About a year ago I talked with my roomate about setting up an MMORPG / FPS / RTS based around a few core concepts: Risk / Experience, Seamless interfaces between battlegrounds Under Water, Surface Water, Earth, Air, Space, Hyperspace, a storyline based on the fall of the world through nuclear war, a pip boy like device that would act as a guide to the new player, technology trees. Talking with a friend I thought of the concept again and I've decided to clear a few things up. I still have to incorporate our old ideas which are filed somewhere.
Risk / Experience:
This game concept should be based around the core ability of humans to stay alive. The more you stay alive the more experience you can acquire. If you are killed, you loose a significant portion of your experience. What we have currently in FPS games is a schematic that encourages "Rambos", that is for each player to go off by themselves and kill. But if we can encourage groups to form, then we can start forming relationships between players that can be rewarding rather than just looking for killing buddies. This will allow the game to develop a culture.
This mechanic can be assisted through a matrix like concept. Each player has one body but can connect themselves into drones. They can retain the experience they achieve as a drone if they upload back to their body which takes time. With a persistent internet connection they can achieve this anywhere on the battlefield. If they are running missions in a zone they do not control, they will have to run back to an upload point. Meanwhile their body has to sit in a building, exposed to assault, ideally well hidden and well guarded. This would allow characters to respawn by redownloading themselves into a drone.
This was one of my big ideas and I really love it. Basically I was tired of constantly jumping between fighting in the air and on the ground. I want a seamless transition. Look at it this way. This game needs to be able to have troops that can insert from orbit, stream through the atmosphere causing fireballs that the people down below can see, land on the ground or in the ocean causing title waves, and finally stand up, brush themselves off, take off their reentry gear, and start shooting. All the while, for that 8 minutes or so of reentry, the player should be able to see everything.
I loved fallout, fallout 2, and the vast broken landscapes that they conjured. It speaks to me. Start off with building a world based on today and they drop some nukes into the physics engine and see where the bricks fall. Let some foliage grow on it and then bingo, the world is ready. People should be able to build buildings using raw materials or scrap. Those buildings will be the basis for the new world if the game is ever won. As technologies progresses, people could leave the solar system and conquer other worlds.
The pip boy would be worn by every player. It would have intro information and would stay with the player from the start of the game all the way through till the end. It would provide information and document the persons story. The more pip boys a group has, the more processing power, research can go faster initially.
Originally there would be no technology. As the first bands of people gather and retake some military bases from NPCs, they might find some rudimentary labs where they could start "researching". Research could be conducted in any number of fields. The goals of which would eventually lead to things like: weapons upgrades, vehicles, manufacturing technologies, blueprints, drone building, telecommunications systems, human cloning, satellite systems, space ships, propulsion systems, hyperdrives. This would allow for clans to specialize in research if they so choose.
The Total Vision:
Start / Newbie:
You start in an instance of the game (you can invite friends). You wake up in a relatively safe area (the remains of a high tech hospital) with a medic over you that said, wow I'm glad I found you two, are you alright? He's rescued you. He explains that everything has gone to hell but he managed to find you in a hospital bed and rescue you. He explains that you've been brain damaged so it's no wonder you don't remember anything. This medic will rescue you if you die in the instance, he's sneaky and he'll always find a way around the bad guys to revive you with the stash of nanites from the hospital basement. You walk up the stares from the basement (one room) and this is when you first glimpse the panorama of destruction (the city that was no more). There should be a staircase that you can climb up to look around. The medic will have a few missions to run and you'll have to get past enemies however you can. You'll get a general orientation and some background story. At the end of the scenario you fight a boss and he drops something useful, you plug in his pip boy into yours and you download some additional information on people and places. Then you're dropped outside the instance and you can travel the world.
Note: The starting area should be based by country, city, and region and also should have a difficulty rating with it in addition to the option of being able to skip the scenario and just jump into a world PVP environment that takes place in what would have been the scenario on easer levels.
