Another Excellent Idea

Another Excellent Idea

Hmmm… craft based quests you say… World of More-Crafts…. hmmm…

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Tracey Provenzano on Twitter:

#MakeAVideoGameBetter World of More-Carfts. It’s a fantasy based #MMORPG meets #Pinterest. All your quests are #craft based. #WorldofWarcraft

We’re listening. We’re listening intently.

Let’s Make Something

Let’s Make Something

Now that the player has someplace to live and keep their horses, well, they’re own little farm. They need something to do on their farm. That’s right. Crafting.

In combat MMOs, crafting is now considered one of the basic features of the game. It doesn’t matter that in a combat MMO you’re probably just getting materials to make new armor or put together some potions, crafting is there and part of the experience. In Mystic Riders, crafting is part of what drives the story as the character chases after the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

As the player unlocks camp locations, they can choose to learn new skills. In the beginning, they can learn 3 different skills, one racing, one ‘craft’ skill and one ‘arts’ skill.

The racing skill they choose is determined by their district and the answers they gave to the quiz. (If they don’t like that type of skill, they can always take the quiz again to get a different district.) And then once they are at camp, they can choose two other skills from the different activities offered.

The Craft skills are hiking, running, swimming, gardening, cooking, photography, archery, and fishing. The Art skills are cloth crafts, leather crafts, wood/paper crafts, ceramics, and lastly, metal crafts. As the player uses their skills, they’ll get better at them. The more they craft, the better they’ll be at it. (Exactly the same mechanic used for riding, jumping, or caring for your horse.)

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Some of the craft skills and all of the art skills have trees of knowledge that increase in difficulty. When you first start sewing for example, you’ll be learning to make curtains and pillowcases, but when you become more advanced, you can make tailored clothes! As the player increases in skill, new quests to learn more advanced techniques will open up for them to play, and new items will be available for them to make.

After you learn to hike, you can learn orienteering and eventually go onto geocaching and archaeology. Running leads to the skills of yoga, dance, and fencing or martial arts. Once you learn to swim, you can learn to row a boat. After you learn to garden, you can learn how to take care of animals, and mine responsibly. (I’d consider gardening to be the most basic skill to take and strongly urge players to get it started first.) Once you learn to cook, you can learn to bake, make candy, and brew things such as potions, lotions, and perfumes.

After you learn to sew square things, you can learn to make clothes, and then advanced more tailored clothes and knitting. In leather crafts, first you make belts, handbags, and shoes, and then you can learn to make bridles and saddles. In woodcrafts, you first learn to make paper items, and things such as picture frames. Then you can learn to make furniture and musical instruments. In ceramics, first you learn poured ceramics (like plaster) and slab style ceramics, and then you can learn the pottery wheel, and eventually go onto glass making. In metal crafts, you learn to make jewelry and simple things like nails and decorative objects, then later forging.

Some of this obviously is going to need to be worked out and is subject to change.

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The crafting system is meant to tie in with the story, the professions, the My Farm/My Stable, and even the factions in Mystic Riders. During the story, the character will be asked to use certain skills. And how easily they manage them is going to depend on how much time they’ve put into that skill.

If you want to take part in a certain profession in the game and get the special items, you’re going to need skill and reputation with the groups related to that profession. The more work you put into your skills, the bigger and better your farm and stable can become. If you want better horse shoes, it’s going to be much cheaper to learn to forge your own than to buy them. And there are certain items you can only make if you’re with one faction or the other.

The items they make and grow can be food for them or their horses, it can be clothing or gear, or jewelry to help with their magic abilities. They can create items to decorate their My Farm/My Stable inside and out.

As the player runs around the world and does the quests and as they level up in their skill levels, they’ll discover, be given, or can buy different crafting recipes or patterns. These they can keep in their library at their My Farm/My Stable for reference later.

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They can grow the items they need at the My Farm/My Stable, forage them from the world around them, or be able to buy items in shops if they’re pressed for time. Just because one player is going to want to make their outfit from growing the cotton to finished product, doesn’t mean another player is going to want to do that, and we can accommodate both.

