[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #163 - 25 msgs

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Fri Jul 21 13:14:39 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

Thursday, July 20, 2000, 8:31:24 PM, Travis Nixon <tnixon at avalanchesoftware.com> wrote:
> From: Raph Koster <rkoster at austin.rr.com>

>>Another perspective on this same issue: I ran into an interesting
>>perspective when discussing design with someone else in the computer game
>>industry recently. He disliked some ideas I suggested regarding "social
>>professions" in an MMORPG because they were means of advancement that
>>measured your actual, real-life skill at certain things that were social in
>>nature--eg, using reputation systems to propvide advancement for being good
>>at social activities like getting crowds to come to your tavern, for
>>example. The logic was that in an RPG, the point is what skills reside on
>>your character, not your "self."

> I honestly think this is a dead-end in rpgs.  You cannot make a game that is
> completely independant of the players' skill.  It is impossible.  Yes, you
> can minimize how much the players' skill (knowledge, reflexes, understanding
> of mechanics, etc) affects the game, but most of those paths lead to a game
> that is inherently more boring.  For example, combat in a particular popular
> MMHNS (hack-n-slash) is reduced mostly to hitting a key and watching.
> Personally, I don't think this is very fun.  And before I get flamed for it,
> yes, I understand there's a bit more to it than that, but not nearly as much
> as there COULD be.

Actually, people routinely do make games that are completely or highly
independent of the players' skill levels.  Games meant for adults and
young children to play together are often of this sort, in order to
minimize the advantage that the adults have.  I do agree with you,
though, that such games tend to be boring for anyone but small

> I'm all for having this "autopilot" option for players that don't want to
> have to learn a more complex fighting system, but I really don't think that
> should be the end of it. :)

> Of course, then the question becomes, "How far do you take it, and how far
> can you take it before you really just end up with quake?".

> There are a lot of issues here, and the hardcore roleplaying community (is
> there such a thing?) would probably scream blasphemy at me for even having
> such thoughts, but I have them nonetheless.  Of course, I'm not talking
> about putting a mortal kombat interface on an rpg.  Character skills would
> still have quite a lot of influence.

My own feeling on combat is that the player should be responsible for
planning/deciding how the character is going to try to fight, and the
game responsible for the details of what happens.  E.g., the player
chooses who to attack, what to attack with, how offensive/defensive to
be, and when to use special abilities, but the game decides such
things as whether an attack hits.

> I guess the point I'm trying to make is that you can only take "in
> character" so far.  There are simply many things that require player
> "skill", and I think by discounting the possibility of using any of those,
> you're throwing out entire universes of possibilities.  Social climbing is a
> good example of this.  It's very easy for somebody to "roleplay" a
> personality similar to their own.  I would venture a guess that most people
> that play computer games are capable of this.  It takes quite a different
> breed to roleplay a personality that's completely different.  So in a world
> of politics, you're simply going to have people that don't go anywhere,
> because they don't have the experience or the knowledge to roleplay a
> position of power.  So in the idea of "keeping true to roleplay", should we
> completely throw away ideas of political systems?

It depends on what you want, really.  There are tradeoffs in both
directions, and each individual game designer has to find what he/she
believes to be the "right" point.  Personally, I see muds as being a
different sort of RPG than paper RPGs -- they're more real-time,
involve more players, and often have players interacting at cross
purposes.  What works in paper RPGs doesn't always work in muds, and
vice-versa.  The trick is to find the strong points and build on

       |\      _,,,---,,_    Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
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