[MUD-Dev] Continuous versus Discrete Functions

John Buehler johnbue at email.msn.com
Fri Dec 21 23:00:54 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Dave Rickey writes:
> From: John Buehler <johnbue at email.msn.com>
>> Dave Rickey writes:
>>> From: John Buehler <johnbue at msn.com>

>>>> This pattern is fairly common and I'm stumped as to why the
>>>> discrete function (apparently implemented as tables or
>>>> cascading conditionals) is the function of choice for system
>>>> designers.  My time on flight simulators showed me the power of
>>>> continuous functions - especially when multiple continuous
>>>> functions are contributing to the outcome of any activity.

>>> Two reasons:

>>>   1) Players seem to hate discontinuous feedback from the
>>>   system.  To them, something either works, or it does not.
>>>   This tends to reflect itself as extreme criticism of any
>>>   portion of the game system that provides a spectrum of
>>>   outputs.

>> So you're stating that, in your experience, my expectations are
>> in the distinct minority?  That players prefer on/off and
>> success/fail behaviors?

> Not quite, I'm saying that most of them interpret almost
> everything as a success/fail, and given a broad spectrum of
> partial successes treat only the top fraction as "success"

What I'm hearing is that current games, which are predicated on
advancement, assign no real value to less-than-optimal outcomes, so
producing a non-optimal result is a failure.  This suggests to me
that there is even more value in reducing the prevalence of the
'work to achieve' style of entertainment - if we can assume that
players only think this way because of the environment that they are
placed into.  The value is in providing a spectrum of viable
entertainment from not just optimal results, but from non-optimal
results as well.  Perhaps eliminating the possibility of attaining
the optimal condition is a good first step.  Another good step would
be the elimination of value by being optimal in the first place.

JB

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