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Casual Confessions

In search of the lost mmo

Author: Draccan

THE ROAD mmo - concept / idea

Posted by Draccan Saturday August 29 2009 at 7:27PM
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This is an idea I toiled with some time back. Since I started blogging here today, I think it might be worth bringing up again:


THE ROAD (by Cormac McCarthy) MMO - wanted!


I have this idea for a new mmo that could be really cool but also very difficult to make, but not impossible (except for naysayers and people with no imagination)..
Anyways it is based on the book [url=]THE ROAD by CORMAC MCCARTHY[/url] (you don't need to buy the IP per se, though it would be nice).

Story and concept
The story is one of survival in a post apocalyptic world. The world is ravaged by nuclear holocaust and is dying. There is no crops, everything is burned and scarred. There is almost no food. People are grouping into scavening groups. Some prey on others and even eat them in desperation. Others in turn will just survive and not be blindsided by evil to live.
Will you be the decent loner and survivor, the one carrying light to others and aiming to recreate a society or will you scavenge and kill anyone you meet?

Skills and progression
This mmo is skill based. You can learn to drive a truck or shoot a gun. However bullets and gasoline is scarce. The main thing here is not skills or the usual progression in mmos. The main thing is survival.
You can lose skill points when dying. But not age.
Also you have a reputation / conscience gauge that shows you (and other players) how much bad stuff you have done. Stealing / looting / killing? Self defense kills or unmotivated killings.

The weather is very important. Very dynamic. You live and die by the weather. Finding shelter, avoiding others and not getting your things wet or finding a container for your rotten apples. Maybe even logging a shopping car around. Having tools to fix it. All this is important.
Radiation is a big factor here. Always watch your radiation levels. If they get too high you might start coughing blood, get tired more easily, able to carry less, finally it might become lethal and you die.

Avatars and aging and dying
In this mmo your avatar ages. You can play any age, but you will get older. So the older you start, the shorter you will live. But the younger you are the more hard it is to survive and make it. Older ones start more skilled. Younger ones starts with fewer skills and will be more in need of tutalage and playing around with things to learn how they work.
While there is no instancing there are large / no huge zones. Population is very low and npcs are scattered around but not met often.
Dying is finite after 10 (or so) lives. You have ten precious lives and then permadeath. Your avatar can be fat or thin, but you might lose endurance if very over weight. Also you loose weight when not eating. Since food is incredible hard to find (you can die from hunger and exhaustion) you most likely will loose a lot of weight and your avatar changes with it.

Guilds here are 10 men maximum. No more can find food or sustain themselves.

Surviving and goal
Surviving is key here and moving away from contaminated areas. Svavenge for food. Find shelter for storms.
Everywhere you go you are afraid you meet other people. Most likely they will steal your equipment (full loot) and food, they probably kill you too and if you are really unlucky they will eat you.

Spawn points and dying
When you start the game you will start in one of a multitude of places. This could pretty much be thousands of places. So no spawn camping.
You pretty much go back to square one when you die. Also death is closer to disaster / contamination zones, so you would want to move south towards Mexico or South of Spain (depending on continent played).
People will naturally go south to avoid that radiation. Once they get really south (takes months of playing) the endgame starts where people will try to find places to grow food or group up, create a civil society, laws or just scavenge and steal from others.

Health bars and other mechanics
The health bars doesn't bounce up and down like normal. Here you can get wounded. Wounds get affected. Can you get medicine? Will you hump around on a broken leg? Be carried by your mates (suicide and restart of this toon is possible).
There is full loot in this game. Should people not pick up your stuff you can find it again.
There is no magic bags holding tons of stuff. What you keep must be fitted on you, get regular bags fitting normal size stuff. Or a car and gasoline if really really lucky, but this will only get you so far, roads blocked and broken and if you leave the car it can be hotwired or stolen.

Weapons and equipment and fighting
Weapons here is not your tradition mmo. If you get a gun with one bullet you are dangerous. You can use threatening stances with your weapons. Your enemies will know if they don't stealth (not invisibility but hiding) and disarm you, you might kill them. Survival is key here. On the other hand you are not likely to shoot your bullet if there are three with sticks or clubs. It is a delicate balance. Will you yield your food. Negotiate.
Here it is possible by the way to have instant online chat (if you enable it for your toon) with people around you so you dont have to write. So you can keep the gun pointed and engage in discussions. There is no certainty that handing over some food means they wont demand more.

