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Old 05-13-2006, 06:43 AM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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The curtains begin to open: Dolphonia


Section 1 - Transportation and the World
Section 2 - The Staff System
Section 3 - Firms and Commerce
Section 4 - Contracts and Patents
Section 5 - Economics and Politics
Section 6 - Resources and the Environment
Section 7 - Challenges and Concerns
Section 8 - Notes
Section 9 - Final Words


As the sun set for the final time in the year 2000, it began to rise again and with it rose the server Dolphonia. This was a time before NewMain, before Unholy Nation, before Era, before GraalOnline was a pay game, when Graal was far younger than it is now.

Dolphonia was a modern server. It had cities, roads, and airports. It was created by Delph Inc. It was a fun server. It was the server where I was first levels administrator (and from there later on I went on and became levels admin of over a half douzen other online playerworlds).

Unfortunately, the server was hacked (by Ghost_Hacker) and eventually shut down. Different people had different ideas on how to proceed. Delph wanted to focus on a different but similar project. He toyed around with ideas such as Galactica. From what I hear, he eventually ended up making a server called Dolphonia2, later renamed to Era. I, however, wanted to remake Dolphonia and continue from where it went down. I have recieved Delph's permission and I've been working for some time on the new Dolphonia.

I want to remind people that although this Dolphonia is in a sense a parent to Era that there may be some unintended similarities between it and Era, but there will definately be differences. Whereas Era has guns and gangs, Dolphonia will be using the classical sword-combat system in a more Earthbound-esque world. There will be less emphasis on pk'ing and more emphasis on economics and travel.

This is a brief introduction to what's been going on behind the scenes.

Section 1 - Transportation and the World:

Dolphonia was originally going to be a world composed of five cities; one for each respective direction on a compass (North, East, South, West) and one central one; Main City. As of this post, Main/Central City and West City are online, as is the 40 level wide highway separating them.

Whether or not the names of the cities will be changed is still a matter of debate.

The cities will follow different themes, as originally planned:

Main/Central City: A city with a body of water surrounding it located in the geographical centre of the world.

West City: A desert valley reminiscent of the historical American west.

East City: An oceanside harbour with a mix of beaches and rocky shores.

South City: A heavy forest/jungle with a large river going through it.

North City: A formidable mountain range covered in harsh terrain.

Keeping with the original theme of the server, there will be multiple ways to travel between the various cities. Through Main/Central City, each other major city is can be reached by either highway, train, ship, or airplane; however, not every city is necessarily equipped with every means of transportation (you can't take a ship to West City, for example).

Through this, I have personally found it akin to a SNES game I played alot years ago called Earthbound. The way I have designed the transportation between the cities and the organization of the cities themselves has had Earthbound in mind and I am pleased that I have been able to retain the same feeling on the server when travelling from city to city.

Each city and each highway does infact have it's own corresponding gmap (beginning with the the prefix dolphonia_ as to not overwrite other gmaps of course). If a weather system is put into place, different regions will have different weather settings.

In addition besides the cities, there will be additional regions for players to explore with all sorts of goodies. This will leave room for exploration, questing, and future developement.

Section 2 - The Staff System:

It is through Dolphonia's Judicial System that it will have the luxury to do what other playerworlds have not.

Traditionally, Graal staff have been divided into upper administration, a development team, a GP team, an events team, and perhaps an FAQ team.

Dolphonia's staff structure will be as follows:

Manager, Judges, Enforcers.*

*the lack of any development team will be explained in Section 3

The role of the Manager is to manage the server, easily enough. Text will not be wasted continuing what would be thought to be an already obvious role.

The Judges comprise of the Judicial system. They are direct representitives of the manager and because of this it is absolutely vital that they remain honest and loyal to the server. They have virtually unlimited power and it will be a challenge to find those who can responsibly handle the job.

The Judges will have varied roles. They will hold trials in things ranging from broken contracts to trainer-usage on the server. They will give and execute judgements. The means by which a Judge holds a trial is entirely up to the Judge and may include but not be limited to private investigation, a hearing, and a jury decision. In addition, Judges will approve or deny requests for businesses, tax relief, patents, and anything else that could be necessary. The Judges will be led by a single Chief Judge (which is already getting nicknamed "Judgemaster" from I suppose Final Fantasy fame) who would likely be a parallel to an Assistant Manager position.

