Singularity: an Eclipse Phase Game

  • Pitcrew

    So I set myself the task of building a codebase to support Eclipse Phase (mostly so I could get a good feel for the ease or difficulty of coding a stat system using SQL instead of storing the stats on the character object). I'm now at the point where things are seeming pretty solid as far as general gameplay would go (I can pull up a sheet of a character, switch between morphs, stat a character and morph without undo difficulty, and easily retrieve the values for attributes, stats, and skills) and feel like I've made pretty decent progress on CG. A player can set their initial attributes, chose their background and faction, and set their bonuses from at least the common backgrounds pretty easily (there's still some trickiness with Lost and I need to modify the code so that, as an example, if your background lets you chose any two skills to get a +10 bonus you can't apply both bonuses to the same skill).

    So as I draw closer to 'feature completion' for the character system I think more and more about actually making a live game. What I would like to do right now is see just how much interest there is in such an idea as well as discuss some more setting specific concepts to gauge reaction.

    One thing that I thought about was rather than setting the game on the sprawling grid of the solar system along with the multiple planets that can be reached through the Pandora gates it would be a better idea to have the game centered around some more specific location. This wouldn't be any different from how your average WoD game is set in a given city rather than 'Earth'. I've got half an eye cast toward centering the game around one of the Martian cities, but of course that's one of the big points of feedback that I'm looking for. Mars is a very capitalistic society with free nanofabrication pretty much non-existent, which some people may not like. Obvious combat morphs (such as Reapers) wouldn't be free to just wander around the city any more than a person IRL could just walk around the streets of New York with an assault rifle strapped to their back (that's not to say a player couldn't get their hands on a Reaper morph and sleeve into it before some big combat scene, but you probably aren't going to just be hanging out in a bar in an overt death machine).

    Players also would not be Firewall agents since that doesn't seem to make sense in this sort of context. The idea that 'everyone is a Firewall agent' works fine for a tabletop game where the GM is sending half a dozen characters out on missions. For a game where the setting is more open it doesn't seem like it would work and it looks like it might stifle some RP possibilities.

    As a possible rules modification I am toying with the idea of replacing the economic (credit) system with something more closely approximating Networking and Reputation. Characters could purchase a 'wealth' stat that functions like reputation regulating what purchases they can attempt and how often while a 'finances' skill would be used to see if the character can actually succeed in the attempt. This would eliminate the bookkeeping of individual credits and better allow people to create 'rich', 'poor', and 'middle class' characters.

  • Coder

    Consider the Nova Praxis reputation system. It's however aimed for a singular society and for Tabletop; you may want to identify some Social Circles to create separate Rep Circles for that interact with each-other. It's not perfect, but then, nothing is. But it could create an interesting dynamic you are looking for, regarding replacing the credit system with Networking / Reputation.

  • Pitcrew

    @mercutio I'll have to look into that. I'm inclined to go with a modified version of EP's Reputation system if I do decide to replace the standard Credit system simply because that is a system already familiar to players and it would integrate nicer but not having looked at Nova Praxis there's every possibility that when I do so I'll realize it offers some sort of significant advantage.

    I should note that I'm in very early stages of spit-balling ideas for the setting. About the only thing I am relatively sure about is that it won't be 'the entire solar system' because A) that would be enormous amounts of time building the grid and B) I think it would cause massive player dilution which would especially be bad at the start of the game. Mars is simply once possibility for an initial setting. Titan also strikes me as a good possibility. A third option would be a developed Pandora gate colony (we would probably move the time frame so that the date is now A.F. 110 or something). I'm even toying with the idea of a 'non-EP setting' using the fundamentals of Eclipse Phase (so perhaps something like Altered Carbon; terrestrial based with a larger prevalence of biomorphs and only occasional synthmorphs). A large reason for this thread is to sort of take the temperature of the room and see what people might be interested in.

  • I would vote for one of the Venusian cities, but Mars is also cool. Temp rooms can always be used for 'out of town' stuff. My big thing, as always, is space minigame whee.

  • Coder

    I would vote for a place with a gate. I think there are three in the system, but only one is not controlled heavily by the corporations, the one out in the Khuiper Belt. Yes it is a long ways out, but it allows for the greatest variety of character concepts and faction loyalty.