Missions and quests
There are no npcs with question marks over their heads. If you meet a child crying you can either avoid it, go there and talk or go there and kill the child and eat it. If you talk you might be asked to help the child find a parent. Do so can be on your own peril. You might get to group with npcs that will let you lead them or they might give you a can of tomatoes (food for the day) or even some medicine.
Every day is a quest to avoid cold, find food, find ways of coping with your radiation levels, electrical storms and smokey days, days of scorching heat.

When you get to the endgame you will either fight to create a scavenging society, be a hired merc for mishap bands of killers or loners trying to carve our a life for them and their friends and familiy or just themselves, or a group of decent human being trying to recreate order in their lives and society. Player cities (more like camps with adv. ones having a good stockade and irrigation and some basic sanitation) and be built and destroyed. The land is vast and you can hide for a while but not for ever. There are constantly changing and moving ressources to gather and split between you or take and keep for yourself.
A game of survival where you are constantly on your toes to survive and move on with your destiny. You might even group up and play a husband, wife and four kids. All servers are pvp, all servers are full loot. There is no carebear, no elves, no magic, just the nitty gritty fights to find food and live in a world gone mad, in a world where a rotten apple might be the sustanance that keeps you alive to live and fight the next day.
NPCs might track you and hunt you down. Hiding and stealth, removing tracks after you when it snows, freeing people about to be eaten by thugs, crawling in tall grass to snatch that truck with food away for a player who left it for a second to go scavenge an old scarred house.
This mmo is a change to all you know about mmos. While combat is a part of the game there are no classes, no magic, no soldiers with unlimited (or even lots) of ammo. Every thing is dirt realistic. You find 20 gallons of gasoline? How are you going to carry it. Either put it in a shopping cart if you are lucky to have one or dig it down to pick it up later. Digging leaves a mark that other players can track maybe.
Besides player versus player there is also a lot of fighting from npcs. Random events, npcs travelling or hiding in a forest, a house where npcs keep prisoners. In the endgame there could be npc groups. And they might disagree with your brutal warrior society or your democratic group of freemen and thus try to slay you and burn your city and steal your crops.

Get the picture? Comments are welcome. Please don't flame!



(original post in the Age of Conan forum, June 2008 | and on


Also please note that the book is actually coming now as a movie! See the trailer here.


ghstwolf writes:

I love the idea, but I hate the compromises that would have to be made.  Realism is a double edged sword for a game like this.

Truly dangerous radiation doses are very unlikely for any area 2 months later (for a post blast 1000 R/hr area = 1 week later would be at the exposure limit for a single space mission after a year), at least using non-salted devices.  Plus thermal nuclear weapons tend to have elements with even shorter half-lives, than the fission nukes that is based on.  Likewise, scarcity is often very over played in such a scenario.  Breaking into a single suburban home (unlikely to be destroyed) could yield a few weeks worth of survivable goods.

That is a downside of intending a realistic game.  Never mind the issues of  coding items that could be used in many ways or an "armor" system that lets you layer clothes (with proper layered effects).  That level of realism is a near impossibility to code.

Sun Aug 30 2009 12:18AM Report
spookydom writes:

Love this book, Had no idear they were making a movie, ty.

Sun Aug 30 2009 9:51AM Report
tupodawg999 writes:

I definitely like the idea of an mmo where the object is purely to survive and where the game is set up to make just surviving quite tricky.

Sun Aug 30 2009 9:39PM Report
Lathow writes:

I agree it is a great idea :) you may like the game Fallen Earth. But to me that game blows hardcore and is behind our current cutting edge tech and I love new tech.

 This idea has a lot of Limitations, Today's game base players Allways seek to Break limitations that games have put out for more Fun and extending there time with any certian mmo. Once an mmo is beat (expect end game content) they offten wander to the next mmo. Your game dose not have have room for an End game base. So it's  possablity to excel is great!.

 The Limitations i speak of are guilds (limit 10) i have much more friends then that online and would love to have them all in the same group.

 Staying alive, by food and dieing over time or from not getting food eh....I think more Thought could be used in this so you can attract more player base. What's the use of making an awesome complex game if your only getting maybe half-1mil player base?

Wed Sep 02 2009 7:16PM Report writes:
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