[MUD-Dev] Affecting the world

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sun Sep 7 12:31:59 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Hello everybody,

Time for a new thread.  At least for me, so I can partake in the discussion
again.  Most of what has passed lately was rather too deep for me,  or if I
thought of something to add I found that somebody else already had mention-
ed it <gr>.

I noticed that a lot of the general comments and a lot of the aims for muds
mentioned on this list  are about giving the players  a more complete world
in which to play.  E.g adding politics to the game. Or having other actions
than fighting have meaning within the game world. This is certainly a thing
that I can agree with. If muds are to evolve beyond the rather simple games
they are now  it is probably even essential.  Currently they are geared to-
wards  what I (cautiously) would call a masculine playing style:  going out
and be the strong powerfull hero  by beating monsters and demons.  I do not
attach any value to that but I have observed that this is the kind of thing
that is primarily enjoyed by males.  If  my own opinion may serve as an ex-
ample,  I would say that females in muds  in general are more interested in
group mechanics than in going out and kill. I'm putting to words very care-
fully because I do not want to spark another male vs. female debate on this
list where it is somewhat inappropriate.  What I -am- trying to say is that
to remain interesting in the long run and to attract a more balanced player
base a mud needs more diverse goals.  So that if a player loses interest in
fighting, or never had that interest in the first place, they can remain in
the game but persue other interests.  Like a veteran of many campaigns that
retires from active service and becomes farmer or marshal to a king or even
simply becomes a teacher for young fighters who are just starting their ca-
reers with the blade.
Nothing of the above can be very new to anybody on this list.  But what has
made me wonder is, how do you get around the limitations of players to have
an effect on the game world.  What is the point of having politics if there
is nothing that a politician can effectively do?  In traditional muds there
is only one thing that affects the world:  killing monsters,  and even that
only lasts until the next reset. (I think that is one of the most important
reasons  why the enjoyment of muds gets stale so fast,  but that belongs to
another thread).  The only other commodity on the mud, equipment,  is down-
played as much as possible on most of the games. And suggestions to make it
a real commodity, e.g. by making unique equipment truly unique in the enti-
re history of the mud, is met with violent denial most of the time.
I think the only way to add new goals and interests to a mud is by allowing
the players to irrevocably modify the game in more ways than simply killing
things, and even that should be irrevocable. If a player kills the evil wi-
zard it should remain killed, not return a couple of minutes later.  If the
players build a city it should become part of that world,  and if it is set
to fire that too should become part of the world.  Likewise politics, know-
ledge, tools, songs and histories should become part of the world once they
are created, and remain a part until destroyed or forgotten.
I do not really expect anybody on this list  to fundamentally disagree with
this, it has been discussed in many forms already,  but are there any ideas
how to go about it? I mean not in the technical sense although that is part
of it also,  but how to design a game  around this goal?  How to put checks
and balances on the most dramatic power available to players  (to fight and
kill each other). How can politics affect the gameworld in meaningful ways?
How to limit expanding the detailed world by players without hindering them
in playing -that- game? Even the recent thread on having magic something to
be created by players  is part of this question,  for if players can invent
new magics that too is a way to affect players,  and it requires a means to
balance this ability,  like all powers granted to players that affect their
world require a balance.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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