  • Pitcrew

    @lithium I thought about gates. The issue is that supposedly you're not suppose to do a whole bunch of back and forth between those gates. As you said, there are only a handful of them and they are in use by they whole system. As a result they have pretty long waiting lines and usually only open up to any given location for a few minutes each week.

    Out of system gates don't have the same problem since they have a lot fewer people trying to use them. Their biggest time restriction is that they can only link to system gates during those limited windows. Linking to other out of system gates is a lot more free which is part of the reason I was toying with an established colony idea.

    @Jennkryst, I was not considering any kind of 'space minigame' because I figured for the most part it would probably include all the excitement of a highway drive combined with calculus. That said, what kind of 'minigame' would you be looking at?

  • Coder

    @the-sands Limited time windows? Sounds like perfect opportunity for PrP's and such to me...

  • Pitcrew

    So I haven't played Eclipse Phase at all yet (I haven't done much TT at all in years save my regular oWoD OTT group, sadly), but here's my question:

    why not sort of do both ideas (if I'm reading correctly)? In MU*ing, there's really two "primary" groups. You have your people who are focused more on social RP and your people who are focused more on action RP. Why not craft a city that's focused 'around' a hub/training facility/whathaveyou?

    You could have your merc set (Envoy types if we're going for an Altered Carbon reference) based out of here. This could be where they launch their missions from. And then the entire city around it could be for the socials.

    People can then pick and choose what PC they have. Most people could have two characters. They can have their ACTION PC at the base and their SOCIAL PC in the city. But the ACTION PC can still go into the city and hang out between missions. This wouldn't really conflict, it sounds like, with the limited gate use, either.

    The only limiter would be 'social PCs cannot go on heavy combat missions,' but that'd be why you'd:
    a) Encourage people to have two PCs (or to pick the ACTION PC if they absolutely must go on heavy combat missions)
    b) Run social / light combat / mystery plots in the city, too

    Again, I haven't yet gotten to play Eclipse Phase, but from what I know / see, I think getting 'both worlds' here isn't out of the question and most people play more than one character as it is. You may have to put some limits in place, sure (SOCIAL PCs cannot engage in the heavy combat missions, ACTION PCs cannot engage in the social / light combat missions... but most MU*s have genre/group-based plots as it is, so it's not like this will be a pearl-clutching horrifying shocker to most people anyway; just make sure your STs retain balance in who they run for).

  • Pitcrew

    @lithium In theory that sounds like a good idea. The boats in Everquest were built around the idea that they would foster interplayer RP while people were sitting around and waiting for them. In practice people largely hated the wait and that was for something that came by every 30 minutes, not something that opened a few times per week.

    The real problem (as I see it) with the gates is that it is really easy for a player to wind up with friends on both sides of the gate. Logging in and not being able to RP with the group of friends who are connected because you're on the wrong side of the gate seems frustrating (especially if the other group isn't connected at that time).

    Now you might chose to handwave waiting for the gates to open and have people bounce back and forth freely but essentially what you are doing is building a game with one portion of the grid set as New York and another portion set as London. Some people will probably feel that it hurts their experience when someone else bops back and forth casually between the two areas, especially when that person wouldn't normally have easy access to that type of travel. More casual players who want to bop back and forth will become irate at people trying to 'stifle' them.

    Which isn't to say you can't have the gates and the other planets and such things being part of the game world. I think it just might be prudent to handle them through temp rooms, much as you would in a WoD game when someone goes out of town.

  • @the-sands I would be looking for the excitement of a highway drive combined with calculus!

    More seriously, something not as complicated as Kerbal, but more than TSpace? HSpace was alright but crazy resource intensive, so ymmv.

    You mentioned other settings with a similar feel, so I will second Altered Carbon with a dash of The Expanse

  • Coder

    @the-sands There is a /huge/ difference between boats on an MMO and a /reason/ to have PrP's. The GM's can activate the gates as necessary/desired at the whim of plot and PrP, it is the perfect tool to tell stories that do not fit well on station.

    I am trying to find a negative here for the gates, and I really can't, because it gives options for PrP's in Eclipse Phase beyond something going on, on station, that somehow doesn't affect the others on the station, etc.

