Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More Nailgun Monkey Online Notes

You know how the Monster Manuals and Fiend Folio from AD&D worked, yah?

Well, if you don't, they were basically Encyclopedias devoted to monsters, where every "entry" was a different monster, complete with statistics that told you how tough they were to fight and what kind of dice you needed to roll for damage when they attacked people with their claws and how many times they use their "acid breath" per round and a bunch of text that explained their mating rituals and social structure and treasure hoarding habits and phobias and weaknesses and crap like that.

Anyways, what we need is a web-based front end to a database that allows everybody to add their own monsters to something like that, complete with drop-down statistics like what sort of dice it uses to roll for damage with its claws (3 attacks at 1d4-1 per round!) and links to pics from google or mebbe even an upload function so they can upload their own drawings and crap to somewhere and then add the links to that so that it don't actually need to store anything.

Not just for the funny fark stuff but for the folks who wanna add crap they drew on their computers or something their kid drew or whatever, there's no sense in excluding anybody just 'cause they're poor or they ain't into photoshop or they wanna add "serious" monsters or whatever.

'Cause I think a mix of serious and funny and photoshop junk and badly-drawn stuff is better than good, actually, and you could always give folks a drop-down to categorize their junk so that you'd be able to use a client-side "theme" type filter later if you just wanted to use "serious" monsters or "random internet comedy" ones or "everybody and their cousin."

And then you are gonna need a button for folks to "dismiss" any stupid stuff they find in the database so that they don't have to bother with it when they're actually playing the game, too.

Or a way for players to vote for stuff so you would end up with a rating system that that you could use in a filter if you wanted to, like, you only wanted "four-star-and-above" monsters of a "serious" nature or something.

And then you'd need to do the same Monster Manual type thing for all the different sorts of treasure and equipment, y'know, like magical beer helmets and power tools +1 and stuff.

And you could even do something like that for places and NPCs and junk so that you could build some sort of Forgotten Realms campaign-style setting up from a combination of Google Maps (or something) and the Forts that 4th Level and Above Nailgun Monkeys get to build and thumbtack into the game universe in their hometown (maybe on some kinda filterable overlay) complete with travel guides and crap for interesting spots in the surrounding area or something.

What else, I'm prolly forgetting like half of the stuff I should be remembering, meh, whatever, you get the idea, the idea is that you need to think about it from the perspective of the players, 'cause you wanna make it fun and easy for them to add crap, 'cause every time they add crap, they're adding monsters to everybody else's randomly generated encounter tables and stuff, and as long as its all filterable to your preferencs as a player, you can either play it totally random complete with all the pictures of cocks and tentacle porn that are bound to get in there or play it according to some high-faluting set of guidelines that players would be allowed to police themselves through a rating system for stuff that pops up in their games.

The problem of the random encounter system providing you with a monster that is way too tough for you or something isn't that big of a problem 'cause you can set limits based on certain statistics (at the point of entry into the database AND whenever a 1st Level Nailgun Monkey has to fight anything) and randomly generate everything (treasure and all that, too) based on some kinda game-server-calculated Difficulty Class system (so that a party of six Nailgun Monkeys doesn't ever have to fight more than four second level Sadomasochistic Robots or whatever).

You can even tie your random wilderness encounter system into the map so that you'd have certain areas (like Siberia and the Amazon and the Congo) that were full of higher level monsters, that'd be pretty cheap and easy and fun to do, actually.

Actually I think you need to organize it like that for a few other reasons anyway.

And you could add some sort of dungeon builder to the thing so you could put together content for your buddies who wanna go dungeon crawling in the area around chicago that other people would be able to fool with later (that'd encourage folks to add more content crap to the game).

As long as treasure is randomly determined based on value and difficulty class of the monster, and "adventure areas" are "filterable" thumbtacks in the map that don't hog the actual map, you don't really gotta worry about giving people the power to do crap like that.

You don't really need to build-your-own fed-x type quest garbage system with NPCs and stuff but that'd probably end up being pretty goddam funny if you did have something like that.

See, you build something like this, all in one game world, and sit back and watch all the pretty fires ahaha.

And you'd prolly get some cool-ass shit if folks from other countries got into it, 'cause it'd be like, part role-playing game, and part hilariously fucked-up (and sometimes serious) travel guide (and maybe even part cooking show if you let folks add junk like that as loot with recipes in the text description).

Y'know, like, we get those kickass furry hats +1 for our paperdolls whenever we adventure in Russia and shit.

Gotta have paperdolls though, man, and some kinda drag-and-drop inventory system that doesn't suck, and it'd be nice if it had something to auto-size the pics down to icon level or whatever fit on the UI when you inspected it for details, 'cause if you make the players do all that in Paint or something, some of 'em'll get lazy or frustrated and they won't add as much junk.

Oh yah, you need to have something set up for miniatures or figurines or Monopoly pieces (like the Top Hat and the Car and the Shoe) folks could use to represent themselves (or their party) on the maps as they move around ('cause that's really the best way I can think of to generate random encounters and stuff and make things fun).

