[MUD-Dev] Affecting the world

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Wed Sep 17 01:26:01 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On 16 Sep 97 at 9:22, Matt Chatterley wrote:
> On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Jon A. Lambert wrote:
> > On 12 Sep 97 at 15:30, Matt Chatterley wrote:
> > > 
> > > Just a side note. How would one define a "traditional mud"?
> > 
> > Erm. Got me. Ignore my use of "traditional" and gender references 
> > and substitute the following:
> Sorry, more a nitpick on my part than anything else. :)

Not really. I had an urge to give them a common name so there 
would be no need of further explanation and they might be used as a 
point of contrast for the group mechanics aspect.

Might I call them 'solo-hack-n-slash' muds?

> > Perhaps the gist of this is how to design game(s) where player 
> > cooperation or interaction is required for success/fun and can be 
> > mechanically or automatically adjudicated?
> Or where players are 'subtly' thrown together to cooperate against the
> environment.

Yep.  Being subtle is a key element.  Player's should be given the 
opportunity of discovering these subtle mechanics.  Once the 
subtleties are known and repeatably exercised dynamics may change.

Perhaps the nature of group mechanics can be divided into two 
categories (so sayeth Socrates). 

Direct group mechanics.  Your adventuring party would fall within 
this category, as well as haggling, bartering, trading, socializing 
at the individual level.

Indirect group mechanics.  Economy, ecology, politics.  

A simple but odd example:
1) Players kill all the cats in Ithaca or King Bubba decrees all cats 
are illegal.
2) Rat population increases.  
3) Grain storage decreases. 
4) Disease chance increases.
5) Bread prices inflate. 
6) Population begins to decline.
7) Boffo makes a killing importing dogs from Troy.
8) The alchemist Al finds en excellent source of income in selling 
9) Bob starts a grain import business.
10) Perhaps at some threshold the peasants revolt and depose King 
Bubba or attempt to lynch the offending players. 
11) Bob goes bankrupt. 
12) Boffo now imports cats as well.
13) Bread prices deflate.
14) Al has stumbled onto something a bit more deadly...

> > Is there any difference between economic combat, political combat, 
> > miltary combat and individual HnS combat?  Could the mechanics of 
> > scale make player cooperation imperative?   
> Aha. This is where things are interesting. Part of my innate goal towards
> an 'adventuring' environment seems to be moving towards require varying
> talents within a group that embark on a given adventure - for instance,
> the stereotypical D&D groups of fighter/mage/thief/cleric (of course, we
> have no classes, but we do have a similar notion, based around the
> acquisition of special skills and abilities). Adventuring purely alone
> will be limited by the nature of the game (and hired help will be very
> expendable, with a short expiry date).

Part of the problem with the solo-hack-n-slash mud is the ability for 
characters to become jack-of-all-trades.  There are a few likely 
causes.  Skill advancement is too fast and there are so few really 
used/useful skills available that it's easily possible to build the 
perfect character in short order through min/maxing, remorting, etc.

A few cures are possible without getting into the "class"ifying of 
characters.  Increase the number of skills and/or their 
specialization.  Make skills harder to obtain both in time and cost. 
Link some skills to membership or knowledge obtainable only from 
certain guildlike organizations.  Creative building of adventuring 
areas/quests/situations that requires more varied skills.  

Hired help in itself is very interesting.  There are many ways an 
available pool of labor can be used by players.  Mercenaries for 
hire, shop help, builders for castles and residences, specialized 
services outside of player playable roles (architects, shipwrights, 
jewelers, armorers, weaponsmiths), adventuring NPCs, baggage 
handlers, slaves, castellans, valets, etc.

You mention the amassing of player armies.  The cost and logistics in 
labor and resources would be vast.  The effects of this on local 
economies can be both explosive and devastating, even excluding the 
effects of actual warfare (the old guns or butter issues).  Then 
there's those elusive things called morale, training, and readiness 
which might make it all for naught.  

> > magnate any less fun than slaying all the orcs?  The "bread" magnate 
> > might move on to conquer the dairy market, while the orc-slayer moves 
> > on to trolls. :)
> Hmm, interesting. ;)

Another thought. Why should thieves be stuck with such petty 
activities as pickpocketing.  Implementing interesting systems for 
second-story work, black-marketing and shopkeeper shakedowns might 
provide more desireable and realistic fun than sneaking about dragon 
lairs.  Allow group mechanics in pickpocketing (it's more often done 
that way ain't it?).  Bands of highwaymen or brigands ambushing 
caravans or coaches, yada, yada.

> [snip]
> > > Since guilds are largely a social
> > > orientational grouping, influencing them is fully possible, and as to
> > > raising armies.. that is one of the two main 'high level' options.
> > 
> > Why not provide guilds with mud mechanical structures and enforcement
> > mechanisms?  Allow the guild leadership positions to be occuppied by 
> > NPCs and PCs with access to those mechanics.
> There will probably be some means for entering the 'higher up' positions
> in guilds (since the guild will only be a small group to start with).
> Pondering this in more detail at the moment. :)

I was thinking along the lines of traditional medieval occupational 
guilds and other organizations like schools, universities, political 
and religious institutions, in addition to player implemented 
societies.  Some might be already in-place thematic constructs and 
while others might be primarily social player constructs.

Jon A. Lambert

Nature comprehends the visible and invisible Creatures of the Whole 
universe. What we call Nature especially, is the universal fire or 
Anima Mundi, filling the whole system of the Universe, and therefore
is a Universal Agent, omnipresent, and endowed with an unerring instinct,
and manifests itself in fire and Light. It is the First creature of 
Divine Omnipotence.

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