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Response to The Cloud

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Amagi Games' question was: How could many people all work together on that one (or several) gaming worlds?

Gosh, I just wanted to post a comment to The Cloud on Amagi Games, but it got a bit longer. This is just an initial brainstorming about what came on my mind. I'm glad about any responses.

Wenn Interesse besteht, lasse ich mich auch zu einer deutschen Version breitschlagen.

First of all, there are people with different motivations, say specialties. What comes to my mind is the following:

  • Groundbreakers: They bring on all the fundamental concepts, radically new ones. They can make the setting unique, quirky and new.
  • Reassemblers: They build up on the stuff that has been there in many worlds before. They find new ways to form them into something new (or pseudo-new). They create the basic stuff, the flesh of the world, where most of the action takes place.
  • Writers: Compelled to tell stories, these guys can form the ideas of Groundbreakers and Reassemblers into a solid gaming world. Take the ideas and create text from it, put in all the flavor and make it accessible to the gamers.
  • Critics: Yeah, right ... Critics always pop up, and it's good they do. They point out the weaknesses of the world, logical problems, lack or over-presence of tension, the boring and the unrealistic (feeling) parts.
  • Tinkerers: Pick up the output of critics to rework the world. Fix the links, straighten the different elements out and work them into a whole. A brave task, and probably the part we lack most.
  • Artists: People looking at the published texts and adding to them music, illustrations, pictures, maps, diagrams, overviews, whatever. They make the world more compelling and easier accessible.
  • Controllers: The world is done (it's never done, I know), what now? Where does it go from here? No gaming world should be static and people will start planning the future of the world, or futures of single items in the world.

So, what needs to be done is: get all these different people to work on a single project at the same time (that is, almost at the same time). Since a gaming world is highly nonlinear, there is no reason to stick to linear creation (like forum threads, books, ...). You need a good platform to satisfy all the needs of the different people. That is:

  • Groundbreakers: Brainstorming functionality. You got an idea, post it and see, what the people think of it. (Compare to Ubuntu Brainstorm)
  • Reassemblers: Structuring possibilities. Parts of the world are items (which have a description, properties, etc). Items can contain other items, such as Europe contain Germany with in turn contains me. That's not enaugh. Items should be linkable with a short description of the relationship (hate, cooperition, established by, ...). Now if I got an idea, what if somebody else already did something similar? What if I need a nemesis for my new guild? The answer is: tags. Add tags to all your items, make the tags searchable. People are compelled to add tags, since this will add to their item's popularity (more people will find it). Tags and relationships also allow to automatically generate a structured graph of all items in the world to produce an overview of all (or parts of) the stuff. The graph-feature should be easily accessible and generated on the fly according to selected tags.
  • Writers: Online text editing might be helpful, especially for short descriptions. A style guidline for different items: sources, desciptions, characters, histoy, ... and templates for these.
  • Critics: Note feature for every item. Diskussion forums. Text marking feature (to mark critical passages).
  • Tinkerers: Revision and note features to allow for easy edits and the possibility to follow changes (should be distinct from evolution of the world over time). They need to be able to use all the stuff described beforehand very quickly to see the weak points and smoothen things out.
  • Artists: Possibility to upload pictures and associate them to one or several items in the world. Put items on an uploaded map, just like various google services. So to browse the world, you could simple browse the world. Pictures could be shown on the map. A music database should allow for tags of different moods, location, situations.
  • Controllers: News, a blog, whatsoever. And of course a possibility to semi-secretly discuss changes and have brainstorming-functionality, just like the groundbreakers.

The main goal is to modularize the process. Not everybody wants to write a whole chapter. But many people like to write a small story or description. It is satisfactory to see, what other people made out of your ideas. It probably is totally different from what you expected, the more small tasks you have, the more will people inspire each other (compare the Universalis story game). If everybody can contribute what he wants, in small pieces and an easy fashion, you can get many more people to contribute. By making the process of contributing easier, you get more people to work on this long-term, instead of leaving frustrated by totally linear methods.

We also need a way to linearize the produced content, since creation is very non-linear. Maybe this can be done automatically via graphs, but it could get tricky. You could have another type of contributor called "editor". They would sort the items into blocks (say by topic, location, whatever). They should be able to do all this online, without need for an Office app. The platform should automatically print to pdf the newest version, without comments but with pictures and a short overview of the item's relations, after the editor has grouped / blocked and sorted items of a "source book". The problem with this approach is, that parts of the world will never enter there, because they probably will miss some of the items (by chance). Maybe this is not a problem at all, since parts might not be that good. So they will probably filter the weak parts.

This could be further strengthened by allowing users to rate items in the world and add comments (like: Wheew, we had a great time entering the thieves guild and meeting their weird leader. Also, look for their nemesis merchants guild!). This would also encourage people to produce better content and tinker more around. Everything should be revertible to protect against saboteurs.

What sort of rules system should be used (if any?)? If the world has monsters, I probably want stats. This is not crucial, since some systems are very flexible and intuitive about stats, but others are not. And omitting game play stats might irritate them.

How could Adventures or Adventure ideas be created and accessed in a similar fashion?

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Sounds very useful! - who'll make it exist? :)

(Ich antworte eifnach auch mal auf Englisch)

A system to allow for community world creation in this way would be great!

For the rules system I think that a simple templating system where people can define how a description of some being should look would suffice at first (maybe with the option of adding plugins which can do something with the stats - for example automatically comparing all monsters of a region or of an adventure).

