post on Mounts) that mount design needs to be triphibious -- land, sea, and air. This ought be met by an expansion of the kinds of encounters one has on various tiles, and make mount selection more meaningful. By way of example, air travel is more rapid, but air mounts require more maintenance (food, recharging). Mechanical airmounts might only be recharged in CC404, for instance. Mutant mounts would only be "fuelable" in PV. Zombie mounts, NH, etc. Sea mounts would be able to cut through water (using seas and rivers as highways), and might well be the only way one could camp in watertiles. Note that mounts could also become vehicles, and might only be dockable at waterside locations. Small craft, submarines, airships, balloons -- all become possible and interesting. Land-based craft (Kittybikes, horses, goats, oxcarts, Jeeps, etc.) would have advantages and disadvantages based on terrain type. Kittybikes might be less maneuverable in raw jungle tiles than they would on the scratched out roads between outposts. Similarly, buying mods for a given method of transport would be an interesting reqsink, and a way players could compete (who has the coolest mount that can traverse land, sea and air?)
c) The Economy, Stupid
I've posted elsewhere about the economy/vending/politics/banking/trading. The vision is to create a robust economy within the island that connects to the realworld economy in terms of what all call Donations To Dan, hereafter DTD. We know that the Hunter's Lodge allows realworld currency to be translated into the game economy with a set exchange rate for dollars/req, dollars/ciggies, and dollars/various points (ie, improbable elixers, etc.).
> This could be better integrated by dollars/tradegoods (you take the risk the coffee/ciggie exchange rate is less than 6).
> Dollars/goodies: Why you'd need 50 Bang Grenades is beyond me, but whether you're looking for a new way to gift newbies, a way to win a contest, or an innovative way to make your next DK more interesting, the connection between realworld dollars, and in-game items is not only what other games are doing, it's also a great way to improve DTD.
> Also, Trading needs to be better integrated with vending & gifting. Got razor blades you don't want to sell? Give 'em to a newbie. He could use the extra 50-100 req to buy a better spork, and now he has the incentive to explore other towns, versus hang out in NH until he needs to venture out on that first drive kill. Or, stick them in the Vending machine and wait for prices to adjust. There are many siloed elements in this economy. There needs to be clear lines that CONNECT Real World Money, In-game Req, Items Found In-Game (cigs, etc.) and Trade Goods. Otherwise you have siloed micro-economies that never become robust. The more lines that connect these things, the more potential for donation (DTD).

