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

John Bertoglio alexb at internetcds.com
Tue May 12 22:16:13 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

-----Original Message-----
From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>
To: mud-dev at kanga.nu <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Monday, May 11, 1998 4:04 PM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: PK and my "Mobless MUD" idea

>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.
>> 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.

Minor disagreement. The three examples cited above are not co-equal. The
first two, travel distance and expense are essentially synonyms. But the
third, population density is absolutely different. My suggestion was not
designed to relieve population density. It was to create an _option_ for
players who have reached a point in the game where they want to invest the
time and energy to build something "away from the Madding Crowd".

>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.

You are correct. This is an essential part of the world. We had such a
world during the "Age of Discovery". A few people risked all to leave high
density Europe and UK to explore and settle the "New World." My point was
that such a New World does not exist on UO or any other mud (that I am
aware of). The boiling caludren of people produces those who will take high
risks for high rewards. When this world creates a group who is willing to
take risks to improve their situation, there is no path open to them...

>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

My postulate is that the "escape" is far riskier in terms of effort and
resources than accepting the status quo. The planning of such an
undertaking would be great fun for those involved. Even the security around
the exodus would be interesting. If the start time was leaked, PK's would
stay home from work (and school, of course) to attack while the group was
close to a source of resupply. Diversions, feints, (ala the first
RoadWarrior film) and the final caravan...an epic of sort thing in the game

>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).

Agreed. If you make the obstacles to leaving higher than you think are
reasonable (like during the age of discovery) and most will stay home. But
a few will overcome the obstacles and get cities in America (or continents
in the case of Vespuchi). These are who get the tales spun around them. My
point regarding Oasis is they did not have this option. If they did, the
answer to the complaints about the proximity to the fecal matter would be
"Go West, young man." My guess is the roleplayers in Oasis would make enjoy
packing up and accept the risks. A world like UO would be richer for the

A sidelight. If they used the JC RP system, once the new city reached a
critical mass of people they could "earn" the right to start characters
there, install a permanant moongate port, local NPC healers, etc. The would
would grow beyond the original as the dissaffected from Oasis (as there
surely would be) forge out on their own to build their own idea of an ideal
community. Again, they would be leaving the "advantages of "civilization",
to start out fresh. Oasis would most likely begin (in a few months of RL)
to look just like the world the founders left behind.

><<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.

I would hope not. There isn't a relationship. My point was related to the
notions that we are a pretty agressive lot. Gaming provides an acceptable
release for these agressions.

>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.

I have no argument with any of this. You saw more in my post than I put it
it. I'm not are real sophisticated guy in the philosphy department.
>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

True. I never meant to suggest they were. Behaving like a sociopath does
not make you one. However, my experience watching kids play video games
suggests that this can be a window to their souls. Not an infallible
method, I will agree, but people often reveal more of their personality in
play than they intended to.

>>> 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:

I would add another word in the post cold war era : accountiblity.

>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.

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