[MUD-Dev] The Relationship between pkers and monster AI?

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Wed Sep 8 17:39:27 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


On Wed, 8 Sep 1999, Tony Wilkinson wrote:

> Mike Sellers wrote:
> >Beyond this though, I think that often MUDs teach players that it's just
> >more fun and/or more rewarding to attack other players than it is to attack
> >monsters or solve puzzles/quests.  In this light, it's not that PKers have
> a
> >*need* to hurt other people, but that in the scheme of the MUD, they don't
> >need the other people -- they are thus expendable -- and the other people
> >represent a concentration of resources (gold, objects, attention, etc.)
> that
> >the PKers need.  Other PCs are thus low-hanging fruit just waiting to be
> >plucked.
> >
> 
> I think that's an excellent point. From my experience of MUD's with pker
> problems, it is generally MUCH more worth while (as far as "loot" is
> concerned) to kill other people than monsters.  At the very least they have
> a full set of armour and provisions. Does the "only loot 1 item" (ala EQ)
> work? Well yes it does make it less worth while but "realism" is sacrifised
> I guess.

We have a very developed pk system, and players actually do not get to
loot any items from other dead players. Realistic? No. Big deal though.
None of the players have ever complained or even suggested it that I can
remember, and realism obviously isn't really the goal of any fantasy or
sci-fi mud. The goal of most muds is to make a fun game, not a realistic
world.

> 
> I find it hard to believe that the vast majority of pkers do it because they
> are social misfits (although I am sure some are). I can't help thinking that
> most are either bored or think they "need the loot". The first of these I
> believe could be dealt with by making genuine interesting and challenging
> quests and by making monster FUN to fight. Perhaps even making quests which
> give players things killing other people cannot do. Titles or other status
> simbols might work here.

I am a bit perplexed by all this discussion as to why people p-kill. I'm
also annoyed by the characterization of p-killers as immature kids, etc.
This may be the case in games with crap systems, but imho, a proper p-kill
system is an integral part of the game. Why focus your game on killing
monsters? Heck, you don't need a mud to do that. You could just play Quake
one player, or Diablo with some friends. Muds, unlike the table-top games
which erroneously are used as the model for muds, allow you to pit player
against player, and as someone pointed out, players are and are going to
continue to be (for a long time at least), a lot more interesting as
opponents than monsters.

The fact is, the AI on muds sucks. It's horrible (Achaea included). It
doesn't deserve to be called intelligence. Thus, you can either spend your
time trying to code artificial intelligence in that is good enough to play
at at level at least equal to an average person, or you could just use
real intelligence as the challenge by designing the game to be player vs.
player in as many ways as possible. Individual combat is one of those
ways. It's certainly not the only one, but it's one of them, so why not
use it? 

I know some people object to the idea of allowing players to be killed by
other players unless they want to, and that's fine. We all run our muds
with different philosophies. Mine tends to be, however, that giving
players a life without significant tragedy (being kiled by a player is
much more traumatic than being killed by a monster, as you know that you
were bested by another person, rather than some computer) also means
giving them a life without significant victories. Player vs. player goes
beyond the game. It's real life. It's you, a real person, vs. another real
person. The characters are just the method for interacting. You vs. a
monster is just a trivial game, like Space Invaders. It's the sort of game
where you will never experience great rushes of ectasy from victory, or
crushing despair from defeat, because you aren't provided with a reason to
care beyond the state of your character or some other fairly meaningless
stat. Whatever you did to get those stats (whether it be xp, equipment, or
whatever you lose when a mob kills you) can be redone, either with the
same character or with a new one. Yes, it's a loss of time and energy (and
in a pay game, possibly money), but you talk to any pro athlete, and they
will tell you that losing the World Cup, or the Stanley Cup, or the
America's Cup, or the Superbowl, or whatever is a lot less, in the moment,
about money than it is about having _lost_. You just got your ass kicked
by other people...people who are, apparently, _better_ than you at
something that you try hard to be good at. Likewise, triumphing in
something you care about over someone who is trying hard is a good
feeling. It's validating. 


I don't, incidentally, discount the interaction gotten from teaming to go
take out a monster, though I think that this is still a relatively
backwards and primitive gaming model and a leftover from table top games
(I'm not dissing table top games. They have their strengths, and muds have
their strengths. Most muds ignore the potential of muds by trying to
imitate table-top games though.) 

Anyway, I have babbled long enough. My main points are that player killing
is healthy competition. I allow people to be p-killed in Achaea pretty
much everywhere but 1 location in the game, unless they walk in grace.
While they are graced (only way to get it is to die and pray to Me for
salvation of your soul), they can't do anything aggressive, including
killing mobiles or giving any orders to their city-state's military (if
they are in a position to give such orders), etc. Do players get pissed
off sometimes about being killed? Definitely. Do they occassionally even
quit the game because of it? Yep. But you know what? I would estimate that
75% of players who "quit" in a huff over something like that come back
within 1 week. The reason? If they care enough that getting beaten by
another person in Achaea bothers them that much, then it means they care,
and if they care, they'll be back. 

--matt




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