[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment
apo11yon at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 19 15:16:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003
On Fri 14 Nov, John Buehler wrote:
> This is an observation about some graphical games that I've played
> through the years, and a pet peeve that has been building all that
> while. I don't know if text games have this manifested in any
> way, but the graphical games sure do: they remove my access to
> entertainment as part of the normal operation of the game.
> Example 1: Nighttime and rainstorms.
> Example 2: Mesmerization.
> Example 3: Blindness.
> Example 4: Slow travel in large worlds.
Honestly, I have to agree with the general point that John is trying
to make here. As others have stated, games are about fairly and
equitably overcoming a challenge. The above points can essentially
be summed up as a collection of elements that prevent one from
fairly and equitably overcoming a challenge. Points 1 and 3 can be
wrapped up together as a means to prevent a player from visually
perceiving the world around them. I can't see it, I can't react to
it and if I can't react to it, I can't overcome it. Sure, you may
get that momentary thrill of realizing that you're stading
face-to-face with something big and hairy with sharp, pointy fangs
but half a second later you're dead and pissed off that you didn't
even get an opportunity to overcome the challenge that was posed by
such a creature. While I will grant you that some players find fun
in such things, I don't think it's a far stretch to say that most
players find only frustration at not being allowed to face a
challenge fairly and equitably.
The same goes for point 2, Mesmerization. One of the games I play
regularly is DAoC where mez is king. It is distinctly and decidedly
unfun. In an optimal challenge, you see the enemy and the enemy
sees you, you charge headlong into each other, each side laying
about left and right with damage and special effects until those
last few are standing to howl victory to the heavens. Those fights
are fun. Fun for both sides. People love winning them and people
love losing them because they're just plain fun. Player feedback is
consistent in that regard; just about everyone who participates in a
good, stand-up fight has fun. On the other hand, those fights where
you see the enemy and the enemy sees you... and promptly mezzes
you... are not fun. You stand there totally unable to react as the
enemy gathers a full group around one helpless individual and then
slaughters them instantaneously while the rest of your group stands
there unable to respond. They then move amongst your group one by
one butchering each member of your group individually. Having been
on both ends of this scenario, the bottom line is that it denies
both sides the opportunity to fairly and equitably overcome a
In DAoC, assassin classes operate under much the same principals.
They are able to walk up to another player totally unseen and
deliver such devastating amounts of damage in mere moments that
their victims are utterly denied the ability to respond before they
find themselves lying face down. Again, this removes the players'
ability to fairly and equitably overcome a challenge. From the
assassin's point of view, the only fights that provide any challenge
are against other assassins so you've removed the challenge from
most of the encounters, and from the victim's point of view, there
is no challenge whatsover in facing an assassin - you're dead before
you can move.
Point number 4, extended sit-on-your-butt travel, is similar only in
that there is no challenge there to overcome. Granted, there are
times in every game where downtime is critical for socialization and
bonding but the player should be able to choose when and where that
takes place rather than forcing players into "time out" whenever
they want to gather with their friends.
To a large degree, entertainment in MMOs and other RPGs consists of
overcoming a challenge. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the
above points be considered because they're too challenging and we
want things that have no challenge whatsoever, but rather that the
above points be considered because they prevent the player from
fairly and equitably overcoming the challenges for which they play
"You must be the change that you wish to see in the world."
- Mahatma Gandhi
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