Part 47 - The MMORPGs Creation Process (with Player Involvement/Collaboration) :
NOTE- I realize all of this is very boring, but it takes alot to explain something so different/revolutionary from how games are currently created. These are just the ideas - imagine how stultifyingly boring specifying ALL the full details about how this whole Process should work would be....
Requirements for the Player Created Asset system to work :
Non-Company people to do a bulk of the work ( which the Company isnt supposed to pay to create - saving alot of money which makes the whole game project viable monetarily ).
Coordinating a Community (which to be successful has to be fairly large) and sticking to stringent requirements for the process of building Assets for the game. Genre like 'Bioshock' needed to get sufficint people (later, once tools/process shown workable smaller genere may leverage the work already paid for).
Alot of improper/invalid/insufficient submissions (and people's egos) will have to be dealt with efficiently.
Must hold to strict process criterias (efficient testing and rejecting problematic Assets to wait for 'fixing').
Proper documentation for tools/process is absolutely required ...slow learning curve for tools will lose alot of potential users. Players contributions must be facilitated.
Game Company must get original Assets from Existing Bioshock Rapture games (BS1/BS2/MP/DLC) to allow recycling (a significant head start, timewise, moneywise). The Creation Community will take time to 'get up to speed' especially for the more intricate Assets (Quests/Missions), so having alot of pre-exist materials will improve initial state of game.
The Game Company is responsible for providing a complete (comprehensive) initial set/system of modular Templates/game mechanics/definitions/specs. Any segment which is missing will hold up the Games progress. Missing elements will need to be filled in fast as organizers discover what is missing and prioritize efforts.
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Lore/Canon/Genre Adherence :
The Creation Community would have fairly strict adherence rules, and a well published Policy/Set of Guidelines about what contributions will be accepted, and what will be immediately rejected. The worse thing is to waste other peoples time - the Players involved reviewing such Assets would not be being paid for their efforts and limited patience.
The Canon/Lore can be expanded to either fill in what happened between the previous detailed history (interpolation) or to extrapolate into the future time - the MMORPG takes place approximately 2 years after the Solo games (BS2/MD) stories.
The Game Company will have the (final) decisions about what will be allowed and provide additional Guidelines which are then used to judge Assets. The details have to 'fit' the previous knowledge or be a correction made for original conflicts/gaps/vagaries in the plot details (IE - Im not sure if 'WHEN Suchong died' was/is resolved - there was alot of debate in the Forum - someone trying to elaborate on his activities as plot for some Quest/Mission might need to have that clarified). A whole section of the MMORPG's Community Forum will probably be discussions about these conflicts in the existing Lore/Canon, and how to resolve them.
So again, Players who wish to create history related Assets (Flashbacks/Ghost stories/Quests/Documentaries/etc..) would be requested (as part of the nornmal process) to submit the exact details/references on any history being used in their Asset for a pre-review. This is to save everyone time. For rejections, Asset Reviewers may be able to quickly point to the Documented Guidelines where the divergance/conflict is spelled out, and send it immediately back to the Author for corrections. The Reviewers (and open commentary Forum) may be able to point out supporting information which at least can bring out related facts and hints for a valid resolution. Recommendations/suggestions which allow compliance can be made at the same time. Resubmitted Revisions would have their history and previous conclusions for the initial rejection (if those problems are not fixed it should be thrown immediately back to the Author).
This is the kind of activity that bloats into a major undertaking. Player creators (Authors) having to spell out proposals for Canon/Lore extensions they need, which would be reviewed by other Players, and eventually would go to a Company Employee designated to make decisions about what extensions/elaborations to allow (including all the 'issues'/complications identified). If rejected, the Company is also expected to supply a real reason, and provide clarification (of wehat has to be adhered to - which would be adedd to the Guidelines). The (properly organized) Company employee would have their own internal Guidelines/policies and notes to organize and coordinate that activity (for continuity and cohesion). A rejected Lore extension would be documented in the tracking system (with its rejection reason) to allow other Players to see THAT idea was already rejected -- to short-circuit other Players later trying to submit something similar (this gives the Player Evaluators/Commenters something to point to for quick rejection reasons - so as not to bother the company employee again).
How much can the Player Community Reviewers/Deciders be relied on to do all this work before Company personnel are involved (like actually deciding lesser issues), isnt clear. They might be able to give a 'provisional go-ahead', if in their judgement, it would likely be accepted or require only minor adjustments. A Player who has their idea initially Community-rejected might still force submission to a Company authority --- but that needs to be minimized or everyone will try to do it for their 'pet' bad idea (and the point is to minimize/streamline work for the few employees the Company is likely to want to fund).
