See posts below, starting on 2014, for notes on custom IP and open game project, First Pancake
TL;DR? DNR, PLZ. LOL.
Quick summary: An Erfworld MMO would be neat, and possible, but we would need to know a lot more about Erfworld than we do now, which would take a little bit of the fun out of the comic.
The document mostly covers gameplay modes as well as how to finance the project, as well as how to encourage folks to join up and play well.
Basic gameplay is an MMO-RTS/TBS* style gameplay for rulers combined with raiding-based gameplay for units.
(*edit: I wrote RTS here originally but I mean the turn-based gameplay like Erfworld has where units can move across hex borders only on their turn )
Erfworld MMO ideas:
This is a super rambling train-of-thought document. It is not supposed to make much sense, and may induce headaches. It's also unfinished. I reserve the right to use Retconjuration to alter this document. I divided subjects into categories and made it easier to find them.
Nothing herein is set in stone. It's set in, like, the opposite of stone. Warm butter on a hot summer's day. Hawt.
I also reserve the right to be silly.
I talk about RL money a lot. Remember, MMOs cost 80-100 million to make. And a LOT more than people think to run.
Sometimes I also talk about an option like it is the only way, but I am thinking of it being optional, or one of a possible set of choices.
A lot of the actual game rules will have to wait until we learn more about how Erfworld "works"
Assume that none of this will be done without the approval of the Erfworld creator, and every piece of content will be subject to their approvalz. They can also take all this and run with it, make their own game, get a trillion dollars, and I won't be mad. Well, I might, but I won't be able to do anything legally about it, because I am giving it to them right now. That said, I enjoy programming and have always wanted to make a game.
I couldn't do something of this scale alone and unfunded tho.
A strategic turn based high-fantasy game with strong FPS/RPG elements. Larger gameplay scope revolves around massive team-pvp and raiding type events, a theme already proven popular in other MMOs.
All potential investors need to know: It smells like money.
(Penny Arcade reference)
Erfworld already has a huge fanbase, and if the subscription model included an option to get a bunch of friends involved, the popularity will skyrocket. The player and subscription model I describe in this document is designed to be inclusive to a large number of players, allowing one player in a leadership position to invite a potentially unlimited number of friends to participate as members of their team.
The gameplay style described in this document is a turn-based strategic game, with players taking on various roles from the full spectrum of Erfworld's available units, from basic units to warlords and casters, and the rulers who guide them.
Design problems overcome:
The problems with the turn-based nature are mitigated by allowing users to set their preferred play schedule, allowing the game to function on a 'raiding' schedule similar to how large groups play popular MMOs, but with a gameplay style unique on the MMO market.
Additional difficulties in meshing so many overlapping schedules can be mitigated by a careful map design that guides player expansion, similar to principles used in MMO design today. (The same techniques theme parks use to guide guest foot traffic.)
It could be done as a 100-level WoW style grindyfest samey questathon, (if that doesn't give away my opinion on THAT) with NPC rulers, and players taking on the role of basic units. The only problem with that is that WoW already exists and has many years of additional development time already put into it. WoW cannot be beaten at it's own game, and innovation takes more than re-skinning WoW.
Too many differences from the actual Erfworld canon and this becomes !Erfworld, (pronounced "not Erfworld") which is sort of like a crummy version of WoW Battlegrounds with a bunch of stupid rules. This must be avoided. However, some canon things may just not fit the MMO genre.
Could be done on a F2P model for basic characters, a one-time payment for starting as a warlord or potentially as a caster, and a boxed set, per-monthly account for overlords/kings.
Collector's Edition - big boxed set, even more expensive, lots of goodies - start as a royal king - can choose to start close to other sides (more dangerous), or further away (safer) - comes with a TON of free royal warlord/caster invitations for friends and invitations to let folks pop as a royal heir or other royal unit
Regular Edition - boxed set - start as an overlord - can choose to start close to other sides (more dangerous), or further away (safer) - comes with some invitation codes to let friends start as a warlord or caster for free.
