[MUD-Dev] Male and female brains

John Arras johna at wam.umd.edu
Mon May 26 01:43:46 New Zealand Standard Time 2003


On Tue, 20 May 2003, Marian Griffith wrote:

> However, that does not matter for the point I was trying to make,
> which is that girls are as diverse and variable in the things they
> like as are boys.  >

I agree with this. I have did not mean to say things in the vein of
"girls like this" and "boys like that". I will just drop this, since
I can't express this very well.

> To be honest, and risking to invalidate my own arguments, I never
> cared much about combat in games. Even less when it is done in as
> shallow a way as is common. I do not mean the actual combat
> system, but the role of combat within the game.  I.e. if it is the
> purpose of the game with the exclusion of all other things to do
> then I consider it shallow and uninteresting.  On the other hand,
> I understand that it holds an appeal when put in a larger context,
> and believe it should be an intergral (if much smaller) part of a
> game.  >

I'm coming around to this. I have always liked combat, but it's
getting old. I want to see other things like building and creation
and actually ...umm... helping some of the monsters instead of just
sticking them with my sword. IMO, creating mechanics like this is
much harder than trying to come up with new combat code. I want to
see a world I can build and not just destroy.

> I would (try to) do away with the extreme power unbalance in a
> game.  Preferably do away with (most of) the 'advancement' as
> well. This should have the effect of decreasing the focus on
> achievement and opening up opportunities for other goals to pursue
> in a game.  >

Well, I still like these things. :) I need to have points or some
kind of way to keep score in the game. I just think the "power
curve" should be more logarithmic as a function of time put in,
rather than exponential or linear. I think a way to do this is to
make it so that increasing in power from N to N+1 should be
exponential in time and effort. Then, set it up so that people of
much lower powers get bonuses so they can catch up faster.  This
helps newbies who don't have powerful friends.

> The game world itself should ideally be diverse and huge. In fact
> I would not mind if it were so big that you end up with realistic
> travel times.

That would be very very nice. I want to have a world that's huge,
but it will not be possible with my current setup.

> While it would move away in time and space what is usually
> considered content, I think this would in effect be an
> opportunity.  In a combat-centered game the content is a fight,
> and it must be possible for a player to line up an endless supply
> of them.  This requires a crowded environment, with a small scale
> that is tricked to look bigger, accelerated travel times and
> rampant inflation of both power and resources.

I know. It's too bad that games don't make the power curves flatter,
and that it's too hard to make enough content to let players walk
through a massive world. I think this may be possible after people
get better at generating content, since a massive, decent world with
lots of details can be created on the fly as needed.

> If distance *really* matters, on the other hand then players can
> not easily deplete the ecology, nor destroy the economy.  In fact,
> it becomes possible to create a *real* economy, based on
> differences in supply and demand, transport costs and
> opportunities to take advantage of an (un)willingness to ta- ke
> risks.  If the only known gold mine is a week real travel time
> away from town, then acquiring that gold is suddenly a whole lot
> more expensive in terms of playing experience.

I like this. I have a simple economic and population simulation in
my game, but all of the resources are put near all of the
villages. I have started thinking about this, and thinking about how
to set up trade among allied villages, and how to turn these things
into "quests" that the players can do that actually count for
something.

> On the diverseness side of things, the game world should be
> visually (or literary) appealing as well as diverse.

Making a big + diverse world is hard. I am a True Believer in
generation of content, and I can do big, but not really good an
diverse now. I think big + diverse is probably as hard as making
real AI.

> Finally coming to the points that really matter.  The gameplay
> should reward, or at least encourage, cooperation and not conflict
> with other players. This is important if a game world is to be a
> place you can 'live in'.  Moving the focus away from combat is one
> way to do this, and flattening the power curve is another one.
> Making it difficult for players to be self-sufficient is another
> way to do this.  (you could also work towards external enemies and
> isolated societies).  >

I like conflict with other players in certain contexts. Meaningless
pkill for no reason is stupid. Having half the players playing elves
and the other half playing orcs and having them fight each other
once in a while can be good. I think that I want the players to have
the option of being resources for villages that then do the
fighting, so the players can avoid most combat (unless it's a part
of the things they're trying to do to help the villages get
stronger).

I don't want to force players to be dependent on each other, but I
do want to strongly encourage them.

> Player activities must have lasting consequences.  Both for the
> game world AND for the player. This means it must be not as easy
> for players to assume new identities within the game as that in
> effect wipes out their accountability for their actions. Part of
> this is that death must not be easily shrug ged off. Whether or
> not character death must be permanent or not I do not know, but
> even if it is not permanent, I feel there should be quite some
> difficulty (and penalty) to undo it.

I think the way to do this is to make the world a giant dynamic
simulation. Let the players live within the simulation, and give
them ways to alter the simulation. I think the way to give them
accountability is to make it possible for the players to lose the
game. I can do this because I'm not aiming to keep paying customers,
but if you kill off your allies for their kewl equipment or their
neato experience points, you may find yourself overrun by your
enemies and shunned or attacked by your former allies. OTOH, if you
help your allies, then they should be able to protect you, and you
can spend your time doing other things.

> One of the things that I feel is extremely important, and do not
> see in any game, is that characters you meet in the game world are
> 'real' persons.  Not necessarily players, but they ought to have
> some kind of personality, goals, needs and beliefs.

This is hard. I don't know how to do this in more than a superficial
manner, but I want to have this. The best I've been able to come up
with is a set of community and individual needs and goals that the
players can satisfy (for a reward) which will change the state of
the community within the game.

> I even would like to see the ability for (large) groups of players
> to create entirely new cultures within the game.  Cultures that
> can obtain societies (villages, cities or tribes) where non-player
> characters live as members of that culture, which persists after
> the original players leave. Such cultures may or may not fade over
> time, or may remain for other players to encounter when they
> explore the game world.

I am let players of certain "alignments" or "kingdoms" or "realms"
or whatever you want to call them gain allied villages, but the
players never really get to live there as a part of the village. The
one thing I don't want to see is self-selecting groups of players
(such as guilds) getting to take over villages for their own
personal use. This goes back to my distaste for player-run politics,
due to some bad experiences.

<snip doll being given to a boy on his birthday question>

> This is a difficult question to answer because why would the boy
> like to play with dolls when you also say he in fact is ashamed of
> it in front of his friends?

Sometimes people like things that they're ashamed to admit that they
like to others.

> Action figures are of course the culturally acceptable way for
> boys to play with a doll, but those are unlikely to cause that
> shame you presume so I suppose those do not count.

That's the strange thing. Somehow if you give a doll a gun or a
knife, then all of sudden it's more acceptable for boys to play with
it.  This is why I originally posted a response.

> It would depend, for me, how much he appreciated the doll in
> relation to how embarassed he would be. It is however quite
> interesting that you pose the dilemma as: "boy-doll".  Am I right
> that you would not feel the same conflict about the "girl wanting
> a boy's toy" dilemma?

That's true. I wouldn't see it as a problem if the situation were
reversed. I can't really think of something that would work the
other way.

John
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