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Pokemon Go, MMOs, and RPG (old World-of-Darkness style)

AR MMO RPG

Disclaimer

I never played MMOs nor WoDO. I played almost no RPGs (no FF*) and few tabletop RPGs besides Vampire & Mage. Yet, from some RPGs with friends and Pokemon Go, here are some thoughts I candidly write down or wish they existed. I own no IP on whatever trademark I quote, I give the ideas away, and know more talented people probably on it right now. I also have a tendency to dream of "power user" rules to games I love, which would probably make them boring.

Starting points

Pokemon Go

Pokemon go has pokemons appearing, pokestops to get boni, arenas to claim and fight. The most social features right now are just people crossing each others in the streets (looking at their smartphones, which are usually hooked to an external battery). Of course we can expect more in the future, like geotagged ads, or trading (that'll have abuses in schools and parents will fear it and try to ban it).

MMORPGs

Friends playing MMOs tell me that taking any single current MMO and adding GPS positions would make for a much better game than Pokemon Go. I'll believe them.

WoD

I played and mastered games of Vampire: the Masquerade and Mage: the Ascension. Friends played Werewolf and many other games from other publishers.

They all have a nice character sheet, a huge background, and a somewhat unified system, allowing interrelations. The Universe has several forces fighting & lots of collectibles (items, skills, blood, magic and whatever)

The setup is great because it's "our world, only darker, with supernatural". There is an alternate reality (Penumbra) "same world, again darker, more magical, with some ties" (say, things happening in one world have slight impact on the other, so the bigger the more impact). And there is an even deeper Umbra (or realms in Umbra) with even more specific "bridges", rules and power.

Ignored points

I didn't play Ingress, I didn't read or watch much Science Fiction about virtual games/reality except Avalon (great music). I only heard about Sword Art Online, .Hack manga/anime/games... Yes, Ender's Game, Asimov/K.Dick novels, and many more, may have some VR and great ideas too.

Simpler PokemonGo

I will expand below and describe yet one more battery-intensive game. Google Maps' April's Fools joke with Pokemon was pretty fun in itself, and the "low-tech" reminds of Dragon Ball's radars. I think the game would have been fun if you threw away all 3D and just got a "radar" on smartphone + stops & arenas :) Either that, or add actual GP features so we can do city exploring + tourism while playing :D

Power-players WoD-Go

Trade & PvP

Real in-game interaction with friends and strangers. People want this, period.

I know it's hard to make or balance things in a way that keeps being fun. Starting Pokemon Go without being able to harm even one pokemon in a gym isn't fun. Playing Pokemon Go in the countryside with no pokéstops or gyms isn't fun.

It'd be cool to meet mostly people your level, but filtering too much will cut who you can meet. It'd be cool to have trading for anyone, but as soon as LVL1 characters have even one cool freebie, (say, a starter pokemon) you can simply create four and transfer all of them into one "actual" character, (and perhaps making that character pwning the other 3 regularly to boost scores).

I'm pretty sure there'd be a parallel economy with actual money (like selling WoW characters). Not sure how companies deter this, and not sure if they want to. Some people seem to have fun anyway.

Guilds (friends groups)

You want to play with your friends, that's as simple as that. Instead of waiting or looking at gyms, friends could setup "temporary, invisible-to-all gyms". Or even trade/wager stuff like candies or XP, without so much ripping off (that point's hard).

In my PokemonGo++ or WoD-Go, you'd set up guilds/coteries and perhaps battle coteries against one another. You wouldn't just be limited to three factions/colours.

Bonus points if this lets me play with my friends abroad, parallel-universe-style. That's perhaps what latest Pokemon games with link/arena/whatnot do. Are these fun? How?

People walking in the street

In Vampire, you have level-like "generation": potent blood that makes you powerful AND a desirable target. Characters have skills for detection and camouflage. That's perfect for AR and creating more interactions! As you progress in the game, you get "brighter" and people see you. You can see people and their hidden talents.

I bet the game would become pretty fun in the growth of the game: you begin by playing a stealth conspiracy, then gradually "see" the supernatural around you, crowd-sourced. What's not to love? Where are my millions already?

Everything is AR + zones

Ingress seems to work with zones (triangles setup between portals). WoD's forces of nature like Stasis/Dynamism/Entropy could be overlay of colors or points. The goal of most factions would be to enhance their faction (creature type, allegiance, or "color") locally.

With the Penumbra, your smartphone could be in permanent-AR mode + color overlay. Add some gaussian noise or contour detection + enhancement, and here you are: a yellow Mage in a gray Vampire neighbourhood.

That's what a game with paranoid players tend to be already: check what's there, check that guy, check that building... ;)

Street encounters

I'd fear for balance but like the idea of helping others: let me give you a Pokemon, items, boosts, in-game money... I wouldn't want to force PvP on people but "killer games" with secret identities are fun too.

It'd be nice to have smartphones notifications: "you've been pickpocketed by a Red-team guy in the metro", and weird mini-games to pickpocket/sneakily attack people you've detected.

Again: the more you grow in level, the more you're painted as a target, but the more you have shield or counterattacks. Surprise & mystery are cool, but I don't want to make you afraid of people behind you or create stalking though.

Skills & attacks

I've had some fun in Nintendo DS game Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow. On the tactile screen, you could draw magic sigils to finish the bosses.

Many fighting games are tricks on the gamepad with diagonals: down -> downright -> right + kick or so. Wouldn't it be great to have such things to choose more than PokemonGo's two attacks? Wouldn't it be fun to have an AR fight where you point your phone at a friend and draw a sign to cast a spell?

I know I've dreamed for more than 20 years now, a game where actual moves would cast fighting moves. The closest I've found were Dance Dance Revolution and actual fighting sports ;)

Competition is harsh, I want casual

People with GPS spoofers, emulators, too much cash or too much time will beat you. Cheating will ruin games. So we've got to play for other reasons, like the classics (exploration, collection, competition...), fun and social (actual friends + interactions, not just looking at phones together).

So the game should be playable casually. I'm not sure how a game could be fun, both to open when you're bored waiting for the bus, during a full vacation, or when you have time to spend at work, with friends and family. Choosing any single side, it'd be casual from the start.

And yes, that includes busy people, parents of newborns, kids in hospitals or people with disabilities. They deserve the fun, and it might not be so hard. Perhaps you're not "an actual character" actually walking the actual streets but "a boss giving orders".

Smart agents are argents

I don't like games with so much micromanagement (looking at you, RTS-es), but smart agents would be nice (I'm praising you, Rymdkapsel, but you never chose the best workers when I switched priorities). Yes, that would means sending avatars roaming the streets, so not all interactions would be actually seeing people.

Inclusion

If we can keep focused on these goals, that'd be a game that could be fun for people with disabilities. I've been super impressed by a video on AAA games made more accessible. It's sometimes as easy as making "steadycam" or "keeping a button pressed means smashing it like crazy" options.

I don't currently understand a thing about many disabilities, but people smarter than me did, like http://gameaccessibilityguidelines.com/ or http://includification.com/

Feel free to join!

If you have ideas, feel free to comment and improve (adding fun ideas/features, removing less fun ones)!

The world needs our time and attention for plenty of serious things happening right now and in the future. I hope we'll still have time to make and play games we love together. Play is important to us. I want all the good stories from PokemonGo, and as little as possible of the bad ones :)

If anyone turns this dream into reality: ideas are free, make them real in a right way, and they'll be yours by then :)

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