WorldForge Editing Tool Suite

(Concept document)

Part 1: Introduction and Setup Tools

Introduction

To achieve our goal of a community where free games develop and evolve we need good servers and clients, but also good editing tools that enable the community to take over the production of content and new games. Both are critical to our goal.

So far the game servers and clients are coming along fine, and seem to be headed with good speed in the right direction. However, on the editing front we are weaker.

This paper proposes a WorldForge Editing Tool Suite, that aims to address the lack of good editing tools. The rough structure and principles of the WF Editing Tool Suite are described, along with some of the requirements that it needs to fulfill.

What tools do we need?

We need editors and tools for a wide range of tasks. Looking at the life span of a game server gives some ideas of what these tasks might be.

First we set up a game server, then create or select the content, and create the game world. After the game starts we concentrate on administration (managing players, dealing with both in-game and out-of- game problems), maintenance (including addition of new content), and plot management.

The following tool categories will be presented: Setup tools, Content Creation Tools, World Editing Tools, Plot Editing Tools, Maintenance and Admin Tools, and Content Repositories.

Setup tools

Tools used when a game server is initially set up.

Game server setup tool

This tool automates the installation of needed software, connecting together many servers used for the same game, perhaps setting up a content repository for the game, along with map servers and media servers. This tool also allows the user to pick and set up the server and server modules that should be used (RIMs in the case of STAGE). Configuring and adding/removing/upgrading modules can be done later too, when the game is running.

The user interface could be part wizard based (asking a few related questions at a time before continuing), and partly presenting a the user with a hierarchy of configuration options, perhaps for different rule modules, core server settings, and so on. The wizard could be used first for important options that need to be specified, while the hierarchy of configuration options could be available later too. Time consuming operations such as downloading server modules should be performed in one go.

When the tool is ready, the game server should be up and running, with an admin account and optionally some normal user account(s), have a name and some short description, and have a selection of server modules configured and running. It should be possible to log into and use out of game chat, but there should not be any game world or items yet, just empty space.

Perhaps the installation and server/module configuration could be split into two different tools, where the installation tool just starts up the server configuration tool when it is ready.

Content Selection Tool

The next step is to select what types of things the game world can contain. This includes everything from what materials the planet(s) and all items can be made of, what types of items can be created, to what spell components exist, and what skills are available. (With 'content' I mean item archetypes, skills, etc; not actual instances of things or information objects. 'Content' is perhaps not the best word.) This tool is used both for selecting the initially available content, as well as adding, removing, and upgrading content when the game is running. Upgrading content could also be done automatically from some trusted content repository.

The user interface allows viewing of public content repositories on the Internet, private content repositories on the local machine or intranet, and a content repository representing what is currently selected for the game. The user can copy items from outside content repositories to the content repository representing the game. Content is often organized in collections in outside content repositories, so the user can just drag a folder with various medieval western tools into the game, or select a specific subcollection, such as medieval oriental weapons from the medieval oriental tools collection. The collections are just different ways to categorize and organize all existing entries, so there could be overlapping entries if many collections are chosen. However, this is okay, and should not cause any problems.

The selected collections and/or individual entries in the game will remember where they come from, and if they are updated, a collection will add new entries that have been added to the source collection, or schedule entries for removal from the game if they no longer are in any collection. Entries can be immediately removed from the game (all curved daggers of extreme damage disappear), replaced with another item type recommended by the collection or specified by the admin (substituted by normal daggers), or allowed to disappear naturally (no new curved daggers of extreme damage can be created). (Content repositories are explained in more detail later).

After this tool has been run, the game world is still empty, but it is now possible to create instances of things. As there are no characters yet, and the character creation module hasn't been properly configured yet, the only way to create instances of things is through special commands, if the user has the necessary rights to have items appear out of nowhere (the admin user would have these rights by default).