Friday, August 19, 2011

Point Stated

The DM starts with an interactive palette similar to that of Sim City, though with the ability to zoom down to person scale.  For the present, since we can eliminate most of the automated portions of the Sim City game, we can spend more effort on zoom and detail.  The DM terraforms the environment, lays down watercourses and roads, plants villages with houses or scatters houses, farms, pastures and forests.  The DM digs a few dungeons, arranges some lairs, specifies monsters if desired and so on.  This is all done without the computer telling the DM what to do, or restricting the DM from fantasia landscapes or things that might seem irrational.  The DM has total godlike powers, and is not restrained in any fashion from building the world up from scratch in any way.  Even if a pre-made template is provided, the DM can dabble with it at any time.  The tool never requires that the DM surrender this godlike ability to reshape, change, modify or otherwise further detail this world.  Ever.

The DM does all this on a screen that only the DM can see.  The players are then placed into this environment, wherever the DM wishes to place them.  The DM can move them, change the environment around them, give them stuff, kill them with lightning, whatever the DM can do in real D&D ... provided we have come to the point where that App has been added to the tool.

The players all view the world from the position from where they see out of their eyes.  They can turn in any direction, look down, look up, lift their arms, walk forward, run, etc.  This is all accomplished with whatever wii/kinect convenience required - not as a means to replace elements of the game such as hitting or hiding in shadows with physical actions, but merely as the best means to move your character around.  I don't advocate the tool being used to replace your characters ability ... unless, of course, somehow your actual ability could be successfully translated so as to downgrade or upgrade it to make it level with your character.  Hum, wonderful thought that.  You swing marvelously, but your mage stills swings like a girl ... but sort of in the same way you just did, just now.

So your players look at the world around them, the world the DM created.  The DM makes the most of the tool and carpets the ground with one of many kinds of grass, adds a few of many kinds of trees, chooses the weather and so on.  The DM picks rain, or the DM uses the tool as a random modifier - which the DM can override at will, just like a die roll - and we'll say rain appears.  The players draw their cloaks closer and watch their own body temperature go up on one of the many, many readouts available for them which the DM cannot see.  That last would be really interesting, though of course it could be optional for control freak DMs.  The players couldn't cheat anyway, the tool would have to be hacked.  The DM would have to ask the players ... though there would be visual evidence the DM could gather which would indicate Nack the Thief wasn't doing so well.

The DM could view the party from any position except through the players' eyes.  We want to discourage the DM from having too much information.  The players could move things around on their body, hide things in their clothes, pass things to one another, etc., which could be seen by the DM if the DM were paying attention.  Otherwise, the DM just wouldn't know.

There would be no more lengthy discussions about who had what sword and where did it come from and how fast can you draw it and can you carry 4,765 g.p. and so on.  All of this would be handled by the tool, the players all finding what they can and can't do spelled out for them.  And all those limitations could be modified by the DM, at will, at any time.  If the DM wanted to change any perameter about the weight limit of a 40 lb. halfling, for instance, no power in the tool would be able to stop the DM from doing so.  This would apply universally to all conditions, always.  Like I said, godlike powers where it comes to affecting the environment of the game.  The only limitation is the player.

Listen, do I really need to keep spelling this out?  Have you played this game?  If you had a tool like this to manage every element, wouldn't you want it?   If you had one that let you make the combat turn based or ongoing?  If you had one that let you adjust the speed of the characters as they travel blindingly across the landscape?  If you had one that let the DM create pockets of goods and - like Sim City - that started bits of trade and price gouging and so on, all modified as the DM eradicates a mine or adds three thousand acres of cropland?

Picture the DM telling the player about the ogre on the player's right - not because the DM just invented said ogre, but because the ogre is approaching and the player hasn't looked in that direction.  "Oh right," says the player.  "I was going to deal with it next round."

Picture the DM creating a temple from hordes of templates, but then saying, "Well, its not exactly like this, but it is this big and just picture it with a big 'C' on the front" ... as the players all look UP at it.

