[MUD-Dev] Re: Thoughts

Koster Koster
Wed Jan 13 19:01:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Caliban Tiresias Darklock [mailto:caliban at darklock.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 1999 6:32 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Thoughts

Now to actually comment on the laws you offer. :)

> The code is the contract:
> Any usable ability or object is a promise. If your game has a 
> "haggling"
> skill, there is obviously someplace you can haggle. If there 
> is a hammer you
> can carry, there must be a nail you can drive. If you do not 
> deliver a place
> to haggle and a nail to drive, you have broken your contract with the
> player. Even if you only do this once, word will spread.

This is a really common problem on muds. I usually run into it with
thief skills. Skills really need to have *ongoing* utility. If you rely
on hardcoded or builder-placed traps in your mud, then your disarm trap
skill is a waste of code, because it is not an ongoing need. 

> The power of two:
> Twice is always. If a player observes an effect twice, he 
> will expect to see
> it every time. If he doesn't, he will think something is wrong. If you
> assure him that nothing is wrong, he will think *you* are wrong.

Hmm. I assume you had something in mind, but this actually seems to
generic to be a Law, to me.

> Code Never Dies:
> Whenever you put a feature into the server, it is virtually 
> impossible for
> that feature to come back out. It does not matter how old or 
> obsolete or
> broken or buggy it becomes. It may be repaired, even 
> replaced, but never
> removed. It follows logically that no feature should ever 
> enter the game
> without careful and thorough consideration.

I'd make the caveat that if something is badly broken, you can in fact
yank it and it may even be applauded. I've had to do it on UO enough. :)
But on the whole, I agree.

> The law of ill repute:
> Negative commentary is both more common and more persistent than the
> positive variety. While word will spread when you have 
> something really cool
> in the game, many players will hoard such information as 
> valuable. Word will
> spread much faster when something has gone wrong, because no 
> one values the
> information; it is cast aside as soon as possible, and at 
> every opportunity
> thereafter, in the apparent hope that the player will 
> eventually be rid of
> it.

It's not so much that the information about the cool stuff won't spread,
but that i won't be "watercooler talk" so to speak. It won't be a
subject of discussion, merely noted in passing. People like talking
about bad things more than good, generally speaking.

> The theory of player relativity:
> No statistic has meaning without comparison. Unless you know 
> where the other
> players are, where you happen to be is completely irrelevant. 

What about benchmarking against the game system, such as what monsters
you can kill?

> This is true e
> ven in games where there is no score or statistic, because 
> when you do not
> provide a way of measuring performance, the public will invent one
> externally.

People crave ladders. 

> How benchmarks are built:
> When no measure of quality is readily provided, a measure of 
> quality will be
> invented by a player who performs well under that measure. It will be
> supported by others who perform well under it. If there are 
> enough of those
> people, the rest of the playerbase will conclude that this is 
> the "correct"
> measure of a player's skill. This becomes the de facto object 
> of your game,
> and you will be blamed for its every ill while those who 
> created it will
> take all the credit for its successes.

Possibly too specialized to be a law, given how few games fail to give a
way to measure your character's accomplishments.

> Peek-a-boo:
> If the player cannot see it, it does not exist. If you do not 
> display a
> level, then your game has no levels. If you do not expose a 
> system, there is
> no such system. If no secret item has been found, there are 
> no secret items.
> If no score is displayed, the game has no score.

Hmm, whatever happened to "all games have levels, though it may take a
pedant and a magnifying glass to find them"? :)

> It's the thought that counts:
> Stupid restrictions are okay if the player discovers them 
> himself, but not
> if you tell him they exist. In Squaresoft's "Parasite Eve", a 
> dead body
> blocks your passage down a forest path. You could, of course, 
> simply step
> over the body were this real life. Upon determining the restriction's
> existence, the player accepts it. Reporting it to another 
> player who has not
> yet observed the restriction, however, meets with indignance 
> and outrage at
> such an unacceptable breach of realism. (This is specifically 
> of interest to
> commercial game authors, since it implies that *telling* 
> potential players
> you don't support something is a Bad Thing, whereas just plain not
> supporting it would probably be fine. Also consider the 
> reactions of your
> public to proposed features; telling someone you're going to give them
> something is very different from actually giving it to them.)

Now this is one that clicks as very much correct for me!


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