If boxed set/highest cost set allows overlord status, there'll be a LOT of overlords even if the game does only moderately well. Should be plenty of warlord/caster positions available for other folks. But those could be disabled if it really does fill up.
A player who bought a collector's edition could still choose to start a warlord character, or a regular unit character. Maybe they get x (1?) overlord/royal ruler slot per boxed set with the option to buy more.
Free to Play:
F2P - start as a non-warlord unit of any type. (maybe even weird ones like golems?) Can choose to start near the action or further away in a safe area, or for a specific side. Can be promoted (for free to player? or fee?) to warlord, if it is possible for that unit to become a warlord. It definitely costs schmuckers to do but maybe could be free in RL cost, to encourage players to participate in battles and do well as a basic unit, get noticed, and get promoted to warlord - tho possible exploit, why would folks pay to start as a warlord? Other than to maybe just to start quickly? And F2P could get to command a single stack even before promotion, so folks can get the hang of commanding multiple units.
This is the big one, with a F2P model that lets a player skip a fee and get to play as a warlord for free, it encourages units to do well, make progress, participate in battles. And letting folks start in a side that's close to enemies, or a safer side, lets folks start out how they like.
One time fee F2P - start as a warlord or caster (different prices?)
How many char slots for F2P? Or more advanced subscriptions? Maybe the ability to buy more slots? I don't think extremely limited character slots would work as well. Not all sides will be in conflict at the same time, so players who wish to play active regular units would need a large number of slots. Perhaps regular units don't take a character slot? Selling additional character slots is one aspect of the F2P game market, however users generally resent overly-restrictive starting slot counts, moreso if it does not mesh with the gameplay.
There could be other elements like an item store, schmuckers or gems for sale for RL cash, etc. I don't know how well actual units being for sale would work, but some unit upgrades such as different armor styles, etc.. Especially decorative items. Stuffamancers should have their own crafting and it should be reasonably equal to item store things, tho store items could be unique in their own ways. Gameplay would need to be tested extensively to see what effect purchases like that have. Money/gem purchases may need to be limited or not included. However that opens up gold/gem farming... The game company selling virtual currency may be distasteful but if they do it then that makes it harder for gold sellers.
Character and account types:
Chief Warlord - promoted from warlord only, by ruler. can't buy position, can't choose to start as one. This is a very important position.
Warlord - for one-time fee? or each time? can start as a warlord. Allowed to choose side. (maybe password-protected if side is not open-enrollment, or needs invitation code from box or a code issued by overlord (no additional fee) ?)
Caster - for one-time fee? can start as a caster - maybe this way they cannot choose their side except with an invitation code from a boxed set. They are supposed to be rare and random. Sides with no casters should get first priority, if no invite code was used, per comic. There are several Issues with casters, discussed elsewhere in this document.
Unit - F2P character, may be promoted to warlord by a ruler.
Charlie should be run by staff. Also, VERY IMPORTANT, GM help should NOT be Charlie. VERY apart. Not even kidding on this. An "ASK CHARLIE" big glowing button which pages GMs to talk about "game" issues (bugs and stuck issues and the usual MMO stuff) is lame. Charlie is a SIDE. An Enigma. BOOPING Badass. Ok I am better now. Heh Heh. I would say the Charlie-controlled archons should be npcs, or staff members but that is a lot of archons.. if they are played by a player, it should be very exclusive, not bought but given, and possibly a great reward. But it also is a bit (or a lot?) of a job, so there should be some reward. Maybe they can play a choice of archons (in different time slots) and they get extra free character slots, but can't use the archons in sides that are in conflict with their side, to prevent exploits. I would think alliance sides would be ok, and their own side should be okay. Their side would have to agree to pay charlie whatever the costs are for the archon to do whatever. But there also is the 'full buy' option (is it a one time fee of x schmuckers or a per-turn fee?)
