[MUD-Dev] Free Time != Advancement (was: Structured Social Play)

Eli Stevens listsub at wickedgrey.com
Wed Sep 5 10:32:48 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Hubina" <tomh at 3dgamedev.com>

> I think you're painting a broad brush with the term "casual
> play". What you describe I would prefer to break into different
> categories that can be addressed.

>   1. Hardcore with too much time on his hands.

>   2. Hardcore with not enough time on his hands.

>   3. Casual.

> The vast majority of EQ players fall into #1 and #2. To me, the
> casual gamer is someone that doesn't play that much and is looking
> for some low-key involvement game that they could play once in a
> while, but doesn't really matter to them. Once they become
> "addicted", then will often move into either the first or second
> groups. Very few people actually keep playing the game for a long
> time if they are truly casual as the game simply doesn't cater to
> them. I don't think these type of people are ever going to be very
> interested in a Role Playing Game, since it takes a lot of time
> and dedication to really get enjoyment out it (this is something
> we can argue about if you want .. heh)

> The really hard part that I see is trying to make the game fun for
> #2, while still keeping the game challenging for #1.

If the game's mechanics do not feature time spent logged into the
game as the major/sole component to advancement, #1 and #2 should be
on even ground.  The casual gamer would probably be at a
disadvantage from a min/max point of view, simply because they would
not expend the energy to discover (either from play or the web) a
strategy that would match their play style (if a casual played does
do so, are they really casual?).

One model that I am considering is to make advancement based off of
offline time.  About an hour to an hour and a half of online play
would net the player 48 hours of full-strength advancement, the
third day's effectiveness would drop off so that by the end of the
third day, you have only netted another 12 hours of advancement, and
after that you would only gain about an hour a day, which would
slowly decline as more time passes.

If the player only logs in for 45 min, then they get a day of full
advancement, 12 hours of half advancement, and the rest at the slow
pace.  If they log in for three hours, however, all that happens is
that they "lose" an hour and a half of offline advancement.

This means that the original adopters would be the most powerful.
It would also mean that having multiple characters would multiply
your advancement hours by the same number.  It does not mean that #
of powerful characters = # of characters you can create.  I like
this, as it means that those with a lot of free time can have 4
powerful characters, while those with less can have 1 or 2, but the
relative power levels are roughly equal between the 5 characters.
Casual players advance at the same fraction of the "1.5 hrs every
other day" that they log in.

To offset the grandfather effect, the skill system could...

  - Feature logarithmic advancement (200 skill points is not twice
  as good as 100).

  - Reward specialization (100 points in sword skills only would be
  X times as good as 100 points in sword skills AND 100 points in
  basket weaving).

  - Reward clever diversification (50 in sword and 50 in acrobatics
  makes you a lot worse at swordplay than someone with 100 in sword,
  but you can dodge them much more easily than they can you).

  - Allow players to aquire double, triple, etc. time in and out of
  game (rewards and/or purchase).

Yadda yadda.  Obviously, this is not as polished as it could be, so
speak up if you see any gaping holes in all this.  :)


>From Yahoo! News, June 4th, 2001:
"Gaza Gunbattle Threatens Cease-Fire"

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