[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Tue Oct 16 13:53:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


"Destruction burns content"

Although it seems rather obvious, it's worth stating.  Here we are,
wondering how to retain content or reduce consumption rates, yet
most games out there are predicated on murder and mayhem.  If you
want content to be valued for a long time, make that content
inherently entertaining.  Making its destruction entertaining is a
one-time return.  I can sail a ship to many places, but burn it to
the ground or blow it up only once.  Burning ships is certainly
dramatic, but it only inspires players to look for more of the same.
Pretty soon, all your ships are burned to the waterline.  Make your
content valuable for what it is - not for how it can be destroyed.
There's a reason that players don't destroy armor when they find it.
There's no entertainment in its destruction, but it facilitates
entertainment if used.

Part of this law is a prod to encourage designers to get away from
the motif of constant destruction.  I'm working on a design document
for a game, and combat is predicated on blunt weapons and martial
arts.  Nobody dies.  They get knocked out.  That way I don't lose
the content of my NPCs and their relationships with other NPCs and
players.  NPCs can die, but it's an unusual occurrence, and not
controlled by players.

Even hunting can be skewed.  Consider a game where the hunt has all
sorts of entertainment to it.  Then, when the animal is about to be
killed and subsequently harvested, there's no entertainment.  The
animal vanishes and your character gets all the meat, furs and
whatnot from the animal.  Further, there's not much value in the
meat and furs.  Will players kill the animal or just hunt it again,
knowing that the hunt will be different the next time?

Alter the balance and make meat and furs have a small entertainment
value and you've increased the pressure to kill the animals.  Alter
the balance significantly and the hunt has no real entertainment to
it, while the end-product has all the entertainment value and you've
got a kill-fest going on with your animal population.

JB

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