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

John Robert Arras johna at wam.umd.edu
Fri Jun 14 01:35:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


On Wed, Jun 13 2002  "Talanithus HTML" <talanithus at mindspring.com> wrote

> 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.

<snip examples of checks>

Ok, that's very good to read. When I read your first post I had
visions of players getting unfettered access to the building tools
that the game creators get.

>> 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.

I feel better about that now, too. There are at least some checks on
cheating between modules. I assume there's more too it, though or
people could just make 100 cheater worlds and buff themselves. I
still have fears of another Diablo, but I don't know what will
happen with NWN yet.

> 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.

Ok, I read it as setting up mini worlds, because that's what you do
when you create MODs for an FPS or RTS. I had visions of changes on
the order of "Counter Strike" being let into a MMOG. I think I'm
beginning to understand what you were saying.

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

>  1. Exploit potential

Yes.

>  2. Fiction dilution from the main world

Yes, but not as much.

> For fear number one, I say that clever programming will prevent
> this from being an issue.

I think it could. When I read your original post, I read "give the
players access to what the game designers get, with some
restrictions".  I still think that's a bad idea, but I could be
wrong about this and it's possible to secure things by moving in
this direction.

I have the following philosophy: "don't let players alter things,
except those things that we allow them to alter". Allowing players
to set up small scripts on mobs in the game is a good idea. I
wouldn't let the players have full access to the script engine, but
giving them pieces to create dialogue and pass items, for example,
would be good ideas. I had visions of people resetting cheater
swords on wimpy mobs that repop every 10 seconds to buff their
friends.

> For fear number two, I say its an impossible pipe dream.

It probably is. If I ran a graphical game and people wanted
stormtroopers next to elves, I wouldn't care. I wouldn't care as
long as the stormtroopers weren't new creations, but instead artwork
overlaid on existing creatures. My main fear is of cheating.

It comes down to how I look at changes going into a game. When I
look at proposed changes for a game, my first thought is not "Wow,
this will be really wonderful and the players will love it". It's
"How can I use this to cheat?" I try to think like a cheater as much
as possible and see how I can game the system. I read your post and
saw examples of things that would give too much power to players
within a game setting if they were applied directly. A more limited
approach like letting players create mini settings using existing
world elements that have been altered in name or appearance sounds
interesting to me. And, it's a far cry from letting people have
access to the building tools that the game creators get.

If I were making a story editor, here are some of the pieces I would
use:

  1. An artwork editor and a way to upload your artwork and check it
  for consistency so that it can't hurt other peoples' games when
  they download it to experience it. (Limitations on poly count or
  textures among other things could come into play here.) I wouldn't
  necessarily check for theme consistency, just technical
  consistency.

  2. A way to "store" items and creatures for the storyline. A way
  to mark certain portions of the world as part of the storyline (so
  that any changes or scripts you write only affect things within
  these areas). I would only allow items into the story if they came
  from the world and were stored away prior to the story starting. I
  would set an upper limit on the power of the items that could be
  stored like this. Otherwise, people may use this as a way to
  protect powerful equipment that they don't want to lose.

  I don't know how I would take care of mobs. I don't want to force
  people to fight a creature to get it to participate in the story,
  and I don't want to let people remove "regular" mobs from the
  world, so perhaps there could be a way to "rent" a mob by clicking
  on it and getting a cost to have something like this created
  temporarily for the story.

  My preferred method for getting mobs into the story would be to
  have a "base mob" that could have its stats altered, so it could
  be wimpy or tough, depending on what the story needs. It would not
  give players any skills/experience, but different skins could be
  put on top of it, and (within reason) copies of the different
  types of this mob could be put into the story. If players wanted
  to use regular mobs, I would make it more expensive and limit the
  amount that players can gain from fighting these creatures, for
  instance. I would also let players put regular mob skins on top of
  the "base mobs" if they wanted to do things more cheaply and
  easily (like creating an elven council using premade elves).

  I would then make the editor for the base mob different from the
  store. So, players create the mobs and statistics you want for
  each (including the scripts and dialogue you want), and then they
  buy copies of the mobs and put them into the store.

  I would probably make the storylines and the items inside it last
  for a limited amount of time.

  3. A limited interface to the script engine, so that all
  items/creatures created for the story must come from the store in
  the previous part. I would also give people the ability to affect
  the world within a certain radius of a few points in the world
  where the story will take place, but not the ability to affect the
  whole world. The limited script interface might be limited to
  dialogue interaction and creating/destroying/moving
  items/creatures to and from the store from the previous
  section. Other things could be added if it was determined that it
  was safe to do so.

  4. A limit on the percentage of your "advancement points" in
  whatever form that can come from stories like this. I am not sure
  what form this would take, or even if it's possible to do this at
  all. I can still see ways to cheat this.

I hope I have a better idea of what you intended. I like the idea if
I am getting the idea now. The one thing I want to repeat is that I
approach this from a "let the players have access to limited things
that can't hurt the game" perspective. By forcing them to use things
that already exist in the world, it will be much harder to game the
system.

John

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