Sunday, January 16, 2011

Notorious ideas

I've been playing ToME a fair bit recently (mainly due to the automatic uploads ) and have been mulling over whether it's a good platform for Notorious. ToME is module oriented already, and has a demo real time mod already available! It doesn't seem to work on my machine, but the idea that a real time mod is at least known and (supposedly) working at some point is a great start. I'd miss out on the whole facebook gaming and socialisation side of things, but would have a much bigger head start and have a number of roguelike qualities for 'free' that I wasn't intending on using. This is some thoughts on how Notorious would change if developed as a ToME module.

I had an idea initially that the majority of contracts would be with some colony of orc/gobbos/etc to supply minions at a certain rate and up to a certain limit, but also to be able to set up individual contracts with monsters that 'level up' to champion status. In ToME you already have an elite and boss status for certain monster types, and they are usually able to summon in or be in command of other minions themselves. What if all contracts are to elites or bosses, but given the space allocated and their level, they can automatically control a set number of minions?

Example: An orc elite wants an area of size 20, 50% of all money dropped, and first pick of weapons. For that he'll command up to 5 orcs, and take limited instructions. If any orcs die, he'll call for replacements that appear at the front door and walk to him.

This should make the interface a lot cleaner in that you will only have a small number of elites / bosses that you have limited control over, and your ever-faithful servant. These could be represented as icons with the elite/boss image along the top to quickly jump to them or communicate with them. it shouls also give more scope for personality within the game as you will be dealing with individuals on a regular basis.

Infinite monsters / items
One great thing about going the ToME route is that there would be many MANY monsters and items pre-existing within the game's structure that are at the game's disposal. I'd imagined having random loot drops, but having a whole swathe of monsters to potentially deal with changes the game quite considerably from the somewhat boardgamey feel I was initially thinking of. Now it's getting firmly into the simulator territory ala Dwarf Fortresss mixed with Majesty

Established hero classes
ToME already has a multitude of hero classes / abilities for the hero raiders to draw upon. The background when logging on is an AI playing the game as the hero, so the code for that section is also in place (or at least possible). This was certainly on the drawing board, and I probably don't need heroes built using a skill system such as ToME, but if they are already there and available, it will add an extra layer of realism to the game.

One of the areas I've been mulling over is how do you (the player) communicate directly to your elites / bosses? Once the agreements are in place you could assume that you have some method of communicating directly to them, but it may be more meaningful / realistic if there was some sort of focus like an amulet/ring of control that you use. This would mean that you can talk directly to them through this device, as well as have the device exert a certain amount of control
over their actions. The more powerful the amulet, the more options you have available without ruining your relationship with them. It also gives a tangible thing for the elites to take off / break if they are rebelling.

If communication happens through a device, then it would make it easier to give the device to a hero for the visibility / communication of exploring other people's dungeons, and also leave a trail of your spying if they were to be captured/killed. It would also give evidence that the dungeon you own is actually yours if you lose an elite and the hero makes it back to town.

A problem with the communication device method is that it lends itself to be a purchasable item, and thus not a sustainable resource that survives a dungeon wipe. I was hoping to use the dungeon size and decor to be the main determining factor of how big an elite you can get as that will not change (much) if the dungeon has been completely raided. If you return to the game and you have nothing left, I want it to be easy to re-establish a couple of elites into the regions that are empty (with the possibility of a totally different cohort of monsters) and get up an going again. Since your notoriety would be largely reset, the first couple of heroes entering your dungeon should be a cakewalk, and there's going to be many, many ways of raising notoriety quickly if you wanted to (town raiding/pillaging, etc). How do amulets of control survive a wipe?

Maybe the amulets are actually quite cheap for the base model (purely communication), but more expensive if you want to add additional control? But if they were cheap, why wouldn't you give one to every single minion? Maybe the amulets are generated only by your loyal servant and have a limit? this seems artificial.

Another way to look at communication is that even if you could speak to anyone, it's your reputation with them that allows you to exert any sort of control over their actions. Establishing an agreement with an elite/boss gives you a certain amount of goodwill that you can then expend through demanding actions. This would fit with my ideas of coaxing an action, not outright control. Additional goodwill can be 'bought' through the additional items / gold on top of your agreement with them, as well as increasing naturally with their general happiness inside the place.

Another way of approaching it is that a certain level of control is built into the agreements with the elites/bosses upon setup. This would give more certainty to the actions you can do, but may involve more staccato agreement re-negotiations rather than a more fluid coaxing.

Wild creatures
I was thinking this morning how you can communicate with base creatures like jellies and worms. Maybe you don't have to? Maybe you have a WildThing-in-a-box vendor that will sell you outright a critter that you can release into an area. This may also be a way for indirect leveling up if you place one inside an elite's are of control?

More ideas bubbling ...