This project will involve coding a system that multiple users can go to a site, and without any downloads, or modifications to their computer, chat and interact in an environment that is both easy to use and feature rich. For example, the site will offer the user a home. When the user signs up, (for free), (s)he will het a small cabin, or apartment, and be able to decorate it (add little icons and pictures, and colors which are supplied by the site, or, upon admin approval, be uploaded for a custom look) the way they like. They will have an "inventory" in this "world", and upon sign up, will get a key (for their home), some money (the currency will be credits), say around 1000. The user will earn more credits by chatting. An algorithm will not only count the words, but will maybe be able to see if a user is always HELPFUL for example. Or it will see that all they do is go into a room and type long words (cheat), and will flag them, and not pay them as much.
The user will also have "stats". At signup, they will get X points to spend on STRength, DEXterity, INTelligence and maybe more. These will be used to do things in the world. For example, a user might want to MOVE something, and will have to go out and find a person with high STR to help them, and offer them credits. Users will also be able to make things to trade and sell, and be able to set up businesses and services. The site will be ran by 4 levels of operators. A "HELPER" will be in charge of a small village and have limited powers, while a "OVERSEER" will be in charge of a larger area, maybe a "state", and have a few more powers. An "ADMINISTRATOR" will be in charge of a wider area, like a country, and have almost all powers and commands available, and the site's owner(s) will be called a "PROVIDER".
The world will have an interface that *MUST* be as user friendly and smooth flowing as possible. The main "window" will have a box for the chat, and along the side(s), and top - will be all of the buttons that are shortcuts to commands, and the graphics. The way I see it working, a user would go outside, for example, and Maybe it is Tuesday, and raining. So the background would be a grey color, and maybe some kind of little rain icons and we could use little animated .GIF files to enrich the effect.
I should say at this point that any/all GRAPHICS design will be up to ME, my coder will only have to provide a way for me to impliment them, hopefully from an admin panel. Which brings me to what I have already.... I have found a software called "Joomla", and would be willing (If my coder thinks it will work / be easier, etc) use it as a front-end. If not, thats fine too. It might only serve to complicate the mission, I am not sure.
As far as customization, I would want to be able to add things later, and be able to do it in a modular way. For example, to use "farms" again, Lets say I want to add a supermarket to a growing town.. I think it would be easier to code AND easier for me, if it were a module that I could define paramaters, and simply add the files to a directory, add it to the program as a module (and configure it), and it would go online. Doing it this way would (I think) vastly minimize the work the coder would have to do.. For example, again, once (s)he builds the code for a farm, we are done with farms. I can add them where I want, and remove them too.
The world would actually start out empty, and probably as some kind of numbered grid.. with coords. Example, Lets say we want to build the first town. We go to the provider panel, and select the coords, say 1000x5000. The first plot will be a farm. so we selct "place farm here". *plop* okay, there is your farm. Then we place a new city hall. select the coords - lets call it 1000x4500 .. *plop*. Here, the code would say, okay there is a farm within 500 "squares?" of this, so they are "connected" as part of this town. Then, A user signs in, and see's that there is a list of towns, but likes the sound of "testtown" and decides to start there. the program says, Ok! lets build them a small house in testtown. We will put it at 995x4800 .. *plop!* The user starts in his/her home, in testtown close to the farm and town hall. etc etc etc...
From the programming standpoint, it simply reads the database, and figgures out what goes where. with the module design, (I am assuming) it could do this only when someone moves and thus could do it quickly. When user 1 enters the same "square" as user 2, User 1 would see "User 1 is here", and user 2 would see "User 1 has entered the area". They could then talk. The only way to communicate with a user outside of your area is by phone (Which costs credits of course). Users will have a number assigned to them at start up, but it will be up to them if they want to pay a phone bill.
Everything a user does either costs or pays, and credits can be transfered as well as items, creating a virtual economy. The users will be able to interact, trade, and maybe even spar or fight in tournements. Users will be able to enhance themselves, by buying things like maybe special food, armor, weapons, etc etc. Whatever the programming limitations allow. Alot of this I will have to explain and think of as I become more aware of what is actually possible.
The software should also have built in functionality to include space for advertising. Banners and such will be the way the site fund's it's self along with (perhaps) users will be able to pay say $1 for some extra credits or other items, homes etc. so a paypal processor will be needed, but I think that should be simple to do (?) .. I think this will make for a great fun, dynamic world that users can have alot of fun with and something unique. If you think this can work, and you want to be a part of it, Please do! If it is a "undoable" project, please let me know that too..