[MUD-Dev] Re: Bad Game Designer, No Twinkie! -- By Ernest Adams

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue May 19 04:56:21 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On 11:06 PM 5/18/98 -0700, I personally witnessed John Bertoglio jumping up
to say:
>I added a mapping element to AR because I have such a bad sense of
>direction, I get lost in areas I designed. The teleport spell was the first
>one added so I could get somewhere when I got lost.

Hmmmm. This disturbs me slightly, actually. 

The way I see it, you came across a difficulty in your game (hard to get
around and keep track of your location), and you solved it by sticking in a
way to ignore it completely. Now, I assume you went back and addressed the
issue later (or that you still have it on your to-do list), but I think
this sort of design decision often makes it far too easy for someone to
leave bad design in place because they forgot all about it. 

As a result, new players log on, say "this sucks", and the designer goes
"oh, you just haven't given it a chance, it's not that hard". So the new
player thinks either that he's an idiot, or that you're an idiot (depending
on how arrogant or insecure the player in question is). Since this sort of
design decision is exactly the sort of thing an inexperienced developer
might make, this could very well contribute to the battle lines of
'developer v. player'. When the developer does become experienced, he's
nevertheless been trained by his experiences with players to think that
players are unreasonable and lazy. 

Hypothetical situation, no accusations leveled, but I think from a
philosophical standpoint it might be something to think about. I know I've
often created some sort of 'quick fix' and then never gotten around to
implementing the real one.

>>You Have 30 Seconds to Figure Out This Level Before You Die
><Anyone remember any examples of something so stupid? >

An arcade game by the name of "Skate or Die". Not a MUD, but you had to run
around on a skateboard collecting tickets and money, earning points by
executing stunt moves, and after about fifteen or twenty seconds a voice
would yell "SKATE OR DIE" and you had to try like hell to avoid some cloud
of what looked like bees or wasps while you headed directly for the nearest
skateboard competition. The problem was that you didn't really have enough
time to go and do anything while the clock was ticking. 

Quake 2 gave some great examples of providing a sense of urgency without
ever actually placing you in danger. The room shakes, the countdown starts,
and you race like hell for the exit. Try just standing there. What happens?
Nothing. But until you think to do that, you're convinced that you have to
get out NOW when the room starts shaking. It's still hard to avoid the
sudden mad dash for the exit, even when you know nothing will happen if you
don't make it.

>Bullets are messy. Blades even more so. Carnage is brutal and always
>glossed over in games. Again, this is more of a problem in visual games.

I *like* brutal carnage that makes people queasy. I explicitly look for it
in games. Harvester did okay at this, although it definitely fell prey to
bad acting. I've heard "Flesh Feast" is a good game for this, but I have
yet to see it in stores. (It's probably old now by game-industry time.
Internet time, pooh. Game-industry time moves at the speed of light...

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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