d) Make Donation Meaningful
I think there's lots of ways to potentially earn donor points that would be meaningful to the game, the community, and Dan. More on that in a minute. Right now, there's one thing about the Hunter's Lodge I'd like to beat up with a '57 Chevy truck axle, because I believe it's useless, nerfed, and dumb.
> Custom Fists? There's nothing cooler than a custom weapon/armor. It reinforces what your character is all about, and it makes you feel more individual than Joe Newbie who's still using that Rusty Chainsaw because it's the best weapon at his/her DK level. Right now, buy a custom weapon, and you'll get to see it right after you buy it, and as a fist-replacement when you resurrect. Forgive me, but that's plain dumb. I understand it runs headlong into the question of why we can't have weapon persistence (because then after every DK, the player shows up to mack on Socktopi with their +17 Riot Hammer of Doom), but seriously, someone paid good money to get a custom weapon, and this is what they get? That's barely a feature. It's certainly not an incentive for DTD. Must be fixed. Dan needs beer money, like we all do. I'd be fine with an awesome weapon that gradually overcomes its nerfiness between post-DK-level one, and, say level 10, only to be freaking awesome by the time it's time to kill the drive again. That can be justified with the following comment: Dude, you're level one again. You still have a weapon that's going to be awesome, but you need to get your skill level with it up now that you're in a totally new body. Sucks. Least you didn't have to bleed req on it all over again. You just had to suffer. You're used to suffering. You're on II, after all. This touches on the topic of item persistence, which I'll address in more depth in a moment.
> Reward the Awesome: We all agree that the gift economy is one of the things that's special about II, but we don't track it at all.
Why not give the person who sends the most gifts with the highest req value a place on the HoF, along with a modest donor point award? They're actively making the game a nice place to be. That's marketing. Successful products always have a marketing budget.
Similarly, donor points for accepted monsters, or other features of the game. Similarly, while we have UGC (user generated content) in the monster department, what about opening up UGC for items and other game features that pass the Dan test?
Christmas/Channukah/Kwanzaa is coming up. Donor points accompanying purchase of real world II-branded items could be a good thing. Dan should also offer donor points for those who are contributing stuff to the game that catches his eye -- good roleplaying, good responses to newbies. It's like a shaft of godly light from parting clouds, illuminating the worthy. Great carrot. No stick required.
e) Item Persistence
The grand theory behind II is that you can't take it with you. But you can, and you do already. Helmets, gloves and boots are semi-sticky. They follow you, sometimes, between DKs. Your mount follows you. Scrap, and much of what you're carrying follows you. But your weapon and your armor do not, because there's this idea that you should start out naked, alone, and largely broke. Why? So the monsters aren't too easy. So you have incentive to scavenge. So you rely on the gift economy, which is the beginning of the II socialization process. To my mind, the fix is simple.
> Make it all persistent, but either nerf the weapons until one gets to level 5,7,10, I don't care; or make the monsters contingent on number of DKs. So -- if you've got 10 DKs, you're facing tougher stuff at level 1 than you would at 0 DKs, and so on, until you get to Demosthenes/Hajen/Rhiannon's level, where you'd show up at level 1, and get mobbed by everything on the Island, and their brother.
That would get you around the custom weapon problem with the Hunter's Lodge. Another approach might be to make armor/weapon usable by level. You're level 7? You can use a level 7, or level 5-10 weapon, but not a level 15-17 weapon. Still another approach would be to make weapons/armor/helmets/boots/gloves Vendable. Or pawnable for repurchase later when the player has enough req and needs their armor back.
> Make certain critter weapons persistent.
Dunno about you, but I've always been curious just how hard Tom Cruise's carven idol of L. Ron Hubbard hits. Some critters should drop weapons when slain. Obviously not natural weapons (fangs, branches, whale's tails), but nunchuk-chuk-chuks, flaming wingnuts, and such might be interesting. They could also be pocketed, and sold back at outposts, or locations within one or more outposts.
> Now that we have persistence, make it moddable.
Maybe your Devastator 9000 isn't all it could be. Wouldn't it be nice, once the weapon's out of ammo, that the blade were RUSTY? And therefore fearsome? Buying persistent buffs for weapons might take req, or DTD, or whathaveyou. But the point is, players always want something awesome, and if they're willing to pay tons of req, lots of ciggies, or RWD (real world dollars) for them, that's a good thing.
>Now that we have persistent, moddable weapons, let's make them losable.
Nothing feels like a kick in the face than when you underestimate your opponent, and lose that 50K worth of req you were carrying around. To have a game, one must be able to lose, and have the loss make you want to vomit. So, if you're killed and failboated, your snazzy +17 vorpal bust of L. Ron Hubbard that you painstakingly modded to be fearsome, vorpal, and full of WIN! gets taken by thieving midget bastards. Oh, you're set back now. Millions of req. Hundreds of ciggies. But! Maybe you can find it again. Before someone else does.
> Now that it's losable, make it findable.
After you're dead, the next person to find and win at an encounter with TMBs MAY! discover your awesome win-filled +17 vorpal, fearsome bust of L. Ron Hubbard. Christ! Now he's got your awesome! Good thing he hasn't turned off PVP. Now you can hunt him/her down and get your LIFE back!
> Since it's moddable, losable and findable, let's make it wavable.
Right now, if you wanna see a character in-game, see what they're wearing, holding, etc. you have to look up their profile. Right now, the only way to interact with other players is to talk or emote. One successful thing Gemstone III/IV did for the social animals among their thousands of players was to introduce a complex series of methods to emote, act, and do stuff to/near/around other players through action verbs. A more complex regime of verbs for players to take advantage of in game (from waving swords/weapons of choice in the air to giving backrubs) would improve the social matrix, even if the interaction remains asynchronous, as it must in a Web-based application.
> Now that we have item persistence, let's improve how we share.
Right now, there's a few ways to share the persistent objects we've found/scrounged/purchased, which are Vending and Gifting. Let me introduce Pawning. You sell at a fraction of the value all the crap you've picked up, and newbies get a chance to buy seriously discounted items. Let's also expand gifting to whatever you have in your inventory and your vending machine. If I see my grenades haven't moved, maybe I'd like to dump them on some deserving newbie. Maybe I have armor I've maxed out the mods on, but as I've progressed up the DK line, there's a new armor chassis I can add more bolt-on accessories to. I can vend that suit, pawn it, sell it back to Sheila's/Koga's, or gift it.

e) Change is Good
As a tyro player, at each DK I always had some excitement about what I'd see that would be new at Koga's/Sheila's/Mike's/The Prancing Spiderkitty, etc. Alas, I was disappointed. Sheila's is the best (but has room for improvement) idea for how things change as you ascend the DK number ladder. Everything should be that way. Every freaking level, there should be some new reason to visit that town you rarely hit (unless you're on a quest), or a new patch of jungle. Every. Stonking. One. The way you eliminate grind is by adding new challenges at every level of skill or statboost. What does 300 charm allow you to do? What about being the next Hajen (PK extraordinaire). What about the next Demosthenese/Rhiannon? Is there a reason to get three-digits of drivekills other than a notch in your belt, and top-billing on Hall of Fame? New mounts, new mods, new races, new implants, new weapons, new armor, new bonuses, new quests, new Outpost features for ubersillyultimateDKwanderingbaddasses, and so on. WHAT IS AVAILABLE TO YOU, YOUR RANGE OF BEHAVIORS/ITEMS/ACTIONS/PLACES TO VISIT/STUFF TO FIGHT/STUFF TO WIN/BUY ETC. should change at EVERY FREAKING LEVEL, or why bother?


