I realized this morning that I hadn’t posted on the forums anything about what I’ve been working on, not even pointing people to where I was planning on posting for the month. Sorry about that for those who follow along via the feeds or digests here!
Looking at my last update, there has been a lot of progress made on deciding what my MMO really was going to be about. It’s too early to announce an actual partnership with an author, but I had a chance to have some great conversations with a successful author who has always wanted to build an MMO. It’s been an excellent opportunity for me to take a step back and stop being overwhelmed by the worldbuilding task ahead of me.
The biggest takeaway from my reflections after the first conversation is that, while I do love astronomy, science, and space, the books I fill my spare time with are inevitably Epic Fantasy. The reason I convinced myself I wanted to build a space game was partly due to my nostalgic memories of Escape Velocity and a crutch: It’s straightforward to expand the universe by inventing a way to reach new places. In a game with a single world at its center, it can feel constraining, and I wanted to build an MMO that lived on for ages.
Once I started re-evaluating the reasons behind my decision to pursue Cosmic Verge, it was: 1) Space is easy to add content to, 2) Nostalgia, and 3) I liked the name. Naturally, the next problem to solve was naming this new project. As the title of this post and the category name imply: The Honor Sagas is the working title of my MMO now.
I’ve long been fascinated by the world of martial arts, but even more so, I’ve loved the lore of the Samurai. I played Ghosts of Tsushima after hearing some wonderful podcast episodes by various people who worked on the game. I find it wonderful how a game with such brutal combat can also have sequences of meditation and poem composition.
One day I was curious about what exactly Bushido entailed, and I started reading. I quickly determined that there are a few different versions with varying numbers of virtues. I encountered one list of seven virtues that spoke the most to me, but as I started trying to describe what each virtue was, I got stumped. Honor (meiyo) was a virtue, yet the other six virtues seemed to cover all variations of the definition of Honor I could come across.
The beautiful concept that I realized is that if you combine the remaining six virtues into their own code, the effect would not mean the same thing as if you add Honor the list. Each of the six remaining virtues all in some way relates to acting with honor. However, without explicitly stating that Honor is itself one of the virtues to uphold, each of the other virtues can be twisted for one’s own personal gains. By grounding all of the virtues in honor, it unites them into a force for good.
That last realization cemented a vision in my head: 6 individual stats and one core “Honor” level that impacted them all. As you level each virtue up, your overall honor level is increased. You will be rewarded for each virtue based on the actions you take within the world.
Resetting the world
One challenge with building an MMO is balancing an economy. It’s no secret that most MMOs are plagued with botters who will farm resources 24/7. These bad actors wreak havoc on the economies within the games. Through exploring the concept of worldbuilding and the challenges of building a game with the author I mentioned, I hit upon the realization that the Rogue-lite genres I love so much can lend some design inspiration.
The Wheel of Time is an excellent example of a way to world-build an epic fantasy story around the concept of a world being repeatedly ‘played.’ While we only get to see one chronology play out, we see glimpses of other chronologies through visions, stories, and relics. My thoughts turned to the idea, what if we reset the world, and the core gameplay is trying to guide an interactive story by helping heroes accomplish their goals? It would enable each “era” of the reset to unfold differently. It also allows me a natural progression of building the story from a smaller timeline into a larger timeline.
If the world completely reset each time the evil forces won, many people would be discouraged from losing all of their progress. The current idea is to allow some carry-over correlating to what all you accomplished in the previous eras, most importantly, retaining some of your Honor.
Where to follow along?
I’ve been participating in #Devtober, and have been making devlog posts on the game’s itch.io page. On days that I either didn’t have enough to share for a full devlog or just was too tired, I’ve been posting on my Twitter. After Devtober, I’ll resume posting here and probably mirror my posts here to the devlog on itch.io. Until then, however, I’m planning on finishing up the month on just itch.io and Twitter.
Here are my devlog posts so far for those who want to dig in a bit deeper:
- Devtober Day 1 - What is Untitled all about?
- Devtober Day 2: Starting procedural tilemap generation
- Devtober Day 5: Now we fantasy
- Devtober Day 9: Introducing The Honor Sagas
- Devtober Day 12: Map Syncing + Editing
I’ll post here again in early November, summarizing Devtober. Thank you for following along on my progress!