[MUD-Dev] Story Implementation

rayzam rayzam at home.com
Tue Dec 4 01:00:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lee Sheldon" <linearno at gte.net>

> Are my estimates of the number of quests, and the time it took
> accurate?  Did the lead designer think that only these few quests
> would be sufficient, so no more were created?  Or were there
> actually thousands?  Or did the quests back up because of the time
> needed to code and test them?  Could the quest builders write them
> in a form easily translatable into code? Were sufficient
> implementation structures in place?  Were databases and flow
> charts used to integrate them?  Answers to these and other
> questions would help those interested in telling stories at least
> have a better shot at succeeding.  With that time and that staff I
> would have expected to see 10 times as many quest and story items
> in place at launch.  With a different corporate emphasis (more
> story, less preparing lower levels for RvR) in two years I would
> have shot for AT LEAST 5000.  Sound like a lot?  With a staff of 6
> that's less than 2 quests per person per day.

> These are issues that are really ONLY relevent to those who WANT
> to include story in their MMOs or MUDs, and I'd really like to
> hear some other opinions and real life experiences in general, not
> necessarily aimed at DAoC.

This is possibly a tangent. Of course, I want to include story in my
Mud. My first area in it, created years and years ago, I wrote up
the whole story for. Everything in it was interconnected in some way
with the overall story. I remember the first few parties going into
the area had tons of trouble. Disbelieving illusionary walls?! Nope,
'man this place is small and there's nothing here'. Rescuing a
mortally wounded prisoner, who you have to heal just to keep alive
long enough to question? Nope, walk in, kill! or Walk in, wait till
he dies. Move on and kill the next monster. I don't even remember
how many months it took [over a year and a half, easily], till
someone realized that the large worm was mentally controlling the
'people' like puppets, thus why they never spoke, but acted in
coordinated fashion, and that's where the attacks on the players'
own minds came from. Psychic puppetmaster, not Dune.

I've also plotted and run a number of LARPs. This is a different
kind of story in a game. Actually, I enjoyed reading your Casablanca
game, Lee [on your website]. The story of a LARP seems more
appropriate to a MUD in some ways. However, it's harder to
implement, probably due to the inherent nature of a LARP, being time
limited. A LARP = live action role playing. Players get characters
that have stats and mechanics of some sort usually, but mainly, they
get a background, goals, contacts, personality. You plot out the
stories, the interactions, the twists, turns and surprises. The
players then run with them. Sometimes a well seeded plottwist works
out. Other times, even better ones occur randomly. And of course,
some fail miserably.

On the positive side, players have control of the plots, it's not a
static background they can't do much against. Also on the positive,
the plots are more interconnected, because they're crafted as a
whole. On the negative, the plots will run out with time, needing an
overall reset [reminding me of Skotos' successful use], or it's not
suitable for players who log on and log off, or join and then drop
out of the game.

A LARP is still a story, it still requires writing and crafting, and
talent for it. Is there a way to integrate it into a mud? Not having
much experience with mushes, do they do that? If so, how do they
succeed at it [many storytellers playing various important NPCs to
move things along? This brings to mind Castle Marrach]? Can it be
done in an ongoing basis, without staff intervention?

How would the development time of this type of story compare to the
stats listed above? It seems like it could be managed as Lee
mentioned handling tv serials. A lead writer with overall plot
directions and oversight, and then other writers handling the
individual aspects.

How about a merge of these methods. Take the A.C. direction of a
continuing story, but instead make it plot out as a LARP. Run it in
serials.  It would take a real commitment to continuing content
development, but that development would be story driven and not
area/loot driven. What size staff would it take for what size
playerbase? Would it reduce the staff requirements for expanding
other content? If the world was fleshed out enough at launch, then
it would only be the internal content that would shift. Characters
can be written in and out.

In a mud like our Retromud, this activity would constitute an event.
Players already band against thieves that try to rob their castles,
or Righteous Angels/Avenging Demons who go after their targets,
causing players to react instead of just act. Or instead of other
events, like meteor showers that do drop minerals from the sky [and
if lucky and flying in the sky, they might see one streak past them
on the way to the ground]. Why not have Spartan [npc who is a
supporter of Good] put out a bounty on a Cultist [a player] who
slaughtered a paladin outpost? Though this example is simplistic, it
should be possible to interweave current physical content with
players and plots.

I suppose I'm asking many more questions, due to the series of ideas
I have percolating around. This line of thought comes also from the
thread about game as story vs story told in game. Perhaps this would
be an intermediary between The Sims and The Longest Journey.

If you're still with me at this point, thanks :) Comments welcome.



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