[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Leverett Leverett
Wed Apr 24 12:14:28 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: Justin Coleman [mailto:JMCOLE at main.djj.state.sc.us] 

> 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 think it's up to the designer/design team as to what kind of world
they want to create, and who you want your audience to be. For a
true RPG community, it's probably not so important to have
statistics available. This audience is more interested in what a
community has to provide, and is interested in the environment of
the game world.

On the other hand, to cater to the larger percentage of "mainstream"
players, (Achievers birthed out of single player games and are in a
multiplayer static universe for the first time), you will have to
have some of that available. Achievers are inclined towards to what
the actual game content, and want to know the sword that does the
most damage, get to the next level, buy the better engines, and see
how powerful their character is.  Making at least some numbers
available is making it user-friendly, which is essential in
acquiring and retaining this group.

> 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.

If someone wants the information, they will work ad nauseum to get
it whether the intent is to let them know or not. I have always been
impressed with the UO Stratics (http://uo.stratics.com) team by
testing and retesting to determine numerical values for skills,
spells, items, and resources in UO when it was not provided to
them. Regardless of what is thrown out there, they come up with
numbers for it, and I would dare say that it is the most frequented
website for the game.

> 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?

Yes and no - depends on what you want as a game. But uncertainty
causes frustration among a lot of players, especially for the
Achiever group who by definition likes to be able to define and
evaluate what they are doing. One of the more difficult issues in
any online game is trying to absorb Achievers unfamiliar with a
multiplayer universe or socialization in games.

  Achiever:	What do I do in this game?
  GM:		You can do all sorts of stuff.
  Achiever:	Yeah but what's the goal? How do I win?
  GM:		You don't. You just play in the world.
  Achiever:	Well that's stupid.

Achievers often will not understand the social aspect of games or
what that's all about unless they are open to some new ideas and
change. That takes some time, and it's asking a lot of someone to
pay money per month AND adapt to an environment they are unfamiliar

But Achievers are the largest group, and the bottom line is that in
order to draw the maximum number of players you have to concede some
of the RPG elements.

At least, that's my observation anyway - I could be wrong. :)

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