[MUD-Dev] Re: Levels (was: Administrative notes)

Adam Wiggins nightfall at inficad.com
Thu May 15 08:47:34 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> It's not just a betterment. It is also a short term goal. Most players
> play only for short periods at a time. They prefer simple goals that they
> can work towards in that time. That's why many players play for those
> 'only 124560 points to level' and less play for 'only 5 more levels for that
> nifty annihilate spell'. And even less play to actually reach imm levels.
> If you hide levels there's only a long term goal left, and a fairly invisible
> goal of skill betterment. Unless you put in another short term goal you may
> find it hard to attract players (they will consider the game 'hard to get
> into' and leave for more simplific muds).

Yup.  This is one thing we've thought a lot about - how do you match the
simplicity of a mud where you log on, type 'score', and see 'You need 15
experience to reach level 2.'  There's a simple goal that is easily
recognizable by anyone, that makes it possible to start playing the game
right away.  This, IMO, is the main advantage of levels and experience.
It provides something a bit more tangible for players.
I logged onto a stock mud once, a while back.  The help files were nearly
non-existant, but I did manage to glean that you gained levels by solving
quests of some sort.  I managed to solve a simple quest within around
twenty minutes, and received the message, "You must be level two before you
can gain experience from quests."  Uhhh...welllll...how do I reach level two?
After spending another twenty or so minutes trying to search the help files
for info on this, and getting non-informative replies from the few other
players that were online, I quit.  It looked interesting, but if someone
who is an experience mud player can't figure out what to do within the first
fourty minutes, how are normal players supposed to be able to get into it?
We even considered having making our newbie flag (which defaults to on, later
on you can learn how to toggle it off) causing random messages like
'You receive x experience' to appear, just to try to keep from scaring people
away :)
At any rate, I guess my point here is not that muds should stick to
experience and levels, but that you need to show players immediately what
they can do, what's fun about your game...give them short-term goals to
get them involved.  This seems to be overlooked, mostly I think because
it's just assumed that if you log on to codebase X you'll know what you're
supposed to do there - after all, it's just like every other Xmud.

> > As far as risk is involved, the main reason I consider a game worth
> > playing is if I have a chance at loosing.  If there is no risk of loosing,
> > where is the fun?
> Depends on what you call 'the game'. If it's about winning then there must
> also be a way to lose. If it's about playing this isn't necessarily true.

This is why I tend not to think of muds as being games.  There isn't
any goal-state, ie 'beating' the game.  Although there are goals for
specific characters at specific times, there's no victory state.  It's
just a big world with a bunch of people and things and places, between
which events occur.

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