[MUD-Dev] Expectations of in-game reality
nip at vr.net
Thu Oct 25 12:02:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001
----- Original Message -----
From: "Matt Mihaly" <the_logos at achaea.com>
> So why are all of us (including myself) willing to accept
> fire-breathing dragons more quickly than respawning mobs as 'real'
> within the fiction of the world? Is it because fire-breathing
> dragons have a long tradition of being an element of 'fantasy'
> What about other, even more improbably things, not found in normal
> 'fantasy' worlds. For instance, Achaea has 'humgiis' that serve as
> garbage cans. They're cute little creatures that can eat anything,
> of any size. It makes no sense at all that something the size of a
> small dog (even with its big mouth) would eat, say, the corpse of
> an elephant. Yet, I've seen 'em do it, with my very own eyes, and
> didn't have any problem believing it.
I like to think the difference is "marginal utility".
Why is the dragon there? In most games, it's either a goal or an
indicator of a goal nearby. Try making it a respawning mob of
dragons which has no purpose other than to be killed. Then make it
so _most_ mobs of dragons have no purpose other than "being there"
and their "believability" will almost certainly decrease.
That 'humgiis' is a vacuum cleaner. It has some utility to players
because it keeps the clutter down. Have it decide players are
clutter or wait to pounce on fresh kills before they can be
harvested and see how quickly it becomes less believable. As it is,
the cleaner takes no effort, in fact it probably is ignored most
times, and performs a useful function, so it's much easier to
believe it. Make it so the players have to pay attention to it, and
they'll have a harder time believing.
In many games, a respawning mob of goblins is just fodder. There
may be a sense of completion the first time you kill it off, but
when it's realized the goal WAS to kill it off, and that it'll be
back in a while, the mobs begins to become "unbelievable". Try
having the mob replace the humgiis' function; roam and clean up the
clutter. Or have a specific goal beyond "killing for the experience
or joy of killing" involved with the mob. The mob has more "value"
once you do so, and the players will more readily accept it.
What I'm getting at is player's are quite willing to accept just
about anything, so long as they see some advantage .. to them .. of
whatever it is you're asking them to accept. That respawning mob
doesn't gain them anything they can't get otherwise, and it feels
like rats on a treadmill killing them, so players have no reason to
accept them. Give it a purpose, a goal, some function the players
view as desirable, and they'll be much more likely to accept the
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