[MUD-Dev] Continuous versus Discrete Functions

John Buehler johnbue at email.msn.com
Sat Dec 22 19:19:48 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Caliban Tiresias Darklock writes:
> From: "John Buehler" <johnbue at email.msn.com>

>> Is it possible that a smart game designer could obviate that
>> entire problem by eliminating the player-versus-player race that
>> forms the absolute backbone of games of this genre?

> No. If your players cannot actively fight one another, they will
> compare levels. If there are no levels, they will compare skill
> points. If there are no skill points, they will compare any
> available measure of power they can find, no matter how bad it
> is. If there is no available measure of power, they will compare
> how long it takes them to walk from one side of the map to the
> other. If there is no map, they will compare how long they have
> been online.

> Do you have any idea how stupid this gets? I got messaged recently
> by someone who wants to buy my ICQ number. He wants a lower one
> than he's got.  He can't find anyone under two million who will
> sell, and he's trying to find one under two and a half before he
> buys from the other guy. I don't know this person. He's just
> working his way through ICQ numbers looking for people who might
> sell him their account.

That's pretty stupid, I agree.  But you'll note that you have one
case of competition manufactured from a non-competitive form of
entertainment.  How many cases of competition can you come up with
for EverQuest?  The reason you can come up with so many more in
EverQuest is because that source of entertainment is predicated on
competition.  Scads of people use ICQ without competing with each
other.  ICQ is the multiplayer socializer's game.  There IS no
achievement rat race.

My point in this is that the creation of entertainment which does
not focus on competition is perfectly viable and will not retain the
problems of competition-based entertainment.  It'll undoubtedly have
other problems, but I wonder if the players will be as rabid about
their complaints.

> You will NEVER eliminate PvP. Ever. Players will compete no matter
> what. And they will take the competition seriously, no matter
> what. [snip anecdote] The key is to DIRECT the PvP instinct toward
> an area that will be productive.

I agree with this, in general.  It's simply a question of how much
competition serves as the basis of entertainment for the service.

>> Not that continuous functions are a silver bullet at all, only
>> that their dearth seems to be a symptom of the current game
>> formula, which is a race for advancement.

> I think the major difficulty there is that games always attempt to
> define the advancement by taking the numbers out of it.

> The key to encouraging this behavior or that behavior in a game
> context is to make the behaviors you *like* measurable and
> quantifiable. As the software industry has said for many years,
> "you get what you measure" -- if you attach a number to it, people
> are going to start performing boolean comparisons with it. If it
> has a measurement, it must be important. If it doesn't, it must
> NOT be important. Violate that little expectation often enough or
> blatantly enough, and players will hate you.

I disagree here.  I think that behaviors are made desireable by
making them entertaining.  You're coming at it entirely from the
achiever's standpoint.  Achievers want things to be measureable so
that they can know that they are achieving.  Socializers, explorers
and killers are looking for other avenues.


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