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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 10:43 am 
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Something else I've been pondering...

If I could create my own MMORPG, would I make a "wargame" or a "living world"?

Wargame:
The only thing to do in a wargame is fight other players (or player owned NPCs, like guards) for control of resources (bases, land, gold, whatever). Planetside and World War 2 Online are wargames. Basically every FPS in the world could be called a non-MMO wargame. EVE and POTBS have wargame elements but are not pure wargames due to all the non-war related PvE.


Living World:
A living world would be like a wargame where NPC factions are the driving force in the war and they battle each other for control of territory and resources with or without player help. For example, suppose Planetside bases were populated with NPCs which would form up into groups and go out to attack enemy bases, with or without player presence. Players would have strong influence over these wars but it's not entirely up to them -- they are participants in a living world.


Wargame advantages --
Easier to create. Players are in complete control of the war.

Living World advantages --
More immersive. There's always stuff going on, even at 4am on a Tuesday. Keeps wars from "bogging down" as players decide it's safer not to attack each other (see EVE, POTBS) -- NPCs drive the momentum.



In either case you have a setting where teams are fighting each other for control of resources, but it's a question of who should drive the momentum: players or the game itself.

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Last edited by Slamz on Thu May 28, 2009 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 10:47 am 
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I've always preferred the immersion of living world games. Of course they must always be tempered with a "you can't steal bases at 4am eastern" mechanic.

Living world games are "alive" for me. IMO, they take us closer to the ultimate game whereas war games lead us further away. If I think back to my favorite games (besides Warbirds) they were all living world.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:03 am 
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What games were living world? I can't think of any.

e.g., EQ and WOW were static. I suppose many single player RPGs could be considered to be a living world, but they do so artificially, via mechanisms that, when translated to an MMO, just turn into WOW.


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:06 am 
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Slamz wrote:
What games were living world? I can't think of any.

e.g., EQ and WOW were static. I suppose many single player RPGs could be considered to be a living world, but they do so artificially, via mechanisms that, when translated to an MMO, just turn into WOW.


EQ, SWG, WoW, they all had the factions that were fighting each other. I see what you mean now that, I was interpreting it based on you "log in at 4am" comment.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:12 am 
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Dustie wrote:
EQ, SWG, WoW, they all had the factions that were fighting each other. I see what you mean now that, I was interpreting it based on you "log in at 4am" comment.

Yeah, I should probably specify that I see EQ, WOW, etc as "static worlds". They aren't living because you can't really change them. The Horde will never beat the Alliance. Orgrimmir will never really fall. The Alliance NPCs never organize and march on the Barrens. There are, sometimes, events that make the world appear living but they're just scripted, pre-determined smoke and mirrors, still not really living.

SWG had a tiny amount of this element, but they actually removed most of it, much to my annoyance.

A true living world would be one where you could turn on the server, disallow logins and come back once a month to see a completely different game world, as NPC factions are constantly warring over resources and territory.


I think it can be done, I just don't think anyone has ever tried.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:16 am 
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Its simply not a workable idea as once one side is really dominating the other side just gives up and quit playing. Look at the old day pugs against geared premades in BGs, people would just sit at the GY or afk out. that will happen server wide, or they just quit playing.. Most of the dirty masses dont want a challenge.


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:25 am 
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Slamz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
EQ, SWG, WoW, they all had the factions that were fighting each other. I see what you mean now that, I was interpreting it based on you "log in at 4am" comment.

Yeah, I should probably specify that I see EQ, WOW, etc as "static worlds". They aren't living because you can't really change them. The Horde will never beat the Alliance. Orgrimmir will never really fall. The Alliance NPCs never organize and march on the Barrens. There are, sometimes, events that make the world appear living but they're just scripted, pre-determined smoke and mirrors, still not really living.

SWG had a tiny amount of this element, but they actually removed most of it, much to my annoyance.

A true living world would be one where you could turn on the server, disallow logins and come back once a month to see a completely different game world, as NPC factions are constantly warring over resources and territory.


I think it can be done, I just don't think anyone has ever tried.


Total changing world. Shadowbane had something along the concept. They had the concept of being able to make a fort wherever, but the change relied on human intelligence making a raid, not AI.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:26 am 
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Jakensama wrote:
Its simply not a workable idea as once one side is really dominating the other side just gives up and quit playing. Look at the old day pugs against geared premades in BGs, people would just sit at the GY or afk out. that will happen server wide, or they just quit playing.. Most of the dirty masses dont want a challenge.

I don't see that as a problem with wargames or living worlds, that's a problem with (from Dustie's outline) "Progression" (or "Price of Admission").


If you have have 6 people who have been playing a long time who get crushed by this other group of 6 people simply because of character progression issues, then you've created a very bad environment for PvP.

