[MUD-Dev] New Topic: Butthead features

clawrenc at cup.hp.com clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Tue Aug 12 10:32:58 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

In < at mail.tenetwork.com>, on 08/02/97 
   at 08:16 PM, Jeff Kesselman <jeffk at tenetwork.com> said:

>I thougth i stir the pot with naother contentious issue.

This old war horse again?

>There is a philisophpical/practical issue in the inclusion in your
>MUD of "butthead" features. What I mean b ythsi are features that
>allow a pure butthead to annoy (or worse seriously harm) other
>players jsut for the cheap pwoer tip of doign so.  We all knwo thes
>eperosnalities exist on tegh ent SO...

>How do you control them?

I don't.  I neither try to identify or handle it, nor consider I
should.  Buttheads are not only a defined part of the user spectrum,
but I think a necessary one.  I'm not interested in a fleece lined
valium overdosed everybody-is-on-prozac-we-gotta-be-nice-to-each-other
environment.  I'm also not attempting immersive RP.  Buttheads are
predators.  Some are stupid predators.  Some aren't.  A good system
selects against stupid predators.

>Do you just avoid features that could be so abused, or do you count
>on oither mechanisms to keep thsi behavior in chack and if so what
>agurantees do you have of success?

My general view is that features/facilities are there to be used.  If
their use is unacceptable in part or in whole, then the feature should
not be present.

>This coems to mind becaus ein my current projectw e are conciously
>avoiding butthead features.  Thatwb as our design decision. I see a
>rgeat many features existant in the current UOl so obviosuly the
>designers there took a differnet track..

I suspect a key part of the question here is that of viewpoint and

  1) Do you consider it your job as the Admin/Imm to protect your
users from buttheads?  

  2) Do you consider it your job as Amdin/Imm to provide facilities
for users to protect themselves from buttheads?

For me the answer to #1 is, "Hell no!".  For #2, it is, "Uhh, yeah,
sure."  My job is to ensure that the playing field is interesting, not
that it is level, fair, or politically/socially correct.

Possibly a more key question is:

  Do you consider it your job as Admin/Imm to ensure that your users
are never "upset" as a course of play?

FWLIW my reaction to this last one is, "Why ever wouild I want to do

>Some exampels of butthead features include..

>(1) PC pickpocketing of other PCs... always upsets people. 

No, it doesn't **ALWAYS** upset people.  Read the Palace/Habitat
documents I posted here again -- pstealing was a basic part of the
environment and economy.  Also spend some time playing games like
Shades, MUD2, etc where pstealing is an implicit and expected part of
the world.

>(2) Fixed tport points so that oterh can lay in wait and way-leigh 
>unsuspecting traverls befoe they can see whats up.

Again, this is both not a problem, and is unpreventable.  

Consider the case in the recent Bartle interview where he mentions the
players sitting by the falls waiting to give the next player the
brand.  Its a trap, a simple trap, but a trap.  Its both expectable,
and actually quite wonderful.  It requires basic if crude creativity
by a player to devise the trap, and simple ignorance to fall prey to
it.  Both parties get suitable rewards: One wins the EQ the victim was
carrying, and the other dies (remember, MUD2 is a perma-death game).

More simply you *can't* prevent this sort of occurance.  There will
always be bottlenecks in the paths travelled by characters, blind
corners, and opportunitues which can be taken advantage of.  Ambush
has a long and rich history -- don't expect to wipe that out by a few
twists of game design.  Its not going to happen.  

If you prevent direct player-to-player effects, then they'll figure
out indirect methods such as the brand trick above.  Maybe it won't be
a brand this time, but a cursed object, or a boulder rolled down a
path, or a dam broken at just the right moment, or a pit dug and
covered over, or *something*.  There are always ways.

What is actually interesting is devising a system such that the
opportunities for such traps, ambushes, and other advantage gainers
*are* present and of reasonably known scope (if not identified
specifically), but are not so populous that they drown the game (eg
they are more profitable and secure than other forms of game play),
and can, at least to some extent, be defended against.

The trick is not preventing the trap, but of making the possibility of
the trap interesting both to the wannabe ambusher, and to the possible

>(3) The ability to take control of OTHERS PCs and make them do things
>(The Provocation skill in UOL looks at first blush particuarly nasty
>in this regard.)

Then again I actively enncourage body stealing.

J C Lawrence                           Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                           Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------------(*)               Internet: clawrenc at cup.hp.com
...Honorary Member Clan McFUD -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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