[MUD-Dev] Thought Experiment: Permanent Monster Death

John Arras johna at wam.umd.edu
Thu Dec 18 16:54:18 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


On Tue, 16 Dec 2003, Sean Middleditch wrote:
> On Tue, 2003-12-16 at 07:01, Ben Kirman wrote:

>> How about looking at it from another perspective. The single GM
>> created monster could actually be a band or tribe of smaller,
>> respawning mobs, that have taken over a region of the
>> gameworld. Players could skirmish all they liked with the
>> respawning scout units, but with concerted effort a group of
>> players could recapture significant objectives.

> This does sound like an interesting mode of play.  The thing to be
> careful of, however, is the work-vs-reward for not only the
> players, but also the GMs.  Say I spend some time making a nice
> little goblin tribe, setting it up in/near a village, etc.  Then a
> couple high-level players come in, kill them all, and they are
> perma-dead.  Drat.

But what if we step back for a second and look with larger numbers
in mind? Why make a single nice little goblin tribe? Why not create
a bunch of goblin templates, and give the villagers rules for how to
carry out their lives, and then allow the game to instantiate a
reasonable goblin village wherever and wherever it needs it?

What if the players have factions and the goblins aren't
automatically "evil", but instead each goblin village may align
itself with one of the player factions if bribed or convinced? What
if players were encouraged to carry out quests/jobs to help their
NPC allies, because with more allies, they gain more safe locations
where they can find sanctuary when they need it? Waht if the results
of those quests were actually used by the game, such as if you go on
a quest to get ore for a tribe, the tribe gets a bonus to their
resources that they use to make better weapons and armor, which
actually increases the combat stats of the villagers?

> The idea of letting the game world automate itself for the whole
> player base is what stinks so much about most MMORPGS, and makes
> them so incredibly boring and repetitive - the GMs need to work to
> make the game run.  As is now, most games simply have GMs for
> rules-lawyering (because rules aren't hard-coded into the game)
> and a player help-desk.  If GMs act more like they would in a
> table-top game, they'd be capable of managing much more dynamic
> and interesting worlds, such as having the mini-plot monster
> groups we're talking about here.  

I don't think it's possible to update a world quickly enough to keep
players interested. Looking at the problem from the perspective of
"I need to create a goblin village" is still not leveraging your
work. When I'm playing a game, I don't think "Gee, it's another
human village. Why couldn't the GM's come up with something
different?" Generally you expect to have MANY human cities/villages
and it is totally reasonable to see them on different sides of
conflicts. I think thinking about making reasonable systems to
underlie the "random" generation can be very effective if done
correctly. At this time, I don't think it's possible to have a
really satisfying dynamic world because I think it would take
hundreds of mobs per character to give the illusion that the world
is large and dynamic. The idea of a game where a horde of undead
could rampage and grow stronger in a deserted part of the world for
days before players figure out that they're there fascinates me, and
having a system like that is much more interesting to me than having
some minor human-implemented updates peppered in here and there
every once in a while.

I know that lots of other people enjoy telling their stories to the
players and enjoy knowing that the world is exactly how they made it
and they can predict and control everything that will happen, but
all of that is just not appealing to me. I want a world where nobody
knows what's going to happen, where I'm not being led down
predetermined rails all the while being told that I can "make a
difference", and where the world is so huge and dynamic that there
will always be surprises for me.  But not just random and senseless,
so I can strategically play over long periods of time to effect
changes in the world slowly.

John
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