[Game/server] Minefall

Astrobe
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[Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Thu Nov 01, 2018 16:59

Minefall is inspired from a defunct MMO game, Firefall, of which it only retains now the ability for players to fly for a short time. This is commonly known as "jetpacks", though in Minefall, given the medieval-ish theme, it takes the form of "levitation".

Minefall uses relatively few mods, so at first it may look like MTG, except for a few blocks taken from Darkage and various bits (trees, biomes, inspiration) taken from the excellent Farlands. But the game mechanics are very different.

The environment is dynamic: dynamic weather (courtesy of Snowdrift) with thunderstorms that can start forest fires, sea water will flood everything it can, mobs spread saplings. The day/night cycle is 1 hour real time for 1 day in game. Nights and days are more or less dark depending on the weather.

Most mobs are hostile and generally spawn near valuable resources. Most are very mobile and have unique features. All drop Mese, which cannot be obtained otherwise.

Armors and wands that fire missiles with various effects are available to the players. Wands use the same mana pool as the one used to levitate and some pieces of armor increase the players' mana pool size.

Protection uses a variant of ProtectionRedo with a radius of one applied to any player-crafted node that features metal in its recipe. This includes steel doors, locked chests, tables and chairs, metal blocks and stairs, and lamps.

In practice, this means that metal objects protect nodes next to them. This induces a "perimeter protection" scheme in which players protect the walls, floors and ceilings of their buildings.

Given the scarcity of metal ores and their multiple uses (armor, weapons, wands), protection is expensive. However, the game generates ruins in the world with blocks that players cannot dig or blast. Repairing these ruins requires less protections because the walls are "naturally" protected. Dungeons blocks are also not removable (yes, that means that cobblestone is not removable and those blocks cannot be crafted).

NPC traders may spawn in buildings with appropriate features ("inns": wood floor, furniture, some light but not too much). NPC traders mainly exchange loot boxes for bread. These loot boxes, that can also be found in ruins and dungeons, may contain either a metal tool/weapon or items that cannot be crafted by players such as furnaces (sic), chests (sic), special wands and the best pieces of armor.

Progression in Minefall features three levels:
- Beginner: players keep their inventory if they die, but they don't have access to armor and cannot protect their buildings
- Regular: Bones are enabled, but they can wear armor and protect their stuff
- Advanced: players' inventory drop on the floor if they die, but they have access to teleportation, can set their respawn point and can shape-shift.

"Shape-shifting" lets players transform into an entity that can fly. While in this form, they cannot use tools/weapons/wands. Teleportation is limited to teleporting back to a "home" beacon.

The basic idea is that the cool features come with the risk of losing more. Also, most things wear out (weapons, armor, wands, nets) or have a cost-per-use (teleportation, set home beacon, shape-shifting). Having more stuff makes it easier to get more stuff, but inefficient use of resources (e.g. strip mining) leads quickly to regression.

Informally, there are three main specializations:
- farmer: growing stuff essentially to trade with NPCs and other players (this specialization fits well players with touchscreens, as they don't fully benefit from levitation and cannot fight efficiently). Two variations: grower (static, wait for your stuff to grow, rely on inns income) or diving fisher (more dynamic, more dangerous but more rewarding).
- warrior: kill mobs to get Mese, all day.
- explorer: go where nobody else have been to get the good stuff. Two variations: surface explorer (easy) or cave explorer (needs more preparation and is more dangerous, but lava lakes can be extremely rewarding).

Player specialization depends mainly on what they spend their time on, because some items and resources can only obtained by performing certain activities: for instance farmers rarely fight mobs so they don't get Mese, which is required to build lights that optimize growth and attracts NPC traders; Warriors cannot easily acquire the best armor because access to NPC traders is more difficult for them.

A new player typically starts with finding gravel and collecting sticks (from tree lives) to make a stone axe and a stone pick (or they can get them from other player shops, they are typically sold for seeds because harvesting does not yield more seeds). With them, they can explore around and try to find ores and loot boxes.

