[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev Digest, Vol 7, Issue 7

Chanur Silvarian chanur at guildsite.com
Thu Dec 11 15:43:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: "Sheela Caur'Lir" <dstgasey at webhiker.dk>
> From: "Chanur Silvarian" <chanur at guildsite.com>
>> From: "John Buehler" <johnbue at msn.com>

>>> Say, the developers create an encounter that takes 10 high level
>>> characters with average gear. The powergamers will take down
>>> this encounter within a month or two,.  the casual gamers will
>>> come so much later that the encounter have been given "farm
>>> status" by the high level crowd and thus the encounter may never
>>> be available to the casual gamer crowd, which will forever be
>>> locked out of the Great Cave of Phat Lewts unless they join high
>>> level crowd, which becomes harder and harder because the high
>>> level crowd only wants people with the good stuffs from the
>>> Great Cave of Phat Lewts.

>>> So - If the developer do not make it challenging, the power
>>> gamers will get bored and leave. If they make it too hard for
>>> the casual gamers, they may create a rift between the two crowds
>>> of players and eventualy the casual gamers might leave.

>> This is precisely why I don't think that anything in an MMORPG
>> should be static.  Once the Great Cave of Phat Lewts has been
>> conquered all of the Phat Lewts should be randomly instantiated
>> elsewhere, creating the Wonderous Cave of Phat Lewts.  If you
>> need to kill a dragon to enter said cave then once the dragon
>> dies it should be instantiated (spawn) in a random location
>> rather than right back on the same X, Y, Z coordinate where it
>> can be camped.

> And loose the story behind WHY the dragon was defending it's cave
> AND leaving it's cave wide open ? Remove the challenge of
> entereing said Great Cave of Phat Lewts for the next playergroup ?

Well, first, I must say that I've not seen in any of the MMOs that
I've played any story for any major creature protecting any area
(those MMOs being UO, DAoC, ShadowBane, and SWG).  But, that
aside... the fact that the cave, dragon, and the rest are moved and
their names changed does not preclude a good story for them.  In
fact the story can also be changed via randomization.  In fact, if I
could design my "perfect game" for myself there would be no static
spawning but there would be story behind every major encounter
creature.  I've been working on a system for doing just that for the
last five years and believe I have it worked out.  I am now trying
to put some money together to build it (though it will probably
never make a major release because I have no contacts in the
commercial world).

>> Random spawning not only makes it impossible, but also dangerous
>> to attempt camping.

> It also makes the area less interesting in some ways, since the
> Commander of the castle no longer sits in his commando room, the
> Gate Guard is in the basement and the King decided he should swap
> place with the Cook !

> Mind you, random spawns is all nice and dandy for minions, but for
> named MOBs and the likes, it would spoil their background story
> and challenge to have them randomed all over the place. And if you
> only randomize the loot tables, you'd have the kitchen boy drop
> the Flaming Sword of Godslaying +1 and the King to drop a Dull
> Rusty Spoon.

> How fun is that ?

> Also a large part of building an interesting area is to stage the
> fight of the Boss, so randomization would be limited on such.

I do not condone absolute randomness but weighted randomness.  There
would be some small chance that the king could show up in the
kitchen or the cook in the throneroom, but the weighting makes it
highly likely for the cook to be in the kitchen and the king in the
throneroom.  The mathematics of probability would make it extremely
unlikely for the two of them to have actually swapped places.

As far as the loot, again, not absolute randomness.  The cook drops
items of level X power.  Whether you use a list or some other
generation mechanism to figure out which item is irrelevant, just
that it is of approximate power X. The king on the other hand drops
things of power level Y.

The thing you never want happening is for people to camp the king
because they know that he drops a certain item.  The power level of
the items he drops should be comparable, but there should never be a
specific Uber Item that you know can be gained from him.

>> Within all of this randomness, of course, there should be
>> weighting.  The random spawn should be weighted so the dragon has
>> an extremely low chance of ending up in a newbie zone (though
>> myself I wouldn't make it impossible).  The random item should be
>> weighted to skills the character has and further to skills they
>> have actually built up.

> I'm all for having some interesting spawns even in the "lesser"
> areas, but all within reason of how powerful they should be so you
> don't end up with a newbie massacre for no good reason.

> If you HAVE to make a newbie massacre, at least have a background
> story.  Newbie massacres can be fun though, if done proberly.

I agree with you and disagree with you.  I agree that a newbie
massacre should not be done without reason.  I also agree that they
can be fun if done properly.  I disagree on backstory.  I feel that
is the downfall of most MMOs on the market today.  The current MMOs
try to fit things into a story that the players have had nothing to
do with.  From my observations in the ones that I've played, the
players really don't care squat for any story that they, a friend of
theirs, or at least someone they ran into once is a part of.

The story should be the story of the deeds of the player characters
in the world, that is what they care about.  Weaving a nice
storyline works well in single player and even small group, but when
you put it to a lot of people then they stop caring about the story
and doing things because that is what they and their friends like to
do.  The average gank group in DAoC doesn't care why the three
realms are at war but I bet they'd love to hear tales of their own
exploits told in the taverns of the lands.  The average EQ player
has no idea what the story is behind the planes of power, but if it
were written in scrolls that their ranger was the first to open up
one of the planes...

So I say let the dragon attack the newbie fields once in a blue
moon.  Even if there were a story as to why, only the game
designer(s) will know it, so what difference does it make if you
write it?  But once that dragon is defeated, immortalize the heroic
player characters that saved the area by making monuments to them,
putting them in ingame writings, or having some bard sing their

Even if you are big on backstory, the only way to get players into
it is to start writing them into the story.  My whole premise on how
a game should work is that each and every character should be made
to feel like a hero, not just another player doing the same thing
that everyone else is doing or has already done or will do soon.

The only way to make each player a hero is to give them a unique
experience. Since there is no way to write that much content, it
must be randomly generated.  Then, when the content is "consumed",
as someone put it, the story of what that character did must become
a part of the story of the game. Not an out-of-game part of the
story, but a real in-game retelling so that they can feel proud of
the accomplishment.  The hurdle is a good generator that doesn't end
up looking canned.
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