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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Mon May 4 21:13:28 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Mon 04 May, Koster, Raph wrote:

> On Saturday, May 02, 1998 4:33 PM Dr. Cat [SMTP:cat at bga.com] said:

When it comes to discussing roleplaying games  I prefer to compare things
with PernMush. It is a game I am familiar with and it works out very much
like a story-telling/acting only game. So I am going to do that here too.
This does not mean I want to imply this is the only roleplaying game, nor
that it is the only type of roleplaying. It is just a working example.

> It's interesting to note that these two hooks are almost always 
> inextricably intertwined. A roleplayer who is "playing" finds 
> enjoyment from it, sure, but I bet they will roleplay extra hard if 
> there's some award to win that marks them as "the best roleplayer." 

This is actually done on some roleplaying muds where players can be re-
warded with experience points for roleplaying. I do not know however if
this is universally true that players will try harder if they are going
to be rewarded for their roleplaying efforts. This type of game, and it
is especially true for the storytelling type,  is less competitive  and
the players who enjoy it  often do not care as much  for being rewarded
for it. In more competitive environments you may well be right though.

> Girls in their early teens form extremely tight social bonds (in my 
> memory of junior high, they were like packs, or possibly schools of 
> sharks...)--yet the environment in which they do so is often highly 
> competitive.

Uhm. well. I guess I am in a position to respond to this, but is any-
body truly interested in that?

> Raph (yeah, me) said:
> > > 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).

Neither of which is an ideal solution, but going into more detail would
likely degenerate this interesting topic into a pro or contra PK debate
and I do not want to do that.
There is a third approach to this problem. One that seems to work quite
well on PernMush. De-emphasize conflict, especially player conflicts and
strengthen player dependencies. Introduce a common enemy but hide at the
same time the ability to defeat this enemy by force. On PernMush this is
Thread, a mindless but deadly substance that can not be fought directly,
but that can destroy vast tracts of land. All this serves to establish a
cooperative environment  where combat between players is extremely rare.
Even though I suppose the standard harmfull commands of a mush are still
available  I have not heard of any player using them in the years I have
played there.
Now this is of course not a particularly good solution for games like UO
but the general idea can be applied still. If you allow players to deal
with harmfull behaviour by others,  this is mostly done by allowing each
player to kill others unrestrictedly. This however just creates the kind
of game the PK player envisioned. Empowering players should use non-com-
bative methods to strengthen a roleplaying environment.

> > > I regard it as axiomatic that the more sophisticated the environment,
> > > the more ways players will find to screw each other over.

True, so to prevent this you should work at removing the player's desire
to harm other players. Some restrictions on the obvious ways to harm the
other players are still sensible  as it will weed out the more impulsive
actions.  For determined players  there is ultimately only one solution.
Showing them the door.

> > I'd contend a lack of willingness to make drastic changes or take radical
> > solutions, like seriously constraining your feature set, or adding some
> > "weird and unrealistic" rules modifications.  Taking the serious
> > constraints approach, one could dig into the code and find where damage
> > is applied to players, and just disable it, so everyone is effectively
> > immortal all the time. Most players would find this game to suck, but
> > they could easily be reminded "nine out of ten shards work the way you
> > prefer" and people could see what happens.

This is a kind of experiment, to see how both games develop.  Of course
with such a radical difference in approach you're not talking about the
same game anymore  but if players ask for it it may be a worthwhile ex-
periment to see if they really like it or if they are just whining.

> > Frankly, even the flawed approach of "a direct attack by one player on
> > another player doesn't work anywhere, buy every other trick in the book
> > does, dragon-taming or anything else" has some level of value, in my 
> > opinion.  The frequency of players killing other players wouldn't go to
> > zero, but it would change.  Players of the game might find the new, 
> > presumably lower frequency of being killed by players to be preferable.

While you can not prevent entirely one player from harming another you
can at least make obvious that such is not acceptable behaviour.  Then
you might even be surprised by players getting the hint and playing in
the sandbox nicely.  It is easier to deal with few troublesome players
if the others are behaving themselves.

> Apologies for the lengthy quote--I felt the need to put this in 
> context.

> We're in agreement, at least, that such methods are flawed. :) My 
> personal feeling is that once you say, "This place is safe" that 
> players will approach it with a reasonable expectation of said promise 
> being met. A promise which it appears we agree *cannot be fulfilled.* 

Well, you can say.  This place should be safe, and we (the staff) will
be very unfriendly to anybody who attempts to make it not-safe.  But I
suppose such things are easier to do on a small game than on something
on the scale of UO.

> Therefore I prefer to a) not mislead the players and b) not incur the 
> inevitable hit when they realize I did so. There's also the question 
> of whether making such a promise stifles the playerbase from seeking 
> their own solutions,and thus taking the development of virtual 
> societies a little further.

The real problem lies in the fact that some players don't want to play
by the PKers rules  yet are forced to do so to be able to play the way
they like. A player who wants to run a small shop or bar without both-
ering anybody but is bullied by PK gangs  has ultimately only one road
open to her.  She must learn to fight, learn PK skills in other words,
and fight them.  The game -she- wanted to play has been changed by the
gang without her having any control over it.  While it may be inevita-
ble from an administration point of view, something was taken from her
I hope I have made myself clear. hmm. I guess it is something like the
saying that it takes only one side to start a fight. That may be true,
but that does not make it -right-.

[ example snipped which I think proves my point ]

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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