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Project Vex: A First Step

Project Vex is currently in the design phase. This web-log is dedicated to my thoughts, theories, and progress in relation to Project Vex. I invite everyone to take a look and donate a few thoughts. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Author: Velexia

The "Plane" of Dreams

Posted by Velexia Wednesday June 10 2009 at 1:15AM
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I am currently considering the prospect of sleeping and dreaming for characters in Project Vex.  A character would have a fatigue effect which would make all of their capacities (like endurance) either fill slower, or cap out at lower values until they rest. 

The character would be sleeping in real time, the duration of which depending upon how much the character needs.  The real time analog of this would be dependent upon how many in game hours equal a real time hour. 

While resting a character will bee especially vulnerable, so it would behoove the players to secure a safe spot for their characters to rest.  This promotes developing the character's resources and community, which will help the game flourish.

When the character rests, the psyche of the character travels to the "plane" of dreams.  What the character encounters there depends upon a few factors.  The main factor is what the character has experienced, as those things most recently experienced will be most prominent in their dream.  Those experiences which occur most often will also be strongest. 

This also opens up the creation of interesting dream-tweaking abilities, such as lucid dreaming, and traveling into the dreams of others, and more.

Experiences had in the dream will add to the character, even if they are merely phantasms of their waking reality.  Additionally, anything that happens in the dream will not adversely effect the character physically, although a character CAN be harmed physically if someone or something stumbles upon their sleeping physical body.

There are many possibile avenues to go with this, including creating abilities that allow a character to forego sleep, or sleep indefinitely.

Project Vex, Free to Try

Posted by Velexia Sunday May 3 2009 at 9:42PM
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I am still far from finally determining what method Project Vex will use to bring in revenue, but this is an option I am considering.

Because characters have no levels, but the spirit of the characters grow in power over time (allowing for even more powerful characters to be created in the future), I could use this to create a way for new players to try the game for free.

For an indefinite period of time, players could play the game free of charge, and do absolutely anything they desired, however, upon character death, that character's experiences would not affect the spirit, and thus the new character would be created from scratch.

In this way, players could experience the full game to an extent, but in order to truly progress in the game they would have to end their trial mode.

 

For the full game, I am considering about $10.00 a month.

 

Please let me know what you think!

The Solution to Permanent Death in Project Vex

Posted by Velexia Saturday March 28 2009 at 9:07PM
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The surreal pain begins to subside, as you lay in the cool grass, staring up into the fading colors of the vibrant sky.  Your body feels heavy... and weak.  The world begins to slip away, like the last vestiges of a dream.

The void...

Something so familiar... this feeling, you know this presence.  You've felt it so many times before...

I'm not done yet... not yet...

Acknowledged...

Bright searing light... tingling nerves... thick air filling lacking lungs...

Once more into the breach...

___________________________________________________________________

You have died, but you're not quite finished here.  There is still much you wish to share, and to experience.  You have chosen to resurrect.  The Goddess has accepted your choice.  You come to in a safe location amongst those that will care for you.  What worldly possessions you once had are with you no longer.  Your appearance has changed (player selects the new appearance), and given this new opportunity, you may wish to change your name as well...  This phenomenon is bizarre to some, but not unheard of, not in this (strange) world... you may be able to convince your friends that you are your old persona returned. 

In terms of game mechanics, you retain all of your past experiences (such as skills), though you will likely never recover your old possessions (not very hard to replace anyway, it's just stuff).  Your old affiliations with NPCs will be restored by going and interacting with them again.  If you had a community, you will find yourself within that community once again, if not, you will find yourself in an out of the way place, or possibly within another community that will take you in.  You will be in a weakened state, and it would be unwise to place yourself in danger for a period of time while you recover from the experience.  If you desire to remain anonymous (to prevent your enemies from striking at you again) you easily have that option, though reuniting with old friends (PCs and NPCs) may break your anonymity.  You may change your physical appearance, your name, and even your gender, though your "race" will remain the same.