Because crafting is going to be a large part of the game, we have set some limits on how long things will take to grow in the garden for instance. Nothing should take more than fifteen minutes and when the server resets, everything will be instantly ready. We don’t want to frustrate our players or make them babysit the game waiting for things to finish. Certain areas of the game will have items the player can forage. The items will be refreshed when the player leaves that area and returns. And so it’s not all drag and drop mechanics, we hope to use different mini games to liven up the experience.

For instance, in sewing you could trace the pattern on the screen. For forging, there could be a slide bar mini game where you need to hit the mouse at a certain time. For cooking, you could take the ingredients and make sure each row of ingredients has the right number of them and possibly in the right order.

We want people to have fun and hopefully relax during the game. Farming and crafting and using the items that result to decorate your My Farm/My Stable can be very relaxing activities! Crafting is yet another way we want to give the players more control over their experience to enjoy the game they want to enjoy it without making it a grind or tedious and mind numbing.

A Place to Live

A Place to Live

One of the main buildings in the My Farm/My Stable is the farm house, or, well, in the beginning, the farm cottage. When the player first sets up their My Farm/My Stable after purchasing the game, they receive what is essentially a 1 bedroom cottage. They have a choice over whether or not the cottage is on the ground or is a tree house and what architectural style the cottage is going to be or at least, grow into.

Because as they play through the game and go through quests learning different skills, the player will be able to upgrade and expand their cottage to have more rooms for different crafting skills. They’ll be able to buy or create decorations and plants so that they can choose how their cottage is going to look on the outside.

They will also have the option of decorating their cottage on the inside. This starts when the player gets a room or a cabin at camp. They are allowed to choose from the district’s basic colors and patterns on how to decorate their room. Once they buy the game, they’ll be able to choose from every districts colors, patterns, and mix and match from the different Victorian style wall paper and furniture themes available. And by learning crafting skills, they can make or buy at stores, drag and drop decorations to personalize their home even more.

The cottage begins as a small one bedroom cottage with a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bath. Your living room may have a small area for whatever your first crafting specialty that you chose at camp. If you chose clothes, there might be a body form and a sewing machine for example.

As the player learns more about their skill they’ll be able to add onto the cottage by adding an entire room for the skill. They might want to add a wardrobe room to keep all of their clothes. (Like, they’ll want to add on a display tack room for their horse’s equipment in the stable.) They might want a room for paper crafts and wood working or to put in an art room for their pottery wheel and kiln or glass blowing supplies. Maybe, they’ll want to collect books and have a library. Or they need a case for all their findings in archeology. They might want to upgrade their kitchen so they have better ovens or more than one counter in order to do cooking and baking in one area, but making dyes, paint, and spa products (and other inedible things) on another counter.

One of the most useful rooms in the player’s cottage is their bedroom. The bedroom contains several mechanics of the game that deal with their inventory and game progression; the wardrobe, the vanity, the safe, the computer, the bedside table, and the bed.myfarmcloset

The wardrobe is where the player can keep their clothes, hand items outside of pets, and jewelry. The wardrobe will allow them to organize their clothes and to create outfits if they desire. When the player enters the wardrobe, they should be able to see themselves and their clothing inventory. They can either double click on items or drag and drop them to create outfits. There should be an option for them to be able to see their total stats depending on the outfit that they’re wearing.

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The vanity is where the player can keep their hairstyles and makeup options. If they desire, they can play a mini game in order to do their hair, nails, and makeup, after they decide what they want to do, or they can opt out of the mini-game and do a ‘magical’ quick change.

The safe is where the player can keep extra credits and coins that they don’t want to carry around in their inventory. This lets the player save coins and credits beyond the maximum limit. The safe would have an extra password that the player would set as a double protection just in case. This way, if the player doesn’t have anything they want to buy and are almost maxed out on the credit or coin limit, they can store those currencies and keep earning until there is something they do want to buy in an update, or dare I say it, the next expansion.