Of course, after the Asset Author further creates the Asset and it is later found divergent from the Canon/Lore/Genre, it can still at that point be rejected (the review process validates at many points in its progress). That stops any further effort to fully test the Asset (which can take significant work) until it complies.
Validation Components :
- Policy (can spell out various general limits of what will be allowed)
- Guidelines (more specific limitations)
- Known facts database/wiki (expanded as Assets are added to the official game)
- Existing Assets (you want to check if someone else has done it already or touched on the information you want to use)
- Projects in Progress (see who else might already be working on the same thing)
- Change-lists to make plain recent decisions/additions to all of the above.
- Rejected Canon/Lore requests (educate creators as to why/how things get rejected)
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Creation Community "Critics" :
Something put in my mind (from a comment seen on the Forum) about people belittling other people. Since my proposed MMORPG system has Player Created Assets, (and you KNOW there will alot of faulty, repetitive, feeble submissions -- Assets AND Criticisms ), somehow you would prefer people to NOT get discouraged by derisive (or intentionally hateful/malignant/contrary/attention-starved-trolling) comments on something the (Author) creator put effort into. Even valid criticisms can have a negative effect. You hope to encourage them long enough for them to get better at producing their project -- to finally create something that is 'good enuf' (acceptable) to be used in the game. Many Assets are not simple 'Shake The Box' creations (are harder than people think to do correctly, and to meet game requirements), and often will take repeated cycles of fixing/correction and improvement. Getting something working in the simulators at least can help - showing progress being made...
A Forum mechanism can be moderated sufficiently to keep a lid on alot of such counter-productive criticism. A criteria for filtering critical comments would be REQUIRING the Commenter to actually justify their criticism (intentionally invalid comments and Commentators would need to be quickly ejected so as to prevent wasted time). Guidelines and requirements for the Assets would be made plain so they can be simply referenced as a reason. Many things would still be subjective and many people have their own opinions about what is good or bad (or proper). In any case, the process would require substantial attention/efort from Forum moderators who largely would NOT be paid, to keep control over what might be a very large Community and a tight Process to produce the needed Game Assets. Players who continually are abusive can be blocked from being able to comment on Assets in the system (and no anonymous comments allowed, no sock-puppets either - the Commenters are held RESPONSIBLE for their comments).
Positive encouragement will be a vital component, by experts who often will spot an easily fixed flaw or explain what needs to be fixed to enable finishing the Author's effort.
Even in initial design, Authors can be told "that part is already available by using this template or that sub-Asset or Tool", so that they can skip 'Reinventing the Wheel' and get to the creative part that they are really interested in doing.
Part of the proposed process is the 'Community' being able to look at a work In-Progress and facilitate corrections (thru comments/advice) early, instead of wasting alot of time if it is left to go down a wrong path.
In the end, there still may be a number of people who ignore criticisms and produce an outstanding Asset which when seen (played with in Open Review ) will justify itself more than was evident by simply being talked about. And thinking about 'explorations', there still is a place for Assets which may have been Rejected, but which still are outstanding in themselves to serve as ideas/starting point for someone else to improve on/make appropriate for the MMORPG. There can be a "Museum of Rejects" to serve as illustrative examples of how Assets can fail validation. Some people will get on an ego trip and simply make trouble when their pet faulty idea/Asset is repeatedly Rejected. The system needs to handle such people with the least effort by others.
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Efficiency in Creation Community - how to handle the 'Lookie-loos' :
--- FAQs, Tutorials, Docs to aim the clueless at -- dont waste time repeatedly explaining same answers to same questions ( and PUT the stuff into the Docs to facilitate that AND make it findable .) Cannot stop Community people from being helpful to lazy people, but with good documentation the queries can be aimed at the extensive online materials.
--- Early rejection whenever possible, and with fix-it advice (if possible). Standard Rejection Reasons with references to Documentation on standards.
--- Registering Community users to cut out 'chaff' users (also accountability for people involved)
--- Have lots of examples to play with that wont impact the primary creation/submission processes (many things are more obvious with a working example).
--- Creator Ramps to limit complexity of 'First Efforts' (and often winds up being the last THAT person does when they get bored with it) - Players work themselves up through more and more complex Assets, developing skill/know-how so that what they produce is NOT insufficient/faulty and half-arsed and almost automaticly certain to be rejected.