Anyway, keep GM game support stuff far away from Charlie. Sides should be able to call Charlie, as per comic, and maybe hire Archons and other basic services from him automatically, but the complexities of more sophisticated negotiations would need to be handled by a real human being. (Most likely, beings, due to the 24h high volume stuff going on.) And again, as much as possible would have to be automated, but only things which SHOULD be automated.
Side conflicts would basically be big PVP/PVE events. Sides pop NPCs, if a player begins they "take over" the lowest level unit/highest level unit available or pop as a unit that is immediately popping.
GM and staff:
GM Behavior: Gms need to be professional, discreet, if the problem is between players they should help explain how the players can resolve it between themselves.
Any response should be completely personalized. No form letters. If they are just pasting a form letter, aka a FAQ, they should just link to the FAQ that exists already. But this should be in addition to the personalized response, and should really make sense. "here's a faq on how to reset your password, but basically on the website click ..." after, of course, really *reading* the message to see what the player is saying, especially if, for example, the player is saying that they tried it and it doesn't work after that major website upgrade or whatever. (no not a RL example from me, just stressing the importance of someone actually READING the emails, rather than an autoresponder faking it.) If it's not in the FAQ it should be added to the FAQ, because obviously it is a FAQ.
Any message that is from an autoresponder (let's face it they can be useful if programmed well, just most aren't) - any message should start "Hi I am an auto-responder! A REAL human being WILL read your email. In the meantime I noticed a few keywords. Here are links to the appropriate FAQs..." and then list off *each keyword* and then the FAQ link. Auto-responders should NOT respond to already-existing communications between GMs and players. They don't need an autoresponder conversation when they are in the process of talking to a real human being. If the human being determines they need a link to a FAQ they can paste it themselves.
Let chief warlords and overlords/kings 'lock' units to keep someone from respawning into them for specialized units maybe? Also lackeys, could let overlord/king directly control (play as) some of their lackeys so they don't have to just sit in their castle all day being bored, they could take action on their turn. Natural thinkamancy? Hehe.
Relative unit numbers - unsure of some
#overlords > #royal kings?
#warlords > #casters
#basic units > #warlords
So in decreasing relative numbers it would likely be
Basic Units > Warlords > Casters > Overlords > Royal Overlords
Chief warlord is exception since a side only has 1, so can be considered roughly the same as the number of overlords. (Less, if some have died and not been replaced/repromoted/respawned)
New player experience: (Starting from launching the game)
Player can pick what to play as, depending on their subscription model. If they want to pop for a specific side, they can type that in or pick from a list, maybe entering a password if the side has locked. If they have an invite code and it matches a specific side, maybe it auto-defaults to that side?
Random name generator: Should verify suggested name is not already in use before displaying it to the player, if it is, pick another one and verify, repeat until one is not in use. Random name generator would need a LOT of inputs and variations. Needs a team of writers, and would be subject to Erfworld creator's approval. (along with everything else about the erfworld mmo)
Getting started: So, what happens if a player plays, for example, a twoll? (Basic unit) Well, they are assigned to a random side (or side of their choice) which has a twoll popped or is popping a twoll at that moment. If the side of their choice is in the process of popping a twoll but it doesn't exist yet, they could be given the option to play as another unit and re-pop as the twoll when it is ready. Maybe all unavailable options are grayed out but the player can choose to enter a queue.
So, if no Twolls are popped in-world it appears grayed out and says "none currently popped or popping" - if some are in progress it could say "in progress" and give turns to completion.
Ok, so they pop. Now what? They are in their starting city, maybe on-turn, maybe off-turn. There's a few basic quests to do, that teach the basic mechanics of moving around, fighting, commanding a stack, etc. Maybe they can leave the city hex, maybe not, depending on whether it is their turn or not.
I picked twoll for a reason, what if the city is having their twolls manufacture things? When does it trigger? Most convenient for side and player is for it to be automatic, but they could get a huge bonus if the player actually goes to the armory or whatever. They shouldn't have to stay all day, but walking in then walking out warlord-style might do it.