I'm typed out just now, and it's been 6 ciggies since I started. I'll add a part two to this in the next day or so.

[End of Part One]



 
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Fodder Kid
 Friday, October 31 2008 @ 01:35 PM UTC  
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VERY good comments and ideas man.

I would be thrilled to have a custom weapon that didn't just go away. And I like the subscription idea so Dan starts to get a bit of cash from me each month. I've only paypal'd him once but that will go up. (stoopid monthly paychecks are KILLIN' me).

And the idea about posting the gifting is just too cool...and it would seem to be rather simple.


 
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crashtestpilot
 Friday, October 31 2008 @ 04:54 PM UTC  
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[As promised/threatened, here is part two]


ii. The Races
[By way of disclaimer, my experience is limited to humans, zombies, robots, gobots, kittymorphs, and jokers. I prefer humans, because I like grenades. I found robots to be a bit fragile, and the no-healing thing was problematic. I enjoyed jokers, but found the stat drift to be a bit unpredictable. I've no major objections to any of the races, but found mutants and midgets to be aesthetically unappealing. I have chosen humans to be my primary race to play, because after each DK, I conveniently appear in NH with oceans of scrap, without having to wander across the island with nothing but fists.]

As of this writing, II has seven races, including two robot variants. The races have distinct advantages and abilities that separate them from one another and each offer distinct methods of play.

However, each race equips itself just like any other, based on what items are available to them by DK level. This touches on the equipment issue, which I'll address shortly, and the mount issue which I've addressed previously but will touch on in more depth here.

My primary proposal is to allow equipment to reflect race, and perhaps only be available to that race. Alternately, might race not impact the performance of the equipment?

A few examples:


a) Midgets are short. The notion of a midget carrying around a heavy weapon like a debris thrower, or plasma gun is counterintuitive to say the least. Reminds me a bit of when I tried to convince a GM long, long ago that my halfling warrior was perfectly capable of using a heavy crossbow because of his 18/79 strength.
What might be done? Heavy weapons might have a stamina cost. Midgets could use them, perhaps, but might suffer fewer jungle fights. Or heavy weapons might be disallowed for the short ones. Similarly, races could have different bonuses if they fight with thematic weapons. Zombies might gain advantage from severed arms. Jokers might get special advantage from the really ridiculous items, like bacon suits, knitting needles, and pork swords.

b) Why are all grenades generic? Remember the Green Goblin from the Spiderman comics? Those pumpkin bombs? Could a grenade used by a joker have strange effects? Maybe a joker using a bang grenade gets the message that his/her opponent is now entirely covered in rabid kittens. Or a zap grenade might entangle the enemy in slimy green tentacles. What about a grenade used by a zombie? Maybe there's your spooky pumpkin bomb opportunity.

c) What about mount availability? I can see how Kittybikes are appropriate to Kittymorphs. But a midget? Or a zombie? I could see an entire mount series intended for zombies -- undead steeds, GEBOBs made of rotting spam, etc. Midgets could ride pitbulls. Robots could have mechanical walkers (anything from robot horses, to Martian tripods). Jokers could have huge clusters of helium balloons strapped to lawn chairs. Once you get going on this, the ideas sort of explode, don't they?

Ultimately, with such well developed and unique races, all that remains is a way to extend that decision of which race to play to impact all the other choices that characters make, and allow their equipment and the effects of improbable items to reflect that theme.

What island institutions would this approach impact?

> Sheila's: Depending on race, the equipment view at Sheila's would change. Ditto for Koga's and Mike's. The cool thing is that it would make gifting even more special when the recipient gets a weapon ordinarily not available to their race. Look everyone! I got a Jokerbomb! Or a Zombie spider launcher!
> Prancing SpiderKitty. Drink availabilities would be race appropriate. Robots could be glugging machine oil. Jokers might be drinking radioactive green beer, like an Irishman on St. Pats. Kittymorphs? Cream soda. Shots of Cheezwhiz. Midgets? Christ. I don't want to see what's in that cup. Zombies? Easy. Brain Tumors (You've all seen those right?).
> Old Church. Maybe Capelthwaite's bonus would be better for, I dunno, the more villainy races.

There are probably other Island institutions this would impact as well, but I don't wish to be exhaustive here.

What other activities might such an approach impact?


> Scavenging, first and foremost. Robots/gobots might have mixed feelings sorting through the remains of their brethren. Or be better at it. Right now, everyone regardless of race ascends the same scavenging ladder. Differentiating racial ability with scavenging, or what they find could be an excellent way to reward scavenging specialists. Kittymorphs probably wouldn't have the attention span for it.

> Hunting: Might not different races have different (and sometimes thematic) encounter types?

> Event-based locations: We all run into Stonehenge, The Raven Inn, etc. Could certain event-based locations/encounters be tied to race?

--

That's it for now. I'm trying to do this in chunks so I don't tax my wrists, or other people's attention spans. I'll try to address the topic of user-generated content in my next transmission.


