[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD Design doc - Combat

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Jan 30 16:47:32 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Tue, 26 Jan 1999 14:56:59 -0600 (CST) 
Cat <cat at oldzoom.bga.com> wrote:

> Or should I be able to talk and talk like now, and if I want to do
> something *else* I have to press a button or mumble an arcane
> prefix?

Make the common and frequent things simple, the
every-so-often-but-I-have-to-do-them things easy to rediscover and
relearn every time, and the uncommon/rare things can be left mostly on
their own.

> To me MUDs are communications systems with "some other stuff to do
> besides talking" added in.  

This devolves to the base subject (in the grammatical sense) of the
game.  Is the subject of the game the game world, its machinations,
its game value, and other such concerns, or is the subject of the game
the inter-relation (communication) of the players?

Games vary.  Games which are playable by solo players, even if in
limited form, tend to have the game itself as the subject.  Talkers,
obviously, don't.  Quake and co, it can be argued, pins one end of
this scale, with IRC pinning the other (ignoring IRC meta or
hack/crack channels).

In Bubba Player's playing of your game, how important are other
players for the following categories?

  1) General play
  2) Achieving specific goals
  3) Achieving unspecific goals
  4) The normal game play process
  5) What you generally do on the game (may be different from first category)

The base question being examined is "At what granularity and (game
design) depth are multiple/other players integral to a given player's
experience in the game?"

Many MUDs don't really care much about other players except at the
macro level.  Yes, you can team, tank, cooperate on puzzles and tasks
etc, but these are very high level concepts in a very low-level
barely-implemented environment, and are generally used to make an
individual more effective thru scaling (Bubba hits for 10, TeamBoffo
hits for 10,000) rather than making the multiplicity of players
integral to the very basics of the game and world design, even at
almost an atomic level:

  -- Bubba meets Tiamat and gets torched.  Bubba gets together with
Boffo and Co and torches Tiamat.

  -- Bubba's farm is overrun by maurauding bandits (players) and his
possessions destroyed.  Bubba organises other players, fund raises,
builds a militia, raises dues and fees from the membership, builds a
guard wall around critical points, establishes a network of
communication to report the next attack sooner, starts handling
inter-member displutes and thus establishes a justice and enforcement
system, finds that his group is now being identified as a trade
entity, establishes border levies and tariffs, etc etc etc, all done
as a player inside the game.

  -- Bubba creates a new set of objects in the game world that allow
players to <do-neat-thing> (eg waldo's remote robots, body morphs,
whatever).  The value of the objects are entirely indirect.  They are
valued not so much for what they do to the game world, but for what or
how they allow players to express.  Bubba becomes innundated with
requests for copies of these objects and for help in their use.

In the first example Bubba uses the fact of the presence of other
players to magnify his numbers.  If he can only hit for 10, if you can
get enough other players together, he can hit for much more than that.

In the second example, the fact of, manipulation, politics, value
systems, inter-personal relations and all the rest are key at a much
lower level than in the first.

In the last example the game itself is marginal.  The important bit is
what a given player can do with other players, or how and what he can
communicate to them.  My own interest is at the game-is-subject end,
so I'll leave this end to those more expert there.

> Though this particular list has a strong bias towards combat and
> towards simulating immensely complex world ecosystems, economies,
> and/or laws of physics...

ie Game-is-subject, no?

> I think that what most MUD players primarily want to do is talk to
> other people - and this will only increase as a focus as the
> demographics of the Internet shift more and more away from the early
> adopters, and towards the demographics of the average human.  

Ahh, yes.  Why do you get together of a night an play monopoly?  It is
not that much of a fun game.  Certainly the mechanics of the game are
not fascinating.  It offers an excuse for socialising, for chatting,
for gossiping, for telling jokes, etc, all because that game board
happens to sit between you and helps to occupy the blank times that
occur in any group conversation.

The other side are modeled by the groups of gamers who meet at the
local libraries to play MtG, re-enactments, and the like, those who
are dedicated to the game itself, and for whom the socialising factor
is a critical, but secondary part of the experience.

> Most humans don't want a command line interface, they want a graphic
> interface.

I'd argue that.  The general want is for an interface that defaults to
what they generally want to do, and which presents a manipulatable
overview of their possible actions at any time.  This is usually
(currently) done via GUI, but I don't see that as a pre-req.

J C Lawrence                              Internet: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                            Internet: coder at kanga.nu
...Honorary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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