[MUD-Dev] Balance... RPG or Role-Playing Game?

Koster Koster
Wed Jul 26 15:08:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu 
> [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Gabriel
> Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2000 3:24 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Balance... RPG or Role-Playing Game?
> From: "Patrick Dughi"
> > There has been alot of talk recently on this list about how we
> > ought to not stratify the players, make them all nearly equal in
> > or lower the effective range of abilities.  Sure, this is great for
> > encouraging the casual gamer, for many reasons which have been
> > However, it discourages the concept of a Hero.  When everyone is nearly
> > the same, you end up with a world which has the same difficulty for
> > everyone.[snip]
> I don't think it prevents "Heros" so much as it prevents power-gamers
> from feeling satisfied. For those players that get their gratification
> from the numbers, this sort of system wouldn't suite them. 

Why? All that is being talked about, as I understand it, is a particular
*sort* of number. There is nothing preventing power-gamers from climbing
quite high. The main restriction is actually in what I'd call "power"
differentials rather than "ability" differentials. A high-level guy might
have a ton of different abilities, but have comparable power in a given one
to a newbie who only has one ability. Surely a powergamer will be content to
have umpteen titles, ranks, levels, and special skills and abilities, and
not be hung up just on how much damage their sword does?

In particular, I think that Patrick's statement above that the game has to
be the same difficulty for everyone is plain incorrect. Creatures could
still do massive amounts of damage, for example. They might require more
abilities (as opposed to power) to defeat. Or teamwork.

> > Maybe this is one reason quake and other games (AD&D) where the
> > ranking is immediately obvious are popular.

My understanding is that most players of Quake do not play in Internet games
because of the "freeze out factor" whereby they know they will always be
humiliated if they try. Jonathan Baron's classification of "cumulative
character" and "player skill" games sheds light on the issue here too.

> I'm one of those power-gamers that likes to be god. I want the power,
> I want the respect, I want to be in the top ten percent (combat wise)
> in the game.

Ah, but traditional level systems don't do diddlysquat to accomplish that.
In fact, in a mature mud, close to 45% of your characters will be maxxed
out,* and there goes your "top ten percent." A "king of the hill" style
ranking system is more conducive to meeting this desire of yours, and it
doesn't have to relate to a power-based advancement system.

> The recent posts are suggesting that people like me are
> really in the minority, that there is a greater number of people out
> there that don't feel the same way. It's hard for me to grasp, but I'm
> willing to consider it in my game design.

Well, it's because most people suck. Seriously. Most of them haven't a
prayer of being in the top ten percent, as you cite. In fact, literally 90%
of them don't. :) Therefore they must seek other avenues of feeling powerful
or special. I agree that everyone wants to feel special and want respect and

> There are different kinds of respect that can be shown:
>  - The respect of ones peers for your willingness to contribute to the
> community (helping newbies, writing histories, fleshing out the
> stories, role-playing)
>  - The respect for ones ability to crush others (skills and levels
> being the main indicator)

And it's illuminating that muds do a crappy job of providing OFFICIAL
recognition of most of these activities except the last one. There's a good
argument to be made that MOST of your advancement mechanics should be about
the stuff that falls in the first category.


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