[MUD-Dev] Re: Levels versus Skills, who uses them and when.

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Mon Jan 18 13:19:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Thu, 14 Jan 1999, J C Lawrence wrote:
> Adam Wiggins<adam at angel.com> wrote:
> > If people were willing to invest 100 or more hours into a mule
> > character like this whose usefulness is not even all that high,
> > IMO, then I'd say that using the technique Mik describes above is
> > probably going to be fruitless.  It may *reduce* the muling
> > somewhat, but not get rid of it.
> 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.

Exactly.  The designer was attempting to create a character type
which would allow players that don't like the other, perhaps more
straightforward, character types.  An attempt to introduce
variety and gameplay mechanics that aren't just another damage spell
or another heal spell.  But when it gets used as a mule, this effect
is basically negated.  Worst of all is that someone that *would*
want to play this character type "for real" is going to quickly
discover that their character is considered pretty worthless, since
everyone has their mule they can get the same thing from.  (Versus,
say, a typical cleric, which you actually need to have along during
your excursions.  The alchemists on AnotherMUD never left town once
they were 50th level.)

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

See above.  It think it's less that the *existence* of mules is a
problem, and more that one character type has been rendered worthless.
Generally muds are lacking in character diversity, so parring down the
variety even more is a Bad Thing.

> 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?

Well, AnotherMUD also was the home of Weckle.  Weckle was at first
a very basic mule: a 50th level cleric with tons of mana who stood
in the reception and gave people a few heals.  The player who played
him quickly automated the procedure via tintin triggers and tells.
Soon the Weckle "program" grew to be quite complex, with responses to
socials, good handling of low mana, and builtin "help" files.  You
could even leave "messages" for other players and file "dirs"
which could later be querried (tell weckle dirs to ogres, weckle tells
you "w3n10n24e15n7e3n3end").  At first he set it up so that weckle
would take donations, and players who used his services a lot would give
him small tips.  Eventually he set it up so that there was a simple
lottery program: you give him some cash, and you have a chance to win
all the money that he has on hand based on a random number roll.
Ocasionally the pot would get pretty high if no one got lucky for a while.
Shortly before Another met its demise (*sniff*), the receptions was literally
clogged with matching robots of all sorts.  It became a contest to see who
could write the cutest reponses.  Many of the robots would even interact
with each other, running a constant Punch-and-Judy show there in the reception.

I would definitely say that these robots added to the mud, in many ways.
They were, in the purest sense of the word, mules.  However, their character
types were not prone to muling.  No one needed clerics any less because of
Weckle's presence.  And the later robots that showed up were never the
underrepresented classes (eg, alchemists) - in fact they were mostly normal
mages and clerics.

Adam W.

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