--- Automate alot of the processes so that many interactions "are not touched by human hands". Completeness Criteria which prevents submission if parts of an Asset are missing (Collaboration allows passing around partial Assets, but that is a seperate process). Checklists make plain parts of an Asset expected to be completed for actual 'Submission' (partial Assets would be freely handed around during the consultation phase or progress comment phases).
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Lore/Canon Adherance and Reasonableness :
Ive read some of the BIOSHOCK 'Fan Fiction', and frequently the Authors are not too careful about sticking to the Genre/Canon/Lore, including :
- Not understanding the 40s 50s time period/setting (ie- mentioning cellphones in a 50s World or even 60s is a bit anachronistic and a bit too advance even for Rapture or worse -- a wrecked Rapture).
- Behaviors of main (Canon) Characters that conflict directly with what we've seen in the games/novel
- New Relatives of Canon Characters who dont really have any reason to exist or real connection/resemblance to those main personalities --- except to take advantage of 'name dropping' (kind of like the ending of Infinite .....)
- Talking about weapons that didnt exist in Rapture (AK47/Uzis) without any proper reason given.
Some people may not realize that their creativity has to be constrained in many severe ways (to be done correctly) and finally (be forced to) realize that specific ideas just dont fit into the Rapture game world.
No doubt there will be a "Museum of Bad Rapture Assets" ( http://museumofbadart.org/ ) where rejected MMORPG Assets would be displayed and explored (likely it would be an outside company venue to prevent lawsuits over various 'bad' content or claims of 'feelings being hurt' ). Complex Assets like entire choreographed 'levels' are creatable using the Game's tools and could be viewable via the various Test Simulator tools (much development work is to be doable on a Player's Client machine to off-load Company Servers/Networks and to speed up testing turn-around). I can see all kinds of absurd Assets being created to amuse other people as is done with so many other games -- just you can do alot more than a funny .JPG with this system.
Explanations of Asset Rejection is ALWAYS to be given, and references to the specs the submission violates would easily be suppled. Hopefully, examples of 'bad' Assets will be seen by many to preven them from submitting similar mistakes and wasting their and others peoples time/effort.
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Vetting Player Creations - Quest storylines :
Looking at some of the Bioshock fan-fiction, reinforces the idea that 'Player Created Asset' content has to be well vetted. Not just for Lore and Canon adherence (which will have to be expanded to fill many gaps in Rapture's story and logic) but also for becoming too detailed and long (most MMORPG Quests have summaries (often one line) that just tells you what you need to do without always having to read a temportary Quest NPC's life story to figure out whats expected of you).
Perhaps such long Quest backstories can be made into books/newspaper articles to be 'found' in the New Rapture Library (which the Quests would reference). This would be another Asset that would be accessible 'offline' on the tablet interface...
Who does this vetting??? The first battle line will be the published standards/Guidelines that the Game Company will require submissions to adhere to. That allows simply referencing the well-documented Guidelines for a rejection instead of some long opinion fight (there will be enough of this for other things).
Example - Asset has references to a well known game-historic individuals. Mentioning new information needs to be controlled, as too many storytellers love to be 'name-droppers' of characters who should have nothing to do with the story OR worse do something contrary to how they have already been defined.
Usually, the plotline of a Quest would be submitted first, with a summary/outline/plan/design of what Assets/settings/interactions/story the actual Quest-taker would be subjected to. It would often be counter-productive/a waste to create polished and complicated sets of game Assets at this point if significant changes need to be made to the Quest's plot details.
The initial phase is for Players in the Creation Community to make open comments (and quickly detect any negatives -- invalid/contrary aspects in relations to the standards/Guidelines). If flagged as violating the standards/Lore/Canon, the Asset (Quest story in this case) goes back to the Author immediately - any further vetting would be a waste until it adheres to the standards (other comments suggesting improvements can also be made). If insufficient detail is submitted, it can be rejected for that reason (a wizard-interface will assist in guiding the submission and filling in required details).
