[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Kwon Ekstrom justice at softhome.net
Wed Apr 24 14:03:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Justin Coleman" <JMCOLE at main.djj.state.sc.us>

> 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?

I wonder why people group Killers with Achievers, most Killers I
know of aren't acheivers, in fact most of the good killers I know
aren't acheivers at all.  They more closely resemble explorers,
constantly tinkering with skills and commands to become better at
killing other players.  They don't "achieve" except in the sense of
looting what they need from better equipped, but less prepared (and
often achiever) killers.

> 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?

No, but it is an incentive to play.  People like to know that they
are advancing.  If you get a $1/hr pay raise, I'm sure you multiply
your hours and see how much more you'll get paid next check.  It's
the same concept.

> 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.

You would still get comparisons, any system will be gamed.  A better
way to prevent gaming will be to introduce a larger amount of
randomness into the world.  You can't predict randomness (well you
can but it won't be worth the benefits a player will receive).
Smarter mobile/player interactions, and more combinations will do
alot more than simply blurring the amount of information a player
sees.  Granted, a combination of the above with a little information
blurring can go a long way, but I would concentrate more on making
the system less predictable forcing the players to learn more will
be a better solution.

Nothing you can do will prevent the system from being gamed, humans
by nature learn from experience, make comparisons, and then adjust
their strategy to accomplish what they need.  That's a primary
driving force.  I personally don't see the problem with players who
put more into it getting less... All humans may be equal (highly
doubtful), but they are not equal in the same areas.

> 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

The ability to game does not have a thing to do with community.
People will work in groups when they are encouraged to do so.  The
last mud I played on required players to work in groups to fight
mobs, even so there was little to no community when I started there.
After building my own kingdom and encouraging my members to work
together, we had a rather large portion of the mud as a
self-sufficient community working together (which incidentally fell
apart when I quit playing there).

Restricting information, making it harder to play, forcing players
to group to kill big mobs, none of those builds community.  People
who get down and are willing to work with other players builds
community.  You cannot simulate this, either you have it or you
don't.  Code as much as you want, until you get down with the
players it will not form unless you're very lucky.

> 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?

Hack 'n' Slash is easy to develop for... Good social structure
requires the most work, as people are very demanding, and Explorers
take a close second because you need to build stuff for them to look
at faster than they devour it (a near impossible task with good
explorers).  Killers are quite easy to satisfy, if you're willing to
alienate the rest, in order to meaningfully group killers with
nonkillers, that takes skill.

The effort required to support such disparate groups of people is
exponential.  Although not impossible.

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

Realism is in the eye of the beholder, truthfully, how real can you
make a game that involves magic?  And how real do you really want to
be?  Most people I know play games to escape reality.
Pseudo-reality is what you're looking for.  Enough reality for the
players to relate to your world with enough fascinating differences
to keep them busy.

-- Kwon J. Ekstrom

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