The easiest way to describe the Engagement system in The Repopulation is as a Random and Mutating Public Quest. Engagements occur randomly throughout the world, and depending on how players respond to them they can mutate and spread. Engagements can change the entire content of an area, for better or for worse.
For those unfamiliar with Public Quests, here is a brief overview of that mechanic. Public Quests are shared by all players in an area, at least by those of the appropriate faction. There are objectives, and anyone who contributes to completing those objectives is eligible for a reward upon completion. The level of their contribution affects their chances and quality of loot. Public Quests have been a successful mechanic in several titles, originating with Warhammer Online but also being found in Champions Online, Everquest 2 and Rift. The key advantage of Public Quests is that they encourage teamwork and make it easy for players to meet and cooperate with one another.
So how do our engagements differ from Public Quests? Let's take a look.
Public Quests commonly occurred in static locations and repeated shortly after the previous incarnation of them was complete. Engagements in The Repopulation spawn randomly throughout the world and use any number of different templates. This causes content to mutate and change over time based on elements within and outside of the player's control.
Engagement templates can specify a complex chain of stages. Each stage can end when certain specifications are met, or after a period of time. Depending on how an Engagement ended it can progress to a different stage and it can also spread to other nearby Engagement nodes. Those child nodes can in turn continue to spread to children of their own.
To give a functional example of a spreading Engagement we can take a look at the system in the Aemar Mine. Under normal circumstances the mine is filled with standard mission opportunities related to its operations. But there are any number of events that can occur randomly and alter the complex entirely.
One of those scenarios is an invasion by the Lesoo. They will invade through the first floor and if they are not stopped they will barricade themselves in and then begin spreading to the lower levels, one at a time. While a level is occupied by the Lesoo, there will be new mission opportunities, though the old ones are currently defunct until the invaders can be cleared and operations can be restored. This includes new bosses and mini-bosses that grow in power the longer they have occupied the area.
This is just one of several scenarios that can occur in the mines and each alters the mine in one way or another while it is in effect.
As Engagements spread, they can completely change the environment of an area. This includes appearances, NPCs, and missions. NPCs can set up permanent camps or defenses that will remain until they are stopped.
Our hope is the Engagement system will prevent content from becoming stale by providing an ever-changing world where the player's actions really do matter.