[MUD-Dev] Re: (fwd) Re: POLL: Games ruined by bad players (Player killers, tank rushers etc)
adam at angel.com
Tue May 5 14:49:37 New Zealand Standard Time 1998
On Tue, 5 May 1998, Dr. Cat wrote:
> discovered? For me the question would be "How long is it from when they
> start checking the place out, to when they first start feeling like their
> having FUN?"
> Most MUDs do pretty dismally in this regard. Especially for the
> first-time player who's never played a mud before.
We had a pretty good thread going on this maybe a year or so ago. Most of
us are striving for pretty complex game worlds; but one of the
side-effects of this is that newbies find themselves completely and
hopelessly confused. (Rummages through archives - the kanga.nu search
page sure is handy)
This brings to mind a mud I played many a moon ago. Certainly long before
I started on one of my own, anyways. Not too sure, but I think the name
was Worlds of Carnage. I logged on because they advertised an extensive
skill-tree based system, but what intriguied me the most was the Newbie
Sword. The Newbie Sword was your standard issue weapon with a really
nicely-written script attached to it. It was the guide, as mentioned
its text was triggered by various actions and locations. When you entered
the game it told you a few things and told you to ask it any questions you
had. It seemed to have a fair number of responses - I asked it things
where to go and to tell me about the mud, to which it gave short but
informative answers. As I walked around, it commented on locations, ie:
'This is the general goods store, a good place to stock up on provisions.'
When I went outside of town and came to a crossroads, it said, 'Here you
go north to explore the spooky forest, or south to go to the Castle. East
lies a land better left to those more experienced.' When I tried to go
east it (of course) didn't stop me, but just said, 'Be careful! This way
great danger! Come back later when you are stronger...' When I was
it cheered me on, and when my hitpoints got low it told me 'Perhaps you
should 'flee' now - it's best to live to fight another day'. Etc etc.
This was a very nice touch, and certainly kept me playing the mud a lot
than I would have otherwise, as well as avoiding those annoying newbie
mistakes, like wandering into tough areas, or not sheathing my sword in
towns that don't allow drawn weapons.
The main thing we came up with (aside from some bickering about putting
helpfiles in HTML format) was that the newbie *can*, indeed, be confused.
The trick is to make that the good sort of confusion - the sort of
confusion a five-year-old feels during their first trip to Disneyland.
The feeling of, "Wow, I don't understand ANY of this stuff, but it sure
looks cool. I can't WAIT to find out more!"
I think the main place where the problem lies with existing muds is
knowing where to start. You know that there's a bunch of cool stuff going
on - you can hear the other players chatting about it, see them showing
off their prizes from far-away places, read in the help files about skills
that you can aquire, read on the message boards about quests and major
events that have or will happened. The question is - what then? And, of
course, the more open-ended the world, the more difficult it becomes to
direct the player. Hence figuring out what to do first is much easier on
a Merc with mud school than it is on, say, UO or DartMUD.
There are a few options. I have played muds where you get guided tours
when you start out. These range from something as simple as a guide mob
that wanders through town whom you can follow. Sometimes it's more
complex - one I played had a tour that lasted a full twenty minutes,
assigning you a guide NPC that took you to the shops, bought you some
basic weapons and armor, then led you to the newbie area and helped you
fight things (healing you if you got low) and cheering you on until you
reached level 2. Of course, the disadvantage to this sort of thing is
that it's very lead-by-the-noseish; what's the point of having an
open-ended world if you're going to tell everyone to do the same thing?
I imagine that one could create a guide that would give you an idea of
some of the things you could do and then ask you which you'd like to try
first, giving a few hints to get you started and then fading into the
background, possibly to re-emerge upon the player's request.
This is definitely a thread I wouldn't mind resurrecting.
MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.
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