So, a different thread than my normal blood related previous threads. Time to touch on a topic that most MMO's fail to embrace.
Let's take a look at the game setting. We're at Lake Tahoe, It's 2012, Hell broke loose..Lots of things got wiped out..Lots of people died. The survivors of the ordeal are now divided up and seperated by the expansive wasteland.
People begin to bond together and form "tribes".
I'm pretty sure this have been been brought up in another thread (I cant seem to spot which one though) and i've decided to repost and expand on it.
The gameplay area is vast. It seemingly takes an age to cross only a fracation of it on foot. Right now in Beta we only have a handful of citizens. Global chat is Disabled. Local/Regional chat is available, so at least we can call out to see who's online.
Everyone can communicate easily and without hassle within a certain proximity to others, and the availability of third party communication tools makes the process a hell of a lot easier.
So why dont we add something a little "fun"?
I think the title pretty much says it. A language used by a tribe.
Languages are diverse across the world, from english to german and arabic to cantonese. Even in small sections of the world languages are diverse. Take a look at India for instance.
India has 22 National Languages and 844 different Dialects. Now that is a hell of a lot. India is fairly large so we'll jump to a smaller example. Papua New Guinea has an overall collection of 820 Languages, but for the sake of simplicity the government have selected three as official languages.
Now thats fairly shocking.
Anyway, to the point. Lets start out with the beginning when you first login. Your more than likely to be alone and stuck along the shores of the lake or deep in a forest high up in the surrounding mountains. You dont know any languages, except maybe the baby babble of "blurghh coo hoo"..if you get my drift. So after making your first campfire, your first small tent and killed your first deer for food you finally come across another traveller.
They run over to you and they begin to speak..do you understand what they are saying? NO.
DigbyCaesar: Neeya feta moo!
Why? Because you havent learned their language yet....or maybe, they dont know a language themselves (I'll get around to the latter statement and how you can communicate alternatively a bit later). How do you learn their language? Well, there should be 2 ways. You could follow them around for a while and if they're not socially inept and proceed to keep talking you'll eventually start picking up words that form into something correctly. Alternatively, they could teach you via a skill (most likely in the box along with terraforming, foraging etc).
DigbyCaesar: net untenebtu u noot i met CRAP nety ooto met nitela.
CRAP would be the word you would understand. It works on a progression bar basis, right from Unknown <No Words Understood> to Inept <A few words>, to Novice <Quite a few words understood>, onto Master <Most words understood> and ending with Fluent/Native <Can understand the language completely>. The process shouldnt be expansively long but not too simple or short to learn the language.
Progress and the list of languages known should be shown in the Social Tab, Languages can be selected to communicate in: i.e Choose Patswani and type as Normal. If a language is not labelled as your Native language and is barely used, the level will decay over time, requiring you to re-learn it..even if your Fluent.
If your being taught by someone, both characters should remain static or otherwise the "session" is halted. Learning to an inept level should only take roughly about 10 minutes, anything more should require a larger amount of time. Thats the basis, now how to implement.
On Tribe Creation
Aswell as claiming a Territory, Setting up a Totem and naming your Spot you should also be presented with a box that states "Native Language". You can input the name of your language and voila a new complete language thats unique to your Clan. The first members of the tribe learn this language automatically to a Native level and afterwards newer additions to the group will either have to be taught or spend a good amount of time around you. Language creation should be optional and can be skipped and the group can choose a known language or use multiple known languages to communicate.
Overtime you may see tribes forming and using known popular languages. Languages have a tendency to be influenced by larger neighbors. Belgium is heavily influenced by French, Dutch and German. One side of Xsyon could end up using a completely different language to the other side or the whole of Xsyon could end up using one language altogether.
Example: Tribe A settles on the west side of the lake and becomes a major faction in that region.
Tribe B lives on the south side of the lake. They are a smaller, not as powerful tribe. They frequently Trade with Tribe A.
Tribe B has their own language but due to their frequent communications and trade with Tribe A, they adopt Tribe A's language as a second official language.
Languages are important. They can enhance roleplay in this game vastly opening up the possibility for multi-lingual traders, diplomats etc. It can become crucial in tribal talks, spying, general diplomacy, war. Multi-lingual characters can become a key valuable member of a tribe, rather than that blacksmith you can throw to the pigs when you find someone who can produce better quality goods.
Now, Didnt i say something about if your communicating with someone who didnt know a language Alternatively?.
The Importance of Gestures
We've all played around with them at some point. From the praying gesture to the one where you shove your middle finger up at someone. But really..they can play a big role when you cant communicate with someone. Body language in real life is processed subconsciously and if your good at noticing it, it can tell you a lot about someone. Across the ages Body Language has played a vital role in communication and even now it's used almost all of the time, from the waving of the hello and goodbye to the shrug when you dont have an idea about a proposed question.
Gestures should be expanded. Right now, one of the most useful gestures i use is the raising of the arms and the "Hoo Hoo" sound. I use it to alert someone to my presence, usually from a medium to long distance. If they can hear it, they look around and eventually see me..often replying back with the same thing before we engage closer to communicate. It's a hello gesture of sorts.
I feel whats needed (especially if you cant understand what someone is saying) is an expanded or modified set of gestures. We already have some, but often i feel they have the wrong sounding.
Sure, the often musical and odds sounds are fun but they dont seem to fit with the important gestures. Replacing the sounds of ones such as Hello, Come here, Go away, Stay with a small voice clip (i guess something like "Simlish" works) makes them more effective and noticeable.
Adding in more slightly advanced ones such as Go there (A pointing animation), Kill that thing (Pointing but with a hand stabbing animation after), I'm hungry/thirsty (Rub Belly/Imitate a drinking motion), I'm hurt (Not sure how this can be presented) and even adding in more combat orientated call out gestures such as an Alert (A "Hooo Whoop Whoop" Sound) and even a Battle Cry ("Rargh"..Just really loud) can all add up to an effective communication system..and sometimes, they can be more effective in stealthy situations (take the modern example: http://www.imagepoop.com/image/702/C...d-Signals.html)(OKAY I WAS JOKING ABOUT THAT ONE, but still you should get the point).
I think this is it for my basic summary. This really all adds up to adding a massive factor to immersion..something not everyone enjoys, but Languages and general gesture use are a concept not really embraced my most MMO developers these days. Only 1 or 2 MMO's actually contain Languages, Check out Starquest Online as a slight example.
Additional Note: I do apologise if these suggestions are a tad vague, i was kind've tired whilst writing it and i've really never done large forum posts. I'd be happy to answer any questions and as usual guys all suggestions are welcome.