Donna Desborough takes a look at Ryzom Ring
Nevrax has introduced a revolutionary new expansion for Ryzom. Ryzom Ring, or R2, is the free add-on that allows its players to create their own content. Fully scripted and controlled scenarios that others players can enter and play through. From hack n' slash battles to roleplaying stories players are able to create whatever their imaginations can think of. There are, of course, limits, but the options are very broad, even with the limited tools at hand.
The more you travel around Atys, Ryzom's world, the more things you are able to use in R2. So as a brand new player you will only have access to the most basic of creatures and items to place in your scenario. As you travel the world and get to more teleport and respawn points, you gain access to more possibilities in R2.
Prime examples of the things you gain access to are the creatures you can place in your scenario. All creatures are split into level groupings, the beginner yubos are available right from the beginning as they are in the grouping for the level one to 50 category, something stronger and meaner, like a kincher (a type of giant insect), is grouped into the higher 151 to 200 grouping.
Non-player characters, NPCs, are also available to be used. They can be used to tell a player the meaning of your scenario, or to guard the loot or for many other purposes. Essentially they can be used for anything that they are already used for in the main game. NPCs are also split into two groupings; bandits and NPCs. Bandits are the hostile combat ready NPCs used for fighting against player or creatures. The standard NPCs are ones meant for populating an area or delivering dialogue, these are not combat ready and do not have weapons as part of their equipment, though a guard type is also available.
Like the creatures, the NPCs are split into level groups. The regular NPCs are available at all levels, but the bandits are split into level groups like the creatures. So the harder you want your NPCs to be, the higher level you'll need access to.
There are also items you can place into your scenario. Towers, huts and general clutter are all examples of the generic things you can place around your scenario. These are not based on what level access you have. You also have access to some of the plant life that decorates Atys.
There are also mission items and boxes that can be placed for players to gather for the scenario. These can be pieces that need to be returned to a mission giver or whatever else you may think to use them for. These items have no game mechanic value outside R2 and when a player leaves the Ring with any of these mission items in his inventory, then they will be taken out and remain in the Ring. These are represented by a spinning backpack in the place that the player was last standing when they left. Another player can hen pick up the items by attacking the spinning backpack and continue or complete the scenario.
As mentioned, NPCs can be made to hold conversations with players. This can be done by timers or with 'on click' commands. The conversation can be basic, or it can be made to be slightly more complex in the form of missions. Unfortunately the complexity isn't very sophisticated at the moment. Missions are only as complicated as bring me this item or give that item to this person. Currently you cannot script more complicated things, such as tracking items brought to the NPC or staged missions. This is a big weakness in the scripting. The imagination goes well beyond these simple ideas of item delivery, but the scripting just isn't set up for it. Nevrax will definitely need to improve upon the scripting if they want the players to do more than the basic hack and slash or delivery mission type scenario. As it sits currently, these simple things can only hold the creator and player's attention and imagination very a limited amount of time.
That said, some very interesting things can be done with the existing scripting tools. Characters can be set to go about their business and populate the world and interact with the players as and when you want them to. Timed talking and actions can easily be set up on individual or groups of characters. You can also set trigger to happen under a set of conditions you've defined. A simple example of triggers would be if a player finishes a mission, then a set of vorax (giant lizards) spawn on that spot and attack. Anyone who is basically familiar with 'If' statements in programming will figure out triggers rather fast. Even if you don't have that experience, you'll grasp triggers easily enough after you've done a couple of them.
There are other types of triggers to be found in the scripting for R2. Zone triggers also feature heavily. These can be set for mobs to spawn for fighting, animal movement, NPC talking, or simply to move your players to the next area, called a scene. Zone triggers are simply what they say on the tin. When the player, creature, NPC enters the zone then a pre-defined action occurs. Zone triggers are the best way to automate actions happening within the scenario. As a GM you can handle triggers manually, but you wouldn't want to do that for every single thing in the scenario, especially if the scenario is a particularly long one.
When you run a scenario as a GM you can choose to let it run without your interference, called Masterless, or you can choose to have a small handle on the mobs and NPCs as the players go through your scenario, called Mastered. The differences between the two are significant and each has their benefits and drawbacks.
Masterless scenarios are, basically, a hands off affair. You turn the scenario on and let it run with all your scripting and mobs and just let the players run through it and it all runs its course. There is still a way to have a small hand in the scenario even in Masterless using cause and effect triggers. An example would be, 'if this box is broken, then spawn these NPC bandits' as a way to control just when a set of bandits spawns on your players. So you can break the box when you think they're ready or as a little surprise. Of course you can still just use zone and 'If' triggers for these things, but sometimes it's nice to have a small bit of control while you're still taking a part and having a presence in the scenario with your players.
Mastered scenarios are the ones that give you the most control. In a Mastered scenario you have direct control over the NPCs and creatures in your adventure. You can choose to let the scripting play out as you like, or you can take control. In this mode of control you can talk through NPCs and move them as you please and talk through them if you choose. You can also handle creatures more closely than if you just let your scripting do the job. You can take control of their movement, just like the NPCs, but you can also regenerate their hit points and direct them towards certain players or NPCs. The Mastered option gives you a higher level of control that can let you do that little bit more that just isn't possible to do in the scripting. You still cannot do trades between a player and NPC in Mastered mode, which is unfortunate.
When building a scenario you aren't free to put all the things you want within it. Creatures, people and even triggers cost you creation points. Each type of place-able item, be it trigger, person or creature, costs you allotted points. Each type of place-able item has its own set of points. So creatures and triggers have one set, scenery and items another, and so on. The amount of points you have for placing items is the same across the board, your access level doesn't matter.