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More interesting items/ideas for a Bioshock Rapture MMORPG
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Additional styles of Hacking type Mini-Games :
Maybe they could have had the color (red.green/white/blue) bars shift in a pattern that you would have to also watch. Pushing the needle yourself (the wandering sniper rifle gunsite mechanism) could have made it alot more interesting (but maybe tedious after the 15th time you had to do it).
- Workings 2 sticks thru little holes to move little components around (mouse and arrow keys - both hands)
- A simple space invaders style, advance the probe to activate the defenses
- Pac Man style (2D), trace the circuit
- Sliding tile puzzle (time limit)
- Tetris style *(dropping components in to 'bridge' the circuit to unlock the system
- Doom style, thread the maze to find the circuit... Watch out for the ADAM-pumped roaches
Question for some of these - is are they some kind of copyright issue to use a similar mechanism to a 'classic' game....
Multi-staged hacking for really good stuff (progressive - you decide when to stop as it gets harder..)
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Content Localization (Idea of way to get it done) :
Player Asset Creation 'localization' Sub-communities with goals of translating the game to different languages. Such tasks might be quite significant when you think of all the text translations for every object, sign translation, NPC quip and statement and quest story (let alone any voice recording). Turtorials, game instructions, tool documentation would add even more work for each lanquage.
The Company doesnt want to spend money to do the translations (thats why they skip so many), but they might arrange to get cooperation from various countries' Universities (their native language departments) to do such a thing, as a (ongoing) project. I could see alot of debate/discussion about the right equivalent phraseology, as the game offers many unusual situational contexts. Someone responsible would also have to make sure invalid/wrong/inappropriate translated text did not find its way inserted into the 'official' game data.
The collaboration effort could pay off, besides by the real world experience for the Universities students, in some number of free play accounts as a token compensation and visible credit for the achievement.
The game engine system would have to be set up to facilitate it (the usual subtitles systems for picture signs, subtitles for unchanged audio voice assets, and substitution of text assets). There could be tools to rebuild a subset of langauge specific pre-rendered assets to be substituted into the game asset 'dictionary' (substitution flavors for the data sent to the client both static and dynamically).
The Asset Creation Collaboration syste would be directly useful to organize and drive the tasks involved (which include getting new asssets to translate every time a new Asset is accepted and added to the game).
All the same roles and accountability and vetting processes would be used, as well as the forums for discussions/assistance.
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In BS2 Little Billy Parson mentions "Comic Book Hero". What kind of comic books would there be in Rapture? (Obviously printed locally)
- Some form of Superman (who saves the Great Chain somehow, every other issue)
- The Fumigator - who fights Parasites who theaten the Undersea World (chrome gasmask breathing gear is his symbol)
- Adventures of Squirmy the Seaslug, Diver Dan, and Captain Rapture (and his Dollar Hunters)
- Sea Monkey ads... and "Can you draw Sparkey - Sander Cohens Art School wants you!!"
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NPC AI building Tools :
The GAme Industry desperately need to get out of the rut they are in with the simplistic AI and as in the publishing industry, proper AI programming tools could make that happen.
Problem : games where NPC usually stand like mannequins oblivious to actions you take (or often only activating when you are 20 feet away) or they do something irrelevant because the NPCs were not programmed to handle You doing *THAT* (excuse - the programming cost too much, too much trouble to bother with it, no play will EVER do that, etc...).
Problem : games that run EXACTLY the same way every time because they are heavily choreographed - the situations cannot be mutatable (nice to give additional replay value) because it breaks the expensively hand-crafted very-specific behavior logic created for those heavily choreographed situation/scenes. Similarly, the number of unique 'situations' in any particular game is getting fewer because of the cost is so high for each 'mission' scenario.
Solution : a tool to assist the building/programming of situation analysis logic, which would be run thru real game situations to build generalized NPC behavior logic. It would be highly automated to eliminate many of the very tedious operations that can make this process so slow (and costly and require very high expertise).
Basically it presents a Test User 'Trainer' with real game situations and asks what factors were important for the decision (in that situation), and then what an appropriate (re)action was proper to the state of those factors. After a while, similarity of situation would have the system (generalizing) telling you what it estimates the important factors to be and its proposed reaction -- for the test user to confirm or make corrections (to elaborate the logic for a special/additional endcase). A possible extension of such a system is 'observing the Player' and noting the actions taken in normal play (to build cases for an NPCs 'proper reactions').
