[MUD-Dev] UO rants

Matthew Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Thu Aug 24 07:20:05 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

On Wed, 23 Aug 2000, John Buehler wrote:

> > Matthew Mihaly
> > Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2000 7:10 PM
> > It's that combined with the fact that most games don't have any serious
> > permanent consequences that can damage the investment of time and/or money
> > that someone has put into his or her character.
> Agreed.  Obviously not clear from my post, 'consequences' was an intended part
> of 'checks and balances'.  My personal preference for the consequences is
> temporary impairment of character effectiveness commensurate with injury,
> combined with rare death.  Death results in temporary permadeath, which is
> the removal of the character from player control or observation.  In other
> words, the character cannot be used for some period of time, usually measured
> in multiples of days.  The number of days is a function of the severity of
> the death.  Being hit by a club that actually kills you (rare) is a one day
> death.  Being hit by a 16 ton weight is a three or four day death.

This is an interesting idea, although I think that in practice banning a
character from playing for a few days will have two consequences. 1) Every
character who this ever happens to will have a second which he or she will
log on and basically treat as an extension of his 'first' character in
terms of chatting and such, while the character is banned. 2) You'll find
players that this happens to quitting sometimes. I know that I,
personally, find that time away from a mud decreases my interest in it

> > Why MUST NOT criminal acts go unchecked? I fail to see the reasoning for
> > this. I would alter your statement that the worst crimes are those that
> > annoy players and make them go away to read something like, "The worst
> > crimes are those that cause players to go away without causing a
> > corresponding increase in interest from other players."
> > 
> > Crimes are a good thing in the proper proportions. They generate strong
> > feelings among the player base, which is also a good thing for the sort of
> > game I am interested in running (ie I have no interest in designing to
> > limit how much time people want to stay in the world) and they are
> > interesting. The absence of some overbearing near-omnipotent justice
> > system can cause a game to feel more serious than one in which the players
> > are coddled and guaranteed a nearly hassle-free existence. 
> As you say in another post, you're not that interested in player versus NPC
> worlds.  That is the type of world that I am primarily interested in.  I do
> not believe player versus player worlds to be viable in a massive context.
> The interpretation of what is fun and what is not is too variable in such
> an environment.  As a result, many players become disgruntled and/or
> disenchanted with the opportunity to get into some rough and tumble.  As
> evidence, I consider the PvP instances versus the PvE instances of EverQuest
> and Asheron's Call.  While neither is a panacea of gaming experiences, the
> advantage is clearly in the camp of the PvE instances of those games.

But Ultime, Everquest and Asheron's call barely have anything that even
passes as PvP. You can whack each other. That's basically it. You're
judging PvP on systems that are utterly simplistic in their implementation
of it. You could log into Achaea, note that the player vs. NPC combat is
simplistic, and say "Damn, PvE sucks!" 

Also, and I do hope you'll respond to this, I challenge your assertion
that it isn't scalable. I'm quite tired of people asserting that Achaea's
design and business model aren't scalable. The fact is, it works on every
scale so far tried. Unless you can point to some critical factor that will
cripple the system as it grows, I think the best default assumption is
that it is scalable. I really would be interested in any convincing
arguments that impune PvPs scalability, but I've never heard one yet.

I, personally, think the reason a truly large PvP world hasn't been
developed isn't because of a lack of interest. It's because people get
stuck in the traditional gaming model, which is almost always PvE. You
have a few standouts here and there that are PvP, but generally very
trivially so (ie usually only one aspect is being tested, like twitchiness
in Quake, quick strategy decisions in C&C, etc). Diplomacy is the example
I would hold up of a great PvP game, though even there, it's too limited
in its options in my opinion.

The fact is, nearly every single most popular game in history has been
PvP, from Go to Chess to Monopoly. That's not an argument for scalability
obviously, but it certainly is an argument for popularity. Why do people
use online chess services? Because playing against other people is a lot
more fun than playing against AI. 
> Given my attitude, criminal acts must not go unchecked because criminal
> acts are defined as those that the vast majority of players will find
> undesireable when they are the victim of the act.  That's simply not
> good for business if the world involves lots of potential paths through
> the world: exploration, construction projects, item crafting, and so on.
> Those who are interested in crime will impact the non-criminal endeavors
> of these other players.  If crime is at all profitable or valuable, then
> a number of players will pursue it, making encountering a criminal act
> all the more common, further eroding the enjoyment of the game for those
> who are not interested in having other players decide how they will
> experience the game.

