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.

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.

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Everyone is Talking About Astranar!

Late to the Global Stage. Hanging onto a Victorian Edge. This new Horse and Equestrian Capital of the World feels enough like Europe to make most tourists from that area feel right at home but at the same time defies expectations. And nowhere is this more exemplified than the Astranar royal family.

Ruling from the Diamond District, a massive city that feels like several sprawling interconnected towns, King Edward and Queen Katherine set the tone. He is a bit reserved and proud, a statesman from birth with a charming smile if quiet in words; she is passionate and stubborn, the backbone of the family that wants what’s best for her children, even if they don’t know it yet. The eldest prince, Sebastian, is in self-exile in Sapphire District, removed from the line of the throne and glad for it. He is content to raise horses at the family estate. His younger brother, William, is the Crown Prince by default. He still manages to sneak off into the city, despite an upcoming visit by his betrothed from Zablana (or perhaps because of). The trick for the younger Prince Elowen and Princess Rowan is telling them apart! (This family sounds like a whole lot of trouble…)

While the nobility answers to a Parliament, most of the remaining maintain enforcement of the government in their eight districts and serve the populace as needed for the areas around their estates. Knighthood in Astranar indicates battle prowess and honor in these modern times, and it is gender-blind. You are as likely to meet a female knight as you are a male.

While you’ll never mistake Amethyst’s sharp mountains for Ruby’s steep tree covered hills and lake country or Morganite’s marshes or Citrine’s mossy groves and heather covered moors, every district has its quirks and their people are proud of them. Each of the districts does have things in common. Mild weather during the spring and summer months, and a tendency for gentle frosts and snow dustings in the autumn and winter, Astranar is abundant with wildlife outside of horses. Several species of deer and owls call the woods home, and swans and ducks grace lakes and ponds. Wild turkeys make menaces of themselves, and river otters steal melons from gardens to munch on. Farmers keep more than cows and chickens, even if Citrine’s cows are rather shaggy looking, but also stately buffalo and bison, cute and fuzzy alpacas, and there seems to be an over fondness for goats in pajamas or hats.

From small hamlets to the massive capital city in the Diamond District, there are many sizes of towns and many types of people to meet. From farmers and horse breeders, to smiths and other craftsmen, the people of Astranar come from many walks of life and have several different types of lessons to teach, if you seek them out. They all love pets! Besides the usual dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets, riders will sometimes travel with chickens, piglets, badgers, and otters, with special education programs occasionally having wolf cubs and wild cat kittens for fostering. If carrying a real animal with you isn’t your (or your horse’s!) cup of tea, there are several types of stuffed toys and flower bouquets to brighten up saddle bags.

When not traveling by horse or cart, the best way to get around Astranar has to be by train. The cars are carefully set up to insure not only your comfort but that of your horse, with most of the horses in Astranar being used to such travel by now. How to identify whether a platform is next to a cargo track or a passenger one? Keep your eye out for the conductor cat! These little rascals are dressed to impress, matching the district they are in but each with a bit of a difference, so you can recognize the station. They will see to your comfort—after all, a conductor is both friendly and particular, which sounds like most cats we know.

Scattered across seven of Astranar’s eight districts are Royal Summer Equestrian Camps for Girls, which sends out invitations every year to lucky girls between the ages of twelve to thirteen. How they are selected, no one knows. Some are sent to complete novices, others are sent to well-known rising stars in equestrian riding. Once invited, they can then attend each year in hopes of improving their riding ability enough to win one of the district’s championships for a full scholarship to the Royal Riding Academy.

At the camps, there is more than just riding and basic crafts to attend to, there are fun basic camp things like swimming, hiking, fishing, boating, and even archery. Every week, each camp holds a dance in their dining hall and campers are asked to help with the open house where they can meet the different clubs of Astranar. There are twenty-four original mother clubs in Astranar, and every year new campers are invited to create new sister clubs to these original clubs. And not all of these clubs get along.

But would they band together if all of Astranar and the world was threatened?

One word of advice if you ever visit Astranar, keep your eyes open. You never know what secrets and wonders may be hiding behind the next tree or through the arch of branches and flowers. What will you discover?