[MUD-Dev] Re: The Future of MMOGs... what's next? (fwd)

Talanithus HTML talanithus at mindspring.com
Thu Jun 13 16:29:29 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

I'll go piece by piece...

From: "John Robert Arras" <johna at wam.umd.edu>

> I don't think his model of letting people make their own minizones
> will work within a MUD. The level of cheating possible is almost
> beyond description (see Diablo I).

This relies on an assumption that these player areas are created in
such a way as to allow cheating.  I see this as a somewhat limited
concept, as there can and should be many checks and balances within
these modules to prevent this abusive behavior.  For example, all
items given out in a player module as "loot" could be aquired by
normal game play before-hand.  This prevent the abuse of players
stocking up on items by simply creating monsters of a specific type
to accumulate a specific resource.  To combat skill building, one
could simply instill into the module a rule that any creature that
has its AI status modified by an Editor DURING combat will not any
skill/fame/karma/experience gains, thus preventing abusive Editors
from setting up damage soaking monsters to level off of.  If they
wish to fight the monster with its original AI, as the game
designers intended, then they will advance as per normal.  A more
heavy handed approach could simply nullify any experience gain
within a player module...  truthfully, that is not their purpose.
They are there to provide an interesting twist and gaming
experience, not replace leveling or item accumulation from the
normal game play.

> I can't imagine people letting other people transfer characters
> from one NWN minigame to another without a lot of checking or
> knowing the person behind the character. I can't imagine Bioware
> letting people play characters in their own little modules and
> then play them in some central game.

Actually, NWN has a "Vault" for characters to do exactly that.  It
does impose that that characters cannot gain experience or items
beyond a certain maximum range from any world, so character's within
the official Vault are enforced to remain within "mortal" limits.
It would be easy to organize this same sort of check within an MMOG
as well.

> This is not to say that I am opposed to players creating
> things. It's just that you can't let people make their own little
> worlds to play in and then let them return to the main game.

> That means these little worlds must be totally separate from the
> main world since nothing can return from them. That's no different
> than people playing on a MUD and then deciding to take some time
> out to play some Q3A or AoK.

The thesis behind my article is the ability for players to craft
their own storylines, not their own worlds, though I can understand
how my wording could be read that way.  Currently, it is very
difficult to setup a quest or community activity that seems truly
immersive and dynamic in the MMOG industry, mainly because we do
*not* have these sort of world level tools at our disposal. With
careful forethought and prevenetive measures, such tools could be
implemented, and they would probably be the biggest draw players
have yet had within the MMOG community.  Not all will use them, but
those that do will create an enticement for those who do not.  The
more people who create, the more others will want to create, and so
on in an exponential scale.  There are thousands of players with
stories to share, my article was all about giving them a vehicle to
tell them in.

> Maybe I was reading his post wrong, but my reaction to reading
> this article is that he doesn't get the difference between "one
> long-term world for everyone", and "many short-term worlds for
> small groups" and how you can't apply the same methods of creation
> to both types.

I fully understand the difference between world level content and
player crafted content.  My point is that player crafted content is,
by its personalized and individual nature, far superior to those
players involved then anything that could be developed on a world
level.  For example, in Ultima Online I follow all the news and
happenings of their fiction Scenarios...  I know more about what's
going on then 99% of the player base, yet none of it is really
personally relevant to me.  No matter how active I get, I could
never be "the" Hero of the day.  No matter what I do, I will never
really become famous for those exploits.  Yet in the community level
quests and plotlines I run within my player community, I could
aspire to that level of fame and reach it. By limiting our focus, we
expand the influence and potential of plotlines *within* that
community, which is what this article is all about.

> I am all for player creation. Let them build houses and hire
> pets/guards. Let them run shops. Let them create their own
> clothing and equipment and modify things that they find. Let them
> band together to build castles and cities with armies. Let them
> take over other nations and control large pieces of the
> countryside. In fact, license the game engine and let people make
> their own MUDs. That's a fine idea, but it's not the same as being
> a part of a single MUD, and it shouldn't be used to let people
> make their own MUDs and use these MUDs to run characters for use
> in the central "real" MUD.

I think all of your complaints really boil down to two categories.

  1. Exploit potential
  2. Fiction dilution from the main world

For fear number one, I say that clever programming will prevent this
from being an issue.  Of course bugs will arise, and things will
have to be tweaked as inventive players find new ways to abuse the
code.  But that is no different from the current state of online
gaming.  There will always be exploiters, the development house just
has to be quick on the trigger to set them dead in their tracks.

For fear number two, I say its an impossible pipe dream.  No one can
enforce players to play by the world's fiction, they can and will do
whatever they like. The dev house can enforce physical models and
the way things appear, but they cannot enforce how they
role-play... or do not role-play.  Frankly, they shouldn't.  If a
player wants to tell a story about a "Star War's Rebellion Facility"
in a Fantasy MMORPG, that is their own prerogative...  they can't
really be stopped anyways.  It is in the hands of the other players
to either acknowledge and believe that fiction,. or to dismiss as
the mad rantings of a complete whacko.  In the end, giving these
tools will not change any of this...  players who choose to dismiss
such fiction breaking modules will not use them, and players who do
not will.

Thanks for your input, I'd love more feedback.

Talanithus Tarant
  UO Lake Superior - http://uols.net
  Tel'Mithrim - http://www.grey-company.org
  UO Powergamers - http://uopowergamers.com
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