Well, your definition of criminal acts as things that will hurt the
overall business is a bit of a truism. I don't think anyone is going to
disagree that things that hurt your game as a whole are 'crimes'. 

> I have a difficult time articulating my viewpoint because you have a
> fundamentally different attitude about what is viable in life and what
> brings the greatest joys in life.  If we're not trying to reach the
> same end place, it's a bit hard to agree on how to get there.

I don't care what brings the greatest joys in life in this context. I look
at PvP and PvE and all I see is that in PvP the content is largely created
by the other players, and is created on-the-fly. In PvE, it's not. I view
PvP as personally more fun, but more importantly, I view it as presenting
more opportunities for new things to happen for the players.

> One other point.  Player conflict need not be directed towards killing
> or full-out combat.  Fisticuffs, wrestling, brawling and such are
> reasonably legitimate outlets for unhappy citizens of a virtual community.
> They let the characters vent and nobody gets hurt in the end.  It's not
> clear if it lets the PLAYERS vent enough, however.  Embedded in such a
> system is the assumption that characters do not drastically depart from
> each other in personal power - which is the antithesis of current game
> systems.

Killing. There's no real killing in Achaea. Saying "Bob killed Bill" is
just a handy way of saying (in Achaea at least) that Bob caused Bill to
lose some xp and in the process gained half the xp that Bill lost. Sure,
it's phrased in the game as killing, but functionally, it bears no
relation to actual killing. 

I'm assuming that we're speaking on a meta level here. If that's the case,
I don't see why you think there's any difference between wrestling and
fisticuffs as opposed to someone getting a message in a game saying 'you
died.' Letting the characters vent is of no consequence at all. Who
cares. They don't pay the bills. Letting the players vent is what matters.
It's basically irrelevant whether you phrase it as 'beating someone into
submission' or 'killing them'. I could put in 'beating someone into
submission' into Achaea, and cause an xp transfer in the process. Exact
same thing as killing, aside from the messages that get sent out.

Incidentally, what you say about current game systems being the antithesis
of the idea of players not departing from each other in power is not true.
That is _exactly_ how Achaea functions. The big games don't, and frankly
that's one reason I don't play them. I'm not interested in a game where
intelligence and skill have little value, and simply putting in the time
to bash stupid monsters to get xp and equipment makes you powerful.

And you know what? Despite the fact that differences in power in Achaea
are probably a magnitude or two less than in something like EQ, people
still pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to try and get the best skills
and equipment. In the end though, what matters more than anything else is
you personally. If you're good, you can easily beat someone twice your
level with twice your skills and better equipment. Give Tiger Woods a pair
of crappy golf clubs, and give me the best clubs you can find, and Tiger
will still whoop my ass. 

> You believe that this Lord is perfectly justified in attacking the newbie.
> That's the fallacy.  You believe that vigilantism is a viable justice
> system, while I do not.  Vigilantism is having those who have not been
> authorized by the governing body going off and deciding what is appropriate
> justice.  The question is, can any player be considered trusted when it
> comes to player-player justice?  Especially when the offense is against
> the vigilante?

I'm just curious where the governing body derives it's authority, and
what gives the governing body some moral right to make a decision
instead of me? I'll tell you what it is: The power to act like a
vigilante. Vigilantism is like terrorism. It's all in the eye of the
beholder. When bin Laden bombs something, it's terrorism. When Bill
Clinton bombs a pharmecutical factory in the Sudan, it's ok. Kill one man,
you're a murderer. Kill a million, you're a 'general'.

Any in case though, I don't see why you are concerned with whether a
player-run justice system will be fair. Corruption is fun and good in a

> When a police officer has an offense against him, that police officer is
> not permitted to be involved in the investigation of the crime.  The
> reason behind this is that those who are victims of crimes do not see
> situations involving the criminal in a healthy light.  It leads to
> vigilantism.

