Fan made Dune MMORPG project

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Fedaykinofdune
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Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Fedaykinofdune » 27 Aug 2013 02:22

Hi guys, I've been a Dune fan for many years now, and it's high time that we had our own MMORPG, for Shai-Hulud's sake. Dune Generations would have been awesome, had it come to completion, but we may just have to take matters in our own hands. To that end, I have set up a website and started researching open source game engines, and I'm trying to gather up as many like-minded individuals I can find, especially those with programming and 3D modeling skills. I invite anyone who is interested to head to http://dunemmo.abilenefreewebs.com and help kick off discussion. Right now, things are in a brainstorming stage, I've been entertaining lots of ideas for gameplay mechanics and such. It's definitely going to be a massive undertaking, but with enough determined fans, I'm sure a playable game will be the end result. I've already began toying with the Torque MMO Kit, which can be found at http://forums.mmoworkshop.com/trac/mom/wiki/Downloads. I'm concerned about getting shut down by FH's estate, though, I'm not sure how that's gonna work out, trying to make a fan-made game. I know some RP'ers on Second Life got shut down, not a very encouraging thought, but I'm definitely determined to make something of this idea. It's been something I've been thinking about for nearly 10 years, and it's about time, whether the IP holders make their own game, or the fan community does, us Dune fanatic gamers NEED this! Below is a copy/paste from one of my forum posts, throwing around a few thoughts... Thanks for reading, sorry for wall of text!
-Fedaykinofdune a/k/a Edric

Here is a collection of my thoughts on coming up with a Dune MMORPG. This was originally sent as an email to a few people to try to garner some interest, a rambling mess of things I see in my mind's eye when I try to imagine playing an MMORPG based on Dune... I invite everyone to discuss anything they find interesting, or stupid, or whatever.

When I read the books, I can't help but think about how vast the universe is, and a proper Dune MMO would need an incredibly large universe, as well as the ability to explore every inch of it if the player wishes. Starting out in the game, you'll have the "standard" Dune universe, with all the well-known planets and systems, as well as yet unexplored places, waiting to be discovered, claimed as fief, colonized, or exploited for resources. As players venture further outward into the galaxy, more planets, star systems, and other things can be "discovered" and and thus be incorporated into the "known universe". I've thought on that quite a bit, about how that would work and affect gameplay, and how to implement it. Minecraft has its own unique terrain generation system, I've thought of something along those lines, although with a lot more detail and features, to allow for players to discover new territory, find and gather new and unique types of materials, face previously unknown foes, and just possibly, if a brave few venture far enough, encounter an "ancient enemy" that was thought not to exist anymore (though if set around or before the time of Muad'dib it may not be quite canon and belong in the story, they were always somewhere). As more things are discovered (new planets, new types of raw materials and elements, strange unknown substances, life forms, creatures, etc), it becomes part of the game, so new programming must constantly be added, such as crafting recipes and building schematics using new substances and materials, monster AI, quests and missions, as well as rewards, and as new planets get colonized, there'll need to be buildings constructed, palaces and monuments erected, and terraforming to make life more comfortable. A semi-customizable world and gameplay experience would be absolutely necessary, akin to Second Life, giving players the ability to change the appearance of their turf. A system where house leaders can implement their own quests and missions should be added as well. This will make it necessary for the player base and the development team to have a very close relationship, basically making them one and the same. You find a new planet and stake your claim, tomorrow the dev team is working on monster AI and putting in extra touches to make sure it's interesting.

I have been thinking quite a bit about gameplay, and agree with some things I've read about it being difficult to properly cultivate an environment where subterfuge, politics, plots within plots within plots, murder, greed, clever wordplay, prescience, plus all the other things that make the Dune saga wonderful, will be the core mechanics of the game and the thing that keeps it interesting. Here's something I thought would be an interesting scenario and example of a true Dune MMO... You're a member of a Great House, the ruling family of some semi-important planet, the only planet where a certain poisonous plant grows. The product from the plant is exported off-planet, sold throughout the imperium from various merchants, used as a crafting item for an extremely high level and hard to obtain "end game" dagger or sword. People have tried time and again to get your house to sell the seed for this plant, but since it's the house's cash crop, no way, right? You're going to have to deal with raids, people trying to come in by force or by subterfuge to smuggle your seedlings off-world. You're constantly having to shore up your defenses, paying for NPC "guards" and recruiting people to your house to protect your livelihood. At some point you send one of your trusted swordmasters on some recon errand, and he happens to be killed, or captured. He finally returns from his errand with his report, and all is well after all, or so you thought. A few days later, several guards who were posted at the greenhouse storing your precious plant seeds were found dead, and the signs point to a Tleilaxu poison as the cause of death, some seeds are missing, and your swordmaster is nowhere to be found. Come to find out, he was captured and a Face Dancer, impersonating him, infiltrated your house, took your seeds, and now you no longer have a monopoly on that crafting item, creating much hardship for your house. Sounds interesting, right? Now of course, the Face Dancer is a real person, sitting at his PC, just as your swordmaster is just another guy playing the game, so his being captured or killed cannot be permanent, but there should be a way to realistically make a gameplay device such as that work. Face Dancers were always a very real and evil threat in the stories, though in the game, they could possibly be used to your advantage as well. Though it's said, "Who can ever trust a Face Dancer?", having one as a member of your entourage could be useful.

