Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements for MM(wasComplexities of MMOG Servers))

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Tue Feb 11 02:47:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "adam" <ceo at grexengine.com>
> Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
>> From: <Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com>

>>> Actually I don't agree. If you want to level fast in the current
>>> crop of games, the key information is knowing the best place to
>>> do it.

>> That's not how to play, it's where to play, and I consider it
>> evidence of a flaw in the system. There shouldn't BE "good
>> places". There should be good *ways*, and places where those ways
>> work. Unfortunately, we only have one good way to level these
>> days -- kill things -- so you have to go someplace where there
>> are good things to kill.

> >From a strategic analysis point of view, that really is how to
> play. In this situation, the optimal solution to "how" to play is
> to identify key geographical locations, and farm them.

However, farming *ought* to be a skill. It ought to be something
that players can be good or bad at doing. Take combat, for example;
there is a distinct difference between stabbing something in the
chest till it falls over, and using a club to bash its knee into
pulp so you can casually find a big rock to drop on its head. Most
games don't give us options like this.  When they do, one of them is
clearly superior but no more difficult, and all other options are
simply discarded.

> It would be fair to say that at the moment, there is really only a
> single good way - when ideally perhaps there should be many. But
> there's nothing inherently wrong with tactics being predicated on
> location.

However, when the same tactics in the same location always produce
the same results, this part of the game simply is not fun. It's a
tedious activity that takes time away from more interesting
things. Some people are good at doing tedious things for long
periods of time (and I'm one of them), but that doesn't mean they
like doing it.

>> And that's exactly why I think it's a stupid way to design a
>> game. If you logged into a game exactly like Everquest but on a
>> different worldmap, would you be able to level faster? Probably
>> not -- you'd have to wander for days looking for a good
>> place. That's not player skill, it's player knowledge, and it's
>> entirely the wrong direction to take things.

> Player skill is a superset of player knowledge - not, perhaps, as
> a gross generalisation, but based on the (undefined)
> interpretations and contect you appear to be using.

Well, no. They're entirely different. Let me illustrate.

> If you examine the behaviour of a Quake (just because its so well
> documented, in terms of skill etc) player, the most "skillful"
> players use "player knowledge" as their main tool.

That's not skill. Skill is the ability to jump through a window,
fire three shotgun shells accurately at a moving target while you
fall, then run off through a nearby door.

If you take the player who memorised respawn order and weapon
locations, and the player who can reliably jump-fire-and-run, and
you drop them into a level neither of them has ever seen
before... who do you think will win?

Skill works in *every* level. Knowledge works in one.

In the gaming community, there's little distinction between skill
and knowledge because they're both entirely mental. Knowing how to
win the chess puzzle on top of the tower might be the result of your
skill as a chess player, or it might just be knowledge gained off a
web site. Either can be passed off as the other with little argument
from an observer. But as developers, we can distinguish readily
between a game mechanic that relies on knowledge and a game mechanic
that relies on skill... we simply prefer, in most instances, to
create mechanics that rely on knowledge.



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