Similarly, if one faction is dominating the game, then you needed more factions and/or some incentive to break off from the winning faction. I think the dumbest thing Warhammer did was create a PvP game with 2 factions. WOW, too, but I hold it against Warhammer more since they were creating a stronger PvP element and they had past experience.



That's also one thing I like about guild based gameplay, at least in theory. If you're part of the biggest, most powerful zerg guild in the game, I think a good game design could create conflict by tempting members of that zerg guild to break off into a splinter guild and run away with a lot of resources to carve out their own victory.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:28 am 
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I just think the biggest roadblock to establishing a lot of features that would be fucking cool is that they are only cool if your on the dominant side, but saying they are unimplementable is not a good thing either I guess, otherwise we just get stuck with the status quo.


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:40 am 
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Jakensama wrote:
I just think the biggest roadblock to establishing a lot of features that would be fucking cool is that they are only cool if your on the dominant side

I think that's something that can be fixed in the game design.

Like, "a super cool dungeon/castle with megabosses that drop awesome loot and it's a PvP zone".

I just wouldn't even implement such a thing.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:44 am 
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Slamz wrote:
A true living world would be one where you could turn on the server, disallow logins and come back once a month to see a completely different game world, as NPC factions are constantly warring over resources and territory.


For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 11:48 am 
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Along these lines I never understood why developers never built more GM tools into their games. EQ probably came the closest but there's stuff you could do where you wouldn't have to have a host of employees controlling single NPCs. Why couldn't you let GMs control spawn rates or start small scripts where eventually two sides of NPCs have overlapping paths and battle it out? These events could occur simultaneously over all shards(assuming shards) and it would just be some dude playing the game from the side of the computer like some wizard of oz type shit.

Improvisation in live music doesn't always work out but you get those golden moments that make continuously trying it out worth it.

Do glitches in games really bother you guys? (Not being able to cast on people in water) Or do you think that players adapt to those things and they end up giving the game its character and flavor?

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:11 pm 
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Dustie wrote:
For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

I think you could do a lot with some fairly simple scripting.

For example, this orc camp holds up to 20 orcs.

As soon as it reaches a population of 20, 5 orcs will break off of the camp and head out to attack the nearest enemy camp (or perhaps they head to some orc "staging area" where orcs from other full camps will split off and trickle into until they have a good number built up, then the whole staging camp sets out). Maybe they pick a target based on a fairly simple formula involving "distance", "value" and "difficulty".


As long as you can come up with a good AI / pathing routine for groups of NPCs doing cross-country travel and fighting, I think the "war" would be fairly simple to implement.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 1:34 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

I think you could do a lot with some fairly simple scripting.

For example, this orc camp holds up to 20 orcs.

As soon as it reaches a population of 20, 5 orcs will break off of the camp and head out to attack the nearest enemy camp (or perhaps they head to some orc "staging area" where orcs from other full camps will split off and trickle into until they have a good number built up, then the whole staging camp sets out). Maybe they pick a target based on a fairly simple formula involving "distance", "value" and "difficulty".


As long as you can come up with a good AI / pathing routine for groups of NPCs doing cross-country travel and fighting, I think the "war" would be fairly simple to implement.


I'm liking this. Take this along with the faction idea. You could make faction mean something here. For example, if you go help the orcs who happen to be invading a nearby camp of dwarves, then you'd get faction with the orcs. If you get enough faction, they will start taking some basic commands from you, such as suggestions of the next base to attack.

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"Hamilton is really a Colossus to the anti republican party. Without numbers he is an host within himself. They have got themselves into a defile where they might be finished but too much security on the republican part will give time to his talents and indefatigableness to extricate them. We have had only middling performances to oppose to him. In truth when he comes forward there is nobody but yourself who can meet him. His adversaries having begun the attack he has the advantage of answering them and remains unanswered himself. For God's sake take up your pen and give a fundamental reply to Curtius and Camillas" - Thomas Jefferson to James Madison


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:16 pm 
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Dustie wrote:
Slamz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

I think you could do a lot with some fairly simple scripting.

For example, this orc camp holds up to 20 orcs.

As soon as it reaches a population of 20, 5 orcs will break off of the camp and head out to attack the nearest enemy camp (or perhaps they head to some orc "staging area" where orcs from other full camps will split off and trickle into until they have a good number built up, then the whole staging camp sets out). Maybe they pick a target based on a fairly simple formula involving "distance", "value" and "difficulty".


As long as you can come up with a good AI / pathing routine for groups of NPCs doing cross-country travel and fighting, I think the "war" would be fairly simple to implement.


I'm liking this. Take this along with the faction idea. You could make faction mean something here. For example, if you go help the orcs who happen to be invading a nearby camp of dwarves, then you'd get faction with the orcs. If you get enough faction, they will start taking some basic commands from you, such as suggestions of the next base to attack.