If the Judges are the hands of the server, the Enforcers are the eyes, ears, and mouth. Any disruption in the server (glitches, misunderstandings, bug abuse, trainer-usage, hacking, breaking of GraalOnline/server rules) is ended abruptly by Enforcers. Enforcers will help players as best they can when there are questions and will also be responsible for restricting access to bugged areas and disabling disruptive players (who will be reviewed by a Judge later). Right now there is consideration to change the title to a more appropriate one, from Enforcer to Agent.

Section 3 - Firms and Commerce:

Players will be able to own firms/businesses upon being approved by a Judge. All firms will have a standard 1000 shares, all of which will belong to the original founder initially. When shareholders of a firm vote, 501 shares is what is required for a majority. Any desputes within a firm are to be forwarded to the trials and sorted out by a Judge. Players are able to buy/sell shares as any other item at any price they both agree on.

A stockmarket may exist for the purpose of gathering a bunch of buyers/sellers of shares in one area. The latest price a share is sold and purchased for is the value of the given share. Some business models may have the firm organized to give shareholders a regular dividend (dividing of profit into 1000 parts, each part to the owner of each share). How businesses operate will be very open-ended. Businesses can own other businesses as well as property (land, buildings, npc's, etc).

The general idea of a firm is to maximize profit. In order to do so, firms will offer services and/or products. For the purpose of this simple brief explanation of the server, we'll consider the service firm and the product firm as the two different firm types.

The Service Firm:

The service firm is one that offers services in exchange for money. Such services may include professional work (level-making, gfx-making, script-making, etc) or more in-game services (transit, security, assasins, quest-help, etc). Because players have the options of submitting levels and npc's (Section 4) and the quality required for approval will be considerably high, professional service firms would likely be in high demand.

An architecture (level making) or engineering (npc-scripting) firm may win contracts to produce levels/scripts the server requires by winning lowest-bid auctions held. That is - When the server requires large volumes of levels or special scripts made, rather than have dev staff on hand, it will invite all major professional firms to a lowest-bid auction and whichever firm can produce what's being requested for the lowest price will win the contract to do so.

The Product Firm:

The product firm will be able to either purchase a pre-existing "magical" machine or develope and patent it's own "magical" machine (Section 4). With a magical machine, players will be able to input X amount (specific to each machine) of some resources (specific to each machine) to output something (specific to each machine). The something can be furniture, food, weapons, and many, many other things. All things mass produced will need to be done so by magic machine.

Example of Product Firms:

One product firm wishes to build their own A-07 type engines. A-07 type engines can produce 10 units of output for 2 units of fuel. First the firm applies for a patent via a Judge. The judge reviews the submitted script and for the sake of argument, approves it. The judge gives the firm an unlimited-time patent on the specific engine, puts the price at 10,000 credits per machine to purchase, and 25 iron to produce the each engine through the machine. The firm spends buys such a machine and pays employees 1 credit for every 5 iron they harvest and return. The firm then has other employees take the available iron and has them produce engines for pay of 1 credit per engine built perhaps. The engines are then moved and stored in the firm's warehouse, where the firm waits for another firm that produces cars (but not engines) to come and buy engines to add to their cars.
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Old 05-13-2006, 06:44 AM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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Section 4 - Contracts and Patents:

For a fee, players will be able to organize contracts and file them through a Judge. The judge will either approve or deny the contract. If approved, the contract will be stored in a folder for reference (provided all parties have expressed agreement to the Judge first) under a contract # as it's filename. All parties involved will be given the contract #.

In a dispute, Judges will have access to contracts and can enforce contracts. Players may wish to hire lawyers to help dispute ambiguous contracts (giving the possible existance of law firms for those good at arguing/logic) in court. Because of contracts, banks will be able to exist by giving players loans because players will be forced to sign contracts. If a player does not return X amount of money specified by the contract in the time specified, the courts will be able to simply reference the contract and enforce it immediately.

