[MUD-Dev] Graphic MUDS/Ultima Online

clawrenc at cup.hp.com clawrenc at cup.hp.com
Tue Aug 12 16:15:58 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

In < at mail.tenetwork.com>, on 08/05/97 
   at 07:36 PM, Jeff Kesselman <jeffk at tenetwork.com> said:

>At 07:17 PM 8/5/97 PST8PDT, you wrote:

>Plot elements can also be considered a respource, as can puzzle
>answers and such.  Ultimately there is a general type of resource
>caslled "information".


>Unfrotunately players share info way to ofreely as a rule... for
>example the Guttenburg Project at the UO vault that already has the
>text of every book you gusy ptu into the game...

>How do you prevent or control the cheapening of such info resources??

There are several parts to this problem:

  Exact solutions -- To get by the Demon Wroth do X, Y and Z as
follows and yada yada.  I consider these signs of greviously poor game
design.  That's the sort of bumph I expect in  single player Infocom
games, its not suited at all to MP games.

  Character solutions -- To get by the Demon Wroth you're going to
have to either scare it away from the drawbridge, or lure it away.  So
far the DW seems to be attracted to curvaceous virgins in too-small
bikinis from the local villages, and somewhat scared of Cerebus.  I've
managed to get by him twice with the bimbos (got killed three more
times trying that same trick tho), and just got past him again getting
Cerbus to chase me and then running straight at DW.  Of Cerebus keeps
catching me just the other side of the drawbridge which is another

In an MP environment rote solutions to problems, puzzles are a flim
flam game.  They're not worth the effort to code.  Its somewhat like
relying on a a maze to make getting somehwere difficult and assuming
that no player will map the maze and then pass on his maps.  

  Another part could be called, "secrets".  The classic example is
perhaps the various World of Darkness MUSHes where, properly done,
nobody who is not a vampire has any idea that vampires even exist. 
Secrets in games are useful.  They can provide a sense of pacing and
drama.  They allow for the carefully crafted "Ahh ha!" reaction, and
the sudden flash of insight.  

Simple example:  The underworld is ruled  by the streetsweeper who
wanders about the one of the main cities of the land, innocuously
chatting with the inhabitants, picking up trash, and generally acting
the harmless old fogey.  Broadly disseminating this fact destroys some
of the mystery implicit in the world construct.  Played properly
players would only find this particular fact out thru incredible
insight (more kudos to them!), or after significant investigation and
play, which process would have already immersed them in the world and
given them a stake.  Newbie players would have no idea -- there is no
evidence the streetsweeper is anything but a harmless old fool.

I have no idea how to protect this sort of information.  I do however
think it can be done.  The change that seems to be required is to
alter the game structure where the fact that the streetsweeper is
really the lord of the underworld is both meaningless and valueless to
those who don't have the experience and world knowledge to evaluate
that data.  Its then just an, "Oh, yeah," thing.  The real bindings
and *real* interest comes in later when the investigation of the world
is already far advanced and the key points are, "What does the fact
taht the fogey is the Lord of The Underworld mean?", "What can he
really do?", and "What is he really doing?  Is he really as harmless
as he looks on the surface?".  

Now the secret data is not the actual datum, but the relation of that
datum to other data.  I have played games where that distinction was
accomplished.  I knew all the base answers up front and yet still had
the sense of suspense and insight flash on upon finding data
*relations* when I played.

Wish I could give more on this one.

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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