[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Sat Oct 20 17:53:51 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Fri, 19 Oct 2001, John Buehler wrote:
> Matt Mihaly writes:
>> 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.

"Weren't supposed to...." I don't really see how that's relevant,
though I may be missing your point here. I understand what you're
saying about players adopting a self-limiting attitude about things,
but to adopt an attitude where you believe destruction is bad is
also self-limiting (limits you from destroying things).

It seems to me that what you're saying (and again, I may just be
misunderstanding your point), is akin to the hypothetical designer
of chess saying "Ok, now look, I've given you these pieces and
rules, but damn it, black isn't supposed to play kt-kb4 in answer to
kt-qb3 in the Vienna Game." I mean, yes, it's not really good for
the player to make that move, in that it's a bad move (assuming your
goal is winning the chess match), but would I want to be telling a
player he shouldn't do that irrespective of his desire to win? 
No. It's not a perfect analogy, but that is what it seems you're
saying to me.
>> 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.

What value? If the player "kills" the orc, then it can be presumed
that doing so had some expected or actual value to the player
(likely actual, as likely it's not the first orc he has killed, and
is doing it in expectation of the same reward as the first orc). And
violence is fun for many, many, many players. 99% of MUDs are based
on it. Even chess can be spiced up for many people with
violence. Achaea's in-game chess features various Battlechess-like
capture messages for every possible capture combination. Players
have always reported to me that the addition of these violent (and
sometimes quite comical) messages improves their chess
experience. It certainly improves mine.
> 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.

I sense a "permadeath" argument here. I agree that destruction burns
content. However, killing re-popping mobiles is not
destructive. It's only taken out of the web of possible interactions
for awhile.

>> 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 bizarre.

In most games, there are many, many, many unreal behaviors and
rules. Eating and no waste removal. Massive flying
dragons. Teleportation, etc. Internal consistency, not simulation.

I'd also suggest that if you want to write a law, it has to apply
universally. Saying "Well, it doesn't apply to these people, but
we'll just label them as hardcore and proceed to ignore them." 
doesn't make for a law if you ask me.
> 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.

I have a pretty good idea about what actions will produce what
results in players. I think many people on this list, particularly
those with lots of experience running (as opposed to designing) MUDs
in a live environment have a good idea.
> 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.

Sure, though again, that assumes that there isn't some magic spell
to take the ashes of the ship and resurrect it. In a world where
there is "magic" (or advanced technology), you can do basically
anything, no matter how little sense it makes. Hey, it's
magic. Better yet: God did it.


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