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

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Wed May 6 11:08:53 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Fri, 1 May 1998 14:30:14 -0500 (CDT) 
Cat <cat at bga.com> 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 now
>> extremely difficult to acquire.  The complaint is that this
>> temporal inequity is somehow "unfair".

> 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.

Understood.  A point where we appear to differ is in whether this
inequity is a "problem".  I don't consider it a problem, and in fact
almost find it a Good Thing in that it helps instantiate the early
adoptors as fixtures in the game world, increasing its richness and
variation.  The fact that later players have greater difficulty
achieving the same status is merely incidental and seemingly

> 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.)

> 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.

Its tough to compete with the Rockefellers of this world, for a
reason.  Its not a question of "realism", but of challenge,
competition, and the very simple fact that those first off the block
in a race _can_ be at an advantage in that race.  

> "More realistic" is clearly not something that "always makes a game
> better" or "never makes a game better".  It's a "source of potential
> ideas, some of which are good ones and some of which are bad ones".
> Each must be evaluated on its own merits.

Umm, haven't we been here before?

> 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.

In this regard there appear to be two basic approaches to game world

  1) You define broad sweeping characteristics and then let the
players define the rest.

  2) You define the world, its mechanics and progressions, and then
let the players fill in the chinks and climb and compete for the
pre-defined ladders.

Neither is necessarily better than the other.  Stylisitically I'm not
fond of the latter as I find it leads to a form of intellectual
dogmatism which I find offensive.  The former of course poses great
rafts of really really hoary nasty ugly problems in everything from
game balance, societal controls, player culture etc and onward.  

> 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".  

This would seem more a question of both the number of social pyramids,
and each pyramid's shape (how deep, and how broad).  Short fat
pyramids are approachable, easily entered, and provide obvious
progression routes.  Large numbers of pyramids allow selection,
personal tuning, and the possibilities of creating private societies.
Tall deep pyramids tend to analagise to small pyramides for difficulty
of entrence etc.

> 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.

Taken from your capitalisation of "MURDER", "KILL" etc, your
deliberate avoidance of violence centric game-means, and other in-text
points: you have a social agenda.  Your agenda may or may not be valid
(there are a wide array of possible metrics).  Political and
philosophical justification and demeanment of the agenda is both easy
and largely pointless.  'Nuf to say that I'm on the other side.  

> I saw one player (and he's probably not the only one) begging Origin
> to set up one non-PK "shard" out of the ten, so that people that
> wanted to be safe from all that could go there, and Origin could
> treat it as a big experiment.  Keeping the other nine copies of the
> world the way they seem to want it, more "realistic".  Sounds like a
> no-brainer to me, to try that very valuable and informative
> experiment.  I bet Origin won't do it, though, I know them.  :X)

Doing so would also prove useless to the great socio-political
experiment that UOL is proving to be.  The hand of god differs very
little from Big Brother, a pet despot, or the Moral Majority.

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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