You Are In Charge: Parental Control System

You Are In Charge: Parental Control System

MMOs have a well-deserved reputation for being addictive. Here at Mystic Riders, we want to make sure that the players and their parents can agree on how much time they can play in the game and give parents a feeling there is a measure of safety they have control over. Thus, we’re giving them parental controls.

The parental control menu will be part of the games loading area where the player chooses which character they’re going to use for their session. Off to one side outside of an office would be Billie, the camp director, with her clipboard. She and the office door would be the interface for parental controls.

The parental control menu has its own password and Billie will give password advice, like it not being a common password the kids know or something like your birthday.

There are at least three very important controls the parents can implement.

First off, if their child has stated they are under the age of 13, the parent can choose whether or not to turn on chat for their child. If the parent chooses not to turn on chat, the child will be limited to a set number of emotes and a list of commonly asked questions to get help.

Players should be able to get help in playing the game from the game help manual in the phone of the user interface. If they can’t find what they need to know there, then the help manual needs to be rewritten.

The parents can also control how long their children can play the game before they’re kicked off the servers. We desire that Mystic Riders have a system where the game story is set out over half an hour to forty-five minute bites. This would give the player enough time to do chores, maybe run a few races, and advance the plot. The parent would be able to turn on and off or decide if their child can play an hour, two hours or unlimited number of hours should they want to spend more time racing or crafting.

Kids can be overloaded with after school activities, homework, and chores. Setting a time limit for how long they can play the game leaves time for these activities and visiting with their real life friends.

This also gives the option of the players having to choose what type of content they want to do for the day and making the content available last longer. If the player wants to spend their hour crafting or leveling their horse, then that adds an extra day of content where they aren’t progressing the story.

There is a “stay the night” function in the game. This function allows players to spend real money currency (credits) to advance the game’s story by another day if they finish that days story. If the parent has the ‘can only play 1 hour’ selected, this function will be automatically turned off. Otherwise, the parent can choose whether or not they want to opt-in to this function. (All functions that require real world money, should be opt-in, not opt-out.)

Lastly, and almost in correlation with the chat function, parents can choose whether or not their children can accept friend/group invites and join clubs. These will be separate check boxes. We know that some parents will simply desire to have their children be able to play the game without fear of social pressuring or bullying. Letting them choose to turn off these functions so the game in essence becomes a single player game is an option we want to give them.

We hope having these parental control functions will make parents feel easier about having their pre-teens and teens be part of an MMO that will no doubt draw all age groups.

Groupings and Guilds: Clubs

Groupings and Guilds: Clubs

One of the highlights (and lowlights) of a Massive Multiplayer Online experience is to be able to play with other people! In Mystic Riders, we want to be able to give people who enjoys social grouping the ability to experience the game in groups and do things together, while still also catering to the 70% lone single player game base.

Yes. You heard me. 70% of players in MMOs still like to play by themselves and don’t participate in PvP. These players may be explorers, or achievers, or play for story. Mystic Riders is specifically geared towards players who want a single player experience so they can enjoy the story and explore the world at their own pace.

However, at the same time, we want to encourage friendships and if two or more people want to enjoy the story together (and maybe answer the questions in different ways to see how the story plays out) then we want them to be able to do it. The players will be allowed to make friends and form temporary groups to run races and do story together.

Another standard feature to many MMOs is the ‘guild’ system. Groups of players banding together in order to do PvP and battle arenas. Because we are a non-combat game, our PvP consists of running champion races and horse shows and eventing. Horse shows and eventing are when profession riders get together to compete in different racing style events and show off their horses by leading them around through their paces. These are usually put together by a sponsor or a horse organization.

Therefore, Mystic Riders has clubs, our version of guilds. These clubs can participate in shows and eventing in the different districts. Clubs are a big deal in Astranar. There are 24 of them and the basic club names are all animals. During the Club Rush Event in the tutorial, the players will learn about all the different current clubs in their district. They won’t be able to join those clubs, but will be able to create ‘sister’ or ‘chapter’ clubs to those clubs using the same animal base names with different adjectives.

