Games: Individual versus Multiplayer versus Collaborative

Usually you can play two kind of games: single player and multiplayer. And there is a subclass we call “collaborative”. Most probably this has been discussed many times before, but here in qilania we are trying to figth against the blank paper, asking ourselves what the user wishes and needs, which are totally different things.

Talking about MMO games or virtual worlds, we have regular virtual worlds with minigames, which stands for the concept “fast fun”, kind-of tetris games, space invaders, etc. And we have RPG games, where the user adopts a role and a bunch of objectives to be achieved in a long or undefined amount of time.

We aspire in qilania to have both: fast fun for casual users and long-time objectives for regular ones.

But we feel that isn’t enough for our main goals. We need “collaborative” games where users meet each others and talk about common interests and objectives, because we believe this is the main objective of a MMO game, Internet and the life at all in a sense: sharing and communication.

Collaborative games can be single player, multiplayer and… No gaming! We don’t need strict rules code-driven in order to create the feeling that players can and should merge in the pursuit of a common interest.

There is today a line of products (games) embedded in social networks with a great amount of “sociability”. You can share with all your friends whatever (trivial) stuff you succeed in that particular game. Sharing is a very important factor in that games. After that, there is the vacuum (leave the game when friends of friends of your friends start playing the game) and you helped to get involved many people in that network. Maybe they are “social” games, but not “collaborative”, as you don’t “risk” and you don’t “share yourself”.

I remember when I played Imperia Online, a MMORPG with a UI very close to what you understand by “ascii game”. It is the classical strategy game where you train soldiers, build a fortress and so on. But alliances where very strong. You could play alone, of course, but you used to be part of an Alliance, consisting on a bunch of players like you, and your goals were to defeat other players and alliances, and rule the world. The most important parts of the game were communication (IM, chat and forum) and sacrifice (what I call “share yourself”). It was a very strategical game, so the collaboration of all the members of the Alliance was needed, and it required everyone to be online at fixed times and spend lots of time ellaborating tactics, taking into consideration everyone’s timetables, including enemy’s ones. There were “real” spies infiltrated in the enemy’s alliances (being game mates or paid mercenaries), volunteer suicides, peace treatments… And that all was out of the scope of the software driving the game and the game owners. All done via IM, chat rooms and other channel communications. Real collaboration in a MMORPG game. Maybe a frivolous amusement, but real collaboration after all.

That’s important for us people behind the screen and that’s important as well for a MMO game where “user A” makes something which affects directly to “user B”. Otherwise, the “massive multiplayer” part of the MMO legend is nonsense and the O standing for “online” just a fake for the sake of credibility.

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Development of economics in virtual worlds

We are now developing the economics system for qilania and we find there are lots of considerations to be taken into account in order to create a stable economy in a virtual world.

Some of the basics rules are:

  • The more effort an user puts onto your virtual world, the more rewads he must earn.
  • The more easy the user can earn money (ie, an easy game), the less money he must win.
  • The more valuable are the goods and services, the more money the will be worth.
  • You must update all the time the goods and services the virtual world offers to the user (otherwise, the user will acquire all existing goods and services and will become a boring world for him in a few days/weeks/months).

Just as in the real world. 😉

One trick: the first step we used in order to create the system was creating a symbolic “monetary unit”, which can be any basic good or service in your virtual world: it can be bread, a gallon of beer or whatever you consider. After that, you can invent the name of your currency and apply a price to your “monetary unit”, then develop around that consideration what items and services cost and how much does it take the user to gather that money.

Appart from that, you can add some tweaks to the system to make it more interesting. For example, dynamic prices for items and services, depending on offer and demand or a monetary system based on goods owned by the virtual world (for example, if your virtual world produces less petroleum and your entire economy is based on petroleum, that will affect the value of basic products, such as bread or transportation).

I’d say that the development of a virtual world is as fun as complex.