[MUD-Dev] Re: CGDC, a summary

Jon A. Lambert jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jun 2 23:15:24 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

Hrrm, missed this the first time around.  Might as well jump on it 

> From: Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>
> On Tue 26 May, J C Lawrence wrote:
> > On Thu, 21 May 1998 17:40:10 +0100 (BST) 
> > Marian Griffith<gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:
> > > In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Mon 18 May, Travis S. Casey wrote:
> > Any system is going to be biased.  You can't avoid it.  You can
> > provide multiple biases, but that's merely multiplexing the
> > problem, not solving it.  The nasty bit comes when sufficient
> > multiplexing is deemed "good enough".  When does that occur?  
> *grin* Actually I was trying to say -ONE- particular type of
> behaviour. I could be happy in a game where you could actually play
> in a different style without messing up the game goals.  Like a game
> where a healer is expected to do just that and not to go out and
> kill the monsters. I do not understand what you mean by multiplexing
> though  and why it is such a bad thing.

Multiplex, in this case, likely means "to create many different

Don't you just hate it when these computer/math-types start applying
their wierd terminology into other realms. ;) The other day my boss
asked me to interface with a client.  It took me a quite awhile to
realize he wasn't talking about a computer client program but a human
female known as Shiela.  And this boss guy isn't even involved in data
processing.  This is the newspeak of American management and what he
was attempting to convey was that I should talk to Shiela.  :o

> [bit snipped]
> > So, instead you build in enough goals, and enough reward systems,
> > with enough cross-pollination and cross-currency among them that
> > the total set of valuable (per player viewpoint) permutations is
> > "large".
> <--- imagine totally blank expression

Hybrid goals or where multiple goals are compatible or incompatible.
Achieving certain goals may add or detract from one's progression in
other goals.  If a system is easily "goal-expandable" will it lengthen
the average user's playtime?  Or enjoyment?  Is becoming the king of
Argos somewhat incompatible with becoming the guildmaster of 
thieves?  Or is becoming the guildmaster of thieves a stepping 
stone into buying yourself into a respectable position and later 
making a play for kingship?  This assumes political and economic 
systems are in place, each with their own goals, making the HnS 
monster killing game just another optional avenue of play.  

Now I've seen some rudimentary economic systems.  But many of them are
merely ways to generate money which can only spent on equipment for
the HnS game.  And I've seen some passable ecological systems.  But
again, they have been designed with the idea to spawn opponents for
the HnS game.

I think the primary goal of an economic as well as an ecological game 
is to create wealth.  But accumulation of wealth is a boring game in 
itself, it's the spending of wealth that's far more interesting as a 
game.  One has to have the options to do interesting things with that 
wealth.  There is huge hunger for a player driven/creative/spending/ 
building game.  Just the other day, I logged into a stock Circle 
that a friend was playing and chatted with some of the players.  Well 
it has been some time since I actually mudded. ;)  Thinking I was one 
of those newbies, they where very helpful.  Moreso than usual.   
There were a few clans that had formed and they were by their help 
trying to influence me into joining their clan at a later date.  When 
I asked them what they where doing they revealed that members of 
clans regularly went out in groups to kill and loot mobiles primarily 
for money.  They would collect this money and when they had enough 
they would give it to the implementor and he would add some clan 
rooms, special guardian monsters and special equipment and objects 
for the clan hall.  In fact, one of the most popular items where 
statues of characters with plaques with player written epitaths. 
These cost an incredible amount of money (millions of GPs).  I can 
only imagine the time it took to accumulate this wealth. 

So the GAME here was primarily a building and aquisition competition
between clans.  And the HnS of monsters was akin to farming.  In fact
many of these players considered such activity to be quite tedious and
boring, but they did it anyway.  But the base desire in building
something, is to effect a change in the world.  It's very much the
same impulse that inspires a kid to spray paint graffiti on a wall or
bridge in the real world.  A place to put your "Kilroy was here".