Picture the player's rolling through their list of spells and not having to look up the area of effect or the range, but just trying it with the various tools in the kit and learning from practice what the spells do ... and watching their marvelous effect.

All of this, repeat, ALL of this, happens when the players and the DM manipulate the tool to make it so.  NOT when the tool decides the player can or cannot do something.  If the DM doesn't put the restriction there, there is no restriction.  And if this seems like there are too many restrictions that the DM would need to add, consider again the argument about having some things standardized.  But standardization still wouldn't mean the DM couldn't change the standard once the tool was in hand.

There could always be certain random things.  The DM could specify a monster to kill Nack, or the DM could specify the monster to move towards any person in the party, provided another monster wasn't already there.  The tool would shift the monsters around, and the DM could nudge them.  At any time the DM would stop the monsters from attacking, or change who they attack, and so on.  Always, always, always, just like the real game.

This can be done.  This ought to be done.  And those people who are screwed in their heads about how this would destroy imagination really know nothing about imagination.  Seriously.  Things don't get less interesting when you increase the possibilities.


Kaspar said...

So you want a Holodeck then, eh?
Not to say it’s impossible, but it would take a bigger budget than current AAA computer games get.

And on the “destroy imagination” thing: personally, I dislike using character miniatures. Why? Because it doesn’t look like my character. Even if it matches the class and race, it still won’t look like my character, won’t have the right clothing, equipment, etc. I’d rather use a more abstract token to show my location on the map, and use imagination to “fill in” the blanks, than have annoying inconsistencies. Sure, you could have a super detailed character portrait generator, but something like that is hard to make.

Isle said...

This sounds like a marvelous, high-definition, extensible version of Jason Rohrer's Sleep Is Death. It's for one DM and one player, turn-based, mechanicless, and portrayed in pixelly 2D, but the concept is essentially there. Have you seen it?

JDJarvis said...

I'll take one, thank you very much.

Getting players to track things like body temperature, fatigue, hunger or encumbrance can be an incredibly ridiculous wrestling match and sure every campaign may not need every such detail but it'd be darned nice to have a way to track it all and still have fun.

I recall a neolithic computer game of exploration where one had to keep themselves in shoes as part of their travels, a very real part of actual exploration and I've never seen it in an RPG but am very much aware of walking my own shoes to ruin in the real world. It's a detail everyone doesn't want or need but by golly it'd be nice to have the option without having to constantly harangue players to keep track of such detail on their sheets and leave me with more work than required in set-up.

The more fiddly detail just fits or can be written out of the equation without upsettting the rest of the game the stronger the game could be.

Arduin said...

Goddamn you, Alexis. I go to work, and miss out on this delicious development unfolding.

I agree completely; pen and paper, while fun in it's way, is vastly inferior to what a computer can do.

Even without your "eye level" view for PCs, there are other methods in projectors, tables with screens in them, however or whatever.

The ability to add or remove parameters for the computer to track, all of these things exist already, and it would merely take some programmers with -vision-.

Recruit the Toady One from Bay12 Games first. There's the sort of badass this project would need.

Kenwolf said...

you think having rpg's play like that would be better ? having rpg's play like that would make even less people play it. not because it wouldn't be cool, but because that relies even more on having a great dm. that would be a huge amount of work for the dm. people complained about creating monsters in 3rd edition because it took so much time and stuff. having to build everything for a virtual reality game every week would be a full time job in it self. you might as well just say you want a holodeck from star trek and have it hooked up straight to your brain. something like what you are envisioning is a fantasy. and honestly i don't see how that makes rpg's better.

Alexis said...

I'm glad you brought that up, Kenwolf. From what I've seen of the work ethic and drive of RPGers online, I think you're absolutely right.

However, I think that if the power of the game is ramped up, it will draw in new DMs from elsewhere, who were never interested in D&D because of its frankly archaic and childish nature. While the other conversation is about how to make present DMs better, I say replace 'em all with the Right Stuff.

Build the tool and they will come.

