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

Koster Koster
Fri May 1 17:12:36 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Friday, May 01, 1998 2:30 PM Dr. Cat [SMTP:cat at bga.com] said:

>Someone whose attribution is lost said:
>> 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.

Yep, that's a pretty correct assessment of it. We changed game 
mechanics because the old ones were not working out. I'd be very 
curious to hear how other list members handle this problem, which I am 
sure has arisen for them as well. Any mud that's constantly adding 
things ends up with rebalancing necessary, and inevitably the 
advancement curves, average wealth, etc etc of players changes 
depending on when they began playing...

>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. 
[snip]
>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.

FWIW, we don't use any such justification. We just make the change and 
say something along the lines of, "we're making houses more expensive 
because there are too many of them in the world and it's hampering 
play for server load reasons and for aesthetic/place space reasons." I 
don't see "realism" as much of a crutch for design decisions either, 
I'm quite in agreement with you on that.

>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.

I agree with that too. We went to great lengths in UO to minimize 
this, but we faced the competing pull of "advancement" which is of 
course a very valuable part of any game framework. We pushed 
"alternative forms of advancement" such as ownership and access to 
greater range of activities, but nonetheless retained enough 
traditional advancement and acquisition of power that it still is 
somewhat of a problem. A gang of newbies can however take out an 
advanced player, with losses. Which is better than many level-based 
systems, anyway. Not perfect by any means.

>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.

I'd be curious to hear more of this. Is it akin to the setup that 
Asheron's Call intends to use?

>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)

Well, there's many reasons why we don't want to do it. There has been 
pressure from within Origin and EA to do it as well.

We don't want to because

a) the server wasn't designed with making a no-PK environment from the 
get-go, so a conversion task would be hideous
b) maintaining two code bases would also be nasty
c) we think it's a pointless experiment.

The reason I say the latter deserves some expansion.

Yes, there is considerable demand for a "safe" virtual environment. I 
just don't think it is feasible. As we all know, "playerkilling" 
exists on servers that don't even support combat. There's only two 
ways I know of to handle this. One is to try to empower players to 
handle it. The other is to ban it, attempt to handle the problem via 
administration, and suffer the PR hit of not being able to do so. 
(Yes, I am cynical about this).

I regard it as axiomatic that the more sophisticated the environment, 
the more ways players will find to screw each other over. And the less 
possible it is to actually block said methods. A glance at most all 
the projects of listmembers reveals an environment which is malleable 
enough by players that they can cause harm to others via extremely 
indirect means. Your choice is to either constrain your feature set, 
or accept that you can't possibly trap all the indirect means of doing 
harm. And we don't want to constrain our feature set to prevent Bubba 
from taming a dragon and then releasing it near Buffy, whom he hates, 
and letting nature take over.

-Raph


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MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.



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