[MUD-Dev] Character development [was Re: ]

Koster Koster
Thu Apr 16 17:50:35 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Tuesday, April 14, 1998 12:25 PM J C Lawrence 
[SMTP:claw at under.engr.sgi.com] said:

>>On Thu, 9 Apr 1998 10:15:30 PST8PDT Koster, 
Raph<rkoster at origin.ea.com> wrote:
>> So UO went
>> the route of having a LOT of different things to do,a nd the 
ability
>> to gather hirelings, pets, houses, guilds, etc, to provide the 
sense
>> of status, in place of "level" as an abstraction.
>How successfully?  Most (all?) of the magazine articles I've read on
>OU equate it to a graphical DIKU with roadways lined waist-deep with
>corpses.  You've mentioned here your efforts in pushing a more, err,
>less DOMM-esque approach by your players.  Success?

Success is moderate. On the one side, I think equating it to a 
graphical DIKU is really really wrong. A simple glance at the feature 
list will demonstrate that--heck, a simple glance at the typical 
player's activities will demonstrate it. However, given our mass 
market penetration, we've got a WAY higher proportion of what UO fans 
have come to term "keWlD00dz". :P Then again, even those guys are 
finding that they engage in a really wide range of behaviors beyond 
what one would expect from merely a Doomesque approach. I don't think 
I have ever seen a pkiller on another mud worry about issues like 
feeding their pets, mining metal to make their armor, the proper 
societal ethics of summoning an uncontrollable aggressive creature, 
defending the house they built in a particular part of the wilderness, 
and whether or not the local player militia is going to come after 
them for attacking the tavern that other players built in an area they 
wish to claim...

So, their motives are the same ("kill, kill, kill") but to maintain 
their status and abilities, they still need to deal with a much wider 
array of activities.

As far as how the magazines perceive it--sure, it's still a crude, 
rude, rambunctious, goal-oriented, profane, Doom-minded community, on 
the whole. Changing a public mindset takes a lot more than game 
mechanics.

>> Now, level is
>> awfully convenient, and players quickly found supplements for it,
>> but I find that severing the advancement scale from character
>> ability works quite well.
>
><nod>
>Do you have any tales of the form of Habitat's egg or other prized
>tokens or recognition values that you could relate for UO?

Ooof. Too many.

The city of Yew has become a roleplayer's haven, because of its woodsy 
feel and the expanse of trackless forest broken up by clearings, which 
makes it a great location for players to build houses and businesses. 
One enterprising fellow, Enshu Ponfar by name, has made use of the 
guild tools within the game to organize a city government. The Yew 
Town Council runs a militia (tagged above their heads, thanks to the 
guild tools), and holds periodic election (which guild code supports). 
Enshu has an enormous amount of prestige in the game, and to this day 
he is still the only "Mayor" of a city like this. Other player cities, 
which have sprng up in emptier areas, are built from the ground up 
now, and often have as many as thirty businesses, homes, and even 
periodic festivals... Enshu is however still prestigious because of 
his achievement. No levels involved. Merely seeing floating over his 
head, "Mayor of Yew" and knowing that it's REAL, not just something 
some fellow made up, is very powerful.

Recently, the Yew newspaper (which is run on a website) announced the 
founding of a new tavern. Kazola founded the Treetop Keg and Winery. 
This pub cooked its own food and sold it on two vendors (which are 
NPCs hired to sell items at proprietor-specified prices). Soon it 
became a top roleplay hangout, and was publicized on many major UO 
news sites (several of these exist, giving news on an often hourly 
basis, with pictures, and the works). Its prominence was such after 
only two weeks that a petition was formed by regulars to have the 
furnishings in the tavern "nailed down" so they could not be taken by 
other players with a malicious bent.

Two carpenters showed up in due course (thanks to the Interest GM 
staff) and "nailed" the furniture down. Now Kazola's was, simply put, 
the most desirable building in the game, because it was the only one 
with furniture that could not be stolen. It was also the most widely 
recognized building in the game. Kazola has ineradicable status as a 
result, of course. With no levels.

Armies of malicious playerkillers, termed the "Dracul" (also 
conveniently floating above their head) promptly started attacking 
Kazola's tavern every night. They managed to kill the regulars many 
many times, and fight their way through the Yew Militia that gathered 
to defend the place. They made use of their good social reputation 
(provided by the game's notoriety system, which has loopholes) to hide 
behind a shield of supposed respectability, so that when the defenders 
killed them, it reflected badly on the defenders. They even managed to 
hold the interior of the tavern for a long time, and thus gained quite 
a lot of standing with other groups of their type. They are now widely 
considered to be the most badass pkill group in the world. With no 
levels. These playerkillers also managed to be rather profane (on the 
order of "I will rape your corpse, you bitch") in the process, causing 
a huge PR crisis for us, and much player dissatisfaction. :)

There's a wide range of "tokens" here, of course. It also demonstrates 
the range of activities possible in UO. To be honest, I am somewhat 
disappointed in the lesser range of activities that our forthcoming 
competitors are trying to cover (probably because our ambition 
overreached our capability!).

Hope that answers your question.

-Raph




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