[MUD-Dev] Re: CGDC, a summary

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Sun May 17 22:16:05 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Friday, 15 May 98, Chris wrote:

> :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.")

This is the primary reason why I favor learn-by-using-based skill
systems.  In such a system, players are free to define their own goals
(at least, as far as character advancement goes), and the means of
achieving those goals to is to exercise the skill in question.

> Whilst reading the above, something just occurred to me (probably already
> been tried). Many MUDs have safe zones where player-killing is not allowed.
> Its a simple mechanism, but seems effective. In mine, I only allow combat
> in the single combat zone. Similar effect. So, how about letting players
> choose whether or not their character particpates in the "kill things and
> gain levels" race? Such a character can still fight and kill things, and
> may well have an internal, never-revealed set of stats, but no-one (except
> perhaps admins or wizards) can determine the actual stats. If someone (e.g.
> a player-kill d00d) attacks them, then they can fight back, with whatever
> skill they actually possess. If they are killed, the PK-er gets *no* points,
> but if the PK-er is killed or harmed, they lose as they normally would.

> Levellers would always be free to participate in the non-levelling activities
> of the game, right along with the rest of the characters. The two systems
> would not really be separate - they would share currency, etc.

> Is it too much to hope that the PK-ers would tend to leave the non-levellers
> alone, since they really aren't worth it? Unless of course they are *really*
> ticked off, but then they are effectively role-playing in their killing!

It's too much to hope that *all* PK-ers would leave the non-levellers
alone.  PKers, in my experience, tend to fall into three groups:

1.  Vultures.  These are people who PK because they've found it to be
    an easy way to gain experience, money, equipment, or whatever.
    There are several things about most muds which make this strategy
    effective:

    - It's easier to find heavily-wounded PCs than heavily-wounded
      monsters.  This is because PCs move with purpose, where monsters
      move randomly.  Thus, one can lie in wait in a place where
      wounded PCs are likely to go (e.g., the entrance to an area
      which offers healing) and wait for them to come to you.

    - PCs tend to have more money and equipment than a monster of
      equivalent power.  On most muds, monsters are built with a
      minimum of equipment -- often, only a single weapon and armor.
      Thus, PCs are a better source of equipment.

    - Huge differences in combat ability exist between players.  On
      most muds, a medium-level PC is several times harder to kill
      than a low-level PC when they are both at full strength -- much
      less when one is weakened.  Therefore, PKers can choose who they
      attack in order to only take on easy kills.

    - Attrition-based combat (i.e., hit points).  With traditional
      hit point-based combat, a PKer can be secure in his/her ability
      to fight for some length of time without being killed.
      
    - PK-safe areas.  Having areas where PK can't be done can actually
      help out PKers, if there are only a few ways in to such areas.
      Most muds which have these areas will place healing in them --
      thus, the routes to them become good ambush points.  With
      attrition-based combat, the PKers don't have to worry about
      being PKed themselves -- they know their hit points will hold
      out long enough for them to get back to the nearby PK-safe area.
      
    - There is a constant stream of new players who don't know about
      the PKers and therefore don't know what behaviors/places to
      avoid.  Further, these new players are very easy to kill.

    Your proposal would tend to lower the number of vultures, since it
    takes away the impetus of gaining easy experience.  However,
    non-levellers might still be useful to kill to gain equipment and
    money.

2.  Hunters.  These players PK for the challenge -- since monsters on
    most muds show no intelligence or tactics whatsoever, these
    players seek out more intelligent opponents to hunt.  From what
    I've seen, pure hunters tend to form a clique within the mud and
    hunt each other.  They do so for two reasons -- 1.  They aren't
    seeking to hurt other players' feelings, so they prefer to hunt
    those who are at least semi-willing to be hunted, and 2.  Other
    hunters are a greater challenge.

    These are the kinds of PKers who like to hold running battles that
    sprawl across half the mud, with each side having several people.
    In general, they don't bother non-PKers, so there's little need to
    do anything about them.  These sorts of PKers also don't mind if a
    mud only has PK by choice.

    Hunters are unlikely to go after non-levellers, because those who
    choose to be non-levellers aren't likely to want to participate in
    hunting.  You don't mention whether non-levellers would be able to
    initiate combat against other PCs.  In they can, it's possible that
    hunters might *choose* to become non-levellers for two reasons:

    - All the hunters are then on a more even keel, making tactics
      more important.

    - No one will lose any levels from the hunt.
    
3.  Bullies.  These players PK because they enjoy messing things up
    for other people.  Some of them restrict their activities to
    certain others, based on either in-game or out-of-game
    considerations.  These tend to be the most vociferous opponents of
    non-PK systems, and are the most likely to look for loopholes that
    will allow them to kill other PCs when they're not supposed to be
    able to.  Bullies are encouraged by traditional mud systems, since
    they can "safely" go after lower-level characters.

    Bullies will continue to go after non-levellers.  If non-levellers
    can attack other PCs, bullies might choose to become non-levellers
    if they have a decent amount of power, because then others can't
    PK them down for revenge.

Of course, a particular PKer may belong to one or more of these
categories to varying degrees.  Also, these categories describe only
habitual PKers -- many players will PK for revenge or other motives,
but do not make a habit of it.

About PK and role-playing -- PK can be role-playing, but only if the
PK is being done for in-character reasons.  Thus, a bully who plays a
dwarf and decides to PK all the orc and elf players he/she can could
be considered to be role-playing.  One who chooses to PK any PC whose
player likes a certain (real-world) sports team, however, is not
role-playing.

It should be noted, though, that role-playing is not necessarily the
most important aspect of role-playing games.  IMHO, having fun is more
important.  Since a bully's purpose is to ruin other players' fun,
even a bully who is role-playing should not be tolerated, IMHO.

--
       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)


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