[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Vincent Archer archer at frmug.org
Wed Apr 24 09:46:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

According to Justin Coleman:

> 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?

It depends.

If their "performance", for whatever criteria there is to judge a
performance within the game framework, depends on their stats, they
*will* know the stats.

> 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

Sounds like Everquest.

In EQ, there's no mana value. The exact amount of mana you have has
been reverse engineered before even the end of beta.

In EQ, the amount of XP you gain is hidden. The exact amount of
monsters you have to kill to gain a specific level was quickly
found, including a math error which broke an otherwise smooth

In EQ, the formula which derives your chance of success at crafting
an item is completely hidden. Nevertheless, ask the traders, and
they'll tell you your exact % of chance to make a given item at your
current skill or what skill you need to have the biggest chance of
crafting a specific item.

No matter what, if it's judged "important", and there are enough
people playing your game, your formulas and values will not remain
hidden. Even if you don't provide a basis, people will evaluate mana
as "how many times can I cast spell X before I go out of mana". Or

> for experience of the DND variety, but that's another topic.) 
> Given sufficiently fine granularity of these verbal and visual

Fine granularity and hiding go counter to each other.

> My opinion, possibly ill-informed, is that a system like this
> would be less susceptible to being "gamed" by those people
> obsessed with

If they are obsessed, they will game your system.

> 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

If there's only 1%, 99.9% people won't bother. The driving force
behind the choice of the sword will be the difficulty to obtain the

But if there's a consistent difference between how well they
perform, you can bet people will notice, and find out that sword B
is better than A.

> 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

That's not about number. That's about goals.

If all you do is slashing and looting, it doesn't matter if you hide
or not the numbers; the achievers will be there, and hiding numbers
will not hamper them much. Delay, but not stop.

-- Vincent Archer Email: archer at frmug.org

All men are mortal.  Socrates was mortal.  Therefore, all men are
Socrates.  (Woody Allen)
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