Monday, May 18, 2009

House of Nemo MMO design document


  • House of Nemo is a massively multiplayer online game where customization is king.

  • The player is able to gather with other players to build fully customizable Houses.

  • Weapons are all of a default starting value and only gain power by achievements the player or House unlocks.

  • Real-time combat with multiple weapons and stances.

  • Integrated voice chat for the first time in MMORPG history.

  • Player's level up specific skills rather than traditional leveling, these skills increase and decrease based on each other.

  • The player can build up a huge House and then take on other player's and their minions.

  • Inter-House high stakes player versus player war.

  • Diplomacy allows for alliances to be built and massive wars engaged.


1. Game Play

Many of the massively multiplayer games on the market today use a control scheme very similar to World of Warcraft. The problem with this is that they are never enough of a departure from the original so the people who left World of Warcraft eventually come back to it. In the House of Nemo we will do nothing of the sort. In order to draw people away from World of Warcraft we offer something World of Warcraft doesn't have. The game will be set in the 3rd person perspective and set over the character's right shoulder much like Resident Evil 5 or Dead Space. The player will then use the mouse to aim and interact while the keyboard will move and strafe.

1. Combat

Combat is the key of any MMO. House of Nemo will be the first one to handle it entirely in real time using a skill based system. Thanks to advances in modems and the base speeds of user's computing power increasing this is now possible. The player must first switch himself into combat mode by unsheathing his weapon then during battle the player will then have the option to switch between a fast, offensive or defensive stance. The attacks these will perform will depend on the weapon with the general idea being:

  • Fast stance will allow the player to attack quickly but do very little damage and take moderate damage

  • The offensive stance will allow the player to do large amounts of damage but not defend.

  • The defensive stance will let the player take little damage but deal little damage.

The player will need to be constantly swapping through stances to be effective in combat. In order to parry an attack the player will have a window of time in order to hit the right mouse button and deflect the attack. This method will not break the other player's momentum. The other method would be to time an attack and hit the player's sword as it comes down, this will break the player's momentum and open him up to further attacks. The third option would be a push, this will do no damage but push the opposing player back a few paces and open his guard for a vital second. This will prevent people from just hiding in guard for the majority of the battle and to keep things moving.

2. Interface

The interface will be kept as sparse as possible. There will be a chat window, a friends list , a quest progression bar and an indicator to show what fighting stance the player has entered. Health will be handled in the same way as Call of Duty 4. The closer the player is to death the further his screen will blur and dim, there will be no health bar in order to keep immersion. The player's avatar will then slump and show damage as it loses more and more health. The other elements of the interface will auto hide on the side of the screen during play, this option can be disabled at any time.

In order to keep communication the player will have the option of using a microphone with an in game based voice server system. The system will allow players to hear what people are saying in greater clarity the closer the speaking player is to the listening player. A list of friends will be provided with buttons to quickly form a party or a private chat room in order to converse. The player will have the option to switch between the realm chat as well as the channel for the House and the private party entirely on the fly by means of a few button presses.

Interacting and trading with players is done by simply right clicking on them when not in combat mode. This highlights them and brings up a menu that allows the player to trade, ignore, add to friends list, private chat and invite to a House. Then the player can click these options or click anywhere else to exit the menu system.

3. Grouping

The friends list provided to players will allow them to quickly form groups, there is no limit to the size of the group. The leader of the party however can split it into smaller parties within the larger group. This will all be controlled with a menu provided inside the group menu. They can also assign a leader to each of the smaller groups with the ability to add or remove other players.

2. World

The Lord Nemo regent of the vast fertile swathes of the Irritum plain has been assassinated. Nemo has left no heir to the monarchy. The world now enters a civil war greater than any ever known for the throne. Bodies lay unburied in the streets and the once peaceful merchant houses have turned inward and become giant fortresses. They rally their agents around the country-side to collect any magical weapon of note to add to their power. The war between them rages fierce with no side ever winning for long. Can you conquer the squabbling houses and cement your dynasty for years to come?

1. The Populous

Irritum is a vast and majestic land filled with many creatures big and small. This is a list of the inhabitants and their geographical locations:

The Mirum live on the vast barren plains of the north. The area has long been destroyed from a great mining disaster that left a huge scar in the earth. It is a desolate yet charming place. The inhabitants here have mutilated themselves into a mere shadow of humanity in order to escape the toxic atmosphere. They are entombed at birth within clockwork bodies where they can carry out their arcane work without fear. Their city is an ordered clockwork metropolis layered on top of a ancient city that existed before the disaster.

Crown princes of the underworld the Abeo reside under the Irritum plain. They are an ancient race having long been there before the first settler ever appeared on the surface. The long exposure to the dark has caused them to mutate. Flat sheathes of skin now exist where eyes should have been and with skin nearly transparent the Abeo almost resemble lizards. Their tunnels run the entire length of the plain and it is not uncommon to see them everywhere. These tunnels are also the primary method of transport and shipping around the plain.

