[MUD-Dev] Re: WIRED: Kilers have more fun

John Bertoglio alexb at internetcds.com
Mon Jun 22 23:11:02 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

From: Mike Sellers <mike at bignetwork.com>
Date: Monday, June 22, 1998 7:03 PM

At 06:11 PM 6/22/98 -0500, Koster, Raph wrote:
>>> From: Dan Shiovitz [SMTP:dbs at cs.wisc.edu]
>>> I think this is the wrong way to go about things. Saying, essentially,
>>> "the world is a chaotic and lawless place and any order must be
>>> imposed by the players" is putting a major burden on people.
>>You're quite correct.

>The unfortunate part about this being, of course, that UO (like every
>MUD of which I'm aware) gives players ample tools and incentive to be
>chaotic and evil,

This is correct and quite insightful but incomplete. Of course, it is
easier to take a gun into a 7-eleven and get money than to start a
multi-national corporation. The tools are easily available and little
effort or education is required.

>but virtually no incentives or tools to use to be

Here, I disagree strongly. The tools exist as do the incentives.

An example: Sir Barron, GrandMaster Blacksmith and merchant on the Great
Lakes server. He is an accomplished player who has built a substantial
following by undercutting the "official" shops on basic items and buying,
trading and building other gear. I do not know his story but my son speaks
of him the way a high school basketball player speaks of Michael Jordan.
This player has built a huge number of online friends and is much more
"important" in the online world, with a greater reputation (real, not game
generated) than any PK my son can name. Like in real life, it is more work
to be a sucessful good guy. But it can be done.

>Using the various tools and mechanisms designed deep into the
>game, *anyone* can be a PKer, and gain immediate social distinction.

The social distinction is quick but also modest. A few pk's have achieved
serious distinction, but most have limited fame. My son has recently
experimented with a thief character and has been quite successful. However,
his ability to prosper and interact in the online world is limited as he
quickly wears out his welcome and has to move on. It's fun for a while and
helps to build up capital, but he prefers hanging out with his very strict
guild mates and riding the world of various forms of evil.

>No real analogue or reward for being lawful or investing in a larger
>exists.  I know some long-time UO players who finally gave up in disgust
>just recently, as all their effort to build their own small community was
>easily thwarted by a few "destroyer-players" whom they were powerless to
>stop (e.g., building a forge right in front of one of their houses,
>blocking entrance to it).

Here it gets interesting. "Perfect code" would not allow such a thing to
happen. Even if the code is perfect (that is, does not allow anything goofy
and unrealistic within a give game universe to happen), inventive players
will still find ways to spoil others fun. On the other hand, what if the
above example was caused by a player who placed his forge badly out of
ignorance and not malice? GMs nuking the offending house would be out of
line and would create another unhappy player.

>No one in UO can be a real sheriff, invested with powers similar to and
>inimical to those of a PKer's, and (just as importantly) derived from the
>will of the people, not the deigning of the designers.

The new noto system currently in place does introduce the concept of
"outlaw" in to the UO world. By outlaw, I mean the traditional definition,
where you are declared to "outside the protection of the law" and,
therefore, subject to street justice from any person or group of persons.
This limits much bad behavior and forces the remaining evil folk to be much
more careful.

>Unless things have
>changed recently (Raph?), this simply isn't part of the game.  I've talked
>for years (literally) about the populace->mayor->judge/sheriff triangle
>have even demonstrated it on a small scale.  This is the sort of _social_
>engineering (and this is just one fairly trivial example) that is
>for encouraging more than a few tireless souls to be "lawful" and

In the absence of "perfect" world building code, It is hard to see how an
online world can function without human intervention. The problems with
that have been discussed before. The danger of intervention is the
employees who do so will cause more problems than they solve (per the
example above).

Creating an online government is a complex step but one that may become
necessary to build the kind of world Mike is talking about. This is a big
deal but I suspect a system similar to JC's notion of granting points to
other players who gather power by various methods might be a good solution
in the long run.

>In other words, people do what we reward them for doing -- and in our
>today, we _clearly_ reward them for being aggressive, anti-social, and
>bloodthirsty.  In the last ten years or so of mudding, we've really moved
>just about a step and a half from pure h&s gaming.  That may not be our
>intent, but it is definitely what we encourage them to do.  This lack of
>ability and incentive to be anything *but* anti-social, chaotic, and evil
>is, I believe, the single biggest impediment to building *real*
>in online games.

At the risk of invoking orthodoxy, I suspect few will disagree with this
statement. The current (July 1998) issue of National Geographic has an
article written by Garrison Kielor (the NPR "Prarie Home Companion" fellow)
about Denmark. He describes an ordered world where custom creates a very
stable, safe society. He manages to describe the good points while showing
how the weight of social convention manages to crush people of independent
sprirt. Another good example it the Niven-Pournell novel, "Oath of Fealty"
where the customs of one culture clash with another.

<SNIP: City discussion>

>Mike Sellers Chief Creative Officer The Big Network

John Bertoglio

MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.

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