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Author Topic: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire  (Read 6498 times)

Dave Ridley

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"Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« on: July 30, 2012, 08:38 AM NHFT »

After slapping together a few vids about an online gaming idea, I've already received four offers of assistance.  I had planned on starting real work on this project years from now. But there's already enough interest to take immediate action.  Someone requested I start a public discussion. So here is our first discussion thread for creating a massively multiplayer game set in 2050 New Hampshire.

Here are the vids:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8638D8BE25EC936C&feature=view_all

In a nutshell, the simulation aims to do 2 things:

1) Create a less-violent gaming model which is still action-packed and realistic.
2) Develop a virtual environment where people can experiment with non-aggressive national defense.

Secondary goals would include realistic futurism, sci-fi innovation, plus and a sandbox for designing A.I./avatars. Unusually customizable designing.

As I brainstorm it, the game would be set in south-central Nashua and northern Tyngsborough.  Post-collapse America, years after her partial, uneven recovery.  The country is broken into regions, and the two municipalities straddle a border between two of these increasingly different proto-nations.  New Hampshire maintains a fragile independence and has a government roughly comparable to what existed there around 1965.  But scientifically and economically, she is bursting into the future like a bullet train. Wild, glorious and sometimes dangerous technologies explode from her labs and microfactories. Couple these developments with the disappearance of Federal authority, and she truly looks the part of the "Free State" which so many thousands migrated for in the first half of the century. 

Fanatical desperation for freedom coupled with a circumspect disposition toward Washington enabled her to amicably separate around 2025 after agreeing to various difficult concessions.  But a new threat has arisen to her freedom....the NEU. It's union of northern states backed by German and Brazilian interests.   Their understandable concern over unbridled biotech and humanized A.I...leads to tensions with the hands-off government at Concord. And eventually, an invasion.  This probably wouldn't happen in the actual world of 2050, but to be playable a game must sacrifice some degree of realism and be more dramatic than reality. 

NEU assets concentrate in, and are geographically represented, by Tyngsborough. The INH, by part of Nashua. So I envision a contiguous city-sized playing field.  How NH goes about defending herself - or rather how *you* go about defending/attacking her - should be up to you the player.  Our job as creators would be to provide the realistic environment and the tools.  And they will be very innovative tools.  This game should have plenty of believable sci-fi, plenty of culture and plenty of potential to be something no game has ever been.  A sexy civic sandbox that has a constructive effect on the real world.

The genre would technically be first person shooter. But as I envision it, those who wish to could play it like a real time strategy. You'd do this by earning control over AI units and "watching from above."  You could also play it almost like a turn-based game.  You'd do this by attaining power and giving orders.

The "shooting" would tend to be twitchy but non-lethal, in keeping with the direction I believe history has been taking us.  The two sides, INH and NEU, would generally aim to capture or embarrass one another's operatives and assets.  Killing happens in this strange new war but often backfires.  Every death makes the news on someone's cybercast and has to be justified.  The game and its characters would be semi-persistent, playing out over a period of roughly six months toward victory or defeat for your side. Then it would reset.

Players could play as INH, NEU or neutral.  They would pick a citizenship/residency would be separate from their INH/NEU political loyalty.  So you could live in Nashua but fight for the NEU.  Players  would have roughly ten types of abilities they could develop, making them specialists in their favorite form of "combat."  And there would need to be currencies that actually teach people something about the real economy.

The INH and NEU would fight to attain points in the game.  One side would win when it attains, say, 3x as many points as the other.  The neutral "side" would be unable to win; its players or guilds would be playing toward goals of their own.  INH players would have a sloppy command and control regimen. NEU players would be able to gain more team control and unity of command. The game should be unique for its scarcity of resources compared to other games; it would not be like Cyber Nations where new players get three million bucks for joining an alliance.  This is designed to simulate the same kind of internal tensions that exist in the real world. 

I hope to make it so that your deaths in the game would tend to be rare, damaging to the other side, and permanent. You could re-enter with a new, somewhat weaker character.  I'm nervous about this idea; it might tend to suppress player numbers.  We'd at least have to make the AI very fun and rewarding to fight. You should be able to enter the game alone if need be and still have a blast.  Flying cars, e-leaflet raids, robot hacking, mind-reading, fembots, repair guns, interactive graffiti attacks, cyberscouting and good old fashioned shootouts... they should all be there.  Cloning and deploying Eddie Rickenbacker, Gandhi or Joseph Stalin...it should all be doable someday, at least in the game!

