[MUD-Dev] Re: PK and my "Mobless MUD" idea

Dr. Cat cat at bga.com
Fri May 1 14:30:14 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

> One of the common complaints (probably about 3th or 4th after free PK)
> I've read in my brief web reading on UOL is that early players managed
> to acquire stats, possessions (eg castles), and positions with some
> ease (due to being there at the beginning) which are no extremely
> difficult to acquire.  The complaint is that this temporal inequity is
> somehoe "unfair".

>From my reading, it's not merely a case of the earlier players having had 
less competition, or stocks of treasure not having become as depleted, or 
anything like that.  It's that Origin made major changes to the game 
mechanics and prices because they realized people were building up far 
faster than they intended.  So the rate at which skills increase through 
use was cut WAY down, prices of buildings were doubled twice in one 
month, etc.

One could argue "inflation" for the latter, I suppose, and claim that 
overall the phenomena of newcomers having a challenge to get started and 
catch up with established old-timers is true in most human societies.  
(Though I might point out in return, that in most human societies, the 
rich people with "old money" won't take advantage of it to MURDER you.)

But I'm sick of this "if it's like reality it's ok" or "if it's like 
reality it's a good thing" bullshit.  I've seen it in computer game 
development my whole career, I've always been sick of it, and I'm still 
sick of it.

Look, if you say "Well, the act of swinging a sword towards a monster 
will either lead to your sword hitting the monster, being blocked by the 
monster's weapon, or the monster narrowly dodging.  We decided to go with 
these results rather than your sword turning into a singing dolphin and 
spraying you with magic rainbow beams that teleport you to the top of the 
empire state building and give you a craving for donuts.  Because the way 
we decided to do it seems more realistic."  Well, then I'm all for it.

If you say "In this game you're going to have to go use the bathroom 
twice a day.  Though you can get by with once sometimes, and sometimes 
you might need more based on what you ate your health, activity, the 
air temperature, etc.  In any case we will make sure that whatever number 
of game-hours you're logged on for, you spend the same percentage of them 
in the game bathroom that you do in real life.  While in there you're 
required to simulate all the details by typing "unfasten belt", "lower 
pants", "sit on toilet", "read magazine", "get toilet paper", "use toilet 
paper", "flush toilet", "stand up", "raise pants", "walk to sink", "raise 
pants again", "fasten belt this time", "turn on faucet", "get soap", 
"wash hands", "rinse hands", "get towel", "use towel", and "jiggle toilet 
handle".  This obviously makes our game better because it obviously makes 
our game more realistic, and more realistic is always better".  Well...  
If you say that I think you're nuts.  :X)

"More realistic" is clearly not something that "always makes a game 
better" or "never makes a game better".  It's a "source of potential 
ideas, some of which are good ones and some of which are bad ones".  Each 
must be evaluated on its own merits.

I think making a game that accentuates the difference between old-timers 
and newcomers strongly is a bad idea commercially.  It makes it so that 
your customers from your first few months are the most likely to be 
satistisfied, and so it's a lot harder to grow your customer base with 
new players after that.  Artistically I think it's a bad idea too.

In Furcadia I strive to reduce the differences between old-timers and 
novices.  Not eliminate them, but not make them steep enough that a 
sizable percentage of newcomers will feel "I'm unwelcome/uncomfortable in 
this cliquish place, it's for the old-timers and not for me".  Quite the 
opposite, I'm trying to instill a strong sense in the old-timers that 
welcoming and helping new players is one of the most desirable things a 
person could do.  The "influence trees" mechanism I plan to put in later 
should do a lot in service of this.

Making a game so that it takes substantially longer to achieve the same 
level of power that the old-timers got very rapidly wouldn't seem to be in 
harmony with my design goals at all.  Making it so that those more 
powerful people could also KILL you, making the time needed to catch up 
with them even longer, really doesn't sound appealing.

I saw one player (and he's probably not the only one) begging Origin to 
set up one non-PK "shard" out of the ten, so that people that wanted to 
be safe from all that could go there, and Origin could treat it as a big 
experiment.  Keeping the other nine copies of the world the way they seem 
to want it, more "realistic".  Sounds like a no-brainer to me, to try 
that very valuable and informative experiment.  I bet Origin won't do it, 
though, I know them.  :X)

   Dr. Cat / Dragon's Eye Productions       ||       Free alpha test:
*-------------------------------------------**  http://www.bga.com/furcadia
  Furcadia - a new graphic mud for PCs!     ||  Let your imagination soar!

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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