[MUD-Dev] Play styles and world interactionsistilldontwantitposted at phlange.com

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Tue Jan 13 22:27:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004


>From a recent discussion on DevMUD, generously re-ordered for
clarity and maximal confusion, and some names changed to protect the
guilty:

--<cut>--
Bubba says, "I am getting tempted to post on the farming thread, but
  I've resisted so far.  Specifically, I think that farming types enjoy
  farming-type challenges, and they shouldn't _have_ to fight off
  monsters destroying their fields.  But, there _should_ be monsters."

Jon says, "Monster migration and boundary control."

Bubba says, "They should just have interesting ways to drive them off
  that don't involve fighting.  Like planting a marigold border or
  something."

Jon says, "Oooh.  Player control of monster breeding grounds, etc.
  Change the environment to favour the species you want..."

Urk [to Bubba] says, "Heh, I think taking the 'farming' thing to that
  extreme is cheesy."

Jon is reminded of his parents' next-door neighbor, who does pest
  control for the county.  Actually...  Any MUDs out there with enough
  ecology to make that work?"

Bubba [to Urk] says, "It's sort of just a metaphor to me,
  representing a different play style."

Urk [to Bubba] says, "I don't think forcing the farmer to hire NPC
  guards, etc is asking too much. Presumably they make money from
  farming so this would be within their capability."

Bubba says, "My basic thesis being that the different play styles
  _need_ to interact, but that individual players shouldn't have to step
  outside their styles to do so."

Jon nods.

Bubba [to Urk] says, "Depends on how hiring guards works."

Urk [to Bubba] says, "You saw the recent Seven Samurai reference,
  right?  I think the problem is that if you segregate the different
  play styles too much, you might as well be playing different games
  entirely. Having the poor farmers hire some warriors to protect the
  village is very reasonable."

Bubba says, "Requiring them to hire warriors sucks.  Having it be the
  optimal defense is okay."

Urk says, "Well, can you think of non-cheesy alternatives?"

Bubba says, "Ie, marigold borders might stop 80% of monster
  predation."

Boffo says, "Like condoms!"

Bubba says, "And hiring some warriors might be the 99% solution."

Boffo says, "Err. Yeah."

Bubba says, "And it would nice if the warrior hiring process felt
  like a farming decision."

Jon passes out condoms to the raiding orcs, reducing the number raiding
  next time.

Boffo says, "Yes, of course."

Jon says, "Actually, 'monster' protection rackets might work."

Boffo [to Bubba] says, "Okay, simple suggestion of how it could
  work. Presumably an established farmer would have some workers. You go
  talk to one of them and tell him to bring such and such gold, rice,
  whatever, to the nearby village and look for warriors. The worker goes
  on his way and returns in a couple of days."

Jon says, "So you pay some food to the nearby goblin den, and as a
  result have no wolf problems."

Boffo [to Bubba] says, "I guess my point is that it's easy to make this
  work in an easy and non-distracting manner for the farmers. It
  wouldn't be different than asking one of the workers to plant orange
  seeds on Field A."

Bubba says, "Yeah, non-distracting would be good.  The 80% needs to
  be non-distracting.  I think it might okay for 99% solutions to
  require a farmer to step out of his comfort zone.  For instance, he
  can't just hire fighters to kill off the monsters, he has to lead the
  fighters to the monsters' lair too."

Boffo says, "Heh, I can imagine some funny ways of doing this."

Bubba says, "Of course, I'm not sure how any of this fits into a
  genmud-type world, where stuff is just happening."

Boffo says, "Boffohaps you can hire "legendary" NPC warriors that are named,
  etc as oppose to the nongeneric 'weak' warriors. You could make a
  farmer-ish subgame that involved 'maintaining' these legendary
  guards. Think the bachelors in The Oddysey or the samurai in Seven
  Samurai :) Maybe some of them would eat a fuckload of rice or chase
  the female workers around, etc. Anyway, just a random thought.  Or
  perhaps you'd have to keep them entertained or they might just leave."

Bubba says, "That's a great funny idea.  Samurai impregnating your
  field hands and gorging on rice."

Boffo says, "Haha"

Bubba says, "Big fat useless samurai leeching off you.  The cure
  turning out worse than the disease."

Boffo says, "Yeah, I specifically had the bachelors in Odyssey in
  mind. Remember how they almost ate the Laertes household to the ground
  because Penelope kept stalling them? ;)"

Bubba says, "I don't think players would like it, unless it was
  mostly for color and didn't have much effect."

Boffo says, "You're right, it would be mostly annoying."

Boffo says, "In reality I was dreaming up a god-like sim game that
  involved this.  The only farming game I can remember that involved
  this kind of "low-level" activities is Harvest Moon."

Bubba says, "Mmm, god games.  I wish I had time to build a demo of my
  god game ideas.  Harvest Moon was pretty fun, when I didn't mind
  thinking Japanese."

