Have you ever played a table top role playing game like Dungeons & Dragons, Path Finder, or GURPS? Either way, it should be known that Inns and Taverns were a frequent and beloved starting point for adventurers. You would meet the most interesting characters there. Sometimes, fights would break out. A shady character in the corner might offer up the location of an ancient relic... for a dangerous price. If you slept there, you might have a foreboding dream of the future. Or possibly an assassin might try to kill you in your sleep. In these table top games, where your imagination was king-- Inns/Taverns were extremely exciting places!
But in most massively multiplayer games Taverns and Inns are "meh"... SO! How can we make Yulgar's Inn in AQ3D different?
I HAVE A PLAN!
...and it is in 65,536 parts.
For starters, we need the Inn to feel like a place you want to hang out. So today we brightened up the Inn. We added a fireplace, improved the lighting, and added an overall "feeling" of warmth. The stage has been moved. It is now visible from the main door giving a better feeling of awe when you first walk in. We added some potted plants. We also added a second door (so you can escape out the back.. or someone/something can break in through the back). That second door also more closely matches the original two AdventureQuest games. We moved the chairs back from the tables so you will be able to sit in them once we have the sit feature working. These changes should go live this week.
Next we are adding little adventures for you and your friends to discover. An obvious one is the cellar door (I am sure you noticed it in the existing map.) We will build something for you to stumble upon there. It will be small for now... but like most of the things in Alpha testing, it will be rebuild bigger and more interesting as we have more features to work with. The two rooms upstairs will be a bathroom and a "room for rent." There is also the paintings that we could do something interesting with. I think the most fun way to release step 2 would be.... secretly without you knowing.
I would like Melodia to allow you to start "Bar Fights" with everyone in the room... teleporting you to a special PvP version of the map.
A while back I wrote Melodia's backstory on my Facebook account... helping her should result in a special feature of the game being unlocked which has a chance of turning the Inn itself into an battle adventure. Each character inside the Inn should be able to trigger special things. These main characters of Yulgar's inn will take a special interest in your story and be alongside you through your adventures in the game.
I really want to have different characters appear in the Inn. I especially like the idea that you can only do ONE quest or adventure from them per visit. So, if a character had a really interesting quest chain... it would give us a reason to really look forward to when a certain character returned. I can imagine us logging in, seeing the shady weapon dealer is back, and running off to tell our friends on Twitter and Facebook that he is back in the game and everyone would log on to do the next step of his quest.
I want just hanging out with friends to be as big of a reason to log into AQ3D as adventuring and PvPing will be. So having a great number of emotes and objects that you can interact with are an absolute must. I can see Guild Meetings in the future taking place at your Guild Castle around a Huuuuge table where the guild leader sits at the head and there is a spot for every member at the table. In Inn on the other hand a little more cozy... you should be able to sit at the quiet table near the window and talk to a new friend. I would like to be able to arm wrestle. Or Play paper-rock-scissors. You should be able to sleep on beds... and we should have dreams in the game. NOTE: If the game ever tells you that you are tired and you should get some rest... that is a hunt that you should sleep at the inn because you are about to have a crazy revealing dream.
Like Saturday night live, we should have special guest bands appear in game weekly. That way going to hang out in the inn is always a unique and special experience... adding ambience. Some bands would have quests, some would just be there to play. In between special guests bands the house band should play... and they should have special quests for you to go find their missing sheet music. The sheet music of course unlocks new songs for them to play. The band is like a jukebox and anyone can go drop a few gold in their bucket to have them play their favorite song.
There should be a secret AI embedded within the Inn that watches for things to happen... and at the right time, MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. Maybe armed robbers burst through the back door. Or somethign burrows up through the floor. Or one of the Inn regulars suddenly gets ill... it was muder. Whoddunit? It would also be nice if Devs/Mods had the ability to trigger special events within the inn. This could be done in the form of competitions or quizzes or even personal quests that ask you to find a specific player that is in the inn with you and do something.
Ironically, we built the hard version of Interactive Objects in AdventureQuest 3D before we built the easy ones. Once we have the functionality for the easy ones, I would like to see things like the dart board, eating contests, and something which I can currently only describe as a talent show. I *REALLY* like the idea of putting idle games or "incremental games" in the Inn. Something that, as long as you are there it increases you score (with tiers/ascension) and causes interesting things to happen. I am open to fresh ideas on what kind of idle games can exist inside an inn. A lot of the time when I am working, I like to have an idle game open on my side monitor. This would be a perfect way to stay logged into AQ3D "doing something" while working on something else. We could have special rooms for people who are idling... for those of you who also do this, you know it is a very different experience from normal chat rooms. People just sort of check in randomly... it is not like normal play when you are completely focused on you the game. It is something I personally really enjoy.... probably because it feels like having a window open to this other universe where the digital version of me is working while the real version of me is doing something else.
In my 13 years of experience making video games I am very aware that there are some maps that you make that people play through and never go to again. That is OK. That is what they are for. But, there are other places in the game that need to be updated ALL THE TIME! The main town of Battleon and Yulgar's Inn are the best candidates for continuous change. It keeps them fresh and interesting.... always something new to see when you log in. One day... it will snow in the 3D version of Battleon. The leaves will change color. Never before seen invaders lead by a general with a wicked personality will launch attacks on the town... maybe even actually take it over! I am so excited about the future of this game. I am going to place a lot of focus on the Inn, and keeping it updated. It is a place I want to login and hang out with everyone.
This sounds crazy considering we only have 1 programmer. But everything mentioned above is actually achievable. And, I want it. I want it bad! Sure, it is going to take time. We are in Alpha now... still hammering out core features like class skills and interface changes. So maybe the Inn seems like it is pretty low priority. But it only takes 3 server-side functions to empower us with the ability to make 80% of the things above. If you were not around for the early days of AdventureQuest Worlds, then you would be shocked at how bare bones the game was back then. But it grew... week by week we kept adding features and pushing the game forward. Oh, if only we had known the things we know now. So I would expect to see these changes come in incremental bursts (as most things do.) It is also unlikely we will do the steps in order. For example... the second I am told we have any type of PvP working I will literally stand up and yell "BAR FIGHT!" -- the team will know what I mean.
My ultimate outcome is that Yulgar's Inn becomes a place that we log in and hang out together.... from any device. It will be an exciting place full of unexpected surprises and the start of the most epic adventures in our video gaming lives. Just like the ones I remember from Table Top games...
(NOTE: I would also like to put these Inn-provements into AQWorld's Inn after the server re-write is complete.)