[MUD-Dev] Value in the Economy of the MOG

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Wed Jul 4 12:02:02 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


On Tuesday, July 03, 2001 3:56 AM J C Lawrence posted:

> In a sense its akin to the problem of monopolistic tendencies in
> economic systems.  By their nature economic entities will tend to
> evolve into monopolising their niches.  IRL we attempt to control
> that wil things like the monopoly commission, taxes on inherited
> wealth (death duties), and the simple fact of a limited human life
> span.

We switched RetroMUD's basic death model for precisely this reason.
We saw a disturbing trend: eventually, even if you're a complete
moron with no sense of partying tactics or survival skills, one
could just play 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and eventually ascend
to ridiculous levels of power.

While we didn't implement a permadeath model, we did create a
sliding scale of power in both directions.  Originally, if a
character died he lost all of his experience points down to 0.  But
he could go no lower.  So characters then took on ridiculous risks,
knowing that they wouldn't "lose anything of significance."  We
changed is to that death takes a proportional amount of exp based on
level, and that you CAN go into negative exp.  Go far enough into
negative exp and you slide backwards -- you lose a level.

This helped put a dent (but has by no means solved) the inflationary
aspect of our system.

> Which begs the question:

>  Over the longer term must a GoP game be seen to have "winning"
>  players as well as players who have "won" the game?

I suspect that the illusion of progress is necessary.  Which is
entirely different from "did he win the game or not."  Much of the
thrill of GoP games is the ever spiraling advancement of power
(which is why, despite its system, Rifts is a very popular RPG).  Do
players have to win?  No.  But do they need to know that ascending
to ever higher levels is possible?  Absolutely.

There's a whole psychology around levels and social status on MUDs.
I assume there's some literature out there that addresses it
specifically, but I've personally witnessed the prestige of a
"winner" on our MUD translate into real life gains.  I find this
highly disturbing -- that's right, the high level guy was a
celebrity at mudcons, got more dates from other players IRL, etc.

This concept of winning is perhaps peculiar to America.  But I can
say that "highbies" slowly associate themselves as being morally
superior, and newbies begin to buy into it too.  If you take into
account that our system could be easily abused by an extremely
persistent (and obviously boring) GoPer who will play 24 hours a
day, this charisma associated with all high level players is not
necessarily well-deserved.

The one downside to our sliding scale, unfortunately, is that it
becomes increasingly more difficult to play the game.  This often
outrages higher level players who are not accustomed to the game
becoming more challenging.  Because advancement and the feel of
power that "makes it all worth it" becomes less and less common (as
the levels get harder and harder to attain), when a PC dies and
slides backwards, some have gone ballistic and essentially
self-destructed.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator
http://www.retromud.org

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