Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Copyright (c) 2000 - 2005 by Tarn Adams
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The Future: Overhead and Technical Matters

Art:  A spastic toddler could improve on what I have. Processed corpses (skinned/dehaired) could use new pictures. Wounds could appear on creatures.

Memory:  I can stop some memory fragmentation by using linked lists in map occupancy and perhaps some other places.

Extra Parts and Combat:  I think some of the extra parts (eyes, noses, etc.) get hit too often. There is also some speed tweaking I can do by saving function effectiveness.

Abstracting Creatures:  Another memory/speed saving device will be to abstract creatures that aren't important until they become important. Many peasants walking the street fit this. They don't need to have their physical bodies fully realized unless they are attacked or otherwise injured. Similar principles may apply to certain items.

Character Creation:  There are lots of different philosophies here. I still need to sort it out... characters might have complicated pregame histories based on the entities that are around. Unless the player starts in dire straits, he or she will probably start in a random known town or a town that neighbors a known town. Occasionally, the player might start in a completely different place (perhaps this can be determined by the user). The player should start in a family (depending on their history), and the player might be able to play their heirs in subsequent games if they leave any. Someone suggested the possibility of starting as a toddler, although this might be troublesome in certain ways.

Genre:  If you want some structure, you can have it. The genre of a game answers some broad questions: Are there gods? How much magic is there, if any? What about powerful creatures? Example pre-generated genres are myth fantasy, standard (Tolkien) fantasy, gothic, fairy tale, and historical. Standard fantasy is about what you'd expect: lots of magic, semi-active gods, a vast wilderness, powerful monsters, civilizations, etc. Myth fantasy has very active gods, and lots of incredibly powerful titans and dragons running around - civilizations will be more limited. Fairy tales run in the opposite direction - there isn't much talk of specific gods, and instead of troll armies you get lone trolls guarding bridges. The gothic genre for our purposes is a myth or standard fantasy genre where for instance the forces of evil have essentially "won", and there are powerful evil creatures and cowering peasants (good only exists as a tool against evil). The historical genre simply eliminates all fantasy elements from play - these games would be focused on expansion, trade, warfare and intrigue in purely human civilizations (or tribal expansion and conflict if the technology is underdeveloped). A player can also mix and match some of the genre settings to create new genres. Genre and atmosphere (below) step on each other a bit - I'll resolve this when I get there (the concepts might be merged in the end - the important thing is to have as much choice as possible).

Atmosphere:  Once a player selects a genre, he or she can also set some more specific parameters. This is not fully defined as yet, because there are lots of possibilities. There might be predefined types, such as balanced atmosphere, where everything is about as you'd expect. Another predefined type will be something like "Standard" - this universe will be balanced, but will also have pregenerated stock creatures like elves, dwarves, orcs, gnomes, dragons, etc., as well as the standard undead curses and all that. You might feel more comfortable playing here at first. Then you can go and customize the atmosphere, and add more randomness if you like. Here are some ideas for specific choices: How many planes are there? Will the game be heavily interplanar? Standard elemental planes or something else? All underwater or no water at all? Light mood? Dark mood? Outlaw/emphasize certain professions. Outlaw/emphasize certain types of magic. Outlaw/emphasize monster types. Outlaw/emphasize location types. Outlaw/emphasize item types. Change the metaphysics: Are there souls? Undead? How about creatures - how random are they (can run from stock creatures to recognizable forms such as mammal/humanoid to completely random)? That kind of thing... this might lead to perverse scenarios like "Light-Mood Underwater Gothic", where happy mermaids play the roles of vampires, guiding and playing pranks on peasants rather than sucking their blood. Hey, if you want... might be fun! It might be possible to start with atmospheres corresponding to different evolutionary stages of our own world or as the only human (or whatever) on the planet (either the first or the last).

Plot:  The genre and atmosphere can set up the actors and locations, but they won't be interesting unless they interact. There are various plots that can be overlaid on the entire game universe, specific regions, or even within towns and entities. Here are some simple ones: end of the world (town), struggle of opposing forces, lone powerful nemesis, general expansion into frontier. More complex and specific plots can be developed based on the goals of individual creatures. The general overall plot here is just to give the universe a direction, if you even want one. If the plot is set on "Emergent", then the plots will only be generated by individual creatures and entities as they struggle to achieve their goals. Thus, in order to play a fairly standard unstructured game, you might set the genre-atmosphere-plot to "Standard-Balanced-Emergent", or "Standard-Standard-Emergent". There will also be a "Random" option for plot in case you want the universe to have some sweeping structure, but you don't want to know what type (genre and atmosphere can also have "Random" settings, but that could lead to some really strange games!). There is also the question of momentum - myth fantasy might "degenerate" into standard fantasy as the powerful creatures are killed off and the gods become less interested in the world, or it might be headed toward a massive end of the world confrontation. Momentum is part of the plot, although things could happen (especially where the player is involved), and momentum might change (or the whole plot could fall apart). In general, the universe generator will try to place enough interesting creatures, items, and locations for the world will stay exciting. There will also be a creation myth and pre-game history, etc. that will utilize the genre, atmosphere, and plot that the user selects. The pre-game history will introduce many specific actors and props to start things off running, if desired. This history will be available depending on how the various entities pass down knowledge (you might make it a goal to uncover the mysteries of the past, even as the present is raging around you).

Stock Worlds:  With the help of the editors, people should be able to create both prefabricated worlds and prefabricated storylines. There has been some interest expressed in creating Earth at various time periods (or perhaps best as an amalgamation of various time periods). If the story line editor is up to it, certain historical events could even be put in to motion (only to be spoiled by the player!).

Help:  I need to add an interface section to the manual, and I need much better online help.

Scenarios: Here are some I came up with in case I need them: Infiltrate the Humanoid Compound, Dungeon Delving, Wizard's Tower, Duel, Thieves Guild, Assassins Guild, Sorcerers Apprentice, On the Hunt, Hunted, Exploration, Army Skirmish, Army Battle, (Design and) Defend, Empire Building, In the Lab, At Night in the Graveyard, The Town, Criminal to Crime Lord, Lowly Noble, Sheriff, Escape, Summoned, Pirates and Traders, and Odyssey.

Groups/Goals to Structure Some Entity/Player Generation if Desired:  Adventurer, Warlord, Psionicist, Sorcerer, Channeler, Elementalist, Druid, Witch/Warlock, Priest/Paladin, Barbarian, Sage, Seer, Counselor, Mutant, Flame, Materialist, Alchemist, Martial Artist, Cult Leader, Pariah, Strife, Necrophage, Reaper, Nurturer, Leveler, Plague, Shapeshifter, Shaman

In-Game Encyclopedia:  This would be an extension of Harlander's world stats idea. It should be possible to obtain world statistics (total world human/sentient population, and so on), either from in-game sources (in which case the stats might be dubious) or through some utility. In this way, a details oriented player can keep track of their overall effect on the world and specific regions.