It feels like my head has been buzzing with new ideas lately!
It may seem like I'm all over the place, talking about things then immediately moving on before doing what I said I would, but really these are all just various ideas for paths to one goal: I want to work out some way to make the site both fun and profitable.
I want to implement the Fig Coins as soon as possible, but I'll need to do some reading about how to actually get it working; I've never made an online shop before, and I need to make sure that it's secure. Most likely we'll have some 'beta phase' for a while where you can 'buy' coins without actually giving any money, to find any holes...
Anyway, I don't want the coins to be a mere 'add-on' feature. Instead, I want to revamp the site itself so then the coins are a deeply integrated aspect of how the site in general works... There are other reasons that I want to redo it, too, like simply being tired of the current layout and realising - from what I've read about online shop making so far - that my code and site structure aren't as elegant as they could be.
It's mainly 'behind the scenes' stuff that I need to improve on, and it's always better to start anew than to try to mould what's already here.
I know it's not been too long since the last renovation, but hopefully this will be the last one for a while.
I've been trying to think of other uses that the coins could have, and I've started developing an idea!
Some of you older members might remember the time when there was a little virtual pet thing up in the corner; a 'Figimon'.
I had great plans for this, but never really got anywhere with them since development of it was interrupted...
However, it would probably be a good idea to try to bring it back!
There are many possible paths that I could take with this.
Back when it was first added, the Figimon was basically just a clone of the Digimon virtual pets, the keychain ones, that some of you might remember. The pet needed feeding and training, and it aged a 'year' each day and died if you neglected it or it got too old. It evolved after it reached a certain age, and its form was based on how you'd looked after it.
I don't want to do that anymore, though; it's not something particularly engaging, probably.
So, of course, I've been thinking about what I could design it like instead.
I thought about those 'avatars' that some sites have (notably Gaia Online... though I've never actually been there), which you can dress using clothes that you've actually paid for. It seems to work; amazingly, some people do pay for these vanity objects because they want to show off or feel 'cool'. Or pretty!
As far as I'm aware, though, the avatars don't actually *do* anything, so it seemed a bit... uninteresting to me; not something I'd personally like.
It also raised some difficulties... What would the figimon look like? Would it have one form? Several different forms? Would it evolve? Would it be immortal? Would you buy hats, or heads? Could I take ideas from Chimaera to use for it? Why not call it a Monstrosity, then?
Anyway, I didn't much like that direction... But an idea struck me, which isn't really something I've seen done identically elsewhere and which squeezes my excitement glands a whole lot more firmly!
Perhaps, instead, I could copy the Pokemon formula somewhat?
I'm already going to do Beast Signer at some point, which is essentially a Pokemon clone, but I don't see why I should only do one of them...
Instead of each person having only one figimon which exists only as a static avatar to dress up, perhaps each person could have a collection of figimon, each of which would be a different species and which could evolve as Pokemon do?
Rather than feeding them or looking after them or anything, instead I could add genuine gameplay elements, like wandering into dungeons and battling with them to level them up... HMM.
With this idea, each figimon wouldn't really be very customised - if you got a 'Gruul', it'd look basically the same as anyone else's... probably - but the 'customisation' would come from the team that you'd gathered (as is the case in Pokemon).
I'd be able to sell individual rare 'Legendary' figimon for fig coins; I know how much people love legendaries and how much they'd want to show off such a trophy...
And speaking of trophies, another idea is that while this site would eventually get achievements which you could win from games - it seems like a must - some of those achievements *could be Figimon*.
So if you completed Alora Fane, for example, rather than just getting a flashy medal or T-shirt that said 'Completed Alora Fane', you'd get a figimon based on one of Alora Fane's in-game monsters, to train and battle with, so that your reward was 'useful' in some way.
I think that's an idea that could really work...
I know that people base their opinions of ideas based on assumed or imagined details; potential difficulties or frustrations that could arise... So I'll try to explain some of the details that I've come up with so far; bear in mind though that this is very much a brand new idea that surely needs more refining.
