[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Jun 6 22:19:23 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

shren writes:
> On Thu, 6 Jun 2002, John Buehler wrote:
>> shren writes:
>>> On Tue, 4 Jun 2002 szii at sziisoft.com wrote:

>> Hear hear.  Keep all the various systems orthogonal to a large
>> degree.  And this type of thinking has led me to consider that
>> magic should be a 'scenario modifier'.  It should be used to do a
>> variety of things that change the tactical situation.  Throw a
>> muffling spell on the guard.  Throw a slippery floor spell in
>> front of the charging guards.  Cast a flash spell at night.
>> Throw a 'bad smell' spell into a crowded room.

>> This all assumes that characters care about the smell of things,
>> that they can slip and fall to their detriment, that night vision
>> can be ruined by bright lights and that guards yelling actually
>> accomplish something.

> Well, I'm not sure I'm all that fond of the idea of micromanaging
> enviornment conditions when determining what spell to cast.
> "Let's see.  It's dusk in a plains area with mild humidity and a
> light wind, with 3 european swallows flying overhead.  Time for
> spell 72151.  Wait, 72141, the wind shifted."  But I can
> definately see the mage as an alterer of tactical situations.

You may want to worry about that distinction.  I do not.  Further, I
don't want to create a game that encourages such worries.  I am in
the camp of those who would like to provide some light entertainment
using the props of a fantasy world, not the camp of those who would
like to get wrapped around an axle while failing to provide wish
fulfillment.  To me, 'altering tactical situations' just means that
I'm playing with the rules of an encounter in some minor way to make
it have an outcome that I'd find more entertaining that it might
otherwise be.

>> If you want to do damage, get a sword.

> But this is a very dangerous road, from the design perspecitve.
> It's a total rewrite.  You almost have to have a classless design,
> and having multiple ways to do flat damage is almost completely
> integrated into both the game systems and the fiction of muds.

For me, a classless design is a given.  And as for existing game
systems, I could care less about them.  I learn from them,
obviously, but I'm not worried about staying within that
quite-limiting box.

> Consider healing.  MUDs hand out damage like candy, generally, and
> have 700 ways to heal it.  Since you're going to have only one way
> of healing, you're going to have to rethink damage.  You're going
> to have to rethink every game mechanic in the world just to
> integrate orthagonality of skills.

Consider this: doing damage, being damaged and healing damage is a
one-dimensional problem for gamers.  As many have observed, it is a
game of attrition.  Can I keep my hit points up long enough to drive
his hit points down to zero?  And often, that's all there is to it:
stand and whack while another character casts healing spells on me.
Given that, we badly *need* a rethinking of the game entertainment
that we have today.

I have no delusions about trying to make magic a tactical
manipulation tool in an existing game - such as EverQuest.  There
are no tactics to be altered.  Hit point attrition is the name of
the game in the popular games.  I want to alter that so that the
*situations* in which characters encounter their challenges
(military, political, economic, social, whatever) are themselves
constantly changing and interesting.  And this isn't just
environmental conditions.  It's tactical conditions appropriate to
the circumstances.  Social conditions, military conditions,
political conditions, and so on.  Those various tactical decisions
make the game a multi-dimensional experience for gamers.  And if we
introduce enough dimensions, there will be myriad ways of enjoying
the activities of the game world.

How's that for striving for originality?


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