Oh, Carl, I know this is buried in this comment to Kenwolf, but it is my answer to your question as well. How do we improve DM's? Offer creative people an alternative means of being creative.

Ben Brooks said...

Wouldn't need the holo deck. This is all very doable with current tech. Terrain deformation has been something of a staple in computer games for years (and the whole point of some like the recent From Dust), and there are ever increasing numbers of WSIWYG game editors and some games themselves are doing similar.

Little Big Planet seems to be a particularly ambitious one in this regard. You can edit in real time apparently using many of the same controls as in the game and have a huge amount of control as well as many premade items.

And stats like health being changed by weather is really really easy for a computer to handle. I mean after all you just have to put the variables the computer uses for these values and how they are affected in an easy to get to menu window.

It should be understood that most of the work in AAA video games are art assets, level design, and the engine (and you can license that to cut costs). With art assets and level design out of the way you're essentially left with developer's tools, network components, and a small handful of premade bits that can be added to by the fan community.

Adding a social component or even a marketplace for ideas, worlds, presets, what have you as an integrated part of the application would be essential I think. It would cut costs drastically and provide tons of free content, advertising, and consumer buy in. See the Minecraft community for example, it's kind of on the way to what Alexis is talking about and the initial toolset was made by one guy.

Depending on the fidelity of graphics you want, and how detailed and fluid you want player interaction with the game world to be a toolset (can't really call it a game) like this would be relatively easy I would think. Considering how many games have come close I think it's more a matter of having the will to make a specialized toolset rather than a fully fledged game.

Games to look at (just what I can think of off the top of my head):
Minecraft (terraforming/adventure)

Wesnoth (turn based strategy)

Cortex Command (2D sideview shooter/wargame)

Littlebig Planet (2D platformer, but has been made into tons of other types of games, content sharing built in)

Terrain Editors for the Warcraft and Starcraft series (strategy games that have been turned into just about everything)

Love (mmo that allows players to terraform and build up actual infrastructure and interact with npc villages)- I especially recommend looking at this one just for the back-end toolset the programmer made for himself.

Hope you don't have problems seeing this video, it's pretty neat:

T said...

The main hurdle I see is finding a way to let the average person leverage all this power without needing to essentially program it themselves. Are you imagining something on the level of Excel scripting for things like health variables?

What about the algorithms for production and trade routes? Flow of rivers? Rainfall and rain shadows? Weather patterns? There's question of degree here between a world with a lot of simulation already programmed in, and something that's just 3D Photoshop where you draw whatever you want.

You could have scripting with something like Lua, perhaps, but there'd be a balance between ease of use and power.

Kaspar said...

There are large and enthusiastic modding communities for Elder Scrolls, Fallout, G-mod and others. Many of them would no doubt be attracted by a such a toolset. So there would be plenty of contributions to art assets, locations, etc. Actually it does sound doable.

I am working for something like this- a program that would create the map, calculate weather, distribute resources, place cities, create trade networks and so on. Kind of like DwarfFortress, but geared to serve as a GM aid. No 3d or graphics thought- that would be too much to take on for me.

How do you envision the rules handling? If a player attacks, say, an orc, would the computer handle the calculations, dice rolling and subtracting hp? or would the GM do it by a hand in virtual character sheet?

John said...

"From what I've seen of the work ethic and drive of RPGers online, I think you're absolutely right.

However, I think that if the power of the game is ramped up, it will draw in new DMs from elsewhere, who were never interested in D&D because of its frankly archaic and childish nature. While the other conversation is about how to make present DMs better, I say replace 'em all with the Right Stuff."

Sometimes I think these OSR blogs exist in a bubble universe. D&D is a leisure activity. A game. It's something you do in your free time, to have fun. That goes for both DMs and players.

Your idea, then, to 'improve the hobby' by getting rid of its current enthusiasts is nonsensical. What it would be more equivalent to is forming a sort of clique, as exists in many hobbies, of "true devotees" who invest a great deal more time and effort into the hobby and can look down their noses at all the amateurs who lack the proper "work ethic". There's nothing particularly wrong with that, pejorative language aside; just don't fool yourself into thinking you're changing the face of the hobby or any of that rot, any more than any game snob does.