References to Lore/Canon supporting any related mentions in the Quest would be included in the submissions. A Quest's subject matter may be 'controversial' (a grey area for the Canon/Lore) and a request would be need to be filed to a Game Company employee for judgement. If accepted Official Lore/Canon would be adjusted to fit the new 'facts' (-- Authorized Player's would likely do most of the work amending the Guidelines/documented Lore/Canon). References to the documentation of these 'facts' would be kept for later reverification as the Asset is fleshed out. (As usual the official information would be subject to debate , but needs to be tightly controlled to avoid 'opinion swapper wars' so common in Wiki-land)
The Player on seeing the initial comments could (would have to if invalid) withdraw the Asset for rework/improvements/resubmission (collaboration of this kind is actually encouraged and simple ideas (possibilities) seen by others can drasticly improve a plotline and other details).
The next phase is harder, as 'story telling' being 'good' or 'bad' is much more subjective. After the initial summary is accepted, the Author expands the idea to the full Asset. The Quest's story should intergrate with the Quest scenes/situations and actions/goals, and these things may subsequently need to be improved/modified/elaborated to fit better (to make it a good/adaquate Quest).
Once the Quest's preliminary info is accepted, then all the rest of the Assets and scripting to make the Quest operate would be created/assembled by the Author. These would be submitted again, open for full Community inspection (including actually running it as a simulation), comments and then full Vetting (which includes detailed functional testing to make sure it does what it was designed to do).
For the Quest's plotline text (what the Player gets when actually doing the Quest), shorter is usually better, and 'full accounts' would be blocked off as supplemental, but the key elements would be retained for the basic story text.
Partial submissions for comments/help/collaboration can be submitted along this process to assist the Author, until the full Asset is ready for actual submission.
As with all Assets/content, the Game Company will have the final say (and if they find some new reason for rejection, THOSE reasons WILL be added to the Guidelines so that people's time wont be wasted the next time.) One would hope that most policies are decide early to prevent the need for reworking/changing already accepted Assets.
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" Just the facts ma'am " (Asset Summary) :
The 'vetting process' of the Creation community includes intercepting things that would break the Bioshock Rapture Lore/Canon EARLY (short-circuiting that path, before anyone put any significant effort into it - including the Author). "Measure Twice, Cut Once"...
As EARLY as possible, an 'Asset' project would present its ideas of what it constitutes :
The Situation (in general terms) - especially what Lore/Canon it might interlock with (example- that Private Eye in the BS2 Paupers Drop Level - who's details are fairly vague at the moment, but who might have been further elaborated upon by other authors already -- when the Asset is being presented...)
What a Quest-Giver wants done. Where, How, Who, When (what settings are required, what 'known' places are involved --- "go to X X being a specific place or type of place (giving an 'in' to making the Quest randomizable)
What the Player (Quest-Taker) will get out of it. Flavor of payoff (loot, skill, Prestige, etc) (and what partial payoffs since Quest are meant to be a bit beetter than your run-of-the-mill MMORPG pablum).
What will result as the Quest is done : terrain locations(basic requirements) and contents, NPCs interacted with, information found, 'twists'/unexpected occurances.
Known Characters/history/timeline references (And how - mention of any new Lore/Canon 'facts' that will need acceptance) included any Special Twisty-ness intended.
Other details would be specified of how/what mutatable the Quest is to be (Allowing the MMORPG's Auto-Generator to change details to make Quest semi unique (Quests vary in how much can be changeable and may need to retain exact details to stay cohesive -- depends on various interdependancies)
Player Asset Creation Community COLLABORATION Assistance :
Matching up creators looking for projects (long or short) with specific specialties with the Authors of specific projects to get specific aspectsts done. Some Assets are fairly complex and most creators dont have all the skills needed to complete ALL their aspect or to the degree they would prefer. There would be templates/tutorials for common Assets that would be examples of how to do the different aspects and tools to lead the creator thru the process, but efficency and artistic ability take more than that.
The specialists would have exhibition space online (where else...) demonstrating their abilities so that the Author might see possibilities they may wish for their Asset (just the example might be what the Author needs to decide what to do themselves).
The Collaboration process creates a channel between the specialist and the Author to pass Assets and comments/progress back and forth.
Examples of Specialty Work:
- Object Texturing - Normal/bump maps are something many people dont even know exist but these are used to greatly increase the realistic look, without adding dimensional 3D data that costs excessive processing.
- Scene Lighting - sometimes is more a matter of artistic abilities and the knowhow of achieving the desired effect for the specific Game Engine..
- Scripting - Sometimes particularly intricate or different solutions are needed to achieve a desired behavior and a particular problem requires the knowledge of a experienced scripter/programmer (when the rest is more routine and the Author can handle it). Very often a chunk of code can be adapted without requiring complete new creation - specialists know about them and can speed upthe work significantly.
