[MUD-Dev] Nation of shopkeepers

Matt Chatterley root at mpc.dyn.ml.org
Tue Aug 5 07:57:50 New Zealand Standard Time 1997


On Mon, 4 Aug 1997, Marian Griffith wrote:

> On Sun 03 Aug, Matt Chatterley wrote:
> > On Sun, 3 Aug 1997, Marian Griffith wrote:
> 
> > Other game concepts that are abstract to the central. In my case, where
> > the central is 'acquire power', an abstract concept might be to go on a
> > great conquest across one of the continents, crushing all the small
> > peasant villages underfoot, and building up a reputation as a great and
> > feared warlord. This does not in itself directly make you powerful
> > (although knowledge is power, and by implanting the knowledge of yourself
> > that you want in others, you can exercise some force over them).
> 
> *grin*  I can only hope you have enough continents to crush for all your
> players or there's going some major fights over who's going to smash the
> other continent into submission this time.

There are 6 continents, at least one major underground 'area', and one
underwater 'area', along with 6 alternate dimensions, and several
archipelagoes(sp?). One of the 6 continents is defined as being
'invincible' due to its special nature (it is not invincible, but you
would need so huge a force to actually scratch it in an attack, due to its
placement and content)..

I invisage parts of continents being taken over by players as an
inevitability, and perhaps a small continent, eventually. If this ever
happens, the players will happily kill each other off, and reduce their
own power back to a point where they continent regains its own control. ;)

> More seriously though,  how do you measure power if it is that abstract?
> Or will you simply let the players decide for themselves and do you plan
> to not give them any predefined goal to reach?

There are two theoretical goals - the first is for the heroically inclined
(and pretty much excluded if you succumb to the lure of
political/financial powers and join the ranks of the nobility), therein, a
quest to gain powers (for good or evil, or more likely just plain ole
yourself) from the 'gods', and become a demi-'god' somewhat like Hercules
was born into being. The idea at the moment is to make this a chain of
questlike events, involving more than one player, and a substantial amount
of play. Of course, even completing this would not mean you have won -
just that the 'level' of gameplay for you, and the skew, would change.

The other real goal is to amass power over people (both real and not), by
financial, political, and militant means.

The only real measurement here is what others think of you - your
reputation. This can be local and global (for instance you may be
notorious in one village but nearly unknown in the next), and positive or
negative. Also large or small. Thus I suppose the aim in every players
sights is to have a large and global, good or evil (depending) reputation,
and they will have to play suitably to get it. If you pride yourself on
being a cruel, evil warlord, saving a child from a pack of wolves won't do
your reputation much good in that respect!
 
> > > True. Acquiring more money isn't going to make an interesting game. Just
> > > as acquiring more experience points or more equipment  is not fun in the
> > > long run on on traditional muds.  At some point you have reached a prac-
> > > tical limit and then getting more is just the same old.
> 
> > Right. I think a key concept is that of providing dynamic goals, for
> > instance: The conquest example above.
> 
> > You run on a mighty conquest with your army of 10000 men, smashing a whole
> > continent into submission. Not much more you can do there, but, its not
> > the only continent in the world. If you appear to pose a significant
> > threat to other great powers, they will come looking for you, and you have
> > a constant battle of both political and physical implications to juggle.
> 
> I would strongly recommend on making those other powers to be the other
> players. And also make sure that nobody will ever be able to become all
> powerfull. Or even remotely near that point.

Initially the other powers will be NPC, although I have no doubt that
later they will be PC. Introducing hostile NPC forces from many places to
even up the score is very feasible - for instance, a large NPC force from
a place the PCs have not yet been to splat.
 