When players submit npc's, a Judge will approve/deny the script (often a judge will likely seek the aid of a trusted engineering firm for exactly everything the script does) and if approved, tweak the script for server-use. When an npc is approved, the Judge will award a patent (usually with a time-frame before the machine becomes any machine that any firm/player can purchase). That patent, while active, gives only the firm/player holding the patent the exclusive right to purchase the machine that produces such good. Patents are transferable, but can not be multiplied (ie a firm can't sell a patent and still hold on to it).

Section 5 - Economics and Politics

There will be a limited/set amount of money in the world. Anybody caught modifying the money supply without my explicit authorization will be automatically permanently IP and Computer banned without exception.

Money will be very important. In theory, if a person had enough money, they could buy a bunch of land, pay architects (level makers) to make a palace, then submit the palace to a judge for review (with a review fee). If approved, the judge would give a resource (lumber, minerals, etc) requirement to building the house, which said rich player could pay people to harvest. So, in theory, a person could have a huge palace built. Infact, the economy would improve if rich people spent a lot, as the money would be spread to (likely otherwise low-paid) labourers.

Each city will have it's own elected mayor and councillors. The councillors will advise the mayor and hold votes on the mayor's proposals. In a vote, the mayor may break ties.

The proposals a mayor can make may include but are not limited to: city bylaws, spending, taxation, and city staff management.

The city officials (mayor and councillors) have control over the cities funds and property (land, buildings, etc). Only in extreme cases will there be intervention by Judges/the Manager in city management issues.

Elections will be held periodically (looking at once every 3 months) and are open to any registered citizens of the particular city. To register as a citizen takes processing time and the city has a right to deny citizenship to any player (especially for not paying taxes).

How cities will make/spend money will be entire open-ended. Good luck.

Cities will have bylaws that will likely be enforced by a local police force of some kind. Cities will likely have to pay police officers and will have to pay upload-fees to the courts to have things such as police station and jails uploaded. In addition, cities will have to apply for machines to produce police items (such as nets to drag unruly players to jail) and pay any fees that a firm would need to pay.

To add a sense of reality, nets to catch players will be destroyable (so players could resist and potentially escape) and prison cells are explodable from the outside (so other players could organize a break-out).

Police, like all non-on-duty-server-staff, will be quite mortal. There will be no AP system.

Like police, cities will likely have to hire their own events team city staff. How this is organized is, again, up to the cities. They may charge players, they have may have it free to citizens, or it may be completely free. There are many ways to organize this.

Section 6 - Resources and the Environment:

There will be resources all over the world. Their main purpose has been explained in the explanation of machines. Although it hasn't been said specifically, machines will in addition be able to produce foods. Eating food will not be required to live, but will be the only way to regain lost health and cure ailments (random sunstroke from wandering in the desert, etc). While some resources will exist in limited amounts (like minerals and oil), some resources will be able to be regrown (trees and vegetables). Trees will be predictable in growth, and vegetables will follow a Harvest-Moon based model for growing. Those who particularly enjoy Harvest Moon for the SNES will likely look forward to the farming system.

Resources, as all npcs, can either be carried by a player or stored in a box.

Section 7 - Challenges and Concerns:

- Keeping the balance between leader and follower populations. Too many leaders and there will be a labour shortage. Too many followers and there will be a labour surplus.
- Too much responsibility for city leaders? Will they have any concept of economics or fiscal management?
- How do I know I can trust Judges?
- A large player population will be needed to make this work.
- I'm afraid of being the only one who knows what's going on.

Section 8 - Notes:

- Trial accounts will not be able to hold money or participate in anything. I'm considering having them transform into random wildlife (butterfly, etc) not capable of interfering in the game itself, only fluttering around and pm'ing a single player every 60 seconds.
- Keep lots of extra money in the server's hands for just-in-case. Let the initial cities have a lot of money for the same reason, so they can get on their feet.
- Run for mayor personally at first to show everybody how it's done.
- Furniture will be like Animal Crossing. Players can place furniture in homes and move it around to customize house. Same with office buildings, etc.

