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

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon May 11 15:48:10 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Wed, 6 May 1998 12:01:06 -0700 
John Bertoglio<alexb at internetcds.com> wrote:

> From: Dr. Cat <cat at bga.com> 

> <Oasis is a player-run city built on one of the Ultima Online
> servers>

>> The Oasis example you cite is interesting.  I'd just contacted the
>> founder of Oasis myself last week, and asked him what changes he
>> would want in game mechanics to make it more practical to found and
>> run player-built cities.  He said it all really boiled down to
>> needing better ways to deal with the problem of people who want to
>> spoil other people's fun.  I just smiled when I read that, because
>> I think at the core of it, that's one of the two fundamental goals
>> of Furcadia.  One is to provide tools and encouragement to get the
>> players excercising their creativity and sharing it with others.
>> The other is to provide tools and education that do the most to
>> minimize the amount of spoiling of people's fun that the jerks can
>> accomplish.  I'm sure that most muds have that as something on the
>> list of stuff they want to do, but I think very few would consider
>> it one of their core priorities.

> I would suggest a different solution to the problems of the city of
> Oasis.  I think the problem is largely mechanical.

...deletia...

> Back to "the mechanical problem".  The world is too small and there
> are very low "costs" to mount a raid or invasion. The size of the
> world means that getting from a place of safety to the target takes
> a small amount of real time. Everything is known by everyone. There
> are no secret enclaves where roleplayers can build a city or world
> of their own without immediate detection and harassment.

Agreed.  However solving the problem by introducing effective distance
also kills the goose that laid the golden egg.  Such societal fracts
as Oasis can only exist when the population is dense.  Consider: If
the world that UOL was set in occupied 100 times the land area, yet
the player population remained constant, would societies such as Oasis
and Yew have formed?

I'd argue not.  The sheer overcrowding of UOL creates something of a
hot-house environment.  Much like your fruit flies -- things breed
faster when they're hot, sweaty, and can't escape each other.  

  Interestingly enough this experiement has been done with rates.
They breed like rabbits, and eat and kill each other almost as fast.

If you increase the world distance, travel expense, or reduce the
population density (all essentially the same effect at this level),
then the hot house suddenly just isn't as hot any more, and them fruit
flies are off communing with the glass walls more than each other.

You *need* a turgid environment.  You need the constant in-your-face
presence of the "other" to force the reaction of forming social
sub-groups.  You need the instant reaction effect forced by that
constant presence to allow those same reactions to positive-feedback
into something notable -- without it they just fizzle.

Yes, its not comfortable for the players.  Comfortable players don't
get their dander up enough to actually *DO* anything.  Rub their face
in it enough, and then don't let them escape, and they DO do
something.

Its a fine line to walk -- you have to leave enough possibility open
than they see the chance of creating something they want, but you also
have to rub their face in the shit constantly enough that they'll
actually work at accomplishing that thing they want.  Go too far one
way and they'll just leave (too much shit).  Too much they other and
they'll do nothing (too much opportunity, not enough shit).

<<And there concludeth our fecal lesson for today>>

> As I said before, killing for real is just an (unfortunate)
> extension of killing for fun inside of games. I do think an online
> world CAN help people learn to get along with careful structure and
> a well thought out reward system. But "womp-em and take what you
> want" is hard coded into our genes.  We always need to be aware that
> the process of civilization simply overlays a risk-reward system
> which favors the supression of those instincts and desires.

I have a very hard time with this -- quite simply I just do no see a
reasonable relation between killing in-game and killing IRL -- even in 
a game with perma-death.  

There is an underlieing reason: Especially in the western world, the
conviction is that this life is all you have, there is no here-after
in any form.  Lose your life and you are gon, period, finito, no
reprieve.  Certainly the western (especially American) current
cultural imperitive is that any belief in such a here-after or other
religious or philosophical tenet is far less important than one's
immediate life (which seems soobviously and blatantly false and
unsupportable to me that I have to wonder how that idea has managed to
survive so far).  "Life" is considered expensive.

However games are not like that.  Get blown up in Space Invaders and
another life is merely a token away.  Ditto for Quake, Doom, almost
all MUDs, and UOL.  "Life" is cheap.  In a game with perma-death, life
never actually ends -- only the currency of that character.  Another
"token" raises another character with a new currency.

<<This is BTW a very good argument for why life is a game>>

Talk to the Coast Guards who've picked up rafts from Cuba, or the rat
packs leaving Vietnam and Cambodia.  "Life" is cheap.  Very very very
cheap.  Cheap enough to throw at an off chance.  

This is not to argue that there is no loss in a PK.  Certainly not.
Character "currency" can be a considerable expense.  However, that's
hardly an argument that mass in-game PK'ers are repressed RL
sociapaths.

>> All the more so if we've invented, say, nuclear weapons.  :X)

> [Total OT aside] Someday, I will figure out why people are so
> freaked about nuclear weapons.  

For me the answer to both your question and the fear lies in one word:
responsibility.

--
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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