[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Dec 12 10:51:40 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


Corpheous Andrakin writes:

> Maybe I'm not edjumacated enough to keep up with the Jones' here
> but I feel like I'm losing track of the whole subject and the
> arguments really aren't solving any issues being brought up so
> far. So, I'll try to ask this in my own simple terms.

My apologies.  I tried to stay on track.

> In your ideal world without "barriers" to entertainment (that also
> act as challenges to other people) what kind of world would you
> propose in order to make it attractive to all types of players as
> most developers at least attempt to do nowadays?  How would you
> attract the socializer and the achiever and the killer and the
> explorer all at the same time and give them all access to a game
> that let them choose how they wanted to be entertained?  Because
> unless they're playing a single player game everytime they logon,
> I can't see how it can be done without shafting one of the classes
> of players while boosting another at any given time.  So what IS
> your suggestion on how to make everything pretty and balanced?

This is a design principle.  Following it doesn't immediately imply
an entire game design any more than any other single design
principle would.  To be honest, I don't know what game results from
this principle - and others that I'm working with.  It's like saying
that I know I want my new country to be predicated in responsible
action.  I don't know what the laws are that will result from that
principle, but I know I want that in the country's constitution.

Another design principle that I'm going with at the moment is that
of letting the game become what it wants to be.  Instead of saying
that it will be a geographically large world full of monsters and
treasure, I'll consider what computers can do well, what players
find entertaining, and throw that into a blender.

For example, if travel is generally boring, either make travel
instantaneous, make the world small, or don't have players interact
with the game world in realtime.

If I pick a small world, then the fiction I'd be facing might be one
of a colony spaceship with entertainment for the players inside and
outside the ship.  In the spirit of eliminating barriers, nobody
ever has to go 'find' a spacesuit to get outside.  Everyone has one
that grows from their utility belt, and the resulting spacesuit
draws air from the ship itself as the character walks around.  No
arbitrary barriers to just getting outside the ship and moving about
out there for the experiences that it affords.

Want to mix types of entertainment?  Make them orthogonal to each
other.

The achievers are interested in defeating each other in single and
group duels.  Where the duels may be combat, puzzle solving, or
head-to-head competition using character skills unrelated to combat.
The number of personal victories is tracked by each character, so
each character has bragging rights in the achievement arena.

All that competition is unrelated to the crafting that is going on.
The crafters are busy building new engines, transport fliers and the
like.  The crafting of these things is inherently entertaining
because player skill is involved in the crafting, just as it is in
the dueling.  Because the crafters are working for the ship, they
always have the parts they need.  And because what's being crafted
is so huge, they're able to build the things solo over a very long
time or they can work with others to build them faster.  After a
while, what the crafters finish building will either create new
entertainment for others or will alter the way existing
entertainment functions.

As the crafters finish the nanotechnology-based vending machine for
27mm kinetic stun pistols, that machine will get installed and then
the people engaged in duels can now employ stun pistols in their
strategies.  Meanwhile, another machine that vends bean bags will
get canabalized and be taken out of the strategies available.

The ship's physical dimensions may be limited, but that doesn't mean
that there aren't places to explore and figure out how the ship
works.  If a conduit travels from one interesting box to another in
the space of 20 feet, there can be some time spent examining what's
going on there.  Meanwhile, the duelers run right past, intent on
getting a proper angle for a shot, or position for an ambush. The
fact that an explorer is standing right there doesn't mean a thing
to them.  Explorers could be implemented as semi-transparent
characters as an indication of their uninvolvement with the current
duel.  And as the explorers locate bits of technology, manuals and
the like, they can be turned into the chief architects (NPCs) so
that new machine types can be made by the crafters that will alter
the entertainment experience for all on the ship.  Because there are
limited resources on the ship, some older experiences will be
scrapped.

So I'm doing a form of large map first person shooter with changing
rules over time, and a kind of indirect dependency between the
various groups of players.  Toss in monsters in particular parts of
the ship that are uninteresting to explorers and crafters and you
include a PvE element.  Such an area might be a zoo area that is
already mapped and explored because it was originally a tourist
area.  But they put the zoo too close to the hull.  One day during
the trip that side got a dose of some weird radiation that caused
mutations in the animals.  So now it's a veritable deathtrap.
Killer territory.

How's that for off the top of my head?  I'm sure there are other
ways of tackling multiple forms of entertainment in the same venue
without making them all orthogonal.

Another example of entertaining the troops while avoiding barriers
is to give multiple angles on any encounter.  Fighting the dragon
off of its loot may give brief access to that loot.  Exploring to
find a way past the dragon lets the explorers explore what's beyond
the dragon.  Socializing with the dragon may be able to gain
valuable information on other socialization opportunities.

More stuff off the top of my head.  You'll note that I don't drop
down to loot-n-level as the fundamental entertainment that the games
would be providing.

JB
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