[MUD-Dev] How much is enough?

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Sat Apr 27 08:36:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "David B. Held" <dheld at codelogicconsulting.com>
> From: "Talies the Wanderer" <snicker at pinkpig.com>

>> Now, add a little "randomness" to it.  rhit is a random number
>> from 1 to 3, generated for each separate attack.

>>   if (dam == 0)
>>     { vs = "miss"; vp = "misses";              }
>>   else if ( dam <=   4 ) and ( rhit  = 1 )
>>     { vs = "scratch";  vp = "scratches";       }
>>   else if ( dam <=   4 )
>>     { vs = "graze";    vp = "grazes";          }
>>   else if ( dam <=   8 ) and ( rhit  = 1 )
>>     { vs = "scratch";  vp = "scratches";       }

>> This would present an invisible factor that the player would
>> never see, thus making it nearly impossible, except perhaps over
>> the course of killing hundreds of goblins, to determine the exact
>> variables in play.

While adding hidden randomness to items would help deter character
optimization, it would have a nasty impact on a different aspect of
most MUDs... the player-driven economy.  The efficient exchange of
goods requires that sufficient information be available to both
sides of the transaction.  *cough*Enron*cough* The lack of
information introduces risk into the transaction that must be paid
for by the buyer and/or seller.  They get no benefit from this
risk... it's just a transaction cost as it were.  Thus, you have an

> That being said, I agree with the camp that claims that "gaming"
> isn't so bad.  I think an interesting strategy is that taken with
> Angband: give the players numbers where it counts, and labels
> where it doesn't.  Not only that, but make information a reward in
> itself (or a cost).  That is essentially what an identify scroll
> is.  Or a potion of self-knowledge.  Obviously, a multi-player
> world like the MMORPGs can't use the same strategy as Angband,
> being a single-player game.  But there are certain things that can
> be borrowed, like self-knowledge.  If Achievers or whatnot want to
> know their exact numbers all the time, let them pay for it.

In the long run, everyone needs to know the numbers (or at least the
relative utility of the item)... not just the Achievers.  Characters
acquire hoardes of stuff over their virtual lives.  Many times this
'stuff' isn't blatantly superior or inferior to the items the player
is currently using.  Thus, they have to make decisions as to which
of the similar items to keep versus sell/destroy/etc. (unless the
designer permits unlimited hoarding by which the player can postpone
that decision indefinitely).  This introduces "buyer's remorse" into
the decision where the player will always have that lingering doubt
that they made the 'wrong' decision with regards to which item was
kept versus sold. (Thus, the 'hidden value' model on items will
promote hoarding by players.)

I like the idea of 'Identify' spells in a world where items have
'hidden' values.  It promotes player interaction and creates a
player-driven, sub-market for the distribution of goods.  Some
players will assume the risk of selling items without knowing their
full value as the marginal utility of gaining that knowledge is
lower than spending that time 'whacking beasties'.  Some players
will focus their character on buying items from these players,
gaining the knowledge of the item's true worth, and selling the
items at true market value.  Other players will be facilitators in
this process (the ones casting the Identify spell).  The end result
is a relatively efficient market that supports more rewarding play
activities than the 'statistical description' model.

The only way to prevent 'gaming' is to make the information
unknowable.  And, if the difference within the weapon class is going
to be material/statistically significant, I'm not sure that this is
a good thing.



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