~Crash



 
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Anonymous: Count Sessine
 Friday, October 31 2008 @ 05:20 PM UTC  


I'm reading crashtestpilot's analysis, and I'm going, "Woo! This guy is a pro!" Dan, you just got a huge present. Listen to him. He's right, right, and right. Details may vary, but this is the way to look at the problem. Stickiness equals page views equals more advertising revenue for you. Plus...

There's a thought that's been kicking around in the back of my mind for a few weeks now.

Player-run fund-raising.

Point the first: It's difficult and embarrassing for you, Dan, to have to ask us to kick in a few bucks, over and over again. It puts you in an invidious position. If you were the kind of person who felt comfortable asking people to give you money, you wouldn't be a game admin -- you'd be in politics making speeches at fancy $1000-a-plate dinners.

Point the second: It wouldn't be at all embarrassing for other people to raise money for you, in-world. On the contrary, it would be an enormous feel-good activity for those players who get their greatest satisfaction in the game from Doing Good Things -- a tangible way to thank you for creating this world.

Point the third: We're talking a non-profit organization here. A meta-clan. A place where players, regardless of clan membership, could come together for a cause they all believe in. It would be an avenue for social status -- another pathway to success.

Point the -- oh, whatever, I'll stop counting and just talk about what I think such a module would need, at the minimum:

- a 'location' like the Common Ground -- that is, accessible from every town, and open to all.
- a Paypal link. But only the one Site Admin link, the one that gets money to Dan. This is to be a focused effort.
- tools for fund-raising... to be added to as ideas arise, but at least something that lets organizers set a fund-raising target for a particular objective, and show, preferably with both numbers and a dynamically updated graphic, how close we are to reaching that target.
- and some way to allow for 'matching donations.' The psychology of this works like a charm. Instead of donating in a lump sum, someone who is able to contribute a larger amount puts up a stake, and then matches small contributions as they come in. Smaller contributors feel their little bit counts for double, there's a sense of rapid progress (good for morale), and the big donor can choose to be anonymous, or to get the social status of having visibly helped the whole Island.

One-time contributions are good. As every fund-raiser knows, PLEDGES for regular contributions, however small, are much, much better. Paypal allows for regular payments. So there needs to be a way to track pledges, and give positive reinforcement to people who make them.

- some sort of admin forum, where people who want to get together to plan these things can talk about it at greater length without a character limit. The Enquirer would do fine.
- I'd also like to draw attention to Google Docs, which really facilitates cooperative effort.

And, a related matter:

Donator Points

If such a player-run fund-raising organization took off and actually achieved some success, there would (hopefully) be quite a few more Donator Points awarded. This would be a Good Thing. More Donator Points issued would mean there had been more income for Dan, which means he can spend less time worrying about money and more on game enhancements, which means we get more cool features in the game, and more players, and... well. You know.

However... hrm. Ciggie inflation would be considerably more unbalancing than reqs inflation. So coming up with incentives to spend those Points on something even cooler and more fun than cigs would have to be a priority. Still. That would be a Nice Problem To Have, right?


 
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crashtestpilot
 Friday, October 31 2008 @ 07:35 PM UTC  
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I was going to save user generated content (UGC hereafter) for tomorrow, but then Sessine weighed in and said some nice things, and that got me inspired, in part because there's a tangible connection -- or could be, anyway -- between UGC and donations.

Let's go over economic models first, so the connection can be better understood, by going over a few recent and not-so-recent gaming trends that have impacted MMORPGs, and helped them to scale.

iii. Economic Models

a) The first, and most obvious, is pay to play.
We see it with games like EVE, WoW, and all the other major and not-so-major leagues. The first taste is free, and thereafter, it's a monthly subscription fee. We see that more rarely in the text-based gaming universe. Gemstone IV, and other Simutronics games are the only "major market" -- and I use that term loosely -- text-based games with Web interfaces that charge a monthly sub-fee, and frankly, the online audience there ranges at any given time between 500-2000 people, sometimes far less.
II is more like a casual game, and it makes sense that it is ad-supported.
However, there is no reason there cannot be tiered access, ie Premium services -- whatever those may be -- for those that pony up cash. We already see this in II via the Hunter's Lodge, which Dan, in his infinite wisdom has made ala carte, and voluntary.
Reexamining PTP for a moment, raises a few questions.
> Are there those Islanders who would be willing to pay a regular monthly service charge, and if so, what would they expect in return (besides midget slaves peeling grapes for them, running errands, and rubbing salve on their tired toes)?
> How would the paid/monthly service level be discrete from voluntary donations in terms of value?
> Would it erode community or unbalance the game in any way?

It may well be there are various value-adds the game can offer players to make a compelling reason to pay a monthly service fee. We should ask the players what that would look like.

