FOnline Development > General Discussion

100 years plan - Call to keyboards.

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This is a document on what this game/SDK/community would need to be able to stand up. I try to summarize my ideas about resurrecting this game, assuming that the engine and the arts is constant, to what it is now. (No new animations, etc.)

This is also a start of a project, with the goal to make this game better, accessible and much more fun to play/develop/host. The means to that would be, to unite anyone interested and able to help, with two conditions: (1) Everything they contribute, will be shared publicly, for anyone to be free to use for any means - except to limit others from using it freely obviously - , (2) Quality work only.

I'll start this early next year. Until then I am gathering information and deciding on which areas to cover and in which order. Open source (SDK part) project will be based on 2238 SDK the FOnline: Reloaded V2 code (due to laziness and ease of use) and will be available via GitHub.

* Scripts shall follow OOD guidelines wherever possible. Focus on generic usage and reusability of code.
* Maps shall be detailed.
* Quests shall follow multi choice.

This is what I think is needed:

* Better GUI/Controls - Hello 21st century.
* Separation of combat from RP elements - Good bye alts.
* Meaningful, game system provided player interactions and goals - Goodbye gankbox.
* Single player content - Hello quests.
* More build variety - Paper, Rock, Scissors, Spock, Lizard!
* Mini-games for those who already finished their single player content, main quest line.

1. Hello 21st century.

A lot of new tools are needed for this game to stand up, or at least have a chance for it. Compare the current state of any FOnline server, to Fallout 1 or even Fallout 2. Once you start to play it again, you realize, how much it sucks on the interface level and on lack of features. This game needs to go further:

* Windows GUI framework - this is the groundwork needed for all the GUI elements. It's basic element which one can expand upon to have specific controls. All basic windows controls shall be available in the code like:

* resizable/movable window with/wo border
* clickable buttons or draw areas
* textbox
* listbox
* Quest tracker - absolutely needed, Pip-boy does not cut it.
* Karma meter - another little handy tool, a player shall have feedback if he is doing something to hurt their reputation.
* Chat window - while I do understand the immersion of the radio, it's not suitable for the game. The immersion is broken as well, you Pip-boy is like a mini computer and can't handle a simple radio signal? This is an MMO and the information given in text can be overwhelming, thus a chat window for party/clan/local/system/radio shall be available, just like any other games. I do not condemn the PE given advantages, like if you are close to someone, you could overhear their clan/party chat, at least the part he is saying, but people will just use other means to communicate than in-game radio, so that restriction must go.
* Enhance currently existing tools: like bigger inventory, see weight change when trading or looting containers, etc.
* Other MMO features that help player interaction - Friend list / Ignore list, being able to /tell /whisper to people without, etc.
* Better controls and Quality of Life changes - Get rid of the left click cursor type change, and add smart cursor, to attack, stop, move, look, etc.
* (Fix/Enhance)Target highlighting of colors to mark NPC's and even players being considered friendly, neutral or enemy. Name color could indicate that as well.
* Minimap. A real one. I'm not sure about this one.
* Options: There should be zero need to open a cfg file, or run different tool to set up hotkeys. It would be also good, if different skins would be supplies with game, that Evil Interface is used by a lot of people, this should be selectable with game.
2. Goodbye alts.

The need that people feel to make alts, must go. Combat and other characteristics of player characters/builds must be well separated.

* Simply make non-combat skills level by usage or have separate skill points associated to them. Level by usage with gains from quests is a good compromise.
* All attributes need to have a combat value -> CH/IN
* All non-combat skills, may not influence combat, and shall be leveled slowly via playing the game in a non combat way.
* People shall be allowed to make alts, but they shall not feel the need for it, if they want a new build, they shall be able to experiment freely, having their character re-roll without deletion, for example, visit NPC/get max radiation and mutate, keeping name and quests/map, but be able to choose different stats/skills etc.
3. Goodbye Gankbox.

I consider this game to be a Sandbox. However most games that are Sandbox are failing nowadays. Let's face it, putting some sand in a box and giving it to your child to build sand castles from it kind of sucks hard, compared to Disneyland. If the tools were better, if it was not only a box with sand, but a box full with Lego pieces and a few already assembled toys, it would be way better. Would still suck vs Disneyland, but not that hard.

