[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Wed Oct 17 17:04:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Matt Mihaly writes:
> On Tue, 16 Oct 2001, John Buehler wrote:

>> "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.

> That assumes that you can't rebuild the ship, or that game
> mechanics don't just automatically restore the ship. Players can
> be "killed" in many MUDs, for instance, and are just 'rebuilt'
> automatically.

I'm not assuming those things.  They are non sequitors.  I can only
repeat myself: if the entertainment of your game is destruction,
players look to destroy things instead of interact with them.  The
reuse of the content is only entertaining when there are a bunch of
different variables in how the object gets destroyed.  My point is
that there is far greater bang for the buck from content that
interacts with other content - without any destruction taking place.

>> 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.

> How is that different from a system where you kill resetting mobs?

It differs in player perceptions.  The very mob that you beat up
last week shows up again.  If you're permitted to take things from
it, then it will show up without that thing.  If you succeeded in
breaking a bone during the non-lethal fight, perhaps your opponent
has a temporary limp.  There is believable continuity instead of
trivial death and reappearance of a dead opponent.

If an NPC is killed, it shouldn't reappear.  That causes players to
consider the impact of their actions.  Just as burning the ship
should make them stop and think.  They should value the ship as a
source of entertainment, not as a pile of timbers to form a big
bonfire with.


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