It's been almost 7 weeks since my first (ever!) blog, it's been almost 7 weeks since i looked at my first XML file too...
They say time flies when your having fun and time for me has not stood still for a while now, from taking my first baby steps at making a 'bigger' city hub, chatting with BigC and the guys about some new ideas, raiding the official forums for as much information as my burger flipping brain could handle, playing around with the city blocks and giving birth to the sewer system.
We've tried to be quite open about our plans for the server and I've always championed the idea of giving people a chance to have a say/criticize and generally get involved as much as possible. To those of you who took a tour of the test server and dropped us a line or two, a big thank you. The test server is still running and has been modified several times based on feedback and performance as well as updates to the mixer and the re-introduction of some of the larger prefabs (we once again have the walking dead prison by laz man). We still extend an open invitation to you and your friends to come and try the map out and tell us what you think.
As things have moved along quite a bit and another alpha 13 blog has been released by the pimps I decided now would be a good time to do a recap on the 'vision' and start talking about the server rules in general and grab some feedback on that.
- One city to rule them all
- Sustainability for upto 48 players in and around our central play area
- A more dense, urban environment within the main cityhub
- A focus on making players want to live near and scavenge the same places within our central play area
Early on in our talks about a new custom map for A13 we were pretty decided on one thing mainly: stop people being able to run of 14k blocks into the unknown to never be seen again. At its core multiplayer is not just about PvP, there are many interactions with other players that can take place from trading and selling information, chatting (aka flaming each other and cussing till bans are threatened!) and sharing tips or ideas to offering help, teaming up to build a base or even a mutual ceasefire to share the loot in a hub or particular spot. Throughout all of these tasks is one constant, people interacting with each other.
Now there are the 'omg 7 days s designed to be a small PVE/coop experience' and that may be true, you guys will probably be the first to leave,if you ever join in the first place, the door is that way >>>>. The point is, dedicated server owners are in a unique position to provide an extremely customized experience with a specific rule set and theme in mind and that is exactly what we are going to do here.
Our first idea was to enforce a world border, the radius was dependent on the content we would provide. This was quickly burned for a few reasons:
- We don't want to 'enforce' our play style or theme onto you, we want you to adapt of your own free will
- a fixed world border would greatly restrict exploring, the need for minibikes or other vehicles
- The radius of the play area would be greatly affected by how many regular players we were intending to have, we get more than that amount it gets too cramped, we get less and the map is like most multi player games atm.... empty.
Now not long after this chat I was just starting to play around with the idea of a 'bigger' city hub and we started to think along the lines of, "what if people did not want to live miles away" and how could we achieve that without strictly enforcing the adherence to our theme.You've seen the pictures and what the city hub actually turned into, and with it, the start of our master plan was born.
The Map, cityhub, custom hubs and points of interest.
As far as we are concerned, the world as we know it is fucked, they said Navezgane was the last paradise on earth... well 'they' are probably zombies now or a stain on the road.
The Map, is, our world border without a border! The cityhub will be the living beating heart of our world providing sustenance to the survivors and zombies alike. We opted for a more realistic setting where players would be given an area roughly twice the size of Navezgane (approx 5000m radius from the center of cityhub) where we would pour all or efforts into spicing it up and generally making it a place you don't necessarily want to live in (if your a little girl!) but at the very least live near. There will be no more cities on our map, with the exception of some of the custom hubs surrounding cityhub, in-fact the more you move out and rely more on the random gen dropping something nice to loot in front of you the more disappointed you will become. Deep exploration of the wilderness is a task for the mini bikers as there will always be a slim chance for a hub spawning a few rarer prefabs, but you will not find anything as remotely bountiful as our central play area.
Cityhub (which I've threatened to call Slaanhatten if some better name ideas dont come in thick and fast) is almost finished, for those of you who have played in it on the test server, the good news is I have almost copied over all of the prefabs used into a separate pack, modified to fit in with the theme set by the custom city blocks. I will release this for download with relevant code to add it to the rwg.mixer so it can be used side by side with magoli's compo pack without any issues. There are new prefabs coming out all the time and there will more than likely be last minute adjustments to make sure all the ones I want to use are in there. But with most of the heavy work done, lights have been removed, shower glass replaced all thats left to do is get the city POI groups within the mixer split up a bit better to ensure we get a good spread of all the prefabs across the whole city.
