Re: A fresh look at Olympia

Rich Skrenta (
Sat, 25 Jul 1992 08:46 EDT

After reading Scott's post I had to go off and find his survey...

> 13> What would you do if you were the Olympia gamemaster?
> Gut Olympia and make it into a new game.

Ah. You present some interesting ideas, but not in a framework which
is very constructive to Olympia development.

It sounds like you'd rather be playing a small hand-moderated RPG game.
Roleplaying a small party of adventurers is great, but not everyone
in Olympia wants to do that. I'm trying to make everyone happy; I certainly
won't succeed, but many players have been impressed at the diversity of
play you can get in Olympia. I want to preserve this, not discard it.

But I will take your good ideas and glue them onto my game somewhere. :-)

> 1.) Emphasize role-playing & fun.

Players right now role-play their characters, and send stories into the
Times. Some players on the survey list the Times as their favorite part
of Olympia. I certainly get a kick out of reading it.

But I don't want to force people to write stories to play the game.
What's wrong with letting the 10 most motivated writers send in their
stuff to entertain the other 100? I think the Times covers this area well.

> 2.) Get rid of large factions.

I don't want to "get rid" of large factions, but you all know that
I'm trying every last idea I can think of to make them harder to attain.

Some players want to empire-build. I want to balance them against players
who don't, and not let the empire-builders stomp all over the little Conans.

> 3.) Limit inter-player communication

Many PBM games do this. I don't think it's a good idea, for two reasons:

1 Cheaters will have a big advantage. Players who are in communication
with each other will enter the game an work together. Especially
on the Internet.

2 Seeing the personalities behind the characters is a big part of
the fun. I don't want to play against 100 faceless characters who
might as well be AI controlled NPC's. I want to go stomp my friend
over there, and rub it in the next time I eat lunch with him.

> 4.) Armies - a player can recruit armies to serve him, but only up to his

Rather complex design for an army control system (sounds a lot like
faction trees, actually :-). Interesting division between characters
that you play and armies that you control.

> 5.) Player-contributed creativity - make the players come up with some of

Yes! I agree with your principle here entirely. But someone didn't like
your god idea. I have wanted to have gods in Olympia for a long time,
but a complete system for them needs to be worked out.

Other ways of adding player-contributed creativity are welcome. I want
to let high level mages/beastmaster create monsters, for instance.
SET DISPLAY and POST are small examples of this idea. Perhaps I should
let players write lore sheets for their own characters...

> 6.) Make learning experience-based instead of money-based.

You state it as being obvious, but someone didn't like this idea at all.
I do want to get another component into learning, but more along the lines
of "quests" that you have to fulfill before passing from level 3-4 or 7-8.

Someone suggested that you had to use a skill at every level before you
could go up; I really liked that idea, it has promise.

> 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?

I agree with your assessment of the lack of goals in Olympia, and the
excessive focus on money. I am not tinkering with all of the economic
formulas because I enjoy working on the economy, but because I have to.
An economic system is a wily thing. You must be very careful to keep it
in its box, or it will get out and make trouble for you.

We want to have more than a token economy in Olympia, but not one that
entirely dominates the game. The economy has gotten a lot of work lately,
so other systems have been neglected, but that doesn't mean that I won't
get to them eventually.

I have grand plans for Olympia too, when I crawl out from beneath it to take
a look at how it's coming along. But I haven't had time to implement every
nifty idea that's been suggested. I have some really great ideas that Scott
Turner suggested a couple of months ago that I intend to use. There *will*
be six magic schools with zillions of spells. But those have to go on the
back burner if players are abusing my toy economy to produce 1500 man units
in a few turns.

Feh. Responding to this sort of thing is draining, because it's not really
constructive input. I like any kind of input, because it lets me know what
the players are thinking, and there are hints at some good ideas that I can
use in your post. But I'd really rather have "Require use of a skill before
progressing a level" instead of "Chuck it all and start over."

I think that many of your concerns can be addressed in the current system,
given enough time and good ideas.

Rich Skrenta <>  N2QAV

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