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

Kwon Ekstrom justice at softhome.net
Tue May 7 00:20:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Zach Collins (Siege)" <zcollins at seidata.com>
> On Tue, 30 Apr 2002, Kwon Ekstrom wrote:

>> 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.

> I've discovered the opposite in P&P games.  The biggest problem I
> had with 2nd Edition AD&D, for example, was when the various class
> and race handbooks came out; Skills and Powers was the worst of
> the crowd, because you could build all the other munchkin
> characters (and more) using its rules.  The more complex a game
> system becomes, the easier it gets to point a character in an
> extreme direction.

P&P games are an entirely different setup.  In that case it's up to
the DM to decide whether or not a character is allowed in the
system.  In a computer based realm, it's up to the programmer to
setup the system so it prevent too much power being given by simple
choices.  (easier said than done)

I've spent alot of time working out the details of my system, and it
still requires constant tuning, but the complexity is a driving
force.  It's not really one complex system, it's alot of minor
subsystems which interact in complex fashions.  Melee depends on
certain attributes and skills, and has about twice the factors
involved as the standard text mud.  Magic is almost completely
different than most standard text muds and has about 3-4 times the
factors depending on what you're doing.

> The problem is not power gamers, the problem is
> player-discouragers:

These are social problems, and in any system where advancement is
allowed these things can happen.  Irregardless of what your system
is, if you want to mess with the newbies it's possible.

> It's a pain having your low-level character killed in one hit for
> the 10 XP and endless taunting that the act is worth.  It's a pain
> having players you don't know kill you for being polite and
> actually asking for permission to enter their territory.  It's a
> pain

These things are prevented on my server by social action.  If
someone gets a kick from killing newbies, then me and the other imms
will login our characters and kill them (not to mention some of our
larger players will help too).

There's always larger fish in the pond.

> spending hours or even days on a quest, only to have the prize
> snatched from you by an untouchable rogue with triple your speed.
> Too much pain, and people leave the game for good.

I've truthfully never had a problem with these situations.  I've
always encouraged players to work together, and to use their head in
figuring out new ways to handle situations.  Players who start
behaving destructively tend to get outcasted and eventually leave.
The benefits of a good social structure.  Which is entirely separate
from game design.  I've seen muds that were almost right out of the
box stock... with incredible social structure.  And I've seen muds
modified like crazy and barely recognisable with terrible social
structure.  It's entirely up to the players and the immortals.  The
staff can't fake a good social structure.  It has to be built with
the help of your players.

-- Kwon J. Ekstrom

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