That 'learning system' could speed up the logic building by many (many) times (cost $$$ effective over hand coding and testing ). That generalized logic would be accumulated and applied to all game 'scene' situations (eliminating alot/most scene-custom logic - at some point the built-up general logic has a cross-over point of cost effeciveness, over using custom-built logic). Something like that is already done with common combat NPC scripting logic, but this goes beyond those simplistic scripts in versatility. Existing/current scripting is expensively hand crafted, when a good tool would streamline that whole process.
An associated assistant tool would traverse the existing 'factoring/reacting' logic to see where gaps exist, to guide 'situation selection' to achieve sufficent coverage of all the possible situational cases. (This system suggests combinations it still needs base on what 'factors' have been identified in the game.)
Another tool would help create needed in-game 'situations' - some kind of arena composer to easily/quickly drop desired game elements together to test (including players avatar state). Optimizing this part of the process speeds things up (finding 'likely' situations can be via extracting them from recordings of Real Players test playing the game).
All of these tools would be designed to take 'hints' to start off the logic knowledge base, with the system becoming more and more automated as the data becomes mature, to the point where the user is only tweaking' the logic when needed (to add another special case the logic doent handle yet).
A Game's development would have the NPCs logic progressively changing and growing as the entire process moves forward (as the game mechanics and the NPC logic evolves). In complicated games, NPCs react to each other, as well as react to a Player's actions - thus the NPC logic will have to adjust as all NPCs logic progresses (gets smarter/more versatile). You would have iterations to evolve all the NPCs game logic as each one got better. The system also build up a set of test cases (situations) that can short-cut rebuilding the logic when other developers suddenly decide to drasticly change the game mechanic logic. The automated system would have the existing AI run thru all the recorded situations to see if any adjustment is required (as decided by the human tester).
A further 'intelligence' is for NPCs 'cooperating' against the Player or assisting the Player (a real source of belief breaking mal-behavior in current games -- the utterly stupid sidekicks). It would be a real improvement to have this AI ability better handled. Its actually a complicated task to make an AI do that - but now the Company would have more resouirces available to do so.
In Addition -- the above tools could be available to the player's Asset Creations Community to be used to improve the game's AI many-fold (there are MANY talented players who could use this prcess and go far beyond what the Company is capable of).
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Good ole Standbye - Vampires :
What are Little Sisters afters all ? (though they dont do living humans). Big Sisters do suck the life out of Splicers to heal themselves ... Various Splicers, being insane, might get the idea of doing the same with varying degrees of success (many just an ineffective obsession). Some technically savvy Splicers might actually find ways of simulating the Little Sisters/Big Sisters techniques.
Disfunctional Family (The Rapture Family's Fate) :
The "Rapture Family" fell apart without Lamb's dictating to them, and Wales' zealotry. The Family's Splicers were again disorganized and fragmented, with some small groups of the 'less insane' trying to keep things together. Various Splicers with ambition seized power (and critical resources) and set up their own fiefdoms, fighting with each other for territory. Result - more refugees fleeing, who found little better...
With Wales gone and the Cult having lost its Beloved Leader and Holy Vessel and many of the 'disciples' slaughtered, there was much disorganization and infighting in the ranks. With food production disrupted, many Splicers reverted to their old ways of terrorizing the place and holding on to whatever they could manage to grab.
That section of Rapture's infrastructure managed somehow to continue functioning, but given enough time would have failed without intervention. Big Daddies continued with some repairs, but areas like much of Persephone limited what repairs they could do.
The remainders of 'The Rapture Family' began to call Sofia Lamb the 'Judas Goat' for leading them astray and then abandoning them. This was encouraged by the new wannabee leaders of the breakup groups which had to discredit that old 'Beloved Leader'. Simply saying that Lamb talked so many into killing themselves was an easy argument).
The New City will eventually expand further into Lambs ex-domain and will try to save Splicers but at the same time havingto fight the hostile factions that still exist there. Propaganda efforts to try to reach the unfortunates (those treated as serfs by Lamb and her minions) are often thwarted by the local factions, and stronger methods may be required.