Any active combat could be marked with an indicator, as in, travel to this hex if possible or head to this area of town.
Promotion to warlord: So they did well, participated in some real battles and gained levels beyond tutorial levels, they get noticed by the chief warlord or overlord, or maybe saved a caster's bacon, and they get promoted to warlord. If they haven't been warlord before, they get some tutorials for that, and then get flagged that they completed the tutorials so they don't have to go through them again if they don't want to.
Now the unit can command stacks, do more for their side, lead groups into battle or maybe relax and tend to their assigned city, all chosen at creation as to whether they wanted an active side or one not at war with anyone. But sometimes war comes rolling up to your door so you may end up in a battle sooner or later...
Units could be simulated by NPC until a player can fill the role. There should never be not enough infantry/basic units to allow all F2P players to play, they seem to pop in large quantities.
What if the player needs to go AFK? AFK button, or Autopilot button. Turns player completely over to NPC control until they come back? Like the "away" mode in L4D? I loved that mode. What about disconnected? NPC control again? So cities could get their warlord bonus from a player who didn't log in, and if they were offline they could still help with the battle. But if they were online they could help more. Players should be able to be better than NPCs. NPCs shouldn't be weaksauce tho.
So warlords ordered to maintain a city don't have to do it themselves, the bot control will go do it for them automatically. Does it have to be done at start of turn? Or can they maintain a city off-turn? Player could choose to do it themselves, maybe getting another bit of a bonus? But a side wouldn't be totally screwed if they had a warlord that couldn't log on for a few days.
Regular units, warlords, and casters could be able to participate in battles if AFK or offline, if they were NPC controlled during those times. The units could follow orders as given. Chief Warlords and Overlords could have a basic set of orders to give to units for times when they are AFK or offline.
Rands: Every caster pops with a certain number of rands? To earn more they have to do actual work for players or sides. They spend them on work from other sides or players. There could be a tiny allowance, extra rands each turn, but I think each caster popping with a set amount and only being able to trade them with players. How to keep moneymancers from having control over this though? Maybe it's limited somehow? Though even if caster slots have to be re-purchased each time, someone could pop a caster, give all their rands to someone, get croaked, and buy another slot.. maybe linked per account? But folks could buy extra accounts. Not enough really known about rands other than the name and that they are a high-value barter credit not affected by moneymancy, and are apparently transferred by a form of natural thinkamancy (in-game menu lol?) And game exploits wouldn't make sense in erfworld, can you imagine popping warlords to get the occasional random caster, just to order them to give all their rands to someone and then killed, ordered to commit suicide, or disbanded? That probably wouldn't happen much even in an MMO but in Erfworld where units die "for reals" it probably wouldn't be possible. But a huge side in the MMO could possibly do this exploit, or someone with a bunch of money even if the caster slot could be re-purchased.
Maybe folks start with 0 rands and get a tiny allowance. 1 a turn? 1 every 10 turns? 1 every hundred turns? It would reduce the rate of exploits but probably not stop it. Moneymancers have a LOT of influence here. Even if casters were limited to one per account and had to be re-purchased. Maybe not allow folks to start as casters AT ALL? Casters could be all NPC, or, truely random, like you choose to start as a warlord and maybe pop as a caster a tiny percentage of the time. With no way to be sure you would ever get a caster... but again moneymancers could just keep buying warlord slots then.
Damnit. Lol. I get the feeling not much is really known about rands because there are a lot of "background" holes in the rules, but it sounds really good just from the brief description we do get. High-value barter credit. Can't be magicked. Sounds awesome.
What happens to rands when a unit croaks or is disbanded? We don't have canon on this. can they set up a will to automatically give all their rands to another caster of their side? Do rands even matter to anyone except individual casters? Can overlords order casters to spend rands? Do overlords/kings even KNOW about rands?
