Table of Contents
- Characters and Character Customization
- Hand-To-Hand Combat
- Game Types
- Realm Wars Development and Community Input
- Immediate Development Goals
Hello and welcome! This document represents my initial attempt to communicate to the community the overall vision for Realm Wars as it currently stands. My name is James Margaris and I am the Lead Designer for Realm Wars. (Let's have a two week grace period before the flaming commences!) This document should give everyone a better idea of the overall vision for Realm Wars and help spark discussion to further that vision. The open questions are questions of particular interest that we are looking for input for, but we expect and desire feedback on everything!
Realm Wars is a team-based action game in a set in a fantasy world. Players will choose and customize their characters from a diverse assortment then engage in epic battles with teammates where magic, missiles and hand-to-hand attacks will all come into play.
Characters and Character Customization
We see the character creation process as more involved in Realm Wars than other FPS games. Players will spend some time creating their characters and stick with them for multiple gaming sessions. Players will be able to customize both the look of their characters and perhaps their abilities and starting spells. Note however that Realm Wars is firmly an action game and not and RPG, there will be no level-building.
Players will begin by choosing their character mesh from an assortment of available models. These models will be combinations of races and classes, for example "Orc Warlord" or "Elven Sorceress." Each of these character types will have their own unique strengths and weaknesses - the Elven Sorceress may possess powerful magic but have low durability compared to the Orc. Players can not mix and match races and classes. (For many reasons, including work required, it doesn't add a whole lot, and it makes it harder to identify people on the battlefield and give fitting unique sounds, gestures, etc for each character type)
After the initial mesh is selected, players choose from a variety of skins, faces, hair-styles and colors, and perhaps even individual components such as pieces of armor, helmets, shields and shield emblems, etc. It may also be possible to adjust the height and width of the model. Ideally from the same mesh one character could create a short, fat sorceress wearing an armlet and a beret, while another creates a tall slender one with a plumed headband. (The more customization the better, not all of these are high-priority items)
We are considering alternate ways of dealing with character death and respawning that will add strategy and teamwork to the game as well as some flavor. One possibility is fixed map locations called "lifestones" where characters can respawn. Characters could choose which spawn point to re-tissue at by walking their ghost to a lifestone - the farther the lifestone the farther you have to walk, making holding strategic lifestones a valuable strategy. (Maybe allow the ghosts to pass through walls to avoid it being too much of a pain though) Perhaps on the way to a lifestone a teammate playing a Cleric or Necromancer could revive you, or make you a member of the living dead. The lifestone locations would serve as focal points for fighting, even in games such as CTF where the primary objective is elsewhere. It would also make death a bit more painful, but nowhere near so as in round-based games such as CounterStrike.
Another possibility is allowing players to switch classes between respawns so that they can fill up holes in their teams' class coverage. (Nobody wants to get stuck with an army of all clerics) This would also allow starting players to quickly cycle through and experience different classes.
Open Questions: What are all the character types? What are all the dimensions they can differ in? (Starting equipment, allowable equipment, magic, hand-to-hand abilities, movement abilities, durability?) What about adding new meshes? Can someone import new meshes, and if so how do you identify that mesh with a character-type on the battlefield? (IE, how can I tell that the guy who looks like Batman is actually the Orc Warlord?) What effect does customizing the look of the character have on game play? Is a shorter character harder to hit, and maybe has less HP? Can you choose abilities for your characters, or starting spells? On the battlefield can all types use all or most weapons? (If each type has a lot of unique weapons that is a lot more work, and more for the player to learn)
Weapons and Items
Weapons will be a combination of pseudo-realistic weapons and magical items. It may also be possible to enchant weapons to alter their effects. (Teamwork!)
Types of Weapons
Open Questions: What are they? Can everyone use every weapon, or are their unique weapons per character type? How do you keep weapons somewhat realistic while still maintaining a good variety? Will we be leaning heavily on magical weapons?
