How about a Medieval Survival Game?

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Being sick for the last 4 days gave me a lot of time to do nothing but sit and watch streams on Twitch (which was just acquired by Amazon for 970 million… pretty cool it’s Amazon and not Google!). I watched a lot of open-world survival games and mods for  Arma III where people take on the role of cops and … everyone else.  It’s was fascinating to watch the dynamic nature of those games and how much more the players, rather than the game mechanics, influence everything.

All of that got me thinking about how much fun and easy it is to jump in and have a unique experience in games like this, and be able to do so at one’s leisure. There are elements of persistence, but very little permanence. That sense of ‘starting fresh’ adds something special and unique. What I’m most fascinated by, and wanting to explore further, is the idea of setting. They all seem to be either modern or post-apoc. What about a medieval setting?

Imagine a game like H1Z1, DayZ, or Arma III mods, but in a setting matching something out of Robin Hood or King Arthur. The quasi-persistent open-world could be a lot of fun in a setting with rolling hills, large forests, townships, and keeps. The idea of vehicles could easily carry over to horses, and the rest transfers just as easily.

We’re seeing a lot of copycat designs and not a whole lot being done to expand or develop the emerging genre. I’m thinking there’s still a lot that can be done to make it better. Just a thought.

  • I’ve always thought this type of game would be great for a “pre-historic” fantasy kind of setting. A fresh genre that isn’t too popular in gaming, but fits the survival style of game really well.

    Lots of scattered individuals and tribes, very dangerous and violent world, dinosaurs, crafting simple bows, spears and clothes, building fires, hunting, etc.

  • @nukethesitefromorbit: Totally. Sickness would be a great thing for players to have to avoid.

    @Fidjit: Yeah, I agree. A pre-historic setting could be a lot of fun too.

  • I haven’t played any of the Day-Z type games but I think this concept is fantastic and could make for a really innovative MMO experience.

    In most MMOs there is a fundamental tension: you are in a large virtual world with lots of other players, but everyone wants to be a hero. So you end up running around in a world populated by badass heroes, which has always felt a little odd to me.

    What if a game took the exact opposite approach? Instead of being a hero, you’re a nobody. Your goal is not to stop some giant evil force, but rather to survive.

    You’d start out as a street urchin and stuggle to keep going. There might be a number of paths to accomplish this supported by the game systems. Cities and towns would provide opportunities to make your way by petty theft, begging, or honest work/crafting etc. In the countryside you could turn to highway robbery, join a gang of outlaws, or eventually become a sellsword. In the beginning though you will likely be begging, scraping, and foraging to stay alive. If you do well you might eventually find yourself being a competent mercenary captain, a merchant, part of a profitable crime syndicate etc.

    Some fundamental aspects of such a game:

    1. Time is your enemy. You have to feed, clothe, and shelter yourself to survive. This aspect of the game might become abstract for successful players, but it will be a real problem for many especially early in the game.

    2. The world is big and you are small. This should be reflected in the scope of the game space and in the density of NPCs relative to PCs. In towns and cities there should be a LOT of npcs just milling about their business. NPCs should interact with one another in realistic ways if possible.

    3. You do not decide the flow of events in the world, the flow of events in the world influences you. There may be an overarching plot like that of a Game of Thrones or any other epic fantasy work, but your character is not really directly involved in it in a tangible way. Wars may break out between NPC factions, governments and laws may change, etc. New technology may be developed over the course of the game, and religions may rise and fall. All of these will influence the economy and day to day reality of the game world. As a merchant, you may suffer in wartime as your town gets sacked. As a sellsword you might profit from the conflict, but at the cost of increased danger. Becoming a thief might be a great opportunity in a city until the government becomes much more repressive due to the rising influence of a fundamentalist religious sect etc.

    These changes would take place in the game over the course of weeks, months, and years. The outcome might be influenced by players but will mostly be controlled by the devs.

    This is just a skeleton of an idea but I think it has a lot of potential.

  • There’s a game on steam already which is a survival style game but with dinosaurs and tribes instead of zombies, it’s called The Stomping Land. No idea if it’s any good.

  • All this dynamic AI like story bricks in EQN stuff seems like it would work far better in a multiplayer survival game then an MMO.

  • @wufiavelli AI would work better if AI existed. Don’t let them pull one over on you. The term “AI” is thrown about to describe every single script in the universe these days. And a script is not an artificial intelligence in any sense of the word. /endrant Sorry, it is a sore spot with me lol.

    @Keen Medieval Survival MMO….. with Zombies?! Set it in say…. the 100 Years War or something. So you have an overall war, knights roaming the lands having their way with whoever, the church pushing from another side… and then BAM. Bubonic plague breaks out but ZOMBIES. And civilization falls before we even really get started. Mwa… mwaha…. mwahahahaaa!!!

    But in all seriousness, I think a low-fantasy medieval setting for a survival game could be fun.

  • so… You mean something like Minecraft ?

    Medieval setting, villages, monsters, you need food in order to survive, etc ?

  • @swarmofseals:

    I think any MMO set in a Game of Thrones universe would be a survival game. Even getting married carries a significant mortality risk. 😉

    I have been an advocate of what you describe for a long time, that is the little fish in a big pond approach. With time invested maybe someday one can be a medium fish. This approach fosters immersion and prolongs gameplay so there aren’t crowds of “endgame” Supreme Sith Lords and their cloned companions all milling around the GTN trying to sell globs of green goo.