[MUD-Dev] Winnable MMO

Jonathon Duerig tyrecius at xmission.com
Tue Apr 8 11:49:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On Mon, 7 Apr 2003, Chris Nielsen wrote:

> This is the danger in trying to shift the focus away from
> "winning". I think people *want* to play games where they can win,
> even if most of the time they lose. It's because when you do win
> it makes all the losses worth it.  Very much so.

Upon reading this, I was reminded of a book that I've read recently:

Fooled by randomness : the hidden role of chance in the markets and
in life / Nassim Nicholas Taleb

One of the theses of the book is that people don't like many small
losses with a few huge gains. Rather they like constant small
victories, even at the expense of an occasional huge loss. I'm not
sure whether this is true or not, but it brings up a broader issue.

It is well known that many rules and consequences of probability are
non-intuitive. And players of online games will get frustrated if
events happen which don't intuitively make sense. Most combat
systems are based on straight probability, and so may subtly defy
the intuition of the players. Are there ways that MUDs/other games
can be changed to be more in line with player expectations about
probability and therefore more fun?

Here is a simple example. It is often intuitive that if one rolls a
die several times and each time gets a low number, that the odds are
higher now to get a large number to somehow compensate. But the odds
of getting a higher number remain the same in real life. Now apply
this to a MUD. One might change the system subtly so that each miss
slightly increases the chances to get a hit, and these bonuses go
away when the monster is finally hit.

I'm sure there are many other ways in which we can subtly change the
probabilistic properties of MUDs so that they are more in tune with
intuition. Is this a good thing?

Most of what I read is fiction, but the authors don't admit it.
    -Jonathon Duerig

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