Ideas For and Clarification of Connect=Ed's Core Gameplay Experience

#1
Who am I?

Hey all! My name is TechFox.

I'm the Producer of Connect=Ed and my job is to get all branches of development on the same page.

What exactly is the goal? What is the core experience we are trying to build?

Some of you have expressed your confusion about what this game is becoming.. But today, I'd like to get clear on how we can turn Connect=Ed into the best community/ social game on the planet.

Our focus is to create a game that lowers the barriers to meaningful social interaction and facilitate those interactions by giving players the power to construct their own spaces. We want to help people meet their social needs through Connect=Ed and we need to stand out from the crowd in order to do that. We are not just looking to make a Roblox, Minecraft, Eco, or Wylands clone. In fact, I think we can do a better job at creating a positive, constructive, mature community.

What do we need to focus on in order to make this game a reality?

Since this is a social game with a goal of creating positive, constructive mature communities, It's important to figure out what gameplay mechanics are going to nurture that experience and eliminate any mechanics that overshadow or make that experience painful(griefing, abuse, or distracting mechanics like economics(I will get into this more soon)).

I'd like to start by breaking down social gameplay into 3 broad categories: Casual, Competitive, and Cooperative. I believe it's important to have a balance of all three of these in order to give players variety. However, I would argue that the most important element in creating constructive communities would be cooperation. It's critical that core gameplay mechanics are focused on encouraging players to work, build, and play together. This is where I'm going to get a bit creative and experimental.

I'd like to introduce reputation as the core progression mechanic and a means to encourage players to cooperate. Imagine a world where you're capacity to explore and create expands as you contribute to the community in whatever way seems the most fun or interesting to you. And that doesn't mean the world is devoid of conflict. Without conflict people don't often have a meaningful reason to work together. We are a social species and our psychology around that base instinct is survival oriented. With that in mind let's not just build a game where people can escape life, but where they can go to find more of it.

How do we simulate a core environment where people can work together to solve conflict? And especially, how can we make it easy for new players to join and find their place within the community?

What kinds of mechanics might hinder the player's social experience?

There are many mechanics you could argue that add to a cooperative experience in some form or another. However, in my humble opinion, and especially in the beginning of development, if we aren't constructing mechanics that are aligned with the core experience we are trying to create, we are not actually aligned with what we are creating.

One such mechanic is an economy. I would rate an economy as one of the most difficult mechanics to implement well, and also very much not aligned with creating a cooperative community. Some communities are built with money. Society for example. However, @Red you shared one of Aristotle's philosophies around friendship. That oftentimes people seek connection out of novelty or usefulness, when the most fulfilling relationships are actually based around working together for a higher purpose.

I believe simulating the experience of living out a persons dream and encouraging people with similar passions to work together is meaningful. I believe selling eggs to the community in order to get money is superficial and encourages superficial interactions. In the 2nd example the focus is to get something out of the interaction rather than the interaction itself. I'm not saying it has no place within the game, but it corrupts the focus of player interaction and should be a mechanic implemented after the core experience of the game is developed. Then people can experiment with that mechanic within their own servers. Additionally, If we add in the options for modding, people from different fields of expertise can create simulations of all kinds of interesting mechanics like Science, Machinery, Governments, etc. But i think that should be a late game focus and not a part of the core experience of the game.

What does an ideal experience for a new player look like?

This is just one of many theoretical possible narrative based tutorial openings. But all of them share one thing in common. They smoothly guide players into the core experience of the game.

A new player wakes up in a tent the woods. They are homeless after their mom kicked them out of the house for being lazy and they joined a camp of equally homeless people in the woods. They sit around the fire with some other new players and a few narrative NPC's in the mix to have a conversation. The dialogue should mention in some form that they got here out of a lack of clarity for what they wanted to do with their life. One NPC expresses a dream they've had since childhood and that maybe it's time to take the opportunity to work toward that dream. The other NPC states that it just so happens that their dream is in alignment with the first NPC's dream and that they can work together to make both of their dreams a reality. The first NPC then turns to you and asks you an open ended question about what your dream is. The NPC then expresses that the player's dream is cool and proceeds to give them direction in how they might be able to start working toward it. The player is then sent to help a chain of NPC's to teach them the reputation mechanic and how if they build up enough reputation they can pretty much accomplish any goal they want to.

