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

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Tue Feb 4 08:47:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Damion Schubert" <damion at zenofdesign.com>
> From: Ron Gabbard

>> The phrase "minority of players" is getting used a bit when
>> talking about the SCS topic.  In a game where time played =
>> in-game wealth generated and character skills developed, the
>> definition of "player" needs to be refined as not all players are
>> equal in terms of their impact on the server society.  One player
>> that plays 60 hours per week has a significantly greater
>> potential impact on the server than 15 players that play 4 hours
>> per week.  As loot value most often increases with player skill
>> /mob difficulty, the single full-time player is soon pumping more
>> money and/or items into the economy than the 15 other part-time
>> players combined.

> By saying that you can only play one character, you are saying
> that your 60 hour a week player will have one hell of a
> blacksmith.  I have no idea how you think a 4 hour a week player
> can compete with him.

> Give the first guy 5 characters, and limit their treadmills to 4
> hours a week worth, though, and the two will advance somewhat
> equally.  Sure, the first guy will have 5 characters to the second
> guy's one, but the second guy's will at least feel like he's in
> the same ballpark.

A 4-hour/week player will never compete with a 60-hour/week player
in terms of progression along the "treadmill".

First, if a hard cap of 4 hours is placed on each character each
week, many core players will have 5 "capped" characters.  Thus,
instead of the 4-hour/week blacksmith competing with one
60-hour/week blacksmith, they're competing with ten 4-hour/week
blacksmiths with many core players being a completely
self-sufficient Avatar Incorporateds... Bubba the Miner, Johann the
Lumberjack, Antoine the Tailor, Sam the Blacksmith, and Conan the
Hunter.  While Casual Carl the Blacksmith may have just as much
skill as Sam the Blacksmith, Conan the Hunter is going to "buy" his
sword and armor from his alt.  The end result is an increase in
supply of each craft to the point where it's not profitable for
anyone and there HAS to be an inflationary economy where players
have "extra" money to pay for skilling the crafters.

Secondly, a primary advantage of the 60-hour/week player is in the
social network they develop.  MMOGs are designed such that players
cooperating will achieve a greater rate of success than players
trying to go solo.  The social network developed by the 60-hour/week
players are more organized and efficient.  They have regular groups
of friends with whom they adventure.  They increase in team skill
from repeatedly working as a team.  They gain reputations as
competent players which broadens their grouping possibilities.  In
short, core player's social network allows them to achieve goals
exponentially faster than the player that logs in for 4 hours per
week.  Thus, the efficient core player can accomplish in 1 to 2
hours what it takes the casual player 4 hours to accomplish.

As in RL, there is a reason that most MMOGs have a specialization of
labor... it allows people to pursue activities from which they
receive the greatest satisfaction and in which they are most
competent.  Imposing achievement caps on players only forces those
achievement-oriented core players (of which there are quite a few)
to pursue less-desireable activities in greater quantities than they
would otherwise have chosen... or else just not log on.  The "not
logging on" option is the kiss of death to a game as the number of
on-line friends begins to dwindle and "guild spam" becomes very
sparse the ties to that game become weaker and weaker.

> The problem you point out is very real.  SCS just changes the
> color of the horse.  You have to attack the treadmill aggressively
> if you really want to address this issue.

Without a doubt, unless the treadmill is re-engineered, SCS vs. MCS
won't close the gap between the 60-hour/week player and the
4-hour/week player pursuing a similar set of skills.  I was just
pointing out that, even though the "abusers" may be a minority, the
impact of this minority is much greater than their numerical
percentage... particularly in a system where wealth and character
advancement = f(time played).

I don't know how far you can reduce the impact of time-played on
overall player advancement without totally turning off the achiever
crowd.  Adding player interdependency such that
character_advancement = player_cooperation (time_played) is very
"MMOGish" but also favors the core player as noted above.  Factors
have to be added to the equation that dilute the effect of these two
factors while favoring (or at least be neutral to) the casual gamer.
As I've stated before, I'd prefer to use a low-inflation,
player-driven economy to close the gap as it severely reduces the
reward gained from performing hours of repetitive activities... the
meat and potatoes of the powerleveler/powerskiller.

Cheers,

Ron







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