Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Using Wisdom in a Video Game

If we count Wisdom as knowledge we have, and Intelligence as application of knowledge, then we can easily quantify these traits in a videogame. The gears that need to be in place is a format in which gathering in game knowledge has a benefit to the player. The side effect of this process is to get lore into the player’s mind, and allow them to earn their character interactions.
Now I the idea behind this goes as such: Information has a rating attached to it. Passing a certain threshold of intelligence, the character gains the possibility of gaining this information. With enough Wisdom that information can be strung together to form a conclusion. Lacking Wisdom means that the string is shorter, which means it may not be enough to actually accomplish a goal, and may just piss people off.

Does this mean that people would all play with intelligence and wisdom maxed out? The issue become with generating altering paths. The other aspects (such as Muscle and Strength for intimidation, Beauty and Charm for seduction, Chi and Spirit for Spiritual Guidance, etc) lead to different paths as well. The idea is that instead of having only one end game threat, you can instead cause an end of the world scenario through a combination of events. The player then creates their own path to an end, and by solving certain issues they can trigger a point where the world is not completely destroyed, or even most saved.
End game is then generated by recovery efforts in the parts of the world that were affected by disaster. Perhaps that might god coming down from the sky only destroyed one continent, the dwarves and merfolk warring destroyed another part of the world, and the ancient serpent underground is slowly eating through another. Thankfully you stopped the meteorite containing the demon prince from landing in your home continent. And you made peace between the amazons and the barbarians. Also you did stop the merfolk from also melting the north pole and flooding the surface world.
Now there are still problems in the world, but the disasters you stopped and the ones that made it through were based on your decisions, your stats, and what you tried to figure out. The option of failing at something now becomes possible. Perhaps as a designer I would make sure that no matter what at least one thing would go wrong. Or by allowing no disaster to happen, the player instead allows for an evil that would have been killed by the disaster to grow in power. An evil empire can being growing, and the player starts to begin hearing whisperings of war.
The power of a single player game to allow for the player to create their own story is incredible. But what about an MMO? How can you have so many people on a server and still allow a disaster to occur? What if different servers have different disasters? Suddenly the game is different for each server. People might switch just to experience the Cataclysm versus the Armageddon.
But back to the stats influencing the character decisions: It would be important to disambiguate the stats from the class. Instead of forcing warriors to focus on strength and muscle/beauty, we can allow them to derive power from chi. This is something that I liked about Champions Online. Though some powers are obviously improved by certain stats, the character can choose two stats that empower their dps. This way a brick can pick up survivability stats that in turn strengthen their dps.
The MMO would allow for players to arrive at certain conclusions based on their stats, and therefore their choices would affect the story that they experience. We could even allow an in game method for players to talk to each other, and pass information. Imagine a group of players exploring a mansion where a murder has occurred. Suddenly the defender’s intimidation is used to interrogate a suspect. The mage is piecing clues together, the cleric is talking to spirits. A dynamic instance is generated, and the information is shared and pieced together to solve the mystery.
Exploring the world can also lead to such fonts of knowledge. Global events can be solved, clues can be found, and then posted in a public board in game. As players attempt to solve the mystery, the goal is suddenly made clear. A way to find the tunneling worm is found, and a new instance is formed. The goal is to stick by the decision to allow servers to be different. The biggest issue I have with this is that the game is essentially being splintered into several games, each requiring its own team.
Perhaps that is the cost of creating a truly meaningful PVE MMO.