The great majority of players (DMs) are always going to be casual. If you present them with a tool that requires a huge amount of work to get a significant benefit out of it, they're not going to be interested. Your suggestion that they should therefore drop out of DMing to make way for a new, hardcore DM who'll really show their players a good time will probably not be appreciated by either them or their gaming group.

Honestly, your original post isn't a bad idea. It's hardly groundbreaking, but yes, there are a lot of ways D&D could be improved by computer programs, and a unified program under DM control makes a lot of sense. And yes, it would be nice if we had megabucks to blow to create the sort of system you'd need. Anything less is going to be of limited usefulness. Good luck, but I can't say I have any optimism for it.

Isle said...

@Kaspar - I gather from Alexis' post that he'd like both, which is what makes this a particularly challenging prospect. Usability of player-created-content systems has improved dramatically over the last five years. Usability of player-created-rules systems has not been thus solved, at least to my knowledge.

JDJarvis said...

@kenwolf, have you seen the game Spore? One has the ability to shape terrain (with a limited tool set) and creatures (of stunning variety) in game-time. There are adventure editors that work simply and quickly (if you get the add on). The scope is settings, planets and a galaxy.

You don't need a holo-deck to run Spore and it handles life in primordial ooze, animals on the surface of a planet, a primitive tribe, planetary cultures and galactic civilization.

Surely a toolset that let's one work on the amount of planet you can present to a dozen or less players at one time is within reach, someone just needs to get cracking and work on a new game not recreating the old over and over again.

Kenwolf said...

@ JDJarvis, sorry i have never seen the game spore. so i cant really say anything on what it can and cant do. it is one thing to have a tool set able to make a map and put mountains on it and trees and grass and towns and dungeons and all that crap. it is quite another thing to have me as the DM do it.

i have read of people using the old never winter nights game, tool set to make dungeons for their party to go threw. sure that can be done but just look how hard and how much time it takes to do that stuff.

when it comes down to table top rpg's it is supposed to be easy and fun and not have to have a lot of prep time. that is what makes it good. if you want it to be more of a simulated video game when that is completely different. wasn't you able to do that with the old never winter nights game ? they had a dm option for that right ??

Kenwolf said...

@ alexis, i have a question for you.

on a couple of other posts about making rpg's better you compared it to model railroading. model railroading hasn't changed probably since it started. but that seems to be ok with you, but since rpg's haven't evolved from their primitive pen and pencil days it seems to be bad.

that would be like having model rail roaders just turn their hobby into computer simulations that they can carry around with them on an i-pad or laptop. they have the technology to do it and it might even be cool if they hook it up to a big screen tv. but doesn't it change the hobby it self into a different hobby then it originally was ??

Kaspar said...

@Kenwolf: As I see it, the core of tRPGs is “collective story creating” (while using the ruleset to insure fair arbitration and predictable outcomes). What medium is used is of secondary importance. I suppose some also enjoy painting/collecting miniatures and would be sorry to see them replaced with computer graphics (just like railroaders enjoy their physical models and sets). Personally I am already a half-digital GM, so I don’t have an issue with that. Just-as I noted earlier – unless you can make the graphics really good, a more abstract representation might be a better approach.

One problem I spot with the concept. You can’t really improvise here- it’s either creating all possible locations first, or asking the players to take a 30m break while I make the dungeon.

Alexis said...

Kaspar, that depends on how simple it is.

I have stopped answering questions. For some, because the answers are pretty obvious if you think about it. For others, well ... there seems to be a feeling that I'm on the verge of putting together a team and solving this problem. I am not. To begin with, I wouldn't start with less than eight figures, and just to get the thing started would mean months of talking after months of hunting up the right people. No one here, including me, are among the right people. If we were, we wouldn't have had time to notice any of this.