I know the dialogue is a bit cheesy and unrefined, but this is the basic concept of how to smoothly guide players into the core experience of the game. Eventually the NPC's will encourage the player to interact with other players who share compatible goals. Even if those goals are conflict based.

What exactly is the reputation mechanic?

Basically the reputation mechanic is this: When you help someone else work toward their dream or provide any type of social value you get reputation. This can be literally anything social. Helping someone chop down wood to build their house. Giving someone a cup of coffee to boost their speed, hosting a game or event for people to have fun. And as you gain reputation, you unlock greater options to expand your social horizon, unlock cosmetics and objects to use for creation/decoration, and receive more customization power over servers. There is a tech tree of progression to prevent people from getting everything they want instantly, and the deeper you are into the tech tree the more reputation you get from being social. Eventually, I imagine you can unlock more complex mechanics to implement into servers including mods in the late stages of development such as economics, chemistry, machines, governments, etc.

One final note

In a future post I would also like to debate ethics of roles within society to incorporate a negative reputation system and have players choose how much they are affected by negative consequences. Eg. a security specialist would want their house to be burglarized to test their security systems. However, other players could have the option to make their houses non-interactable to prevent any undesired griefing or have a setting to reset the house to exactly how it was before the house was griefed. There could also be a branching tech tree where negative reputation characters have different aesthetics, objects, and mechanics.

Thank you for reading this suuper long post. Just some ideas from a passionate game developer, but I'm excited to get your guys' feedback on this idea and any constructive opinions about how this system might be improved or tweaked are welcome!
 
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RedEagle_P1

Administrator
Staff member
Proud Citizen of Dawn
#2
What kinds of mechanics might hinder the player's social experience?

There are many mechanics you could argue that add to a cooperative experience in some form or another. However, in my humble opinion, and especially in the beginning of development, if we aren't constructing mechanics that are aligned with the core experience we are trying to create, we are not actually aligned with what we are creating.

One such mechanic is an economy. I would rate an economy as one of the most difficult mechanics to implement well, and also very much not aligned with creating a cooperative community. Some communities are built with money. Society for example. However, @Red you shared one of Aristotle's philosophies around friendship. That oftentimes people seek connection out of novelty or usefulness, when the most fulfilling relationships are actually based around working together for a higher purpose.

I believe simulating the experience of living out a persons dream and encouraging people with similar passions to work together is meaningful. I believe selling eggs to the community in order to get money is superficial and encourages superficial interactions. In the 2nd example the focus is to get something out of the interaction rather than the interaction itself. I'm not saying it has no place within the game, but it corrupts the focus of player interaction and should be a mechanic implemented after the core experience of the game is developed. Then people can experiment with that mechanic within their own servers. Additionally, If we add in the options for modding, people from different fields of expertise can create simulations of all kinds of interesting mechanics like Science, Machinery, Governments, etc. But i think that should be a late game focus and not a part of the core experience of the game.
I think what you're saying is interesting and requires thought. I've seen economic mechanics facilitate interesting interactions but I've also seen a heavy focus be detrimental. It's important to find a balance I think because economics brings out the competitive spirit and most people. I remember I used to play a lot of cubic castles back in the day and I stopped once vending machines were introduced because everything about the game changed to only economics and it was totally out of balance with the rest of the game. There's this feature where you can message the entire community of the game to come to your realm and the only people who could afford to do this in the end or people who were good at trading and therefore more and more messages became about trading and it became all about getting the highest price possible for your lowest worth good.

This is a particular situation where this went way out of control and was a real issue.

However as we experiment within the theme of “real life digitally” we want to take a look at the potential of optimizing how people interact.

Trade is a fundamental part of modern society that is difficult to do without because it's a driver of positive economics.

First and foremost I think that people should be allowed to share with each other the goods they want to share freely. Secondly we must make it so that those who play the game and a trading mentality are an equal balance with those who are builders and creative people and that they are in turn in balance with the social types.

Making sure that everyone has a seat at the table and no particular group dominates the entire game is important.

In that respect I think that reputation being the currency that rewards you for your connections with others and the connections you create might help create that balance.

Now to keep reading :P
 

RedEagle_P1

Administrator
Staff member
Proud Citizen of Dawn
#3
What does an ideal experience for a new player look like?

This is just one of many theoretical possible narrative based tutorial openings. But all of them share one thing in common. They smoothly guide players into the core experience of the game.