Real-life laws are not motivated by a desire to maximize the profit that
may be obtained from those living under the legal system.

> > And in terms of using religion as a model for how to keep people from
> > killing each other...sheesh. The crusades, the inquisition, the
> > homophobia, the institutional racism, the jihads, etc etc. Not my idea of
> > a good model.
> So unless every individual who professes to follow a certain set of
> beliefs makes no mistakes, that set of beliefs is of no real value?
> Your desire for theological perfection is definitely admirable, but
> I also think you're limiting yourself by approaching 'organized religion'
> with such a mindset.

I don't have a desire for theological perfection. It does not strike me as
a coincidence that the vast majority of those belonging to organized
religion are poor and relatively uneducated. I'm far more interested in
philosophy, which at least attempts to question everything.

> > Well, I'd be open to hearing how you would solve the situation with Bob
> > the Newbie and Lord Studly the Powerful, given that in Achaea, insulting
> > someone is a good reason to die. When newbies complain to me about crap
> > like freedom of speech, I just point out that I expect people in Achaea to
> > be responsible for their own behavior, and that everything you do has
> > consequences, so if you don't feel you can deal with the consequences,
> > don't do the deed. There's no paternalistic all-powerful government police
> > force to go hide behind after you've intentionally pissed off someone
> > else. 
> What is the penalty for murder?  Is that penalty applied to the Lord when
> he murders the newbie?  The newbie insulting the Lord is very much like
> a PvP encounter.  Why doesn't the Lord consider this as one of those
> scenarios that simply adds to the spice of the game without having to
> resort to murder?  Being on the receiving end of a PvP encounter is never
> fun, and that's why I don't like PvP worlds.  In the end, only the most
> powerful players are able to enjoy the experience.  And those tend to be
> the hardcore gamers.  Like yourself.

Shrug, the penalty for murder is whatever the player governments a) decide
is the penalty for murder and b) can enforce. No different from real life.
We don't have some all-powerful authority in real life punishing

As to wy the Lord doesn't consider this one of those scenarios that simply
adds to the spice of the game world...because he chose not to. What other
answer can I give you? If you're thinking you can make players think a
certain way, good luck.

There is no doubt that I am a hardcoder mudder, but frankly, you're wrong
again. Achaea is a thoroughly PvP world, yet the two most successful
players of all time (the only two that have ever Ascended into Divinity)
barely player-killed at all. In fact, I'm not sure one ever killed a
single player. Of course, both were extremely influential political
leaders (and politics is one aspect of PvP after all). 

> > Yes, I do. I'm quite certain of the fact that I have a better
> > understanding of community in the virtual world than every major religious
> > scholar in history. The same goes for most of this list. Anyway, I won't
> > be so petty as to bar people with testicular cancer from paradise.
> You believe that virtual communities are different than real life
> communities.  What you're missing is that a virtual community is simply
> a primitive vehicle for a real life community (real people are involved).
> Understanding human nature is required before understanding a virtual
> community of people possessing human nature. The scholars of the past
> 2000 years have a significant leg up on you in understanding human nature.
> The rules of inference can be applied to understand a virtual community
> once you have the rules of a real human being.  In your case, the
> understanding of people that you have determines the inference process
> that you go through - resulting in a flawed conclusion.

No actually, I dont' believe virtual communities are that much different.
That is, in fact, why I structure virtual communities on real life. You
are the one that seems to be arguing against any semblance of reality in a
community. I mean, what do you think motivates people the most to form
community? _Conflict_. Throughout human history, the #1 strongest
motivation to strong community has been shared external threat from
another community. It's visible everywhere, from the slave revolt led by
Spartacus to the Spirit of '76 in America, to the do-or-die work-your-ass
off culture of a lot of dot coms.

> Obviously, you can claim the exact same thing about me  :)

Well, I don't really know what you've done. I _know_ I'm right at least to
some extent, as Achaea is exceeding the goals I set for it initially.

"He that is wounded in the testicles, or have his penis cut off, shall not
enter into the congregation of the Lord." Deuteronomy 23:1

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