A fresh look at Olympia

Scott Hauck (hauck@cs.washington.edu)
Fri, 24 Jul 92 19:29:26 -0700

Guess I picked the wrong week to go on vacation - 200+ mail messages waiting
for me on Wednesday - I've just finally plowed through them all!

Well, what I'd like to do is step back and take a look at Olympia as a whole,
and where it's going.

Right now, Olympia (to me) is a goal-less system with a little bit of
exploration, and a lot of economics. Everything a person does is designed to
make more money, so you can do more things to make more money. Okay, what's
the point? I'm not asking for a brass ring at the end that every fights for,
but what's in Olympia that would make someone play for longer than 6 months?

Well, here are a bunch of major overhauls I'd like to see, all designed
to push Olympia more towards RPGs and something like Ultima, and away from
an economic simulation of the middle ages. BTW, these should be taken in the
context of Olympia II, not as changes to the currently-running game:

1.) Emphasize role-playing & fun. People should have opportunity and motive
for role-playing. For example, tales of great events should be circulated
throughout the land. After a noteable event, a unit can write a play-by-play,
and this would be heard by players at the local inns. The tale readership would
be able to reward the character that increases their enjoyment of the game.
Yes, this makes the game somewhat into a story-writing exercise, but since it's
a distributed effort I'm willing to write 2 paragraphs to get back 5 pages of

2.) Get rid of large factions. The PC is the player's focal point, and the
only place where a player can initiate new actions. He can order a follower to
go to another town, kill someone, and return, but wouldn't be able to view the
progress or alter the commands until the PC and the follower are in the same
location. Also, players would gain followers only as they gain experience and
glory, not by buying them. Thus, a beginning player might just have one
sidekick, while an established well-known heor might have 7-8 friends. However,
each is a single-man group, with different skills and training, and due to the
single focal-point approach, would probably be at the PC's side almost
constantly (note: armies to come later)

3.) Limit inter-player communication - no email addresses given out, no
communication outside the game, only talking when in the same location.
Violators banished. In this way, no-one (like myself and Oleg!) can give out
the Pearls of knowledge to be found in Olympia. In this way, the exploration
aspect is emphasized. This would be hard to enforce, but I think throughout
the game there needs to be a stress on fair play, and evictions where necessary.

4.) Armies - a player can recruit armies to serve him, but only up to his
military leadership skill (with subleaders). These men would come in legions
(say 10 men each). At level 1, you can control 1 legion. At level 2, you can
control 2 level 1 seargents each controlling 2 legions. At level 8, you can
control 2 4's, each controlling 2 2's, they control 2 1's each, with a legion.
The legions can come in many flavors (archers, skeletons, goblins, fairies,
etc), each with it's own strength. These units should only be skilled in
combat-related skills, only get stronger through combat, never study or work
for money, and crave pillage. The idea is that those who want to sack towns
can go ahead and do that, and set themselves up as kings, while other
people with other goals won't mess with armies. BTW, because of the limited
player locus of control, a King of many cities would require Dukes to control
some of the cities for him, setting the stage for intrigue. Several skills
(forestry, necromancy, etc). should provide bootstrap armies - units easily
obtained but hard to maintain, so that a player could attempt to capture his
first city and then begin his revolution off the newly won pillage.

5.) Player-contributed creativity - make the players come up with some of the
tasks to be accomplished. Long-standing players who have learned the system,
and gathered glory along their way, would be elevated to diety-hood upon death
(those who want can commit suicide to become a diety when they tire of mortal
life and have sufficient glory). These units would have far-ranging abilities -
create monsters, items, quests and legends to test the mettle of players, send
in the orc hoards, and in general add the depth to the game. Gods that please
the masses (either through help or through stimulating challenges) would get
more glory and increased powers. Those that smash the weak unmercifully, not
giving them a chance, or play Monty Haul granting ridiculous gifts to players
would lose power and eventually be cast down from heaven into /dev/null.

6.) Make learning experience-based instead of money-based. Players get
experience from defeating monsters, discovering long-lost cities, opening up
trade routes, and in general the same ways as most RPGs. Maintenance costs
go away (though your henchmen get a cut of the money made which is used for
their own betterment, not necessarily yours), and study time is replaced by
spending experience on skills. Now, if the PC wants to get strong, he's got to
go out there and get his hands dirty, killing those orcs and ambushing those

So what do people think. Yes, this is a very different feel for the game, and
probably require lots of time from Rich, but I think it would yield a much more
fun game, along the lines of living a fantasy novel.

Scott Hauck

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