  • Pitcrew

    @lithium Are you talking about gates as a plot device (there's going to be a mission through the Pandora gate to planet X on Saturday) or are you talking about the gates as simply something connecting different parts of the grid (similar to an airport in our earlier hypothetical grid that connects the New York and London sections)? In the first case I absolutely agree that access to a Pandora gate is good. They provide a constant stream of new locations that staff can open for a period and which players can essentially go nuts with limited consequence since the temporary location isn't a permanent feature. If it's the second case then the negatives are that I think it will be divisive (either because people are stuck on the wrong side of the gate at different times or because people treat travel through them differently).

  • Pitcrew

    @jennkryst At present I can't really see putting that much effort into a spaceship portion of the game. It might be interesting at first but in the long run it would probably become tedious and people would lose interest, especially if you implement it in any fashion that mimics spaceship travel in EP (people generally prefer to egocast between the different planets because space travel is relatively slow. Spacetravel largely occurs in those instances where raw materials need to be physically moved and for little else).

    Don't get me wrong. I love space travel. I've got spreadsheets to help me get really good estimates on how long it should take to travel from one place to another with a given setup (percentage of ship dedicated to remass, specific impulse of the engines, etc.). One of my 'toy' character concepts (i.e. a concept that I've made that I find amusing but I would probably never play) is an emergent AI that was exposed to the WM virus while it was sleeved in a biomorph and which is now sleeved into a nautiloid with a brainbox (making it a psychic artificially intelligent spaceship).

    I just think it's a lot of work for very little payoff and is about as necessary for an EP game as a 'car driving minigame' is for a WoD game.

  • Coder

    @the-sands I meant the Pandora Gate :)

  • Pitcrew

    @lithium I'm sorry. I guess I'm just being dense. That didn't really answer my question.

  • Coder

    @the-sands All of the Gates I was talking about, were referencing the Pandora Gates, the bridges to other worlds, which seem a perfect device for PrP's and plot fu beyond stuff happening on the station here.

    Not some sort of timelocked gate between different sections of the station.

  • Pitcrew

    Ok. I think I get where the miscommunication is occurring. I'm not talking about literally building a grid that represents a space station but then dividing it with gates that can only be passed through at certain times. What I'm saying is that the Pandora gates, as written in the source material, would sort of function in that way (if they are not being employed as plot devices). In this case the grid isn't a station, it's the Mars (or wherever) side of the gate and the alien world side of the gate, but you functionally end up with much the same effect. Player A wants to play with Character B but Character B is on the 'wrong' side of the gate.

    Implementation 1 would be that they are plot devices and characters do not just waltz back and forth through them. This makes the situation above far less likely to occur and probably closest mirrors the source material. However it does hamper those people who are interested in a Gatecrashing style of game.

    Implementation 2 is that the Pandora gate room is just a nexus room that leads to multiple off world areas and that people can just freely go wherever they want. One of the problems with this is that you run the risk of losing the feel of Gatecrashing. What was a bold and dangerous activity that requires effort and careful preparation suddenly seems a lot less special when the team runs into a couple of Lesbian Asian Schoolgirls who came out on a picnic.

    So pluses and minuses on both sides. I'm just wondering what type of implementation you think would be best (or if you had a third option).

    (Regretfully I've done this for far too long to think 'just ask players to be responsible' is a viable option. It's less a distrust of all players in general and more that it empowers a tiny number of bad actors to do a lot of damage as well as the fact that it is just vague and you will get too much argument between well meaning people as to what 'be responsible' means).

  • Pitcrew

    Not all that familiar with EP, I read it once a few years back and never played it but throwing in my thoughts.
    I would tend to have the gate just be a PRP thing. Keep the main grid being where ever you have the game set, and for those that want to to gate crashing plots have them use rp rooms.
    If you want staff over sight of said plots just require logs to get the goodies from the plots, that way even if the players do something staff disapproves of it doesn't spill out to effect the rest of the grid.

  • @the-sands said in Singularity: an Eclipse Phase Game:

    @jennkryst At present I can't really see putting that much effort into a spaceship portion of the game.

    Alas. The dream is delayed once more.

  • Coder

    @the-sands That's fair, and I agree. I just feel it is one of those things that you can either modify for the different medium between TT and MU*, or you can be comfortable with people being separated for a time. We used to be comfortable with that, and it was navigated around by back scenes and alts. Not sure why we are afraid of it now...

    My whole point for the khuiper belt pandora gate though was that it isn't controlled by a single faction, like the other gates are. That's all.