[MUD-Dev] Powergaming (was Star Wars Galaxies: 1 character per server)

Damion Schubert damion at zenofdesign.com
Sat Jan 11 07:09:02 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


>From Michael Tresca
> 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.

For a huge part of the game-playing community, optimizing one's
gameplay is fun.  I got to spend a day with Jon Van Canegham, who is
the guy behind all of the Might and Magic games.  He taught me many
smart things during the day, but perhaps the one that has lingered
with me longest is that _powergaming is fun_.  In his mind, the fun
part of Might and Magic can be defined by flying through the air,
felling dragons with your fireballs 3 at a time.

It seems that being a god is a pretty mass market fantasy.

In every other genre, the game designers put a game out, and
encourage players to optimize your way through it.  Sure, you could
roleplay what you would LIKE your Civilization to be like, but
you'll eventually be steamrolled by the computer.  In Morrowind, you
could roleplay if you liked, but I know a ton of people who found
great delight in recreating characters until they found the best
combination of skills, perks, disadvantages and whatnot.

MUDs and MMPs seem to be the only genre where designers actively try
to discourage players from finding the most efficient path.  In
fact, every other genre of game is training players to powergame.
All in the name of 'roleplaying' - an activity that a minority of
the game population actually prefers.

The best games are the ones where efficiently gaming the game
systems is actually fun.  The next generation of MMPs should do the
same.

> 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.

Beware of the Overly Balanced MUD!  I've seen MUDs where all of the
fun of discovering the most powerful weapon is sapped out of the
game by designers who insist that all weapons should be balanced
and/or equal.  You want to make a player giggle with delight?  Allow
him to find something that he feels certain shouldn't be allowed to
exist.

As for twinking, I've long held the heretical view that Twinking is
a Good Thing: It's a very welcoming feeling to log into a game and
be given a big uber-sword by another player when you come in.  It
says "here.  This would have taken you a whole lot of time and
effort, but I'm just giving it to you.  Welcome to the
neighborhood."  I say, try to allow, encourage, and moderate
twinking.

--d

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