[MUD-Dev] Fair/Unfair? Scenarios (fwd)

J C Lawrence claw at cp.net
Mon Dec 6 15:33:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999


On Thu, 25 Nov 1999 21:40:32 +0000 
Mik Clarke <mikclrk at attglobal.net> wrote:

>> From: JB, aka Tempus <jbbeabNOjbSPAM at primary.net.invalid>

>> - Scenario A -
>> 
>> Ok...so after the player enters, a battle ensues.  The player,
>> without having an opportunity to flee is forced into combat with
>> a mobile that is potentially significantly tougher than the
>> player can handle.
>> 
>> What are your thoughts on the above described scenario?

> Unfair.  Players deserve some sort of warning that they are
> getting into hot water.  


You imply that there is a social contract between the game designer
and the player.  I don't disagree, but I see the central argument as
more philosphical than one of contracts and (naive?) expectations:

  Are we as game designers responsible for taking (or at least
offering ans semi-signposting) our guests (players) on a
disney-esque tour of our game world, all sound and fury but with no
(or few) actual threats, or do we offer an environment which may
contain dangers, and then let the players excercise Darwinian
mechanics in working thru it?

Tour tour-guide or sink-or-swim?

The idea that the game world (or game designer for that matter) is
going to come up to me prior to every "dangerous" section and warn
me off (however subtlely), or ensure that I can never trap myself
without a means of escape is somehow deeply offensive.

I just watched a chap play thru Quake II.  The fact that the game
loaded the player up with health, armour, and weaponry immediately
prior to almost every tough opponents was more than annoying.  It
killed all surprise.  All shock.  All sense of actual concern for
what the game world might wreak.

"Life isn't always fair.  Deal with it."  We've all heard the line.
How true is that for our players?  At what point does our role as
world designers change from hand-holding tour guide to protagonist?

> It doesn't have to be explicit and certainly shouldn't be 'out of
> world', but there should be a warning of some sorts (maybe an old
> man who advises the unready to trun back).  

So, the wandering Bands of Bubba, nasty headhunting brain bashing
villains that they are, have been magically transported into the
Village of Rue by a wayward wizard, and, just happen to meet up with
their dire enemies, Boffo's Brutes who are enjoying a spot of pie at
the local pub after losing their way due to a disorientation spell.

Of course a battle royal ensues across the tradionally tranquial
streets and squares of Rue, that utopian dream of bucolic
simplicity, and our young newbie, knowing nothing of this, walks
into the middle of the fray, finds himself lost and both a head
shorter and dead, tho possibly not in that order.

Shuld, upon the instance of that battle, a surrounding circle of
beggers and grizzledold men uttering warnings of dangers ahead
suddenly spring into existance surrounding the village?  

Again, is the game there to provide a carefully guaged and vicarious
tour for the player, or is it there to provide a logically
consistent reality for the player to deduce and seduce into
survivability?

> Without the warning you're back to lottery role playing.  Players
> need enough information to make sensible decisions (and the GM has
> a responsability to give the players a fighting chance).
 
And in the above scenario, what is the GM's responsibility?  The GM
is ultimately responsible for the game world that supports Bubba,
Boffo and their gains, the magic that put them where they are, amd
evem the AI's that led them down the garden path once they were in
Rue.

Is the GM responsible for the player's safety, or is he merely
responsible for ensuring that the player is at least capable of
educating himself to a point that they have a good chance of
surviving and even prospering even in the general case, but are not
specifically responsible for the specific cases players may find
themselves in?

Is this a game of statistics where you are concerned with the broad
trends across classes and groups of players, or are you concerned
with the specific experiences of individuals?

--
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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