But we'll have to start small to get there.  Some folks have suggested an arena inside Second Life, or a Unity engine, or who knows what...

There are several problems I see right off the bat that would need addressing.  First, I'm conflicted regarding how best to "lead" the project.  I don't want to impose excessive specificity or micromanagement on fellow creators, but obviously I have a fairly specific vision for the game.  I'm torn between the proven, super-open-source free for all approach.....and the realization of my specific vision.   I'm torn between my love of delegation and my weakness when it comes to being a good delegator.  Between my usual preference for operating alone and my need to have other people helping me. 

I'm also wondering how we make this sustainable...by making it profitable.  What do I think will be needed most?  Tech developers who turn our many ideas into game reality.   People wiling to buy ads and virtual items for use in the game.  People who can go out and get permissions from big names to involve their specific ideas.  Imagine how this would rock if it included some of Joe Haldeman's weapons, Larry Niven's tech and Gerald Celente's future vision.

So...your thoughts?  How do you think this should begin, and would you like to participate?  Can you volunteer or would you only involve yourself for money?  I don't think I would pay anyone anything at first...and who knows whether the idea would ever become profitable.  I envision the game being free to play for most, with ads incorporated and also the option to purchase game items with real money.
 
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 08:49 AM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Russell Kanning

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2012, 02:56 PM NHFT »

interesting
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Dave Ridley

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2012, 03:38 PM NHFT »

The folks I invited are apparently having trouble registering here, so for now I'm aiming discussion at

https://plainboards.com/!FreeStateGame/thread/0dwBu019/free-state-game-would-simulate-2050-nashua

You can post there without registering.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 03:52 PM NHFT by DadaOrwell »
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Russell Kanning

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2012, 12:10 PM NHFT »

maybe we have strict criteria
you have to be a disabled vet or at least grumpy and living in Grafton ;)
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 01:56 PM NHFT »

Just got my ID today.  It was quick!  Contact an administrator. 
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 03:00 PM NHFT by d.hughes »
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 02:28 PM NHFT »

But we'll have to start small to get there.  Some folks have suggested an arena inside Second Life, or a Unity engine, or who knows what...
Unity sounds good to me, but... I am not a decision maker; just a coder.
It looks like the Unity game engine software is free.  That sounds attractive for getting started.
According to the Unity web site, the software runs on Windows and Mac (not Linux). 

What do I think will be needed most?  Tech developers who turn our many ideas into game reality.
I'm interested in working on this project to gain some experience with building computer games.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 03:01 PM NHFT by d.hughes »
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2012, 02:45 PM NHFT »

Faction Characteristics
INH - Independent New Hampshire
NEU - North East Union
NOTA - (neutral. Non Of The Above)

The two sides, INH and NEU, would generally aim to capture or embarrass one another's operatives and assets.
Their understandable concern over unbridled biotech and humanized A.I...leads to tensions with the hands-off government at Concord. And eventually, an invasion.
That and the NEU just doesn't like INH.  :)
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2012, 02:50 PM NHFT »

Player Attributes
Players  would have roughly ten types of abilities they could develop, making them specialists in their favorite form of "combat."
One attribute is PR (Public Relations) skill.
Would robot hacking, mind-reading, and graffiti tagging be considered abilities?
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2012, 03:00 PM NHFT »

Question about details:

Describe what is meant by "humanized A.I." ?

Describe some weapons in the "stun" class. I assume taser guns. 
Not sure how a "non-leathal guided missile" would work.

One of the videos mentioned "signature readers" using body heat.  Does that even work?  How about face recognition, gait recognition, maybe odor or pheromone recognition.
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Dave Ridley

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2012, 02:23 AM NHFT »

Thanks for coming DH!   Answering your questions shortly....

Meanwhile more thoughts I came up with yesterday:

Here are the main problems that seem to be shaping up thus far.  First, it apparently costs too much to set up a first-person-shooter playing field in second life.   If it costs too much to have a 3d FPS arena in other places as well....  Then we'll need to fall back on a 2-dimensional top-down prototype.

The second problem is that I can't think of anything supper innovative for the 2d prototype.   So maybe I should delegate that.  Can you guys imagine a 2d top down microgame that is very simple but also innovative?   The first thing we put out there needs to be something different right off the bat.