These resurrections are not an endless supply of "get out of jail free" cards however.  All characters begin with three, and can, at any one time ever have a maximum of three.  These are Karmic "points," and they can be gained and lost throughout your character's life.  There are three ways to lose Karmic points.  The first, is to resurrect.  The Goddess requires that you use a Karmic point to return to the life you were once living.  The second, is to murder (murder in Project Vex is covered here).  The third is to be involved in an atrocity.  The Aspects (special spirits that observe the actions of all beings in Project Vex) determine when these second two conditions are met.  An atrocity can include orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of another, without actually actively participating (such as sending an NPC assassin to kill an innocent member of your community), or it can be something like destruction purely for destruction's sake (burning down a forest for no particular reason).

To regain Karmic points, there are three paths.  The first, is to show mercy to an opponent whom you could kill without it being considered a murder.  The second is to perform a grace.  The third is to relieve the world of a being that has negative Karmic points (the maximum amount of negative Karmic points is yet to be determined).  Similar to an atrocity, a grace is determined by the Aspects.  A grace can include restoring life to a barren land, or life to a fallen comrade (which still requires a Karmic point of the fallen comrade).  It should be known that the ability for one character to restore life to another is an exceptionally rare thing.

Generally, things that promote life are graces, and things that take away from life are atrocities.  A grace or atrocity can also be built up slowly over time by various deeds on a smaller scale.

It should also be known that a character can rapidly lose Karmic points (one per 10 minutes, lets say), but regaining Karmic points takes much longer (one per 24 hours perhaps).

___________________________________________________________________

"...This body holding me, reminds me of my own mortality...  Embrace this moment, remember...  We are eternal.  All this pain is an illusion."

Astrophysics and Project Vex

Posted by Velexia Monday March 23 2009 at 4:31PM
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In the computer games of today, the world is flat, the sun rises into the sky and sets, but it's not really there, it's little more than a clever illusion.

In 2012, I will begin developing Project Vex.

The world of Project Vex will be handled by several of Beowulf-cluster style servers, each supporting a different portion of the world.  They will overlap, and appear, to the individual player to be seamless.  Each server will be a microcosm, and yet linked to the greater world as a whole.  When a player reaches the beginning of the overlap between two servers, they begin to load the other server.  By the time the player has reached the end of the overlap, the other server will be fully loaded.  At this point the data from the previous server will also be discarded (but not before fully entering the new server).  The size of the overlap will depend entirely upon the limits of technology available.


Back on track, the world of Project Vex will not simply be a flat map.  The world will be a sphere, floating in a vast space.  The moon of this world will not simply be a circle in the sky, representing the moon.  It will also be a spherical astrological body, and given the right circumstances, a player might find their character standing on that moon looking down upon the world.  Just as the moon shall truly exist and actually revolve around the planet (while rotating, itself), the planet will rotate, and revolve around its sun, much farther away, and much larger.  The sun will not only be a physical object in space, it will provide this world with its light.  There will be other planets as well (not necessarily viable for life).  I believe, for simplicity's sake, I will stop with the star system of Project Vex, and the surrounding stars and galaxies will be an illusion.


If you doubt that this will be possible, recall that EVE Online exists, and in 2012, our technology will be leaps and bounds ahead of its current state, just as we are leaps and bounds ahead of 2006.

A List of Games with Inspiring Features

Posted by Velexia Monday March 23 2009 at 5:31AM
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Today I had a download-spree on my PS3, and while playing Drake's Fortune, I decided to come up with a list of games that gave me inspiration for the kinds of things I want to have in the Project Vex world/experience/game.

Uncharted:  Drake's Fortune:  This game has absolutely an absolutely stunning, amazingly beautiful environment.  From the first step in the game, I thought:  "This... this is how Project Vex's world needs to look and feel."  The splash effects on the water are the only thing I felt needed improvement.  When I begin development for Project Vex, this will be the quality of environment I will be aiming for.

Prince of Persia:  The illustrative art style is very beautiful in this game, but what inspires me in regards to Project Vex is the battle system.  Mind you,  Prince of Persia's system is very epic, and Project Vex shall be a little more down to earth, but the smooth, natural animation, and the overall ability to move in the world is something I would like to do similarly for Project Vex.

