March 2006

The Amazing Legendary Frank

Is this technically fanfic? I don’t know. But I’m writing some fiction now, and plan to stay in the habit. What have I chosen as my ‘enabler’ to keep me going? Oblivion. In anticipation of the game, I decided to play through it not as just some virtual representation of myself, but as a character I’ve created named Frank. No it won’t be a fanmade novelization of the game, imagine it more along the lines of 8-bit Theatre minus Final Fantasy, plus Oblivion, with a twist of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Wow, I’m the Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper of gaming fanfic! (Ugh.)

You can follow Frank Smith’s journey from Seyda Neen shopkeep to savior of Tamriel at

Some time tonight/tomorrow Frank should wake up in Oblivion.

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Trust is a Tricky Thing

So, Raph Koster asked people about what they wanted in MMOs. Well, I hate MMOs, so I decided to think up an idea for one.

So, Trust is a Tricky Thing.
(AKA, “The Sound of A Link Unclicked.”)
(BKA, Crazy game idea by someone unimportant, so you can ignore this post. I just got bored a few days ago and felt like thinking.)

My game is about trust. And the name of my game is ‘The TRUST’. Catchy, huh? Let me give you the narrative set up: It’s set in 2020, a bit of a nod to the Roaring ’20s, full of nice suits and lavish style. The near-future is an extension of our current day paranoia, and in a world where security promises win elections, many larger cities have continued to change their police forces into military-esque organizations complete with surveillance cameras on every street corner. With these rigid social lines drawn has come a ban on private ownership of guns, and just recently, even a rebirth of prohibition in a political attempt to stop causes of violence. Crime is at an all time low, and what we call organized crime syndicates have been been labeled terrorist organizations. And to combat the last remaining vestiges of crime, the Police Force has began a new campaign, T.R.U.S.T., Tactics to Remove Urban Societal Terrorists. Using undercover agents, they hope to infiltrate and gain control of top crime organizations to get information on all involved.

Seeing as I’m designing this for fun rather than actual production, I have the luxury of being able to do things like say “This game is AO,” and not have to worry about the fact that it wouldn’t sell gangbusters. And even crazier than that, I can say “The player must use their own credit card to pay, and their real name will be used in-game.” Yes, as you no doubt assumed by the title alone, this game will deal with the sharing of your avatar’s (and to a small degree, your) private information in the course of gameplay. Like I said, bless the luxury of not having to be realistic. You also get a nickname, a fake address, a semi-fake email/chat address, and a voice chat contact. Why? So people can listen in, tap your email/chat, and plan hits on your house. Oh yes, this will get dirty.

If I’m playing I’d go by the same name I use all over the net, Jeffool. So I’m Jeff “Jeffool” Bridges, living at 119 3rd Avenue, Apt A. My cousin would be Thomas “HotDogCart” Warren, (don’t ask,) and be my neighbor at 119 3rd Avenue, Apt B.

As Jeff Bridges I am part of the TRUST Task Force, a guild if you will. But as Jeffool, I’ve joined the Wallace Crime Syndicate. I’m an undercover agent. My cousin? As Thomas Warren he’s with the Schibetta Crime Family, and as HotDogCart he’s a cop. This makes him a crooked cop. Our missions are the same. To work our way up the ladder of enemy ‘guilds’ and as one of the ‘second-in-command’, you try to be voted in as leader. As the leader of a guild, a player has new options open to him such as changing the ranks of other members, or over the period of a few weeks, disbanding the guild.

Most MMOs show players names above their head as if you were omniscient or recognized every single player as a personal pal of yours. I propose that you never see a players name over them unless they properly introduce themselves, at which point you see their name and their ‘secondary alliance’. In WoW-terms, introducing yourself would be akin to highlighting a player that you want to introduce yourself to, and clicking on an ‘introduce’ button. So now I, Jeffool, and my cousin, HotDogCart, see the others nickname above their head any time we see each other. We recognize each other. Everyone you have introduced yourself to recognizes you by your nickname until you die. And if you change your nickname (which you can do on a whim,) friends still see the old one unless you re-‘introduce’ yourself. And, you can also share contacts (one at a time,) to see others nicknames (like you’re telling someone “That guy? He’s HotDogCart, with the Wallace Syndicate.”) And if you know someones real name, you can also point that out. Of course, knowledge like that is information.

While in a guild, PvE is as you’d imagine. Cops fight AI crooks, go on PvE sting missions, report to gang fights, and generally try to arrest these people. Crooks rob NPCs, intimidate people into giving them ‘protection money’, and do break-ins. PvP comes in when when a player finds out the real identity of an enemy, and reports them up to the proper level of their guild. That mid-level guild member can then put a ‘hit’ on the real identity of the enemy. And if you give that information you get major money, or perform the hit, you get major skill points (assuming they’re a higher level than you. Otherwise you’re just wiping out noobs and that’s no challenge.)

If anyone’s read this far, I realize that this is a lot of info, and may be impossible to comprehend in one reading. (Assuming I’ve written it in a manner that is readable. Here’s hoping.) But the idea is to make people have to expect their fellow guildies of being enemies, and at the same time be reluctant to prove that they are not. Would you follow a guild leader who could rat you out and have you bumped off (completely losing all skill points you had built up,) if you didn’t trust them?

And why do it? As guilds are disbanded, the final guild “wins.” That server is over. A new one opens up, but each server has a different city name. Everyone on that server in the winning guild for a period longer than X months gets a free novelization of their server from opening to end-state. No matter if the cops or robbers win, the story should be told using the real players names and actions. And the head of the guild should get to open a new guild on any server they choose.

So, you get to actually affect the world in which you’re playing. And to remember it, a novel chronicling the history that you lived, of which you may even be a part. I think that’s a pretty cool bonus for beating a game. No to mention that the only way to win is to find trustworthy people and ‘game the system’ together.

Well, at least I like the idea.

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Voting power!

Hi. Yes something’s different. Can you notice it? No, I haven’t lost weight. Yes I cut my hair but that was months ago…

A button! A brand new button! I found some a while back that I thought fun, but with the advent of the Video Game Voters Network I decided that I needed a button for it, and I offer it to you all to download, steal, and share at will, slightly smaller than the one Jeff Freeman offered (here.) I put it out there to help, even though these guys really should’ve had all this stuff ready. Let’s hope this isn’t a half-assed effort. We as gamers really need this.

(Provided by my pals at TG Productions. They’ll get a site up eventually.)

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