- Testing - pre-testing of an Asset to identify problems before the official submission process (doing it when it is the most efficient - without the overhead of having the Asset openly inspected/rejected/reworked/resubmitted).
- Dialog creators (and Proofreaders) - some people have the knack for making the 'speechifying' very much better.
- 3D shaping can be an art (or a chore for the neophyte). The shape of an object often turns out to be only a tiny part of all the data required to make it work in the game.
By getting specialists get the Author past the 'hard parts', much more will be sccessfully produced instead of leaving the entire (often complex) creation to a single person.
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Culling of TOO GRAND content additions (some Players might want) to the MMORPG :
The Novel says that Rapture is a City of about 20000, and Ive taken the liberty of expanding the total population of the 'Rapture Colony' to be more like 40000 total, so as to allow for all the producers of raw materials and manufacturing (many in outlying areas) that a real Rapture would need (as well as some normal population increase - 1946-1959 is at least half a generation).
Ive also made assumptions that there was a larger remaining population than you might think, with the way the Civil War and Lamb's murderous tyranny were described/portrayed. Firstly, this was made possible by Ryan using alot of resources to keep things running during the Civil War, which he eventually largely won, and secondly by many outlying areas isolating themselves from the 'city troubles', as well as later City factions organizing things 'Post-Ryan' (Lamb really only controlled what many saw as the 'armpit' quarter of Rapture).
Still with 40000 people max, even with a exaggerated number of 'rich people' and exceptional achievers, there were severe limitations as to what institutions the City might support - versus some Real World city more than 10X its size, having a much larger external supporting infrastructure. Rapture really only had the population of a medium size town.
- Businesses would mostly be small operations (larger companies would be conglomerations of small businesses). Successful businessmen, if efficient, or first-to-market might easily gain monopolies (with too few customers for rivals to break into a saturated market and compete with the strong existing company).
- Minimal government meant many things had to be done by individuals or small groups of likeminded citizens. Ostentatious projects eventually run out of money without profits to support them (or build them in the first place) or some deep-pockets interested in the project.
- Economic shifts might be exaggerated (ie - the finacial crises like the early one which bankrupted the AE, and a later one when confidence in stability was broken by the Kashmir incident - with Atlas's goons murderously disrupting normalcy). Rapture's economy would be more brittle than bigger entities in the Real World.
- Another aspect of Rapture's small size is : it would be hard to keep secrets for long in such a small ecosystem (the Fontaine's smuggling being hidden/unprovable for so long was a lame plot mechanism). Clever people figure out how to reverse engineer other's products and might have half a chance to break into the market if their improvement was to manufacture/produce it more efficiently(cheaply). Huge monopolies (requiring Real World economy-of-scale) would be much harder to create (limitations to mass-production) when the markets just were not that big.
- Research and development costs are amortized when it results in mass-production - but Rapture is tiny. Smaller production, without economy-of-scale leads to higher unit price (meaning fewer cheap goods for consumers). Fundamental in Rapture - Concentrated Genius could cut/bypass R&D overhead significantly (making it possible to create affordable things that normally wouldnt exist in a place so small). Add the effects of Brain Boost to increase this happening.
The people responsible for the new MMORPG Lore/Canon decisions need to keep control over things getting too Large/Grand for what Rapture was - to be within its microcosm's limitations (and morso for New Rapture which is only starting to grow and is many times smaller than the original City). Some allowances may be allowed for prestige projects, but practicalities have to be considered for the majority.
An example would be the 'Rapture Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra which (even in Raptures 'Golden Age') would more likely be a 'weekend' amateur arrangement, with some philanthropic (or would that be NON-altruistic, with ulterior motives of ego and maybe advertisement?) funding and doing 'gigs' for City bigwigs egos and likely much commercial work for TV/radio commercials (to keep them in beer and spaghetti for their weekly practice meetings). As in the past, Chamber Orchestras would be far more common (and would overlap with much of the musician population).
Still, Ryan wanted some grand views and inspiring settings in his city (and had them built using HIS money), but there would also be much that was mundane. It is fully possible that the improved abilities for production (all the advanced enhancements Rapture's exceptional people might bring) could allow/support more excess, and having personalities and groups try to outdo each other with ostentation.