The Profundum are the main inhabitants of the Irritum plains. These hearty folk are settlers from a far off land that none can remember. They live on the majority of the surface world. They wear their deeds quite literally on their faces with ritual scarring and tattooing. The higher the caste of Profundum the more marked their bodies with those with no markings seen as outcasts. Their cities range from vast coastal ports to small villages buried under dense jungle with a mix of old and new technology.

3. Sword System

The player has access to many types of weapons in the game all of them being non-projectile weapons. These weapons all start off with the same base statistics. An example of this is that if a player pulls a long sword off of a dead creature it will have the exact same stats as if he bought it in a shop. The only way to truly get a better weapon is to pick one up and quest with it. There is a catch is that a player can only do so much to power up the sword himself. It must be passed to different players in order to become powerful.

In order to find out the effect on each weapon the player must talk to the NPCs that are in neutral towns scattered across the vast landscape. They will give hints about places where old relics are stored or things that must be killed in order to bring renown to the weapon. The more renown the weapon gets the more abilities it can boost and the more lore it contains. The player will be able to click on the weapon at any time in the inventory screen and look over the list of deeds accomplished with it good or bad. There will be a mix of not just killing things but quests that can only combine with other people on the same quest. If person A starts the quest from one location and person B from another they will have to run into each other at a certain time to be able to find each other and complete the quest. Once the quest has been completed the reward will then transfer to the weapon and the level of the person completing it will be recorded. The quest is then closed off to the player with this weapon. The player must then pass the weapon to other players of a different skill level in order to get all the rewards for a particular quest. For every 5 players that complete the same quest with the weapon there will be a bonus reward. Some rewards will be purely cosmetic such as lighting the sword on fire or have it become a constantly flowing liquid. There is no end to how much power can be put into a sword so in the end game most player's will be able to kill each other with one hit making duels much more intense.

4. House System

When the game begins the player is first brought to a character customization screen(see 6. Character Customization). After this is through the player is then brought to a series of houses that are situated on the map. These houses are scattered around the map and the player has the ability to start anywhere on the continent. The houses only differences are that they are narratively based. The houses are split into two different types.

1. Poor Houses

If the player chooses to start himself in the poor section of the city his character is started covered in grim and with nothing but rags about his body. He will have to fight his way up on cunning alone because of this the player would start with a few point increases in up to three stats of his choosing.

2. Rich Houses

If the player has chosen to become of the part of the rich houses he starts himself as a brash young noble eager to make a start in court politics. The player who chooses this house will have the option of picking a starting weapon. The weapons won't be anything special but just enough to even out the stats boost that choosing a poor house would give.

3. Player Created Houses

The player can create a house as long as he has 5 other people with him and enough of the realm currency to be able to pay for it's construction. The player must also be sure that there is land available to begin building. If there is no land to build the player may attempt to raid a low level house in order to destroy it and build a new house on top of it. Once the money has been processed and the site to build has been chosen construction will commence. The construction itself will take one hour of player time and during this time the house can be attacked by any house-less person. A weapon must be then chosen to imbue the house with power. This weapon will reside in the house and become the source of it's power. As the weapon becomes more powerful so too will the house. The sword can be removed for the house for short periods of time in order to gain more power. The players will have the ability to set who may take the sword out of the house at any given time. If the sword is out of the house for too long the house will begin to decay and eventually fall apart. Lack of activity from the house's players can also cause this. The starting house only has enough land for one small ante-chamber. In order to gain more land the player must either take it from other players or gain status.

The sword in the house will determine how much is allowed to be built. The players have the option of hiring on NPC guards, building training quarters, officer apartments, walls, installing traps and adding lavish meeting spaces. They can have a treasury to store any special items or currency gained in battle and can put it towards compound's needs. They can even contact Abeo and have transport tunnels built into the bottom of the houses. The higher ranks will allow for a training room letting players build their skill set from inside the house itself without having to venture into the outside world. The layout is given in predetermined 'room' blocks but these can be moved around on a grid system that is operated from a top down view. This will give the player a feeling of truly accomplishing something when his character always has a place to rest their head. It will also keep hold of the players because if the house decays everything is lost.

The player's will have the option of simply decorating their house to their specific tastes. If there is enough money and status a carpentry shop can be built within the house and one of the players can take up the skill. This will allow the player to turn out items that serve no other purpose but to tailor the space to the people residing in it. There is a a severe lack of this in other games with guilds having to find places inside the world to meet. Now the player's have a dedicated space in which to plan. The houses will also provide access to a calendar of events that can be updated by officers.

4. Inter-house Rivalries

Houses may goto war with each other at any time and with any amount of players. If the status rank of the Houses are near the same there will be no changes to the battle but if one house severely out ranks another then the out ranking house will be penalized but still able to attack. If a house gains victory his status will rise and the house sword become slightly more powerful. There is also the option of total victory. This is where all of the opposing house's members have been killed, the house left to rubble and the house sword taken and destroyed. Achieving this will cause the winning house to gain the losing house's plot of land and be able to expand their compound.