Maybe overlords/kings don't know about rands in the comic, but players in an MMO would know about them if they had read the comic. Maybe orders concerning rands could be considered an exploit as far as the MMO is concerned, something that an overlord/king would be reluctant to do lest they be reported. Otherwise newly popped casters may find themselves with strange orders regarding their personal rand supply. But if the caster could say, "hey, that's considered an out of game exploit and I'm asking you to not ask me to do that." the overlord/king could reconsider. But if they popped some casters that they were already friends with they could arrange something like this.
I think rands are only useful between casters, and can't be spent to buy scrolls or anything like that, just for personal training or whatever. I think it could be done well, and definitely done poorly. I'd hate to see it done grindy-mmo style with "kill 5 rats for a rand that you will spend learning the same re-named spell 1000 times over for 100 levels" quests.
Do casters invent spells? How does it work? We don't know enough about Erfworld magic yet...
What about magic items? Likewise.
Level cap? I don't know if there's a level cap in erfworld. One character in the comic mentions a "level million" but is probably not serious, just saying that to get someone else to shut up about levels. Maybe level 10 as the starting cap would be good, to keep folks from grinding too much. Leveling is supposed to be slow. Tutorials shouldn't take the character to level 10. Maybe level 2 or 3, to help them out a little. The rest they should see from actual combat with sides. There's always an exploit... allied sides could 'practice' against each other, letting each other kill disposable units. In the comic this would be frowned upon at best, maybe inconceivable. Might cause units to turn, disband, or defect. In game this might be considered an exploit that earned a temporary/permanent ban. Lots of issues with MMOs and folks gaming the system, every aspect of it will have to be examined with a Parson-like attitude for exploits, loopholes, etc.
Game rules vs MMO rules: We don't know enough about Erfworld to construct a full set of rules. That's part of the fun of the comic, slowly discovering the world and it's rules, and how they can be bent by a clever mind, alongside Parson as he learns about it and works on breaking it.
But a lot of the things that would be exploits for an MMO wouldn't be possible in Erfworld, with each unit being an actual person with wants, needs, feelings, etc. Orders to suicide or disband for the heck of it, borderline exploit combat training, etc.. a lot could be countered with special rules and GM observation of a side's behavior.. maybe for training, allow allied sides to "spar" - that hasn't been a subject in the comic, whether units can train off each other and level without killing each other. It hasn't been said that it's not possible either. I don't know how much of erfworld's internal ruleset has actually been defined. I know some things have been retconned, and I support the decision if it makes for a better story. Erfworld the MMO would need a ruleset that was as close to Erfworld the comic as is possible. Another MMO re-skinned as Erfworld would suck. We have a ton of those. But an MMO designed to be as like Erfworld as possible, with custom rules close to Erfworld's as possible for an MMO, and a well designed system of rules that allowed for a good game experience would be awesome. It would be mostly PVP, that's kinda the point of Erfworld, but if done well it would be tons of fun and a completely unique MMO that fills a niche that has been almost totally ignored by the existing MMO market. (Totally ignored by the mainstream MMO market.)
If it was done well, with nice graphics and sound, a good game client, a compelling storyline, good GM interaction, excellent Charlie interaction, etc. it could be completely awesome.
The problem is, it would spoil the comic a bit to know all the rules, that's part of the fun. I think the MMO would probably have to wait until a LOT more of the comic was known.
A lot of the MMO rules could be adapted to a boxed game set ruleset. In the comic, it's a big strategergy game basically, with an especially imaginative player involved currently, and a relatively lenient and creative GM. It would do well as an 8-player boxed set, maybe with one player being GM, and another being charlie for big games or a combined role for smaller ones, maybe shared with a player roll for smaller than 8 games. Maybe an additional small boxed set for games > 8 players. Would need to be good value of course and include things to extend the regular game.
