[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Oct 19 20:12:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Matt Mihaly writes:
> On Wed, 17 Oct 2001, John Buehler wrote:
>> Matt Mihaly writes:

>>> 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.

> Why? You seem to me to be slipping in and out of context
> here. When a monster is "killed" and respawns, there's no
> destruction of content taking place. It's just interaction of
> content and player.

I agree that the graphics, algorithms and sounds that make up the
experience of the monster are retained.  The player, however, sees
objects as something to destroy, not to interact with.  They adopt a
self-limiting attitude about objects and characters in the world.
In EverQuest, it was a retraining exercise to realize that we
weren't supposed to kill everything that moves.  Sometimes, we were
supposed to leave them alone so that people could talk to them.

>>> 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.

> After the 50th time you've broken the leg of the orc, I don't
> think it's any different to the player than killing the
> orc. Either way, he's met the victory condition. The first couple
> times, I agree, it'd be cool to have your orc enemy show up. On
> the other hand, I don't think there's anything believable about
> not being able to kill the orc you just battered into submission.

Okay, let's flip it around.  What value is there in killing the orc?
Everything that can be accomplished through death can be achieved
through an arbitrary victory condition.  All you get with killing is
an added element of violence.  There isn't even the finality of
death.  The orc respawns.

As for breaking the leg of an orc 50 times, I'm not thinking that it
happens every time, to every orc, on the same leg, to the same
degree, and produces a limp every time.  One in a thousand times,
you might produce a limp in the orc.  Other times, he shows up with
ripped armor.  Or new armor.  Or no armor.  Or a scar.  Or a grudge.
Or he's more inclined to run.  Or pick a thousand other variations
in behavior and appearance that players can take responsibility for.

This is why I suggest that destruction burns content.  It serves as
a terminus for some history of activity with an object or a being.

>> 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.

> I think those are arbitrary rules, not applicable to games or MUDs
> in general. Why shouldn't the NPC who was killed reappear? And if
> they're burning the ship, they're probably getting entertainment
> out of it. Designers can't control what players get entertainment
> out of. They can only influence.

Why shouldn't gravity go up?  Why shouldn't walking forward also
move the closest tree to the right?  Why shouldn't any number of
other unreal behaviors and rules be in effect?  Because the typical
player doesn't want bizarre.  Only the hardcore gamers can deal with

As for designers not controlling what the player get entertainment
out of, I submit to you that they have massive control.  Designers
simply have a seriously flawed understanding about what actions
produce what results in players.

As for burning the ship producing entertainment, it might very well
be true.  And after they've burned that ship, they'll look for
another one.  Because it's probably low cost to burn ships and it's
entertaining.  Providing entertainment through destruction is
difficult.  Creation either comes at a high cost and is believable
and inherently entertaining, or it comes cheaply, which is not
believable and skips over a valuable entertainment source.


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