The computer is similar to the phone user interface for the player. The computer does everything that the phone does, as well as gives the player options to replay story arcs for coins (not experience), keeps track of story progression, allows them to replay story cinematics, and gives them the option to change their My Farm/My Stable/Cottage/Dorm appearance. Here they can keep track of their skills and skill trees, have a database of met NPCs, horses, and district information, see the webpages for different in game riding clubs, and unlock game concept art. And because a computer should also be fun, they can also practice the mini games such as bubble shooter and whack-a-mole, etc.

The bedside table is important for its large stack of magazines. These magazines form a dress up game for both the player and the horses. These magazines are advertisements for clothing, hair styles, makeup, and horse equipment items that they can either buy in the shops or create themselves. They can use the magazines to plan outfits for them and their horses, and the magazines can tell them where to find the items, if they have restrictions, the stats, and how much the entire outfit is going to cost.

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Lastly, there is the bed. The bed is simply a place for the player to sleep. If they’ve finished the quests for that day, and want to progress to the next day’s quests, then they can pay a fee to sleep and wake up “the next day.” When they wake up the next day, all their items in the garden will be grown, and they’ll be able to proceed in any story or crafting quests. Mystic Riders is going to be designed so the player will spend at most an hour every day doing horse care and quests. If they desire to spend more time in the game foraging or farming or shopping outside of quests, that is on the player and if they desire to do more quests outside of the 45 minutes to an hour, they can sleep in their bed to progress the game.

While the cottage at the My Farm/My Stable isn’t going to be a place where the player spends a huge amount of time, it is designed to let them have as much control over it as possible and assist them in their farming and crafting endeavors.

A Place of Your Own

A Place of Your Own

A large part of Mystic Riders involves the ability to grow and make your own items. And in order to do that, you need a place of your own to be able to grow your own ingredients or store things that you’ve foraged. Plus, you can’t keep all your horses at the camp forever. You need your own place and that is the My Farm/My Stable.

The My Farm/My Stable is available to players who buy a pass to leave the camp (or in essence, buy the game). Once they have a pass, the mentor of their camp will show them their own Farm and Stable and walk the player through choosing a set up for a Farm and Stable of their own.

The My Farm/My Stable exist in well, magic space. What the player needs to access their farm and stable is their magical key, and a special gate. When they put the key into the special gate, a portal appears to their bit of land in Astranar. They can either keep the key with them, or set it up in one of permanent gates on the map. (Going home to your stable is always a free transportation jump that doesn’t require using a train.)

The key to their farm and stable is a snow globe! (Snow globes are very magical in Astranar.) The player has the opportunity to customize their snow globe key by choosing one of the districts symbols for the middle and a color from the color palette. (These can always be changed later.)

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When the player drags and drops their key onto the gate for the first time, they’ll be prompted to choose a style of farm that they want. While the player won’t be able to choose the placement of the buildings on their farm, they’ll be able to choose whether or not they have a cottage or a tree house and about a half a dozen styles ranging from French Empire, Queen Anne, Modern Eco Victorian, and so on and so forth to choose from, and they can choose if they want stone or stucco or painted clapboard. There will also be decorations to make or buy so they can decorate to their heart’s content.

The player will also be prompted to name their My Farm/My Stable.

The player will start with a small 1 bedroom cottage, a stable with 3 stalls that looks like a country church without a steeple, and a patch of dirt. As they do quests around the districts, they’ll be able to upgrade and add buildings and animal enclosures to their farm. Some of the first quests after the player acquires their farm will be to fill the stalls of their stable with a draft horse and a pony!

For example, as a player does farming quests around the district, they’ll be able to upgrade their patch of dirt so it has less rocks, or they learn how to improve the soil, thus letting plants grow faster or yield more. By learning about animals from farmers and veterinarians, they can build enclosures for bunnies, chickens, and an animal pen for bigger animals like sheep, cows, alpaca, and goats. (This is going to depend on their crafting specialty what animals they find more important. A player that takes up doing clothing is more likely to have an alpaca over say a goat, unless the goat is a cashmere goat.)

