War Online is an FPS based around players joining clans and customising their equipment to suit their play style.
What this game tries to achieve is persistent online entities that are diverse and specialised. At extremes the choices made could lead to a totally organic Clan resembling HR Giger Aliens controlled by a dictator Queen. Conversely an entirely mechanised Terminator like Clan controlled by all players equally could develop.
What can be more interesting however is the development of the Clans over time with power struggles for control over elements of the game. The game could even lend itself to the development of sponsorship (the Coca Cola Clan) and Clan Wars (Aliens V Marines or Labour Party Clan V Conservative Party Clan).
This idea is being described as an FPS but could be adapted for many other game types which are online multiplayer. FPSs’ are now well established and so the detail does not need to be explained.
The ability to customise the look of players is well established but this has little bearing on the abilities of the player. The primary reason for this is it becomes difficult to balance numerous types of equipment and any game will eventually force players to choose the ‘ultimate design’. This stagnates the game and turns off players.
This game would resolve this by recording the number of instances a setting is chosen and increasing the related cost of it over time. A simplified example would be on day one a weapons strength would be 9 and the cost 9, strength 10 cost 10, strength 11, cost 11. If all player chose strength 10 then it’s cost will increase and have an affect on the price of other equipment. The costs after a time would be strength 9 cost 8.7, strength 10 cost 10.8, strength 11 cost 11.3.
Affecting the cost of equipment in this way would drive the players to find more effective combinations and greatly increase the diversity of games.
The second and more complicated aspect of the game would be the creation of Clans.
Anybody can create a Clan and the Clan leader has many choices about how the clan is run. These choices include the Clans colours and logos to technology preferences. They will also be able to decide how the clan is run, they may decide that they will have complete authority over all decisions, they may delegate roles, allow for voting on decisions or allow any player to change anything at any time.
Another important element of Clan management is the hierarchy and successions. This can be done through voting, promoting lower ranked members, automatically based on experience or ability or probably the most popular by challenge (a head to head game). These mechanisms can all be decided on by the Clan leader and will have direct impacts on the Clans popularity.
There should also be the ability to create Units within a Clan, these will be mini Clans and consist of friends who like to play together and will not be split up during matchmaking.
Clans in other games have had difficulty because they tend to be exclusive and not inclusive (the Units here are closer to the understanding of Clans in other games). To resolve this when you are beaten by a Clan a portion (or all) of your Clan will have to play for the victor. In this way successful Clans can grow in size and it encourages a degree of loyalty in players.
Each player on the victors’ side will be awarded a certain number of ‘spoils’. These players will join the lowest rank in the players own hierarchy. When in matchmaking each player will have the ability to ‘bet’ their players on the outcome. The total bet by the team will form an important part of the matchmaking.
Each individual can choose an alignment to a particular Clan or no alignment. When players are transferred those with no alignment are traded first. Units will only be traded as one entity. When units are traded which have indicated they are aligned to another Clan they will have the opportunity to defect back. The defector will have the ability to take some units with them or leave empty handed, their success will be decided on by the outcome of a game.
Banish and Expel
It is also possible to expel and banish players from a Clan. The details of this will be decided by the Clan leader but will be generally take the same form as a defection game.
When matchmaking, all players in a Clan will form in the Clan Lobby. The highest ranking player will then choose the players/units ready to play. Players who are ready will displayed with the equipment they intend to play with, the cost of the unit and their ‘bet’. Once that selection is made the next highest ranked player will create a matchmaking team. Settling hierarchy disputes and defection would be a priority.
Technologies will be subject to the same iterative balancing method as explained for the equipment.
Each Clan, Unit and Player will have the ability to buy certain technologies. These could be jetpacks, invisibility, tracked vehicles, bipedal vehicles, shields, anti shield ammo, etc. In this way each Clan will preference a particular technology, Units will further specialise and a individual can get specific equipment they want. These technology choices will not technically limit what a player can choose but will ‘discount’ the price of this equipment.
The amount of cash a player is permitted to spend on the equipment is controlled by the Clan leader and can range from very tight restrictions to unlimited amounts. The danger with large amounts to spend is inexperienced players will not choose wisely, conversely a lack of freedom will annoy players so a balance is required.
Again the mechanism for deciding this can be by number of games played, rank in Clan hierarchy, percentage victories, experience (different to No. of games and based on victories against level of opponents). And again how this mechanism is set can be left solely to the clan leader or delegated, voted on, etc.