[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Brian Hook brianhook at pyrogon.com
Wed Apr 24 00:43:07 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

At 09:45 AM 4/23/2002 -0400, Justin Coleman wrote:

> 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?

Power gamers can never have too much information.  They derive
enjoyment from optimizing their playing time and play styles.

> For example, in a MMORPG, do players really *need* to see their
> characters' stats?

Do players really *need* to play the game?  Of course not.  And they
don't *need* to see their stats, however many players enjoy this.
They like to see quantification.

And if you don't quantify it for them, they will quantify themselves
through trial and error.  Qualitative statistical assessment in
advancement oriented games almost always ends up as a failed

> 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".

This is fine, but it will not appeal to advancement oriented
players.  Which, in today's commercial games, consist of a good
chunk of the player base.  They will likely feel frustrated and

Some game designers think it's cute or "realistic" to avoid slapping
numbers on things, but, in general, this just comes off as

> 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.

You're then just dictating that their advancement is in some
predefined increments instead of at some arbitrarily fine
granularity.  So what's the difference?  Shades of gray?

> 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.

And you would be wrong =) What would happen is that the hardcore
gamers would have sessions where they experimented and determined
the exact interaction of weapons, armor, skills, levels and items.
And then they either publish the information or they hoard it to
their advantage.  This happened with both EQ and UO in various
forms, to the point where EQ players knew more about the mechanics
than it seemed the designers did.

> instantly know which one is better, encouraging comparison and
> min-maxing.

Why would you discourage something that players enjoy?

> 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.

Um...why would you?  I'm a bit confused by this -- why would you
want to attract the type of players you don't like to your world?
And then, at the same time, try to invent mechanics that makes the
game less interesting for them?

> Wouldn't a world with more balance between all four archetypes be
> more fun for almost everyone?

Define "balance"?  If someone is a social player and primarily
engages in talking and discussion, is he "unbalanced" vs. the
advancement oriented player?  Players get what they take out of the

> 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?

Of course not, but this is the formula that seems to work right now.
Until The Sims: On-line is released.

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

Even uttering the word "realism" in a gaming context tends to get me
all irritable, so I won't bother addressing the above other than to
say "Who gets to define reality?" =)


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