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Genre Blending and Video Games

FizzleFizzle Player of GamesRegistered User regular
edited January 2008 in Games and Technology
Genre Blending and Video Games

I've always been interested in genre-blending in video games. I think there are some excellent examples of this becoming a more common practice in the gaming industry, most notably the recent release of Mass Effect (Bioware, combination of First Person Shooter and Role Playing Game). This particular idea came out of my extension interaction with Blizzard's Warcraft III, which incorporates hero units among the regular fare commonly found in real time strategy games. I would like to take the introduction of hero characters one step further: I would like the heros in the game to be independently commanded by a second player.

Game Framework
In any particular cooperative battle, there will be at a minimum of four players: 2 base/army builders and 2 hero controllers. Army/Base builders will focus on the things real time strategy players typically focus on: marshalling forces, constructing buildings, and creating a sustainable economy. Hero players will focus on the things role playing gamers and first person shooters typically focus on: hero development and the complete and indiscriminate annhilation of the enemy.

The trick to making this an innovative and compelling development is ensuring that the hero controlling players are confronted with a playing environment equally rich to the base/army builders. Many of the use settings games that have attempted to perform derivations of the idea I am proposing now are woefully inadequate in this regard. Hero playing is typically a one dimensional task, and the role served is secondary to the army/base builder's (assuming the heros are not grossly overpowered).

The Hero Playing Character
In order to counteract this failing, playing a hero must be a dynamic interaction between a microworld that is generated spontaneously both from factors in the map as well as the actions of other players as well as macroworld considerations regarding the overarching structure of the game. I envision character development as a highly fluid and highly customizable ordeal, where heros are the product of a class selection process but are rather grown into their epic roles through their deeds in the battles they participate in (not unlike the real world). The factors that will mold characters will be derived from two separate sources: microworld interactions and macroworld influences.

Once a hero is transported to a battle, he will instantly be notified of outstanding quests (some carried over from prior battles, others just now available due to the current battle). These quests are side trips that may occur entirely outside of the overarching battle, and are meant to enhance and embellish the hero player's game. The hero playing character will have the opportunity to carry out vast story archs, as the elements necessary to make this possible will spawn at the beginning of each battle in accordance to the hero's profile.

One interesting consideration for hero players to balance is time. They will have limited time to complete some of the non-battle related quests before their services are needed by the army/base builder. If the hero devotes himself overmuch to these separate quests, then the overall campaign will fail without his assistance; however, if he consistently ignores these opportunities, he will not advance as quickly nor will he be as well equipped as some of his opposing avatars. Thus, the hero must pick and choose his spots, and be wise about his development. Many quests will be very short forays, many more will be incrementally completed throughout numerous battles, and still others will be triggered by cooperative events (Example: complete a rush battle).

Each quest will have an effect on the skills and specializations of the hero. Thus, if the vast majority of your quests are completed in the heat of battle, your hero will develop into a warrior. If your quests are instead completed through jack-knavery and trickery, you'll become a thief.

In addition, the hero will have opportunities to specialize in various areas as a result of his battles. These specializations will be derived from macroworld factors and will be known as affinities. Affinities will be determined by the races a hero is most allied with, most often opposing, and so forth.

For example, say a hero has spent 10 battles fighting with the same army/base builder, who always selects Ravenous Donkeys as his race. Due to this symbiotic relationship, the hero will begin to accrue affinity points with the Ravenous Donkeys, taking on attributs unique to this race. Assume further that the army/base building player uniformly battles against the race of Gregarious Goats. The hero controlling player, as a result of his constant conflict with the Goats, will gain specialties in the assassination of our frenzied four legged can eaters.

The Army/Base Building Character
This role will follow a largely traditional real time strategy model with the notable exception that the ABB character will be able to create opportunities to develop and enhance his companion hero character, either through making it possible for him to achieve quests or providing him with buffs/armaments from buildings. The ABB character will ultimately be in control of the larger battle since he is developing the army for his companion hero player to champion.

There really isn't much more I can elaborate on as to the ABB player since the RTS elements will be engaging and interesting in their own right.

Multiplayer Mechanics
Prior to each game, depending on the game settings, each base/army builder would be granted 1-3 independently controlled hero players. I picture this occuring through a sort of recruitment process. An ABB character will go to an online inn or mercenary guild and announce he is in search of specific types of heros. He will then recruit these heros and bring them with him into battle. There are various mechanics I have in mind for how heros will be continually engaged and gaining experience between battles, but I'll detail those at a later date.

Fizzle on
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