Perhaps if you had no figimon at all, you'd be able to go somewhere on the site and acquire one, free of charge... Or maybe there'd be a Figimon shop, where you could buy any that you wanted (at level 1) for varying numbers of Fig Coins. Some might cost hundreds, others only a handful; you might be able to acquire one for 10 coins, for example, meaning that people who'd just joined the site would have to wait a while to get one (this may be a bad idea; as I've said, this whole thing needs refining as an idea).
You'd also be able to go into dungeons (I'll mention this later), and capture wild figimon that were wandering around in the grass; or at least, capture their essence/DNA/code/whatever (described below). Perhaps you'd need an expendable item to do this, and perhaps they'd cost fig coins to buy? If that were the case, the items wouldn't fail like pokeballs do; they'd be guaranteed to succeed.
You'd also be able to win figimon as achievements, as I mentioned, from games on this site, such as Alora Fane, Raider, the New Deliverance, etc.
There'd be a Pokedex-like catalogue of all the figimon in existence, and a copy of this would perhaps be shown on every account page, under a tab just as the Personality and Performance stuff are currently.
Each person's Bestiary would show how many Figimon species they'd collected. Once you'd 'captured', bought, or won any Figimon, you'd acquire its 'DNA' or 'code' or something, which you could then use at some special 'Lab' part of the site to create for yourself a level 1 version of that Figimon.
So unlike Pokemon, where you'd go out and catch a level 70 Rayquaza or something, instead you'd merely acquire the 'essence' of things that you captured, allowing you to make a potentially infinite number of clones later. I think that this would ensure that money spent on any figimon felt more worth it; you'd be buying the 'cloning licence' for it, rather than an individual.
You'd have a limited number of slots for Figimon on your account; I'd need to prevent each member from having hundreds because the server just couldn't take it. So perhaps each person could have about five, and maybe you could buy more slots, to a maximum of twenty? Of course, it'd be unpleasant to lose your favourite figimon if you wanted to clone a new type, so I'd need to think more about this...
Each Figimon would have a level, which would increase by training it in dungeons (described below). Training would be a fairly lengthy process, so the level wouldn't grow very quickly.
Perhaps, instead of deleting or 'releasing' Figimon to free up space, you could 'sell' them, which would essentially convert them into a number of Fig coins based on their level?!
So a level 20 figimon would give you 20 coins and free up the space for another one to take its place...
This might lead to too much coin accumulation, though, so I'm not sure about it. I do want people to *buy* the coins, after all.
The gameplay would be fairly simple; simpler than any of my other games, but it'd be based on them in a way because I'd be doing what I already know how to do.
You'd control a human character to walk around tile-based dungeons; perhaps since the human is largely irrelevant (despite representing you) and wouldn't be seen by other people, there'd only be two variants; a male and a female, both fairly generic-looking. Allowing human avatar customisation would be overcomplicating things.
(I even imagined playing as your actual square 50x50 avatar, but that might look too weird, sliding around mazes without any animation... o_O)
Dungeons would be typical things like caves and forests, and each one would contain their own type of figimon that you could battle for experience, or capture.
Sites that are meant to be long-term attractions need to limit how much you can do in a day, in order to keep people coming back regularly; there should be no way to 'win' quickly by playing all day.
I'd follow this rule, so perhaps each figimon that you trained could only regenerate its HP at the end of each day, and there'd be no healing magic (there might be items, however, bought with fig coins). This would limit how much battling it could do each day. It'd probably need quite a bit of experience to level up, too...
Or perhaps I could give each one a 'stamina' stat or something which would decrease by 1 for every battle? I don't know.
Anyway, these dungeons would be added fairly regularly to the site, and they'd be located in various parts of the site rather than just in a menu somewhere; I'll explain this in a later section of this absolutely humongous post!