I will update this as I encounter similar games that inspire me (or serve as great examples for what I am aiming for in Project Vex).

Chaos and PvP, with some Death on the side.

Posted by Velexia Thursday March 19 2009 at 4:42AM
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Project Vex is a game that makes use of Permanent Death.  Additionally, Player versus Player combat is unrestricted.

There is a problem here, which, if not fixed would likely cause Project Vex to wither, never reaching its full potential.

The first step, is to divide players into two groups -- those who wish to engage in combat, and those who do not.

The mechanic for this shall be fairly easy:  If your weapon is drawn (or you are unarmed, but in a combat ready stance), you are fair game for anyone.  If you have had your weapon drawn or been in a combat ready stance recently (as of yet undetermined length of time possibly around 15 seconds) you are still fair game.  If not, you are considered a non-combatant, or no threat. 

Attacking a player who poses no threat is still possible, however... a character must be penalized in some way that does not interfere with other game mechanics if they kill the other player who posed no threat.

I have considered branding the character as a murderer (permanently), however, an assassin type should be able to kill their target and still somehow manage to get away with it, without being permanently branded as a murderer, along with various other scenarios.

Now mind you, you can defeat a player without killing them, and the majority of  the time, that is how battles will play out.  Thus, a murder is only committed when the other player dies, not  when they are defeated.

There is also cause for concern in relation to a character purposefully keeping their weapons sheathed and instigating a battle, drawing their weapon only after the fight has begun to brand the other character as a murderer, should they lose.  This can easily be fixed by determining a murder to be the death of a character that began the fight unarmed, not in a combat stance, and ended unarmed, not in a combat stance for the last few seconds (~15 seconds?).

Assuming the above mechanic works well enough, we are back to the concern of consequences for murder that do not interfere with other game mechanics.

Perhaps the use of a disguise, given enough ability in the "skill" could allow a player to temporarily hide their "murderer" status?

 

The Full PvP aspect of the game, and the Permanent Death are not likely to change, so I would like to focus any commentary/discussion regarding this on how to best handle the madness that results from completely free PvP, thanks.

-Vex

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

A few things I feel I should add:

You can never be branded as a Murderer in your own community for killing a character outside of the territory of your character's community (kingdom, lair, self, etc.).

There are no levels in Project Vex, and generally speaking, no character is ever impossible to defeat by any other.

Items and wealth are fairly easy to acquire in Project Vex.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________


Ah, and also:  NPCs will react to a character branded as a murderer if their fame / infamy is high enough. 


Regarding that, a character's fame / infamy is a hidden score based upon their quantity of (ir)reputable acts.  Players will be unaware of a character's brand as a murderer if the character's fame / infamy is low enough.  A character with a high "skill" in something akin to local knowledge will have a higher chance of being aware of a murderer status.


Characters must still deal with a high disguise-type "skill" to recognize a character at all.

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

Another note:  The effect of killing another character branded as a murderer is still undecided.  It may be based upon the community; some seeing murder of a murderer as just, while others only allowing "authorities" to properly deal with murderers.

All in all, it seems that how a murderer is dealt with is entirely subjective.  Perhaps I need to come up with an entirely different system for limiting PvP?  I am as of yet, unsure.

Project Vex and the Lament of the MMORPG

Posted by Velexia Wednesday March 18 2009 at 7:17PM
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I once read Raph Koster's "What are the lessons of MMORPGs today?" with mixed emotions of despair and amusement. Now, with a game in the design stage, I would like to share how Project Vex sizes up to Koster's epic lament.

 

Lone heroes can’t slay dragons. It takes an army.

(In Project Vex) ...A lone character 'can' slay a Dragon.  I would love to go into details, but if I told everyone everything, well, then someone else with better funding might make Project Vex instead.

People are only good at one thing.

What your character excels at is your choice, with few limitations.  Given enough time, and skill, you could master many paths.

That’s why it takes six people (all doing different jobs) to kill most anything.

While you can generally expect to be able to defeat a single opponent alone, the same is true for the opponent.  There is always strength in numbers.

You never, ever, ever change jobs. If you want to, you probably need to die.