Even if you're not interested in ruling a great house, being a well-seasoned warrior, or riding the sands on the back of Shai-hulud, there's something for everyone. If it makes you happy living day-to-day, and planet-to-planet, gathering and trading to buy your food and pay for passage to the next world, just for the adventure of it, then that's exactly what the game will be for you. If you're a hunter, eager to move from one star system to the next, looking for the perfect big game for your trophy room back on Harmonthep, then this is your game.

I have been thinking a great deal about the amount of work involved, and this is a huge, huge challenge. The game client itself, along with the graphics engine, interface, and world customizability features is going to be a major programming task. The server side wouldn't be an easy task itself, but once the framework and game mechanics is all laid out, scripting additional features should be easy work even for novice script writers. The server software should allow for easy extensibility, making the process of addiing more quests, missions, and various other gameplay elements quick and simple for the development community and playerbase. Care must be taken, however, to avoid allowing people to maliciously or inadvertantly mess up the game code, which can ruin game balance or give people an unfair advantage (whether in combat, financially, or otherwise exploit game mechanics), cause server stability problems, or any other problems. In a perfect world we could allow everyone to add features that they want and give them free reign to modify code, but authority for major additions, especially changes to combat mechanics and other kinds of game algorithm should only rest with the core development team.

The idea here is to basically do the impossible, we pull all our imaginations, spare energy and Dune enthusiasm together, put all our ideas together and figure out how to get them crammed into code, and slowly bash out a game client as well as supporting server software. The client program will need to have at least a decent graphics engine, I'm an every day FFXI player, and it would be an absolute dream to be able to have graphics on par with that, but realistically that may not be possible. Graphic capabilities on par with some existing "WoW clone" MMO games would be acceptable, it'd be up to those in charge of modeling, art, etc. to make it look good. Right now I imagine 2 different graphics modes, on-planet and in space. The client is going to need a smooth and intuitive interface, for combat, crafting, navigating, and all other aspects of gameplay. I want this to set itself apart from 90% of other MMO's in that it shouldn't be a "point and click" type of game, though it should be possible to play in that manner, it would be preferable to devise the interface in such a way that it's all usable with a gamepad, like a PS3 or XBOX controller. Built in voice chat should be possible to integrate, as well, but there's always Teamspeak or Vent. As far as user customizability for terrain features and structures, that's something that really needs to be discussed and fleshed out, as much of this project is beyond the scope of my programming ability. I think this should be a key feature, though, and it should be made in such a way as to be possible for even a novice player to do basic building and terraforming without having to make their own 3D models and upload them, though advanced players should have the freedom to build a keep grander than Muad'Dib's. The game client should be able to self patch and fetch resources from the server when necessary. Once the core system is in place and running, extensibility will be easy, and story writers will be able to let their imaginations run free to write up galaxy spanning missions, wage war, etc.. The extent of my programming knowledge is limited to writing script on a platform called LiveCode, though not suited for the client program, it definitely has the potential to work great as the server platform, and allows for extremely rapid programming work to be done with ease. It integrates easily with large databases and makes it a breeze to automate and set complex events in motion. It may have some use in handling client side events, though, parsing incoming data and helping coreograph things (cutscenes, crafting, etc.). Just another one of those things that needs to be discussed. All of this is a tall order, I know, but with enough determined minds and talent and lots of hard work, one day we'll have our very own Dune universe to escape to. I'm wondering if it would actually be possible to go above and beyond just a fan-made MMO into something truly massive, if we could get the IP licensed and the project crowdsourced it could very well be a massively popular and successful game. The sky is the limit!

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Serkanner
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Serkanner » 27 Aug 2013 06:07

Good luck!
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Sandrider: "Keith went to Bobo's for a weekend of drinking, watched some DVDs,
and wrote a Dune Novel."

