[MUD-Dev] Graphic MUDS/Ultima Online

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user2.inficad.com
Wed Aug 13 20:33:44 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

> On Tue, 12 Aug 1997 clawrenc at cup.hp.com wrote:
> >    at 07:36 PM, Jeff Kesselman <jeffk at tenetwork.com> said:
> > >How do you prevent or control the cheapening of such info resources??
> > 
> > There are several parts to this problem:
> Its certainly not easy.

Well, sharing information is a *good* think - your world just needs to
be complex enough that knowledge of how one player plays the game
doesn't 'spoil' it for you and your own character.

> >   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.
> This dog has had its day, and its time for it to be put down - exact
> solutions are easily recordable and communicatable, making them valueless.

Not only that there shouldn't be exact answers written down somewhere,
but there is no such thing as an exact answer (see JC's example).  There's
just some sort of obstacle, and you overcome it the best you can given
the capabilities of your own character.  This is part of what makes
it a CRPG and not an adventure game.

> >   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
> > problem.
> This is of course far, far better - the information you can give another
> player consists of what happened to you, not what you know will happen to
> them. Better still are quests (if we consider this a quest) that cease to
> exist, or change dynamically with time and completion (for instance
> "Retrieve X object" might entail retrieving it from the last person to
> finish the quest!).

Sure.  We figure that if we do any quests at all, they will be things
like 'bring me the Amulet of WuggWugg!'  Given that the amulet is
a one-of-a-kind artifact that is extremely useful to mages (they can
store mana in it or something), and that all objects have complete
permenancy, this 'quest' could involve looting a dragon's hoarde,
killing the owner, buying it from someone, or pulling it out of your
pocket and saying, 'Say!  Lucky I had this!'

> > 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.  
> But with a maze, you can generate it randomly (with an engine), so it is
> only mappable for one time period (completion).

Mazes are boring enough without random generation to make them
completely tedious and pointless.

> > 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.
> Yup - I don't know how to cover this up, though, or rather stop it being
> passed around, unless the information bestowed some advantages on the
> player that they did not wish to share.

Bingo.  One mud I played had a certain ring which was by far the
best one for any warrior-type.  Naturally, there was a large demand
for them, as this mud was running 100+ players online 24 hours a day
(probably at least half of which were warrior-types) and the rings
only 'popped' once every 24 hours.  It also didn't hurt that every
warrior wanted two of them, and if you died any 'mean' NPC would
instantly loot them from your corpse and eat them.
The rings weren't hard to get, they were just in a hidden location.
It was one of the many 'big secrets' on the mud - a few select top
players knew where to get them, and everyone else was forced to buy
them at incredibly exhorbent prices (~10 million gold on a mud where
good items sold for around 100k.)  As far as I know this secret
was never breached, along with other similar ones there.  I figured out
how to get the rings after someone gave me a very specific hint and I spent
approxametely three hours trying to figure it out.

The fact that this could work so well for the ~3 years the mud was
on-line makes me believe that it's not impossible to keep select things secret.
Of course, the main downside to this is that most people knew *about* the
rings, just not the specific info on where to get them.  By the same token
you could do things like spells whose power level is inversely proportional
to either the total number of times they've ever been cast, or the number
of people in the world that 'know' them.  Thus if someone learns a spell, they
aren't going to be too inclined to share it, or share the info on how to get
it.  Or poisons - if no one knows how you made that poison or where the
components came from, it's more likely that your victims will be unable to
get the antidote.  Or vice versa - you may not want to share your knowledge
of dangerous herbs with others for fear they will use them as weapons.

As for the janitor example above, that's a little trickier.  There has
to be a pretty good reason for not revealing the secret to just anyone.
The most obvious reason, of course, is that your character fears for their
safety by sharing such knowledge.  This doesn't work, however, when it's
just up on a user website somewhere.  I can't think of any direct
solutions right off hand, but one thing I *love* doing is giving false
information.  Ie, if you constantly hear NPCs gossiping about so-and-so
being a secret underground resistance leader or morphing into a dragon
at night, you're going to be less inclined to believe it when someone
says 'that old fool is actually a mafia boss.'  You'd only believe it,
perhaps, when you actually saw the underground opperation going on, and
presumably then some other reason would exist for you not sharing.

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