A new player wakes up in a tent the woods. They are homeless after their mom kicked them out of the house for being lazy and they joined a camp of equally homeless people in the woods. They sit around the fire with some other new players and a few narrative NPC's in the mix to have a conversation. The dialogue should mention in some form that they got here out of a lack of clarity for what they wanted to do with their life. One NPC expresses a dream they've had since childhood and that maybe it's time to take the opportunity to work toward that dream. The other NPC states that it just so happens that their dream is in alignment with the first NPC's dream and that they can work together to make both of their dreams a reality. The first NPC then turns to you and asks you an open ended question about what your dream is. The NPC then expresses that the player's dream is cool and proceeds to give them direction in how they might be able to start working toward it. The player is then sent to help a chain of NPC's to teach them the reputation mechanic and how if they build up enough reputation they can pretty much accomplish any goal they want to.

I know the dialogue is a bit cheesy and unrefined, but this is the basic concept of how to smoothly guide players into the core experience of the game. Eventually the NPC's will encourage the player to interact with other players who share compatible goals. Even if those goals are conflict based.
I like the idea of having potentially multiple starting points and being able to specialize at an early stage and I was actually thinking that if we allow people to choose their trade from the beginning and give them a huge bonus in that particular skill that could encourage specialization and cooperation between groups.

However, one of the major principles we have is no NPCs: https://www.p1gaming.net/forum/index.php?threads/simulating-real-life-principles.53167/

What exactly is the reputation mechanic?

Basically the reputation mechanic is this: When you help someone else work toward their dream or provide any type of social value you get reputation. This can be literally anything social. Helping someone chop down wood to build their house. Giving someone a cup of coffee to boost their speed, hosting a game or event for people to have fun. And as you gain reputation, you unlock greater options to expand your social horizon, unlock cosmetics and objects to use for creation/decoration, and receive more customization power over servers. There is a tech tree of progression to prevent people from getting everything they want instantly, and the deeper you are into the tech tree the more reputation you get from being social. Eventually, I imagine you can unlock more complex mechanics to implement into servers including mods in the late stages of development such as economics, chemistry, machines, governments, etc.
I think we're definitely on the same page here!
 
#4
I think what you're saying is interesting and requires thought. I've seen economic mechanics facilitate interesting interactions but I've also seen a heavy focus be detrimental. It's important to find a balance I think because economics brings out the competitive spirit and most people. I remember I used to play a lot of cubic castles back in the day and I stopped once vending machines were introduced because everything about the game changed to only economics and it was totally out of balance with the rest of the game. There's this feature where you can message the entire community of the game to come to your realm and the only people who could afford to do this in the end or people who were good at trading and therefore more and more messages became about trading and it became all about getting the highest price possible for your lowest worth good.

This is a particular situation where this went way out of control and was a real issue.

However as we experiment within the theme of “real life digitally” we want to take a look at the potential of optimizing how people interact.

Trade is a fundamental part of modern society that is difficult to do without because it's a driver of positive economics.

First and foremost I think that people should be allowed to share with each other the goods they want to share freely. Secondly we must make it so that those who play the game and a trading mentality are an equal balance with those who are builders and creative people and that they are in turn in balance with the social types.

Making sure that everyone has a seat at the table and no particular group dominates the entire game is important.

In that respect I think that reputation being the currency that rewards you for your connections with others and the connections you create might help create that balance.

Now to keep reading :P
This reply is purely from a value perspective. I am keeping in mind the best way to serve the player and what kinds of experiences they are looking for to meet their needs. Because ultimately, the reason we play games in the first place is that they fulfill many of our psychological and intellectual needs. Need for play(which is essentially a simulation to prepare for real world experiences), need for social, challenges to overcome, relaxation, competition, etc.

Often the games that succeed are able to zone in on each individual experience to meet one or two particular needs. In this case we are looking to solve the need for social connection through community building. Initially to get those relationships started, there needs to be cooperation. And then perhaps we can add in competition and casual in later as secondary mechanical experiences. Currency based economics is a focus on obtaining a resource, which is by nature competitive. It can be cooperative, but with shallow relationship basis(benefits).