If I have more faction than you with the Orcs can I tell them you are actually a Dwarf spy and they will attack you?

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Thudz wrote:
If I have more faction than you with the Orcs can I tell them you are actually a Dwarf spy and they will attack you?

Heh, that might be an interesting mechanic.

Suppose you have good orc and dwarf faction, but you want the dwarves to win. You can use your dwarf faction to suggest where to beef up defenses and use your orc faction to suggest where to attack (against the beefed up defenses).

Any player with high enough orc faction can go to the orc boss and suggest that another player is a "spy". The person mentioned will get flagged, but he has no way of knowing this. If, during the next 24 hours of login time (or 5 days real time, whichever comes first), the flagged player talks to an enemy faction, then he loses a ton of faction with the orcs and they consider him to be a spy and a traitor.


If he doesn't talk to any enemy factions within that time frame, then the person who reported him loses a moderate amount of faction and is unable to deliver any new reports for 5 days (the orc boss doesn't believe him anymore).



(It would be amusing if, instead of a flag, he actually got followed around by an NPC "orc agent" with very high stealth skills. If this NPC is killed for any reason, nothing happens. The reporter can simply report again without any loss of faction and the player spy doesn't get penalized. Of course, if he attacks the agent and the agent survives to run away and report to the chief....

Of course, flags are a lot easier.)


Perhaps another part of this mechanic is that you build up "trust" or "suspicion", separate from faction. You gain trust when you help in any victory (either suggesting where to attack, defend or helping in the victory directly). You gain suspicion when you suggest or participate in anything that results in a defeat. Accusations against a trusted player may be dismissed out of hand while accusations against a character with high enough suspicion will be taken seriously.


Last edited by Slamz on Thu May 28, 2009 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:29 pm 
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Thudz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
Slamz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

I think you could do a lot with some fairly simple scripting.

For example, this orc camp holds up to 20 orcs.

As soon as it reaches a population of 20, 5 orcs will break off of the camp and head out to attack the nearest enemy camp (or perhaps they head to some orc "staging area" where orcs from other full camps will split off and trickle into until they have a good number built up, then the whole staging camp sets out). Maybe they pick a target based on a fairly simple formula involving "distance", "value" and "difficulty".


As long as you can come up with a good AI / pathing routine for groups of NPCs doing cross-country travel and fighting, I think the "war" would be fairly simple to implement.


I'm liking this. Take this along with the faction idea. You could make faction mean something here. For example, if you go help the orcs who happen to be invading a nearby camp of dwarves, then you'd get faction with the orcs. If you get enough faction, they will start taking some basic commands from you, such as suggestions of the next base to attack.


If I have more faction than you with the Orcs can I tell them you are actually a Dwarf spy and they will attack you?


I don't know, we'd need to work out the details. I would guess that they won't believe you if I've already help them kill dozens of their enemies.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:35 pm 
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Dustie wrote:
Thudz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
Slamz wrote:
Dustie wrote:
For this you need good AI. You need that group of Orcs (that was previously content to sit by the same tent in the East commons for years on end) to have some goals in life. They need to aspire to build up their resources, conquer new tents, perhaps even leave the East Commons.

I think you could do a lot with some fairly simple scripting.

For example, this orc camp holds up to 20 orcs.

As soon as it reaches a population of 20, 5 orcs will break off of the camp and head out to attack the nearest enemy camp (or perhaps they head to some orc "staging area" where orcs from other full camps will split off and trickle into until they have a good number built up, then the whole staging camp sets out). Maybe they pick a target based on a fairly simple formula involving "distance", "value" and "difficulty".


As long as you can come up with a good AI / pathing routine for groups of NPCs doing cross-country travel and fighting, I think the "war" would be fairly simple to implement.


I'm liking this. Take this along with the faction idea. You could make faction mean something here. For example, if you go help the orcs who happen to be invading a nearby camp of dwarves, then you'd get faction with the orcs. If you get enough faction, they will start taking some basic commands from you, such as suggestions of the next base to attack.


If I have more faction than you with the Orcs can I tell them you are actually a Dwarf spy and they will attack you?


I don't know, we'd need to work out the details. I would guess that they won't believe you if I've already help them kill dozens of their enemies.


My point is there will be a conflict for control of NPCs between PCs. Should they NPCs only listen to the PC with the highest faction with them?

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:47 pm 
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I don't think that NPCs like this should ever completely listen to a player. They are still meant to be independent thinkers, as if they were other players, albeit simplified.

It may be more a question of influence.

For example, the orc camp is within attack range of 3 dwarf camps.

Dwarf Camp A: distance 100, value 50, defense 50
Dwarf Camp B: distance 200, value 100, defense 10
Dwarf Camp C: distance 300, value 50, defense 50

Let's say the formula for determining which to attack is something like:

(300-distance) + value + (100 - defense)

So:
A = 300
B = 290
C = 100

The orcs will attack camp A if nobody has any better ideas.

