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

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Dec 18 17:16:46 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Sat, 18 Dec 1999 22:48:29 +0000 
Scatter  <scatter at thevortex.com> wrote:

> J C Lawrence <claw at cp.net> wrote:
>> Scatter <scatter at thevortex.com> wrote:

>> There's another point underneath here:
>> Is a trap room that a player cannot leave without external help a
>> Bad Thing to any degree, if given that they can leave with the
>> assistance of another player outside the trap room?

> Is there a reasonable expectation that another player able and
> willing to help will be logged on at the time? 

That's rather up to the player who logs in and then wanders into a
trap room isn't it?  He gets to select when he plays, and thus
chooses whether or not to play when his external help net is present
or not.

> This kind of trap becomes a problem when the usual situation is
> that no one is logged on who can help. 

Which is the aspect of enforced socialisation -- players being
effectively mandated by the game to build and maintain social
networks that they can assist and mutually conspire with to survive
the game.

> Then the trap becomes an insurmountable hurdle for the lone player
> and effectively ends his game. 

<nod> It is a tool that is actively discriminatory against the lone
player, and strongly selective for the socially well connected

> This is a Bad Thing because players place great value in the time
> they invest in a particular character and to effectively lose a
> character in this way is probably the most frustrating thing. The
> character is technically still there, but it's not playable and
> there's no way to know when it might become playable
> again. Result? Either the admin has to intervene or the player
> quits in disgust. (I consider both of these options undesirable).

Until the player locates someone in-game who can assist him, and
thus begins his own social network, no?

>> How about if the trap room is easy to wander into, not well
>> labled, and easy to do by mistake -- say walking two steps too
>> far south off the well travelled north/south road thru the middle
>> of town?

> Bad design. Sack whoever did the QC checking. This kind of
> situation I would be very likely to fix on the first
> complaint. Something critical that can be easily done by accident
> is one of my pet hates with respect to usability and in a game
> environment it can completely ruin gameplay.

There is a castle which sits on a spur aside a mountain, perhaps
being the main access to a pass thru the mountains.  A narrow bridge
(the only other exit from the casle) joins the castle to a rocky
outcropping in the nearby foothills and the village nearby there.
There is significant traffic between the village and the castle.

The bridge is perilous.  It is narrow with one step to either side
leading to a deadly fall.  Walk past the end (either end) and you
also fall to your death (the castle and the village lie to the side
of the bridge).  

Bad?  Acceptable?

>> Now how about reconsidering this as an example of game-play
>> requiring player interaction and cooperation, and something that
>> actively fosters (nay demands) player socialising for effective
>> game play?

> I have no problem with requiring player cooperation, and I plan to
> have many scenarios that require it. I don't think this kind of
> trap is a particularly good way to do it though - unless, as I
> mentioned before, the player population is big enough for you to
> be able to assume help will be forthcoming at all times.

I propose two views:

  1) Other players (than yourself) are generic resources who may be
prevailed upon for arbitrary assistance, and are likely to help
knowing that they too may arbitrarily prevail on others for similar

  2) Other players cannot be relied upon to assist you and ost
likely will not.  Your only high probability way of obtaining
assistance is to have previously built an extended social networks
of friends and the like, a sub-society within the game, whom you
will help as friends, and who will therefore help you.

Most current games strive (and generally fail) to achive #1.  Few
(none?) attempt #2.

Side effect of #2: The game is likely utterly unplayable by solo
players.  Successful players, will in essence, have to interne (find
a parton) or (more likely?) as an (indentured given sufficient
in-game supports for the form?) apprentice with a skilled player.
One could see this extrapolating to a game with a crowded (safe?)
milling centre with skilled players leading dangerous (high risk)
missions of apprentices into the surrounding world with those
apprentices gradually learning the ropes to become guides themselves
and to repeat the process.  It would probably only work on a
perma-death game of course.

J C Lawrence                                 Home: claw at kanga.nu
----------(*)                              Other: coder at kanga.nu
--=| A man is as sane as he is dangerous to his environment |=--

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