[MUD-Dev] D&D vs. MMORPG "complexity"

Threshold RPG business at threshold-rpg.com
Fri Apr 11 17:51:53 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On 9 Apr 2003, at 10:04, Ryan S. Dancey wrote:

> Living City, a D&D campaign being managed by my company
> OrganizedPlay under license, currently has about 2,500 active
> participants.  Living Greyhawk, a similar campaign operated by
> Wizards of the Coast itself has more than 20,000 particpants.  In
> addition to "bashing", both campaigns support a fully realized
> virtual world consisting of NPCs, politics, economics, religon,
> etc.

And DAoC has over 200,000 participants. Everquest has over 400,000

The game system of D&D is incredibly far less complex than CPRGs,
MMORPGs, and MUDs. A few examples:

  COMBAT: A D&D combat involves very few factors and is ultimately
  resolved by a d20 roll. If a "hit" is scored, another die is
  rolled for damage. That is it.

On most MUDs every round of combat involves *HUNDREDS* of
computations. From combat styles, to skills, buffs, complex gear
effects, weariness of the combatants, number of foes in the area,
the order of special moves used, etc. MUD combat is incredibly
complex compared to D&D combat. MMORPGs, while still many years
behind MUDs as far as features go, still have far more involved and
complex combat systems than D&D.

This is a strength of D&D. It is a pen and paper game. If combat
involved this level of complexity, it would be much less enjoyable
as combat would be an overly burdensome affair.

You also mentioned weapons as being more complex in D&D. My mouth
hit the floor when I read this. In D&D weapons are basically clones
of the exact same thing. They have slightly different damage ranges,
are one handed or two handed, some have reach, and that is basically
it. To again use the example of MUDs, weapons are incredibly
complex. First, you have the standard differences in damage. Second,
some weapons are more accurate than others- inherently (before we
even get to magic). Third, damage types are a far more significant
part of MUD/MMORPG/CRPG combat as it is easy for the computer to
keep track of many different types of damage (cutting, thrusting,
blunt, acid, lightning, fire, etc, etc). Fourth, you have weapon
speed. While earlier editions of AD&D had rudimentary weapon speed
(which only affected initiative), MUD & MMORPG combat systems have
TRUE weapon speed. This means someone fighting with a faster weapon
actually swings more often than someone with a slower weapon.

When you get into the area of magic weapons then D&D is further
dwarfed. Most magic D&D weapons are little more than simple bonuses
to damage or "to-hit" chance (ye olde +1 longsword). More complex
magic effects are very rare and are generally only present on
extremely powerful magic items. In MUDs you have magic weapons,
armor, etc. with all sorts of boosts to resistances, some grant
access to special combat styles, they have command
words/spells/etc. that can be directly triggered, in combat they
have random special attacks (I believe in EQ they are called
"procs"), some transform into different types of items or are
summoned from other types of objects, and much more. I am hardly
even scratching the surface here. Heck, even Diablo 2 has equipment
that makes D&D's equipment variety look like a joke.

I could go on but I think the point is made. D&D is a very
SIMPLIFIED system because it has to be played on paper and
everything has to be processed by human beings. You do not want
there to be 100 dice rolls every time a player picks up a weapon and
wades into combat. I am not trying to say this is a weakness of D&D
or that D&D is inferior to computer RPGs, MUDs, or MMORPGs. I am
only saying that it is grossly incorrect to say D&D is more complex
when the factual evidence points very heavily to the contrary.

Michael Hartman, J.D. (http://www.threshold-rpg.com)
President & CEO, Threshold Virtual Environments, Inc.

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