Clubs are tied to character slots and not to the player account. If a player has more than one character (because they want to play the story in a different way,) they can be part of more than one club. Only players that have paid for the game can form a club.

When a player forms a club, they’re the owner of that club. They get to choose the club colors, come up with the club symbol, and those will be used to customize special club gear and equipment which will be available for club members to purchase. They can decide what faction their club belongs to, and what type of club it is. Are they an all around eventing club? Do they prefer dressage? Or are they strictly for role playing?

The club owner will also be able to choose a Clubhouse. Clubhouses will have several different layouts, and like the My Farm and My Stable will be able to be upgraded and decorated with items. Win a bunch of trophies and ribbons, then maybe they want to put up a cupboard to display them? Maybe one of the members takes a really good group photo. Put it on the wall!

The club owner can also assign different roles to members of the club. These roles may be strictly ceremonial. Maybe there is a member of the club who loves doing trail rides and wants to be the road captain. Maybe there’s a member who is the best at championships and they’re the club champion.

Clubs can also hold events for their members outside of joining PvP. These events could be a club roleplaying session, going on a picnic in the Mirror World, doing practice races together, having a group story playing session, or doing dance videos as the Diamond Media Complex.

Having clubs and special type of events for these clubs gives the players more options of things to do and ways to enjoy the game.

Player Versus Player

Player Versus Player

The main thrust of Mystic Riders is a story driven single player versus environment experience. However, we aren’t against having Player Versus Player mechanics in our game as long as they don’t interfere or impede the story. Players can always experience the story together in groups.

But, we’re also willing to consider actual competitive style gameplay. This would be completely optional and wouldn’t tie to player leveling in any way. Player versus player in a mounted MMO is restricted to different types of racing.

Player versus player game play brings out some of the most competitive players and the players who are more apt to grief other players. These are the players who are more apt to try and break the game in order to gain a slight advantage and win a digital “prize” in order to be number one on the board. This type of play would have to be taken into account in the game mechanics so all players who can participate in PvP have a solid chance of winning if they have the right equipment and gear.

This is a game where you have to earn your way by playing story quests. Races, championships, skills and good gear are unlocked by playing quests and earning levels. A player can’t just play through the demo, buy the game, and go buy the ‘best horse’ in the game and the ‘best gear.’ That’s not going to work. There just won’t be one ‘best horse’ because different horses are better at different things. They won’t be just a fastest horse, there will be the most disciplined horse, the most agile horse. There may be an ‘all around’ horse but that horse won’t be the one that is the ‘fastest.’ Players must play quests in order to unlock districts, unlock horses, unlock races and championships and higher level of gear. They have to earn their way through the game. In order to run a championship race, they have to be a ‘champion’ of the competition in that district.

The players can form groups and participate in races together in competition races. This can give the player practice. Neither the player nor the horse gain experience for these races and they are purely for fun and placement on the leader boards. Competition races can be run as many times as the player and group likes.

Once the players have gone through the story racing section of their district and earned the title of “champion,” they can compete in Champion events.

Championship races are PvP races that can only be raced by those who have completed the story racing track that leads them to winning the district’s top prize. Thus, these are extremely difficult races that are for higher level players that have at least completed one district’s story. Every time a player completes another district’s racing story line, they gain another championship to compete in. All championships would be sorted out by player level. That way a low level 5 player wouldn’t be put up against a higher level 20 player with no chance of winning.

If a player wins the Championship and beats their own best score, they’ll receive a small monetary prize.

Or the players can form more formal groups called Clubs.

