Journal Discussed – Contracts and Player-Created Professions

Engaging with other players is what makes multi-player games. We are all social creatures, but strangely MMOs can be a very anti-social environment. We end up playing our own single-player games just in a shared world. That is not something they want to see in Chronicles of Elyria, so they are bring that trust back… sort of! Contracts are a way of making an agreement between players. It could be a simple trade contract between individuals. Or you could request for help for harvest from as many people are willing to provide it. Perhaps you are a King passing laws that all your citizens must obey. They are all contracts, and all open up a world of possibility if you want more information about them check out the Journal Abridged.

Some of the most discussed areas of contracts have been writing them, breaking them, enforcing them, and laws. Over the last couple of Live Chats we have learn some interesting things about all these areas. I put out bounties on them all and luckily every quote has been brought back alive to share with you here.

Writing Contracts

Let us begin at the beginning and with how we can vary contracts to suit our needs as players. The important thing to note is they are versatile. We are going to be able to tackle an awful lot of situations with some clever uses of the contracts system. One of those I actually mentioned above and that is having one contract with multiple people. Rhaegys one of the community member, who incidentally has helped numerous times with this site so massive thank you, asked:

Will contracts be pre-signed by one party so they can be accepted by the other party even if the creator isn’t online. For example, this could be useful for having jobs posted on boards.

Luckily the response was positive:

Absolutely. We talked about that as a team and hinted at it with the 1:1, 1:N, and N:N contracts. We think putting up a contract on a board and leaving it open for N people to accept allows for bounty boards and other cool mechanics.

Now if you are not into the fancy ratios, what Caspain is actually getting at is contracts between 1 player and 1 other player, 1 player and numerous other players or numerous players to numerous other players. Luckily all of that is configurable so you can put up a job on a notice board that calls for only one other player, or if you need all the help you can get leave it open for as many people as possible to complete for you.

Breaking Contracts

Contracts are about bringing trust back into the world, but this world is still Elyria. It is still going to try to twist things about, give you options. For contracts that means they can be broken. Sometimes in simple ways, a trade contract not being met by the deadline. Sometimes in far more elaborate and pre-planned ways.

Ultimately, the consequences [for breaking the agreement] will be spelled out in the contract. […] Let’s say you negotiated to have someone pay you 10 gold and you put a time-limit on it for a fortnight. As time got close to the elapsed period, you could have them kidnapped. Preventing them from completing the contract.If the punishment for not completing the contract is 100g… you could actually commit entrapment.

There seems to be a range of ways to try to break the system, including theft. As we are about to talk about enforcing a contract requires the contract itself, an item is produced for each person involved in a contract. If your copy of the contract was to go mysteriously missing you wouldn’t be able to enforce it even if the other player failed to meet their side of the bargain. Perhaps you better keep it somewhere safe!

Enforcing Contracts

If someone doesn’t complete their side of your bargin, you can use your contract to generate a Bouty Token. Now either you can now go and hunt down the man who did you wrong (which admittedly has some appeal) or if that is not your style you can open another contract! This time with a bounty hunter:

If someone breaks your contract, you can generate a token and trade it with a bounty hunter as part of a Bounty Contract. So if you don’t feel you’ve got the skill to enforce your contracts, you can pay others to do it. […] Use the token to reclaim goods or do whatever the original contract was for. Doing so, while holding the bounty token, completes the terms of the bounty contract.

Ah the great bounty hunters of old are soon going to ride again. The middle ages version of Boba Fett shall be roaming the streets looking for those people foolish enough not to follow through on the contract they agreed to. It is one of the many professions that start to open up the more you look into the contract system, and think through the implications. In fact if that is something you are keen on doing there is an interesting forum thread about possible professions you can add to, or see the ideas the community has already had.

Laws

Now these are the ‘daddy’ of all contracts. They will apply to anyone in the lands under their influence, the only way to opt of of the law is to opt out of that land and go to a different region. How far you have to travel depends on which level of law you are far from enamoured with:

There are different laws for different levels of government. Kingdoms, Duchies, and Counties all have laws. […] In some cases the laws can be overwritten, in other cases they’re added. So for example Tax laws are aggregates. But someone could create a pirate’s lair type county which changes That’s what I was referring to in the design journal about lawless areas.

For the record those areas a written in descending size so Kingdoms, contain Duchies, which are made up of Counties. It could just be the county you have stumbled into doesn’t meet your player needs. Perhaps it is full of pirates and you want more order. Perhaps, ever blade of grass has to be cut to the right height, you all have to shine your shoes, and everyone is so utterly well behaved it makes you sick to your stomach. Well it will not take you too long to move to a new County that might be a better fit. If it is the whole Kingdom you are having issues with then it might take a bit of a walk, but you should still be able to find a place called home.

The first thing I wanted to know was how you knew what the laws were? I just mentioned walking to a new County, but how would you know that was a better fit then the last?

We just don’t know yet. We want to make them accessible without having them be in your face. And we certainly don’t want them to be a UI interface automatically. I think part of the danger of entering a new county, duchy, kingdom, etc… is that you *don’t* know the laws. I think having to seek them out and discover them is part of the adventure.

What there are things they do not know yet? Excellent! It means this game is truly still being built and we can really be apart of it. We can give our input onto topics like this, and any others and there is still time for those ideas and comments to be taken on board. This not like other games where you join in ‘beta’ when actually all the decisions have been made any you are really just playing the marketing version that used to come free with a magazine. Chronicles of Elyria is still be shaped still be crafted, I for one am happy they don’t have all the answers!

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