[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Matt Chatterley matt at eldoops.co.uk
Wed Jun 5 12:55:48 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On 4 Jun 2002, Sasha Hart wrote:
> [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?)

I know the feeling only too well. If I do run with this project,
naturally I want it to be as successful as possible (this is perhaps
the most satisfying part of mud design and creation -- having
players). :)

>> 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.

[Snip more detail]

Ick. :) I'm hopefully aiming to create a situation whereby different
types of character really do play differently. Where the mage player
spends time acquiring and practising spells, working out how to best
use them, and how to counter them -- making it all a little more
brain intensive, while the fighter might simply be a very strong,
fast barbarian type, or the more educated 'swordsman' with different
player-created combinations of moves.

>> 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)

Me too. I used to play (and infact ran one) RP MUSHes, and I've
played lots of other games besides (not least of all tabletop
D&D). I prefer combat which requires a bit of thought. It's more
rewarding to me to have to defeat an opponent by outwitting or
outfighting him, rather than typing 'bash' more rapidly, or just
being a higher level. Of course, I want the work which I put into
developing my character to pay off by making him more powerful --
but I want to think and plan things too.

Thus I might choose a lunge-parry-riposte-parry-trip combination as
an opener, guessing to myself that my opponent will dodge or parry
my intial lunge, and then reply with a thrust of his own in time to
be caught by my queued parry. Hmm. Thats not very clear -- I must
write up my combat ideas more coherently. :)

>> 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).

Hm. Yes. Its a tough cookie (and always controversial). The key to
making it work seems to my mind to be making it 'non abusable' -- by
not allowing PK to be more profitable than other activities (without
it being totally impossible to get away with, and worthless -- in
this case it should not be possible).

> 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.

Absolutely. I think any system I settle on (should I decide to allow
PKing) will involve in-game guards, laws and bounties. Or an opt-in
only system, perhaps. I'm veering towards requiring players to
classify their character as either a hero or villain, and in part
basing the rules for PK from this.

> 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 :)

Aye. :) Any enforcement has to seem fair and reasonable to all
players.  Ulp. Tough bit. :)


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