What Industrialist or Big Businessman would have come to Rapture except to escape World Destruction or to retire ? :
They couldn't bring their large business with them or their customers (at least in scale - a city of 20000-40000 is a very small market - hundreds of customers instead of hundreds of thousands). Trying to bring their production methods likely would be difficult if not impossible, and eventually materials they required no longer would be accessible. Consumer consumption is limited even with middle-class or better spending patterns.
Thus the smaller entrepreneurs and technical innovators would have had greater opportunities (they would have to develop their production before they could sell (and customers would then need to want to buy).
Many attempts to adapt would be tried and those that worked would then grow. New products from the new Rapture technologies would likewise become opportunities.
It would be an interesting situation because of the various 'rich' people who escaped to Rapture. They would have enough money to buy the first gimmicky 'prestige' items, and allow funding further development to make the product into 'consumer grade' (much cheaper) items available to all.
With New Rapture and its even smaller population (but with an ambition of bringing back the old lifestyle), that opens possibilities for small business operations (player run without too much tedium). Construction/reconstruction too is a new resurgent business, that will be larger than consumer goods.
Sealife for the MMORPG :
Those aquarium computer programs have been around for many years, so creating a variety of fish should be no problem (shapes and colorations and movements.
Various coral, sponge, shellfish, plants can likewise be created (with and without the glowing bits).
More behaviors for them (many specific to type and species) to make them much more interesting. Similar scripting to how NPC behavior is done, allows alot of interesting possibilities.
Direct interaction with Players and NPCs is fully possible, and Quest/Missions would exist to make them as much part of the game as everything else is.
Gatherers Garden Machines - ADAM goes in, Plasmids/Tonics come out :
Raw ADAM is not directly useable. Refined ADAM is dispensed in exchange for twice or more Raw ADAM (for 'payment' - thats why there is no coin slot for 'profit'). The ADAM refinement unit in the Vending Machine is fairly sophisticated in its miniturize form and thus is worthy of a Bounty in New Rapture.
The Gatherers Gardens were a clever method of inducing people to recycle ADAM (Though you would think that with Little Sisters being a target to acquire that ADAM when a Splicer had no ADAM from 'reward payments' or wages, it really wasnt so clever in that it encourage killing Little Sisters...)
Imprinting the pattern for genetic modification - an added ADAM mutagen drives the rapid formation of T-Cells and then modification at the cellular level. Some modifications take a larger amounts of T-Cells and thus more ADAM. Some Plasmids require multiple combination patterns to be applied to make the necessary changes and are more complex and cost more
The BS1/BS2 games required that the Gatherers Garden Machines were not hackable - not hackable by Jack or Delta. The high value contents of these machines would have meant they would have much more sophisticated anti-hacking counter-measures and defenses. Short of breaking the machines open (they seem indestructable enought to have been constructed out of Ryanium, an attempt at hacking may result intentionally in a poisonous plasmid/tonic/ADAM instead of anything useful. As time went on (when the Chaos started), and more than a few machines failed, the Splicer Factions may have started protecting the remaining machines they were dependant on.
Storylines of Text :
Someone commented in the forums that the Audio Diaries helped get away from the reading of text for the Quest plot/storylines (which can be tiring and lacking the impact as well a halting the action) . Unless voice recordings can be easily included into Quests, the game would have to fall back to text (and maybe diagrams).
Proper voice acting with proper inflections etc.. these might be hard(er) to come by (and so inconsistantly be applied in the MMORPG game). Transmission of the recording Assets may be a seperate problem (though I suppose the player could wait and buffering can be used - after all it takes time to read text also). Text-to--Voice technologies are probably still far in the future (for the quality we would want).
I could see a few good/talented Collaborators taking existing text-based Quests/Mission and upgrading them with replacement voice Assets. No doubt background sound effects and recording envelopes/artifacts would be created to assist -- some players would be skilled sound mixers to collaborate with the voice talent.
Lamb Psychiatry Poster - "Test your DNA" :
Poster seen in Paupers Drop, would have dated from the Pre-Civil War, Pre-Lamb-locked-up-for-Sedition period. Posters had other psycho-babble stuff you would expect, but why "Test your DNA in out state-of-the-art Facility" ?? So she was already up to no good at that point. Who was she dealing with to get connections to genetics-oriented science (audio diaries indicated it wasnt Fontaine) or was she experimenting with some kind of chemical manipulation at this point (assisted by some ethics-free technician associates)?
