[MUD-Dev] Re: Mules (was something different)

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Fri Jan 15 20:51:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Fri 15 Jan, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Thu, 14 Jan 1999 13:31:13 -0800 (PST) 

> The real problem of course is that mule exploit game design
> weaknesses where certain functionalities are desirable but not worth
> playing with as a regular basis.  Hurm.  More interesting question:

This is already an interesting question I think :) I am wondering why
those additional skills are added  if they are not made worthwhile to
play?  I think the most striking example of that is the cleric in the
standard mud.  Most of the time their only role in a group is to cast
sanctuary and healing  on the other players.  They are supposed to be
healers but in reality there is not that much to heal.  In some other
message it was mentioned  'why bother dragging a cleric along  if you
can get all the experience alone and yell for help?'
Underneath that problem is, I think, the fact that in the typical mud
there is only one thing to do,  and generally there is an optimal way
to do it. Any other approach is going to be perceived as an extra. On
most muds that means the only goal is to kill creatures.  Things that
have nothing to do with that are considered tedious (everybody agrees
here, or so it seems, that having to eat on mud is pointless). Adding
skills that have nothing to do with killing are also  considered use-
less  and when forced to do them players will find ways to circumvent
the restrictions.  If you want to have healers in a game then healing
must really mean something in the game.  If you want carpenters  then
that too  must be applicable in and of itself.  If healing is nothing
more than a quick spell to increase some hitpoints then basically the
presence of wounds  is just a solution  to keep people from levelling
too quickly and being a healer is no profession.
To make other professions interesting and worhtwhile  you have to re-
think the game goals to a certain extent.

>   Is the existence and use of mules *really* a problem?  Why?

> Mules add complexity, interdependence, and some amount of flavour to 
> a game.  They are also tantamount to robots (just player based
> robots).  While not "fun" per se, do they actually *damage* the
> game, or do they really add a value in an area a game is already
> lacking in?

I think  the presence of those skills  adds complexity and that other
things,  but the presence of special characters  that do not actually
play undermines that value again. If the idea is to have healers as a
profession for players who do not care that much about fighting, then
it will not do if players simply create a secondary character to heal
themselves,  leaving those who would like to play that role without a
meaningfull profession.  Similarly  if weapons have to be repaired to
provide different job opportunities on the mud  then the presences of
mule characters damages that goal. You can not have complexity and an
economy of services if there is no shortage of those services.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list