[MUD-Dev] Re: CGDC, a summary

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Thu May 14 16:30:39 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Sun, 10 May 1998 00:14:04 -0700 (PDT) 
Adam Wiggins<adam at angel.com> wrote:


> First one I went to was Jonathon Baron, one of the maintainers of
> Kesmai Air Warrior for the last decade or so.
...deletia...
> Things he listed as being serously lacking in current offerings (his
> main examples were Air Warrior and UO) were:

>  - Indocrination.  Air Warrior has a training school he cited as >
>  being an obviously retrofitted tack-on, and UO has nothing at all,
>  but rather just dumps you into the big bad world.  I guess he
>  wanted a Merc mud school :)

This point is arguable if only in its definition and scope.  It
depends on the definition of "obviousness", as well as being suspect
in open-ended or user-defined games.

How much "indoctrination" is there for DOOM?  How much for
multi-player DOOM?  How much is actually needed?  For a game which has
no central putpose, or even no actual game-purpose at all (this could
be a pure RP game, or could be a pure petri-dish style environment),
the question of indoctrination is highly questionable as it then tends
to act as a model definition of what either should be or will be
expected in the game.

What actually _is_ indoctrination?  ie What intellectual result is it
trying to engender in the player by the time it is done?  Should he
have established a purpose wthin the game world?  A mere familiarity
with the game world processes?  An expectation of what playing this
game will be like?  What?  

Is it presenting a range of possibilities to the user in the manner of
a toolchest from which he may pick or assemble his own course, or is
it a definition of what to expect in the game, or is it an attempt to
provide a context sensitive knowledge base for the world (cf the
talking sword)?

No answers here -- they all depend on what exactly you are trying to
offer.

> - Rites of Passage.  He said that this was something completely
> lacking in Air Warrior when it came online, and the ones they tried
> to add later were poor.  The players ended up coming up with their
> own that were much better.  He also complained about UO since it's
> entirely skill based; there are few-to-no 'platos' of accomplishment
> one reaches.  He also stated that the nature of these advancements
> couldn't be arbitrary (which was the problem with AW's attempt).
> They need to be indications of status which are positively
> acknowledged by other players, and desired by the owner.  In
> addition, they cannot (he says) be subtle - it should be clear how
> to achieve something which is within your reach, and once you
> achieve it it should give immediate feedback.

Levels.

This is a classic and highly desired (if not desirable) by-product of
the standard levels model.  "Oooooo!  He's a level 20!"  "Yipee!  I
just leveled!"  "Only 530 points left to go to level!"  They are all
comments on the same aspect: the desire for comparitive mutually
consistent scales by which to judge "rank".  "Yes, I do have bigger
genitalia than you do!".

The nominative value of progress is also significant.  "I know I'm
playing well becasue I keep gaining score and advancing in levels!".
Its a self-referencing, self-supporting, and self-defining closed
system which defines both the goals and the expected accomplishments
of players.  Its actually almost definitionally impossible to have an
open-ended or user-defined game with this sort of system in place as
point rewards are tied to activities, and thus implicitly devalue and
thus damn all non-rewarded activities.  ("Thou shalt have fun killing
monsters 'coz you get points for that, but thou shalt NEVER poison the
water supply to kill all the monsters, or build towns, or RP, or set
up wineries and blacksmith shops because you get no points for that.")

Such point/scale system are particularly valued in games where the
realm of pssible activities is large.  By this single characteristic,
suddenly, everybody knows both what they need to do, and has a tool to
measure how well they are doing at achieving that goal.  "No more
open-ended or user-defined games!  You've just been told what you're
supposed to be doing!"

<<repetitive aren't I?>>

<<repetitive aren't I?>>

Quest compleation lists merely present a different face to this.  Its
still score and points and defined "approved" activities, its just
multiple choice for a little while (until you run out of quests).

Note that one-off quests __don't__ function well here at all:  They
don't have value as currency as only a small fraction of the playing
public has the opportunity to do them, and thus only tht small
population can assign a value to them.  Conversely, quests that
"everybody" can attempt of compleat (ie standard MUD style quests),
conversely are now a form of currency.  They have a known value to all 
that have done them, and anyone can...

> - Elder Games.  This is what we've been talking about recently with
> god-games; it refers to the game changing as the players advance.
> Early on he stated that a fundamental difference between single and
> multiplayer games is that in the first case, once you've mastered
> the game, it should end.  With multiplayer mastery of the game is
> 'just the begining.'  For his Elder Games he references multi-player
> Battletech - the game of a grunt in the field is very different from
> a player in the position of house leader.  (I'm not familiar with
> this one; it certainly sounds interesting, though.)  He spent a
> while on the tie-ins between character advancement, rites of
> passage, and elder games.

I suspect that any game which allows social engineering by its players 
to any significant extent is by definition fits this bill.  People are 
endlessly variant.  Machines aren't.  Social systems are infinitely
complex and fluid.  Mechanical systems aren't.  

> - Player vs Player.  He stated baldly that no game should allow a
> player to 'take away' something of value from another player.  This
> PvP is "okay" for games like Air Warrior where you only loose some
> pride when you get killed, but completely unacceptable for games
> like RPGs where you "ruin" or otherwise damage someone's character,
> whom they may have invested a lot of time in.

I guess he defined his fence and which side he's on.  Did he support
the assertion?

> His main theme was that conflict is essential, as it accelerates the
> bonds between those involved, and since on-line communities have so
> much less time availible to them (since most people play for a small
> fraction of their total real-life time), this acceleration is
> necessary to form meaningful bonds in a reasonable amount of time.

Good stuff, tho I'd put a different mechanic underneath it.  The
essence is not combat, but problem solving.  Combat merely allows a
particularly simple and easily understood set of problem mechanics.
Consider:

  A) Bubba goes about and gathers a group of players to go off and see
if they can finally kill the Red Dragon.  After a bloody and vicious
fight, with great injury and some points dealt to all, the dragon
finally dies.

  B) Bubba gets a team of people together to attempt to solve Fortress
Fract.  People need to push stones in order, ring bells together and
otherwise actively causally cooperate in order to do this.  After some 
time, you all figure out how to solve Fortress Fract, and finally
return Princess Julia to King Mandel.  Much stature and points are
awarded by the final solution.

Which builds the better community spirit?  Why?  Does it really, or is
it just that the mechanics and model underlieing the combat risks and
rewards of #A are just so much more obvious and familiar?

> There were a few folks from TEN, Mpath, Asharon's Call, the guy from
> Avalon, several from Kesmai, and a whole host of startups looking to
> break into 'massively' (this seems to be a key buzzword now)
> multiplayer gaming.

Which guy from Avalon?

--
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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