Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Posit: Social Game

Using my previous post, here's an interesting potential social game. See if you can come up with a better one:

As a science-fantasy world was annihilated, the village of Arbitrary City was tossed into the infinite winds of space and time. They were joined by one person: Arbitrary Hero. Arbitrary Hero, a powerful Arbitrary Bizarre Job Name, survived because his escape pod crashed in Arbitrary City even as it was tossed into the maelstrom.

Arbitrary Bizarre Job Names are selected for their ability to bring out the hidden Arbitrary Magic Power in everyone. However, this ability has many psychological restrictions and is powered mostly by people facing their fears and/or limitations and overcoming them.

The idea of the game is that the player plays Arbitrary Hero and basically tries to keep the village safe as it kareens through all sorts of unlikely situations - such as landing on Dinosaur World and War-Torn World and Hurricane World and so on and so forth. Each time he has to do some Arbitrary Magic Widget Hunt to dislodge his adopted village from whatever horrifying place it's landed today. And each time, hoping that the next leap... will be the leap home. Or at least to some place that doesn't try to eat their face.

The way he accomplishes this is by building a party out of the villagers. Instead of gaining experience by killing monsters, any given villager will gain power by facing their fears and/or limitations and overcoming them. Of course, the first few times they defeat a monster or something, they're probably overcoming a fear, and will therefore gain power fairly rapidly at the beginning.

But! Even getting a villager who is willing to leave the village and venture into Nightmare World is rather difficult. Let alone getting them to face Generic Demon Boss 13! Yowza!

However, improving villagers, even if they never leave the village with you, is generally very useful - improving the infrastructure of Arbitrary City provides you with better equipment, more defenses, more time, and leverage on other villagers.

The way you get people to face their fears is, of course, the social game. Convincing them to work with you, or tricking them into having to face their fears, or whatever. It's not simply a flat scripted set, though: everyone has lots of fears and limits at widely varied levels, many of which are shared. For example, nearly everyone is scared of being eaten by monsters, and almost nobody can jump fifty feet between tall buildings. Your job is to use any means you can to get them to face whatever fears you can manage to convince them to face.

There is no "done" - there are always more challenges, more limits, more fears. The trick to the gameplay is that whenever you start interacting with someone, they have a "heat" - a level of social attachment they form. Heat fades with time, but if you keep the heat up, you're more effective at convincing them. Other things can cause heat, such as peer pressure and alcohol. While "hot", you get regular feedback from them which clues you in as to where your relationship stands. Commentary and gifts, mostly. Most of the important steps, when taken, result in an actual gameplay-affecting response, focusing on more global gameplay, rather than character stats (since that is rendered useless if the player has a favorite party). Character stats are upped incidentally.

The other trick to the gameplay is that there is no "empty play" - it's impossible to get into a situation with a villager where there is just nothing you can do. At the very least, you could beat the hell out of them. But more commonly, you're allowed to buy, sell, trade, and employ a wide variety of threats, suggestions, compliments, and insults. Every character has interests, wants, likes, dislikes, and so on, and you can leverage these using the social engine. But these are not "scripted events" - or, rather, a few of them are, but there's always a less efficient but still workable method for building a relationship.

Think it'd work?


David said...

I love it. I would make this now if I had the resources. As it is, I want to write a short story using this engine. : )

Craig Perko said...

No engine yet, unfortunately. Workin' on it.

David said...

By "engine" I just mean the though-engine ("thought experiment?") of the town mechanics, the peculiar "power" of the hero to bring out the "powers" in the villagers and the rather unique plight of the whole town being thrown around in the time stream (individuals, yes, but a whole town? odd!).

Craig Perko said...

Sure, could be fun. You'll have to let me read it when you're done.

Chill said...

Here's my go:

On a Junkyard Planet somewhere in the cosmos, a Big Bad Corporation(TM) came to 'acquire' the planet for it's Big Bad Interstellar Agenda(TM). The Junkyard Planet's population are a mostly independent bunch, and so, don't have much of a government to speak of. They don't have much legal standing in the Greater Human Empire of Nations. So when Big Bad Corporation(TM) makes moves to add Junkyard Planet to their assets, there is not much legal resistance. The residents are not pleased to be sure.

PC leads the resistance against Big Bad(TM) and if only they could build the Great Gizmos they would be able to repel the corporation. But to build the Great Gizmos requires a lot of skilled grease monkeys, techies, and such, and the residents of Junkyard Planet are a notoriously antisocial and independent. It'll be difficult to convince them to even build the Great Gizmos. And keeping them from getting distracted and working on their own, or tangent project will be even more difficult. Course, you let them do there thing... they might just come up with something.

The game is that the Big Bad Corporation(TM) will repeatedly make attempts to conquer Junkyard Planet, and PC, whom the player plays, has to get some sort of gizmos to get built to repel the attempt. Each attempt should be somewhat different as the Corporation tries different strategies of hostile takeover, possibly culminating in the Greatest Gizmo, which keeps the Corporation permanently out. Something like a planetary shield guarded by mechas with really mean faces draw on them, armed with racks of missiles.

The junkyatdites however don't like to do anything that they didn't come up with themselves, so one has to befriend them to get them to work for you. If you want them to keep working on a project, you'll keep dealing with there insanities, peeves, and what not. They're all pretty weird dudes and dudettes, possibly with a tendency to sabotage rivals.

I dunno, I think this sounds pretty cool. And I've always liked the idea of a Junkyard World

Craig Perko said...

That does sound fun! If the number of "junkyard geeks" is between ten and forty, it would work just great.