You are free to change your "class" as you desire.

You can be the best in the world at your job.

You can try to be the best...

But so can everyone else.

...as can everyone else.

And you will all do it exactly the same way.

With the diversity available in Project Vex, you will be hard pressed to find your doppleganger.

Intelligent beings who have civilizations and languages of their own are generally evil and should be slain.

Evil is entirely subjective, and actions have noticeable consequences (to your benefit, detriment, or both).

Many, if not all, wild creatures are highly aggressive and will attack on sight.

Wild creatures have their own motives, which generally include promoting their own life.  The wilderness is dynamic.  A creature will never attack you, for the sole purpose of attacking you.

Evil is not redeemable; good is not a choice. Your morals are innate.

Every action you take is your own, everything is subjective.

Killing is the only real way to gain people’s admiration.

Killing is a heavy subject, best avoided whenever possible.  It is possible to defeat your opponents without killing them.

Well, you can make stuff too, but you won’t earn the same kind of admiration.

Indeed, that admiration you earn for making something may often be of much higher quality (still subjective).

In fact, there are only two kinds of admiration in the world, and they can be quantified.

There are as many kinds of admiration as you can bring to mind, and they cannot be quantified.  even the admiration of NPCs is not a visibly quantifiable number.

Having a hobby will probably reduce your admiration.

This is entirely subjective between players.

All that hoorah about endangered species is like, a total exaggeration. There’s plenty of everything.

Things die, and the world can and will change in response; not only the fauna, but the flora as well.

You not only can’t go home again, you probably don’t have one.

Home is where you "make" it, literally.

If you do, it’s mostly to store stuff, not to live in.

The lifestyle of your character determines whether or not they have a steady home.

You never have people over.

The focus revolves around role-playing, and having people enter your home may very well be a possibility.

Telepathy is normal.

Only for some.  Players may communicate freely, as players, but character dialogue is limited in range.

Staring at someone who is talking the politest thing you can do. Because the only other option is to not look at them at all.

Idle character animations are dynamic.  Your character pays attention to its surroundings.

Running past or away from people while you are talking to them is also polite.

With the encouragement and design focus to role-play, this will be less likely, but as always, it is the player that has control.

If you don’t keep up with the Joneses, you will never see them again. In fact, if you don’t keep up with your friends, you will never see them again either.

There are no levels, and "skills" do not create such a gigantic rift between players.  Communities are meant to be built and maintained.

There are no children.

All characters begin in an adolescent (optional training) stage, before progressing.

Death doesn’t really sting. Nerf, however, is incredibly painful.

Death stings, but it is only part of  the cycle, the experience of death is profound.  Nerf bats are not standard issue.

There is always a demand for couriers and assassins.

In the right (or maybe the wrong) circles, yes.

Moving frequently is normal, and never going back to your old stomping grounds again is the way of things.

The world is not built in stages, and moving (your home) is not required (except under special circumstances, such as a barbaric horde sacking your community).

There are no such things as social progress or technological advancement.

Not only do these exist, they are one of the primary aspects of the game.

In fact, evil will always be lurking at the edge of the village.

This is certainly a possibility, but not an inevitability.

On the other hand, it will never invade.

If it exists, it is more likely than not, definitely planning on, or in the process of, invading.

There are no governments. Thus there are no laws. Instead, there are laws of physics.

The governments and laws are player created and NPC supported.

There are gods, and they are capricious, and have way way more than ten commandments. Nobody knows how many because everyone clicked past them.

Those Gods exist only to protect the world from ultimate destruction, and for no other reason.  There may be other entities within the world itself that call themselves Gods.

Sports are stupid, because everyone’s body is the same.

With the luxury of leisure comes the creation of sports.  It is the natural way of things.  Whether or not you have the luxury of leisure however, depends on many factors.

Charity is not a virtue; in fact, it’s frequently physically impossible.

There are no game mechanics to prevent any form of charity.  Mind you, nothing is guaranteed to be permanent either.

You should not associate with those of lower social standing than yourself.

Associate however you wish, there are no levels; all players are free to, and probably should associate with the others.