Overlord's "game" table in MMO: big one. How does it work? Well, if no thinkamancer/lookamancer, they use models from a box, henchmen to move the pieces around manually, and scouts, runners, messangers, and natural thinkamancy to handle the updates. A lot of that could be handled automatically by NPCs. It could be handled manually by players too for the full-on experience. (Ok, maybe it's just me who thinks it would be cool to be a player chief warlord, for a player overlord/king, giving orders to players while manually moving pieces around the game board to show updates. It shouldn't be too difficult for players to control, let them click to move an updated piece, or manually "push" it with a 3d control, and give them an easy way to update/reset the board by just clicking to have them 'automatically' do it via npc control. NPCs should probably be standing around the board, but they should not just do idle animations of "BS shoving pices around only not really J/K!" - if it shows them push a piece, it should be because they actually pushed a piece, because a unit actually moved, as reported by a scout/runner/natural thinkamancy/thinkamancer/lookamancer/(what did I miss?).
Overlord should have to walk his/her boop over to the table to see what is going on, (unless accompanied wherever else they happen to be by a thinkamancer/foolamancer?) How much of that tri-cast table was foolamancy... The entire thing? Could a foolamancer with up-to-date unit info project the image of a table? One of the comic story sections mentioned Jack helping to run a table. But the art showed him using figurines, and the story mentioned him using figurines rather than projecting the image of a table, or the image of units onto an existing table. To conserve juice? Because he wasn't ordered? A LOT of the comic leaves this stuff vague, which is interesting, keeps people thinking of how and why, and different interpretations of each. If the rules of Erfworld were entirely spelled out already there would be nothing to argue about.
The MMO should probably conceal as much of the ruleset behind walls as possible, it seems like most units only have a basic understanding of the rules themselves. Yeah they might know that flying units can't be attacked above a forest except by forest units, but they might not realize they can be completely fooled into thinking a base hex was located at a certain spot.
Knowing it is possible and not thinking the enemy will do it are two different things, one reason I think overlords/kings/rulers should all be players rather than predictable NPCs.
World size would need to account for the possibility of this getting really popular, and there being a lot of rulers, as well as for the game to attract a smaller niche and have less sides. Probably a map that can be expanded if necessary.
Clever map design could keep too many sides from becoming too close to one another. Even if a mega side happened, it could have less than 24 possible neighbors, to allow for 1h turns. That seems like a good amount of time for daily turns. Weekly turns may be too much. Then again a game map could be cleverly designed so that only so many sides could be within range of one another. I imagine the mechanics of the game as portrayed by the comic are kinda like this too. The only possibility for breaking this is the arkentools, and only then would it really be a combination of these attuned to one side that would break the game model. Maybe that could switch the game to a different mode. (After all, arkenhammer+arkenpliers=infinite 0-upkeep decrypted dwagons.) Also, arkentools don't necessarily attune to everyone, they could be found by someone but not able to put to use until a certain point.)
One big world? (Ideal) or multiple servers? I think a honking huge map would be better. -10000x10000 to 10000x10000 or maybe even larger? Numbers came from uranus. Maybe -1mil to +1mil x and y. Sides that choose to start 'safely' should probably be 1000 hexes from their neighbors or more, if that fits comic lore.
It's said that the world is larger than any one side realizes, but I don't know if that means it will follow MMO-ish rules or if it's just a really big strategy game.
Turn cone: like a light cone. based on maximum possible movement of a unit. Sides only share a turn order with sides inside their turn cone, because it doesn't matter if they are outside each other's maximum possible sphere of influence. However, large sides cause problems with this, and the more sides a side is closer to, the more possible issues there are with conflicts and diminishing amount of time a side can move outside their hex.
Turns: 1 RL day? Maybe 1 week? Server would need to calculate each side's turn cone. sides outside each other's possible turn cone (max distance a unit can travel * 2, or * 3 to allow for fudge factor plus mounted units with their own travel) can go at the same time without it mattering. What about a Ansom, mounted on a dwagon, carrying his carpet? He could go FAR if the move on that carpet is high. And then dismount and carry his carpet further?
