Week 0: Getting Started

Welcome to the development blog for Oaqn, a web game about trading in a dynamic world.

I (Peter Harkins), with Jim Gadrow and Luke Hustscal, am writing a browser-based online game in a few hours per week. We’re going to work on similar topics and critique each others’ games. I can’t speak for them, but I’m going to try to develop out load, blogging, tweeting and otherwise publishing the steps along the way. Our goal for this week was to choose a domain name, set up a blog, and write about our games. [Edit: See So Play We All for full info.]

So let me talk a little about what Oaqn will be.

Inspired by Marco Polo, the 14th century world traveler and diplomat, the players in Oaqn each control a trade caravan in a large, complex world. Each player can choose what goods they want to stock and set out into the world. Cities can grow and shrink, be annexed by neighboring countries, be destroyed. The government officials that players meet and undertake quests for will rise and fall in their local power structures, and they’ll have long memories for players who help or harm them.

Players will give orders to their caravan and can return hours or days later to see their caravan crossing the world, exploring to create maps, or crafting fine goods from their raw materials. Using a modified version of the FleetingFantasy renderer by Andrew J. Baker, players will have a lush third-person view of the living world without having to hassle with any browser plugins or downloads.

Week 0 Accomplishments

In the two-hour budget for this week, I:


Rather than go on about the game and make promises I may not keep, let me paste in my design notes. None of this is set in stone, but I figured I’d share an early draft:


Player owned. Stock goods, travel 10m-3d across to markets
Caravans carry low numbers of luxury goods, not bulk raw materials
Inventory Tetris
May charge up some distance while waiting for offline player?


Terrain: add new islands/continents as needed – drifting world?
Cities grow and shrink, appear and disappear
Grow when players do quests, bring goods for upgrades
when players fail to maintain by completing quests
b/c it’s too expensive to operate in the city (see guilds)
due to taxes, upkeep, access fees, competition


Craft down a deep (8-12 level) tree by combining
Quests are both a sink and a faucet for goods
Cities harvest goods with local variation
Cities: players/guilds can upgrade production, but free rider problem
Triple Town to craft?
Goods can be deconstructed lossily to their components


Want live time with other players


Internal market with lower prices for member goods
Visibility into prices from any guildie’s last visit to a place
Build an outpost for live prices, more?
Output upkeep based on city size, give guilds incentive to move
Some kind of stock markets for betting on successful guilds?
Maybe a guild can issue its own currency?
Guildies collaborate between cities, build quests by NPC negotiating


NPCs are PCG, will go up and down in status and remember players
Generation tied to where players aren’t to help spread them out
Maybe public quests you can bid to win (big sink)
Quests do not wait infinitely to be completed, can be failed
carry goods
carry quest items: memorabilia, letters
obtain goods
carry passengers
nethack conduct


Mostly required to go places
Players can explore slowly
Characters can very slowly learn a route by heart?
Copying a map cheaper but less accurate than drafting anew
Alternate maps to avoid tolls, customs, border closings, terrain
Map is weighted graph, villages are points
Cities changing too much can break map waypoints
Players with invalid maps must stop, reevaluate, buy new or explore
Guildies will tell you if map is out of date
High-level extremely difficult qusets to alter terrain


Carry culture between cities, flip their allegiance between nations
This is the highest-level guild content, the raiding
Opens incredible new opportunities for trading

Character progression

Players have skills, start with 0 pts in each, max is 5 or 10
Class gives +1 to 2-3 skills (even over the regular cap)
Player class is inconvenient but not painful to change
Surveying: speed of map creation, quality, copying
Exploration: speed, breadth
Negotiation: lower prices
Navigation: speed of travel
Logistics: carry more? use less resources?
Charm: NPC opinion
Leadership: Caravan size cap
Craft: speed, consumption, or cheaper deconstruction? per-good type?
Diplomacy: cultural transfer


  1. So Play We All - Push cx - May 25, 2011

    […] name, set up a blog, and write a blog post describing out game. Here’s my blog post about Oaqn, a game about trading. Please vote for it on bbgz if you’re on the […]

  2. Peter won, but I’m not bitter « Fantasy Adventure (So Play We All) - May 28, 2011

    […] underway, and it looks like Peter was the obvious winner last week. I think that’s because his blog post had the most information about how his game was actually going to play inside of […]

  3. SPWA Week 0 Response: A Strong Start - Push cx - May 31, 2011

    […] required to respond to each other’s progress update. I’m going to be doing the Oaqn progress updates on that blog but the feedback here, mostly to keep that blog […]

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    […] travel cost to various cities or know how to add it to the UI, and as I write this I remember my game design notes include planning navigation by routes, so I think I’ll move that off to its own page rather […]

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