And for tinkerers something like the GPLv3 comment system would be useful.

I'll write more the following days, need to work a bit :)

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support for working via distributed Version control systems

idea: support for working via distributed Version control systems like the ikiwiki software does it (and moinmoin will).

(I use Mercurial for all my writing, and this would allow people to work offline and synchronize when they want).

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What would we want?

Assume we have 1,000 skilled programmers and a nice web space for this. Here comes the fun!

What would we want?

  • It should be free. Everyone who wants should be able to setup his own Gaming World Creator (GWC, just to name this somehow) and use it for his purpose, be it for free or commercial games.
  • We'd like to have an access to the GWC via web interface and via an locally installed application. A local app allows much faster editing with many more capabilities and lower response times, than a web interface. But a web interface would be essential for the user (as opposed to contributor) and for the casual contributor, as they probably don't want to install software. For the hardcore editor this would be needed though. Of course, or client app should be easily portable or even platform-independent. An interpreted language would be ok, since server response would be the bottleneck. One step further would be to silently synchronize server and local app to further improve responsiveness.
  • We need a sort of database to store all the information. There should be a few fixed types of items (like articles, pictures, sound, maybe resumees) which in themselves allow for flexibility. For all these items different templates could be defined, allowing to add more templates as needed (persons, events, timelines, cities, locations, phenomena, ...).
  • Plugins are always nice to allow easy modification of the platform even after setup - though I don't have any in mind at this time. :-)
  • The GWC should supply graph analyzing capabilities and indexing to quickly sort and find things and get an overview of what's on. This is especially true for the tags and relationships. If possible, the graph should be browseable interactively.
  • The database should work fine with 20 up to 10,000 items, from vague to detailed worlds. Also the nonlinear size may vary from setup to setup (that is: more of short or fewer of longer articles)
  • The indexing should allow to automatically create books from selected tags, sorting either by connection (common friends, whatever) or by location on a map.
  • ... What do you think?

Creating Open RPGs and Social Rules


In this comment I just want to concentrate on "collaborative world building" (cwe). It's basically the campaign world that's really hard to build together. I won't talk about rules as thats another (less frightening) beast.

A good example of cwb is http://www.orionsarm.com/

1st: There need to be worldbuilding rules. Without such rules you will get a grey mass of ideas that incorporates all kinds of things but it won't appear as a real world.

2nd: Start with a defined goal. Where are you heading? What is the exact goal of the project?

3rd: Don't start with zero. There needs to be a core where everyone agrees on. Maybe a short story or something similiar?
Example for a simple physics core: Are there different rules for gravity? Do they apply worldwide?

4th: keep the core short and simple. New creators and players need an easy way to get into the world. Don't let them "read the f* wiki" and every shortstory to understand how the world works!

an example for general rules of cwb:

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Read it again

I just read my own article again and found that it might just be possible to set up such a thing (in most aspects). Most of the needed tools can already be found online, you just need to assemble them in the right fashion. Of course it would lack an off-line feature and a fancy, fast interface, but it could still work. Anyways, you could really improve from the usual Wiki-stuff.

This might be one of my next bigger projects. (just as if I didn't have enough of them already …).

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That sounds great!

Maybe it would be possible to use a mix between a wiki engine like ikiwiki or moinmoin with hg backend and advanced file parsing on a version tracking system.

That way scripts could easily access the data and assemble it (for example into PDFs - or maps), people could work online (and attach images, etc.) as well as offline, and backups would be automatic.

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Or maybe Drupal can already

Or maybe Drupal can already do it...

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Just what I was thinking! :-)

So many nice modules I met. As I said, if I find some time for it, I will setup a site the way I think it'd work best.

PERMISSION to use thief-female image!


My second grader daughter wants to use the image of:

"thief-female" on this web-site to illustrate her finished RPG story.

Could she use the image and print it in her final version of her RPG?

Thanks, Adriana.

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Hi Adriana,Thanks for

Hi Adriana,

Thanks for writing!

The image Thief-Female is from the project Battle for Wesnoth and licensed under the GPL. So your daughter can easily use the image by licensing her RPG or Story under the GPL, too (note: almost all content on this site (1w6.org) is licensed under the GPL, so she can use almost anything she finds here. Content which is not under GPL is clearly marked so in bold letters :) ).

To do so, she just needs to attribute the author of the image and add a GPL notice to the story or RPG1. This could look like the following (could be put on the final page of the RPG):

“The image female thief was created by Kathrin Polikeit for Battle for Wesnoth. It is free licensed under the GPL.

This text is also licensed under the GPL (v3 or later) as published by the Free Software Foundation.

The GPL allows use, modification and propagation of this work, as long as the resulting work is licensed under the GPL, too. For more information, see http://fsf.org/licenses/gpl.html.”

Those are the terms under which we operate, too, by the way. They ensure the four freedoms of free culture which aim at fostering creativity by removing unnecessary barriers and creating a community of cooperative creatives.

To make it instantly clear to readers that you use the GPL, you can use one of the GPL logos (you might have noticed those here :) ).

PS: Sorry for the late answer and our overzealous spam-filter. I only check it from time to time, so I missed your messages until today.

PPS: The GPL already gives permission to use the images under the terms of the GPL, so you don’t really need extra permission.

PPPS: I’d love to see the story!

  1. If she wants to distribute her story in large numbers (>100), she also needs to have the GPL at hand, so people can check it. For example she could use our GPL flyer: Just print doublesided and fold it. 

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