[MUD-Dev] Hyperbolies R Us

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Fri May 17 18:01:43 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On Thu, 16 May 2002, shren wrote:
> On Wed, 15 May 2002, Matt Mihaly wrote:

> But that's not what we mean by worst case scenario.  Thinking
> about the most extreme cases is a part of writing software for
> users.  What will the most obsessive users do?  What will the most
> technically savvy users do?  Naive users?  Malicious users?  If
> you're not thinking about how your design can be broken by those
> using it, then you're not designing, you're daydreaming.

Thinking about how a design can be broken is not the same thing as
doing everything you can to prevent the worst case scenario, which
is unlikely to happen anyway. I never prepare for the worst case
scenario, because it is so unlikely to ever happen. I know I don't
spend my time preparing for the really bad scenarios in life, such
as a nuclear war. You won't find me (or anyone on this list I'm
guessing) moving to remote regions of the southern hemisphere,
stocking up on canned food in a little bunker, and so on. It's not
worth it, despite its likely benefits in the case of a nuclear
war. Your ROI on your time, and your opportunity cost doesn't
justify it.

Similarly, there is no good justification for spending all your time
thinking about the worst case scenario in a MUD.  Obviously any
decent MUD designer or operator thinks about how the players are
likely to abuse a system, but not doing something because of some
remote worst case possibility is often a silly decision. I know I
never consider the worst case scenarios with either of my successful
projects, and one of them has been going strong and growing for
almost 5 years now. Now granted, because we have no dedicated client
that needs updating, and because we can hotload any code changes in
a matter of seconds, we're able to fix or change anything on Achaea
or Aetolia very quickly, with the change affecting all the users
immediately. We also have very good player-to-operator
communications, and so we stay very well informed as to the users'
activities, at least as compared with big MUDs like Everquest and

If I'm daydreaming rather than designing, then I can only hope that
I continue daydreaming, as there seem to be a lot of self-proclaimed
designers out there whose projects never get anywhere beyond the "My
plans are to do cool thing X, really cool thing Y, and uber-cool
thing Z." Preparation is an excellent thing, but its usefulness is
finite, and at a certain point becomes overkill.


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