Once the player goes to the Diamond District and learns about hot houses, they’ll be able to build a conservatory in their farm if they so desire. When they learn forging, they’ll be able to build a forge on their farm. And if they want a pony cart, they can build a building specifically to hold their pony cart.

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When they complete a quest to make friends or capture one of the fantasy horses in the mirror world, they’ll be able to open a gate to the mirror world from their farm to a magical glade. This magical glade will have a pavilion for them to take care of their magical horses, a garden, and enclosures for magical animals.

The My Farm/My Stable is intended as a place for the player to be able to continually improve as the game progresses. It is “their” space in the game to make it look the way they want. They can use the farm to grow plants in order not to have to buy them at the stores and as a place to keep extra inventory and pets. Lastly, the My Stable is a place for them to house the completely optional horses (outside one draft and one pony) they can collect in the game.

Professions, the Game Mechanic!

Professions, the Game Mechanic!

In Mystic Riders, we have to include professions as part of the game. They’re fairly standard in MMOs. In most combat MMOs, professions are the system that determines what weapons you can wield and what spells you can cast. They are things like Knight, Ranger, Mage, Monk and every type of variation of there-of you can think of. (My favorites tend to be the ones where I can populate the battle field by summoning up dead things or ghosts!) However, Mystic Riders isn’t a combat game. So, why should we have professions at all?

Because story.

The story and the focus of Mystic Riders is about the player’s journey through their teen years and growing up. Part of growing up is the ability to put on different styles and personalities like they’re hats and, yes, trying out different jobs to see if they are something that fits your talents to make into a career.

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So, obviously, our professions in Mystic Riders are a little different. Outside of not being combat oriented, they work together with the different crafting and farming skills the player can learn in the game. We went over them in general in this post. The professions are jockey, farmer/gardener, archaeologist, fashion stylist, interior decorator, entertainer, chef, and spa owner.

Each of these professions will give the player the ability to customize their game, earn some in game cash, and give them access to items, gear, and equipment that are exclusive to that profession either in stores or making them by hand. (You want the really good cooking tools, become a chef.) These professions can also give them outlets for creating fan content for their social media like Instagram and YouTube. (I foresee interior designer, spa owner, entertainer, and fashion stylist being big social media hits.) And there are professions for those who simply want to get through the story as fast as possible (farmer, jockey) or on the other extreme have to know every bit of lore (archaeologist).

During the story of the Diamond District when the player arrives at the Royal Riding Academy, they will be prompted to start thinking about their future and be able to learn about the different professions from their original district’s mentor. From there, they’ll be directed to the appropriate mentor of that profession who will send them on quests to meet experts who will send them on more quests to teach them the skills and give them the tools to hone their crafting abilities.

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Like in the training week tutorial, the player should be allowed to try a basic quest of each profession offered once before they decide on what they want to be for this specific play through.

Remember, the more you craft, the better and faster you get at it and the more difficult things you can make.

This may, or may not, encourage the player to play through the district story of their profession’s mentor. Each district they unlock allows the player to learn different crafting and professional skills. (Until they’ve unlocked them all.) If they haven’t learned the core skills to the profession that they want to pursue, the mentor can gently suggest they take up a certain skill or craft. The professions allow the player to go beyond basic skills and earn those elite items.

Professions help us have a use for all those crafting and farming items we’re putting in the game too. And more chances for the players to use our proposed and hopefully fun mini-games.

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With having professions in the game, we can add prestige professions later that can expand gameplay and build upon the mechanics of the mini-Games already in place and provide a more real life story progression as they go from apprentice to master of their craft.

Professions are one of the mechanics that makes the most use out of every level of the game’s design. From races, to areas of the map that only archaeologists can unlock, to mini-games and set pieces that are designed to appeal to social media and story subplots that give the players yet again another way to choose their own adventure. Professions are part of the way of making the game a rich, dynamic, and replayable experience.

Mystic Riders: The Proposed MMORPG

Mystic Riders: The Proposed MMORPG

There are certain features in MMORPGs that are considered standard and no longer optional (unlike back in 2006). If you want your MMO to be a full AAA type product, you can’t skip on these features. It’s more than having a full story (and in a combat MMO it’s having a good combat and PvP system). So, here in brief are some of the features we want Mystic Riders to have.