You are in a small settlement with some other players and guards (to keep things safe). Every now and then an NPC kills another NPC and the guards blow the aggressor away. You can receive quests from the people here to go rescue friends or do other such things. There are evil quests and involve killing other NPCs or PCs and good quests that involve helping people. You do a few quests. Every few days a raiding group comes through this area and strips it down robbing everyone as well as players but not killing anyone but NPCs unless they fight back, the people flee and you have to go to a different camp. We have to train people that nothing here is static unless you make it so. You can meet up with other players and form groups for mutual benefit. Instances are readily available as well as open PVP areas. If you die, you respawn in the village where some medics have dragged you back. If you make them do this enough times they will start shaking you out and taking your stuff as payment (or you can just pay them in advance).
You've formed a band with 5 other friends and have found a deserted area or maybe burned out building with resources that you can use. You've setup a basic base of operations and you can start to do research. For now your pipboys do most of the research In your offline time, the supposidly use your brain as a boost to their computing power so you sleep a lot and it helps your teams research go faster. Once you wake up your pipboy no longer contributes as much to research unless you disable other capabilities. Your group gains experience from helping others, hunting, fighting. They gain usable resources from scavenging the local area. Generally Iron, Steels, chemicals, weapons on occasion, clothes, every now and then you find a person and you can heal them up or take all their stuff or both. You use the resources and skills you acquire to build a small cloning facility. Cloning was one of the essential technologies so the pip boy with limited assistance from other pipboys can reassemble the knowledge to manufacture them. You might need to do a few instances or RVR to get specific parts.
Your base camp gets raided occasionally by other scavengers like yourself. They take whatever they can carry and make off. Your group switches to research sentry guns and weapons so you can protect the fort while your away. You can also higher mercenaries (NPC and PC). You scout around and look for other places to move and resources to acquire.
Your band, larger now 10 - 20 + people has left the city behind. You've taken all you can carry and are moving towards areas that your scouts have reported are rich in resources and largely uninhabited. You setup camp high in the mountains, tunneling down into the earth to access it's resources and build fortifications. From this new base of operations (if you get there safely, NPCs and PCs roam the roads), provides you with a base of operations from which you can start doing serious research, raiding, building, recruiting, or whatever else will enlarge your power base. You can see in the far distance the cities that you left behind and their smoking buildings and the little cities with the campfires in barrels at night. You remember being there. You are sure there are others like you, going through what you went through down there in that place.
You have a cloning facility all set up. When someone dies in combat, they will eventually be resurrected at the base. Still the only way to retain experience is to walk your clone back to the base and upload your new information. A healer in your group has setup his pipboy to upload a single consciousness if he gets to you fast enough. That way you can retain your experience if only one of your band is killed on a raiding party. Still it's a dangerous problem. Occasionally your ambushed by other PCs and NPCs. The (NPCs should have their own camps just like yours or perhaps be roving bands of heavily armored troops). You've developed area warning systems that allow you to see if someone or something enters your territory of if new resources are found. A controller can now sit in your command room and monitor these events, giving their team early warning and direction via pipboy. Anything other than voice / text comunication and maps with enemy location circles cannot be sent from the command center.
As primarily a research organization you've concentrated on acquiring resources and redeveloping technology. Your distant neighbors have taken notice and show up to abscond with some of your goods. Everything from resources, weapons, cars (if you have them), and technology can be stolen or destroyed. But in order for that to happen they have to breach your perimeter defenses. You have auto turrets guarding your base, your online companions and additionally NPCs for each person in your group that is not online (the strength and ability of this PCs NPC is based on how the character has developed). The controller can control the NPCs and direct them (like starcraft). You repel the first attack but a few hours later they come back with another band they recently joined forces with. Your forces are overrun! Your blueprints are encrypted so they cannot use them right away. But your weapons and vehicles they take and they make off, (or they take over the entire complex and kick you out).
