Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

16 December, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Tools
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:13 PM

For this challenge, we’re going to go a bit meta. This weekend, imagine you’re a designer on an MMO project during the planning stages. Your job is to suggest a tool (or a feature for a tool) that will make creating your project easier for you. You have to describe it well enough that the programming team can implement it for you.

My example after the jump.

One of the most basic tools is a level layout tool. A useful feature for that would be the ability to save sets of items to re-use. For example, the ability to save a table full of alchemical-looking equipment that can be put into different places in the world. The ability to define and use these defined collections would speed up a lot of development.

What’s your idea? What tool would make your life easier?


  1. Between bouts of paying employment, I’ve been known to work on a tool for a browser-based MMO. I’m writing it in Rails, and it allows me to define relationships between skills, actions, buildings, tools, reagents, and products by clicking and dragging. In other words, I can create something called a Forge, declare that you need a Construction skill to build it, that it costs 40 wood and 20 metal, and that it produces shovels when actuated with 1 wood and 2 metal, and that shovels dig up metal at a building called a mine…. and so on, by clicking, dragging, and typing. I’d imagine this would make tweaking the final product really, really easy. If I ever got that far! :)

    Comment by Bret — 16 December, 2007 @ 8:38 PM

  2. I’d want a suite of tools to help GMs run live events. One that I actually got working in a basic form in NWN was a system where I had an Orc Lord NPC that would spawn an army in whatever region he was in. It was one NPC that when placed would check which region he was in, and then populate all of the spawn points in that region with groups of orcs chosen at random from a list. Every so often he would respawn fresh forces at any spawn points that had been cleared. What was great about it was how the lords and the regions were completely independent from one another. If you made a new region and put the properly labeled waypoints in it, then the existing NPC would work if spawned in there. If you made a new lord with a new army list, it would work in any of the existing regions. Regions could be defined independently of game zones too, if I remember right.

    The practical upshot of this was the DM could spawn a single monster to trigger an orc army invasion on the fly, which would persist until said monster was eliminated.

    Sadly all this work was lost when my NWN computer died… never even got it up and running with players.

    So yeah, I’d want an event-in-a-can system to help with running live events.

    Comment by Vargen — 17 December, 2007 @ 7:42 PM

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