The other option is to become diplomatic. Allying yourself to another house will increase both your status ranking but if that house loses a war then both rankings will drop. This will keep the player's from simply allying themselves with everyone they can. The allies will also be able to share facilities so if your guild does not have access to transport tunnels you can use your allies. If your allies do poorly then you do poorly as well so it is best to watch out for each other's interests.

5. Character Development

1.Skill Building

Player skills come by doing the skill in question, much like Oblivion and Star Wars Galaxies. The level of the skill can increase and decrease at any time depending on what skill the player is gaining. In order to gain agility the player would have to parry attacks and in order to gain skill with a sword the player would have to continually use a sword. The player will have available all of the normal Dungeons and Dragons statistics such as strength, agility, dexterity, weapon mastery, healing mastery and poison mastery. An example of this is if the player decided to level his strength by using heavy weapons his agility would decrease proportionately so the player would move slower . If a player gains skill in healing, his skill in making poisons would go down. The player can become mediocre in using all of the weapon types in the game but in order to excel at one the skill in the other's must suffer.

The skill set will also determine the body type of the character. If the player has a low agility and high strength their character will reflect this in the musculature. If the player has become proficient at suturing wounds they will be able to wear a medic's arm band.

2. Death

This is a non-permanent death realm. On dying the player will be transported back to his home town or his house. The first thing death will bring is a scar on the player, this can be taken away by an experienced medic. The penalty for dying will also be a small loss across the board in all of the player's skills and a counter placed on the player's weapon. When enough of these counters are gained in a certain amount of time the player's weapon will break. If the weapon breaks the player must repair it at a House blacksmith but never to full strength, the quests will have to be redone. The counters fade over time.

If a player dies in House versus House combat he is taken off of the playing field until the battle is finished. There is no penalty for dying in this manner and the ghost is allowed to roam the battlefield but not be able to communicate with his fellows.

6. Character Customization

1. What is the purpose of armor

Armor increases the amount of damage the character can take. Armor can be built by a House blacksmith. There are three types of armor: cloth, leather and plate. The plate armor requires a large amount of strength with the leather and cloth requiring a lower number. The armor is a simple thing with it being more for the look of the character. The player will have the option of adding painted patterns, solid colors, guild banners or trophies earned in battle to the outside of the armor.

2. Starting Customizations

At the start of the game the player will have a set number of faces and body types to choose from as well as a number of hair styles. If the player decides to become one of the Mirum they can then choose the color of the clockwork and the type of machinery and the look of the child inside. Server latency should be kept down with these set characteristics.

The player also has the ability to pick from a set of limited colors and patterns for his base armor and underwear. The armor will be quickly replaced but the underwear will continue to stay with the character and hopefully create some personality.


1. Why

All current massively multiplayer games currently on the market follow a strict World of Warcraft formula. The next big selling game will have to be a full departure from this mold in order to have any success. The transition to fully real time fighting is also something that has never been done before on a level like this. The casual player will not like this fighting system but will be attracted to the house building and will have the ability to take a more passive role in maintaining and expanding the house.

2. How

This project will require a large team of programmers and artists from hopefully a diverse background. I will need both people who have never worked on an mmorpg and people who have worked specifically in them to find that balance of what can and what cannot be done. This will have to be a PC game as it exposes it to the broadest audience and keeps the game from dying if the console becomes obsolete. This will also allow us to charge a monthly fee for playing on one of the game's servers. The price point will need to be 50 dollars at retail with a month free trial with incentives for bringing friends into the game.


Little Jimmy has just logged onto House of Nemo. He's entered his credit card information and set up his account and now he's made it to the character creation screen. He picks one of the Abeo choosing an exquisite bone structure that can be seen through the pale skin. After that he picks his name and chooses the starting clothing that his Abeo will wear. “Blue and white striped clothing will work out well” he thinks to himself. Then he is thrust into the Irritum where he must choose a house. He circles around the map ultimately settling on a southern city in the poor house of Al'Kazar. Jimmy is then asked to choose which 3 stats will get a bonus. He picks strength, healing and dexterity. Jimmy explores his new world eventually picking up a sword and that's where he meets Billy. Billy and Jimmy adventure together and soon find more comrades in arms and with them they form a house. The small shack is built while they hold off attacking players and NPCs. They call it House Balhazaar and soon they work on expanding by means of war. The goddess of victory smiles upon them as they win battle after battle, the house sword being taken out to drink the blood of the enemy. Soon they can expand and Jimmy selects an armory and a carpentry house as their next project. He assigns his comrades to immediately learn their stations and soon mighty weapons are forged and the house covered in lavish furniture all bearing the house symbol. Jimmy's enemies do not like this at all and they plot against him soon forming an alliance to grow their power. Billy has heard about this and immediately informs Jimmy who sets out with his ambassadors to neighboring houses allying them to the cause and allowing them use of the armory in exchange for their medical wards. Battle is thusly joined with heavy casualties on both sides but it is Jimmy who breaks into the enemies sword chamber and destroys their sword ending the fight in a giant explosion. Jimmy then divides up the land between his allies and takes his rightful place as lord regent.

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