[MUD-Dev] MUD Wimping

adam at treyarch.com adam at treyarch.com
Tue Aug 1 12:08:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Mon, 31 Jul 2000, Dan Shiovitz wrote:
> Anyone have an example of a player base taking a largish code change well,
> and saying "man, that was a good change even if it hurt in the short
> term"?

Sure, Arctic has done it on a regular basis for the last eight years, and
probably will continue to do so.

They have a cycle that takes about one year and goes like this:

1. Admin build new areas, add new classes/skills/races/spells/items, and
   generally tweak about with the game balance.  This is done in a development
   build, seperate from the production mud.

2. Player wipe is announced.  Some players scramble to reach immortality
   before D-Day; the rest of the game takes on the aspect of a pre-Armageddon
   world, with crazed players running about doing things they would never
   do if their doom were not imminent.

3. D-Day arrives.  The playerbase is wiped.  *Everyone* logs on the moment
   the "new" mud opens and the race to the top has begun.  Players strive
   to integrate their existing knowledge with their exploration of new
   classes/areas/skills/whatever.  Experienced players rush to be the
   first at the top of their class, the first to get a given spell, the
   first to get powerful items.  The admin, knowing full well that players
   will do this, switch things all around, placing different spellbooks
   in different places than players remember from before...

4. A smallish (less than 20) group of players establishes their reign as
   the "top" players, having been most successful in the early stages.  This
   group usually includes many of the top players from the last pfile, but
   there are always at least a few upstarts.  Sometimes there is a
   complete "reversal of power" as an entire group of upstarts manages
   to overturn the established regime.

5. The mud settles into the calmer, day-to-day style of play that you would
   expect for a mud that has run for almost a decade.  Of course, "calmer"
   is relative - Arctic is rarely what you could truly call calm.

6. Return to step 1.

I liken this cycle to the passing of "Ages" found in many fantasy stories
(starting, of course, with Tolkien's works).  On a mud, it has many interesting
social and gameplay ramifications.

It gives the mud a sense of pacing - rather than a flat and continuous
"everything is always the same all the time ever" feeling that I normally
associate with muds, there a time of birth, youth, middle-age, pre-death,
death, and then rebirth.

Old heros have a chance to retire while still in the peak of their glory,
rather than fading away with little fanfare.

New heros have a chance to step up and enjoy the spotlight, without
competing with and/or overshadowing the old heros.

It largely negates the effects of twinking - only truly skillful players
will find themselves in the upper echelon for more than one pfile.

It gives a chance for players who didn't play the mud back when it was truly
new to see what the world looks like when it has yet to be ravaged and looted
by players.

The pre-armageddon period allows players to experiment with things they
might have otherwise never tried.  In addition, players on Arctic tend to
treat their characters more like tabletop players treat their characters -
unique individuals who must make the most of their lives before they
inevitably must retire.  As a result, people are more likely to experiment
with off-the-wall character types, and seem to have a healthier sense of
"it's just a game" than I've seen on other muds that allow you to keep
your characters indefinitely.

Obviously this method is not ideal for every mud, or even most of them.
But it does work *extremely* well, and gives Arctic a very unique dynamic.

I'm honestly quite surprised that more muds haven't attempted it; perhaps
because the level of discipline and maturity required of the admin to
pull it off successfully is greater than most really want to attempt on
a hobbiest mud.


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