Sunday, August 07, 2005

Persistent Virtual Gaming Character

Persistent Virtual Character. I was hoping years ago that something like this would be invented but since it has not, thought I would put the concept out there and see if it has legs.

Basic idea is that nearly all game characters are too some extent simply a spreadsheet of stats, strength, intelligence, speed, hit points, character level, sex, race, inventory etc. Also some of the character description if it has the typical paper doll choices for a character.

The concept is very simple; create a universal format for that information. Lets for example use a typical fantasy RPG. Your main character is a dwarf, has an axe, and is very strong and likes to wear browns, and has the name, Yos, and he is a 5th level fighter.

You tire of this game but have put a lot of work into Yos. You find a new football online game, similar to Madden and want to play it.

With a Persistent Virtual Character, you would pay for the football game and get the option to “Translate” an existing character. Great you say, and from the browser you select Yos, who shows up as an option to “Translate/Import.”

The new game has a simple translation program that takes the stats from Yos and imports them/translates them into the new football games equivalents. Based on how different the games types are, you may be offered choices for some, or eliminate some (gaining points) that can be spread to the new stats.

In Yos’ s case, his fighting skill can be translated to say a 3rd level quarterback or a 4th level receiver or a 5th level linebacker; you pick the one you like. Benefit is you are getting credit so you don’t have to start at the bottom. His dwarf status becomes translated to short and stocky.

Now lets say the inventory is exchanged for similar football inventory, better pads, stain resistant uniform, tougher helmet. Your magic axe has no direct equivalent, so you gain points to spend.

You pick 3rd level quarterback and use some of the points from the translation to upgrade his passing skills, and increase height. His preference for black is either to pick a team with a black theme or alter the uniform a bit (brown shoes, brown sweatbands on wrist, etc.)

Another type of game might be setup with a pretty much one to one conversion. Say a sci-fi game, he stays a dwarf, his armor converts to cyber upgrades, and his magic axe becomes a chainsaw axe. He takes a level hit due to translation and starts as a warrior dwarf cyborg level 4.

Customization, ownership of the character, not loosing all the hard work developing the character would I think lead to a much richer gaming experience. (Plus at each conversion the character is saved as a snapshot so if you go back to your original game you can reverse the changes back to the original the same way they were translated. Example lets say you go fantasy – football – sci-fi and then back to fantasy. The translation program works out the two transitions and uses that to generate a recipe to retranslate you back to the original game. Except this time you are 4 levels higher, have archery skills (passing from the quarterback translated and laser pistol from the sci-fi game translated, and all your stats are higher).

With this I could see the base game being a warp, and you, yourself of the real world translated into the game via a questionnaire, that loads up some base genres based on your answers. Then you could evolve your online persona as you played various games.


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