If in range, could be limited to no more than 1/(sides+you in Turn Cone) th of a turn's RL length. Warning this might get tiny for sides in range of a lot of other sides. This below becomes important:
Important: ASK overlords/kings WHEN they want to take their turn and adjust initial turn order to match, in the beginning. Insert new overlords and warlords into turn order at their desired time if possible. Record logged times and note recommendations for turn order time or activity time to undecided or those who haven't set a preference. Also ask regular infantry/warlords when they want to play. Maybe allow them to swap sides (cost? maybe one free one?) if another side fits better? Could allow units to travel 1 hex away even "off turn" as long as no specials pop during off-turn, and the hex is not occupied by non-allied forces. Include optional auto-return to assigned hex function if turn begins or another side enters into conflict with that hex.
Chief warlords should have a lot of power, and also be able to give a lot of power to their underlings, so that a given side could all work together and do what needs to be done within their time frame.
Turns: Turn order problems aside, can units plan turns in advance? I think so, let the overlord plan maybe a week ahead or two, to account for vacations, etc. Differentiate between "away" orders and real-time orders, chief warlords, warlords, casters should be able to override "away" orders easily - "He/she doesn't know about THIS, that order doesn't make sense anymore..." - every basic unit should understand that, I can't think of a comic that mentions it directly.. I think the one with the dwagons crapping is the closest, but hard to tell if the one unit is just stuck-up or is that intent on orders... But a warlord or chief warlord, or caster, should be able to override that.
Turn order could be reassigned every X turns based on stated preference (with recorded actual gameplay times offered as a preference if the user hasn't set one) Warlords could be offered a chance, once they've completed the tutorials, to switch to another side that better matches their gameplay times and style (closer to active combat, or a quieter side far away from enemies)
Per comic, allied sides go at the last turn out of the entire alliance? I'm pretty sure that's right.
For quests, they should be tutorials, and nobody should ever need to be instructed by a player to not follow the quest tutorials. So if one of the combat tutorials pops, say, wolves, and instructs you to kill them, they shouldn't be tameable or probably even interactable with by anyone not currently involved in that quest. A combat tutorial can pop a small animal nest near town and away from the roads, have the player kill it.
Forced tutorial? No point in forcing an experienced player through the tutorial again. If they went through it once, perhaps each subsequent unit of the same type should pop at whatever ending level the tutorial takes them to. (tutorial levels players so they stand out from the crowd. Could also have orders default to let any level 2 unit be the 'mini warlord' of their stack.
More tutorial. Different unit types need their own tutorials. Warlords have more of a role than just sentient unit and casters have almost their own game entirely. Their tutorial needs to focus on magic item creation, spending of juice and rands, as well as at least a little bit of combat, such as creating and commanding their summoned/created units if they are summoners or creators of some kind. And of course, casting spells. Chief warlords need their own tutorial too. Rulers need their own tutorial entirely, which should include everything everyone else knows, except perhaps casters. I get the feeling that non-casters only know about magic from what casters tell them unless they are particularly observant. (Sizemore says no other warlord asked, but that was just GW. Maybe other warlords know a lot more than the basics?)
The final quest in the tutorial series for new players could have them go meet their warlord, chief warlord, and ruler. If they've followed the tutorials and maybe participated in a few real battles, they could get promoted to warlord.
While playing the tutorial, players should probably respawn rather than perma-die, or always respawn if they die to npcs at least. Probably don't want to give sides too many reason to lock out new members. Could be exploited by players, running all their units into a meatgrinder one at a time. How do you tell the difference between a griefer and a bad player?
Game should probably offer a single-player tutorial that runs through all the stuff, that could be an alternative to an in-game tutorial that pops tutorial units and does other !Erfworld stuff. Once users 'graduate' the F2P tutorial they could play the game.