Here's a few ideas to kick off the brainstorming:

> Ever notice how all communication in-game is asynchronous? Ah, that's the Web for you. What if premium users had access to in game chatrooms? IE, real-time communication.
> Ever notice how when you hunt, you hunt alone? What if you could hunt in groups?
> What if monthly subscribers could automatically rename their weapons without having to spend points. Or colorize their names anytime they wanted. Or be able to gift their friends vast numbers of drinks (not GBs) from the PSK? What would you pay for that?

b) Ad-supported
Now that games are rivaling Hollywood as an entertainment sector in terms of audience and revenue, it's no surprise that we see product placement in certain games -- mostly graphical (ala billboards, or having characters use specific products). In Dan's world, of course, there are banner and microbanners on every page. II needs a substantially larger audience to make a compelling ad sell, but at the same time, it's pretty clear that at least a few advertisers want to reach the unique combination of geeks and menaces to society that inhabit II. The way to improve this is to ramp up the community size.

c) Collateral Materials
I touched on this in an earlier post. George Lucas infested Return of the Jedi with Ewoks because cute fuzzies are great for toy sales. I'm not saying we should run out and make II action figures. But I did suggest a T-Shirt contest, whereby players make designs promoting II, and then we Cafepress (or similar service) those onto G-Strings, T-Shirts, coffee cups, mousepads, etc. Players would like them, and ultimately, they would serve to market the service. NOTE that all collateral products MUST f'g feature the URL, or it's of no use.

This is where I think UGC could do the most good in the realworld.

Let's turn now to UGC in the gameworld.

a) Critters
This is already implemented, and I think it's great.
b) Weapons/Armor/Helmets/Gloves/Boots/Other Devices
I propose something like a Hero Games/GURPS model where there's a base point value to a given weapons/armor chassis. Let's make a grenade together. Using a point system, we can define a grenade as a single-use disappearing item. It either causes damage all at once (bang), over time (whoomph), or no damage at all (zap) but has a paralytic effect of finite duration. This gives a working list of attributes:

> Damage
> Duration
> Usage/Charges/Rounds
> Other Effect
> Buffs/Offensive/Defensive Bonus

We see this also with weapons like Chainsaw-Chuks, where the usage is permanent, but packs a disadvantage of causing harm to the user.

We should also add things like Size (with appropriate Stamina/Turn effects), Race restrictions (Midgets can't use longbows because a freaking longbow is taller than they are, and you can't fire one sideways), and possibly others.

The number of points used to build a weapon will equate to a cost in cigarettes and req.

Ready for the fun bit?

Let's say you want your weapon to be unique. You just tripled the cost, with the advantage that no one else will be able to have the same set of attributes with that name. So, let's say I want a weapon named "+17 Vorpal Doomwhacker," and I consider that, in addition to being just what it sounds like, I'm also not eager to have it on the market. Because, once that happens, I know Hajen will buy it and kill me in my sleep with the weapon I've just invented. So I pay more for a given set of attributes with a UNIQUE string of text.
That's not to say Hajen can't go out and make her own weapon called "+17 Vorpal Dooooomwhacker2," but that looks and sounds lame, and I can always tease her about how she just smacked me over the head with derivative content.

Now, not to be outdone, Hajen decides she is going to go out and build a very nice weapon she calls "Schmetterling," a very funny pun if you speak German. It means butterfly, but Schmetter also means to crush, if I remember that right. And the cool bit for her, is that she's bought a buff that's ONLY useful for PKing. Like +25 offense, usable only against snoozing victims -- something like that. And because she wants to share it, it becomes available in Sheila's for all to purchase -- or maybe it's only purchasable if you have 100+ PKs. In any event, now all the PKers are running around the island with shiny Schmetterlings as a badge of pride, and a sign they are members of the one-true-PKing faith.

I'm probably going to get called out for continually mentioning Hajen, but if she didn't want to be noticed and talked about, then I might not see her in my cottage so often. Smile I kid because I love.

Now where was I? Anyway, if the weapon is not unique, it becomes available wherever fine toys are sold for a fraction of the price of a weapon that is startlingly unique.

Similarly, armor, helmets, etc. plus improbable items become buildable by players using one of various chassis (grenade/armor/weapon) and offerable, either through Sheila's, or similar shops.

c) The same pointbuild idea could also be used for players to generate unique mounts of varying capabilities.

d) Avoiding abuse/editing/vetting
The biggest problem with UGC is that invariably some juvenile sociopath comes along, and decides his name will be a genital reference (I say his, because, c'mon...), and in keeping with that theme, decides to make his magical mystery meat mount will also resemble a set of genitals more than it does. To say nothing of his armor, composed entirely of severed foreskins (rub it...it makes you 10, uh, 5 feet tall), and his weapon which I'll leave to your imagination.
Now, we're all adults here, but who REALLY wants to have that running around?
So, what kind of system do we put into place to ensure UGC meets community standards?
Right now, all we have is Dan, and Dan is one busy dude.

As an aside, let me note for a moment that this in some ways is exactly what online newspapers and magazines and other refugees from the world of print have wrestled with over the past decade as they look to export their storied brands and journalistic credibility to the WWW. What to do with comments? Typically, there's still an editor on most sites (or really a bunch of interns reporting to that editor) dealing with the voluminous problem of assholes who post crap.

