[MUD-Dev] Elder Games

Matthew D. Fuller fullermd at futuresouth.com
Mon Mar 15 19:19:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Mon, Mar 15, 1999 at 08:11:15AM -0800, a little birdie told me
that B. Scott Boding remarked
>"Koster, Raph" wrote:
> > 
> > This still, btw, only postpones the inevitable exhaustion of all the game's
> > mechanics.
> > 
> I've seen situations where the only way to become certain classes is to reach a
> certain level and then abandon all exp and start at level 1 again. The new class
> had additional qualities though that made it more powerful.

One of my big beefs with this course is the power differentials it gives
you.  To make your 'older' players go for it, you either have to make it
attractive to them (more power), or force them into it (which just isn't
going to fly).  As you keep adding more tiers, you have to increase the
power at each tier.  So you end up with this massive different between a
'level 1' who happens to be a '15th mort/gen/tier/whatever', and even a
'level 10' on their 1st time through, to the point that the 'old' player
can be linkdead, and the 'new' player can be an excellent tactician, and
the 'new' player will still get utterly slaughtered.  Is that necessarily
bad?  No, because the 'older' player has been there, put in the time, and
earned their power.

But the power differential hits its most striking against mobs.  Anything
that's possible for that new player to kill will not even register on the
older player's radar.  No matter how you balance it, the mobs will be
either impossible for the new players, or boring to the older.  It'll be
either impossible for new players to level, or far too easy for older
players.  You can work around this by saying, 'each gen, your xp to level
doubles', but it's kinda a hackish way of doing it.  You can create
'seperate areas', so older players can't get to the same 'easier' areas
as new players, but then you blow inter-gen grouping, you blow 'helper'
tasks like corpse retrievals, etc etc.

The only clean way to avoid this that's easy to do is to keep the power
differentials so small as to be trivial, which won't work because then
people won't go for it.  And to keep the game open ended, you have to
keep adding more and more, meaning that the people who play 18 hours a
day will soon be able to sit at level 1 and slaughter all the new level

Of course, if you discard 'mobs', 'leveling', 'inter-player combat', etc,
none of this applies...  mind you, then you're just running an IRC server.
Any time you allow players to open-endedly become more 'powerful', you
just end up with an infinite stream of game balance problems.

Different ways of dealing with open-endedness are, of course, myriad, and
an interesting topic of discourse in their own right  ;)  I'm working on
a scheme involving a VERY intricate skill tree/web for my present
project, with a lot of checks and balances.

Matthew Fuller                  |    fullermd at over-yonder.net
Unix Systems Administrator      |    fullermd at futuresouth.com
Specializing in FreeBSD         |    http://www.over-yonder.net/
"If it doesn't work the first time, bring more ammo the second"

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