As for those people who continue to find reasons and arguments for why I'm out to lunch, you are the people I mean when I say the most abusive things on my blog. Just clarifying that for you. I don't like you people, I don't need you people ... no one needs you people. You are all in the way. That is the long and the short of it. But since the future is coming straight at you like an avalanche, it really won't fucking matter whether you're in the way or not.

I am content that someone, somewhere, is working on similar material to this. I would like to hear more about it. I felt I would like to talk about it, along with the reasons why dumbasses would hate it, and the results have been fabulous. I had one fucking great day yesterday, I heard some brilliant and insightful viewpoints from rare people who hardly ever poke their heads up on this blog and I am content that the insect jar has been shaken a bit. It's all any journalist can hope for.

How can anyone complain when the comments are long, deep and filled with the rich sense of personality. I thank those who, with eyes open, have sought to express their sense of the possibilities for this game and the way it COULD be played ... if we had the tools.

tsojcanth said...

Alexis, great idea. And it's doable with current technology, if you don't mind having not awesome graphics. The virtual world implementation is not that problematic (seriously, it's not), but there is a problem with virtual worlds, namely that players interactions happen in real time, while they should most probably act faster: checking the temperature inside the cloak for example should require no cognitive effort or time, but takes both. The referee controlling 10 different NPCs at the same time is probably a more compelling example. Nothing that can't be designed around tho, of course. The beautiful things about virtual world is that you can do whatever you want with them, if your approach is outrageous enough.

And, mind you, I love virtual worlds, I've written a few, most of them games, but to me D&D is that kind of hot dog i eat with my friends, not a software assisted game. And I'm not a luddite. I guess you understand :)

Anyway, I perfectly understand what you mean by "programmers are useless" as I am one. And I went out of my way to study how to gather requirements from customers that have no concept that computers are stupid little machines with no common sense. The gap can be filled rom both sides and developers that go ABCD in understanding the client are surely more valuable. I settled on Interaction design for all the software I write for third parties: basically ending up building paper prototypes and asking a lot of really stupid questions and asking for examples. Software comes later because, well, developing software is incidental to the physical form of the electronic computer, not the essential part of solving problems.

I guess an interesting parallelism could be drawn between this last bit, what's churned out by the RPG industry and how RPGs are played at the table, but i've leave it for smarter people.

tsojcanth said...

Of course I missed a bit from the previous post on the interaction mode. Forget about the asynchronicity problem, but I can see a discrepancy between players able to change their warmth with cloaks and interactions not being automatable. Is the world behaving like a simulation or not? as in, are consequences of actors actions resolved automatically? It seems to me like your description is a bit ambiguous in this respect, but I might have misunderstood.

And, have you seen the Neverwinter Nights construction kit or what's its name?

Eric said...

I need to echo Arduin and mention Dwarf Fortress one more time; while the game-as-played is a single-player game not much like D&D, it's one of the most serious attempts I've seen to procedurally generate and run a simulated fantasy world. It's quite extensible, too; there's a large mod community.

Arduin said...

Actually, I would argue that the model of DF is the only way to create a game that could ostensibly be called "D&D", have all of it's nigh-infinite variables, and still leave room for the fantastic amount of imagination players can exhibit. Take a page from MUDs, latch on some simple graphics, and -go-.

Creating something like this can and should and will be done; as a toolset it could even be manipulated to handle different systems easily. Imagine being able to roll the results of a dozen tables at once, seamlessly, and the sheer utility of this device makes it inevitable. Rolemaster might even be -fun- to play with it.

Maptools, for those familiar, is something akin to what this device might be like, at least in it's non-3d prototype that will come. Except better. That device is limited in it's processing power and it's inability to design a world with just a basic parameter setup.

But yes, this is how and where the hobby should go. Being at the table is great, but there's only so much pen and paper can do, and the roleplaying medium is capable of infinitely more than p&p can bring to it. This should be self-evident.

Blaine H. said...

I only have one major problem with this idea and that is the fact that trying to create an entire virtual world and constantly expand it every week would grow to be quite a pain... even with the most powerful and detailed of tools.