> > > A better system would require you to risk you money  in order to be able
> > > to keep it. I.e. a farmer must invest most of her money in seeds and can
> > > only hope that, come harvest,  there is enough to pay all debts and then
> > > have some left to safe. Shops run much in the same way, they must invest
> > > in getting stocks and then sell them at enough of a profit.
> 
> > Yes. This doesn't work the way many muds handle things, of course. A large
> > problem with money in a reasonable medieval theme: Where the heck do you
> > put it that its safe?
> 
> If  things are running as they should  most of the money is put into the
> ground as seeds/crops or is on the shelves of your shop. Or in the pock-
> ets of your guards. Money shouldn't be amassed. It should be put to work

Aha! A sensible view on keeping money safe! The common answer is "in a big
room with lots of guards" and the retort "what if the would-be thieves
have more guards?" - before you know it, the scale of the scenario
escalates to a war.
 
> > > The big problem I see here is that this alone isn't going to spark inte-
> > > rest in players.  The system must either be as varied as the combat  (or
> > > better still: more varied),  or it must be a minor sideline to the game.
> 
> > You can begin to decentralize combat very nicely by continuing along these
> > lines. Or at least, personal combat. Who would put his own neck at risk if
> > he can pay someone to do it for him?
> 
> Well. That's exactly the take I would like to see in a next development of
> muds. Rather than a simplistic killing spree have a game world were every-
> body can be what he or she wants to be. Without the need to also be an ex-
> pert fighter. As a merchant you hire guards or you simply hope that you'll
> not run into brigands.  As a guard you keep drunks out of taverns, keep an
> eye out for thieves and muggers and spend part of your daily prayers kind-
> ly requesting that the city council not get themselves entangled in a war.

Ayurp. While it will be possible to go adventuring (and thats a key point
by the way - adventuring, not killing), and that will be the central focus
of many players, other things are available. Adventuring ceases to be a
target if you start massing armies for conquest, and also if you decide to
settle into a career. It is still fully possible to grow and develop in
the game - for instance, a druid might dedicate his playing time to mixing
potions and experimenting with herblore.
 
> > It really depends. You can have enough, and you can have too much - back
> > to my conquest example.
> 
> > If you take over a small country (say.. scotland), and stop there,
> > neighboring countries may bristle lots (say.. england & wales), but may
> > not take direct action against you. Other major powers (for instance, the
> > army of elves that completely hold a huge nearby continent) will probably
> > have relatively little interest on you. If you go on to take England too,
> > those Elves are going to start watching.. eventually they'll act, and you
> > could lose everything.
> 
> Ok. You have convinced me that it could very well work. I guess I was
> put on the wrong track with those numbers Brandon used.

Explaining numbers with numbers can be dangerous - you can easily lose
non-mathematicians along the way. I think the above example is good for
expressing the point that you can have a medium between "none" and "lots"
which is more desirable than either.
 
> > > *grin* Economy need not to be boring.  Mud economies are boring because
> > > they're the strongest example of an inflatory economy ever modelled. At
> > > a larger scale economies can be very interesting.  That's why there are
> > > computer games that are nothing more than economic models.  The players
> > > have to balance resources.  Pure growth is discouraged  by creating un-
> > > wanted side effects.  These side effects can then be reduced,  but this
> > > means resources will be used for that instead of for growth.
> 
> > Mud economies are typically boring because they are entirely too shallow,
> > and use simple economical concepts without bringing more interesting
> > elements (social and political) into play.
> 
> Of course mud economies don't deserve to be named economy. There's nothing
> remotely resembling an economy in them.  There's just an endless supply of
> resources (scavenged equipment) paired with an endless demand (shops). The
> result is predictable: rampant inflation. This completely skews the notion
> of prices (which end up being ridiculous out of scale)  and several poten-
> tially interesting game concepts, like food, become totally irrelevant.

Yup! See Adam W (I think?)'s very recent post about interactive trading
and resource exchanges between two shopkeepers. :)

Regards,
	-Matt Chatterley
	http://user.itl.net/~neddy/index.html
"Speak softly and carry a big stick." -Theodore Roosevelt





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