November 2nd, 2012
During all my writing over the years describing the ins and outs of ToA—under both Forged Chaos and Shadowpool Studios—I’ve been very careful in not using fancy marketing terms and catch phrases when describing our designs. This is mostly because they are over-used and borderline cliche. I mean, how many times have you seen ‘revolutionary’ next to a game feature in the last week alone?
That said, I am going to use a term to describe our innovation system I don’t think I’ve ever used before in any capacity. I would never use this term lightly, especially in the public’s eye, but in this case its a perfect fit in so very many ways. Plus, it is the one word that speaks the truth to what it can be to MMO gaming…
Think about it. To evolve is to take the next logical step forward and that is exactly what our innovation system is poised to allow. It will evolve the way new content is introduced in a MMO to a system that feels far more natural. It gives the players, the overall game, and even the developers benefits that I hope I can properly portray in this article.
Before we talk about the benefits, lets cover how one goes about getting an innovation. It’s as simple as using your skills. As you use your skills, there will be an ever-present chance that you could have a ‘moment of clarity’ and learn an innovation. The innovation will always be tied to the skill you were practicing and as well as how skilled you are in said skill.
Once an innovation has been learned, it will be turned off and nobody else can learn it via skill use.
A learned innovation is yours to do with what you wish. You can keep it a secret, you can sell its product (assuming its an innovation that produces a product), you can even teach the innovation to others for them to use. It’ll be up to you. Just keep in mind that giving your innovation to even one person means you lose control over it as they too can pass it on.
We’re hoping this will put both the innovator and those wanting the innovation into moral conflict. Imagine you have innovated a new weapon that could surely help your entire settlement but there is no way you alone can keep up with such crafting demands. Do you pass it along to other crafters so they can help you keep the settlement properly supplied with this advantageous weapon? What if you were a crafter and fellow citizen to this innovator and you knew you could become incredibly wealthy by selling this weapon elsewhere? Would you keep to your moral compass or would you consider taking the innovation from him against his will? The mind swims with all the possible intrigue!
There is a certain amount of danger of involuntarily losing your innovation. Unconsciousness was introduced into ToA’s design to give a buffer between life and death. We decided to use this design as a relatively straight-forward way to include interrogation. Someone with interrogation skills can attempt to pry knowledge from your character while he or she is unconscious, including any known innovations. You will still retain the innovation but they too will have it.
The innovation system will allow for actual organic propagation of items. No longer will you log in one day and every smith can suddenly make a new weapon. Instead, you must go find a person that knows how to make the weapon and convince him to teach you ... or try to take it from him forcefully. What gets propagated around TerVarus and what doesn’t will be up to the players, not us, meaning each player can heavily influence the worlds direction and story lines.
As developers it gives us the ability to add content in an organic way that just isn’t being done in today’s MMOs. For example we’ll be continuously piping in new innovations so you won’t have to wait (or pay for) the next expansion to see new content, thus giving the world a more natural progression as time moves on. It will also allow us to align the release of innovations with ongoing story lines our interactive team will be running.
So ask yourself - what will you do if your character is the lucky one to learn how to make a new stronger metal? What if she discovers a new combat technique that gives her an edge in combat? What if he discovers only one of a set of innovations that will bring about something as grandiose as TerVarus’s first ship? Pretty exciting stuff, huh?!