[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #142 - 4 msgs

Koster Koster
Fri Sep 3 17:18:20 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew Mihaly [mailto:diablo at best.com]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 1999 12:10 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: RE: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #142 - 4 msgs
> 
> Thank god no. I'm interested in systems where experience gives a big
> advantage. My players would view it as a waste of time if a 
> newbie could
> drop a thousand dollars on his character and suddenly kick 
> even the best
> fighters rears. As I've stated, our combat is a sport, in my 
> opinion, and
> like in any sport, experience counts for a lot. No one walks onto the
> basketball court for the first time with a prayer in hell of beating
> Michael Jordan.

Jonathan Baron's point on this, as abstracted in the Laws:

start quote--->
Baron's Design Dichotomy
According to Jonathan Baron, there are two kinds of online games:
Achievement Oriented, and Cumulative Character. In the former, the players
who "win" do so because they they are the best at whatever the game offers.
Their glory is achieved by shaming other players. In the latter, anyone can
reach the pinnacle of achievement by mere persistence; the game is driven by
sheer unadulterated capitalism.
<---end quote

Now that I re-read this, it isn't all that clear. :) The dichotomy is in
where the skill is: whether it's in the player, or in his virtual
representation. In a way you can divide this into "sport" to use your term,
and just "game" wherein actual player skill doesn't count for much. 

> > Have you ever met anyone who claims to be undefeatable at
> > rock/paper/scissors? Nope. Why? Because you *can't* be undefeatable.
> > Elegant, isn't it? 
> 
> Pointless elegance insofar as I'm concerned. Maybe nice as a 
> party game
> where everyone can play and have a reasonable chance of 
> success, but not a
> lasting entertainment.

Last weekend I was in Las Vegas, and I attended the world championship
Descent3 tournament. Those guys were just $%*@!#!@ unbelievable at that
game. Afterwards they held a LAN party and the winners of the competition
were going to play. I left--no way I was joining THAT arena.

The problem with an online game that is a sport is that it sets a natural
ceiling on its potential audience--only a fraction of the potential
playerbase out there has the reflexes or innate *player-side* skill to
compete. You can compensate for this, but it manifests even in RPGs which
are heavily character-oriented (eg, where skill is a character statistic,
and mere persistence can make you a badass). It's a common sight in most any
PvP mud to see a poorly equipped expert defeat a group of well-equipped
novices.

Is it lasting entertainment to be a sport? Of course. The competition
against others at that level of play means endless challenge. The game
becomes infinite, because it shifts from being a simple ladder model to
being a "king of the hill" model. But it may not be as open to the general
public, who isn't going to sign up to be shamed. Which you may not care
about, of course.

The vast majority of Quake players (and Descent, and Tribes) play only with
friends. Not with the general populace. And it's for this reason, IMHO.

As far as retention goes--the trick to an online game has got to be how you
make the lower reaches of the game rock-paper-scissors, and when the player
outgrows it, how you can migrate the learning they have had into the sport
part.

-Raph


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