[MUD-Dev] Re: Laws of Online World Design

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Tue Oct 13 14:57:54 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


On Mon, 12 Oct 1998 22:24:07 -0400 
Darrin Hyrup<shades at mythicgames.com> wrote:

> o If something can be abused, it will be.

I made a whole bunch of similar assertions in:

  http://www.kanga.nu/~petidomo/lists/mud-dev/1998Q3/msg00322.html

and:

  http://www.kanga.nu/~petidomo/lists/mud-dev/1998Q2/msg00880.html

Extracting quickly (with slight rephrasing and extensions):

  You can't stop players from trying to do things you don't want
them to do.  They're going to try to do whatever enters their tiny
gourd like craniums.  You can't stop it.  If you fight it you'll
just end up setting yourself up as the target de jour, and have
created an instant confrontational situation.  "How can I work
around these stoopid admins?".

  Telling players "Don't do this!  Its bad!" is tantamount to waving
a red flag in front of a bull or trying to rid of ants with honey.
The guys who "play nice" (and whom you generally don't care about)
will oblige, the rest will charge the flag and eat the honey, and
generally provide the spice and interest you crave.

  Fight the players, even under the covers, and by golly, you're a
much more canny and interesting opponent than a game ever could be
and its a LOT easier to get emotive about the big nasty admin who is
stopping you than it is to get angry about the big nasty force of
gravity that is stopping you from flying...

  Good admins and GM's are never targets for players because they
are never facilitators or favour givers.  Good admins and GM's
learned their lessons from the Cheshire Cat.

  In some manner you need to set yourself up as always working
_with_ the players, even while attempting to proscribe their
actions.  Its a funny balance, and the echo of the only real effect
of law-making being that of creating more outlaws/law-breakers.

  You can't just put up dams.  Torrential rivers have a habit of not
liking dams, of undermining them, of over-flowing them, or just
busting clear thru them.  You have to guide, channel, divert, put
big juicy carrots on the ends of not-too-long sticks, provide
reward-paths that just "accidentally" happen to lead elsewhere than
the behaviour you'd like to avoid.

  You can't stop the river.  You can dig a nice deep gorge and
"persuade" the river that it would be rather fun going down that
way.  The really tricky bit is to ensure that its never, "go down
that way instead of doing this", as they you've just set up
something to be pushed against.  You have to just do the, "Hey, this
over here is neat!", part of the distraction while you silently
build a hug dam in the background and work your arse off so nobody
notices it.

And to consolidate most of the above:

  King Knut/Canute got wet.  The Panama and Suez canals not only got
dug, but worked.  Herding cats also doesn't work.  You can't force
playes to go where you want them to go, or to do what you want them
to do.  You can however tempt them, reward them, and employ all the
subtle game-mechanic forces of game-gravity to suggest that flowing
downhill might be a rather nice idea.

--
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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