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

lynx at lynx.purrsia.com lynx at lynx.purrsia.com
Mon Apr 21 23:03:08 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On Thu, 17 Apr 2003, Matt Mihaly wrote:

> Nope, I don't. Your example may be hypothetical but I've been
> running games with much-more-intensive political systems for
> years. Players can more or less opt out of politics but they
> suffer some for it. They lose the advantages that membership in
> political organizations can bestow such as a relatively safe
> geographical haven and even just a simple community.

I'm glad that you've been able to run games with fine political
systems, I'm just commenting that politics could be thought out not
as a way to allow players to govern themselves, or to force players
to do so, but as a separate game system that just happens to work in
'political' terms.

Gameplay, in other words.

> NPC citizenry are incapable of understanding things like
> "charisma".  There's no AI in the world capable of it. Any
> political system in which the computer gets a vote is
> automatically going to be diminished in my mind because the lack
> of intelligence and discernment by the computer results in a
> vastly, vastly diminished scope for political expression. If you
> know the way to win an election is to do X, Y, and Z better or
> faster than your opponent, then the essence of why politics can be
> fun for players is gone. I prefer letting players run the system,
> which has worked successfully for years.

PCs are incapable of seeing, or capable of willfully ignoring, a
politician's 'charisma' statistic or politically related skills.
They're quite capable of ganging up for the most petty of reasons,
and they take losing very badly.  Since any contest of politicians
involves one winner and one or more losers, this is bound to result
in some dissatisfaction.

The reason why I suggested an NPC/PC mix is because insofar as you
have players being ruled by others, you want the option for the
players to be able to evict a politician who is gaming the system,
but in the case where they don't care, you can feel free to let
players run amok a bit and abuse the NPC citizens, or the players
who think that it's fun to live in a war- and revolution-torn area.

When I see people discussing governmental systems with apparent dead
seriousness, I feel inclined to point out that these are, by and
large, games we are making.  Are they going to be fun, or will
people feel like they're doing homework in order to get ahead?

What about a system where everyone's a politician, and the gameplay
is about trading support on issues, influence with factions, and
blackmail information on key figures?  What about a system where the
NPCs are politicians and the gameplay is buying their votes on
issues and obtaining exclusive licenses to territories and

But, that's not to say there's anything wrong with complex
player-to-player politics.  It's just, be careful not to get bitten
by the 'making a perfect utopia' bug.

-- Conrad

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