First Thoughts on Adam Offline PBEM

So let’s see if we can get this party started.  I used to play EVE Online heavily (3 seperate accounts) but finally just had enough of it.

Main downsides (as of Revelations when I quit) are:

1) If you get killed by some punk with higher skills in the game, you LOSE EVERYTHING you spent months building up.

2) All the best blueprints are taken by those who have been in the game since the beginning.

3) Its extremely hard to get research slots in stations.

4) Gate campers suck (though I understand gate camping is pretty easy to avoid if you know what you are doing.

Over New Years I was talking to my brother Sean about it and he shared some of the same concerns.

It started me thinking about maybe using the internet and some old-school RPG and Boardgame stuff to create a play by email version of EVE Online.

The things I want in such a game are:

a. A large persistent world with (potentially) billions of star systems and unlimited number of galaxies (100 billion in our observable universe spread over 43 billion light years) for player characters (PC’s) to live (or die)  in.

b. Exploration of (a) by PC’s from differing star nations.

c. Creation of Corporations run by PC’s along with NPC (non player character) corporations.

d. All kinds of in-game roleplaying:

d. 1 ) Military Operations.

d. 2 ) Espionage.

d. 3 ) Trading.

d. 4 ) Scientific Research.

d. 5 ) Stock Market Trading.

d. 6 ) Exploration.

d. 7 ) Mining and related activities.

d. 8 ) Mercenary Ops.

d. 9 ) Colonization of frontiers.

That’s a short list off the top of my head.  I want to be able to set up a game where people can make up a character, be it a pilot, mercenary, ex-military, spy, trader, scientist, whatever, and let him start with a basic package of skills and possessions and then go out into the Universe and do whatever he or she wants to do.

Think EVE Online with maybe not the greatest graphics like you have in the game, but rather using your imagination to do whatever, literally whatever you want to do, the goal being to rise to the top of the society you belong to and become a mover and shaker, or just a really really bad-ass combat pilot who drops into his enemies face with fleets of dreadnoughts and kicks their butts to the next galaxy.

Oh yeah, and 7,000 systems EVE?  I’m aiming for BILLIONS of systems, with probably an online database of star systems that anyone can see but you can gather local contacts and info that other people never even have an inkling of.  Information is power.

How can you play this?

You play in several levels:

1) You make a PC (Player Character) who is you in the game.  They can augment themselves with skills, cybaugs (cybernetic augmentations), neuraugs (neural augmentations), hypnaugs (temporary skill levels which can be learned using hypno-training), psiaugs (psionic augmentations) and normal skill training which allows you to do more things more efficiently over time.

2) You buy, trade, steal, inherit (or whatever) possessions which can be ships, skills, hypno training, real estate, stocks, slaves (where allowed), planets, corporations, you name it.

3) You interact with other PCs or NPCs in the game, form alliances, research technology, build things, and all of this will be plotted in a game log which tells the administrator running this particular world-arc how to see what happens when the various players in the world-arc all have their actions played out by the admin.

Game Terms:

Administrator (Admin): The person responsible for resolving the actions and game logs of all active players who appointed him to take control of their PC’s.

Game Log: Some kind of spreadsheet or word doc or PDF, anything which the players turn in to the Admin to resolve.  It will probably have a uniform layout and list all the actions the players PCs is wanting to do for a certain block of time (1st week of January, etc).  It will also have any PC to PC actions that the Admin will share with whatever PCs are mentioned (like Bob’s PC, Captain Brightyear wants to contact Regina’s PC, Mercenary Commander Kimdanear and set up a hit and run on a Liv’yean Scoutship Yard).  The Game Log is the primary means of players actually playing the game.

One thing that might make this even more interesting is that you can potentially avoid a lot of the grind by pre plotting actions you want to do, as an example: you could plot several weeks of mining in w system x asteroid belt with y assets under control of z minions.

So far, what do you think?  Any suggestions?  Just imagining everything you ever wanted to see in a game like Eve Online but just isn’t possible for a computer shooter/simulator like EVE.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. This sounds VERY ambitious, but doable. I love the idea, as long as you can create fun stories and adventures amongst these worlds in the universe. Maybe you could use info in the Cyclopedia of Worlds (http://www.cyclopediaofworlds.com) to create a realistic universe?

    How much experience in programming do you have? What technologies are you going to use to create this?

    Reply

  2. I’ve done mainly Excel VBA, had a little college in Fortran/Cobol and Basic (heh yeah this was a while back) but I would love to do flash programming, I’ve seen quite a bit of interactive stuff on some sites that would be great for sharing information (system maps, planetary maps, planning calendars, maybe starship images and such) with the players.

    So if I can get flash down I’ll use that as a tool to share information, but mainly spreadsheets (to organize), word processors or perhaps another blog page (to write everything storywise up for the players), email for some stuff as required or them to send me their information.

    And I really want the focus to be on stories and adventures but existing within a framework of “this is the world, it moves on even if you slow down or take a break.”

    I used to DM/referee a lot in DnD and Traveler and while my main interest was designing the things my player group got to “test” out, I also did like the actual game play when the chemistry was good. My favorite RPG of all time is still paranoia, but man that game takes a lot of enthusiasm to run right.

    I think one of the problems of players not always being able to sit down at scheduled times but when they have a moment could be offset by a system where you share with the Admin what kinds of things his PCs would do during “player-downtime” and that they could also specify how active they are in that time, which would increase or reduce the chances of bad things happening.

    Thanks for the link, it looks VERY interesting. I’m going to check it out today after work. God I love my Verizon MiFi card.

    Cheers!

    Reply

  3. Oh yeah I liked your own Ongoing Worlds Blog, only got to skim it but very impressive from a n00b at this. Thanks again for the link and the comment. Hopefully I’ll be around for a long long time, or till my 10,000st player drowns me in paperwork.

    heh!

    Reply

  4. That sounds interesting, but I’m unclear at the moment how this will work as it sounds like it will be community/story lead, but then you’ve also mentioned you’re creating some stuff in flash. Remember that if you’re using Flash to communicate to any sort of online database to save and load data it takes twice the time to create as if you were using a scripting language like PHP, just because it’s a bit more awkward.

    There’s a great Flash-based browser game a bit like EVE called Dark Orbit (http://www.darkorbit.com) maybe have a look at that for some ideas? It has spaceships which you can see in realtime. It might not be the direction you want to go though, if you want this to be more story based.

    Reply

    • Yeah, I tried darkorbit, it was pretty impressive for what it did, but its a more basic simple game, good for sum real fun blowing stuff up. I like how they get you to try and spend real money on the game.. heh heh, maybe when I get mine going and enough people join there can be scenes like, “Hey for $20 bucks I can set you up with a fleet of dreadnoughts to take out your rival corporation.” heh…

      But yeah, its a very well done flash game.

      Reply

  5. Actually, the flash content would just be so people could see attractive content to go with their text based game-play. For example, they could see a fully rendered image of a orbital fortress, or a combat scene with a patrol squadron escorting a captured pirate frigate through space.

    Or you could use it to show planetary maps with clickable points on it that would expand to give more detailed information, and my favorite use would be fully rendered planet images.

    Stuff like that.

    Reply

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