When answering the poll about San Mara, I found neither answer satisfying -- I don't think San Mara needs a coded transportation solution, because there are plenty of PCs to help you find the way and it's not that hard to get to, but I do think that the game would benefit from more people being out there, and in the Badlands generally. (So for reference, I voted 'no' on the poll, but my reasons are different -- I don't want it to stay isolated, but I don't think coded transportation will fix that.)
I think Reefer asked really good question in his necro thread, so I'm reposting them here -- my sense is that the bottom of a years old ideas post may get the discussion lost, and I think it's a ripe time to have it.
1. What gets people into the Badlands?
2. What kind of automation or player hooks could get more players out there?
3. Why aren't you going out there now?
I think right now, people go to the Badlands to explore -- but they don't stay because there's a lack of reasons to do so. I'm generally pro-automation, so I think recurring business in the badlands would give players a reason to be out there. Two sorts of relatively easy-to-implement kinds of business suggest themselves to me:
1. Badlands NPCs who want Dome resources without needing a puppet-request. If NPCs in Mara or elsewhere bought candy or Dome food or some other consumable resource, there would be a reason for people to make the trip regularly. Items that I think would make good IC sense to be in demand might include: candy, six-packs of lager, and Ebola Cola -- especially if the prices they pay are 'Mara prices', a little inflated over Dome prices. I think that would encourage a lot more PCs to check Mara once or twice a week, but it wouldn't get out of hand because of the income cap -- and in turn it might cause 'face' or 'dealer' PCs to bring newer PCs with them to Mara, which tends to be a way immies get connections with more established PCs. Mildly more complicated (but still worthwhile) might be Badlands NPCs who purchase fuel in places that aren't Mara. Additionally, if Mara or elsewhere has a 'finder' character or two -- like those characters in the Dome that are always asking for specific item -- that would provide more diverse needs.
2. Resources in the Badlands wanted into the Dome. This could be as elaborate as a whole new scavenging system or as simple as there being a demand for Giant Scorpion corpses, or the corpses of a wider variety of new badlands creatures. This is more or less 'Badlands crate running', so the payouts shouldn't be super high, though higher probably than the Dome because of gate fees. (More on that below.) One thing that might be relatively easy to add would be some Badlands traders who have crates to run into the Dome, not based in Mara. These would essentially be crate-giver characters with crates that have a high payout that 'wander' like many NPCs do across the badlands; the crates all have a destination of Acme (or Olga's or some other ICly appropriate location), but the trick is in finding one of the two or three wandering traders. We already have crate-giving systems and 'wandering NPCs', and combining the two might encourage exploration RP outside the Dome.
Some corollary thoughts to these two ideas:
- Mara NPCs who buy resources from the rest of the badlands (corpses, 'trader crates', whatever) give people some reasons to stay out there. More reasons = more people = more RP.
- The badlands could stand to be a little more dangerous. We don't need a Dune Dragon every third room, but they are a little empty. They could use some more relatively trivial threats, things that will make PCs want to travel in small groups, especially if they aren't combatants. I'm thinking something in the dangerousness realm of a cat or a TERRA agent -- not a reinforcement-calling gang fight, but enough to be dangerous to new characters or non-combatants, at least for a while.
In my heart of hearts, I'd like there to be more cool places to explore out there, but I think that's an investment in builder time that isn't worth it until more people are playing out there. Instead, I think we'd get the most 'bang for our buck' by adding some of the automated systems we have in the game to select Badlands locations; once people are out there, they'll start scheming against each other and the game will handle some of its own problems. Additionally, once it's established that there are people out there playing it will be easier to see where more intensive staff work would benefit the game.