Boffo says, "I'm imagining a farming simulation in a MMO would be a little
  more detached from the actual farming processes (sowing weeds,
  watering the fields, etc). Regarding the 4annoyance' thing, I think
  it's inherently something you need to a certain extent.  Attacking
  raiders, a draught, a fat samurai eating you out of your house --
  they're all just ways of injecting something out of the ordinary into
  the experience. Having the players get off their ass and do something
  different every once in a while is a good thing."

Bubba says, "Giving them the opportunity to do something different is
  a good thing, certainly."

Boffo says, "I disagree with what you imply. Everything would be really
  boring if the players were able to choose their own woes."

Bubba says, "Boring for the players?"

Boffo says, "Yes.  I guess it's a question of what the focus of farming
  would be. If people do it for its own sake, then it must be rewarding
  in some way. If it's just socially rewarding, great, but making it an
  inherently fun activity could not hurt.  If it involves pressing a
  button every once in a while then you might as well just remove the
  button entirely and the associated systems entirely. IMO."

Bubba nods.  But take a drought, for instance.  It might be better
  for there to be a bunch of warning signs of drought.

Boffo says, "Boffohaps it's a bit example. You could turn it do something
  rewarding rather than something that could only do bad things."

Bubba says, "And then the farmer can choose not to plant that season
  or risk the drought."

Boffo nods.

Bubba says, "The drought happens either way."

Boffo says, "You could make all of these things player-choosable by
  offering rewards for being 'daring'."

Bubba says, "But at least the farmer doesn't have to waste seeds or
  spend hours hauling water if she doesn't want to."

Boffo says, "For instance, perhaps building your farm near bandit lands
  would get you better pay-off in the harvest (you could build this into
  the fiction)."

Bubba says, "Why reward daring?  Farmer-type players don't value
  daring, usually."

Boffo says, "Boffohaps daring is wrong, I just meant the fact that you are
  doing something you don't have to.  Planting/Not-Planting when a
  drought is about to occur is just another example of this."

Bubba says, "Farming might be better characterized as being about
  fertility and good stewardship."

Boffo says, "Planting means that you are taking a risk but you'll be able
  to get more money that year/period/whatever.  Assuming the drought
  doesn't fuck up your harvest"

Bubba says, "I'm not sure money should be a big reward for farmers."

Boffo says, "Replace 'money' with whatever farmers would want."

Bubba nods.

Boffo says, "Stop taking my statements so literally ;)"

Bubba smiles.  I think it would be fun to create a game where
  different roles had very different explicit themes and styles.  And
  part of character creation would be choosing the few themes that your
  character is best at evoking.  And that might tie in nicely with a
  genmud world.  It would just be a fact that the world moves on with or
  without you.  Your character would be your way of illuminating a view
  of the world.  Whatever that means."

Boffo says, "Yeah, how very humanities bullshitty of you ;)"

Bubba grins.

Boffo says, "In a moment you're gonna tell us to sit in a circle and say
  how everyone's opinions are equally valuable. Right? ;)"

Bubba [to Boffo] asks, "It's not all bs, have you run a genmud?"

Boffo ducks.

Bubba says, "So much stuff is automatically happening in it."

Boffo [to Bubba] says, "I know, it's very cool."

Boffo says, "I know what you were getting at too, it's just the way you
  said it ;)"

Bubba says, "To make is playable, you really need a mechanic for
  focusing your character.  Or else you are going to have a bunch of
  newbies running around, trying to fight every fire and failing
  miserably and quitting."

Boffo nods, "I'd love to talk about this more but right now Alias is
  on. Later." :)

Bubba waves.

Xplat says, "(Referencing Bubba's comments on not having to fight off
  monsters, but monsters being present in the game) They should just
  collect taxes and then some guild will come in and drive them
  off... and collect taxes"

Boffo [to Xplat] says, "That's not a bad idea, also cf Seven Samurai.
  Although in the SS case the tax would have been too steep ;)"

Bubba [to Xplat] says, "Taxes aren't really a farming activity.  Ie,
  they don't play to the fertility/stewardship themes.  They are
  certainly simulation-appropriate, though."

Boffo says, "Yeah, I suppose it could be argued paying 'protection money'
  to the mob is not fundamentally different from paying guards."

Boffo says, "From a farmer's point of view, I mean."

Xplat says, (referencing Boffo's comments on replacing money with whatever
  farmers would want) "prize-winning pumpkins?"

Boffo says, "Hehe. I wasn't necessarily referring to physically tangible
  goods."

Xplat says, "I was being kind of serious about the pumpkins.  Some
  farmers are going to be competitive people, and the ones who aren't
  get to go to the fair and ooh and aah at the incredibly huge melons
  and stuff -- and also the prize-winning vegetables.  And as opposed to
  'I made a lot of money farming', growing large or otherwise
  interesting veggies would be farming-specific ... community-specific
  and skill-specific."
--<cut>--

--
J C Lawrence
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.
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