[MUD-Dev] Re: [DESIGN] To kill or not to kill?

Michael.Willey at abnamro.com Michael.Willey at abnamro.com
Tue Oct 6 10:32:11 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

The Wildman writes:
>On Mon, 5 Oct 1998 Michael.Willey at abnamro.com wrote:
>> You've clearly defined what you *don't* want in
>> this game - My question is, What do you want?
>> The conflict in this setting is clear: the Individual
>> Vs. the Collective.  But if conflict is not meant
>> to be resolved through violence, how *will* it be
>> played out?  What goals will your players be striving
>> for?  Escape?  Dominance?  Survival?  (Or for the
>> other side - protection of the collective and the
>> induction of new members.)  What markers will you
>> use to show the players their "score"?
>Goals are not easily defined here. Possible goals
>could be outlined, but players are sure to come
>up with their own. Number 6 managed to beat the
>system so much they made him Number 2.

I'd suggest that while players will create and work
towards their own meta-goals, you'll have to provide
smaller goals in order to provoke the games you want
them to play.  No. 6's meta goal was to retain his
individuality (and, in the beginning, to escape).
No. 2's meta goal was to break No. 6's will and/or
find out some nebulous bit of information (why No. 6
resigned).  In each episode they also played out smaller
games for control of certain markers. [destroy the
General, save the retiring No. 2's life, win the
election, get rid of the current No. 2, etc.]
Usually the marker took the form of a plot, rather
than a specific object.

>> I guess my point is that in order to keep things
>> from regressing back to violence, you have to interest
>> your players in another game.  I'm very interested
>> in this discussion - I'd like to offer a number
>> of these other games as alternatives to combat in
>> our own system.  Combat keeps resurfacing because
>> it's simple, direct, and well-defined.  Perhaps
>> a complex, indirect and nebulous game could capture
>> player's attention without having to directly compete
>> with the all-powerful combat systems?
>Let's hear your suggestions. I'm not worried about
>it regressing into combat so much as I am about
>players leaving for lack of something to do.

Most of the action in this setting revolved around
two interconnected games:  the Exploration game,
where the player (No. 6) discovers clues and ferrets
out information without getting caught, and the
Social/Political game, where the player tries to
collect his markers and advance his meta-goal without
becoming enough of a direct threat to warrant an
end to the game.

This seems to tie readily into the discussion of
quest engines, although the level of detail of
particular markers would probably necessitate you
taking a personal hand in predesigning many of
these markers.  But the generic episode plot could
be duplicated by an engine:
  -select/create marker [from a predefined list,
    or assembled from random pieces by quest engine]
  -place marker in game
  -inform wardens of marker's activation
  -trigger clues for prisoners to discover
    marker's existence

Prisoner's exploration game is to search for information
about marker that could lead to their control of
it.  Warden's game is to prevent information from
being taken, but subtly.  Acting too openly reveals
their position as wardens, clues prisoners in to
the existence of the marker, and penalizes warden's
meta-goal. [See "Hammer into Anvil" for what happens
to an unsubtle #2]

After the Exploration game comes a Social game,
where prisoner and warden vie for control over
marker, which has a certain value towards their
meta-goal.  Apparently if warden loses control of
marker, not only is his meta-goal not advanced,
it appears to be penalized by the value of the

(It's interesting to note that warden's team leader
has the ability to end the game for any player at
any time, but that exercising this seems to
negatively affect his meta-goal, and if his meta-
goal progress goes below a certain point, his game
will also be ended.  The other side doesn't have
any team organization - the rules of the game infact prohibit it.
["Prisoners and Wardens" - when
No. 6 tries to organize a revolt amongst those he's
sure are prisoners, his own test used against him
convinces them that he's not.])

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