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Tool to Compare (Diff) Assets :
Players submit improvements to existing Published Assets, but if 'improvements' are re-submitted the Players doing the Inspections need to zero in on the differences. It is also a way to guage the risk and possible need for more extensive inspection ( ie- any time scripting is changed, can cause all kinds of bugs/sideeffects which requires extensive retesting, assuming previous testing had got that far).
Tool does a line by line, Asset data point comparison with the previously submitted version and highlights insertions/deletions/changes/new Assets missing Assets. Types of changes are classified by criticality (Inspectors zero in on those first and if a problem is found there it can short-circuit the need for any further testing - because the Asset has to go back to the Author anyway.
Tool is also used on submitted improvements (Assets submitted as improvement on a published Asset) some people are real good at 'polishing' things (instead of themselves producing complete creations). A fundamental part of thge game will be Players submitting 'improvemenst'.
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Control/Prevention of Anachronisms for Rapture Asset Creation :
Canon and Genre and Lore - Guidelines would be well spelled out with online explanations of all limitations.
Mechanism for submitting questions to 'the Game Company' to get a judgement (Creation Community would pre-vet before bothering a Game Company employee) But final authority is the Game Company when there is a difference of opinion (or some aspect is touched which hasnt been defined yet in the Guidelines).
Cliches alluding to things outside the normal Rapture setting (vague/indirect references... are OK - its part of the fun) -
- "I coulda been a contenda" being muttered by a Splicer, would be amusing.
- "It was like I saw in the Matrix" is too direct reference to Movie that wouldnt exist for 30 years on The Surface.
- "It was like we were in some kind of matrix of delusions", would be indirect enough.
- Direct quotes from Shakespeare is OK. Direct quotes from Dirty Harry is Wrong.
The game is largely based on the way the World was in the late 40s/early 50s, with minimal new introductions later. That would be a fundamental limitation.
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Need to document/track/coordinate Lore :
Changes/additions/corrections/clarifications/conflict-resolutions to facilitate the MMORPGs extensions of the 'Rapture Story' (needed to guide Asset Creation and MMORPG context -- which is extrapolated several years past the last game episode - Minervas Den).
- Inquiries for new issues proposed - allow community comments that may lead to resolution/conflict or request for clarification/more information
Asset creation requests get priority (Players can dither about Sinclair's favorite cigarette brand in their free time)
- The Lore/Canon Database (all that info - who/where/what/when/how)
A huge (say again "HUGE"!!!!) Wiki-type organizational tool/DB to cross-reference all the information (including sitation of sources) and new decision points about additions/corrections. (Note - tight control over changes - may need 2 tiers of 'talk' on actual content (which wouldnt be changeable by unauthorized users).
--- Timelines (and sub-timelines when it gets really detailed)
--- Directories for personalities/locations/associations (lots of interrelational detail)
--- Definitions/glossary (the city does have alot of its own slang and Rapture-specific terms)
--- Thematic explanations/interpretations - interrealtions between all the information - fitting into super plot
--- Lots and Lots of (consistant) Cross Referencing
- List of outstanding proposal issues (to facilitate input from Community to help resolution)
- Forum(s) for discussion - community consideration, open proposals of solutions for issues - opinions, hard/soft/gaps 'facts' (and discrepencies/conflicts) referenced. Arguments kept civil and to the point.
- Process rules/Guidelines, Policy declaration (optomizations to avoid wasted effort)
- Log of recent decisions (official decisions) - 'whats changed'....
Document how all this organization/process itself is to be done needs to be spelled out (making clear the goals and reasons things are done a certain way).
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Its a Modular World (key MMORPG Feature) :
As much as possible the Game is made up of reuseable/modifiable objects, which allows using them as building blocks to easily build up more complicated things.
Abilities/uses/actions are 'unitized' -- quantified/simplified/generalized to facilitate creating more complicated MMORPG game mechanisms/devices without excessive development work (avoid custom/hand-written/single-use game scripting to control individual objects -- instead standard attributes that activate general/universal functionality). New objects inherit some combination of pre-defined attributes which enable their functioning in the game ( example - The "Sittable" attribute defines anything that can be normally sat upon (and the players/NPCs abilities/actions to do that), where "Stackable" enables things to easily be stacked upon each other).
Objects of any complexity are compose of sub-objects. Some are merely the pieces which an object breaks into on destruction, Others are modular functional components which are independant objects which can be seperately manipulated - inserted/extracted.
