The next step for MMORPG Tycoon 2

Earlier this week I posted my milestone 6 build, which included (amongst other things) a huge rewrite of the core AI engine which drives the subscriber engine.

There were a few things that need to go in, which didn’t make it.

Most notable among those, of course, is teams. There are a lot of challenges around supporting teams; I might leave that until some of the other issues are sorted out.

A less obvious but more important issue is that “Addiction” is no longer being modeled by the system. Previously, the AI system used just two variables to represent a subscriber’s mental state: “Satisfaction” and “Addiction”, which interacted in complicated ways. Now, the system uses separate “needs” for several different types of activity, and “Satisfaction” is calculated internally from how well each of those needs have been satisfied. But “Addiction” now always remains at zero.

In practice, “addiction” is a problematic word, since it implies all sorts of things which aren’t what I mean. A better term might be “engagement”. It’s a value which, when high, indicates that a player won’t quit the game even if they actively dislike it. The core things which would raise this value are things like having friends who play the game. Or being in a guild. And yes, actual addiction is another possible influence. I still need to figure out how I want to model this, in the new system. And what I want to call it.

In any case, I’m probably going to set all of that aside for the moment as well; it’s not as important as other factors right now.

My medium-term goal is to launch on Greenlight at some point, and so what I need to do next is to focus on what I’ll need to do well there.

The first thing I need is to (finally!) implement region progression; a way for subscribers to “outlevel” a region, and move on to the next one. This also implies that there must be a way to specify a level range for each region.

The second thing I need is to start bringing in real art. I’ve started the wheels turning on that. More details as I have things to show.

The third thing I need is sound and music. It’s a little distressing how little attention I’ve paid to sound in this game so far, as any heavy-GUI game is made immeasurably better by its interaction sounds.

So my plan is that milestone 7 will be about region progression. It will be very much like milestone 6, except that you’ll be able to place roads between regions, you’ll be able to set region levels, and your subscribers will move from region to region as they gain levels. And artwork will probably begin coming in after that.

Milestone 7 should be a much (much!) shorter milestone than 6 was. I really don’t like having so many months between builds!