This has definitely been an interesting week for Revival. We’ve spent the last few weeks putting together the real estate site and we’re finally at a point where it’s starting to come together. The light at the end of the tunnel is definitely there.
Chris and I have been writing housing listings as part of the push to get all the content done. Writing a “real estate agent” style listing for a hovel is challenging, but also fun in a goofy way. Meanwhile, the team as a whole has been hard at work on the game client, building houses and the props and housing renovations (“room kits”) you’ll be able to use to personalize them. Among those props are some of my favorite in-game items, books
Soup, hard at work in the polygon mine
Great Minds of Theleston
I mentioned that books are some of my favorite items, but I should probably explain: It’s not just books, it’s what they represent in Revival that excites me.
Revival is a game about knowledge in a very real way. As a player, you won’t find a quest by looking for NPCs with “!” over their heads. In truth, NPCs won’t really have quests like that to give players. Instead there are things in the world to be found, threats to be thwarted and organizations with agendas to be furthered or disrupted. Maybe it’s a nuanced distinction, but we often say here that “players don’t have quests, the world does.” The change in perspective this brings is fantastic for storytelling, but it does present players with a bit of a problem: How do you know what’s going on in the world? How do you find the fun?
Our answer is to provide a flow of information in the game in the form of gossip, rumor, lore and scholarly research. As players talk to NPCs, or eavesdrop on conversations, they become exposed to information about the world. Our systems note this in the background and open different conversation choices, NPC encounters and potential game events for those players with the appropriate exposure. This is, in a sense, how a player “follows a quest chain.” Characters investigate the things that interest them, exposing themselves to new information (e.g. the location of an ancient tomb) which either points them to new adventures to undertake (e.g. acquire the finger of Al’Zir in order to cast a particular spell) or unlocks new bits of information on the trail. (e.g. Find the keeper of the tomb and ask him about Al’Zir)
Books are at the heart of this flow of information and have lives of their own, in a sense. When the storytelling team authors a book, they also jam pack them with these information unlocks (“tags”). For many, the first step to pursuing an epic adventure will begin with a book exposing them to the subject. You might, for example, find a copy of Al’Zir’s Lands seen Dreaming
and in reading it discover the existence of the Dreamlands, tagging your character as “dreamlands aware.” Pursuing that information might lead you to an historian investigating Al’Zir’s work that discusses Aldur, once again tagging the player. Being tagged by both bits of information might in turn unlock other conversations, revealing new sources or even connecting the bits information together to reveal that Aldur is in the Dreamlands.
This flow of information can adapt to current conditions and allows for the game to eschew the classic “static quest” in favor of either completely dynamic events and tasks that are only available right now or “ancient legends” that wait to be found until someone finds them and adds the next piece of the legend to the world through their actions. Gossip and rumors change to reflect what is really happening in the world right now and books rise and fall in popularity becoming ubiquitous and easy to find or obscure and in short supply. In truth, books can change over time, become less or more useful, as well.
Books have different editions
and, typically, first editions are king. Whenever a book is copied, a new edition of the book is the result and the person making the copy might add new pages. Sometimes this can be a great thing, as in the case of say a field guide to monsters, but not all that is added to a book is accurate. Additionally, the original editions of truly ancient books are usually imbued with the magic of their authors, or in some cases the author’s madness, and contain information that does not survive being copied by a journalist (a journaling
crafter) no matter their skill.
What gets copied in instead is the closest the journalist can get to the mad truth they are seeing. Following these bits of near real information as if they are proven fact might make it possible to fall off the trail, so to speak. Usually this will mean that players want to track down the first edition of these books, but it’s not always easy to know that’s what you have. There are many copies of the Necronomicon, and many were made in the time when it was first written, but only the original can raise dread Cthulhu.
And let’s not forget that it’s not just about the ancient past. Books can be written by players and NPCs at any time, and over time new books will enter circulation, maintaining the vital flow of information in the world. In fact, players can sell the books they make to book buyers or donate them to libraries. Based on a books size, its contents and, often, the assessments of the storytelling team, books will become “popular” and begin to propagate through the world via the caravan system.
If a user named Tobin writes a spirit guide, for example, and it turns out to be a definitive book on the topic, copies will become easier to find as merchants, knowing they will sell, begin to copy it and sell them. Upon seeing its success, the storytellers may go through the book and add tagging capabilities so that those that read it will gain tags associated with the information, making even a player-made book a useful resource. In fact, through the use of the journaling skill, players can copy pictures, charts or sketch certain objects (e.g. plants, animals, relics, etc.) into their manuscript and those manuscripts will inherit the information tags. Returning to our example, even a 5th edition copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide will tag players as knowing about the spirits found within, but of course if any magic was added to the original, only the first edition will have that power.
And that, in a rather drawn out nutshell, is why I love books. Opening a book in Revival is opening a door to a new adventure or mystery just waiting to be solved. In a subtle way they broaden the lives of your characters for reading them, revealing more and more of the fantastic behind the mundane, the madness hidden in the rational.
The People Speak
It’s been a lively week on the forums, to say the least! First, I should say welcome to all the new faces. It’s great to see so many folks showing up and taking part in the conversation! If you haven’t yet, come join the conversations in the forums! Members of the teams can be found talking out details of the game almost every day and we’d love to have you take part.
Of particular note this week have been threads on housing, discussions on death and one of my favorites, a thread on roleplay and... fish. (True story, see for yourself! http://www.revivalgame.com/forum#/discussion/53/thoughts-on-roleplaying
I’m actually not a fan of fish, I hope that’s not a problem!
The Seer’s Rede
Next blog, Chris will take you on a lore master’s tour of Crown’s Rock, the first city where you’ll be able to purchase a home. He’ll walk you through several of the key districts in the city, telling their stories as he explains the town and its relationship with the various eldritch powers in the world. Those of you thirsting to know more about the world of Theleston, will definitely want to tune in!
Infinite adventure awaits the avid reader
As I sit and write this week’s blog, I’m watching a BBC show called “Castles: Britain’s Fortified History” - it’s no “Secrets of the Castle,” but it’s definitely an interesting look at the historic significance castles played as well as the techniques used to fortify them and, of course, to defeat them. The sound a trebuchet stone coated in greek fire makes as it flies through the air is sick. Anyway, I don’t have a link to share for you all, but if you find yourself with an idle hour, it’s definitely worth looking at. Revival will have siege warfare and shows like this are rich fodder for us as we think about what form that will take.
description:This week we discuss books and the flow of information in a game featuring dynamic content.;image:2015/1/9/blog_screen_01_09_2015a;