Years ago I read a PC World article on a new Chinese RTS that had “a whole whopping 7 resources” to manage. Their comment on this was that while everyone else was moving steadily towards 1 or 2 resources, this developer had wholly embraced micromanagement of not only units, but resources.
What if in an RPG, you had only one resource? Instead of having XP, Gold/Creds/Coins, Level, Skill Points, and whatever else developers have up their sleeves, you had only one? Imagine this: you kill an opponent, you get 100 bits (this 1 resource for all thing makes hte most sense within the reality of software, so bits were logical). You can use the bits to buy equipment, improve skills, improve attributes, or really anything else. And on top of it, if you needed more bits to buy that +200 Viral Blade of the Nerd Rampage, you would be able to take bits out of your skills/attributes and use them to buy the blade. I have a whole framework worked out in my head, and I’ll attempt to make it work here, on (digital) paper.
A character is defined as follows (still going with the software stuff):
- Determines movement speed as well as cast time, attack time, etc.
- Determines visible size (ever seen an Agent in AO with Ruse of Taren, Phase 4? Or an en Enforcer with Essence of the Behemoth? yeah, like that), affects sneak ability, the number of programs (see below) that the character can learn at any one time (maybe), and of course other size-related things that I can’t think of.
- Damage boosts, but also drains energy (see below) faster the higher this gets.
- The building blocks of Programs. Yes, you are thinking correctly. The players can build custom Programs. Think Spellwriting a la Morrowind.
- … I can’t think of anything else to go here. I feel like I’m missing something….
- According to John Harris, RPGs are about the phat lewt. Yeah. Something as abstract as just bits wont work. I need loot. We have your standard weapons (maybe), armors (definately), social items (most definately), and function disks (think skill book from EVE Online).
The crowning jewel of this idea is the ability to immediately reallocate any and all bits by reselling loot you no longer need as well as lowering attributes and skills. And being able to quickly switch layouts, or allocations of your bits, weapon loadouts, etc, immediately while you are not in combat. As often as you want. For free. Forever. Period.
Of course this is a very rough sketch. Its primary purpose is to show how a system like this would work. Another option would be to allow a character to learn only a specific number of spells (programs) at a time (like Guild Wars, with its oh so annoyingly small hotbar), but also allowing the player to increase that amount by increasing their size (or maybe having a separate attribute).
Maybe after I finish working on Vault 113 I’ll put together a test MUD.