In order for the Clubs to have a purpose in the game, the Clubs could be divided into different categories or “divisions” by size. Division 4 could be 2 to 5 member clubs, Division 3, 6 to 10, Division 2, 11 to 20, Division 1, 21 to 30 or something like that. (I am not sure of the top membership number of clubs, it’s going to depend on player counts and the ability for the servers to handle them.) Where if anyone in the club participates (and there should be a minimum number of people who are required to participate per show) they get a point to put towards the Club “pot” worth of points. And if anyone in their Club places in the events of the show, they get a LOT of points to go towards the pot, the higher you place, the more points, and the Club with the biggest “pot” of points wins a cup to display in their clubhouse.

There would be several different events, leading your horse in a circle, show jumping, dressage, very formal things. Only one person can participate in one event. Each event has to have a new person so you have to strategize on who participates on who is the ‘best’ at each event or has the best gear. The more people the club has, the events the clubs have. Events of Clubs that only have 2 to 5 people, have 2 events, but a club with say 50 people, would have 10 events to participate in. Events are individual competitions.

Depending on how many divisions there are, and the upper limit of Club membership, will depend on how often these Club Shows Championships would be run, daily, hourly or weekly.

Leaderboards for all championships and races would be reset on a regular basis. Hopefully these limitations and restrictions will keep the PvP fair for all players and still make it fun and enjoyable to socialize.

Can You Hear Me Now? (Main UI)

Can You Hear Me Now? (Main UI)

Astranar is a rather magical place, so much so that cellphones from out of the country don’t work! When the player arrives at camp, they’re given a cellphone that is connected to Argentum’s cellphone network and works in the magical area. This cellphone is the main user interface for Mystic Riders.

The cellphone looks like your typical smart phone. And it has different icon apps that open up different functions in the game. In short, the cellphone is the game’s main menu. So, what features are in our main menu? A lot.

interfacewithmenu

(Rough Idea of Menu design)

One of the biggest functions of the cellphone is that it contains the game map. The player is going to need this map to be able to orient themselves around Astranar. The map will be a 3D style map they can zoom in and out of, and hopefully, will have a road map overlay. There should be marked locations where there are important NPCs, train stations, and shops and restaurants, etc. As the player explores more of the map, fog will lift on the 3D map for them.

interfacewithmap

(The Map While Riding Around; Not Full Screen)

The menu also has the Quest Log Book. Here the player can bring up the quests available to them, select which ones they want to do (markers will appear on the map) and the gold calculator will tell them how many coins they’ll earn from doing those quests. (Always helpful if you need to buy something.)

The player can also access their inventory. The player has two saddlebags on their horse. One saddlebag is for their pet, and the other saddlebag is for their inventory. They can keep everything from feed, to different crafting kits, to their brush, pick, and foldable shovel.

There will be the character menu and the horse menu. These open up interfaces that show the character or horse and what they are wearing. These menus also keep track of the player’s level, care status, currency, and statistics. The player can look at their skill menu, track their achievements in the achievement sticker book, and see how each group in the game feels about them with the reputation tab.

They also will have a friends menu to invite and manage their friends. There will be a club management section if they are part of or run a riding club. They can keep track of their competition results in another menu. They can take pictures with the in-game camera, open the chat function, or send private messages in the in-game email. Lastly, they can access their game settings or get their questions answered in the game help with a report function to message customer support.

If there is an in game radio, the player should be able to access and control what channel they want to listen to through the phone. Channels might include things like orchestral epic soundtrack music, Rose Neptuna’s channel, or channels dedicated to her rivals like Hi-Fidelity (or even an Astranar’s Top 40 that’s a mix of them all? Future thought to chew on).

The player would have the options of being able to customize the phone wallpaper background with game art pictures or pictures from they’ve taken on their in-game camera and to be able to customize the phone case with in-game patterns and colors.

We hope that this style of user interface will be easy to understand and flexible enough that things can be added to it with little trouble if needed. (Maybe we need a game news function for updates, or a section for the game credits.) There are a lot of things going on in an MMO and the in-game phone is the hub for a great deal of it without cluttering the player’s view of the game itself!