Section 9 - Final Words:

Thank-you for reading my brief explanation of what's going on. I realize it's more reading that you may be used to and I appreciate it. I would appreciate any input (questions, comments, concerns) you may have. Please use this topic to address such things. I may have missed many things I have shooting around in my mind, so some things may be unclear.


- Shaun (Manager/Owner of Dolphonia)
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Old 05-13-2006, 07:14 AM
HunterCano HunterCano is offline
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Sounds very interesting.=)
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Old 05-13-2006, 08:22 AM
Mykel Mykel is offline
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Having ideas is one thing. Actually doing something about them is a whole different ballgame. As is doing enough with them for people to actually want to play the server.

That said, good luck.
(Married to Skyld)
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Old 05-13-2006, 10:48 AM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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Ah. Progress. So far I have Main/Central City nearly completed (with many, many insides to buildings already done), I have the highway completed, and I have West City nearly completed. I have scripted a movement system, parts of cars and engines, chair classes, the machine that produces chairs in exchange for lumber (with a working gui window and everything). All in GS2. I've done all the main algorithm design for the scripts, and all that remains is some tweaking and more simple type scripts. I'm not as familiar in GS2 as I am in C++, but algorithm design is a piece of cake and I have the help of people such as Yen and Ibonic.

As for levels, I could be doing those faster I suppose. Perhaps I'll hire some devs to help. Negotiate salary contracts. Since as of now I am the only staff member, it may not be unreasonable to get more help.
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Old 05-13-2006, 11:33 AM
Codein Codein is offline
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This sounds great. You've really thought things through. Maybe a few screenshots of the Main City.
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Old 05-13-2006, 02:39 PM
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This sounds really cool, am excited
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Old 05-13-2006, 08:16 PM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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Screenshots of Main City
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Old 05-13-2006, 09:31 PM
zim5354 zim5354 is offline
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i cant stand the tilset from the way you wrote about it it sounded semi modern atleast then to see that tilset and its just a let down. i know your trying to stay true to the old server but eh just my 2 cents.
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Old 05-13-2006, 10:36 PM
Lord Sephiroth Lord Sephiroth is offline
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Originally Posted by Shaun
Screenshots of Main City
Man, I respect you and all but it's like I told you on Delteria a while ago, these levels just aren't appealing, they're so...I don't want to say bad but like, they are.
Babylonian; wherever I or it may lay.
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Old 05-13-2006, 10:54 PM
excaliber7388 excaliber7388 is offline
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Almost looks like a clasic-futuristic server. it could be interesting, it looks like most of the tiles are from the classic tileset
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Old 05-13-2006, 11:08 PM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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Originally Posted by zim5354
i cant stand the tilset from the way you wrote about it it sounded semi modern atleast then to see that tilset and its just a let down. i know your trying to stay true to the old server but eh just my 2 cents.
If I was better at graphics the tileset would look better. It's not that I want the tileset to look that bad, it's just that my abilities are limited.

That being said, I'm not a big fan of current modern tilesets. I really liked Bravo's modern tileset when it was up, however.
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Old 05-13-2006, 11:31 PM
konidias konidias is offline
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The roads just look like massive bars of gray. You need to use a more contrasting color scheme for the roads and sidewalks. The line dividing sidewalks and roads is hard to see.

Also the road tiles are far too repetitive looking... You either need to add in a lot of variety to those tiles, or change it so it's not as obvious... (like Era uses black with a kind of gritty look so that it's not repetitive looking)

edit: also, with buildings that tall, you need to add shadows, or some way of knowing that they are high up... because right now they just look flat on the ground.
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Old 05-14-2006, 12:23 AM
Shaun Shaun is offline
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The graphics/tileset are at the bottom of my priority list. The ingame mechanics and gameplay systems are my top priority. If I can get somebody who specializes in things that would help, that would be great, but unless that happens I'll be doing everything myself in a definitive order that reflects my priorities.
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Old 05-14-2006, 06:00 AM
konidias konidias is offline
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That's fine. As long as it changes before release. Gameplay only makes up a certain percentage of a game. You *NEED* nice graphics and level design in order to hold people's interest. Yes I know there are games that exist which have bad graphics yet are fun to play. But those aren't MMORPGs.
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