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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Apr 17 09:31:06 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


Conrad writes:
> On Tue, 15 Apr 2003, Matt Mihaly wrote:

>> Yeah, those are political interactions and I can definitely see
>> where those games have them. They're pretty basic though and
>> don't seem as if that gameplay is very integrated with the rest
>> of the game or as if that gameplay is even supported by the game
>> rules.

> Maybe we should take a step back here.  There's a parallel between
> 'I want to have politics so I can rule with an iron fist/engage in
> wheeling and dealing' and 'I want to have thievery in the game so
> I can steal from people' in the sense that people *may* want to be
> able to do these things to others, but don't necessarily want to
> be done unto.

> Consider this scenario: you develop a game with a complicated
> political system.  Player A comes in and goes 'Wow, this is great,
> I want to be top of the heap!'  Players B, C, and D come in and
> say 'I don't want to be involved with this, this game has
> complicated crafting/combat system that I do want to be involved
> in, but I don't want politics to get in my way.'

> Do you force players B, C, and D to participate in the political
> system so that player A can have players to rule?

Indeed.  Control over another player's entertainment is inherently
limiting in the diversity of a given game's player base.  If A can
exert control that B, C, and D don't like, they will attempt to get
away from that control.  If that control extends to all corners of
the game entertainment that they are interested in, they will leave
the game.  As a result, only those who like the game entertainment
plus the fact that other characters control their character will be
attracted to the game.

Obviously, there are caveats to this, such as the willingness to
endure mild control for very good entertainment, etc.

> If they don't participate in the political system, over whom does
> player A rule, and how can player A be competed against?

> My take on it: use an NPC citizenry.  Any vote that a player fails
> to assign is accounted for by the NPCs, which cast votes according
> to their situation (is the city economy doing well or poorly) and
> their perception of the candidates (are they especially
> charismatic or influential).  If all players participate in the
> political system, the political system is completely
> player-driven, but if a majority of players do not participate,
> then 'political skills' can sway or dominate the system.

I happen to agree with the NPC solution in general.  I believe that
the meat of a game society is the NPC citizenry and that political
skills should be with the character, not the player.  Of course, my
theoretical political subgame doesn't result in players controlling
other players, only working their way up in status in the
NPC-dominated courts and being able to get personal favors that are
unique to the political game.

It is a goal of my game design to keep players off each others'
backs unless they explicitly declare that they like the weight.
This relegates competitive entertainment to subgames, while the
overarching entertainment is cooperative in nature.

JB


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