The simulation system of Modular construction for all devices in the Rapture MMORPG allows simplifid fabrication/repair which offers new interactions but also eliminates tedious (playing) details. Machines are made out of associated modular parts which can be fabricated independantly and then assembled. Repairs are done by (Players) replairing modules within the larger assembly. These unitized modular components can be flexibly used/re-used. Making/repairing component modules for a larger mechanism will happen alot in half-wrecked Rapture (fix that little doohickey and that thing starts working again...).
Better quality object/devices can have additional/optional component modules for enhancement/self-regulation (ie- making them more automatic and able to handle environmental fluctuations which can damage a simpler mechanism - a desireable feature). Such improvements/enhancements would be flexible. Players can decide to improve devices or leave them in a simpler form with the inherent tradeoffs.
Component Modules can be taken from one machine and then used in another (much of the game deals with salvaging mechanisms from the ruins to employ them in the New City being rebuilt). A certain amount of work is needed to connect/adapt/tune moduless to work together. Higher skil enable doing that operation.
- Advanced machine modules can be more capable, but usually then are more specialized/limited in their use for other things.
- Additional (optional) Modules can allow remote control/coordination/monitoring of operation. More failure avoidance (better reliability, less repair), higher efficieny/capacity
- Higher qualiity components fail less often and can have higher capacities.
Electical/Mechanical/Chemical, all machines have a function that interacts within the game World - which is ALL itself composed of a set of objects (which interact with each other).
Even things like building strctures are Modular with a 'wall section' able to be substituted (also facilitates operations of the MMORP server game processing which has limits about how far/fine you can break up the World (into pieces) to efficiently simulate reality -- there should be sufficient detail, but no excess, and consistancy across everything). And if you think there is TOO MUCH detail, most of this stuff can be ignored - plenty else to do in the game).
Game Interface-wise, this system would be visualized/rendered as a machines module grid of required parts, with optional slots for extra functional modules. Substitutions of improved basic modules can improve a machines function, with substandard parts it might be more faulty and not function at full capacity.
This interface will operate using Drop-in modular components (from Players inventory/workbench) with the manipulation actions of work/effort being standardized/unitized (a simplified caricature - I can see a spectrum of animated approximations - whacking with hammer, poking with a screwdriver, tuning some adjustable bit, etc... ). Potential failure and damage (flames, cracking sparks, burst of steam, loud cracking noises, etc..) will be part of this presentation (burned out parts afterward will be obvious).
For the activity of repairing/fabricating complex 'modules'/components there would be further hierarchical representations (with subcomponents and slots) --- Modules themselves can be made from simpler modules/components (That R-34 Wire Cluster is really an assembly made from simpler wires/fasteners, a metral box, and some electrical regulator components. (Remember the U-Invent that used fairly simple objects to construct ammos/things for your use - expand that to make doohickeys for other machine - lots of intercangeable parts....) The sub-components for this system disappear - you see the complete unit unless you need to repair it in the games fabrication system. Part of the skill-sets is modifing/building from raw/basic materials the objects/components used to make the modules from.
Tools used by Players/NPC/Splicers vary from doing basic operations, to quite specialized ones which facilitate operations on the more advanced modules (less failure than a general tool). Less specialized tools can fulfil the basic need (clumsily) - a tool of a certain general type can do the action.
Skills likewise go from general to specific, with improved effciency/success for the things they are specific to.
Machines (most interactive game objects) are designed with a 'modular' component template/plan/diagram (in the standard game mechanism). There would be optional component slots for additional functions - like a hardened physical structuure, or for aesthetics (an important commercial feature) or insulation (for specialuses) which may not be part of the ordinary/basic function of the object. These are are customizable attributes offering incremental improvement (kind of like the weapon upgrades we had in the game except a bit more generalized)..
Large complex machines/systems often have numerous sub-machines connected together, which can be manipulated seperately, and possibly removed to facilitate repairs ( ie- taking a machines 'control' unit console back to a workshop/workbench instead of having to work on it in place in a less than optimal environment).
Ad hoc temporary machines (rigs) can be built to achieve some purpose and then be torn down back into seperate parts for easy transport. Many of your 'Team' NPCs carry a variety of things which you would use to handle various obstacles. The pieces fit into a plan and are placed/connected in the terrain.
A block and tackle (hook, pulleys, rope) might be used to lift debris to free a valualble vending machine for extractions. A portable generator and cables might be used to setup a campsite to power lights and security equipment or portable tools or a water pump to de-flood a section of a building.
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