Level abstractions / Game realism issues

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Fri Jul 11 08:15:59 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

JCL (7th July) 
>    at 02:35 PM, Matt Chatterley <root at mpc.dyn.ml.org> said:
> >> On Fri, 4 Jul 1997 clawrenc at cup.hp.com wrote:

> >I love the way that all the best mud designers (on all levels - from
> >server level coders to area builders) are really evil b*stards. :)
> I think part of it has to do with the component definition of a game. 
> Games consist of goals, barriers, and freedoms (things you can do). 
> The trick is to get that trio in balance.  Too many barriers and the
> goals seem unobtainable.  Too few and its a cake-walk.  Ditto for
> freedoms -- there's little challenge in defeating the red dragin when
> any player can pogram up a 50,000,000hp wet noodle and hamburgher it
> in 3 seconds.  Make the goals to abtruse or remote (another form of
> barrier), and the players get lost, and unsettled.

Its undoubtedly connected to this. Creating an area (where area == a set
of rooms, and their contents) can be very easy - but the results are
probably not very good! If it takes some time, and at least a moderate
amount of thought, it'll probably be much better. There are of course
exceptions. Not many in this case.
> Where the "evil" aspect comes in is in making these components
> interesting in their own right.  Its not a question of pretty graphics
> or huge bouncing bazooms in the slave pits, but of one of two things:

Heh. Perhaps its more 'cruel' than 'evil'.
>   1) Making the components seem personally directed at and tailored to
> the player.  Of a sudden it then becomes potentially fascinating,
> "This game is out to get *me*, directly."

Yeah, this also ties in somewhat to the 'conspiracy' style TV shows which
have become so popular recently - they tie into the viewer, and the good
ones occasionally make you wonder 'What if this *were* real? Boy, thats
scarey.' One or two episodes of the X-Files achieved this, although of
late the show seems to have derailed (series finale this weekend). When
the whole world seems to be out to get you in a game context, things can
be very much fun, but also quite terrifying. Great ideas for plots here,
but OTOH, it can be overdone.
>   2) Making the components only reveal themselves to the players
> *after* they are already involved and (partially) committed to them. 
> I think of this one as the "hook" method.  You can hook them before or
> after thay are too far committed to back out -- that's a choice
> dependant on the item and game requirements.  They key is that they're
> already there, they've been bit, and now its time to sketch out just
> enough details to force them to try and paint the rest of the picture
> (think syncopation) for themselves.  

Yup! I intend to apply this to a few situations where it really fits - for
instance, you may refuse to go on a quest for a king (more of a boon), but
later your situation may place you in the circumstances of having to go on
that quest for a different reason - perhaps with a different objective,
which you require to complete the boon for.

Example of this in action, is Michael Moorcock's 'The sword of the dawn'.
While I would pick holes in his writing style, he has an excellent grasp
of what makes a good plot, and his stuff is gripping. Basically in this
book, our much maligned hero is told to retrieve the magic sword <Tm> but
tries to get away from the quests he seems to be forced into altogether.
The end result is that he gets caputured by pirates, rescued, and then his
rescuer is taken hostage by the pirates, his honour forcing him to go to
the rescue in turn. In due course, he finds himself outnumbered, and in
the same room as said magic sword, which is to be his only salvation.

> >Yeah - I read the stuff you posted recently on this. It seems a
> >goodly way to approach things given the sort of way you seem to
> >intend on going about things - I like it.
> Urrgggh.  "The way I seem to intend to go about things"?  Whazzat? 
> I'm usually not all that sure.

<g> I was trying to generalise. ;) Basically your overall approach to most
game issues. Although nothing is ever perfect, you've got some great
schemes running. :)

	-Matt Chatterley
"He can't stop us, we're on a mission from Glod!" - Soul Music (Pratchett)

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