I think craigslist has the best idea. If something is crap, then it gets flagged. The community can do this. Dan can anoint a handful of powerusers (ala clan leaders [with great power comes...you know]) to act in his stead if a "non compliant device" needs to be nuked/nerfed.

Incidentally, the point build system could be applied to other objects in the game -- from shacks/cottages/mansions, to stores created by clans for clan purposes. As could the community editing process.


And that's all I have to say about that, for now.

More later,

~Crash


 
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CavemanJoe
 Friday, October 31 2008 @ 10:52 PM UTC  
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Here is a good resource for finding out what is and is not possible with the current core. Longer response to follow later, but an important note for now: page views should be minimized, not maximized. My advertising works mostly on unique visitors, not page views, and every page loaded is extra stress on the server and a slower game flow. Right now I could increase my page views dramatically (probably by an order of magnitude) simply by disabling the "fight to the finish" option from Jungle fights, but it wouldn't do much good for my players. Smile


 
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Bernard
 Saturday, November 01 2008 @ 05:11 AM UTC  
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Hello,

Firstly, I'm new to both this site and also to massively overrated multiple personality role reversal games as a genre, and I never played text based games as a youngster. I did, however do quite a bit of live action role play about 15-20 years ago. More recently, I looked at Everquest and World of Warcraft and found them to be too po-faced for their own good, either that or loaded to the very gills with annoying little oiks who used a whole new lexicon that eschewed vowels and seemed to enjoy doing the same thing over and over again i.e. attacking some small insignificant thing until their keyboard was worn down into stumps.

Now, when I did do this live-role-play-stuff - I never really got involved with all that fighting malarkey. Rubber swords never did it for me. I preferred either to skulk around - or perhaps carry a number of glass bottles and leaves around with me. Or act all pious. I once walked around a sewer overflow in my bare feet. I was a method live-role-player. A bit of a luvvy. I really enjoyed that, and it was only when I discovered girls and dancing that I put my childish things behind me and became addicted to database heavy football management sims instead. Goodbye any chance of a relationship!

So imagine my joy when B3ta told me there was a left-field role-playing game out there where use of l33t speak was frowned upon, and where people were actually quite nice.

I signed up. And immediately ran out of steam. Then someone gave me some mittens. What a lovely thing to do. And someone else gave me a chainsaw and another person a pretty snazzy suit. And I joined a clan.

And, to be honest, guv, I've been grinding a bit. But I think I've a reason for it. I don't want to be a 'contestant' - I want to be a Grand Vizier. Or an eminence grise. Or something like that. And I'm not sure I can do that as a pure grunt.

And I wondered how I could achieve that without being a pure killing machine. I used to make myself useful around the place back in my LRP days, one way or another - even if it was just re-arranging the cushions and the anti-macassars in the Prince's palace.

Now, at the moment I feel a bit like a spare part.

I posted this to Dan a couple of days ago in a blinking distraction - and was roundly abused for my troubles and told to 'eff orf and leave him alone and come and bug youse lot instead. It was either that or thanks for the input, now, we're discussing it on the forum, so you may want to cut and paste your thoughts there.

I can't remember exactly what was said...

Anyway,

Here is the cut and paste - "Just some general feedback if it's not too presumptuous of me, and having read the effayqueues, I'm not sure the feedback is answered, so here goes.. . And, admittedly, this is but a noob's view - however, I'm going to fire it into the ether anyway.

Once you've exhausted yourself, there's nothing really to do.

It's like when they closed down all the youth clubs - now there's groups of noobs hanging around, some of them carrying knives and others who've been drinking buckfast.

I've never involved myself in a MMMMMmmMMorWwwww or whatever they're called before, being slightly put off by people 'grinding' (I believe is the correct term) but I like the slightly leftfield outlook in here, and I'm encouraged by your desire to involve politics, lunacy and uncensored violence. Now all you need is women with big hair.... OR...

What about professions? It's what I've had to put up with all my life, being told "get yourself a qualification, make something of yourself". I'd love for Bernie to become a doctor, or an architect. I'd put up with him working in a contact centre as long as he keeps off the docks. But this way - there's no real requirement to get involved with all of this distasteful violence and whatdoyoumecallit.

I'm sure there'd even be call for more esoteric jobs - bunny-roundels or ale-fechers or armour-cherundolos.

Possibly, having spent a day or so in your company, even MORE call...

Anyhoo, not sure this feedback wouldn't be better served on the forum, just let me know. You've pulled off a bit of a coup here, it's good stuff. I just wish I didn't keep having to log off and wait."


What I think I'm trying to say is - I'm a junior member of your clan - I could do with being set to work for some reward over and above hitting something. You never know, I might end up plumping up the cushion that relieves the bad back you're suffering as a result of a pasting from a group of bastard midgets. And if you pay me well in equipment and cigs and req then I'll progress myself and perhaps, one day, I'll be able to dust your coffee-table as well, and then who knows - perhaps even serve dinner...

And wouldn't my mummy be proud of me then...?