From a game play perspective, cityhub (Slaanhatten! you have been warned twice now) is shaping up to be quite an experiment. As the only city we had to make it big, but the compo pack has really helped to spice it up to the point where it looks more like a real city than the bare bones vanilla crap (sorry pimps, community builds left your vanilla fabs in the dust months ago) people are used to. It is actually possible to be across the street from someone but still be a couple hundred blocks of walking distance away from them. I've took every pain possible to ensure even if we get 48 people shacking up in the city there will be plenty room to be stealthy and sneak around. We have the custom city blocks to fill in the gaps between the prefabs, we have the sewer system as a subterranean travel route now too.
For the first time in a long time (probably before they were introduced) I'm starting to think about how I'd go about a hidden base in the city without using claim blocks as they are going to be a dead giveaway with so many people travelling back and forth, but the advantages of having a pad hooked up there should be obvious.
There is an eerie feeling, it's easy to get lost when you can't open your map for fear of someone else hearing you and sound travels far in this city... so far its possible to hear everything in almost every part of the city when you stand bang in the middle of it. There is a greater feeling of not wanting to be discovered and I think the super forts people are used to living in will be a thing for the wilderness... or the patient and lucky people who wanna try.
Custom Hubs, PoI's
we have our first iteration of the loot doughnut surrounding our cityhub, it currently consists of:
- My custom coronado based farm hub to the North
- The walking dead prison to the South
- Large towns to the east and West
- Waste citys/towns occupy three of the corners
- Shopping center to the North West
These are the secondary loot stations, areas which have good looting potential but will not support a large number of players regularly farming them. They will also act as our exploration sites, many people have yet to see Laz man's prison (it is an awesome and a very accurate depiction of the one in the series), the shopping center, the custom hospitals. There are many reasons and things to go out and explore, getting them in as fixed points of interest was a learning experience (which is still not over!), but they break up the normal flow of small city > rural with two shops and a house > small town.
There are many prefabs within the compo pack you will only discover if you go out and look for them, which brings us back to the reason to have minibikes in the first place as with our current rwg.mixer these hidden loot pinatas could be miles out into the wilderness, they could be closer than you think... you won't know until you go looking.
Still with me?
Ok, so this is really a big wall of text but I hope people will start to take on board the implications of this kind of map on the way you play the game, on top of the upcoming scavenge system being implemented (will the city survive more than a few weeks!?) and the body heat survival mechanics things could be upside down for quite a while, we won't really know the full extent until we start playing.
The server rules (uh-oh)
These are yet to be finalized, but my gut feeling atm is we will go back to dropping everything on death. For too long have we had the luxury of filling our bags with spare crossbows and a couple stacks of arrows and a few sleeping bags, then raiding to our hearts content, losing only what we choose to on death and making the defenders job, especially when outnumbered an absolute fucking nightmare (ask matty and pogomonkey). There is no reward for killing people who only lose what they choose to sacrifice, and while I would ask people not to just shoot on sight and think out of the box a little (we have VOIP in game if you want people to sing for the luxury of you letting them live!), we wont punish banditry outside of the regular anti-excessive griefing rules we have in place already. Its a proven fact in all zombie stories/films/lore/series the human element is what makes people dead more often than not and who are we to take that away.
Claim blocks, (aka keystones). We currently have a 15 x 15 claim zone which i think is ideal for the wilderness castle, however, we didn't call this urban survival so people could have it easy building fort knox. I want to tempt people into having more of a focus on a hidden base as opposed to the super forts. I'm thinking along the lines of 7 x 7 again, enough to protect a reinforced stash room hidden away in hill or cave within a days run of the city or other PoI, small enough so you have to really think and commit to where you place it. Also a 15 x 15 plot can really cripple the looting in the city if enough people drop them down there.
I would like to abolish the crafting recipe for them all together, leaving regular voters as the only people who may acquire more outside of stealing them! I would also like to increase the offline protection but re-introduce the decaying. Attacking someones base at any time of the day will still be an option however there would be a drastic reduction in claim strength while people are online, people who do not log in or re-set their claim blocks will gradually loose the protection they will provide over time. I used to worry that higher offline protection would encourage teams to force the guy who placed them to log off during an attack, and I suppose it is still a genuine concern, but I don't want solo players punished as much as they are now for working alone....who trusts anyone they met in this game anyway lol.
Plenty food for thought this episode, please leave a comment on your own opinions on the topics covered, and don't worry I promise more pics and maybe a video in the next blog!