[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Sasha Hart Sasha.Hart at directory.reed.edu
Tue Jun 4 01:39:40 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


[Matt Chatterley]

> How do you go about implementing similar features to hundreds of
> existing games, but at the same time making them new, interesting
> and innovative, without being overly complex for a player to
> understand, learn and enjoy?

No. :)

Honestly, I keep having to throw everything out the window. One of
these days I'm going to have to start doing experiments on stuff
like the basic viability to a typical, say, ROM audience of a game
which doesn't have any kind of leveling whatsoever. That kind of
information would free me from the dilemma you face (on the one hand
you want it to work, but you want it to be different - so which
parts really work, or could work in different ways?)

> A magic system based on material components, syllable-stringing
> and gestures (or any of these) might require real brain power
> behind it, quick thinking and creativity from a player (I'm
> certainly planning some sort of free form magical interaction
> along these lines), but to gain this new style of play, will it
> take too long for the average player to pick up and use? Instead
> of typing 'fireball <target> ', they find that they have to
> acquire the spell, its ingredients, and then perform the right
> sequence to use it .. would this put them off?

Yes. However...

This is somewhat like what I have seen of <game omitted> 's magic
system.  You can discover new spells by reciting random combinations
of spell words - when it's a real spell you drop dead on the spot.

Sound stupid? There's not a whole lot else to it. And you have to do
obscene amounts of work to get to the words to begin with, which
involves using one spell exclusively for about 20 levels. Admin
recommends that you don't learn anything else for about 50. (This is
a number of months of play.) Oh yeah, and you have to type two
commands each cast...  better get your macros ready.

I have friends who pay $20/mo for the privilege. Text game. Don't
worry. Their acceptance of it is probably a lot more complicated
than what you present - I often find that online worlds which
actively cultivate local expertise and a steep learning curve have a
strange sort of cultish inertia. :)

> will the lack of macro-able situations and more complex combat
> requiring some planning and forward thinking not be appealing to
> people who want to play the barbarian hero and rampage a path of
> destruction through hordes of orcs?

Yes, but so what? Strategy gamers are legion, and they deal with
very slow combat. Only rarely have I seen tabletop combats slow down
play by a factor of ten. Finally, I have seen lots of MUD players
(RP MUSH mostly) tolerate this kind of combat very well. There *is*
an audience, the question is whether you want this audience or not.

(I'll give it a spin, anyway. :P)

> The old player-killing chestnut pops up too -- should I choose to
> allow or disallow it? If disallowed, should it be in-game
> 'illegal', out-game 'illegal' (fairly pointless?) or just not
> possible? What can this add to a games atmosphere -- and does it
> scale badly to certain playerbase sizes?

One fresh approach would be one which somehow encourages players to
manage their own PK habits. God knows how to do that.  You could get
some people by handing out reasonably high frequency random rewards
to people who are peaceful. Maybe others could be grasped by an
appeal to roleplaying purity or some similar concept; and still
others could be prevented by punishment. (E.g. character death,
permanent or not, whatever).

A tip on that last, if it sounds good: resist the urge to start with
small punishments and escalate. This is a poor technique. Start big
and authoritative so that you don't lose credibility, If (as would
be VERY reasonable) you aren't convinced then I will try to make an
argument for this :) My example is permanent death of character,
rather than a ban.  But some people hate implementing this, you
could take away any asset in the game. I guess you could do
something like temporarily ban - but I think that suggests both that
it's the admin proper who are punishing (rather than the
game/world/victim) and that said admin are too stupid or impotent to
formulate a preemptive or at least really effective means of
preventing something which obviously irritates them a lot.

And, as a player, perfect enforcement is something to at least try
for - nothing worse than getting nailed "as an example" when others
are getting away scot free :)

Sasha
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