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

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Wed Feb 12 04:23:12 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Marian Griffith" <gryphon at iaehv.nl>
> On Tue 04 Feb, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
>> From: "Peter Harkins" <ph at malaprop.org>
>>> On Thu, Jan 23, 2003 at 02:42:52PM -0800, Caliban Tiresias
>>> Darklock wrote:

>>>> Now, if this area at the top of the mountain is Really Cool,
>>>> and everyone says it's a great place to hang out and do stuff,
>>>> [...]

>>> The standard answer is: make some Really Cool foothills.

>> However, the standard answer misses the point. The issue isn't
>> that the current area has problems, it's that the player doesn't
>> want to be here. The player wants to be *there*.

> You make the average player sound like a 4 year old child, which I
> think is distinctly unfair.

Why is it unfair? I mean, at its most basic level, we're talking
about the player not getting what he wants. That's exactly the kind
of thing that causes four year old children to throw tantrums,
because they don't think it's fair. Adults don't think it's fair
either, but we seek more mature solutions, like keeping a stiff
upper lip and doing what we need to do in order to get where we need
to go. The problem still exists, it's just that adults tend to go
looking for solutions instead of pitching a fit on the kitchen
floor.

> Players understand the idea of building up their character's
> ability to be able to explore more quite well I suspect.

Oh, I'm not saying they don't understand the idea. I'm saying they
don't *like* having to do it. There are all kinds of things we
understand, but don't like. I understand, for example, that in order
to buy a certain sword I must get a certain amount of money and give
it to a certain shopkeeper. I can even accept that this is a fair
request. But when the amount of money is readily available
*provided* I spend a certain amount of time standing aroun d
clicking a button, and no other method will get me the money any
faster, I tend to wonder: what is the point? Since the money is
acquired without any real effort, but only in small amounts, why
doesn't the game simply assume that I want the money and just give
it to me? That way, I could do something fun instead of something
tedious. Why does the game want me to do tedious things? Surely
there are more interesting things I could do in this game, aren't
there?

> The game itself gets lost in the process somewhere, and the fact
> that the mountains are the place to be becomes largely irrelevant,
> just as all the other landmarks on the way.

Yes! Exactly! When you put an obstacle in front of the player that
represents neither a problem to be solved nor a fun activity in
which to partake, it's just a pain in the ass. It's not a game
anymore. You don't play for the challenge or for the recreation, you
play simply because you have to play to get to the fun part. When
you finally do get to the fun part, it's almost never worth the pain
in the ass you suffered to get there.  That just frustrates and
annoys the player, who has now spent a lot of time and money working
to earn something that sucks.

>> This is, at its root, a roleplaying aspect of the game; we want
>> the character to seem as though it evolves from a beginner to an
>> expert. And that's a reasonable thing to do, in a roleplaying
>> context, but most of our games aren't really designed to *be* a
>> roleplaying context.

> I would suggest it is a bit more complicated than
> that. Roleplaying factors in there somewhere, but for the most
> part the mechanism is about *rewarding* the player.

No, it isn't. Remember, we're not talking about "why do we have
levels", we're talking about "why do characters start at such an
inadequate level".  Obviously, you start somewhere, and that
somewhere is suited to some particular sort of play. Unfortunately,
we are all too often starting people at a level of ability that
isn't suited to much of anything, because that's where we've always
started them. I cannot think of any legitimate reason to keep doing
it. Is there such a reason?

> you are most likely looking at a mush, not a mud and let alone a
> graphical game.

I usually get in trouble if I say "MUSH" when I mean "RP-based MUD",
so I try not to... even though it is, IMO, both more concise and
reasonably apt.

Most of the time, when I play a MUSH, advancement is sort of an
afterthought. I am much more concerned with the social roleplaying
aspects of the game; whether I have a high swordfighting skill isn't
anywhere near as important as whether I have the respect and
admiration of powerful people. I'm perfectly happy to leave my
character at low levels for extremely long periods of time, in this
case, because that level is not really relevant to my gameplay.

>> MUDs are not PNP games, and pretending they'll work the same way
>> is probably going to end badly.

> Actually, what it means is that roleplaying does not mesh well
> with achievement oriented playing styles.

Erm, not really. This seems to be getting very far off the track. We
start characters off as weaklings because it's fun to *roleplay* a
weakling, but MUD players usually aren't roleplaying. The weakling
isn't a fun place for them to start, because they just don't play
that way -- but we continue to start them off as weaklings.

>> Roleplayers simply can't be stopped; the best advice is probably
>> to just stay out of our way.

> As long as the other players do not interfere either.  What it
> does require is a game gives the freedom to players to roleplay,
> by not limiting choices too much and by not presenting a front
> that is too achievement oriented.

Exactly: stay out of our way. ;)

I think we really do agree on this matter, but we're still shuffling
around to figure out what the other person is "really"
saying/thinking. Basically, I could sum up with: first level
characters are fun to roleplay, but a pain to advance. If you're
developing for advancement and not roleplay, the mostly-powerless
first level character is rather a Bad Idea.

First level is, incidentally, whatever we say it is. If your first
level is more like AD&D's tenth, and advancement from then on is
less power-gathering and more skill-building, these problems are
much less prevalent; the player is in a position not of *acquiring*
a desired role, but of defining one.


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