To glow or not to glow... :
Playing the Solo games, most of the goodies you find laying about are pretty obviously out in the open (besides glowing). I did wish that to a moderate extent they had a few that you had to look for a bit more (best probably random in 3 or 4 different optional locations each --- for replay value). In the MMORPG, there will be many more items (many to pick through and more not overly useful) and many well hidden (under wreckage or hidden by Splicers from each other). So many that if they all glowed it would be rather distracting. Im not sure if the 'glowing' help mechanism will be partially present as a skill based ability (Spidey Sense 'glow' or some selection when actively searching for specific things, maybe a sound indicator when in proximity as an alternative ( to go along with sensing danger indicators).
Better game because of Collaboration :
Instead of putting as much money and effort into creating Assets/Levels for 'Expansions' the Game Company can work on better game mechanics and effects and AI for the NPCs. Too many MMORPGs get new terrain and quests which are pretty much just clones of what was done before, periodically with some significant addition to the game mechanics to try to give the players something new to play with and new grinds to keep them busy.
There still will be the work of vetting/validating the new content, but a process can be devised to do much more preliminary testing and validation to minimize work required by Company Personnel. Players are willing to do that kind of activity and with the game engine itself having many tools to automate and greatly streamline that process, much more can be achieved than any Company could afford to produce by itself.
Old Newspapers ... :
Industrial Revolution for Infinite is using Columbia newspaper clippings for backstory (they may put them in the main game also???). Anyway, old newspapers you find around Rapture would have some value (the City would have some Bounty on them - for the City Archives. Those old papers contain information that might be useful in trying to figure out what happend and avoid future problems.
Generally, each 'Newspaper' would have some key article (which some creative Players could generate (writeup) many of) mentioning events in an expanded Rapture timeline and then some generic auto-generated filler. Such 'Newspaper' items might be used to contain some clues leading to Quests/Mission situations (using a similar mechanism to the randomizer used for Quest instancing to fill in pertinant unique information). This kind of Asset material would be highly tied to Lore/Canon so would require alot of vetting (and also be based on alot of expanded Lore and Canon information -- that itself would have to be created and carefully organized/coordinated/accepted).
The Newspapers would later be made available in the Archives which are a major source of Research in the game. Hiring a literate (bookworm) NPC into your 'Team' to search for you can save alot of time, as could paying NPC Research Companies. The whole mechanism is largely artificial (as benefitting the Task the player has to do "Research" for), but the basic knowledge information shown must fit the Canon/Lore that fills in Raptures storylines.
Some City 'Role' Quests might have a Player assembling/building-up/piecing-together a particular Rapture 'history' storyline from various info sources, which then would itself become part of the Archives. This 'story' of course is composed/fabricated by an Author and storyline is broken-up into parts and dumped into the detritus of Old Rapture (individaul newspaper-article/diaries/notes/recordings) for players to find . Some Quests would be suggested by these 'found' bits of info. Once found they are eventually turned in and put in the Archive.
The creation process for these fabricated sub-plots may be problematic as the open Creation Community would expose a story's info all together as Assets when submitted/reviewed/vetted. Having them Company produced to keep them secret returns back to the 'Company-built' bottleneck and cost problems. Possibly having them submitted to a limited/closed 'authorized set' of Player Reviewers, to keep them hidden from players could be sufficient. Any lore/canon they effect would have to be pre-approved as part of the process.
What would it gain a Player to 'cheat' outside the game to obtain these stories ?? (ditto from other Server Worlds where they already were 'discovered') ?? The Server knows what info story tidbits have been pickedup and turned in, so any 'Story Research' would be based on those data point 'objects' and not from ANY data typed in from outside (web searched) knowledge. Sure, they can post the info on websites, but it would not get them anything in the game itself. And since the distribution of the tidbits/clues/partial story factoids is random, they also get no clue of where to "pre-determine" where to look for them. As for the 'factoids' leading to valuable Quest locations (like one of Sinclair's many "stashes"), THAT can also be randomized on each Server World (each world's version would be mutated in certain ways rendering its specific details useless as clues to be used on some other Server World).
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The Haunted Prentis Mill Mansion :
Located outside 'Millville' (a small city cluster North of Welcome Center that was the first AE Station).
Home of the 'late' Prentis Mill, builder of the Atlantic Express, who eventually (allegedly) committed suicide after his vision for Raptures transportation system was hijacked by someone else.
