[MUD-Dev] The grass is always greener in the other field

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Wed Dec 22 23:56:51 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Thu, 23 Dec 1999 00:11:09 -0500 
Travis Casey <efindel at io.com> wrote:

> On Wednesday, December 22, 1999, J C Lawrence wrote:
>> On Mon, 20 Dec 1999 21:53:12 -0500 Travis Casey <efindel at io.com>
>> wrote:

>>> Has it?  You keep bringing up UOL as an example of this, but
>>> their formulas are rather simple, and they expose many numbers
>>> to the players.

>> I quote UOL as one of the better documented examples.
>> Additionally, for some of the tables that have been derived (and
>> this can be extrapolated all the way down to the reverse
>> engineering of the UOL client protocols and data structures)
>> considerable empiracle work was required to go as far as they
>> did.  Yes, UOL provided an easy initial start, but I don't see
>> that this minimises the the magnitude of the actual work done.

> I think the thing that tweaks me isn't your raising UOL as an
> example, but the way in which you raise it (or, I should say, the
> way that it seems to me).  It seems to me that you raise it not as
> a "think carefully about how much work you want to put into this
> -- it may take much more than you think" warning, but as a "this
> won't work".

Uurk.  Guilty (I assume).  That impression would not be my intention 
and would not be good.  (BTW:  We're in violent agreement about the
lock picking/timing stuff).

>> While I can't give an example, I also recall seeing traffic in
>> RGM* reverse engineering the apparent base formulae for MUDs
>> which hid the numbers behind cute phrases.

> If they're doing a one-to-one mapping of numbers to phrases, like
> the paper RPGs FUDGE and MSH (the original, not advanced MSH),
> then it wouldn't be too hard.  I'm thinking more in terms of
> many-to-one mappings of "real" numbers to displayed values.

My recollection was a mapping of numeric ranges to phrases.
Trivially more difficult at the very worst.

>>> To my knowledge, no mud has yet tried hidden numbers and
>>> deliberately obscured formulas -- and while it makes no sense to
>>> assume that such an attempt would be 100% successful, it also
>>> makes no sense to assume that it would be 100% unsuccessful.

>> True.  However given a successful game (commercially, or of a
>> player base size sufficient to represent a commercially
>> successful game), it appears reasonable to assume that such an
>> attempt would be successful.

> However, not everyone wants to have a game of such magnitude.  For
> those interested in smaller playerbases, and especially those more
> focused on roleplaying (who are less likely to attract large
> numbers of players, and whose players are arguably less likely to
> be interested in such number-crunching), such solutions might
> still be attractive.


Another assumption skewered.

> The system might either lie about attribute values or might
> "scale" them differently for different characters.  For example, a
> mud using textual descriptions might describe a human's strength
> as being "excellent" -- but that might be weaker than an ogre with
> "fair" strength, because the descriptions are scaled by race.

Or you could get really nasty and use the experiental based scaling
for perceived stats I proposed a while back.  

> This is just a sampling of ideas -- there are many more
> possibilities, I'm sure.  The point is that if you want to obscure
> how the system works from players, there are many ways to do it.
> Whether the effort is worth it, but in terms of effort and likely
> player annoyance, is something that different mud designers will
> have to answer for themselves.


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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