What kind of game is being designed on this wiki? Edit
The game is a mix of several genres. The game is essentially a simulation of a science fiction environment. The physical environment will be contained inside a single galaxy. The term "a single galaxy" in this game is essentially equal to the term "a single game" traditionally used to represent a cycle of completion for a game. (for example, differentiating between two chess games). However, diverting from the traditional sense of the word "game", the player will be able to interact with the environment in a single galaxy for an indefinite amount of time. This means that a galaxy could potentially have enough time sunk into it that it would be considered to be several traditional "games" combined into one.
"So the game never ends?"
The short answer is yes. The real answer is that the game will be designed from the beginning to allow the player to decide when the game is over. When the player wants to move on to something else because he is no longer interested in the consequences of his actions in the particular galaxy he has been putting time into, he can simply end the game or save the state of the galaxy for possible later use when he is interested again. However, when a player is seeking an environment that changes based on his actions towards it over a long period of time, then the intentional design of a dynamic, reactive environment comes into play.
That is what this game is all about, throwing the player into the simulation and letting him perform actions inside that world and seeing what happens. The player is no longer the focus of the game, he is just another partaker, along with other individual AI, that are making their way through the environment trying to attain some form of goal. For most players, this goal will be just the general "to have fun" goal which is completely fine and totally attainable in this environment.
What a player is and their options are in interacting with the world should probably be defined at this point. However, without strictly defining what a player is at this moment, I'm going to defer instead to defining some important terms that are very key to understand the fundamental design of the game.
A Body is a collection of several distinct parts. These parts are one head, two eyes, one mouth, one ear, one chest, one pelvis, two shoulders, two upper arms, two lower arms, two hands, two upper legs, two lower legs, two feet, one portal, and one heart.
A Character is a body but with an additional part, a mind. A character is where all non-natural occurring input originates (gravity would be a natural input). Non-natural input can't be generated unless there is a decision made to generate it, which requires a mind. A mind can either be controlled by a player or it is simulated by the simulation itself.
The Master Intelligence (MI) is the AI of the simulation itself. The MI has no stake in the game, it simply moves it forward. The MI is nature. It is the environment itself and it controls all the natural objects in the world. All the stars, planets, moons, asteroid fields, nebulae, wormholes, and everything else created and destroyed by nature is controlled by the MI. The MI itself can never be interacted with directly by a character, only indirectly through the environment.
Isolated Intelligence Instances (I.3) are the individuals AI units that occupy the minds of all characters. During the galaxy creation phase, every character that is generated has their mind assigned a new, unique, I.3. The way an I.3 behaves is based on their high level goal and their traits/attributes. Their high level goal is their long term ambition that they strive for and their traits determine how they react to situations in general.
A Natural Object is any visible or non visible object that was created by MI. Only the MI can create natural objects, but some can be destroyed or depleted by decisions of characters (asteroids are a good example).
A Host is a very abstract concept and also one of the most important. A host is essentially any visible object in the game that isn't a natural object. All characters and bodies are hosts, but not all hosts are a character or a body. A majority of hosts would typically be called any of the following in traditional games: vehicles, buildings, stations, or spaceships.
A Module is an object that performs some sort of function. A "weapon" is a prime example of a module. Different modules requires different kinds of input. All modules require power to function. Some modules require materials and some require data. All modules produce some kind of output, otherwise they would have no use. The only way for a module to operate is being attached to a module slot.
A Module Slot is an optional part for a host that allows modules to be attached to hosts. Modules cannot produce power themselves which makes them dependent on a host which can generate power. Module slots vary in size. A module slot can only contain a module that is equal to or less then the size of itself.
As you can see this list of concepts is going to quickly get out of hand. However, the point is that there are some unique concepts going to be brought to the table for this game that require definitive details on how they will work in isolation, and how they will all work together as a whole.
However, these ideas still don't answer the simple question of what a player is going to be able to do. The answer is not simple, as you can tell from my resistance for giving a direct answer. But in a nutshell, the game allows you to interact with the other AI who have long term goals. The world has resources that can be extracted to build machines that can enhance your ability to travel, survive, fight, communicate, protect data, trade, and so on. The player will be able to go straight from a planet's surface into space if they have the vehicle to do so. There will be no "walking in stations" or "walking inside my ship". There will be no need. There will be no docking, only transfer of materials between two hosts when they are within a small distance of each other. The fighting game-play will consist of classic dog-fighting, first person shooter, third person shooter, real time strategy. The game will support a dynamic economy that will naturally generate patterns because of supply and demand that can be exploited. The list could go on forever but the game is a sandbox, but the rules will be very distinct, which will be very well defined throughout this entire wiki.
What is the general approach to the design process? Edit
The first phase of the design process is crafting the rule sets of the game. These rule sets have to be initially created, revised, compared to possible replacement rule sets, and brought together for a final cohesive rule set for the entire game. The rule sets of the game are built upon Terms. These terms describe some type of idea or object in a game and their basic functionality. Every term has it's own page that goes into detail on how it works. Game Modules bring together a collection of terms that generate game play. Every game module will have its own page and all the details of its implementation can be found there. There will sections on the Game Module pages strictly for testing them in scenarios. The code will be public and open source since they are only tests.
The second phase would be game engine design. Here, a lot of consideration is put into discovering which implementation of all the different parts of the engine will be most worthwhile for the game. For example, there are several different lighting models that all have their own pros and cons. The comparison between lighting models will have a unique page and a conclusion will be reached that decides on which one to use. A prototype engine will be built, solely to test engine features, and will be the basis of the final game framework when completed and fully tested.
The third phase is the implementation of the game rule sets on top of the engine to bring the final game into place. This will require quite a bit of time to do and will require a lot of testing. The environment itself will be implemented first followed by the systems generating the actual game play.
It is a very long journey, but certainly possible with a considerable amount of patience. At the time of this writing there isn't a public forum for discussion of the ideas and concepts posted here. However, if enough interest is shown through comments on this wiki and emails to me, I will setup an official forum for open discussion of all aspects of the design of the game.
Let the journey begin!