[MUD-Dev] Character evolution

Adam Wiggins nightfall at user1.inficad.com
Fri Aug 29 01:14:01 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

>    at 12:22 PM, "Jon A. Lambert" <jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> said:
> This raises a point I've been musing on for a while:
>   The general approach (assumed orthodoxy?) of most of the list is to
> create a game world which largely resembles or simulates RL in terms
> of physical mechanics and such, and then attempts to extend it via
> magic, religion and other similar techniques to add a fantastical
> entertaining aspect.
> This bugs me.  
> I don't like the idea that I'm taking an incredibly flexible system
> and working like crazy to only implement a variation on the world I
> spend the rest of my waking hours in.  Why would I want to recreate RL
> with a twist?  Why not take advantage of the flexibility that is
> inherent in the system and create a different sort of universe where
> the base rules *really* are different.

Well, there's two sides to this.  First of all, if highly realistic
muds which were a close model to the real world existed to the point
of being trite, I wouldn't want to do one.  Instead, no such thing even
exists, which is part of what intrigues me about them.
Secondly, there is a real boon to creating a world roughly based on
our own and then adding in fatanastical elements.  You get a world which
is easy to interact with right from the start, since it works more or
less like the one folks are used to.  As they play they begin to
encounter more and more unique or fantastical elements; IMO a good world
set up this way could have a player proceeding to a level where the
things they do and elements they interact with are all non-existant
in the 'real' world.

>   Magic is actually a fluid which reacts nagatively to gravity.  The
> more magic an object contains, the lighter (or even positive lift) it
> has.  Ergo, Bubba the wielder of the Sword Of Super-Magical WubbaWubba
> also carries a few tonnes of lead about just to keep his feet on the
> ground.
>   Make your world ala Clement's Mission into Gravity.  For those
> unfamiliar with the book or world, this was an incredibly dense
> rapidly spinning frisbee shaped world.  The result was that
> gravitational density was massive near the poles, and not far from
> null-G out at the equator.
>   Larry Niven's Ring World.
>   Vinge's "Fire Upon The Deep".  Again, for those not familiar with
> it, it postulates that the base laws of the physical universe vary
> dependnant on your distance from the galactic core.  Thus FTL
> physically impossible close to the core, or even as far out as Earth. 
> Sentient machines start being possible a little further out as the
> physical laws of the universe change.  Anti-gravity materials can be
> manufactured out by the rim but fail further out.  They work all the
> way down almost to earth, but can't be manufacutred for most of that
> distance...etc.  Fascinating concept.

I love all these books and agree that they would all make great
models for a mud, but IMO they don't change the world in the fundamental
way that you seem to desire.  Earth is still earth even if the horizon
slopes upwards or the gravity changes as you cruise around on it.

>   Change the base defintions of the game goal to be able to survive
> and even prosper without worldly goods, money, magic, equipment etc. 
> Possible approaches enclude standard western confusions of zen and the
> old tantrics.

Now you're talking.  Ie, all the talk of mana flow that goes on here every
so often; make the fundamental basics of existance and survival be
something completely unique and (hopefully) interesting.

> There are reasons not to do this.  Prime among them learning curve and
> familiarity.  Present a system, world or even an interface which is
> too far from your player's RL understanding and they will have a hard
> time understanding or playing in it.

Mainly I'm concered about consistancy.  Secondly, I've seen a *lot*
of game designers take an old idea and throw a new name on it for no
reason - for example all the races with crazy names that actually break
down to elf, dwarf, human, etc on that Demonscape (?) design doc someone
posted.  We've tried for a balance between recognizable stuff (basic
world - boring stuff) and the unique stuff, but even the unique stuff I
enjoy bringing in aesthetic and trappings from myth/legend/fantasy in
this world.  At the very least, it makes it much easier to display
in a text format.  Too often I log onto a 'unique' mud and see:

> l
Some Room
A guglewats is standing here.
> l gulgewats
He looks like your typical guglewats.
> help guglewats
No help on that topic found.

I'm rarely confused by 'A minotaur is standing here' or 'A cyborg is
standing here'.

Anyhow, although I like the idea of completely alien worlds as a base
for a mud (for instance, one could use the cyberspace stuff from
Neuromancer to get completely unique 'laws' yet have a recognizable
aesthetic) but there are many advantages to keeping such things from
getting out of hand.

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