[MUD-Dev] Geometric content generation

Jay Carlson nop at mitre.org
Thu Sep 27 12:34:44 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

"Travis Nixon" <tnixon at avalanchesoftware.com> writes:
> From: "Kwon Ekstrom" <justice at softhome.net>

>> As for people who picked better at the start should have a better
>> character or class for the rest... that's not an issue since you
>> don't choose a class of any type, sort, whatever... all players
>> are assigned some basic skills for each of the major knowledge
>> spheres, and gain in knowledge through use.  What I don't see is
>> why a player should reap benefits from bad decisions...  they
>> should be able to recover from them, but not benefit from them
>> other than the knowledge of it being a bad decision.

> And I don't see why a player should be punished for making a bad
> decision that they had no way of being able to determine was bad.

> To say anything else is to say that you expect ALL your players to
> do a very detailed min-max analysis before picking anything at
> all, which is...well, it's just silly to expect them to do
> that. :)

What are you talking about?  I spent a lot of time doing my Diablo 2
spreadsheets, and my 31337 xls skillz should give me an edge over
the n00bs!!!!!

Actually classic D2 had another skill problem: massive overkill for
smart, cooperating parties.  All of my high level characters have at
LEAST 20 unallocated skill points and piles of stat points because
adding skill points wouldn't make them any more effective exp
machines; the critical path was keeping up with the rest of the
party and getting damage on target before the target evaporated
under a flurry of whirlwind, arrows, blessed hammers, and corpse
explosions.  Because everyone knew "the xpack is coming",
stockpiling points seemed rational.

Everybody here knows the rare-item-slot-machine motivator that made
D2 still compelling even through its awful balance flaws.  But some
of the people I played with invented their own goal: river run time
trials.  How fast can a party full-clear the river and the chaos
sanctuary?  (Note that killing Diablo fast was never a significant
goal; you'd need a stopwatch, as 5 seconds was average and <3
seconds was common.)  Of course, such a goal required changes in
tactics, equipment, and character design.  Never underestimate the
ability of your users to make up their own games in your framework.

Note that in classic D2 this is a significantly different goal than
maximizing experience points per unit time.  Players sacrificed
xp/hour to play party time trials.

(In case you're wondering, typical party builds were 1-3 might/conc
paladins, 2-4 strafe/multi amazons, 0-2 WW/shout barbs, 1-2 SF
sorcs, 0-1 LR/CE necro.  All the unbalanced uberskills, with
amplifiers, and complements for their token weaknesses.)

> Of course, there is another option, and that is to expect your
> players to go to outside sources (fansites) to find out which
> skills are good and which ones are worthless.  However, that
> option is even more distasteful to me, being of the opinion that
> game information should be found in game.  I never have been able
> to figure out why I have to go to an external website to find out
> what a particular spell does.  I mean, do we really have masters
> of magic teaching spells when they don't have any idea what the
> spell does?  :)

In the case of D2, the information provided in-game was *wrong* in
important ways.  Fansites did a lot of testing to reveal
bugs/mechanics that Blizzard didn't know about or was concealing.
Buggy low bow damage and the utter worthlessness of armor outside
specialist builds were discovered there, for instance.

Player-favorable bugs and strategies were found at fansites too; for
instance, prior to v1.06, the paladin Concentration and Might auras
had huge, non-intuitive missile weapon damage multiplicative
effects.  Even once v1.06 straightened out the bow dmg issues, I
can't imagine the in-game information pointing out that Might+Conc
multiplicatively stacks with Amplify Damage.  I mean, is the
vendor-provided in-game information really supposed to be a strategy
guide?  How will Brady Books make money if there's useful, complete
information for free in the gameworld? 1/2 :-)


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