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

John Bertoglio alexb at internetcds.com
Wed May 6 13:40:44 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>
Date: Wednesday, May 06, 1998 11:28 AM

>On Fri, 1 May 1998 17:12:36 -0500
>Koster, Raph<rkoster at origin.ea.com> wrote:
>> On Friday, May 01, 1998 2:30 PM Dr. Cat [SMTP:cat at bga.com] said:
>> Yep, that's a pretty correct assessment of it. We changed game
>> mechanics because the old ones were not working out. I'd be very
>> curious to hear how other list members handle this problem, which I
>> am sure has arisen for them as well. Any mud that's constantly
>> adding things ends up with rebalancing necessary, and inevitably the
>> advancement curves, average wealth, etc etc of players changes
>> depending on when they began playing...
>The classical text MUD solution of course is a pfile wipe.

This is less possible when the "p's" threaten class action lawsuits. The
situation requires more subtlety. For example: There is a wave of bank
robberies. The BDIC (Brittannia Deposit Insurance Corporation) declares
that all funds up to 10,000 gold will be replaced but the treasury can only
replace 10% of balances above that. The world destroys most of the
additional gold. This raise the value of gold and (much more important)
raises the value of everthing denominated in gold (virtually everything).
This leads to an increase in commerce and trade because huge stockpiles of
gold already exist in a few hands.

>> FWIW, we don't use any such justification. We just make the change
>> and say something along the lines of, "we're making houses more
>> expensive because there are too many of them in the world and it's
>> hampering play for server load reasons and for aesthetic/place space
>> reasons."

Agreed. However, some of the problems that led to urban sprawl were bug
exploiters who amassed huge fortunes and had nothing to do with them. These
fortunes made buying house far to easy (in terms of the original game
planning). Perhaps the key is to take a fresh look at what house mean in
the UO world. At first, it looked to me (an outsider) like the homes and
castles were status symbols...symbolic of success in the world and a reward
for consistant game play. The reality is now that homes and castles have
become focal points of power, allowing guilds and other player groups to
have access to safe storage, capture and control resources and other perks.
Raising the prices will help, but a system of RP's like JC suggested would
be much more powerful. Unlike money (which will tend to accumulate unless
UO returns to a "realistic" money supply model, which has its own faults
like no money supply), RP's have a predictable quanity. If you want to have
8 player castles per server, price the cost of ownership in RP's so that
only 8 major lords could be expected to rise from the player pool. If
status (as defined by controlling other player's RP's) and high prices are
combined, structures will be properly rare, valued and status creating.

>> I don't see "realism" as much of a crutch for design
>> decisions either, I'm quite in agreement with you on that.

I think the word realism is used as a club by people with an axe to grind.
It is simply the wrong word to use (and concept to express) when trying to
create a virtual world. Much of reality is tedious and mundane. So,
realism, in general, is a worthless goal. Where realism make sense is when
a realistic model enables the player to maintain the ability to suspend
disbelief and maintain the illusion created by the virtual world. Nothing
pulls a person out of IC RP faster than something that doesn't feel right.
I don't have an opinion what halflings or a giant cyclops' look like but I
will notice it the hobbit equips the cyclops armor after a battle
royal...he is going to look like Dark Helmet in SpaceBalls (the movie) and
thinking that is going to destroy whatever suspesion of disbelief I had
going at the time.

Entertainment (admittidly, only one potential goal for a virtual world)
seeks to replace the everyday stuff with visions and experiences which are
outside of the norm. The dark ages bow hunter would have no understanding
why a person would leave an climate controlled, clean enviroment to go bow
hunting in the rain and feel priviliged to be able do so. A civil war
veteran would laugh at the notion that bikers and mail carriers would use
their weekend of to go marching about in wool uniforms in Atlanta in July
for FUN. So we have to be careful about how we value other people's

>I always liked the approach:
>  "Hey guys I went and changed the rules like so-and-so.  Why?  Umm,
>'cause I did.  Have fun now ya'hear!"

You bet. Democracy stops at the TCP I/P socket. If you play for free, you
play by my rules. Being an intelligent person, I will listen to your
concerns and suggestions. But, ultimatily, I make the rules. If you pay to
play, the only difference is your voice is somewhat louder than those who
do not. Payment complicates the dynamic, but does not fundementally change

>That given a quick archive search reveals how rarely I've applied that
>to this list.  Sorta.  Its presentation is a lot more socially
>acceptable,, but the mechanics are the same.

Trust me, the implied threat is quite powerful. Spoken as a former
accidental HTML poster. Fact is, I see the list a privilge, one for which
pay nothing except my time and a certain amount of my limited intellectual
powers. Peer pressure works when you respect those peers. Sadly, it is not
as effective in either the real world or big online ones.

>>> 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.
>> I agree with that too. We went to great lengths in UO to minimize
>> this, but we faced the competing pull of "advancement" which is of
>> course a very valuable part of any game framework. We pushed
>> "alternative forms of advancement" such as ownership and access to
>> greater range of activities, but nonetheless retained enough
>> traditional advancement and acquisition of power that it still is
>> somewhat of a problem. A gang of newbies can however take out an
>> advanced player, with losses. Which is better than many level-based
>> systems, anyway. Not perfect by any means.
>  X starts early and establishes a significant lead.
>  It is important to allow Y, who started later, ability to remove
>that lead thru __other__ means (socio-political, forming gangs,
>whatever), or to allow Y (who started later) to establish a
>significant lead in a different field.

The problem occurs when you must deal with X in order to have a place in
the world. If X's influence cannot be escaped, you may become frustrated
and quit in disgust.

Another problem is when X (and his minions) can kill ten Y's in a few
seconds but Y's are in mortal danger when they attack a rabbit. One notion
in UO which I think is unsupportable is the concept you can go 0 to 100 in
a basic attribute like strength. Starting off as Don Knotts (wearing cement
shoes) and ending up as the Incredible Hulk (with magic) does not provide
much of a foundation for role playing. There should always be an element of
danger when a strong foe attacks a weak one.

>RL tends to do this by constantly changing the ground rules such that
>"power" in one contingent doesn't map well into power in another area.
>Really good boxers don't tend to also be well paid programmers, or oil
>tycoons the founders of fast food chain empires.

While it can be argued that the Rockefellers, Mortons and Kennedys of the
world were RL bug exploiters, their success did not preclude others from
success because of the size of the Real World. You can seek your fortune in
the Yukon, go to Austraila or the Congo or just have a nice life where you
are. The problem is virtual worlds are generally too small. The micro
nature of the world requires micro solutions where macro interventions are
easier and less intrusive. Take an urban apartment building and a suburban
development with 5 acre lots. Each has one large barking dog. Which
enviroment feels the need to "solve" the dog problem? Which enviroment is
more likely to form a mob which storms the managers office demanding
action? Taken to another level...forming a mob at a world cup soccer game
is easier that in our apartment building.

An an advantage I have in my business and life model is others do not have
to fail for me to succeed. (I am probably wrong here, but the tone of Dr.
Cat's posts seem to suggest that for him to right, all others have to be
wrong. I think he has some good ideas which will build a consistant,
interesting world. It may be the "winner" in the market, but who knows. )
The smaller the world, the closer it models a zero-sum game (for one to
win, another must lose...using the popular not the technical definition,
which is a game with a solution).
>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.

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list