[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Justin Coleman JMCOLE at main.djj.state.sc.us
Tue Apr 23 09:45:09 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Greetings all!

I'm really enjoying the threads on addiction and ownership, lots of
good ideas there, but they've sparked something of a resonant chord
in me. The addiction thread in particular made me wonder -
considering the mindset of some people, notably those who have lots
of free time and few social obligations (those who usually rabidly
follow the Achiever / Killer archetype), how much information is
enough?

For example, in a MMORPG, do players really *need* to see their
characters' stats? Do they need to see *exactly* how many points of
damage a weapon does, how many HP that monster has, or how many more
foobobs they have to kill before they gain a level?

I envision a system in which all numbers are relayed to the player
in an inexact format - HP and mana are displayed as a percentage
bar, skill levels and damage are given in verbal approximates (low
skill, average skill, high skill, etc), and experience from kills is
something that just "happens". (In my ideal world there's no need
for experience of the DND variety, but that's another topic.) Given
sufficiently fine granularity of these verbal and visual
approximates, players could still have a reasonable sense of
accomplishment given to them as reward for desired behavior.=20

My opinion, possibly ill-informed, is that a system like this would
be less susceptible to being "gamed" by those people obsessed with
being numerically "the best" at any given system. The lack of exact
feedback would make it harder, if not impossible to determine which
of two similar items was best - say you have two swords, but one of
them does one percent more damage than the other one. In most
current systems, you can see the numbers plain as day, and you
instantly know which one is better, encouraging comparison and
min-maxing.

Is this really a good thing? Wouldn't it be better to be a little
uncertain? I know I would rather play in a world where people are
more about community and working together than who has the biggest
sword, but it's not easy to attract the Achiever / Killer types to a
purely social world. Wouldn't a world with more balance between all
four archetypes be more fun for almost everyone? Today's games (EQ,
UO, AO, DAoC, etc) all seem far more oriented towards hack and slash
than any other style of gameplay, but does it always have to be this
way?

How far can we shift the balance point back towards realism /
non-powergami ng, while still keeping a good amount of fun?

   -Justin

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