You have 20 influence and suggest camp B, making its value 310, now it's the prime target. I have 15 influence and suggest camp A, making its value 315, now it's the prime target.


I didn't exactly overrule you, but I was able to get the Orcs to do what I wanted because they basically already wanted to do that and while your opinion could sway them, it couldn't sway them against my opinion plus their natural desire to attack camp A.


(In reality I would make player influence count for much less, so that it's not simply a "vote" that totally overrules the Orc's natural desires but I would still factor in it. Maybe player input counts on a logarithmic scale...)

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:51 pm 
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Thudz wrote:
My point is there will be a conflict for control of NPCs between PCs. Should they NPCs only listen to the PC with the highest faction with them?


I understand what your saying, I just don't have the answer right now. It might be more like the "influence" idea that Slamz is talking about. Obviously we'd need to design and balance this feature.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:55 pm 
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Slamz wrote:
I don't think that NPCs like this should ever completely listen to a player. They are still meant to be independent thinkers, as if they were other players, albeit simplified.

It may be more a question of influence.

For example, the orc camp is within attack range of 3 dwarf camps.

Dwarf Camp A: distance 100, value 50, defense 50
Dwarf Camp B: distance 200, value 100, defense 10
Dwarf Camp C: distance 300, value 50, defense 50

Let's say the formula for determining which to attack is something like:

(300-distance) + value + (100 - defense)

So:
A = 300
B = 290
C = 100

The orcs will attack camp A if nobody has any better ideas.

You have 20 influence and suggest camp B, making its value 310, now it's the prime target. I have 15 influence and suggest camp A, making its value 315, now it's the prime target.


I didn't exactly overrule you, but I was able to get the Orcs to do what I wanted because they basically already wanted to do that and while your opinion could sway them, it couldn't sway them against my opinion plus their natural desire to attack camp A.


(In reality I would make player influence count for much less, so that it's not simply a "vote" that totally overrules the Orc's natural desires but I would still factor in it. Maybe player input counts on a logarithmic scale...)


This approach seems like it would minimize griefing. At first thought I like it.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 2:55 pm 
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Add in a InfluenceValue*InfluenceDecay for situations where you want players to actively participate in the event that you set the NPCs out on. This might avoid situations where players just run around activating shit without participating in them.

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Hoofhurr wrote:
Add in a InfluenceValue*InfluenceDecay for situations where you want players to actively participate in the event that you set the NPCs out on. This might avoid situations where players just run around activating shit without participating in them.


I'm in favor of decay for all attributes of the character while the character is logged into the world. Use it or lose it. This will also allow for characters to evolve over time. As you lose points in a certain attribute you now have points to allocate in another.

I also think faction or influence should be capped in some way. Let's say each characters has a maximum potential of 1000 influence points. If the character has 500 influence with Black orcs and 500 influence with Goblins then this charcters can not gain influence with any other faction until the influence with these two factions starts to decay. That helps level the palying field between power gamers and casuals.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 3:42 pm 
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Hoofhurr wrote:
Add in a InfluenceValue*InfluenceDecay for situations where you want players to actively participate in the event that you set the NPCs out on. This might avoid situations where players just run around activating shit without participating in them.

I would keep decay as a pretty slow thing.

But I would punish people if they activated something and their side lost. So if you tell the orcs to attack Camp A, you're invested in that victory. If they lose, they'll have bad thoughts about everyone who told them Camp A was a good idea and will be less inclined to listen next time.



It might also be amusing if faction had a "global" and a "local" value.

e.g., you have 0 Orc faction.

You see orcs attacking a dwarf camp, and you go attack the dwarves. You gain 100 faction with the orcs during the course of events. The orcs lose, dying to the last man. Your faction gains are simply lost -- no orcs survived to tell the tale of your help.

Another attack occurs, you gain 100 faction with the orcs during the fight and this time they win and occupy the camp, "Camp D". You have 100 faction with the orcs of Camp D. You still have no faction with any other orcs in the world. Over time, though, other orc camps will start to slowly pick up your faction. After a day, Camp D has you at 100 faction and Camps A-C have you at 10 faction.

Then you help Camp B defend an attack, gaining 150 faction. Now you have:

Camp A: 10 faction (never been there)
Camp B: 160 faction (helped defend an attack)
Camp C: 10 faction (never been there)
Camp D: 100 faction (helped found the camp)

Perhaps "faction trickle" will eventually bring all camps up to 50% of the highest camp's value. So even though you never visit Camp A, you'll eventually have 80 faction there.

Additional "feats" may count for more, either locally or with the entire faction.

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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2009 3:45 pm 
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I love the idea of having the orcs your helped like you whereas orcs hundred of miles away know nothing about you.

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