[MUD-Dev] How much is enough? Communication design

Damion Schubert damion at ninjaneering.com
Tue May 7 13:15:09 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

>From John Buehler

> I disagree with this to an extent, depending on how much you let
> the players mitigate the factors.  The more they can gain control
> of a situation, the less likely they are to permit some randomo
> [sic] event to sneak into an activity.  Players know exactly what
> order to 'pull' monsters, how to park them all and one by one kill
> them all.  This is complete control, and it's like working on an
> assembly line.  Control needs to be taken away from players so
> that they are forced to deal with new situations.  To me, new
> situations equates to entertainment.

Players are able to reconcile, disassemble and powergame multiple
factors with great ease.  Vampires are superpowerful at night?
Great, then attack them in the day.  You fight less effectively if
you're hungry?  Then I'll eat before every combat.  Werewolves are
immune to everything but silver?  Well, I'll certainly be sure to
take one every where I go, and if I can't carry one, well, then I
just won't go near the werewolf spawn.  While this level of strategy
is neat initially, it doesn't take long for it to be reduced to the
mundanity of repetition, and designers actually get angered when
players min-max all of these factors that the designers put in for
them to min-max!

The issues I see are two-fold: 1) In most MUDs, you go seeking your
challenges.  They are rarely imposed on you, and if they are, you
typically can run away.  This is largely by player preference, and
the harsh death punishment and lack of any kind of feasible
save-reload system force things in this direction.  2) In most MUDs,
combat is strategic and not tactical.  All of the factors listed
above are strategic - a player going in will know those factors and
will adjust accordingly, but a smart player can virtually always be
save if he really wants to.  In most MUDs, randomness is more of a
threat than being outplayed, and the only true tactical decision you
can make is whether or not to run away.

I know people are sick of hearing about Tetris as a paradigm so
here's another one: Magic the Gathering's combat is interesting
because of the random draw.  You can build the best deck possible
(strategy), but skill against tough opponents requires good tactical
use of the cards, and even the best player can be shut down by an
unfortunate draw.  Has anyone messed around with a concept of
'random draw and tactical play' similar to this in a MUD?

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