A Tale of Metal and Wood
*Please note that the project "Gaul Divided" has been merged into "A Tale of Metal and Wood". All features are transferred over. It will however have some new aspects like a changed world map and sea & river travelling by boat and ships.
General Game Concept
We want to attract a more grown up audience with a more serious gameplay. Interactions with other players range from peaceful trading, cooperation and exploration to raids or full fledged war. Betrayal, theft, subjection and death are possible. All is up to the players and their politics, policy and polity. Every aspect will have its place, even combat, but in a balanced manner. The game is not a fast paced action game for sword and buckler fans. All players have the full freedom of choice of how to they want to live in the game world. We want to depict life in antiquity in an authentic way without compromising playability. Don´t be overwhelmed by the many elements, it will all be smoothly integrated and will feel natural, just as in real life.
We think of it more as a kind of "Massive Multiplayer Character Simulation" instead of a common MMORGP.
Character Focus - First and foremost
While it seems obvious, that the character you control is in the focus of a game, in fact this is not always the case. The typical kind of “focus” in modern MMO´s lies on the collection of better personal equipment and on the race towards faster skill levelling. Only to reach a dubious "endgame". And then most players quit the game, since "endgame" content is limited for maxed out characters. In such games your equipment usually represent the way you deal or take damage to and from opponents and maybe has an aesthetic function. Your character skills modifies these basic functions in one way or another.
But besides this, your character and thus you as the player, has little influence on the game world. To make things worse: the game world has even less influence on your character in return (except giving you experience points and maybe falling damage). So in fact the interaction between you and the game world is typically at a minimum. One could say it does not even matter whether you are in the game world or not.
We will take the role of the player seriously and put the player´s character in the focus. That includes clothing, food, equipment and housing as well as health and religious faith. Every aspect in the game will be interwoven with all the other aspects. And behind everything there are players.
Nutrition, Religion, Health, Weather - keep your character going!
Since the character is the focus of the game, you need to care about your character. This begins with a regular diet, Having a balanced diet gives you health benefits, but also keeps your character "happy": who wants to eat only apples or bland bread all day. It may be a big challenge to have enough food in winter, when no crops are growing and no fruits are ready to pick.
You need a proper clothing corresponding to the weather. If you don´t bear that in mind, your character may fall ill. Don´t be worried, this happens only for the time your character is online. While offline, your character won´t starve, freeze or get ill. Yet, sleeping in the rain for several days may not be beneficial, so having a warm place to stay, or a tent during travels is certainly a wise thing to consider.
It may also help to worship a certain deity or have another religious faith*. You can choose from the many of the major belief systems in the region of the game world: Be it celtic, germanic, roman, greek, punic or persian beliefs.
Overall, your character is not only the interface to the game world, but also your prime tool to influence the game world. So keeping your character healthy, his or her morale steady and the skills trained will give you a powerful instrument to gain fame and glory.
*No particular belief is favoured or gives bigger "bonuses" than others.
Crafting and Economy
Crafting will be one of the major elements of the game. It ranges from resource gathering to construction, and from farming to manufacturing. Over time every available ingame item will be made by players. Wether you engage in growing crops or raising cattle, if you fell trees or smelt iron: your contribution to the game world can be eaten, worn, used or seen every day.
Thus crafting influences all other aspects of the game. Before anything can be destroyed it must be built. Before anything can be looted, it has to be crafted. Before anything can be eaten it has to be harvested or hunted. And you need to eat! Furthermore, every item in use has wear and tear.
Any crafting is component based, wether it is a handle for an axe or beams for your house. Components influence the specs of the final product, i.e. it makes a difference if a shield or a boat is made of oaken wood or birch wood. The division of labour is what constitutes a society.
Trade, Resources & Travelling
Trade is the backbone of the game´s economy system. Any resource, raw material or component must be hauled to the crafters and the final product have to be shipped to the markets and customers. Every amount of items must be transported by the players in one way or the other. Backpacks, Carts, Carriages, Pack Animals or Ships are some of those ways. There will be no magical long distance beaming of items either by death respawn, common bank inventory access or auction house trading.
Any resources in the game world will be limited. You can not find salt, gold or iron in every corner of the world. Thus you can not control all types of resources from within your small village. Some must even be imported from beyond the game world´s borders, like amber or sillk.
For comfort there is a carriage system, which will let your character travel longer distances faster and nearly without danger, but only with light personal gear, e.g. everyday clothing, some food, money and documents.
Players can and should engage in transportation business to ensure a stable economy. Also, it gives those players a task to fulfill, who dont want to craft, but instead explore and travel. And finally making roads safe is a political goal for higher ranking lords who want to become king one day.
But the gathering of resources will influence the environment too. First it is only a tree, then a whole forest: what is gone is gone.
Exploration is the way to gather knowledge about resource locations, trading routes and the overall landscape. Knowing places and routes is the key to successful long range trading as well as effective campaigning. It should be noted that reconnaissance is the main way to get news from other places. Know your enemy as you know yourself.
An additional aspect is the search for lost caches or hidden treasures. Players will be able to bury and hide their belongings to prevent them from being stolen or destroyed*. Just remember where you put them. And: other players may find those caches.
As you might have guessed, battlefield scavenging will play a role in recovering materials and resources from deceased characters.
*Please note that you can safely store money, equipment and other products in public temples only. Those temples are rare and have limited capacities.
When it comes to conflict between players, spears, swords, shields and axes are your choice to defeat your enemies. Bows, arrows, javelins and pila will help you soften the enemy up. But combat will be much more dangerous than what you are used to in other games and it is potentially deadly for your character. If executed well it can be very rewarding but if you fail you can lose more than you might have gained.
The focus is on the conflict between players and player factions but occasionally there will be bandits and raiders.
Overall combat will be rather rare since it´s profits will be uncertain and the outcome could harm the winner more than the loser. It will be relentless and brutal and hard to master. It is influenced not only by weapons and armor but also illness, clothing, encumbrance, weather and even religious faith. And of course the tactical skill of the player in front of the monitor.
Typically, crafting-centered players are worried to be bullied by bored, overskilled warrior characters. But combat is no shortcut to glory and riches, just a shortcut to demise. It takes the same effort to master the combat skills as any other trade, possibly longer. It is however vastly more dangerous, and gankers be warned, since with some luck even a peasant can drive a pitchfork into an attacker.
Combat will have no auto-targeting, but instead rely on your own aiming. There will be mechanics in place which simulate some of your senses to warn you of hidden dangers. and sneaky enemies.
If you are wounded in battle, you need to recover from your wounds before you can take up arms again. Severe injuries can also lead to the loss of some skill in certain trades. e.g. being a goldsmith working on fine detailed jewelry is quite difficult if 3 of your fingers are stiff or numb. But nothing is forever and you can regain skills later on.
In the end, permanent death is possible for a character, but that is highly unlikely.
Finally, if you want to get famous, rich and powerful you should engage in politics. Being the chief, lord or king of your people gives you additional options of creating tribal or statelike structures, but also allows you to collect taxes in various ways. But being a leader also brings duties. Maintaining infrastructure and expanding the economy are only a few of the tasks. A wise leader also makes sure that his subordinates are kept safe from thieves, bandits and raiders or he may very well be substituted by a more promising character. Leading your people in times of crisis may bring you some reputation.
Politics is also the means to negotiate alliances or form bigger entities, like super-tribes or federations. And a working trade network is the backbone of your income, so don´t neglect it.
But be warned, betrayal looms on the horizon, maybe from your closest friends. Enduring loyalty is hard to achieve.