The main issue I see with this part of the game is, that most of the time 2 players meet in the open, they have more reasons to kill each other, than even take the moment to say hi, if not for the only reason to not get shot at while trying to type something. The solution for this is a meaningful faction/karma system.
It's relatively simple:

* Full loot/stealing shall be enabled everywhere, even newbie zones.
* There would exist different NPC factions a player would be allied to, or if they choose, to none of them. (This is different from player factions)
* Everyone who is part of these NPC factions (Players still could form player faction (rename them to Clans/Gangs)) would be protected in a way from players in the same faction that if someone attacks same faction members, they would loose karma with their own faction and temporarily set to a state, where every NPC threats them as being an enemy to the faction. This means, if someone attacks you from your own faction,you could shoot back without consequences, and even kill/loot them. While if they would kill and loot you, every NPC from your own faction would try to help you, if noone is around, still they would hit a karma penalty, which would be costly and/or hard to regain.
* Every NPC faction would patrol their area and whenever shots are heard nearby, they would investigate and kill enemy players as they enter in an encounter in enemy territory,
 consider this anti-newbie griefing measure, implemented in an expendable scale, with lots of possibilities.
* Peaceful (newbie zone) factions would have a lot of other factions as allies, this would help the players who play for the RP/Questing part a lot, and their enemy factions either low level or far away. Some obvious example: Enclave is an evil faction, and is enemy to almost every other faction, specially to Brotherhood of Steel. Enclave quests would lead you to slaughter BoS NPC's, Junktown scouts, etc, for various karma gains, quests, etc. Junktown scouts would be allied to the Hub, Gun Runners, BoS and neutral to every not evil faction.
* Players hunting inside enemy faction territory would have chance to encounter NPC patrols matching their level, scaling with how far deep are they inside enemy territory.
* There would be faction less areas, like New Reno, Barter grounds and other NPC towns. Here anyone could trade, re-supply, or meet emissaries from different faction, to complete repeatable quest/tasks to be able to switch factions.
* Dynamic world - factions could have some kind of special encounter, similar to TC, to expand their area close to other faction borders or even inside it. The fundamentals for this would be mini-games, but without max player limit.
* Players would not be able to have bases/tents/safehouses in enemy faction territory, if they already did, these would be marked on map and after some time destroyed by NPC attackers. Also they would not have access to enemy faction bases/tents in any way, except if territorial control changes over that tile.
4. Hello quests.

Besides the tools needed to a better feeling while question, like the quest tracker mentioned above, some neutral, lore independent quests could be added to various places, to ease the effort on individual servers quest writing. This game needs tons of quality quests, variety depending on character choices.
The following tools are needed to help to enhance quest variety:

* Quest pool: Already present in the SDK, but unexplored or unused. The idea would be, that NPC's would be able to give you a random quest from their quest pool, adding some diversity to the PVE.
* Statistics as a balancing tool: This would be a generic tool, for server owners or even players to see what mobs, quest, location, weapons, drugs, perks, etc are used the most.
* Dynamic difficulty and reward balancing: This is a complex one and would come in more layers, that include both quest and overall mob kill rewards, and would scale the rewards and difficulty based on several factors, like the frequency the quest is taken and completed/failed. The scaling factors would have both a global and personal value, meaning if everyone farms centaurs but nothing else, their base XP would be reduced severely, while other mobs base XP for kill would be increased. This would ensure and automatic balance, that the players would set themselves, without knowing it. There would be a personal scaling factor as well, that would promote diversity in farming. Same goes for repeatable quests, they would scale in reward. Difficulty scaling would be mostly about repeatable quests, but it can be added worldwide as well. Difficulty of repeatable quests could scale both as adding more/less mobs dynamically, adjusting their stats or in some cases, stepping up a level in monster type, upgrading rats to pig rats, then though pig rats, then mole rats, then though radiated mole rats and so on. For this to happen, several factor would come into play, like how much time does a player take to finish the quest (be at the encounter map and have mobs alive), how many times does he leave and reenter the encounter, how many times does he die, or in case of a failed quest, it would downgrade automatically.
5. Paper, Rock, Scissors, Spock, Lizard!

