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

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon Jun 29 19:04:03 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Mon, 22 Jun 1998 23:11:02 -0700 
John Bertoglio<alexb at internetcds.com> wrote:

> 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:

>> The unfortunate part about this being, of course, that UO (like
>> every other 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.

Okay, you're both right.  The problem then is that the balance is
wrong.  IRL the presumed default action is to get a decent paying job, 
bop the SO over the head with a suitably politically correct nerf
club, get the house, cars, 2.6 kids, etc.  The default _and_ the
systemic encouragement is not to put on plate mail and make shish
kebabs out of the line at the local petrol station for your nightly
before-bed snack.

Well, at least not in this country.

Further, putting on the plate mail, and shish kebabbing gas guzzling
car drivers, as delightful as the prospect may be, is actually
difficult to accomplish IRL as well as being unrewarding over the even
slightly longer term, whereas getting a job flipping burgers at the
local greasy spoon and fiddling around with the new hire in the back
store-room is actually quite easy to do.  The reverse is true in MUDs.

To make a career of flipping burgers you have to first create the
entire company, handle its marketing and PR, identify and isolate the
market need to server, etc etc etc.  Ultimate entrepreneur-ship.  Fun?
Challenging?  Certainly.  Demanding?  Yup.  Conversely shish kebabbing
poor punks by the watering hole in a MUD is both easy and viscerally
fun, as well as employing the normal and default actions of most MUDs
(shish kebabbing poor NPC punks at their watering holes).

Largely, the same tools are present in both places.  The key
difference would seem to be their respective balance and
_encouragement_ in the game.  Killing playuers is fun and rewarding.
They react.  They scream.  They run about in enticing evasive
maneuvers.  They grovel.  They *DO* things.  People then try and *DO*
things back to you and you get to try and beat them!  Fun fun fun!
Setting up a burger flipping joint in a MUD conversely is a long slow
process full of long periods with little to no change, and even longer
periods of very slow change and incremental tweaks and wobbles.  

Its like driving crossing Texas in the summer on I-10 on cruise
control.  You get to wobble the steering wheel a couple dgrees every 5
minutes or so, and if you wait long enough you'll finally find out
that you've crossed the state line out of Texas.  hardly a recipe
excitement, even Pontiac style.  (Yes, I've done this, crossed the
whole country from SF to Floridam and yes, I loved it, and yes, the
above description is quite accurate even if it ignores the large
scenic pleasures)

As a friend quite elegantly put it, "The highest purpose in the
universe is to create an effect."  Creating effects is fun.  Not
creating effects, is no fun.  PK'ing is a rather large effect.
Driving across Texas (or esetting up burger joint on a MUD) has a very
low event rate, and very few chances to create noticable effects.  It
is fun, but only over the longer term.

The length and intensity of the average american attention span is
apocryphal.  We have to live with that.  I suspect that even
super-geeks don't do much better when they come home to take their
shoes off, kick their feet up, scratch their navels and flip a few
burgers on UOL over a nice warm guinness.

If you really want players to set up burger flipping enterprises and
others such in your MUDs, and you want such attempts to be the
default, you're going to have to establish event (player-visible
effects) rates and feedback rates for burger joint attempts that match
or exceed the event rates of shish kebabbing newbies.

That, or you're going to have to rely on the side effects of even
larger player population numbers and densities to change the equations 
yet again.

>> but virtually no incentives or tools to use to be orderly.

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

Agreed.  The equation however is:

  Chop Bubba's head of == virtual (and very sanitised and clean
(nobody has to scrub the floors)) blood and gore everywhere in
beautiful well rendered technicolour and accompanying sound effects,
Bubba also screams at you, you maybe get stat gains, and you get to
pillage Bubba's corpse.  Lotsa very immediate and tangible rewards.
Big time "Ooooh!  Kewl!" reaction rating.  Total time for operation:
30 seconds.

  Build and run burger joint == stand around waiting for customers or
doing drudge work most of the time, slowly building a bank roll large
enough for someone to PK you for.  Of course you are also building
friends, allies, accomplicies, and all the other benefits of a social
network, but its a slow and tremourous process.  Nothing goes "BOOM!", 
nothing does anything particularly visually exciting, nobodies
adreneline levels rise, hearts don't pound, and testosterone is only
indirectly involved.  Total time for operation: 30 days.

The rewards on one side are large and immediate.  The rewards on the
other side are large, very delayed, and largely implicit as versus

Consider the famous old simulation models (Scientific American?) done
on various forms of cooperation etc (I'll have to post a summary
here), where they essentially put a large number of simulated automata
in a space with simple mechanices on their abilities to cooperatively
survive and flourish, or to predate on each other.  Different tactics
won over the long and short terms...

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...

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