You can’t be in two places at once. But places can be in two places at once.

There are no instanced areas, at all.

Parallel universes are obvious.

Servers are not parallel universes, rather they are different parts of the world.  If you reach the edge of your own, continuing takes you to the next (it is therefore implied that each server develops uniquely).

Walking is stupid.

Endurance affects more than just walking speed.  Exhaustion means poor performance in all physical activities.  Paying attention to your surroundings is also important.  Nothing exists simply to take up space.

Actually, in general, taking your time is counterproductive.

There is no grind, and no rush.  In fact, only fools rush in.

The most important thing in the world is slaying something that will be back the next day… before anyone else gets to slay it.

If you slay something, it will not return (if you're lucky!).

You should probably have entrance and résumé requirements to join your circle of friends.

Those you choose to befriend and those you choose to work with may vary.  Typically, one composes a résumé for their work.

Hunting is the noblest profession.

Only one of many noble professions, but certainly not the only one (by design players are encouraged to do more than just kill others).

I take that back; hunting is only noble until you’re good enough to switch to murder.

PvE and PvP both exist, though murder is  not necessary to defeat your opponent.

Robbing the dead of indigenous cultures is how you make money.

For those "races" that use money, it is given as a salary for being a part of the community.

There is no such thing as obesity.

Your physical attributes affect the look of your character.

All women are beautiful and all men are either handsome or darkly mysterious.

Character customization will include a large variety of looks.  Also, only a few "races" are humanoid.

Somehow, this means that nobody is beautiful and there is no mystery.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There is no need for bras.

While bras and similar articles of clothing exist, I cannot feel justified in forcing their use (unless I also include jock-straps and cups, and penalties for not using them).

People have sex a lot.

This true in life as well.

People never touch.

With character interaction being a large focus of the game, the ability to visibly interact physically with other characters will be implemented (the technology available in 3-5 years will 'easily' allow this).

Nobody reads.

Not only will you be able to read books (and similar items), you will be able to write them.

They’ve never heard a brand new song.

The creation of music in Project Vex will be available in various forms to all character "races."  The skill of the player and character will be factors of course.

In fact, inventing is either forbidden or impossible. Sometimes both.

Neither.  It is encouraged.

Most people don’t have families.

Your adolescent character may have NPC or PC family members (some characters of the same "race" created at similar times will be grouped together as siblings), at the adult stage your characters family is open to role-playing between players.  

If they do, they probably don’t have mothers and fathers, only brothers and sisters.

Players are open to designating themselves "parents" of newly created characters.   One, or a few characters will then start at this players home, and the "parent" player will be notified.

Nobody’s really from here, they just live here.

Players are encouraged to build communities with their characters, and players choose which community their character starts in.

The tide never washes in and out.

There are not only waves that crash against the shores, but a tide that raises and lowers in conjunction with the moon(s).

The birds never migrate.

None of the animals are simply for show, and all of them have motives.  If the birds require migration, they 'will' migrate.

Strawberries are never in season.

Dynamic Agriculture is possible.

Night’s really short.

The periods of the day progress steadily, and depend on the motion of celestial bodies and the rotation of the planet.

Nothing sleeps.

A player's character is considered to be working, sleeping, and maintaining itself when the player is logged off.  NPCs however, do not log off, and need to sleep.  Characters may however, require periods of rest after extended periods of action to replenish lasting endurance loss (logging off for a period of time will restore this loss).

Nothing dreams.

There is a specific mechanic in Project Vex that deals with dreams, a mechanic that shall remain secret for now.

There is art and beauty in the world, but you can’t be responsible for any of it.

Players will be responsible for the majority of the art and beauty (except that of the world itself, though they can protect it from devastation, or devastate it).

There is no death; there is simply a failure to show up.

There is death, it is permanent (for the most part), and best to be avoided.

Because of this, there is also rarely any mourning.

With closely knit communities, and characters that know each other and potentially care, the loss of a great warrior will be mourned for.  There is even the ability to perform last rites.

 

Cheers to Raph Koster.  You can find the original blog post here: http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/02/24/what-are-the-lessons-of-mmorpgs-today/

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