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Reclaiming "social games"

games about the humans who play them · By droqen

Salem protection racket + EVE stories

A topic by droqen created Oct 01, 2018 Views: 297 Replies: 5
Viewing posts 1 to 7
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There's a game called Haven & Hearth. Every time I play it, I play for a few days straight and burn out, hard. One time I made a hundred bottles for some rich guy. Another time I portaged across the world to get to be a part of a brand new village. Anyway, the people who made Haven & Hearth made a new game, almost exactly the same, called Salem.

The one time I played Salem I ran into a guy who told me about what I'm confident was a literal protection racket being run by players in the game. I did some research and came across a forum post describing how this person paid them their silver, were attacked by a wild and violent individual, and then they sent a Brave who dealt with the problem individual. But this was basically a testimonial. Not knowing the nature of the community around Salem, could this not have been a fake story, or possibly a situation engineered by the Braves themselves in order to promote their "service". Who knows, really?

It was suspicious, and inspiring, and the story's stuck with me to this day. It's not like I want to make a game that spawns protection rackets but it feels like such a real thing I looked into, a true frontier to explore rather than a plainly fictional experience. That's what I want to make.

That sounds cool. I don't know how familiar you are with Eve Online it's sort of built around these kinds of dynamics. For a while I made in-game money in Eve by conning my way into corps (their equivalent of guilds) and stealing ships from shared ship warehouses (I was a shitty teenager). The devs won't intervene unless you are exploiting broken mechanics in some way so my victims would pay other players to come after me to try to get me to pay them back. Eventually I ended up on a list of targets for some of the major corps and would just get immediately killed when I entered certain areas.

I will say I mostly played Eve as a teenager with nothing else to do and every attempt I made to get into it more casually later in life failed. Partially that's because, as cool as these dynamics are, it's very hard to participate in them meaningfully if you are not all-in on the game. I would be very interested to see an attempt at evoking something like this without all the baggage of a normal MMO though.

Ah, EVE. Every time i hear its name i have to resist the urge to play it. >.>

Used to set up shop in low population systems in low security space(where PvP can and will happen)* and convince the locals to protect my cargo so i can sell then cheap(cheaper than neighbor systems but still more expensive than in trade hubs) things. Got conned into paying for protection only to get my things blown up a couple times before i wised up. Damn you! *shakes fists at pirates*. *remembers that i made a lot of money out of pirates* Well, it was not that bad!

*PvP can happen pretty much anywhere in EVE if players want it bad enough.

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HELL YEAH , EVE stories!!! I never got too much into EVE because of the amount of time it felt it required to really get into it... tho one time I popped through a wormhole, mined a bunch of valuable shit in empty space, then was destroyed! that was fun, sort of.

If there's any way at all to get this quality of stories out of shorter more casual play-sessions, I am going to find it. There's definitely a measure of all-in, of personal investment, required to really "participate meaningfully", but I'm going to experiment with different ways of achieving that without demanding a bunch of your time.

I played eve briefly. What an incredible game! I had a spaceship and noticed that the prices of things were different in different systems. I would roll around secure space in my space truck, picking up cheap supplies in one star system and selling them in the next. Every so often I would have saved enough to buy a bigger space truck. How is it that something as mundane and banal as arbitrage and trucking kept me so fascinated for such a long time? 

My community story comes from the minecraft server I played on in 2010. One day a friend invited some friends to play on the server, and they were fine folk but their builds were tasteless. Floating Tetris blocks in the town square etc... My closest friends all met at the coffee shop and together we planned our escape from inconsistent, physically impossible builds. Some suggested we just ban them; some said we should leave and start a new server. I said no! We'll go east! Minecraft worlds are huge, so we just all travelled overland for 40,000 blocks and started a new world free of dumb builds! We lived there in a thematically consistent Aladdin inspired town for months to come... Until the introduction of beds created an ideological schism (a story for another time). 

This is exactly why I'm excited about the game Sub Rosa, which is worked on at the moment. Sub Rosa is a multiplayer first-person shooter about tense deals, double-crosses, and the occasional high-speed car chase. (that's the steam description, it's out on early access but I haven't played it yet) Basically, there are a couple of for-profit brute corps getting missions that are mostly about trading with other corps. The trades are great, both corps benefit from it but... Hey, we have guns, right? What if we could just eliminate the other corp's team to keep BOTH of the trade items? Profit! This very concept makes it so you are always insecure about anything and everything, even third party corps that might want to intercept you. The developer was also really inspired by movies like The Driver, about a freelancer offering fast trips to and out of the action, serving to no particular corporation. Well, I think you can see that the potential for stories is there. In reality, though, players don't really take the game too seriously and it's just a playground for any kind of role playing, especially fitting the 80s-90s vibes; AI/NPC presence is rather minimal, somebody has to have the creativity to keep the game interesting after a while. The format is super simple: servers with up to 5 corps, aimed at small groups of people in each corp, the town is rather small and the game restarts to zero after some time.

Now that I probably got you interested, I'm just waiting here for the release, which is probably a long way further...

moved this topic to (Social-Game-Inspirations!)