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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sat May 2 11:29:03 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Fri 01 May, Dr. Cat wrote:

> > 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".

It is only unfair to  those who are at the wrong side of the equation. I
frequently found that players who complained about unfairness were never
heard of  when they had the advantage.  To me the whole discussion about
unfairness allways is suspect and more often than not blatantly hypocri-

> >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.

This is another observation of mine. Players can be told a hundred times
that they are testing a game, and that things are likely to change over-
night yet when that actually happens they are very upset and threaten to

> 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.)

That's the problem you get when there is no real penalty to being a mur-
derer. In fact you can even see it around you where the people with lots
of money get away with things that other people would be punished for.

> 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.

[snipped examples of 'good' and 'bad' realism]

This really is an age-old subject.  When most (!) people who argue pro
realism use that word they really mean something like 'predictable and
consistent'  rather than 'just like in reality'.  The example you gave
of 'bad' realism is not so much bad as wel pointless.  To many players
it is important that their game world is understandable,  logic if you
like. This comes down more to knowing that a goblin is more or less e-
qually powerfull  everywhere in the world,  and a sword being a weapon
not a toothpick at some places.  And that if they use a fireball  on a
monster it will have a certain effect on it, no more nor less, -unless
there is a clear and logical reason  why it does not-.  Everybody will
understand that blasting a firebreathing dragon with firebolts  is not
going to hurt it much but they will not readily accept that that guard
at the gate is immune to fire also.
Like you wrote, if you swing a sword at a monster you expect to hit it
or miss it, not to be transferred to the empire statebuilding. That is
the kind of realism players are looking for.

> 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.

The better solution for ultima online would obviously have been not to
make acquiring money and equipment so much harder, but instead to make
keeping it much more difficult.  That way the early players had a head
start in the game,  as a reward  for their supporting the game  in the
early days,  but every player who joined later  has an equal chance of
acquiring the same wealth and status.

> 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.

You mean that players gain power from other players who 'follow' them?
That sounds very interesting :)

> 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 guess it is to the average doom player, from what I have heard about
that game.

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

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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