A Mount System.

Mystic Riders is a horse themed MMO focused on story. We have to have mounts for our players. These will be horses based upon real world horses, and horses that are completely magical! We want the horses to come in three types: ponies, regular warmbloods, and draft horses. The horses would come in different coat colors and each breed would have their own set of basic statistics based upon what their breed is well known for doing because we have skill system.

The Skill System.

The Skill System as it pertains to horses is the type of rider your player character can be. There are four horse based skills that correspond with different racing type minigames. Your player can be a dressage rider, a western rider, a showjumper, or a jockey type. Or, they can balance their stats to be an all around rider. As they player gains levels they will get points to put towards skills and be able to customize their character and story.

There are also different skills that go with a crafting and farming system.

Crafting and Farming System

We want the players to have the ability to make and customize their own items in the game. Different items would have different stats and would be available for different seasons. (You don’t want to wear a summer blouse in the winter!) The player could use these items to decorate their house and some items would only be available to different factions or professions.

Housing System

In a housing system, or as we call it in Mystic Riders, My Farm/My Stable, the player has control over customizing and growing their own little farm area. They have a house, rooms inside the house dedicated to different types of crafts, and a stable to house their horses. The more they learn, the bigger their stable and house will be, the more animals and gardens they’ll have, and thus the more horses they can own.

Factions System

The players have to make a choice in the game, what type of magic are they using. Are they Light Riders or are they Shadow Riders? There are exclusive items, horses, and pets to each faction. And they can only learn the magic of light or shadow depending on which faction they choose.

Magic System

There are two types of magic in Astranar, Light Magic, the magic of the elements and thought itself, and Shadow Magic, the magic of decay, disease, and depression. (Death keeps out of this.) Once the player advances beyond basic magic in the tutorial, they can learn spells associated with their faction and depending on what area of Astranar they are in.

Professions System

Once the players reach the capital zone of the Diamond District, they can choose a job. These jobs come with extra quests and more items that they can buy, craft, or grow.

Reputation System

As the player goes through the story they will be given options on how to respond to the different quests. How they respond will affect the NPCs and their groups view of the player, thus earning them reputation. If they don’t earn enough reputation with a certain group to advance that story, they will be given ‘catch up’ type story quests to get enough to proceed.

Pets

In Mystic Riders, we want the players to be able to own one or more several cuddly pets. They can keep their extra pets at the My Farm.

Map

We have several plans for the map. We want our map to be a 3D style Google earth map with the options of having a Randy McNally style roadmap to go over it. That way the player can zoom in and zoom out of the map and be able to find directions to where they are going if it is hidden by ‘fog of war’ because they haven’t explored the area yet.

We also want to have free map travel from train junction points that once the player discovers them, they can travel between them instantly and for no in game money. These train stations are manned by the Station Master Cats. You may feed the kitty, pet the kitty, or take the train.

Riding Clubs

In the game, the players will be able to form their own riding clubs. In their riding clubs, they can have club gear and equipment, their own club house, and do club events as well as participating in club vs. club racing and eventing PvP.

Player Versus Player

PvP in Mystic Riders is completely optional. All group races and championship style events are up to the discretion of the player whether or not they want to participate. PvP can include races against your friends in groups. Or racing in large championships that you can only enter once you’ve beaten the racing story line of your area and are a “champion.”

Chat System

In the game there will be a chat system for players to be able to talk to each other. The Chat system will be locked for players under the age of thirteen. We hope to have a system in place where if you try to use a word that would be censored, it will turn red and you won’t be able to send the chat without changing the word. This will help with compliance with acts such as COPPA.

There is one system that we won’t be implementing into the game and that is an in game player economy. Players will be able to sell items to NPCs but they won’t be able to sell them to each other. As this is one of the  most tricky systems to work into a huge game, and is one of the most easily abused, we don’t want to get into it.

These are a good many of the different systems that we have hopes to implement in Mystic Riders MMO, along with our mini-games, in order to make it an enjoyable and fully realized gaming experience.

