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  Mechanic #032 - Tiny Universe

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Posted: 06/09/07

An expansion to #29 - Tiny Crawl World, this entry adds in the possibility of an AIM-like multiplayer experience.


This is a direct sequel to mechanic [#029 - Tiny Crawl World]. There are a few mechanics introduced here which allow for a shared multiplayer environment. Not a MMORPG. More like an instant messaging program.



The first thing that is needed for this multiplayer idea is the concept of grouping. Basically, you can drag up to four units together to create a group window:


This is a larger window that represents an entire group. The window size is the same regardless of whether the group has two units or four units. You get the health information of all four units, and even a little map (which would've been previously accessable by click on a unit's banner bar). All four members of the group are seen in this view and they walk around in a line, not unlike the Falcom Sorcerian series.

Combat is played in real time, with each unit doing their thing based on where in the party they are located at. Only the unit in front (or back, if attacked from the rear) can engage in melee combat. The other units can use ranged attack, magic, heal, buff, whatever. They can also change formation, so if the lead melee unit is too damaged, they may swap him out with another unit while the cleric heals him.

Parties are limited to party dungeons - special versions dungeons where the enemies appear in parties too.

  Tiny Hints

Again, you do not control this at all. You do get to watch and cheer them on though. This is sort of an RPG aquarium. However, you can influence a guy by offering hints about what they should do.


Basically, you can set a flag for each inventory item that gives a basic purpose. For instance, you can lock it so that the unit will not sell or drop the item, or set it to be sold at the first opportunity, or to designate it as low priority and to be dropped first if a better item is found. Likewise, you can increase or descrease the priority of different stats, which may affect how a unit fights and raises his skills.

These are not commands. You cannot command a unit to drop an item immediately. Instead, you just change priorities on things. Most of the time, you shouldn't have to touch anything, since the units will be smart enough to know what equipment to keep, sell, drop, or trade. However, a fighter may find a particularly good bow that you want to give to one of your archer characters. The unit will factor in these hints when it is about to do something. So when it is going through all the inventory to see if there is something to drop, he'll notice that there's several drop-approved items already and start there.


The multiplayer component of this game is closer to Animal Crossing than anything else. Each player loads up their application, and if they want, can log into a central database. Then, like IM-chat, they can have a buddy list of friends they can chat with while their own units are walking around.

Each player has their own instance of the world, generated randomly for them, similar to how Animal Crossing works. You can invite your buddies to visit your world, and they can send a single unit or party over to go through your dungeons (meanwhile, you can send your own party to their dungeon). You can have more than one friend visit, but they are limited to just a single unit or party each.

Play continues like normal, but your buddy's party is roaming around. They'll go to your town, trade items, fight your units, explore your dungeons, buy stuff from your shops, and generally do the things that tourists do in RPG worlds. Like Animal Crossing, each world would have elements that are unique to it that can only be found through trading and visitation. For instance, one world may have a swamp area that another doesn't, and it has unique monsters and equipment in it that you can't get otherwise.

The ultimate extension of this idea is that there is some way that you can modify your own world. At the moment, you might have trader characters that set up shops in the town and trade loot with other units, but there should be some sort of design element to it as well. One idea I have and will talk about later is a Dungeon Master unit which makes it possible to build and design your own dungeon to challenge your friends with, or perhaps a Mayor unit which gives you greater control over how your town is built.




Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.