New players must be granted the "interact" privilege by an admin or moderator (players that don't have "interact" are also ignored by the environment, so they can't "pull" mobs at your spawn point or start fires by standing outside while a thunderstorm is raging). The game is very permissive - fire and explosives are enabled and accessible - but also gives minimal hints about how things work, so screening new players and then mentoring them is recommended.

Mentoring new players is a role that can be taken by veteran players. From the fact that name tags are not visible unless you point directly the player to the ability for a knowledgeable and wealthy player to manage a dungeon, various features in the game support role play and GM-ing. This is the endgame proposed by Minefall.

The game is not published yet due to a lot of mixing, matching and editing of existing mods, which require a check for license conformance - and also because it is a WIP. It is however playable on my server when it is up - generally on the evenings (UTC) and weekends.
Last edited by Astrobe on Tue Aug 27, 2019 15:22, edited 1 time in total.
 

Astrobe
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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Sat Feb 02, 2019 13:38

I left aside an important question in the first post because it deserves a separate post: what is the end-game?

As a game designer, your first answer is "I'll make sure it takes a very long time to get there". This can lead to rely excessively on "grinding" or "farming" (mobs). But rather than rejecting the idea because many bad MMOs abuse this, lets push it to the limit: make sure it never happens; a never ending-game.

Some MMOs achieve this, by adding more and more content to the game with DLCs or expansions. However, I don't have the resources for this. Furthermore given that game clients have to download the assets from the server, there's also a technical limit to how much content you can put in an MT game.

So it is unavoidable that players eventually get to the point that they have everything. Making it a long process is fine as long as they enjoy the journey, but there has to be something at the end of the road.

The answer I have found is role-playing. Once players have exhausted the content of the game, they can start to add more content in the form of stories, quests, even (virtual) politics. One of the reasons people play MMOs is for the interaction with other players, after all: cooperation, competition, knowledge sharing or just chit-chat.

Veteran players have the resources and the knowledge to help newcomers and beginners. So veteran players can easily act as quest or job givers. For beginners, interacting with a veteran player who plays the role of a local lord can be more satisfying than interacting with an NPC for a "get 20 rabbit skins for a better sword" quest. Veteran players can benefit from this interaction too, aside from just the fun of interacting with other players, by offloading tasks that are boring to them to other players.

Actually, Minefall does nothing new here: many MMOs feature player guilds. But because it is often used to just add more contents (exclusive guild items, buildings, etc.), it's easy to overlook the role-playing aspect. Minefall doesn't have a "join guild" button, it tries to make it happen naturally.

Minefall includes various little features to support role-play and team-play, like the absence of name tags above player heads (the name it visible if you point at the player at close range only), the absence of NPCs or admin shops, the fact that you don't choose your skin ("you are not your character, you play a character"), chat channels, player shops, reputation points, recall beacons (teleporters) activated by another player, the absence of manual or help system, the fact that you have to receive your own crafting guide from another player.

Solo players can do with minimal interaction with others. For sure the game will be much more difficult (a lot of things don't work like in MTG so they'll have to figure out that and certainly experience slow progress or regressions because the game can be unforgiving), but that's sometimes what this kind of player is looking for.
 

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texmex
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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by texmex » Tue Jun 11, 2019 21:59

The ideas behind this game are pure gold! Perhaps because they sound similar to my ideas… Are you still working on it? Did licensing and mod logistics steal momentum?
 

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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Wed Jul 17, 2019 18:28

texmex wrote:The ideas behind this game are pure gold! Perhaps because they sound similar to my ideas… Are you still working on it? Did licensing and mod logistics steal momentum?


Oh hi, sorry for the late reply.

I haven't touched it since May. The loss of momentum has more to do with burn-out caused by forcing myself a bit to play it everyday.

However, I did rebase it on MTG 5.0 and introduced some changes I didn't talk about here.

First of all, the melding thing is gone. Among other things, it restricts exploration and focuses on mob fighting too much. More specifically too much for Android players that can't fight really well, especially because in Minefall an important aspect of fights is to use your mobility to avoid getting hit.

Android players are not really my original "target audience", but let's be real: 90% of players that connect to obscure servers such as mine are on mobile devices. They are also players that are more inclined to build stuff; people who just want to fight less so. I don't use WorldEdit, I really want to see people build stuff and trade with them.

