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

Koster Koster
Mon May 4 09:46:50 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Saturday, May 02, 1998 5:29 AM Marian Griffith 
[SMTP:gryphon at iaehv.nl] said:
>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-
>tical.
[snip]
>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
>leave.

Ah, fairness. :) What fairness really seems to mean is the status quo, 
in many ways. Sometimes it means an even more elusive beast, the 
player's IDEA of the status quo.

I'm with Marian--when a player screams that something "isn't fair," I 
approach it with a large degree of skepticism. As a rule of thumb, the 
average player is seeking to get their own position ahead, and will 
not have much perspective on the issue as it applies to other players, 
much less the game as a whole. There's also the curious notion that a 
virtual world must be "fairer" than the real world, which ties back 
into the fact that players have higher expectations of virtual society 
than they do of the real world, on the grounds that they are spending 
their leisure time on it and therefore it should serve as an escape 
from the pressures of real life. These expectations manifest is all 
sorts of ways--I think I have commented before on the players in UO 
who had the expectation that expended labor would always result in 
profit, despite the many problems that such an odd idea creates.

In the real world, things do change overnight. Hula Hoops fall out of 
fashion. An amendment to the Constitution creates income tax. Social 
Secutiry is created. It's not fair that the first settlers to a new 
continent get all the prime land, either. It's not fair that when a 
property tax gets instituted, those who buy land after the tax is put 
in place will have a higher overall expenditure for their land over a 
given period of time than people who purchased before the tax was in 
effect... but as designers we have to make changes in systems 
sometimes, either because a flaw in the system was found (schools 
aren't getting enough funding, so we need property taxes to provide 
revenue) or (our prerogative as designers) because we wanna try 
something different...

We're just fortunate that in the online genre, we can actually change 
it in an existing system rather than making a new game from scratch.

>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.

One of my axioms is that there is NEVER a real penalty for being a 
murderer in a virtual environment. There are only increasing 
obstacles. In the final analysis, it is not technologically feasible 
to completely bar someone from your environment. If you have a truly 
determined jerk, he can and will kill everyone on your mud as many 
times as he wants. Fortunately, few people are that determined.

>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.

We ended up doing both. One problem that muds with "rent" have faced 
for a long time is that players can grow to hate ongoing expenditures 
or costs associated with "maintenance" of their characters. A classic 
example is "having to eat" or 'having to rest." Now, these are 
expenditures of either resources or time, and can be very valuable and 
interesting strategic elements in gameplay. They are also boring. 
(Paying bills is boring. Nonetheless that's where most of my salary 
goes). There's basically two approaches you can take to making keeping 
money more difficult. Have it be taken away, either passively (the 
players gives it away for some reason, ideally one tied to 
maintenance) or actively (the money is stolen by thieves). The one is 
potentially tedious (or alternatively, potentially an interesting game 
of resource management) and the other is "not fair!" (or 
alternatively, an exciting battle against brigands).

> > 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 :)

Asheron's Call from Turbine (distributed by Microsoft) is going to 
make each newbie enter the game as part of an influence tree. Older 
players then jockey to acquire new players, as that requires keeping 
them happy somehow. The older players gain standing based on how many 
players they have as followers.

When I read this, I liked it a lot, so I made the power structure in 
UO's guilds function in a very similar fashion: the leader of the 
guild is determined via a "fealty tree." However, I've noticed that 
nonetheless guild leadership tends to remain static, and there are few 
power struggles. This may be because there is no visual display of 
rivalries. I'll have to toss one in and see how "threatened" guild 
leaders start feeling.

-Raph


--
MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.



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