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Naïve mind
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Naïve mind » 27 Aug 2013 10:48

Serkanner wrote:Good luck!


I had a longer, more angry reply for the OP in mind, but I suppose 'if you don't have anything nice to say, it's best to say nothing' applies here.

So, good luck!

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Serkanner
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Serkanner » 27 Aug 2013 12:19

Naïve mind wrote:
Serkanner wrote:Good luck!


I had a longer, more angry reply for the OP in mind, but I suppose 'if you don't have anything nice to say, it's best to say nothing' applies here.

So, good luck!


lol ... I had the same exact thought.
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Sandrider: "Keith went to Bobo's for a weekend of drinking, watched some DVDs,
and wrote a Dune Novel."

Fedaykinofdune
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Joined: 27 Aug 2013 02:08

Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Fedaykinofdune » 28 Aug 2013 21:11

Why in the world would you be angry? lol

I'd actually like to hear your honest opinion in this matter. As for me, I've been a Dune fan since like 1987 or something, 7 or 8 years old. I've been holding out hope for years that a Dune MMO would come to life, but so far there's only been one scrapped project and a lot of rumors. I suppose some of my motivation is just to get together with like-minded people and try to actually DO something sitting here at my computer, accomplish something worthwhile and at the same time give other Dune fans something to tinker with. I'm sure there are people who share my little fantasy in some way. I'd really like it to be something that's shaped by many hands, by the developers and player base, something that everyone can put their own little piece into. I know, delusions of grandeur, right? Maybe so, but I'm sure if I don't try, I'll have failed. Anyway, even if you don't have anything nice to say, I still would like to hear it. Even if it's words of discouragement, I'm sure you probably have some valid points, and I'm definitely all ears.

-Edric

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Apjak
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Apjak » 29 Aug 2013 07:20

First, you come into a community and with your first post, ask it to crowd-source work for our pet project. How many people on this forum are interested in MMO's? How would you know?

Second, if we were interested the HLP had shown every willingness to litigate against those who would create a Dune RPG experience without their permission and direction. See: the Second Life incident.

I wish you no ill, but this is a community brought together and held together in no small part by hatred of what the current torchbearers are doing to the legacy of FH. Our first response is not often like to be friendly, esp. considering a breach of forum etiquette. My advice, Lurk Moar.

Apjak of Sylph, former Galka RDM
I don't think the author should make the reader do that much work - Kevin J. Anderson
We think we've updated 'Dune' for a modern readership without dumbing it down.- Brian Herbert
There’s an unwritten compact between you and the reader. If someone enters a bookstore and sets down hard earned money(energy) for your book, you owe that person some entertainment and as much more as you can give. - Frank Herbert

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Naïve mind
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Naïve mind » 29 Aug 2013 10:31

Fedaykinofdune wrote:I suppose some of my motivation is just to get together with like-minded people and try to actually DO something sitting here at my computer, accomplish something worthwhile


Raise money for a charitable cause. Volunteer at a shelter for the homeless. Write a novel. Obviously all those things are more worthwhile, but here's something that's much less obvious: all those things are more likely to be immediately rewarding on a personal level.

Writing any piece of software, even if it's very small and simple, always takes more work than you imagined it would. If it's meant to be used by consumers (like a game is) it also requires many hours of mind-numbing and frustrating testing work.

That's for a simple piece of software. Say, a sudoku game or something.

Your MMO, as you describe it, is infinity. There's a reason most MMOs aren't based on volunteer work. Creating this sort of stuff is mind-bogglingly dull grind work. This is something people tend not to do for free.

And then there's difficulty. Most games require careful balancing work to prevent cheating or 'simple' strategies that allow the player to succeed without effort. You need double the balancing for games that allow players to play against each other. Now imagine the complexity of ensuring 'fairness' for a game that has hundreds of players competing with each other, most of them at least as smart as you are, eager to exploit every game rule to its fullest extent.

You're thirty-two. There's nothing wrong with dreaming about creative ventures, but there's also no shame in being realistic and spending your energy on things that you'll actually enjoy, and might benefit yourself and others.

The world does not need more software. And it certainly doesn't need more failed software.

Fedaykinofdune
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Fedaykinofdune » 29 Aug 2013 16:25

Apjak wrote:First, you come into a community and with your first post, ask it to crowd-source work for our pet project.

