[MUD-Dev] Star Wars Galaxies: 1 character per server

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Wed Jan 8 20:59:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


John Robert Arras posted on Friday, January 03, 2003 10:29 AM

> I think it's a question of how the game is set up. I have played
> and run MUDs where powerlevelling is fun and worthwhile. The
> problem is setting up the mechanics correctly. The system I've
> seen has following:

Wow.  Everything you list as being "fun" I consider broken and
considered these flaws to be issues we struggled long and hard to
fix on RetroMUD.

>   - The game is a racewar/pkill/kingdoms at war game with a few
>   sides that fight each other. You are friends with your side and
>   can do whatever you want to the other side(s).

This makes all the difference.  We have a "War" function where
players can, at their option, join in a fight against other teams.
We don't make it required.  It is not the full functionality of the
game.

Games that are constantly at war are more akin to a sport (like
football) than a real MMORPG.  An important distinction for this
discussion, because Star Wars isn't (near as I can tell) going to be
about PKing the other guy.

>   - Objects are not level-based or power-based. If you are a
>   newbie and you get the Ultimate Sword of Doom, you can pick it
>   up and use it.

This is a huge problem because it encourages players to give hard
earned equipment to newbies.  That is, the barrier to getting an
item is time and effort.  Time and effort are in the hands of the
player -- once the player gets the item, he can give it to whomever
he wants.  We learned very quickly that making things almost
impossible to get but then making them incredibly powerful is NOT a
balancing factor.  Once it's in the game, it's in the game --
nothing should be so hard that it's ridiculously rare, and nothing
should be so powerful that it has to be ridiculously hard.  If
you're creating such items, it's unbalancing.

When an item doesn't take into account power level, friends exchange
equipment.  A newbie, by mere virtue of knowing the right guy, gets
an item that seriously unbalances the odds in his favor.  An
established group can horde items and create a series of
supersoldiers.  And this problem perpetuates itself, ensuring every
new character who is part of that power group blows through levels
at high speed.

Fun?  For the guys in that group.  How about everybody else? Not fun
at all, ESPECIALLY in a PK game where you get wasted by the other
guys who all know each other and you're new to the game.

>   - There is a remort system. Players who get to high levels can
>   choose to remort and go back to level 1 with slightly more
>   power. This system is skill-based so one of the things you get
>   is a slight increase in the number of skills you can
>   learn. There are also several remorts so the players will
>   constantly be going back down to low levels.

This is just a big leveling treadmill, making it really obvious you
go nowhere.  I've played on these.  People get bored after the
second or third remort.  It's only a "slight increase" -- so a 100
level system is an illusion since you can remort and climb the
levels again.  Woo, infinite treadmilling with just more piles of
stuff.

Result: people do not play these games for long.

>   - When you kill monsters for XP and loot, you get the same XP
>   regardless of whether or to you're level 1 or high level.

AAAGH.  If Third Edition D&D learned something (from MUDs, but I
have no proof), it's that level of effort should be rewarded.  Fit
the reward to the effort.  As much as possible, because
goal-oriented players will look for maximum reward with minimal
effort.

>   - The XP you get from a monster kill is the same per player for
>   groups of up to G players. The G I've seen that works well is
>   about 4-5.

See above.

> The result of all of these mechanics is that you have advanced and
> newbie players interacting more, and powerlevelling is fun. It's
> fun even if you don't know the people being powerlevelled. I have
> to admit that I've seen this done on small MUDs only, so there are
> probably issues involving larger groups of players and guilds that
> I haven't considered, but it works very well in smaller games.

No, it's fun for a particular playstyle, goal-oriented players.  It
also burns out quickly.  The powerleveling "rush" comes and goes.

What you're proposing works well in sports-type games, wherein there
is a score and everything resets at the end of a season.  Perpetual
treadmilling is everything we try to avoid, precisely because in the
long term, your immersive virtual environment is wasted on
short-timers who are not interested in being immersed.

Somehow, I don't think the above is going to be Star Wars.  At
least, I really hope not.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator
http://www.retromud.org/talien




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