[MUD-Dev] Re: Character maintinence - expenditure of resources

Dan Shiovitz dbs at cs.wisc.edu
Mon May 4 18:09:54 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

[Incidentally, this issue, plus some others, come up in roguelike
games as well (ie, single-player, ASCII graphics, over-head,
turn-based games like Nethack or ADOM or Rogue). There's a much better
sig/noise ratio in the rec.games.roguelike.* hierarchy than there is
in the rec.games.mud.* hierarchy .. if nothing else,
rec.games.roguelike.misc is probably worth checking out (and
rec.games.roguelike.development, once it's created)]

On Mon, 4 May 1998, Adam Wiggins wrote:
> On Mon, 4 May 1998, Koster, Raph wrote:
> Although we've chatted about this before over the years, I'd like to take
> this moment to start an official Thread(tm).  Generally we talk about what
> the "best" way to try to keep player resources (for purposes of general
> discussion, resources == money) in balance. Some of these include:
>  - Rent, usually based on the "value" of each object the character owns.
>  - Object wear and tea: swords get dull, armor gets singed or bent or
>    broken, magic items run out of juice.
>  - Resources required for specific actions: requiring certain ingredients
>    to perform magic, purchasing training for the character's skills, etc.
>  - Taxes: city taxes or guild dues.
>  - Thieves in heavily populated areas lightening fat player purses.
>  - Maintaining resource lists: limiting the amount of money that is
>    "generated" based on how much is currently in existence.

You missed one (well, maybe it falls under "resources required for
actions"): one-shot items: potions, spells from NPCs, stuff like that.
Even food, although this is more of a maintenance cost. 

> One thing that doesn't seem to get a lot of attention is which of these
> things are actually enjoyable to the player - or at least, not
> specifically unenjoyable.  Sometimes it's a matter of degree - rent is a
> good way to make people pick and choose which items to keep, but at a
> certain point when you have to log on when you don't really feel like
> playing just to "make rent" it gets pretty un-fun.  Object damage is the
> same thing; many muds I've played keep money in balance by requiring that
> anyone wearing good equipment have to dish out large amounts of cash after
> every fight to keep it in good shape.  Thieves are a pretty good one I
> think; Arctic relies heavily on this for redistribution of wealth.  A rich
> high-level player dashes through Kendermore on her way to a high-level
> zone, not bothering to bank her cash first.  Two dozen quick fingered
> kender NPCs filch a bit of cash as she runs by.  Later on a low-to-mid
> level player comes through to fight the kenders and finds a virtual
> goldmine (well, except for the fact that Arctic doesn't use gold).

Also, note that if the high-level player really wants to, they *can*
spend the time to track down all the kenders and slaughter them to get
the cash back. Essentially, it's a charge in gold that can also be
paid in time/effort. I think the best kinds of charges are actually
done this way: nominally charged with one resource but payable by
another if the player wants. Another example of a cash/time tradeoff
might be equipment damage, if a mud actually let players repair their
own stuff. If your armor gets busted, you can fix it up yourself
(assuming you've paid the skill points to learn how, another
tradeoff), or you can spend the money to get it repaired faster. 

> One good thing about mantinence costs, however, is that they tend to keep
> the money flowing.  I like the idea of maintaining some sort of global
> value for how much money is in the game world and limiting how much new
> money is created based on that, but it seems to me that in a very short
> time you will have several very, very rich players and the rest will be as
> poor as dirt.  Ideally a good economy keeps the money moving, even for the
> richest players; that is, a rich player is someone who can constantly get
> more money, rather than someone who has heaps of treasure stashed away
> somewhere.

Yeah. Also, I like the concept of different levels of wealth. Ideally,
at the start, you're scrabbling for enough coppers to buy a meal once
in a while. Eventually you amass enough wealth that meals aren't a
problem anymore, so you don't have to worry about them (maybe you buy
a meal ticket at the local inn). Now your main worry is, say, rent
(before you were so poor you were sleeping outside most of the time,
so rent wasn't even an issue). Eventually you accumulate enough money
to buy a house. Now you're no longer paying money for rent, but
you're, say, running for lord (is lord an elected position? hmm.) and
you have to pay money for campaign advertising. Once you get elected,
that drain stops, but you have to figure out how to pay the castle
guards. And so on.  

Ideally characters will always have to be paying money for something,
but it'll be a *different* something each time, and once they get to a
new wealth level, they no longer have to worry about their old
expenditures. I haven't played anywhere that had this, but it seems
like it would help get rid of that feeling of "running as fast as you
can to stay in the same place."

> Adam
(Dan Shiovitz) (dbs at cs.wisc.edu) (look, I have a new e-mail address)
(http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~dbs) (and a new web page also)
(the content, of course, is the same)

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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