> > Yup,
> > carving anorexic tree god statues from ogre brains may very well
> > not be rewarded by the game, and will thus be selected against. 
> > Ditto perhaps for excellant deep sea fisherman skills, or being
> > able to live an entire life balanced atop a hermit's pillar. Ya
> > gotta draw the line beyond which you just don't care any more. 
> > Its an arbitrary.
> I see no problem with that, as long as the things that you -can- do
> are sufficiently varied.  I am not speaking for UOL as I never
> played that, but for most muds that I am familiar with there is only
> one thing to do and nothing else matters.

Nod.  Spend a couple of hundred hours exploring, socializing and
killing get to get to level 50, then join a group, become an immortal,
run a few quests. Delete character, lather, rinse, repeat.   Game

I've seen muds where if you are not killing, you are penalized in
the rate at which you get xps for killing.  They call this time 
"idling". <boggle>

What I was trying to say in my blathering further up, was that often
when "thinking" or "pondering" new game goals, it might be best to NOT
think about how these goals will enhance/detract/interface with the
HnS combat game and concentrate solely on the idea/goal as a stand
alone game, enjoyable and consitent by itself.

Then like JC describes.  Let the birds and bees take care of the
cross-pollination that other game.  ;) 

> > >> 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.
> > > I think things would even better if the game did not define an
> > > ultimate goal for the players?
> > We enter the question of the definition of a game.  Is a "game"
> > which has no goal (ultimate, sequential, or otherwise), still a
> > game? Arguably, no.  This is the crux of Bartle's dismissal of the
> > entire Tiny-* clan in his MUD survey.  While they're not games per
> > se, he never really defines either what they actually are, or what
> > drove (and drives) their success.

Aye. I noticed this.  Instead, Bartle simply dumps these refugees who
happen to be lost or hanging out on your traditional HnS style mud
into his hearts category.  In truth you've got two distinct classes of
these socializer-types, those who are engaged in Mud IRC and those who
are engaged in a game that is primarily driven by social interaction.

I think they are certainly games.  Someone posted on the Bettleheim
activity "play".  Yet I'd be hesitant to describe it as such, even
though competition is many times absent, though not always.  There is
often a great deal of formality and rules invovled.  Of course, I bet
this varies from game to game (or should I say play to play?)  I would
call them games where once goals are achieved or abandoned, new ones
are invented or old ones are revisited.  These are games with no
defined end point. (Not mechanically like Space Invaders) 

> There is a difference between having no goal and allowing the
> players to define their own goals. I think that what makes mushes
> intereting to play is that they do not have a goal.  They are a
> stage  where you have a limited control over your environment  and
> they allow you to do what you like.  Within the limitations of the
> theme.

You hit the nail on the head.   I think where the game system 
tinkerers find objection and hit their thumb instead of the nail is 
in the resolution of scope in players' environmental control. 
Or the resolution of story direction according to the RP GameMaster's 
notions/collective players' consent.  The "Common Sense Law of 
Plausibility" is a difficult thing to wrap code around.

> > My preferred viewpoint on the mechanics of games: Games consist of
> > goals, barriers and freedoms.  The barriers attempt to prevent
> > accomplishment of the goal(s), and the freedoms are the
> > possibilities which can be used to accomplish the goal(s).
> > Remove the goal and, at a mechanical level, you don't have a game
> > anymore.  Echoes of Bruno Bettelheim's "game" and "play"?

Really.  Imagine the game is to role-play Conan.  The goals of one's
play would necessarily change during the course of Conan's "career". 
Winning the game of role-play is not whether or not Conan actually
achieves his goals, it's more whether yourself and others are
convinced, amused, and/or entertained by your play of Conan.  
Progress in such a game can be measured in terms of audience 
approval, thus many RP muds have player-voting mechanisms.

Here's another inadequate analogy.  GOPing is hockey and RPing is

Then again maybe it is Bettleheim's play or maybe the distinction is 
really unimportant.  When one plays informal softball or volleyball 
with friends, is it a game or play?  Are you playing to win or 
playing for the sake of playing?

--/*\ Jon A. Lambert - TychoMUD     Internet:jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com /*\--
--/*\ Mud Server Developer's Page <http://www.netcom.com/~jlsysinc> /*\--
--/*\   "Everything that deceives may be said to enchant" - Plato   /*\--

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