[MUD-Dev] Proposed Law

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Mon Oct 22 22:33:32 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Mon, 22 Oct 2001, John Buehler wrote:
> Matt Mihaly writes:

>> "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).

> I didn't say that destruction was bad.  I said that it had the
> characteristic of causing players to quickly cruise through
> available content.  There are positive elements of the destruction
> motif, including the entertainment element that many players look
> for.  I may be overstating my point only because it's in reaction
> to so much destruction in these games.  They are wildly unbalanced
> from where I'd like to see them.

Yeah, I'll agree with that.

> Said another way, if all the entertainment in the game world
> revolved around construction, while destruction wasn't
> entertaining at all, nobody would ever destroy anything, and the
> world might feel terribly sterile.  But game content wouldn't be
> consumed at the furious rate that a destruction-focused game
> would.

Well, only if there WAS no way to destroy anything. There's no way
you can remove all entertainment value from destruction (or from
anything) because you have no way of knowing and predicting what
people will get entertainment from. I dare say a world where you
could destroy things is a world where things WILL be destroyed.

There's a metagame involved too, which you have 0 control over. The
metagame is simply destroying communities on the net. I assume
people still do it. I remember occassionally a newsgroup I was on
would be invaded by people whose vocal intent it was to "destroy"
the newsgroup. They'd sometimes succeed just by annoying everyone so
much that everyone went away. There'd be a flame war, and eventually
either the newsgroup regulars would go somewhere else, or the
invaders would go find a target slightly less hearty. No one had any
control over whether or not the attackers found that entertaining
really.

>> 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.

> I submit to you that you are preaching to the choir.  They look
> for violence, so they're happy when you add more.  I'm not all
> that interested in that niche.  It's only one piece of a vast
> puzzle.  We're talking virtual *worlds* here.  All integrated into
> one seamless experience.  Fourteen forms of fun and all that.  It
> can be pushed into a single game environment.  That's what I see
> as the future of these games.  They are simply a medium for
> finding entertainment.  Not a perpetual monster frag-fest.

Sure, eventually, presumably we'll be able to go for a virtual hike
that is indistinguishable from a 'real' hike. That's not going to
happen in my lifetime, I think. And yes, I very well may be
preaching to the choir, but I submit to you that violent things are
-very- popular and -very- mainstream. American football,
professional wrestling, boxing, etc. Violence is, and always has
been, mainstream entertainment. So while you might not be interested
in it, it's hardly a niche!

>> 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.

> Killing repopping mobiles is non-viable once a large game context
> is considered, as I mentioned above.  If we think of mobiles as
> more than just targets, having them reappear becomes rather
> distasteful.  The technique has value today and will continue to
> have value for a long time to come.  But I think that within the
> next 10 years, the technique will be dumped in favor of a less
> lethal style of gaming, with many facets of the environment made
> to be as entertaining as combat.

I predict MUDs will be dominated, barring a major epistemelogical
change in humanity, by one of two activities: sex or violence. Every
form of mass entertainment I can think of is. Sex seems to be more
popular than violence, but violence is awfully big, and will stay
that way.

--matt


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