 
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Bernard
 Saturday, November 01 2008 @ 05:45 AM UTC  
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PS - I note in the donation thingy that you'll spend all the donations on booze and kebabs? If I were to post you some booze and kebabs would that also help?

Or do you not like wet envelopes?


 
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crashtestpilot
 Saturday, November 01 2008 @ 03:32 PM UTC  
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So, to boil down your post a bit, Bernard, it sounds like you're asking for stuff to do after the exhaustion buff kicks in.

At this point, I can think of a few things, but well agree with you that there could be more:
a) Scavenging (finding and converting scrap).
b) Sitting around the PSK drinking and having a smoke.
c) Exploring towns and solving puzzles (the maze in CC, primarily. Then there's the brief satisfaction of midget hookers, bedding Emily, trading, or tinkering with vending machine prices)
d) Tweaking your dwelling settings.
e) Hitting every free/cheap service on the Island in search of req/cigs/charm (Lucky Dip, The Old House, pinata swatting, kissing booth).

Beyond that, it's interacting with your fellow players, near as I can see it.
So, maybe we could take your posting as a jumping-off point and ask the rest of the players what activities they'd like to do when they're not hacking and slashing their way through the jungle.
Did I get your gist?

All best,

~Crash


 
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crashtestpilot
 Saturday, November 01 2008 @ 04:29 PM UTC  
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In this post, I propose to touch on features one finds in other games that I believe add player interest, detract from grind, and offer players of all stripes (social/PKers/explorers/powergamers/wealth-amassers) options for how to spend their time on the Island.

Skill-trees

As of this writing, II has the following skills in which one may progress
> Scavenging
> Implant use
> Hunting

What else might we add?

Here's a few ideas I've been mulling.

> Tracking
This skill would allow PKers/Bountyhunters (say it with me like Keira Knightley did in Domino: 'Bainteehuntahs') to more easily track their prey. Low level of skill -- might be something like "that dude was last seen in New Home. High level of skill -- he's sleeping in the ocean near New Home. Might also be useful for tracking down TMBs, by saying, TMBs were last seen near X outpost, then giving a buff to a chance TMB encounter. Would be very useful if trading were more robust, as well.
> Trading
This skill would allow insights into what goods were selling for more, and where. Or maybe give better prices both on the buy and the sell side. In addition, what if one could buy (bribe) informants in different outposts -- be a bit like guards on your home. You pay a monthly fee of req/cigs, and then you can use the communications tent to talk to your agents and get pricelistings in different outposts.
> Herbalism
Be a bit like scavenging. In each square of the island you have the opportunity to scrounge for herbs. Herbs of various kinds would combine to make things like small medical kits, addiction free "herbal" cigarettes (which unfortunately give you the munchies, and make you lose a turn), or temporary "poison" buffs for your weapon. Swamp, jungle, mountain, etc. tiles produce different herbs. Sea and river tiles produce kelp and useful reeds -- so there's plenty of excuses to crawl all over the island.
> Healing
Players might be able to self-heal, or heal others.
> Armorer
Would combine with scavenging to allow improved quality of goods (higher prices from Kogas), or allow players to add more points worth of features to a given weapon/armor/helmet chassis.

Any of this food for thought? Anything you'd like to see?

All best,

~Crash


 
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Aeridus
 Saturday, November 01 2008 @ 09:51 PM UTC  
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I'd like to see an expansion on Dan's sidequests... perhaps having one quest giver per town, with the quests in some way theme-related based on that town. Also, a way to keep track of the current quest(s) would be nice. Right now, if I were to forget what quest I'm on I'd have to go back to the bar to find out exactly what I was supposed to be doing.


 
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YurianStonebow
 Sunday, November 02 2008 @ 12:47 AM UTC  
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Hi. Just want to say something real quick: Dan, you need a sidekick. Could be a co-admin, or just another codemonkey to help you with all these Season Two ideas you plan in implementing. And no, I'm not offering my assistance in that. I only got so far as to learn basic HTML back in 2000, I never bothered to learn Javascript, much less PHP.

I don't want to sound holier-than-thou, but back in 2004 at the ol' Green Dragon Classic server (then called Central server), MightyE had jpc, SaucyWench/Lauri, dying, Elessa, PhreakWently, Sneakabout, Mungo and a host of moderators that included AceMaster, Furion, OptimusPrime McD, and even me. Aside from having a full on staff to discuss projects with, we could delegate. jcp was kind enough to imeplement my idea of listing clanmates in each hall's roster by Dragon Kill (drive kill), instead of join date, and I forget who, but someone else also made the bio description area bigger/wider so we can see everything we were typing.

(Shoutouts to all my homies and homettes who are now here under different names and aliases, you all know who you are, and if I forgot you, I'm sorry, it's been two years.)


 
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YurianStonebow
 Sunday, November 02 2008 @ 11:13 AM UTC  
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Oh, forgot something else:

Where are the moderators? If I had to choose, I'd pick the leaders of the top five-ten clans to be moderators for the interim. Moderators were a big help in arbiting the final word regarding implementations of modules, soothing players' concerns, and letting the community know that even if any of the admins weren't around, the staff had their back, so to speak.