My brainstorm for now, if we're starting 2d, is this:    INH dropdrones vs. NEU soldiers armed with tractor beams.  The dropdrones are essentially light "bombers" which drop cyberleaflets on high-traffic pedestrian areas.   So if you're playing the INH side you fly the drone over an arena simulating downtown Nashua.    The arena is populated with simple A.I. "neutral civilians" who move around and are found in highest concentrations at intersections, outside city hall, etc.  You would try to drop the leaflets so that civilians are likely to walk by them.  If one walks within an arm's lengh of a leaflet, she picks it up and your team scores a point.   But if a soldier gets near the drone he can magnetically lasso it toward him and capture it.  In that case NEU scores five points.  That's the intial game but again later we would add elements that make it much deeper, even if it remains 2d.  This starting scenario at least provides the variety of flight, walking, cat, mouse, twitchy, less-twitchy.  The soldier option would provide twitchy game play and marskmanship; the dropdrone play would be something a person could do and enjoy even if they are a weak twitchy player.

This scenario would need to be playable online, not just a single player thing.  Otherwise no community would develop.  We'd also need to have A.I. players on both sides populating the game from get go.    Initially, the map would not need to be accurate and as far as I'm concerned all the units could use free off the shelf graphics, engines, etc.   

That's scenario is the best I can come up with for now.   Do any of you have a better idea for the initial stripped-down prototpe?

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Dave Ridley

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2012, 06:43 AM NHFT »

In answer to your questions...

<<Unity sounds good to me, but... I am not a decision maker; just a coder.>>

could we put unity gameplay online easily ?  Or is it more for 1 -player.... what are the implications of building a 500 meter by 500 meter 3d unity arena online?   Does the server space cost a lot?  How many of you out there would be miffed if we did develop a game that could not be played on linux?


    Players  would have roughly ten types of abilities they could develop, making them specialists in their favorite form of "combat."

One attribute is PR (Public Relations) skill.
>>Would robot hacking, mind-reading, and graffiti tagging be considered abilities?>>


I think graffiti tagging should come under a broader PR attribute.   Robot hacking could come under a broader "computer skill" attribute. Not sure where mind reading would fall,  maybe under Perception?

As I crudely brainstorm them , the skill attributes would be:

Perception - ability to see and identify at a distance.  Scouting/recon/hidden enemy movement should have an important role in the game; so many games lack this
Computer - hacking, robot control, technical ability to spread a piece of info over a wide area.
Influence - Your ability to control non-robot AI and seduce
PR - The effectiveness of your interactive graffiti, your videography, etc.
Vehicles - Ability to get the most out of flying cars, drones,
Speed
Strength - How much you can carry, how good you are in hand to hand combat.
Stamina (have to have that....Napoleon called it the most important martial attribute).  How long can you run?  How quickly do you start losing your abilities while performing strenuous physical activities?
Marksmanship - Maybe this would affect how "shaky" your gunsights appear when you aim a ranged weapon at something.   Most FPS games give everyone perfect stability; I don't like this but imposing my preference on this point could alienate players who are used to it.
Stealth - Ability to use invisibility cloaks,
Healing - Repair guns, autodoctors, etc... There should be a place in our game for people who can only hit a target that wants to be hit!
Courage - how likely you are to drop things.  how likely you are to temporarily lose control over your character as a result of panic!

Some of this is inspired by the original X-Com which created personalities using a fraction of these options.  But put together, the mere presence of these attributes could create a first-of-its-kind gaming experience. 

I'd like to tweak some of these in a manner that attracts female players or female characters.  Your faction should benefit from having a higher proportion of women or female characters in it, just as the FSP does.

<<Describe what is meant by "humanized A.I." ?>>

With all this talk of machines becoming as intelligent as people by roughly 2060....we need to simulate that phenomenon in the game.  How would it play out on the streets and in people's homes?

<<Describe some weapons in the "stun" class. I assume taser guns. >>

I guess some could knock out your character, others might paralyze parts of the body which they strike, others could cause panic or freeze you in place.   In most games you do not have a chance to fight impaired.... you're  all there until you're dead.   This kind of thing could help provide depth as players find that some of their skills and weapons are available and some are not after they take "damage."


