[MUD-Dev] It's About Time Department (Mule Characters)

eric ericleaf at pacbell.net
Thu Jun 20 18:36:03 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com>
> From: John A. Bertoglio

>> The recently released RPG from Microsoft has an unusual solution
>> to "mule" characters. They allow you to add a real mule to your
>> party! This the first time I have seen this in a game.

> UO had pack animals back in 1997. :) I'd be surprised if there
> weren't text muds with the feature...?

Me too, but unsurprisingly there were. In Island of Kesmai the
thaumaturge (spelling?) could summon efreet, djinn and some other
stuff that would act as mules, in addition to fighting of
course. IIRC they could carry one thing. Also gemstone3 (and its
later decendents) had a mule-like thing for mages, a foating disc,
ala Tensor's Floating disc from D&D. This wasn't tied to the mage
and he could cast it on others, so, many mages had a disc selling
buisness on the side. Actually dragon realms (if thats it name,
another simultronics game) had real mules, that followed you around
and carried things, i'm not sure if they were only for the merchant
class or not, but merchants mostly required them since the stuff
they had to transport was usually very heavy.

Of course in the latter you had the same problems that would revisit
UO year later with griefers. In gemstone any old fool could remove
things from any disc, so if you forgot to close it you were out of
luck. And of course you would never want to open it in a crowded
public area. Just imagine a society where you had to make sure no
one else was around before you unlocked any container in order to
retrieve something from it.

I've never quite figured out if the developers just never predicted
those things would be open to exploits, or simply didn't care (that
is either personally, ie they would do the same stuff, or simply
development time and money).

UO seems to be an easy target, but I'm sure there were good
intentions that were later removed for more customers. Like fatigue,
I recall being able to ride a horse across the entire continent in a
half hour or so, non-stop.  Compare that to a story a friend of mine
told me about his D&D campaigns where if on a 20-50mile, 2 week trip
you didn't have a few mules packed with food and supplies you
wouldn't be coming back. And if one of those mules happened to die
or get killed, you had to make some very real choices of just how
you would get back to town and survive.

To date I haven't played a game where eating was nothing more than a
chore, however in real life its anything but a chore. So, other than
forcing the player under threat of death by starvation, how do you
get food and other necessities of life into a game and reward the
player without boredom to take part in that action?

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