Say one week, I need to generate at least three cities that rival the city of King's Landing from Game of Throne for a major political intrigue portion of the game I am running. Even with pre-generated buildings and deformable terrain, that is hours upon hours of work needed to design the cities, the castles, the major fortifications, the key locations.

Then comes the hours of work needed to get each of the key players mocked up, dressed, painted to fit the designs and styles to represent their houses and present a standardized theme. The tool might allow me to mass produce the generic house troops but the tools would give me hours of head ache trying to get twenty to thirty major characters mocked up... and then pre-generating all their dialogue.

Would I love such a tool to lovingly work and craft with? Yes... I have seen people create a scale model of the Mines of Moria in minecraft using the book as reference. But it took them years to do so.

Do I want to spend years by myself modelling King's Landing, Tar Valon, Waterdeep, or renascence Venice (or at least a close analogue to them) and then populating them? No...

Perhaps if all I was doing was making dungeons or running a ship boarding action or a simple open world fight... then I would love this program. It just wouldn't work on building a mass world simulation where ever GM has to generate the world.

I know I would spend far too much time just sitting with the NPC/Character appearance machine tweaking everyone to be perfect. I labor and complain about the current generators not giving me the options I want for appearance already. I could almost get a complete sketch done for an NPC by hand in the amount of time it takes to get an NPC built using a digital creator at times.

I think I would rather stick to pencil, paper, and a text editor to write my notes in. The hour it took to research architecture or scribble down the names of six generations of a noble hours will be better spent than the three hours it took try and crowbar a program into giving me a soaring majestic tower rising over a gothic style keep surrounded by massive curtain walls perched on a cliff with a bustling city of 10,000 beneath it.

Alexis said...

Heck Blaine, listening to your tale of woe makes me want to break down and cry. How could I remotely imagine desiging a more interactive world when YOUR particular problems and difficulties so clearly prove that such efforts would be a complete and utter waste. Wow, you're right. You just wouldn't easily be able to whip up cities of tens of thousands of people in an hour. And thinking about it, neither would I! My god, my goal has been to map and design the whole world ... oh, what would I do if I had a tool that insisted I create the city of Paris?

Oh, boo hoo, boo hoo, woe is me, I've made such a grievous error. My inabilities to create Paris certain dashes all the hopes and plans of remotely thinking a world could be built in cyberspace. Waaaa ... whaaa ...

You're right Blaine. I guess I should get started drawing all the people in Paris with my pen. Because there is no way to put a blot on a map in cyberspace and say to players, "Imagine that is Paris." Blots can only be placed on paper. It is the ONLY way!

I really don't know what the fuck to say to you people. Just go on holding you up to ridicule, I guess.

T said...

I could imagine having a lot of procedural tools that give you varying amounts of control.

Like you could click a spot and tell it, "Make me a city here," and it would try to make a city based on current tech level, surrounding arable land, terrain, other nearby cities or roads, etc.

Or you could draw the streets, and tell it, "Fill this in with buildings."

Or you could draw the streets and place every building by hand.

And at any point you could go in and alter or replace a building with a custom one of your own design.

It'd be sort of like Google Maps, zooming in to different levels of detail, except only the locations of interest have finer detail to begin with.

The same idea could be applied to terrain generation.

Perhaps this guy:

...could be convinced to turn his program into a DMing tool, since he doesn't seem to have decided what to actually do with his project yet. (He has a poll up for like, make it a game, 3dsMax plugin, etc.)

Carl said...

"Oh, Carl, I know this is buried in this comment to Kenwolf, but it is my answer to your question as well. How do we improve DM's? Offer creative people an alternative means of being creative."

Your answer for how to produce better artists looks to be, "Give them new paints." I respectfully disagree.

The answer, I think, is to start teaching them how to DM. The first step down that road is deciding what a good DM is. The next step is then demonstrating that for an audience. After that, enroll students/interns/apprentices and when they get their I'm-a-good-DM certificate, send them out to repeat the process. That will improve the game.