Forget the current metas, dynamics. They do not work. They are shit in fact, as they serve only historic values by now. The few servers I played, I met the very bad design, of allowing infinite levels affect combat capacity almost infinitely. I contributed this to be due to lack of content or meaning for people to keep playing after reaching max level. Redesign combat mechanics to be able to finish someone's build in reasonable time, even for those who did not play the game before, focusing on different roles to choose from, balancing it in a way that a group of people would be most effective having mixed roles/build character, and not of only 1 or 2 types. To this, however, the next part of the project comes to play, see mini games.
Need to balance combat for different roles to work and be needed:

* Damage dealer - different types
* Tank - Soak damage, but still propose a threat that cannot be ignored.
* Medic - Classic support. A very good idea I saw was flipping the doc/FA CD toward target, when having a medic perk. Needler with Stimpak/Antidote would also work, requiring high Doc skill to use. Stimpacks need to heal over time effect as well, FA stop bleeding effect which need to be added to most melee weapons and normal damage type firearms as well.

* Scout - Pass traps, move hidden, use faction comms without being overheard from range, etc. Need to rework sneak and traps here.
* Assassin - Move hidden to kill and run. Rework silent death to have increased AP cost (make character exposed after first shot) but increased damage/crit roll, etc. silenced weapons for PVE as well, to work at leveling also.
* Crippler - Classic disabler. Less damage but more disabling shots. Not that hard to solve, remove crit damage multiplier from limbs, and have crit higher chance to cause special effects like drop weapon, cripple limb, etc.A lot of other mechanic changes, weapon changes, where having a weapon for the right range is more important than the actual rank of the weapon. No weapon shall be good to be used in all situation, thus hit chance redesign, weapons have their optimal range where they work best, instead of linear decrease in hit chance based on distance.
Making melee playable: Once a character with a melee weapon got into close range, some weapon cannot be used without a high chance of failure (interception, disarm, etc), basically only pistols, shotguns, melee weapons and unarmed combat would be effective in 1-2 hex range.
Lot of other ideas that concern playability of all roles, combatant types.

Take these roles to a moba fallout mini-game and sort the balance out.

6. Mini-games.

These would be both a tool for character balance and for end-game PVP content. One example would be a moba module, where one would have to capture objectives based just like in Dota or LoL. Other would be similar to TC or overrun mechanics, so if one NPC faction overruns the other to gain territory, etc.

* Moba mini-game: DotA/LoL type of territory control between factions/races. - f.e.: Necropolis tries to overrun Junktown. For this to happen players aligned to Necropolis have to fulfill repeatable quests/mini-games that shift the balance. The Junktown scouts retreat to some refugee camps and plan their comeback from there. Map will change from Junktown to some Ghoul invested place, supplying a base of operations for that faction, including vendors, and so on.
* Card games:

* I already shared the Blackjack module, but it does not have a proper interface. It needs to be redone having graphics with actual cards and not dialog based.
* Next step maybe do a Texas holdem poker, I'm not sure about the AI, but it shall be for multiplayer purposes.
* Tragic: The gathering. Fallout specific card game, based with similar mechanics to Magic: The gathering, as what the original developers of Fallout might have referred to. Other options are using similar mechanics to Blizzard's Heart stone. I played that game a little bit and was fun. I do believe it would be fun for the Tarot cards to have some use. Put different element, mobs, armor, weapons, drugs, perks on cards, have a more or less balanced mechanic, people would have to collect enough cards for their decks first. AI and mechanic might be problematic, so this one last.

Overall, this game is old. It needs to be renewed, modernized but the concept of Fallout-like quality kept, including immersion, lore, theme. I do believe the changes above are bare minimum if one would want to broaden the audience.

With 100 people, a 100 year plan could be a 1 year plan ;)

Note: Combat changes rework is need, but specifics are just examples, to show, where the direction is heading.

Great post Slowhand. You wrote extremely helpful ideas what can be improved in FOnline. If you don't mind, I'd like to comment several parts.

