[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Dec 11 11:22:11 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Paul Schwanz writes:
> John Buehler wrote:
>> Jeff Crane writes:
>>> From: John Buehler

> I think you probably understand all of this, but here is where I'm
> going to turn this into an argument in favor of mez.  As I battle
> a monster, I want to avoid getting killed.  Getting killed is a
> negative outcome that I enjoy avoiding.  However, it isn't the
> only one.  Within the battle are nested negative outcomes that I
> can also enjoy avoiding.  For instance, I enjoy avoiding the loss
> of hit points.  Every time I avoid getting hit, it is a small
> victory within the larger battle.  (One I wish didn't rely so
> heavily on an RNG, since that affects the significance of the
> victory.)  But I'm very grateful that when I fail to avoid getting
> hit it doesn't also mean that I automatically lose the larger
> battle.  (Getting killed with one hit doesn't seem like as much
> fun, although I think this is highly dependant upon the mechanics
> that are or are not in place for avoiding that one hit.  After
> all, it only takes one check-mate to lose in chess.)  Similarly, I
> can enjoy avoiding a mez while appreciating that even if I fail to
> avoid it, the negative outcome for that failure can be something
> less than death.

> And this is where I'm going to turn back around and basically
> agree with you.  Perhaps mez would benefit from some method of
> recovery involving interaction.  In PnP, at least you get to
> summon up hope, attempt a saving throw, and experience the
> encouragement or comiseration of your fellow players so that it
> doesn't feel like you've stopped playing the game.  An RNG doing
> this for you as it cycles through some game loop, though very
> convenient, isn't nearly as entertaining.  Which suggests that the
> issue isn't convenience so much as it is interaction.

In the specific case of mesmerization, I believe that there are
challenges, consequences and outcomes that players will find
entertaining that do not involve their keyboard effectively locking
up.  So disarm players.  Cause them to fall down.  Knock them back.
Do things with their characters that produce an advantage for the
attacker, produce an entertaining visual, and give the defender an
opportunity to respond to the attack in a variety of ways.  And all
of these things should be available all the time.  Not because the
defender is carrying some potion or wearing a ring.  Having drunk a
potion or worn a ring may ALTER the experience (e.g. give an
additional response to the attacker), but having things to do that
are entertaining is key.  Players should continue to play the game.

> So what principles come out of this?

>   1) I believe there is good convenience and bad convenience.
>   Good convenience is a developer avoiding for me those things
>   that I cannot enjoy avoiding on my own.  Bad convenience is when
>   a developer avoids for me something that I do want to avoid, but
>   does so by fiat instead of putting together an interesting
>   interactive method that would challenge me to avoid it on my own
>   and have fun doing so.

[2 and 3 snipped]

>   4) I believe that as you drill down into the nested
>   opportunities, the severity of consequences should be
>   appropriate to the level of nesting as well as to the likelihood
>   of failure.

Fundamental in all of this is your fourth point, which I completely
disagree with.  I believe that failure should not produce severe
consequences (I'm assuming negative) but rather should simply
produce 'Failure, but thanks for trying'.  Players should not be
penalized for attempting to rise to a certain entertainment
experience.  They should simply fail.  So if I try to get from step
1 to step 2 and fail, I remain on step 2.  If I try to get from step
10 to step 11 and fail, I remain on step 10.

In my own designs, I have things like thieves trying to infiltrate a
fortress and steal something.  If caught, the thief is tossed out
the nearest window.  He'll survive the fall and be free to try
again.  What's the point in killing the character and forcing the
player to experience a rote repeat of whatever it took to start that
encounter in the first place?  And other players may be waiting on
the thief.

Is that unrealistic?  Sure.  But for the greater majority of
players, I believe it would be entertaining.  It would be laughable
for the friends waiting outside to see if he succeeds, only to see
him come flying out a window, escorted out the main entrance or some
other variation.  So they regroup and try a different way.

The goal in all this is to keep the entertainment choices coming.
Don't force players to do things that are inherently not
entertaining.  The very penalties in the game make the players more
obsessive about achieving the goal.  Some people just don't like to
be told 'no'.  Those in pursuit of power seem particularly
susceptible to that phenomenon.

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