Green Dragon, the code that runs under Improbable Island, is incredibly flexible and also has great support for handling moderators, giving you superuser access, letting you monitor players' posts *in every channel* (places in the game where you post), among other abilities.


 
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crashtestpilot
 Sunday, November 02 2008 @ 02:55 PM UTC  
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Let's say I'm in the unenviable position of having to hunt down a 700 HP character that got that way under the old cig/HP rates. Because, you know, I want revenge and all.
I'd like to be able to use grenades to handicap them.
And a 1-shot teleporter if the fight goes south on me.
I'd also like to see gangs of noobs go after more experienced players.
I mean, if we're going to have PKing, why not level the playing field by tilting it to favor the aggressor?

Now, some will say opt-out of PKing, and problem is solved. However, those extra 8-9 turns from Heidi's are really the only hope noobs have of being able to level up to the point where they can resist avid PKers.

Just a thought. Because as it stands, avid PKers face few risks, particularly at overwhelmingly high HP levels. Rather than nerf them, just let me see what a few zap grenades can do in combination with my Devastator 9000.

~Crash


 
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SicPuess
 Sunday, November 02 2008 @ 04:36 PM UTC  
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Let's say you have a 5-DK character, wanting revenge on a 700-HP player. Good. That'd be a buffed-up drive for you, no problem with a few grenades? If you just want revenge, this is a bit easy. Many players bought their extra HP specifically for being harder to PK, so this would be a bit unfair, in my opinion. If this is considerable, let's add a "Rage"-or-something-feature, similar to Improbably Burny Fire.

Then, let's say there are 20 Newbies, banding together to beat up the same player. VERY, VERY GOOD IDEA. That means tactics, possibly lots of XP for each (depending on the system), and working together. But maybe limit the DK range in which the aggressors can band together - a handful of newbies fighting along the side of a 50-DK player shouldn't be the sense of it.

I like the banding idea, except for the minor possibility of non-loldrama (imagine, clans going for the heads of others...). (It'd be interesting to see how many newbies I could beat up before getting KO'd)


Just a few fast thoughts.


 
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Count of S-G
 Sunday, November 02 2008 @ 06:46 PM UTC  
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It would be a great news event to see a dozen newbies all beaten by one player at the same time. But yes, I think that the ability to band together should be there.

And as for tilted in favor of the agressors, you get your race buff (play as midget + 30% attack and defense) and the cigg buff + 10% attack and defense. You used to also get clan buff, but as my battle with the watcher rightfully indicated, that is not the best of ideas.


Glory Points awarded for this fight: 0 You have defeated The Watcher! You receive 1377 Requisition! You receive 20193 experience!
 
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Theo1
 Monday, November 03 2008 @ 11:23 AM UTC  
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i just have one question, will we be able to somehow keep track of our old season one stats? after all,
i recently learned i have a pretty impressive track record going on for my first character on the island,
and id hate to lose all that data... maybe like a hall of fame for achievements in this season.


Theo/Teia thinks everyone is damn sexy, except for you, you're just moderately sexy.
 
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YurianStonebow
 Monday, November 03 2008 @ 03:05 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+of+S-G

It would be a great news event to see a dozen newbies all beaten by one player at the same time. But yes, I think that the ability to band together should be there.



Please move this post somewhere else if it doesn't fit, but this was the most recent item I read that appears to relate to what just happened to me.

Since I hit my 10th DK, the monsters have been trying to gank me whenever I look for big trouble or even bigger trouble. I've noted down all my "banded" encounters so far, and that's just for today:

Zen Master w/ Banana Skin
Skub Activists w/ Harley the Prehensile Bastard Cat
NASCAR Fan w/ Zombie Kitten
Storm Snail w/ Thin Air
Zen Master w/ Towel-less Hitchhiker w/ Giant Midget
Brussel Sprouts w/ Zombie Kenny
Pack of Chewing Gum x3
Poultrygeist w/ Zombie Kenny w/ Ambush Hamster
Magic Mushroom w/ Flesh-Eating Virus w/ Moe w/ Owlbear
Flaming Zombie w/ Diseased Ent w/ Bettie The Amazing Kung-Fu Butterfly w/ Gothic Romantic Heroine
Giant Zombie w/ David Attenborough

An excellent piece of coding, that. One even gets to switch targets between rounds, 5 rounds, 10 rounds, or until current target's dead. But what with maxed clan buffs and politics benefits, this still doesn't come close to even-ing out the playing field, but it does make things exciting. Just wasn't sure if this was old code or module, or something new just implemented, because I've only been playing on the island for less than a month of real time.

Please keep it in Season Two, but yes, make it happen to players only when they meet this criteria:

1) 10 DKs + clan buff maxed; or
2) 10 DKs + control more than half of the island's outposts

If they fit both, make it happen every now and then even when they're just looking for trouble normally, just to keep us players on our toes. Many thanks in advance!


 
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