Weird thing is, I'm pretty sure I had an account under a different email address, been a while though, but sadly I no longer have it..
Your point about litigation is well taken. That's really the only factor that truly discourages me, even despite the points Naïve mind brings up about it being a tedious balancing act.
I apologize for the breach of etiquette there, it definitely wasn't my intention. I honestly believed there would be some genuine interest here at Jacurutu. I've been lurking for a good bit, and have read quite a bit, that's the reason I kinda decided to stick my head out here and pester you guys about the project.

Naïve mind wrote:And then there's difficulty. Most games require careful balancing work to prevent cheating or 'simple' strategies that allow the player to succeed without effort. You need double the balancing for games that allow players to play against each other. Now imagine the complexity of ensuring 'fairness' for a game that has hundreds of players competing with each other, most of them at least as smart as you are, eager to exploit every game rule to its fullest extent.


You're thirty-two. There's nothing wrong with dreaming about creative ventures, but there's also no shame in being realistic and spending your energy on things that you'll actually enjoy, and might benefit yourself and others.

The world does not need more software. And it certainly doesn't need more failed software.

You're definitely right. I cringe when I open up any app store.

As far as what you said about the game, yes, being an infinite universe would definitely be awesome, but of course not very realistic. I'm well aware of the balancing tedium and the kind of algorithm that goes into making a game playable, especially a PvP game. Challenging to no end, not so discouraging, though. My plan for that was to get a starting planet with a few zones ready, then exhaustively work on game mechanics. "Fairness" was definitely something I have worried about. For example, if it's easy to become a Face Dancer and dupe someone, steal their family secrets/atomics/whatever, then everyone will do it at their earliest leisure, nobody will want anyone to see that they have "house" status, etc.. Chaos. I totally get it, this is a ludicrously difficult task. That said, I do think I would enjoy the task, even if it never quite got off the ground, or whatever happens. I need a new challenge, but, as was said, the danger of getting sued into oblivion, I guess, is worse than I thought. Maybe we'll call it "Not Dune but a place like it" or something, lol.

Anyways, sorry about my lapse in judgement, I didn't mean to just bust in and say "Hey guise come work on my sekrit projekt!!1" I've just been excited, and I may have jumped the gun.

I wonder, though, why FH's estate is so against things like this, which would only serve to increase awareness of Dune, possibly bringing a newer generation of readers in the fold. I've heard a rumor about another MMO project recently, hearsay and a lot of nay saying. An officially licensed game would likely garner significant interest, I would think.

-Edric

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Omphalos
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Omphalos » 29 Aug 2013 18:28

Serkanner wrote:
Naïve mind wrote:
Serkanner wrote:Good luck!


I had a longer, more angry reply for the OP in mind, but I suppose 'if you don't have anything nice to say, it's best to say nothing' applies here.

So, good luck!


lol ... I had the same exact thought.


And you restrained yourself?

Serk, my friend, you've indeed come a long way! :D

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Naïve mind
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Naïve mind » 30 Aug 2013 02:02

Fedaykinofdune wrote:I wonder, though, why FH's estate is so against things like this, which would only serve to increase awareness of Dune, possibly bringing a newer generation of readers in the fold. I've heard a rumor about another MMO project recently, hearsay and a lot of nay saying. An officially licensed game would likely garner significant interest, I would think.


Trademark law (and most IP law) works that way. If you find out someone infringes your trademarks, you have to take action as quickly as possible. If you don't, you will lose the trademark.

The reason for this is to prevent predatory practices. Someone could get a trademark on a name, and do nothing when people infringe, until one of them happens to make a lot of money, and then sue them for all they're worth.

The HLP, in all likelyhood, doesn't give a rat's ass about a couple of Second Lifers building 'Dune' things. But if they don't get their lawyers to send a threatening letter, they will lose the right to complain when Electronic Arts does the same.

By the way, the HLP trademark on 'Dune' seems to have been cancelled. They may still own other Trademarks, but a search for Kwisatz Haderach™ and Tleilaxu™ turned up negative.

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Serkanner
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Re: Fan made Dune MMORPG project

Postby Serkanner » 30 Aug 2013 04:41

Omphalos wrote:
Serkanner wrote:
Naïve mind wrote:
Serkanner wrote:Good luck!


I had a longer, more angry reply for the OP in mind, but I suppose 'if you don't have anything nice to say, it's best to say nothing' applies here.

So, good luck!


lol ... I had the same exact thought.


And you restrained yourself?

Serk, my friend, you've indeed come a long way! :D


It looks I have become a lot older and a little wiser.
"... the mystery of life isn't a problem to solve but a reality to experience."

“There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors.”

Sandrider: "Keith went to Bobo's for a weekend of drinking, watched some DVDs,
and wrote a Dune Novel."


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