[MUD-dev] Player Manipulation of Environment

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Thu Nov 22 11:40:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Mike Sellers wrote:
> Jeff Freeman wrote:

>> I think the right approach is to give players enough tools to
>> manipulate their environment, and an environment that's hostile
>> enough to require they manipulate it, and they'll make their own
>> stories.

> "Tools not rules."  I heartily agree with the principle -- we just
> haven't done all that good of a job in presenting it in MMP games
> so far.

I also think this is the right approach.  Static environments breed
static stories.  A world needs to be dynamic, giving players the
possibility of bringing change.  Players want to be able to reach
out and touch the virtual world around them, causing it to change
ever so slightly.  When the world changes, at the very least you
have news.  If the players care about the change--if their emotions
are engaged--then I think the news becomes a story.  It is the sort
of story that arises naturally from players manipulating their
environment (perhaps in response to content introduced by
developers) that I find most interesting.

But more dynamic virtual worlds bring their own set of problems.

When you allow players to manipulate their environment, how do you
ensure that manipulation doesn't create imbalances?  Should you even
try to do this?  What about if the imbalances lead to some sort of
dead end.  (i.e. Do you allow the Empire to crush the Rebel
Alliance?  If not, won't the player actions seem futile?  If you do,
what happens when the Rebel Alliance is so weak that no one wants to
be a part of them any more?)  How do you ensure player manipulation
doesn't impinge upon another player's ability to enjoy the game?
Should you even attempt this?

--Phinehas

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