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

Jeff Cole jeff.cole at mindspring.com
Thu May 15 11:33:35 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


From: Dave Rickey
> From: Jeff Cole
>> From: Dave Rickey

> Boundary conditions may be only unimportant "extremes" irrelevant
> to general principles for an academic.  But when you're building
> systems from scratch that actually have to work, rather than
> observing systems that already exist and will continue to
> regardless of your conclusions, it is even more important to
> account for the extremes than to explain the general case.

I don't disagree that a design need consider the boundary
conditions--both theoretical and practical.  However, you were
offering examples at the extreme in support of what I inferred to be
your assertion of very general principles.

You might indeed have had to more carefully extremes--but that was
because of your design choices.  The "general case" in Camelot is
extreme.

>>> Again, explain to me how Camelot forces irrational behaviour.
>>> Explain to me how any economy can force irrational behaviour,
>>> for that matter.

>> Inefficient information propagation.  If your players do not or
>> cannot get information, then they are forced to make market
>> decisions irrationally.  Camelot was designed around
>> information-hiding and it didn't work: to wit, the delve command.

> That was then, this is now: Even with complete information,
> players still make irrational decisions.

Perhaps here's the rub: a designer cannot force players to make
rational market decisions, but a designer can force players to make
irrational market decisions (by preventing them from making rational
market choices).  That is a bit over-simplified, though, and I
hesitate to state it--because the sets of players in the two
instances are not identical.

While a designer can't force player to make rationally their market
decisions, a designer can and does profoundly affect such player's
ability to make the rational market decision.  The design challenge
is to maximize players' ability to make rationally their market
decisions.

Player's still don't have anywhere near complete information in
Camelot.  Information-hiding with respect to the goods was just one
example.  Efficient information propagation applies to all aspects
of the economy as well as the game.  Camelot is still much closer to
incomplete than complete on the spectrum.

>> What I am trying to say, is increase the bases of economic
>> interaction such that crafters are complementing rather than
>> competing with loot.  By doing so, a design almost has to offer
>> greater possibilities for player-to-player interaction, economic
>> and otherwise, as well as more effective managment of world
>> resources.  But, it will require a fundamental change in the
>> approach to the economic game-space.

> Such as what?  For example, right now in Camelot, player-crafted
> dominates for those pieces that *can* be crafted, but that's only
> 8 out of 14 slots, the other 6 slots must be filled with
> dropped/quested pieces (and the 8 crafted pieces spell-crafted to
> match up with them).  Isn't this "complementary"?

Perhaps it's "complementary" in some sense, but not as I mean it.
To cop from a commercial (BASF, I think?), crafters' motto should
be: "We don't make the loot, we make the loot better."  That
captures the spirit in which I mean "complement."

Your argument is that because crafting competes with (and almost
completely destroys demand for) drops for *only* 8 of 14 slots, it's
"complementary."

As for "fundamental change in the approach to economic game-space,"
I would expand the statement by deleting "economic" so that it is
clear that economy should be a fundamental concern with respect to
the entire game design.  At least insofar as the general game-space
has a profound effect on the demand for items.

Consider the faux-diversity of Camelot's character stats/skills
(both inter- and intra-realm).  The benefits (if any) are ephemeral.
The costs are great.  It decreases potential demand for drops.  As a
result, Mythic's item-guy(gal) is *way* overworked (the random item
generator helps a bit)--and (s)he can't really compete with
spellcrafting because (s)he must "balance" potential utility among
multiple classes.  Such design also severely restricts "fun" on the
cooperative servers.

Yrs. Affcty,
Jeff Cole


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