1. Hello 21st century.

--- Quote ---Chat window

--- End quote ---
I remember something similar was introduced in FOnline Desert Europe. It was great feature:

Of course I'd like to see it but improved.

--- Quote ---Enhance currently existing tools, for example bigger inventory, see weight change when trading or looting containers, etc.

--- End quote ---
Yes, it'll be UX friendly. In addition I'd like to add smart cursor: clicking (in addition to drag & drop) item get or put this item in inventory/locker/trader.

--- Quote ---Target highlighting of colors to mark NPC's and even players being considered friendly, neutral or enemy. Name color could indicate that as well.

--- End quote ---
What exactly do you mean? Critter's contours? I think we have this done already.

--- Quote ---Minimap. A real one.

--- End quote ---
Actually I don't think it is need however I don't know what exactly you want to have.

About the rest ideas in this section I can only say that they're fine.

2. Goodbye alts.
In short I love idea about re-roll character without deleting account and losing all professions, quests' progresses, implants and etc.

3. Goodbye Gankbox.
Everything what you have written about factions is interesting however I don't like idea about joining to NPC faction. In Ashes of Phoenix it is nice and fun but as you predict it can cause problems. Players would joing only strong factions and you see situation when Enclave has 150 players, BoS has 100 players, Gun Runners has 45 players and for example Master's army has only 5 players or so. Sure, not everyone must be equal but it leads to situation when we should use only 2 factions or make alliances.

4. Hello quests.
Also these quests should be balanced for different levels. From easy low level jobs to satisfactory quests with appropriate rewards both in items and experience.

5. Paper, Rock, Scissors, Spock, Lizard!
The only one moba game which I was playing for long time is League of Legends. I was really happy playing this game, especially as tank or offtank jungler. I don't know if classes in FOnline will work. I like having one character which can do everything (healing, crafting, lockpicking, traveling, bartering and so on), is tanky and do decent damage. What build or class should I take? Tank?

6. Mini-games.
This is fantastic idea. I'd like to see more mini-games like you suggest. In addition if I can play moba games with random players, it would benefit too.

--- Quote ---Overall, this game is old. It needs to be renewed, modernised but the concept of Fallout-like quality kept, including immersion, lore, theme. I do believe the changes above are bare minimum if one would want to broaden the audience.

--- End quote ---

Yes, it is old as hell. It feels really old even compared to modern games which use old mechanics (for example Pillars of Eternity). I think the main problem with FOnline in general is closed engine, lack of documentation (in english), tutorials and of course solid programmers which can do tasks and develope engine in open source.

You mainly wrote about gameplay but I'd like to see more technical improvements in game. Core programmers with contributors who develop improved engine with all necessary improved tools (yup it has started but only it included in sdk for everyone who wants to build own server like Reloaded, AoP, FO2, Requiem etc. At the moment if you want to create custom Fallout-based game you have to pick up one available sdk (Reloaded or TLA) then cut off every not needed content which leads to building your own tool.

When you have clean tool with only necessary core features you start creating the world, locations, quests... But what if I want to have custom critters or items? Of course I can add them but then I should delete the content which I don't need to have in my game because why I should keep it, for what? Now you are thinking why FOnline can't provide something like modules. Module for all Fallout's default items, module for Fallout's critters, module for my custom critters set or weapons.

I would love to have FOnline with more opportunities but at the moment it isn't promising. Would not it be better solution to use other modern engine or create improved FOnline Open Source engine and develop it all the time...

At the end I'd like to show several of the features that I like very much. Somehow improved UX, Mr Handy, fade view and transparent roofs/walls.

It looks better than PvP player's ugly wall blockers (damn, I can't understant how people could play the game with these ugly blockers).

That's all what I wanted to say. Love your idea!

Wanna come work on AoP? Developing and sharing ideals similar to your post.

We're about 4 out of the 100 years in.

Even if you're not interested in joining the team, come take a look and have a chat, I like your enthusiasm and actual effort put into the fodev scene.

The time you put in the project doesn't matter...
Just do it!

For my part I'm working solo.

Come check a look at AoP as devis said


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