[MUD-Dev] Re: Do Quests need to be Fed-Ex

Sean Howard squidi at squidi.net
Thu Jan 22 00:11:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

From: <eversilver at yahoo.com>

> Why do they ever have to find the grail?  Why can't players ever
> fail to complete a quest?  Why can't there even be varying degrees
> of success?  For example in a simple FED-EX if they take the item
> from NPC-A directly to NPC-B they get a full reward but the longer
> it takes to get the item to NPC-B the less reward they get.

Please excuse me if I'm stepping on any toes. I've only been on this
list a couple days :)

As near as I can tell, a "game" is something that:

  A) Provides interesting decisions in a realm which is both
  voluntary and does not directly impact real life things like your
  social status, society, your well being, etc.

  B) Boosts your self esteem.

Examining the outcome of negative reinforcement on either is not
favorable, I think. The choice between a good thing and a bad thing
is not an interesting decision. It's not even really a decision. You
pick the good thing. Some games, like Knights of the Old Republic,
pretend to give you the choice between making good or evil
decisions, but really, you are going to decide very on in the game
which type you are playing and the decisions make themselves. You
can't really play a good character, tortured by the lure of evil,
unless the player is a good person tortured by the tempation of
seeing what is going to happen :)

A better, more interesting decision, is to pick from two roughly
equal things that have different effects. For instance, do I go up
in pistol or rifle? Interesting decisions have pros AND cons, not
pros OR cons.  Planescape: Torment is a good RPG where this
philosophy is dominant.

As for the self esteem thing, negative reinforcement doesn't build
self esteem. It is great for learning. I know I'll never touch a hot
stove again, but I can't say that I feel particularly proud that I
touched it in the first place. Long story short, if your game makes
you feel bad about yourself, you stop playing.

There are other factors like degrees of success tend to separate the
power gamers from the casual gamers even more. If player X gets
$4000 for a quest and player Y gets half that, player X can buy
twice the new equipment to handle the next quest even better,
possibly getting four times player Y.

> I guess it can be summed up in the statement, "put the roleplay
> back into the roleplaying game".  Meaning let the player choose
> their path, don't restrict it to just one linear outcome.

So long as you don't forget the "game" in "roleplaying game" too :)

Sean Howard - www.squidi.net
webcomic: The Starship Destiny
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