[MUD-Dev] Re: You think users won't number crunch and statistise your MUD?

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Tue Jun 30 14:12:44 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Mon, 29 Jun 1998, J C Lawrence wrote:

> Have a look at:
>   URL:http://uoss.stratics.com/index.html
> It really doesn't matter if you are numberless or not...
> Have a look at:
>   URL:http://uoss.stratics.com/itemsa.htm
> For a representative sample.

I think you're making an unwarranted conclusion here.  I must admit that
I haven't actually played UO, so I don't know how "numberless" they've 
tried to make the environment.  Judging by what I can see on those pages,
though, they haven't tried to hide the things that would normally appear
on an RPG character sheet (except for equipment stats).

To be specific, it looks like attributes and hit points are exposed, and
like some kind of AR is shown, even if it's not the "true" AR.  Having
such data exposed makes reverse engineering numbers and formulas *much*

Further, from what little I could tell from the pages, UO doesn't seem to
have gone to any great effort to try to hide other numbers.  Figuring out
the strength needed to wield a weapon, for example, merely requires making
a character with a certain strength, trying to wield several weapons with
it, making another character of higher strength and trying weapons with
it, etc.  There's no indication that the designers did anything beyond not
giving the numbers to make it difficult to figure out the numbers.

Again from what's visible on those pages, UO's systems are no more
complicated than a medium-complexity paper RPG.  Such systems should be
fairly simple to reverse engineer. One of the things that appeals to me 
about a computer RPG is that systems can be much more complex than 
would be practical in a paper RPG; reasonably, a more complex system will
be harder to reverse engineer in its entirety.

Obviously, no matter what you do, someone sufficiently determined can
eventually figure out your mechanics -- after all, people have managed to
figure out the laws of mechanics for the real world, some of which are
hidden behind far more variables than we're likely to use in any mud.
Thus, the simple statement that "even if you try to hide numbers, people
can figure them out" isn't of much use.  Of more interest would be ideas
on how to make the numbers harder to figure out, or on how people reverse
engineer such numbers in practice.

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