And if you do that, you can even do travel options like boats from NYC to Africa and stuff with sea monster attacks and shit.

I could probably do all that kinda stuff as cartoony artwork so you'd have an Nailgun Monkey that looked cooler as he levelled up, but he'd look just like every other Nailgun Monkey then.

Oh yah, the classes and races thingie.

Yah, I think that (and the combat and random encounter system and random treasure distribution and experience rewards and data structures and data limits and all that) should be the only part that ain't player-generated.

'Cause then you can grant stuff as folks level up (like the right to build a fort, not necessarily special powers) and keep some level of quality control on the thing so that it feels at least a little sport-y and gamble-ry.

Plus you need to do the muscles and bones infrastructure of it ahead of time so you can make it easy for players to add their own crap into it.

It doesn't need to be all that fancy, either, simple automated dice-rolling combat stuff is fine, the more generic the better, actually, 'cause folks would be adding lots of bizarre-ass weapons and stuff.

Don't need all that MUD-inspired write-your-own heal-the-tank-chug-potions macros garbage, just let my Nailgun Monkey shoot his nailgun and dodge attacks 'till the monsters he's fighting are dead, old school Bard's Tale stuff, no special 1-2-3-4 1-2-3-4 hotkey mashing with "nailgun specials" and elemental damage types and damage resistance vs. damage mitigation math required.

Save that for somebody who ain't seen it all a hundred times, y'know, this ain't the kinda thing that oughta need a forum to argue about templates and Flavor of the Month Builds for Nailgun Monkeys and stuff, you gotta be able to play this game drunk, that's a non-negotiable Design Spec heh.

Even with keeping something relatively simple like that you still got some interesting junk to program (if you want to) when it comes to Group Fights and stuff, like the AI for monster's choosing targets and maybe Monster Morale and all that ('cause its easy to do "wounded monsters running away" and stuff in a cheesy icon game), and whether you wanna get all crazy with adjustable group formations like we used to do in pen-n-paper, when the point men get beat up, they move to the back and somebody else takes over, stuff like that.

Don't really need crafting in a game like this 'cause being able to add stuff to the loot lists is crafting.

Y'know, 'cause part of the incentive for adding stuff to the treasure system is that eventually you might get your own damn crap back out of it.

And actually there's "monster crafting" and everything else too.

So what's wrong with this thing?

Dude, this is exactly what computers and programming were invented for heh.

The barrier to entry is super low, what with it being a 2d (and sorta web-based) thingie with no twitch-gameplay and (so Ex-b won't have to take dramamine to play it ahaha).

And there's nothing to it that you'd need to read a manual for, even when you wanna add your own content to the game.

On the backend, the web-based front-end for the database thingie is a pain in the ass, usually, and unless things have changed alot since I last messed with that junk in the IT world, they usually have a middleware server (like IBM's Websphere) between the two things to act as a connection and service manager.

But there's prolly something you could use for that in Linux already.

The chat server is easy, there's fifty things you could use for that.

And voicecom is game-independent, although it'd be nice to organize it somewhere.

And the game server part is pretty easy too, tons of stuff you could use from Linux for that too, this isn't really even as complicated as the average MUD.

It might seem like it is only 'cause you are connecting all the visual stuff together in your mind into one big picture when those things aren't actually connected together like you think, the game is still basically just a bunch of data stuctures and some functions that mess with 'em (like rolling on tables for random loot) and some junk that prints out some crap to describe what its doing when you fight and stuff, drag-and-drop paperdoll inventory dealie and a click-to-move-around-a-map-overlay thingie that's dinosaur shit as far as programming goes.

It'd be nice to build it so that it could scale up cool, with players running the servers and sharing the load and keeping the database synch'd up, so it'd continue to be one humongous-ass game world (still filterable on the client side), but that's in the Player Management section that I ain't even really though much about yet.

And database stuff ain't really my bag, I mean, even though I could build my own crappy version of SQL from scratch, the Real Life Dwarf always hated it when I messed with his "area of expertise," and there's tons of free crap you could use for that, but they've all got their own weaknesses and stuff you need to avoid that a pinball-wizard database guy knows how to design around so that it'll kick some ass and he won't have to sit there and babysit the stupid thing.

Oh yah, you know what this game really needs?

A name heh.

Its gotta be something better than Nailgun Monkey Online, man, that doesn't really do the thing any justice.

"Yah mom I been playing Donkey Dick Armstrong Online its the best thing I ever seen in my entire life!"

"I know all about it! I'm a five-star contributor to the Parallel Universal Database of Meta Drinking Mini Games!"

That's just hideous, man.

Can't be nothing dorky like Meta Place though either ahaha.

Yah, there's gotta be something good you could call it, its like a retro old-school RPG, a travel and cooking show, an asylum run by the inmates, a Hitchhiker's guide for Multidimensional Travellers by Multidimensional Travellers, and a world-wide grassroots peasant rebellion all at once.

It needs a good name.

I might be kickass at Feature Creep but I really suck at naming shit.

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