[MUD-Dev] Re: pet peeves

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Fri Feb 19 19:12:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Fri, 19 Feb 1999 10:30:54 -0600 (CST) 
Wes Connell<wconnell at eden.com> wrote:

> How instead of an actual breaking point for permadeath just allow a
> certain amount of lives. Sorta like a video game. I've never seen
> that imp'd into a mud before. When you are a newbie you recieve
> three lives.  After they are all used up you die. Quests could be
> used to give extra lives and such.

I've heard of this being done, and have read of cases here, but have
never played on such a system.  I suspect abuse would be a signigicant
problem.

> The problem that I see with a permadeath breaking point is that you
> would hardly ever see any characters over level XX. 

On the permadeath games I've played this has not been the case.
Players with any significant advancement however were extremely
protective of and careful with their characters however.  The term
"paranoid" comes to mind.

Low level players have little to lose.  High level players have
everything to lose and know very exactly how easy it is to lose.  This
breeds a certain caution and distrust ("Will they do to me what I did
when I was in their place?").  I don't see this as necessarily a bad
thing, tho I expect it will help that I'm working hard to make
reactive defence far more effective than attack.

Certainly permadeath actively discourages socialisation unless there
are other externally enforced safety measures (eg sanctums).  I wonder
what the impact of opt-in pre-defined trust systems would be?  Say
allowing something like:

  > l
  Bubba is here.
  Bubba says, "Okay, I'll trust you.  Let's make a peace treaty."
  > say Okay.
  Bubba has declared a peace treaty with you.  
  Do you want to match it?  Until you do Bubba can still attack you.
  >> yes
  You have declared a peace treaty with Bubba.  You are now physically
  incapable of directly attacking each other.

  ...later...

  > attack bubba
  You can't attack bubba, you have a peace treaty with him.  
  
  ...later...

  Bubba has broken his peace treaty with you.  He may attack you at
  any time!

The treaty structure really does almost nothing but impose some
mechanics and auto-warning to the other side.      

> On non-permadeath muds that allow pkilling only after a certain
> level XX, the newbies coming out of the saftey get a very rude
> awakening when they a slaughtered like the fresh meat they are.

I'm still wondering why this doesn't take place on the permadeath
games I've played.  I have a suspicion it was because most players
effectively played solo most of the time, or only with other players
they knew personally or had other reasons to explicitly trust.
Certainly the player density was rarely high (three players in a room
was a crowd, four was a mob, five or more and you were effectively
guaranteed that nobody would touch anybody or else they'd instantly
get the lot of them as immediate enemies).

> It might allow for a 'smoother' transition if they could still die
> as a newbie, but just give them a buffer. =]

I'm fond of defining three types of death:

  1) You failed to survive (eg PK'ed, killed by an NPC).

  2) The game killed you for doing something stupid (eg you walked off
     the edge of a cliff).

  3) The game killed you for doing something that was likely not an
     error or stupidity on your part (eg failed a dexterity check and
     plummeted from a rope bridge).

I like to treat them separately.

  #1 I see as the normal permadeath style: character deleted with no
hope or chance of resurrection.  

  #2 gives a low probability chance of resurrection, but it is
expensive, and time consuming.

  #3 Either just resets the character, or places them behind a problem
they must solve to re-enter the game.

Given my separation of bodies and characters, and the fact that
characters may simultaneously control multiple bodies, much of this
doesn't map well for me.  Death only becomes a concern for me when a
character loses ownership of all its bodies and retains no partial
ownership any bodies either.  This is a little different from the
chance encounter killing the 2,000 hour character.  On the level of
wht can be done to prevent it, it requires active carelessness to
really die.

As such I expect most deaths to be accidental -- somebody forgot how
close they were to having no reserve bodies and got caught out.  That
given, running more than one body is a pain, so there's an active and
motivating force to minimise the number of bodies any one character
controls.  Even running a spare "sleeper" body that just exists to
ensure that you can't be killed outright is a drag.  

Play testing will reveal what really happens.

--
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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