I don't mean the Figimon to turn into a proper game to replace Beast Signer (I still intend to make Beast Signer!), or to distract me from Alora Fane or MARDEK or whatever else. While it'll use the same techniques I use in my games, it'd be very much a simplification; there'd be no plot, perhaps no music, it'd lack other significant features of my other games... It's mainly the sort of thing that'd entertain you *between* the games I release; it'd keep people coming back, but wouldn't be the main attraction in itself, or something.
Of course, I'd try to make it entertaining enough, but don't expect something which requires clever strategising to win battles or something you could play all day or anything like that.
I may try to start on this soon, because as I imagine it, it wouldn't be too difficult to set up, and I want to redesign the site with it in mind...
Speaking of which...
When I've redone the site before - which has happened quite a few times - usually I just tweak parts of the layout, moving a menu here, adding a sidebar there, that kind of thing... The site stays mainly the same. But for ages, I've been trying to come up with an idea for a more interesting and unique layout for my site that might make merely visiting it an enjoyable experience.
And something has come to me, an idea for just that!
Again, this isn't an idea I've refined very well; it's more of a 'hey, THAT might be interesting...!' sort of thing rather than something I've written a 100-page word document about, planning it in detail...
It might not even work out, but if it could, it might be rather intriguing and might make the site more memorable.
I'd want to make navigating the site feel sort of like a game in itself...
Years ago, when I first started planning Fig Hunter Online in its earliest form, I wanted the game to use the whole site; the site would BE the game, in a way. While there'd be Flash-based aspects like dungeon romping, I imagined that you'd be able to visit different worlds by clicking on links, which would take you to different pages where you'd find new dungeons and shops and things, and the site's look would change accordingly; the template would stay the same, but the colours would reflect where you were, so the site would go green if you were on a forest world, red for a lava world, etc.
From as early as I can remember, I've been interested in sci-fi and the idea of multiple worlds, different planets to visit. I used to draw various alien races from the 'Draco System' when I was little; a whole collection of planets with vastly different environments...
This fascination remains with me, and it's that that's inspired a new layout. It's sort of hard to explain vividly though - it'd be useful if I could draw up some mock-up images - so maybe you'll get the wrong mental image... But I'll try to describe what I have in mind.
Rather than being made up of the boring menus that every site has, like it is now, the site would instead just show the dark-coloured top bar that exists currently (with your username and a link to your inbox and stuff), a footer like the one currently, the logo in the top left... and everything under that would be some big, black, starry void... Individual stars would be created by code, and amongst them, there'd be *planets*; basically little icons which you could click on.
Each planet would represent a page of the site (and it'd be labelled accordingly), like 'Blog', 'Games', 'Community', or whatever.
And interestingly, each planet could have *moons* orbiting it; for example, the 'Community' planet would have moons for 'Forum', 'Chat', 'Members', and so on. The moons would move in circular paths using code.
Though you'd only be able to fit a certain amount of space on the screen at once, there might be planets outside your view; to 'move', you'd hold your cursor near the edges of the screen or use the arrow keys. If any important planets were offscreen, some arrows with their labels would show at the edge of the screen to indicate the direction that you needed to move in.
I'd try to plan it so that everything important was easily seen without moving, but I could perhaps use some small planets as Figimon Dungeons and you'd have to search space manually to find them! o_O
Clicking a planet or moon wouldn't necessarily change to a new page; instead, a panel would appear over the top of the space screen; the page content would be loaded in here.
I'd need to come up with a way to make it easy to link people to specific pages of the site...
There'd also be a 'classic version' of the site available for people who didn't want to bother around with the planet icon things; it'd look very much like this version does, but it might be less interesting. I know I'd need to do it though because some people don't like the unfamiliar!!1
So yes, these are some ideas that I have been going over.
It seems like a time of big change for this site... It might look and work very different in a few months!
Sorry again for writing an immensely huge post! If you've read all this, then congratulations. Have a, uh... pat on the back. Or something.