I don't believe we'll ever be able to compete with the value that real world trading provides. Real world economics exists fundamentally to make survival efficient. It seeks to distribute goods to meet people's needs and desires. And desires are just addons to needs technically. With that in mind, i'm not saying it's a bad idea. I think it is an important simulation to implement in the long term. But in terms of gameplay value it's a supporting mechanic. Mostly, it's a novelty compared to the real value that I see in this game:

Meeting people's social needs in an age where finding time to go out in real life is getting more difficult. Especially in the US where prices are rising and everyone has to pay for their own insurance and college debt.

I mean i know a girl at my job who is working 2 jobs, because she doesn't know how to reduce her expenses and that's what she has to do to pay them. She literally works 60 plus hours to pay her bills. Now perhaps she may not be a part of our target market in the end, but across the board the social landscape is becoming hostile, because people feel like they are being taken advantage of with the current economic system. Games are a much needed escape to release tension in that regard. The expectations going into a social interaction are much less intense.

An economy is a massive puzzle to undertake as a core mechanic and is going to dilute the core experience if we focus on building one. Technically there will always be an economy. Like I mentioned to you before there are literally economies of tribes that don't rely on currency. It's called a gifting economy. An economy where you do good things for others, because you have faith that they will do the same for you. And the ones who don't gift are naturally pushed out of the tribe. No one gifts them back and they don't get to participate as a result. In this economy the lifeblood is literally a chain of reputations for gifting. I highly recommend a book on this called The Gift by Lewis Hyde. Facebook kind of did this with many of their games including Farmville as we've discussed before, but this game will go deeper into the actual interactions I imagine to prevent the social aspect from being locked up into just "beneficial relationships".

It might be a good idea to make progression impossible without cooperation. And in that respect you don't need money if you're required to help others in the first place. I mean if the goal is to encourage social activity, I can't think of a better mechanic to do that. A lot of games do this, MMO's included for end game content. And often from what i see ends up being some of the most valuable content to players. Some players see their guilds as families. And without an economy of goods or money you wouldn't get entire guilds that grief servers or gather all of the resources to "Win the game" or tank prices like they do on RuneScape. There's just too many pitfalls with relying on a currency based economy to drive cooperative focused gameplay.
 
Last edited:

RedEagle_P1

Administrator
Staff member
Proud Citizen of Dawn
#5
This reply is purely from a value perspective. I am keeping in mind the best way to serve the player and what kinds of experiences they are looking for to meet their needs. Because ultimately, the reason we play games in the first place is that they fulfill many of our psychological and intellectual needs. Need for play(which is essentially a simulation to prepare for real world experiences), need for social, challenges to overcome, relaxation, competition, etc.

Often the games that succeed are able to zone in on each individual experience to meet one or two particular needs. In this case we are looking to solve the need for social connection through community building. Initially to get those relationships started, there needs to be cooperation. And then perhaps we can add in competition and casual in later as secondary mechanical experiences. Currency based economics is a focus on obtaining a resource, which is by nature competitive. It can be cooperative, but with shallow relationship basis(benefits).

I don't believe we'll ever be able to compete with the value that real world trading provides. Real world economics exists fundamentally to make survival efficient. It seeks to distribute goods to meet people's needs and desires. And desires are just addons to needs technically. With that in mind, i'm not saying it's a bad idea. I think it is an important simulation to implement in the long term. But in terms of gameplay value it's a supporting mechanic. Mostly, it's a novelty compared to the real value that I see in this game:
I think you fundamentally misunderstanding the point of this project IMO. You see social as the ability to generate friendships between people however what we’re actually trying to do here is Research how to create superior social organization and stratification in the virtual world in a way that is actually one step ahead of physical life. In the future almost all trade will be done In the metaverse. We want to figure out how to make the train both efficient and effective. Physical life organizes people Into cities for the purpose of trade, if trade and jobs wasn’t a factor then people would live in larger houses farther away from each other. Just like the world is becoming more urban one day it will become entirely almost virtual.
We want to research what it takes to build that real social organization in the virtual space, while also improving our skills in unity.
So the question is not whether we should do economics but what form of economics is best. I think the gift Academy works fine for the size of a village but there’s a reason humanity moved on from that and no one‘s found a better model than we currently have unfortunately 🤷‍♀️. Therefore I challenge you, come up with a better model empowered by the virtual.
 
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#6
I'm on step one, which is to make a good game. If the foundation isn't strong it won't attract enough people to make social organization possible.

In a world where there are a billion options for people on the internet we have to be on point if we want this project to make a splash. We have to take the risk of being unique if we want to stand out.
 
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