There should be basic quests in the form of TUTORIALS ONLY, just simple stuff that explains combat mechanics, etc, I'm not talking about lv 1-100 grindfests, but something that may level a person once or twice and teach them how the game works. Quests should ONLY be TUTORIALS. BASIC STUFF. GET IT? ORLY? YARLY! SRSLY! LOL!
unordered list of stuff a player can do, and would need to be taught about
fighting, foraging, flight (for non-heavies), travelling across hexes, picking up new equipment, understanding and executing chief warlord or overlord orders, participating in a battle, defending a hex, attacking a hex, city defense and attacks,
Oooh hey the 'flight tutorial' could be one of the last ones the player experiences, and it takes them to the front lines of their side.
or to meet their ruler/chief warlord/etc. Of course if there is something to do near the hex they are in, or there are existing orders for them to go to another hex, that should be a priority.
Beta players could get to start as a royal side - they could still have to buy the box? but only need regular to be royal. What do they get for collector's if they were beta? Maybe more territory, and they start as a titanic royal side - can trace lineage to time of titans lol
- a ruler that popped in the time of the titans, unattainable by any other means. Maybe everyone that was in beta gets to be titanic, but collector's edition would have to offer some real in-game benefits as well as lots of fun trinkets to appeal to folks. Lots of extra invitations, maybe enough to invite nearly their entire guild hint hint. They could promote extra friends from F2P basic unit to warlord for schmuckers too, as per comic, letting a whole ton of friends play for free.
Beta wipe vs transitioning the entire thing to live so that kingdoms are already established: Could avoid a wipe if some things were changed. Any glitches/unfair advantages would have to be accounted for. Could cap schmcukers at a certain amount, or restrict sides to only founding x cities in beta.. or force them to abandon cities till they fall below X before release.
Respawning or permadeath? I can imagine most engagements wouldn't be anything other than completely one-sided if permadeath was implemented. Even tho it's completely against everything the comic says. Maybe units could lose a level? Or it could be implemented in some other way? Popping into an existing npc unit of the same type for the same side? But if permadeath is enabled I can see a lot of problems because of it, even tho that would fit the comic story the best, and I think I'd like to see an MMO that did permadeath, but maybe this one isn't the best one. Then again, it is how the game works. Maybe any costs associated with it are one-time fees that unlock a "slot" which works like SWG's jedi slot. If your jedi died, guess what? Roll a new one. Maybe it is the same for overlords/kings, and casters? For warlords, could a player just 'take over' an NPC warlord for the same side if available, or given the choice to wait for the next warlord for that side to pop, or to pop for a new side? Same for caster? Basic units can just take over another NPC unit for that side or another side (give them the choice)
Permadeath would probably be the biggest issue this mmo faces, but if it's enabled, non-essential units could just repop into one of the existing NPC-controlled units. For larger ones like warlords and casters, if their side has an NPC they could repop into one. Casters are high value targets so it is likely all sides would have orders to try to capture rather than kill. Warlords are high value but usually killed, however sides could set up 'automatic payments' ready to offer an attacking side to not kill a warlord.. npcs could be given this command automatically and it could be a default command setting for commanding player units. That might help solve issues with most fights being rather one-sided. But still allow the setting to be changed for realism. Chief warlords, overlords and kings are obviously high value targets, and it depends on if a side is really trying to wipe out someone or not.
Permadeath is something that seems like it would be a real PITA to deal with, since if it exists, each side would be careful to only engage in combat that they were sure to win. Or they would only be attacked by folks who thought they could almost certainly win.
Pre-set "offers"? Carpool offered Transylvito schmuckers to not attack and sack their cities. Presumably Some presets could be put in place to avoid similar loss of life. Automatically offer attacking side X schmuckers to not attack a city, etc etc. Could help offset permadeath somewhat.
Disbanded? Maybe like death the unit could pop again to their side into an npc unit of the same type and level, or offered a choice to pop to another side as that unit type, or repop as a different type (or other standard character creation options available to their membership level.)
Perhaps Permadeath would only happen when a unit was battling a player or participating in a large-scale battle? Or maybe folks just have to suck it up and deal with permadying even while offline? Units in Erfworld face that daily. (While offline the player would be NPC-controlled)
Do-able, tricky, definitely possible to do wrong and will sink faster than a rock if so.
If done right, could be an awesome fun game, and a good producer of revenue for a company and/or investors.