Get to Know Your Devs: Top Fav Games

Get to Know Your Devs: Top Fav Games

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about what our favorite games are, and what you can see they mean for Mystic Riders as a whole. Why? Because our favorites are (inevitably) going to affect what sort of features we want to see in the game, and the kind of stories that we enjoy.

So to start with, Becca’s list is a little…all over the place. The most obviously vintage of the group is Barbie Riding Club from 1998, a PC game that in many ways started the girls’ gaming phenomena but is sadly no longer replayable. (Because yes, she would play it again, Becca will play any game she loves multiple times.) It was the best substitute for owning a horse a girl could have. There’s also Jak & Daxter, which is a console game of the fantasy, chosen one type variety, that she wasn’t able to finish due to the game mechanics being not in her favor. She grew up with the Legend of Zelda franchise, but the first one she played and her favorite still is Windwaker–it gave the characters such great expressions and had a story that was outside of the norm for the game while still being within the box that is Zelda. (And the new Princess Zelda from Breath of the Wild drove her bonkers.)

She has a hard time picking her favorite Pokémon game–Yellow was her first, Crystal was the first to let her actually play as a girl and has all of her favorite legendaries, Stadium 2 had the best mini-games ever, and Moon lets the Pokémon actually interact in the outside world more–but her favorite remains X. She just loves the world building too much, the region easily being her favorite with its French roots, and it was the first that allowed customization of the avatar to really let the player express themselves. Her last on her big list of favorites is Professor Layton and the Curious Village. While there are frustrating aspects to the game and some of the puzzles are harder than others, she enjoys the way the story winds through the characters and the “twist” ending that while mildly surprising, isn’t a complete shocker for the player either.

Ginny’s list is more easily nailed down to a theme (though Becca had to do some meshing to make this list, lol). With Caesar IV, she gets to make her own city and make it as pretty as possible (such as all the roads and the pattern tiles), as well as optimizing the layout to make everyone happy. Cooking games like Cake Mania gives her the satisfaction of getting the high score under the time constraints to unlock all the extras, and Cake Mania is particularly good about it because there aren’t a ton of micro transactions hiding in the levels. Roads of Rome gives her the satisfaction of doing things in the right order, especially since the later levels will punish you if you don’t, and the fact it’s repairing things rather than combat.

There was a lot that she loved about Ratchet & Clank. From the story, to the fact the original game’s worlds were just the right size to inspire wonder without getting overwhelming, but the first thing she mentioned was the fact the game was set up to be about exploring and collecting items, as well as a few well-timed explosions. Kingdom Hearts hits the nostalgia, the comfort of familiar stories and getting to interact with them as well as taking something old and making it new. (It was also her first platformer game.) With Okami, she loved the concept of using magic to heal the world and the mechanics that let the player see the impact their actions were having. She also found the puzzles seamless in their integration, and that you had to think on them.

What about games the two game devs share? There’s two sets of them. One is Final Fantasy X and its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. For Becca, it’s all about the story. The characters are great (okay, Tidus is a bit grating, but he gets better), and some of the best parts of it are the fact you can influence the story in small ways to really make your mark on it. Becca really liked the callbacks to X in X-2, but that it was being it’s own story at the same time. For Ginny, her favorite part of X is pretty limited to Rikku punching Tidus in the stomach as a greeting. For her, X-2 was what really hit the mark because it focused on Yuna and Yuna’s grief and feelings about her journey and the aftermath. It also presented three very different types of girl, with girls having agency in their own story. And then the job system is her favorite, as imperfect as it might be, she liked it the best by far.

The other is the Sly Cooper series, though there are some strong feelings on them, especially the last one, lol. Becca likes that it isn’t about combat, it’s about sneaking and collecting items, and the importance of history to the present. (Once combat started happening, it started irking her.) There is character growth between games too, which is great. She just wishes they hadn’t done a cliffhanger ending with no follow through and that Carmelita had gotten a better treatment. For Ginny, the third game, Sly Cooper: Band of Thieves remains her favorite. Sucker Punch really hit their stride with the mechanics at that point, including different mini-games depending on the situation that made sense and fit the game play so the player wasn’t confused as to why it existed. It was also really about Sly’s ancestors and start delving into the lore of the world. She did miss the “tink tink” of the first two games though.