With all the ADAM-induced 'ghosts' we saw in BS1 is this really anything special ??? Some people claim more than apparitions have happened in these 'hauntings'. The usual strange noises, bleeding walls and sudden cold spots (nothing unusual in Rapture) and the train model system seems to turn itself on in the middle of the night.
The para-normal center of Rapture (well the tourists brochures say so.... séance on weekends, all the usual tourist clap-trap....)
The MMORPG's choreography tools allow all kinds of 'production values' to be included in various 'experiences' whiich the players can witness there. A fertile source of plot related material - Prentis Mill being one of the key founders of Rapture - sufficient for a whole set of episodes.
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How to allow NPCs to act Smarter :
Server resources to be expanded for NPC AI - much more processing (magnitudes) compared to you typical 'dumb NPC' MMORPG which has very simplistic scripting and NPC behavior. The detail level of behavior will have to interact with a more complicated 'world' (more interactive objects and terrain and other NPCs).
AI processing nodes (server CPUs) will operate similarly to a Client node getting detailed information about an area and updates as NPCs and Players do actions and cause changes in that area. A Player Client usually gets alot of data about the area around the Player's avatar, in order to display it and have the Player interact with it.
The AI nodes would do similar, with each node controlling a local area (memory limits and complexity limits as to how large an area). Control of an area may be fluid, as Players moving around they cause the local AI to go into 'high gear' and then slow down to process in more abstract detail when there are no Players around to see it.
Player 'Team' NPCs may be able to be directed by AI running in a Player's Client machine (the GPU does most of the heavy lifting for the actual game, often leaving extra 'cores' largely idle much of the time). Team NPCs will need ALOT of smarts (processing), and if Client-based, may enable alot of optional modding and plug-ins. They also would take significant load off the central game Servers (the situation data is largely what is being sent to the Player already - so not excessively more network traffic would be needed). As I said, the NPC's AI will take ALOT of processing and utilizing the Players machines may greatly increase the whole system's AI capacity (equivalent to hundreds or thousands of Server machines).
NPCs acting more like Players - how to tell the difference :
Actually you should have no problem because NPCs are driven by AI scripting that really has no life to it.
I had an idea that some sequences of Player actions might be recorded in a reasonably benign situation (like in The City Center) and then have an NPC mimic the same movements :
- Standing AFK for 15 minutes til they simulate being auto-logged off,
- Standing at the 'Bank' looking through inventory, which noone else sees.
- Standing next to several other NPCs in a private conversation oblivious to everything else
- Runing around the terrain jumping over and off things, over and over and over.
- Suddenly doing some 'searching' animation action and then disappearing (teleport to some 'milestone' spot to facilitate playing in large world - return to city/house/raid location )
- Dueling another NPC within a fairly small area and applying heals while having the stuffing beat out of them.
- Repeatedly using some skill, trying to up the skill ability level artificially.
- Running thru street to some transportation hub to go elsewhere without ever looking at or interacting with anything around them.
Hmmm, that is the list of things Players in todays MMORPGs do most of the time while logged on. I think we need to do better than that to shown interesting play activities.
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Mineral Deposits near the geothermal area near Rapture :
Alot of real/natural concentration of minerals is caused by superheated water circulating underground disolving deep lying elements/minerals and flowing near the surface where a cooling temperature caused the material to precipitate out and gradually concentrate. Over long periods of time, deposits of very high concentrations of various minerals (making them worth the trouble of mining) can be built up.
Several sites near Rapture - Fumerole Alley mineral recovery. A different well technology designed to disolve useful minerals out of the subterranean rocks (where they have concentrated over the ages in the fissures via that natural process) and then recover them from the superheated water.
Sea Salt - The ancient sea salt evaporation process can recover certain Minerals directly from sea water - sodium, chlorine magnesium, potassium, calcium, sulfur, zinc, iodine. It requires alot of energy, but tapping into geothermals and doing further processing locally can be workable, and supply Rapture with important raw materials.
Mines - Some sites nearby to Rapture were possible to conventionally mine (dig it out of veins of concentrated minerals by machinery).
Prospecting for new sources and/or setting up a small mine/geothermal processing system can be one type of Quest/Missions in the MMORPG. No doubt, going out to repair/salvage existing sites would also be done.
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