When it comes to the question "Where do you start in developing the game world?", I have a rather standard answer: everything begins with the idea and then thinking over the game world in detail. In contrast, when I was writing the book, "The Skies", I wasn't thinking of the game in detail. The world and the storyline were appearing while I was writing and I actually didn't know what it would be fully until the end, so the story revealed itself over time.
We took a different approach when actually developing the game. First of all, we defined the key features of our game. We love playing MMORPGs ourselves, and when you're playing a lot, you notice certain elements lacking in other games or elements that inspire you to do something new. We didn't want to create just another MMORPG, or just another shooter. "The Skies" is joining the global gaming industry as more than than typical MMORPG. It has elements of FPS and RPG that are customized to fit the huge multiplayer open game world. Sounds ambitious? So it is, but we have planned an extensive roadmap of our features and content, and how we plan to achieve it. So, why not? As I said, the first step was defining the major features and here is what we came to:
GAME OBJECTIVES: The main objective of our development team was to build a complicated multi-level economic system that depends entirely on player actions. In this world, production and profit-making is totally different from the threadbare games players are used to as these systems are more convenient for a player. At the same time, they make the game world richer and more captivating. Do you want to get resources or produce materials? Manage your own business or work at the factory? You can start your own production, hire people and manage them, and hand out wages. You're truly free to do anything you like.
Another key objective is to create interesting dialogues between players and characters in the world based on the game role system. If your character's intellectual abilities are not well-developed, you will face some limitations, so it's more beneficial for players to watch their actions and words to gain positive reactions from other characters. If you have a bad reputation, people won’t trust you.
NON-LINEAR PLOT: When designing the project, we also set out to make a non-linear plot and a flexible system of tasks and missions. The player can choose where to go, who to help and who not to help. Rewards and attitudes of other characters directly depend on a player's actions, such as the tasks enabled, and prices for services and goods in the game. We want tasks give a player the unique feeling that they're a part of the world and inspired to travel in search of necessary characters and objects to other cities. In MMORPGs, we can’t simply move unique tasks as we do in games with a non-linear storyline, it’s very difficult. Our players can hinder other players to perform tasks. Therefore, we developed a system that divides the subtasks to the world (when it’s performed in the world with other players) and local (where we create a separate location for performing an action, for example, to beat a character in battle). There are individual and group tasks. Each of the tasks will be either cyclic or nonrecurring.
INTERSECTING DIALOGUE: In RPG games, it’s really interesting to see dialogues that depend on players’ genders and their parameters, and our developers have set out to create this system in "The Skies". A character’s story, gender, skills and IQ are all taken into account, as all these parameters highly influence a dialogue system and help make the world richer and more real. If a character’s IQ is high, he or she can get more useful information or receive a more challenging task. If they have good medical skills, they can heal a wounded character and won’t need to search for help. If they're really good at repair works, they can do tasks in repair-shop and help a mechanic. Dialogues must change as the game progresses, depending on characters’ actions and the course of the game. It’s a real pleasure to realize that you can change the world, characters’ lives and their relations. To implement all this, our team is focused on making characters’ parameters, their actions and dialogue schemes intersect.
ARENA BATTLES: Of course, the post-apocalyptic world is impossible without combats and clan wars. Players keen on fighting in a team will be able to battle in the desert as well as other territories. Team players will have special tasks and arenas where they can fight in various regimes: they can train, have destruction battles, capture flags or keep the territory. For fights in arenas, a player will get experience and rewards. If a player has no friends in the game, they can fight with a random adversary corresponding to their rank. Arenas are represented by abandoned factories, undergrounds, catacombs, dumps and the desert. Team fights can hold up to 20 players at once, but over the course of time this number will increase. Arenas help to diversify the game world and it’s important especially for those who like fighting. At the same time, players-investigators and others will find it easier to survive in this world. Both single players and clans can fight in arenas.
CLAN WARS: Clans are groups inside factions. In the game world, there are several factions that can be at war or at peace with each other. Clans compete with each other inside these factions to acquire higher positions and general rating; the strongest clan represents the faction. Players can select or change a leader of a clan by taking a vote. One more important thing about clans is that they can fight for a town and then get a percentage of its income. Wars for a town become possible under concrete circumstances. Moreover, a clan can built a proper base that increases its rating inside the group. Clans can also attack bases of other clans – it gives additional points to their rating whereas rating of the defeated clan becomes poor. Leader of the first clan in a faction can declare a war or make peace with other factions. In case of war, a player gets good remuneration for every killed enemy, this recompense becomes smaller during periods of peace.
Alright, the major features are defined... but there still remains the question, "Alright, where do we start?" We've chosen the town the players will start their path from: Kimari. Currently, our development is concentrated on it. You may notice from "The Skies" novel that all the locations in the game are named the same. Kimari was described in detail and is created in the game - its atmosphere and history as well as its buildings, characters, and flora and fauna elements.
Stay tuned for our next article on critical changes we made to "The Skies" in development.