I implemented the idea I exposed in the Reasons to build home thread: players can build "inns" in which NPCs can spawn, with whom you can trade (once) bread or wheat for ores or random lootboxes. A player that builds a lot of inns can slowly accumulate stuff; for luxuries they can trade with other players.

Another minor change is that since the game forces players less to fight, the shielding effect of energy (now mana) is gone. I found out that it was too good so one rarely had to eat food to heal.

One major change I've made is to make ores distribution uniform; that means that on can find ores on the cliffs of mountains. I've also made it so that there's only one ore-with-stone node. The ore one actually gets is (weighed) random (using the drop/rarity property list for nodes). It protects from the ore detection cheat, and the randomness balances out the fact that ore stones are more "visible". But the really nice thing about it is that caves and cracks in mountains or cracks under the sea are now worth exploring.

Because ores are everywhere but much more scattered, I had to adjust mobility. Each armor element gives a specific buff (mana for helmet, damage reduction for chest-plate, jump height for leggings and walk speed for boots) but also slows down the player. So you can build "tank" or "glass cannon" or for fast travel ("jungler" I guess?).

Additionally, players can craft (moderately expensive) beacons that can be used as a teleport-home device (but teleporting is expensive) or shape-shift (more affordable).
Shape-shifting allows the players to transform into a flying "monster" (actually the Shadow from Doom's mob). But in this state, they cannot fight or dig.

I have also implemented a three-levels progression system to let players decide if they want to risk more to get more:
- At Beginner level players keep their inventories if they die, but they don't have access to protection and armor.
- At Regular level "bones" are activated. Players gain access to protection and armor.
- At Advanced level "bones" is set to "drop". Players have access can teleport home and shape-shift at beacons.

Players can level up by "paying" a moderate fee (a tin block for Regular, a diamond block for Advanced).

One pending problem I have is that at generation time, ruins and dungeons are populated with lootboxes. But they will eventually be picked up by players. Automatic repopulation seems difficult to do right (avoid exploits and bugs), so currently I'm looking for ways to encourage veteran players to do it. If nothing else, planting from time to time lootboxes in a nearby ruin or dungeon would lure players near your own stuff, which could be advantageous given the way ABMs work. But only players who care about the game would that extra work for so little gain.
 

Astrobe
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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Tue Aug 27, 2019 15:38

The game has changed a lot since the first post so I have updated it to reflect the current state of Minefall.
 

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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Linuxdirk » Tue Aug 27, 2019 15:51

A giant wall of text, no screenshots, no links, nothing ... Is there anything you can show or is this just a concept?
 

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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Wed Aug 28, 2019 09:10

Linuxdirk wrote:A giant wall of text, no screenshots, no links, nothing ... Is there anything you can show or is this just a concept?


Image

This is a picture of the only biome I have added to MTG (this is a modification of the swamp biome found in Farlands). One can see some ruins under the willows. The white line is limestone. It is early in the morning and one can still see a couple of red mushrooms glowing. The waterfall is river water, which is not "floody" like sea water; it drains into the ground much more quickly, don't ask me why ;-)

This is a pretty good settling place. The ruins are in relatively good shape, there is water to grow wheat. Giant beetles (also from Farlands), which can easily jump over a willow tree (so can you with levitation), are the main threat; they tend to attack from above, so look up often.

Sorry, I have delayed the release of the source for Minefall for ever because I've been making major changes every few months and each time I start a new world to test the new ideas. Right now your only chance to play it is to join my server when it is up (see end of OP).

half.png
(835.75 KiB) Not downloaded yet
 

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texmex
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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by texmex » Wed Aug 28, 2019 17:02

It sure looks pretty! I can’t find the server address anywhere though?
 

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Re: [Game/server] Minefall

by Astrobe » Thu Aug 29, 2019 18:52

texmex wrote:It sure looks pretty! I can’t find the server address anywhere though?


The server is up only when I play and does not have a dedicated address. Type "Minefall" in the search field of "join game", or do a ctrl-F on the server list to quickly check if the server is up.
 


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