<<Not sure how a "non-leathal guided missile" would work.>>

Me neither but in real life there will be a demand for it.  Guided bullets and what not will be part of the future, as will private missile proliferation a la Babylon A.D.   

>>One of the videos mentioned "signature readers" using body heat.  Does that even work?  How about face recognition, gait recognition, maybe odor or pheromone recognition.??

These might need to be lumped into one or two types of scanning devices for simplicity.  But the effectiveness of the devices could vary widely depending on its range, the player's Perception attribute, etc.
whatever blip you see on your scanner could be visible on all your teammates maps too.  This would encourage some players to specialize in scanning so they can be recon. They'd find targets while players who specialize in marskmanship and strengh...stun, capture and secure them in safe houses or jails. 
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2012, 03:35 PM NHFT »

If it costs too much to have a 3d FPS arena in other places as well....
Yeah, 3D ... 4D, whatever it takes.  :)
Quote from: Michael Keaton - Jack in the film Mr. Mom
"Yeah. 220... 221, whatever it takes."
Did I tell you I have no experience in graphic game programming?  Oh well, you would find out sooner or later.  ::)

If the decision is to go with the Unity Game Engine, 3D should be no problem.  The Unity web site says the Game Engine can run as an executable or in a browser.  We would take the browser option. 

=> Technical note (ignore): there is a Firefox add-on that makes the Firefox browser look like MS Internet Explorer or Apple Safari.  The Linux/Unix geeks might be able to play the game.  The vendor (Unity Technologies) plans to add Linux in a future release.

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Dave Ridley

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2012, 05:31 AM NHFT »

Could you create the 2d idea above?  Using unity/browser-based , and available for the public to play?  I can strip the idea down some if need be, I know just what to take out.
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d.hughes

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2012, 01:07 PM NHFT »

OK, so we are going with the Unity Game Engine? (Assume the answer is yes.)

Whether 2D or 3D is a minor issue.  Graphics have to be rendered, physics have to be calculated regardless of 2 dimension or 3D.  I have to get up to speed on Unity, but I'm thinking it does 3D just as easily as 2D.  Are any techies out there that can tell me I am missing something?

available for the public to play?  I can strip the idea down some if need be
DadaOrwell, here is the first reality check...
The prototype is going to suck.  You won't want to release it to the public.  Their (the public) first impression, based on the prototype, will be disappointment.  Translated from geek-eze: lower your expectations.

Since this is your brainchild, I'm thinking you will be testing and providing feedback to the programmers.  (e.g. I don't like the colors, the scoring system needs to change, etc.  Oh, and "this does not work!; my jetpack lets me fly through walls." :)  )

Second reality check...
testing will get boring.

Now I'm going to do the CYA (cover my a55).  It may be possible to create a cut down, bare bones prototype fairly quickly - provided we have a programmer that knows the game engine and has experience writing professional games. 
That would not be me.  I have never been paid for writing a game and have only worked on simple text-based games. (That's why I work so cheap; my price is free.  I want the experience.)  My learning the game engine should not be hard, but it will take time.  So far, I have not yet downloaded the free install.  Talking is easier than actually doing.  :)

So, you have developed a good description of the game.  We can say the high level design is complete.
Next, we need resources.  Who else do you have as techies? 

The people on the project look like:
DadaOrwell - Project leader, lead functional designer
D.Hughes - rookie programmer
Russell Kanning - someone that finds the project interesting.
Other folks you know???

There will be a need for space on a server and URL for shared project access and eventually the public.
This can wait a bit.  Ahm think'n we could kick around a stand alone executable until it has some vague resemblance to a playable game.  Then, when we add the multi-player feature, we will need to put it on a server.  Right now, my impression is that the server will have to be Windows-based, as opposed to an open source (free) Linux/Apache configuration.  I could be wrong.  I am just guessing.  The server thing is not my bag.  (Third reality check... free can be expensive!)
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Dave Ridley

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Re: "Free State" game would simulate 2050 New Hampshire
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2012, 11:07 AM NHFT »

I'm going to tweak the starting scenario to really strip it down further but at the same time make it more playable.   The drones will still be in it so if you want to focus on something early, that's probably a safe bet to start with. 

I don't see any other chatter yet on forums from folk who actually expressed an interest in building the game with us.  I did get 2 or 3 other emails though besides you.  If we build something, help will come.
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