So what does all of this mean for Mystic Riders? Well, between the game devs, there is obviously an importance placed on story, which you already knew, but not just on story being the focus. It has to give the female protagonist agency, it has to be about their story as much as it is about the side characters, as fun as they can be. The mini-games have to be fun, and yet mesh well and make sense with the world, which can’t be so large it’s overwhelming or too small so you don’t have enough to explore. While the player has some influence on the greater story, it is within reasonable limits and gives in to their expectations rather than being surprising just to be surprising or not making sense. And rather than combat, it is focused on puzzles and improving the world, with some elements of time management but not enough to drive anyone batty.

Think this helped you understand what sort of game we are looking to build? Let us know in the comics or on twitter!

Cores and Pillars: The Foundation of Mystic Riders MMO

Cores and Pillars: The Foundation of Mystic Riders MMO

As part of me taking a course on game design taught by Brenda Romero on Lynda.Com, we are working to make sure that even though we are approaching the game our own way, we have an understanding of what developers and the gaming industry at large looks for in a game proposal. Ginny posted a work-in-progress of our thought processes to piecing out the core and pillars from our (massive) design documents, and now that we’ve had a chance to talk about the differences (and the similarities), I am going to explain the “official” core and pillars…at least for now. While the core of our game isn’t going to change, the pillars may need adjustment as we continue development.

If you look at the work in progress documents, you’ll see that for the core, Ginny and I had different approaches to roughly the same idea. For me, I was focused on this being an MMORPG game. The point of any MMORPG is character development, gaining levels and gear to fit your style of play and advancing the story. It’s how you go about it and what your story is that separates them. Ginny, however, came from a more narrative, and therefore a more specific direction, and used growing up as her core. While still about character development, it is more about how as a player character, you are making decisions on how this specific character, a young teen girl, is going to grow up, both on micro and macro levels. It also gives the first nod in the direction of our narrative, which is important since we’re starting there rather than with systems.

Neither  of “cores” is necessarily wrong, but due to Ginny’s being more specific and in-line with the narrative of the game, I definitely thing it is the stronger of the two. So Mystic Rider MMO’s core is growing up.

Now, what about pillars? These are sort of supporting structures to the core—important statements or concepts in their own right that need to be just as prevalent as the core itself. This is where we had some very similar concepts and some differing opinions. Admittedly, I applied some limitations to us to try and you know…keep us from having twenty, but I honestly think that helped more than hindered us because it made us prioritize what we found important.

For example, both of us want the game to be driven by narrative. We’re writers, we come for the pretty, we stay for the story. Not only that, but from what we are finding, most female gamers feel the same way. There’s also a lack of games that let you focus on exploring, crafting, and racing without making it a money grab between players or involving combat…or making it where you have to babysit the game. Ginny has the collection of posts about people wanting something else, I’ll let her share those images on her own time. I worry that despite our ideas and focus being more likely to bring in female devs, we’ll end up with some guy who goes off the deep end and forgets our game is for girls, and I really want us to keep that a question in everything we do. Ginny has spent a lot of time investigating what sort of graphics and mini-games we can include, specifically ones that often get made into flash games that so many of us love to play, but are buggy or limited as all get out, so we can bring them into the fold.

So where does that leave us in terms of pillars? For Mystic Riders MMO, our pillars are to be (1) Narrative Driven in a world that at times challenges to be (2) Unconventional Fantasy, to have (3) Exploration, Crafting, and Racing that is easy but dependent on practice and skill, utilizing (4) Platformer and Mini-Game Mechanics to (5) Customize the Player Experience for (6) Female Gamers.

It’s a lot to live up to, especially for our first major project. I’ve done smaller games, though without any formal training. But I think together, we have the knowledge on what we want and how to implement it in a plan. Now we just need to start getting the resources together!