Getting weapons isn't as trivial as it may first sound. Different games have very different methods of distributing weapons, which leads to some very different game play experiences. A good comparison would be Unreal Tournament vs. CounterStrike. In UT you can hold as many weapons as you want, and weapons can always be found at respawn points, which favors those that know the map and can encourage camping or out-of-the-way ventures for valuable weapons and armor. In CounterStrike weapons and ammo are a valuable resource. (Especially when you are low on cash) Often in CS you will kill an enemy, then throw down your weapon and pick up theirs because it is better or has more ammo. CS players also tend to give and trade weapons more often during battle. How readily available different weapons are and how many weapons a character can hold at a time strongly impact the rest of the game.
CounterStrike also has an interesting feature in that the weapon you have equipped affects your movement rate. In UT if you see a weapon the best strategy is always to pick it up. Would it be more interesting if your Sorceress in RW chose not to pick up a giant axe because it would weigh her down? Perhaps in a game of capture the flag after grabbing the flag you could throw off weapons and armor in order to run faster, swim better or jump higher to escape your pursuers.
Respawning vs. Permanent Items
"Permanent" items are items that do not respawn over time. Initially they begin at a map location. Once picked up they stay with a character until discarded or the character's death, at which point the item is dropped in place and can be picked up by others. This allows us to add powerful, interesting and map-unique items to the game that will influence the strategy of the players. Isolating and killing an enemy wizard in possession of a needed spell could become a valid strategy objective, for example. Limiting the instances of these permanent items also allows us to make them powerful without destroying the game balance. Teams will work hard to get these prized items and work hard to keep them.
Open Questions: How else do you get weapons? Buy them when you respawn, but them at places on the map, find them lying around? How many weapons can you hold at once, all of them? Does what you have equipped affect your character in terms of movement, stealth or other abilities? Is there ever a reason not to pick up some item, or is the best strategy to grab everything all the time? Can you look at someone and see what armor or weapon they have? Does grabbing a weapon or armor greatly change your appearance? (If you grab plate mail do you look like you are wearing plate mail? If so how does this fit in with customizing the looks of your character?)
Hand-to-hand combat will be an important feature of Realm Wars and will avoid the "short range guns" feel in typical FPS games. A significant portion of combat will be hand-to-hand, and HTH combat will be useful in many situations, not just a last resort when you run out of ammo. Those situations should be similar to what you would expect in real life. HTH combat is useful at close range or against opponents who are weak in HTH situations.
There are two important things needed to make HTH combat genuinely useful:
HTH combat should be better in close-quarters than missile weapons. Perhaps a single swing can knock an opponent over, can hit multiple opponents at once, is easier to aim (covers a large arc) and faster than a missile weapon, etc.
It must be possible to close in on opponents who don't want to engage in HTH. This means characters should perhaps move forward faster than they move backwards or to the side, or generally move less like speedy omni-directional hovercrafts and more like objects with momentum.
The exact mechanics of HTH combat are still up-in-the air. It will be much less complex than a typical fighting game, but more complex than FPS games. It will most likely end up being a few types of slashes and a defensive move or two.
Open Questions: Possible specific implementations?
There will be magic.
Open Questions: Can you learn new magic, either over time or in the course of a single engagement? (Perhaps you only have access to basic spells unless you pick up scrolls you can memorize) What are some individual spell ideas that are interesting or encourage teamwork? (We can all think up "fireball") What is the limit on magic casting, mana? If mana, how do you get it? Does it regenerate over time, can you replenish it via items? What are the mechanics of casting magic? (Simpler is probably better)
At the start game types will be about what you would expect, variations on Deathmatch and CTF. In time we would like to see more objective-based missions with more fantasy flavor: capture or defend a bridge for a certain amount of time, capture or escort a princess, own 3 positions simultaneously, poison the water supply...most of these games will still come down to "kill a bunch of people, then make off with something or go spend X time somewhere" but with varying details and twists.
But we'll just start with Deathmatch and CTF.
Persistence and Meta-Game
This section is about tying individual gaming sessions, players and servers into a larger whole.