[MUD-Dev] Do players enjoy farming? (was MUD-Dev Digest, Vol 7, Issue9)
pschwanz at comcast.net
Mon Jan 12 11:49:10 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004
John Buehler wrote:
> Paul Schwanz writes:
>> When I talk about camping and farming, I'm referring to *any*
>> low-risk activity that produces predictable gains, not just the
>> normal paradigm for camping and farming monster spawns. I think
>> players like these sorts of activities much more than what we
>> typically attribute to them. They aren't always the adrenalin
>> junkies that we make them out to be. The problem, as I see it,
>> is that monster-bashing is typically the only real route to
>> success, both for those who are looking for an adrenalin high as
>> well as for those who are looking for a low-risk, low
>> -committment, highly controlled activity.
>> So why not introduce something like real farming? Those who are
>> interested in farming-like or even mining-like activities can be
>> the major producers of resources in the game. When you add
>> monsters to this mix, you can get something very interesting.
>> The farmers don't want to be killed. That's not really their
>> game. However, the monsters have a nasty habit of ruining their
>> crops, killing their sheep, or otherwise making a nuisance of
>> themselves. So, the farmers hire monster killers (those who like
>> high-risk activities) to help keep the nuisance to a minimum. Or
>> maybe they hire builders to construct a better wall around their
> Barrier alert.
Hehe. I'm starting to think that what you call "barrier," I call
> You get an interesting result, but only for the monster killers.
> The farmers and miners receive the hassle that you didn't want for
> yourself. I think that you're mixing different types of
> entertainment for the farmers and miners. They want to farm and
> mine. They don't want to have things that oppose their very
> ability to farm and mine.
That will likely depend on your definition of farming and mining, as
well as the context, I suppose. For instance, dealing with wolves
would seem to be pretty much inherent in the very definition of
something like ranching. So, when you are killing wolves, perhpas
you *are* ranching instead of dealing with things that oppose your
very ability to ranch. Similarly, I'd think that farmers in a
fantasy-based world may have an expectation that dragons will
periodically threaten to burn their fields. To me, that would be
pretty much an integral part of being a farmer in a world with
> I encountered this sort of thing with Ultima Online. I wanted to
> run a ranger who wandered in the wilderness, living off the land.
> I was perfectly happy to dodge the occasional monster. And I
> could do all that and be entertained by it. Then the player
> killers found me. And killed me.
> At that point, I had the opportunity to hire somebody to protect
> me. Or work to be badder and tougher than they were. I had zero
> interest in solving that problem. The problem wasn't
> entertaining, and the solutions didn't hold any promise of being
Yes, but does that mean it is impossible to have solutions to these
sorts of problems that are entertaining? If you read my post
carefully, you'll see that I specifically talked about the fact that
it was the crops and not the farmers who were endangered by the
monsters. I think this makes a subtle, but important, difference.
The monsters are not affecting the farmer's ability to farm.
Rather, they are affecting the production of his farm.
> Similarly, I don't believe that farmers want to spend time hiring
> people to defend their fields or to constructive defensive
> fortifications to protect them. Although only a story, "The Seven
> Samurai" is the very scenario that you talk about. Notice that
> the portrayal of the farmers is that as soon as they can, they get
> back to farming. They don't want to be hiring samurai, fighting
> off raiders or any of that nonsense. They want to be farming.
I imagine what real-life farmers want may be a bit different than
what game-playing farmers want. No city planner or engineer wants
earthquakes, tornados, or other such disasters, yet people who play
Sim-City seem to enjoy these sorts of challenges. And it may well
be that without the challenge of building a city that can endure
such natural disasters, you aren't really fully experiencing the
concept of planning and engineering a city.
Furthermore, I'm going to assume that you'd never have seen the
movie you reference if it was only about farmers farming. The
conflict adds a necessary element for entertainment.
>> Best of all, you can evoke emotions that are much more in line
>> with how monsters should be viewed. Not as something like corn
>> or wheat, but as big, scary, dangerous things that we love to
>> fear and love to hate.
> I certainly support the notion that monsters should be less about
> balance and more about being an entertaining experience. In your
> terms: "big, scary, dangerous things". And I also support the
> desire to eliminate the classic implementations of farming and
> camping. But I think that you're taking the farming and camping
> barriers and moving them to somebody else's experience by having
> monsters attacking the folks who want to farm and mine.
Although I'm arguing against it, I think that your point is an
important one. I do believe that you may be taking it to an
extreme, though. Sometimes it comes across as, "Your game should
not have barriers," although I think you intend it to be, "You
should be careful with the barriers you erect." As I've said
before, I think the art of game design is in the mingling. One
major impetus behind what I've proposed here is the desire for
community. I happen to believe that interdependence is an important
ingredient in building community, even though I do understand that,
poorly implemented, it can also be a barrier to entertainment. But
I also believe that pointing out how poorly something can be
implemented proves little.
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