[MUD-Dev] DAoC: Empowering Players to Alter the World (was: New laws)

Lee Sheldon linearno at gte.net
Tue Dec 4 14:01:21 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Hans-Henrik Staerfeldt

> we need a better technology in the games that allow for well told
> stories to unfold that takes into account the free will of its
> participants. The free will of the players need to become part of
> such stories, and change them in significant ways. Quests with
> multiple outcomes are just the first humble attempts at
> implementing narrative in the multiplayer games, and i do agree
> that they are insufficient as of yet.

Off the top of my head, I'll give you an example of a quest that can
affect the world of DAoC.  I mentioned it briefly in another thread,
but I'll elaborate a bit here.  Nuada's Silver is a quest for
several classes in Hibernia.  As you progress from step to step a
simple story set up even as backstory text begins to unfold.
Basically you come to learn that a specific kind of silver can be
used to create uber weapons.  The silver is in a part of some silver
mines with two possible entrances, but blocked by
creatures/enchantments/rocks or a combo of those.  Details are
somewhat sketchy.  Hints are given that the ultimate completion of
this quest will be opening a way to this new silver horde, and one
hopes, a new zone.

Right now the quest is structured in a totally-linear solo-game type
fashion.  Questors must move from a to b to c, and they play as if
there are no others working on the identical steps.

If I were writing this quest, I would...
  1) Build it with a non-linear progression of steps, so that
  players can choose what to do next.  This is just common,
  multi-player sense.  Unfortunately I don't believe DAoC's engine
  was designed with this in mind.

  2) Write the NPCs so they are aware that more than one player is
  doing the quest.  Have them thank individual players for
  contributing to the effort.  Making NPCs more aware in general of
  their surroundings is so easy, and so important.  Enough of the
  static rote text spewers and vending machines!

  3) Make sure the quest connects to and references other quests to
  move a story of the world forward.  Everything in life is
  interconnected.  To create the feeling of a real, functioning
  world in a virtual environment, we must do the same.

  4) Make certain that EACH INDIVIDUAL PLAYER who chooses to do the
  quest DOES contribute to the ultimate end.  Reward players, and
  not just with little dings, a new level, and a few more hit
  points!  Instead of players each following the same path to the
  same reward, accumulate the experience of all the players.  In
  this particular case we can use a Dutch dike analogy.  Build
  pressure until it bursts, and the world is changed.

  5) Divide the quest into two parts: one is reaching the
  traditional easy end: players get a great item; the other is
  shifting into an ongoing struggle, or building of dramatic
  tension, that those players who have "completed" the quest, and
  even other members of their realm, still have a stake in.  This
  extends the life of the content, and increases the stakes.

Let's say there are three things blocking the entrance to the mine.
a) Spellcasters discover the huge spell needed to break the
enchantment.  Each must contribute an ongoing portion of their mana
to breaking the enchantment.  Until the quest is ultimately solved
they must play with reduced mana.  b) Fighters must slay an
apparently finite number of creatures guarding the way.  This number
is adjusted based on the number of quest participants, and the
building results of the other two attempts to unblock the way, so
it's a sliding scale behind the scenes, allowing the killing of the
last mob at the best possible moment for suspense.  These beasts can
"permanantly" reduce fighter's constitution.  c) Crafters can
contribute to the building of a unique siegcraft weapon that not
only cracks rock, but conveys it out of the way, the only machine
capable of smashing through the physical barrier.  This machine
requires many crafters of many disciplines working together (how
siegecraft works now), and in some way reduces their ability to
craft normally.

You don't want to lump anything on to GMs, so the game keeps track
of the number of participants and their successes.  Finally critical
mass in one of the three areas is achieved, and that block is
removed.  Then another.  And the last.  The way to the mines is
cleared!  NPCs announce it to one and all!

The personal results are: Rewards for individual participants: items
(in place already, though few and far between); recognition
(somewhere a list of participants and their contribution is posted
or proclaimed); restoration of lost mana level, consititution, cash;
xp and/or realm points.

The universal results are: a new zone to adventure in; new material
for tradeskills(an additional type of player-crafted weapons with
magical properties); a temporary edge on other realms who have not
yet completed an epic; a new step in an ongoing story.

This structure would accomodate thousands of players, ALL of whom
can be heroes.  The players are changed.  The world is changed.  The
story moves on.

There is more than one such "epic" quest in each realm I think like
the one I used here to take off from.  They are class dependant, so
the benefits of structuring them this way increase expoentially, if
they are all tied together.


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