[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Tue Jun 11 08:01:05 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Matt Mihaly" <the_logos at achaea.com>
> On Fri, 7 Jun 2002, shren wrote:
>> On Thu, 6 Jun 2002, Matt Mihaly wrote:

>>> Ugh. This illustrates what is, to me, the singlest ugliest trend
>>> in MUDs (whether graphical or text), which is the idea that
>>> thing <X> -should- work like Y. To me, saying that something
>>> like magic, which doesn't exist in the physical world, should
>>> have properties Z and effects A, B, and C screams
>>> box-thinking. Surely magic can be whatever a designer designs it
>>> to be. There's nothing inherently good nor bad about magic doing
>>> damage, or not doing damage. It's all dependent on your specific
>>> design.

>> I think you're growling a little loud at us for just having an
>> innocent discussion.  For all fantasy computer games I've played,
>> all of them, the "magic users" have always had a way to blast the
>> enemy, and this method was either used most of the time or not
>> used at all because it was either more or less powerful than
>> using weapons.

> I just think it's incredibly boring to try to implement the same
> game (D&D) over and over and over. There's absolutely nothing
> inherent in magic that makes it a balancing problem.

Boxes are not always a bad thing.  They can speed up the player
learning curve and give them a greater level of comfort within the
game as there are a number of concepts contained in the game with
which they are familiar.  A very basic example of this is the
right-click and left-click on the mouse.  If 90% of the games have
left-click = grab/use and right-click = inspect, there should be a
very good reason for designing things differently and forcing
players who have played other games to retrain themselves.
'Everyone else is doing it this way' is an equally bad excuse to NOT
do something a certain way as it is a reason to do something a
certain way.

Combining common threads...  Designing a world where an item made
with a hilt and blade that looks like a sword and is called a sword
is used for "planting trees" seems like an unnecessary burden on the
player (cognitive dissonance).  Everyone has a language link in
their brain between visual image, 'name' of that object, and the
concept behind that image and name.  These links are so strong that
we don't even cognitively think about them anymore.  Piers Anthony
effectively plays around with this a lot in his Xanth series where
'shoe trees' are actually trees that grow shoes, etc.  However, the
mental image painted of the 'shoe tree' is consistent with the new
concept even though the name remained the same.

There may be some overwhelming design reason 'why' swords are used
for planting trees and hats are used for carrying items.  But, it's
a high risk decision as players have to resolve the dissonance
between their 'known' concept of swords and the 'proposed' concept
of swords.  There is the possibility that this resolution will be
"this game is stupid... swords are used to plant trees and everyone
knows that swords are combat weapons."

Good thread.



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