You respawn in a camp with nothing on and no weapons. But your pipboy and those of your group have been much upgraded and remember much of what they previously researched. You can now use basic materials to rebuild your new fortress much faster and stronger (but probably in a safer place). You now keep a close eye on more of your surrounding area and the people that move in next to you. You make sure to scout them out, determining what type of people they are. There are NPCs that move in as well, some are good, some are evil. If you gain enough faction with them, they will join your band. Now you have 20-30 PCs and 20-30 NPCs. These NPCs can be controlled by the controller and will do work like gathering resources (under guidance from the controller) and defending the base, scouting around and research. If your goals and theirs fall too far apart they will leave (and maybe try to take things with them).
You control a vast territory with many resources. You have several smaller outlying settlements and they are all connected via fiber links in addition to microwave. Players can now upload remotely and take over NPCs at will. Groups can take NPCs to fight with them. Several controllers manage operations in your territories. They ensure that your land is kept safe. They can send NPCs into small towns and villages to recruit people. Occasionally smaller bands attack outlying fortresses but it is nothing that a little work can't put back together. Your research operations are now secreted away deep inside your central complex. You recruit mercenary PC groups to scout areas for you and bring back information and goods.
You turn on your microwave transmitters and you hear chatter. Not chatter from you but from other sources. Some of it is encrypted, some of it is open to listen to. Other groups your size (that do not have encryption) broadcast tidbits of information about themselves over the air. (In game voice chat may be clipped up for this). After listening long enough you can learn more about them and watch how they command their troops and units (you can see them move around units on the overhead map). You higher a band of mercs to erect a listening post closer to their base so you can gather information on them faster. It seems like they are deploying many troops in engagements all over against a myriad of other groups . Background radiation means that you cannot make out all of what another group is saying (depending on the radiation map). Eventually you've listened enough to another group and you know they are like you, scientists laboring to do research and gather information on the world and what happened. You call them up and schedule a meeting.
For this first meeting you and your troops come out to the desert, some ways away from your controlled territory. The other group can be seen in the distance, kicking up smoke as they drive towards you. When meeting other groups en mass, you can gain a lot of experience, but you have to be careful that they don't gun you down. You and your lieutenants wait in a car behind the main line of your troops. The controllers are running overwatch with the new flying drones you've manufactured. The other group drives up and gets out of their vehicles, nerves are tense. The leaders get out of their cars and meet in the center of the group. A deal is struck to share research but not other resources. The other group will be allowed to use your facilities to respawn but will not be allowed within a vital perimeter. You both research faster and your scientists can see further ahead to realize what the research will grant them.
You and your new allies have successfully grown closer and closer. Your goals are similar and a common enemy forged the bond closer. You launched a joint operation against a nearby group that was raiding both of your territories. When you arrived at the command center you realized that the reason it was so easy was that a third heretofore unknown ally was waging a war on their western front while you two were coming in from the east. A battle hardened group, they focus mostly on fighting and killing and are happy to join you as long as they receive access to the newest and best weapons.
You came across an old army base. It was a very tough battle with the old sentry drones but you made it through. To your happy surprise you found a missile silo attached to the base. Your scientists have discovered the technologies to build rockets and you've put a satellite in orbit. You can now look down at the world and zoom in on all the areas of interest (as long as it is not cloudy). You can see other large and small groups. You keep track of their movements. You are evaluating new allies and threats and making plans. You identify your largest competitor, he is very far away. You'll have to develop some better transportation technology before you get over to him.
You extend your operations to a the sea by building a shipping yard where the old one stood. As you build things the old buildings are torn down. Your controllers dispatch dredge boats to clear out the wreckage of old ships in the harbor. Then you set about to build your fleet. You'll need many resources but by the time your done you have large navy.
World and Spaces:
I think that a Eve Online system for the world and territories make the best sense. At lower levels there are guards that will kill lawbreakers. As you move further out there are fewer guards to the point that it is a no mans land. It's worked well for them.