[MUD-Dev] DGN: Why give the players all the numbers?

Rayzam rayzam at travellingbard.com
Wed Oct 1 20:44:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: "Lee Sheldon" <lsheldo2 at tampabay.rr.com>
> From Rayzam:

>> Metagame Numbers

>> For example, when you read a book, you're immersed in it. Yet it
>> has chapter and page numbers. So at any point, you can see how
>> much you've advanced (page #). You can see what general level
>> you're at (chapter). These don't take away from immersion just by
>> their existence.

>> In a mud, exp and player stats are metagame numbers. They measure
>> advancement and progression.

> Neither add anything to the entertainment value of the book. In
> the above case the purpose of page numbers and chapter numbers is
> reference, not a measure of advancement. If you're checking page
> numbers, the book is not keeping you immersed. I remember years
> ago reading Salem's Lot. I read all through the night. In addition
> to page numbers there was a clock on the wall that I could have
> used to measure my advancement. I had no idea what time it
> was. The sun rose and measured my advancement, but it was only a
> momentary distraction. If you are totally immersed that's what
> happens. You "lose all sense of time."

Ah, but that was my point. You can see how much you've advanced at
any point. Some people will and some people won't. Some will care
about advancement, some will care about other aspects [like the
story].  Remember, we often call advancement a treadmill, and we
strive for an immersive and/or worthwhile experience that doesn't
rely on the treadmill.

That said, I've read books that I wasn't enjoying that much, and
tracked the pages to see when it would be over. I've read books that
have sucked me in, and have glanced at how far through [perhaps just
on the edge of the book, i.e. 1/2, 1/3, 3/4, etc], because I don't
want it to end soon.  Immersion and advancement are independent
variables in my book. Immersion is about the developer's
success. Advancement is about the player's.

> Movies of course have no such indicators unless you count the reel
> change blips or your watch, but again if they are a factor the
> film is not doing it's job.

> Please don't think I'm denying the need to give those who want
> them measures of their "success." But even in real life promotions
> and large houses and European sports clothes and European sports
> cars are used to measure success, not explicit numbers. Any
> tracking system we devise (levels, skills, production, knowledge
> etc.) is built with numbers, yet can be measured within the
> fiction of our virtual world, and doesn't need to display the
> numbers.

All that does reduce to a Net Worth. Or are related to Annual Income
[including investment returns, etc]. Not many people go buy european
sports cars unless they can afford it, and they can tell that by
their worth or income. So these are measures to show one person's
success to others.  Internally, that person tracks it by
numbers. Don't you check your numbers before deciding on buying a
car, or a house, or deciding what job to take?

>> In-game Numbers

>> These are the ones that should be stated descriptively for
>> immersion.  "You strike a vital organ." "The ogre towered above
>> you." "The Holy Dwarven Axe of Sundering slew Grummsch with a
>> mighty blow." Now whether or not the number is known, it is
>> presented in an immersive way. The players can know the number,by
>> working it out or the game giving them a scale to compare to, but
>> that becomes their choice, and occurs afterwards. During the
>> interaction between the player and the game, the game is giving
>> descriptions. That is what makes it immersive.

> Agreed. But obviously I am being much more radical about this. My
> perspective is different. These aren't just games that need to be
> scored. These are worlds that in order to encourage our willing
> suspension of disbelief to the fullest must mimic our real world
> in certain ways. Until the day we see numbers of lost hit points
> floating off the tops of victims heads after a traffic accident,
> I'll assert those numbers break the fiction of our worlds.

Heh. I agree with you wholeheartedly about this. In fact, I really
dislike seeing the numbers over the heads of targets as a damage
indicator.  It's a big backwards step from a text description. I
don't mind seeing a bar diminish tho, as I can visualize that the
same way I would be able to visualize seeing the model get damaged.

> BTW, I'm about to begin working on my sixth virtual world, and so
> far I've never been able to put this into practice. As a
> professional writer/designer I know when to push innovation and
> when to go with the flow. But if I were a player I'd think it's
> far too difficult to get to that next level of immersion! We need
> to either lower the experience requirements or... Nerf developers!

Heh. Nerf Developers :)

Good luck on your next world!

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