This is what TSR failed to do. This is what WotC has failed to do. There is no ciriculum for a DM. There is no standard demonstration of good DMing.

Right now, people who have a good D&D experience may go out and buy the books, read them and start running a game. What happens then? If they are extremely lucky and extremely talented, that game doesn't suck and their players may come back. More often than not, it does suck and they wonder why they dropped $150 on this bullshit when they could have spent it on XBox Live Arcade or subscribed to WoW for a year.

Blaine H. said...

You considering it to be a whine about not wanting the program because I might have to design three or four major cities in a single week... let alone a world. Ooooh boo hoo on me for thinking of trying to design a fantasy city might take a bit more than a single week to accomplish.

Let me state that I am not fully opposed to the idea of creating a virtual world at all... if it was a massive shared world or one that was lifted from the real world, it would be a good deal easier.

No, asking even the most extravagant of GMs to do the lay outs of one, two, three cities, a dungeon, a palace interior, the layout of a castle in a single week... every week... is something that a team of graphic artists and programmers would get done in a month. Even with the best of tools.

If a GM is lucky and has a slow party or an extra long dungeon crawl, this is not a problem. He has the extra weeks to work but the very scale of what you would want done would require something akin to a computer that could read minds... or has one of the biggest databases of architecture ever created on instant call up... and already 3d modeled.

I am not saying that it has to always be on paper but this tool might not be the best answer. In an ideal world where it's GUI is perfect and so intuitive that it reads your mind for all intentions, it would be the best thing ever.

The current 2d tools stink for this. 3d tools are next to a nightmare to use. Most people are not graphic artists... take a second to look at what most people do with some of the most powerful rendering tools commonly available and see that it is an imperfect art as it stands.

We are not there yet for the program that you want and won't be for awhile. Having done some basic 3d modelling for just this purpose with existing tools, I would actually go nuts trying to design a major city in just a week's time... and that is not even the layout of any of the buildings proper or their interiors.

You think I am crying because I don't want this or it is too much work. Well, you are right. I GM because I want to tell a story and make a world that is alive and fun for the people who show up every week. To take on what is the job of a team of artists and programmers on any similar scale of project and do what they do in months of work every single week to keep up with an ever evolving story and plot is actually probably a bigger cause of heart ache, burn out, and disillusionment than what this program would do to help any.

Oh, and all of this? This is before you bothered to even populate the world with NPCs... who each need to be created, fast, on the fly, and made to be interesting to avoid the players who will give make the jokes about yet another appearance of Generic NPC noble #5 or generic NPC guard template #3.

Trust me, from being around MMO players for a long time... they notice these things. They notice the template caves, the template NPCs, and the pre-canned encounters. They joke and ridicule them as being cheap cop outs the designers took to fill in the game's holes. They will notice if it is just the same cave as two weeks back but this time green instead of grey. So the NPCs will need to take quite some time to work out.

More time that the GM is going to have to spend 'pre-building' instead of actually running or preparing to run the game.

The tool you described is the tool of someone wanting to build a Massively Multiplayer Online game and has a three years or longer development cycle to get the world built up and then locked into someone else's vision before launching it... not something to throw upon a GM who is running on the fly and trying to create on their own for a tiny group of people.

If it is whining and crying like a baby to see the problem of what is requested for the scale of what it really is... then I am crying.

Alexis said...


There's a lot of anger there. I think you have a sense that said creation would be a lot harder than it could be. People regularly create considerably complicated settings in The Sims in only a few hours in the afternoon. Done properly, the 'design' level wouldn't have to be any more complicated than you wanted it to be. Pre-designed buildings and monsters could be on file and it would just be point, drag and drop.

If it couldn't work within the framework of both those who just wanted to plop a few things down and get to playing, and those who wanted to create masterpieces, it wouldn't be much good, would it?

I think most of us here understand that, and that somehow you've gotten the idea that it wouldn't. I'm sorry if I haven't conveyed that ... but it did sound initially as though you were just complaining.