Powergaming (was RE: [MUD-Dev] How much is enough?)

Kwon Ekstrom justice at softhome.net
Tue Apr 30 22:15:12 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Jeff Cole" <jeff.cole at mindspring.com>
> From: Miroslav Silovic
>> Ron Gabbard wrote:

>>> [T]he target audience you are trying to frustrate with this
>>> mechanism is the powergamer... and they will not be denied!

>> Actually, this only goes to prove that powergaming prevention is
>> a systemic issue ...

> It seems to me that the issue (is it really a problem?) inheres in
> the player rather than the system.

I agree, powergaming isn't a problem, it's simply a playing style
which is most effective at reaching an optimum level.  As a power
gamer myself, I don't have any problem with it.  My solution to
power gaming is complexity.  By increasing the number of stats and
attributes required to make the system work, you make things more
difficult to "power game" as such.

> The best system aspires to minimize the reward powergamer realizes
> vis-a-vis the rest of the playerbase.  Passively, rather than
> actively trying to penalize the playstyle.  But doesn't that
> really just suggest a well-balanced game in general?

Truthfully, my game is designed in such a way where balance isn't
possible.  There are simply too many separate routes that a player
can take, I don't really care if they choose a "lesser" route.
Different routes also handle different aspects of game life, if
you're talking simply about the ability of a player to bash
creatures, than the players who concentrate on creating the best
equipment have some serious issues to deal with.

> Too much focus on frustrating the powergamer wastes valuable
> resources and, more importantly, risk a negative impact upon the
> gameplay of the general population.

You will never be able the truely thwart your power gamers without
creating a "flat" playing field.  As long as there is anything a
player may use to their advantage, a player WILL use it to their
advantage.  It's the human condition.  Perhaps comic books and
movies may portray what we "view" as the human condition better, but
games as a whole portray why humans rule the world and not cats or
dogs or bears.  Humans have the ability to take their environment in
hand and mold it to conform to their needs.  They react to what's
around them and handle things to their own benefit.  To take that
away from your players is asking for a very uninteresting game.

To prevent a player from making decisions using obtained knowledge
to improve their character is like asking to chess player to play
poorly because it's "unfair" to his opponent, like asking a business
major to only use middle school algebra so the janitor can
understand him.

In this sence, every human being is a power gamer, their abilities
vary.  I've found some of the worst mudders I've run across make
wonderful #2's in a clan.  They're socializers and keep track of
what everyone is doing.  Everyone has their niche... what people
normally consider a power gamer generally excells at mindlessly
bashing things.  My ability was I excelled as an explorer, and
really enjoyed killing my fellow player because people are sometimes
more interesting to kill than npcs.

-- Kwon J. Ekstrom

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