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

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Apr 23 08:08:19 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

On Mon, 21 Apr 2003 lynx at lynx.purrsia.com wrote:
> 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.

Well that's what it is. It's not as if there's a hard distinction
between "world" aspects and "game" aspects."

> 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.

If PCs are ignoring someone, their charisma is, by definition,
lacking. If you can't get people to follow you, you've got no
charisma, whatever the game may say. It's like having a tangible
alignment stat: silly. (And we have one. It's still silly and was a
dumb design decision on our part.)

> 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.

Ruling an NPC is the Sims. Ruling players is something else. There's
little point in trying to equate an NPC and a player in any way as
they're not even remotely similar.

> 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?

Clearly, they're supposed to be fun. We have some of the largest
commercial text MUDs in the world, so I'd say they probably are fun
considering how fundamental they are to the gameplay of our games.
Whether they're applicable to a game two magnitudes the size (ie
Everquest) isn't something I can do more than speculate on, though I
haven't seen any reason why some version of our systems couldn't be
implemented. One wouldn't do so detail-for-detail of course.

> 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.

Yeah, I agree. I have to constantly remind myself that a lot of
money has been wasted doing that.


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