I have some thoughts here, being an inveterate paper-and-pen role playing
gamer.

First, I don't think I'd classify Angband or any of the Roguelikes as an
RPG.  These feel more like tactical simulations with a lot of details added
in to make them have replay value.

One big advantage of what Tom is proposing would be the possibility of
user-extensibility.  As I understand it, the game design would be completely
modular, so it should be possible to bolt on new modules fairly easily.  I
don't know how many people know or want to learn PHP, but some sort of
scripting language for specific objects, areas and creatures might be
doable, a la MUD wizards.  I'd certainly like to learn PHP to contribute to
such a game.

In order for the game to be truly an RPG, play would have to be completely
open-ended, with the player goals being whatever the player desires.  This
is the downfall of the MUD style of gaming, where the goals are scripted
into the game, leading to grinding and in the end the final lack of these
games as compared to human-moderated games.  TA decision to limit the play
to single-player mode, while logistically understandable would detract
significantly from the RP aspect of the game, since it becomes impossible to
have gross effects on the world.

Stories make sense in one respect, as they give structure to chaos, but if
you're looking for something truly revolutionary, then there has to be a
good balance between pre-generated story arcs and something the player comes
up with on the fly.

I'm not sure how to translate all of these thoughts into a playable
computer-mediated game.  The questions transcend the medium and would be
faced no matter how you decide to deploy the game.  

I don't know how ambitious you want to be Tom, but I would be interested in
being a part of the creation of things, if you're looking for any
collaborators.  I have 25 years of IRL role-playing experience, both playing
and running games.  I used to be a fair hand at programming, back when 68020
assembly code was being taught, and I could probably reacquire some skills
if I had the right project to work on.  Whether or no, I will be watching
this project with great interest.

        Chris Bartlett



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