Food (was RE: [MUD-Dev] Blog about GDC implies changes to MMORPG population)

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Jun 3 03:30:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2005


Jaycen Rigger writes:
> John Buehler <johnbue at msn.com> wrote:

>> I'll certainly agree with the latter point.  Stuff hangs around.
>> I'm actually okay with degradation, wear, etc.  I'm averse to
>> using degradation as a mechanism to handle the unreasonable pace
>> of introduction of items in current games.  It takes us back to
>> the factory model.  Monsters are factories.  Crafters are
>> factories.  It's American consumerism.  Crank 'em out, throw 'em
>> away, make some more.  As has been stated, without degradation,
>> the crafters would have nothing to do.  That's a sign of a
>> dangerous design mindset as far as I'm concerned.

>> Your first point (hoarding) is a philosophical issue for me
>> because it is a statement that underscores how people don't
>> resist selfish temptations.  Hoarding in a game is like sex and
>> violence in movies.  I don't like hoarding in games because it
>> feeds a simpleminded desire in players, just as sex and violence
>> feed simpleminded desires in moviegoers.  I'm always looking for
>> some higher-order stimulus for players, to draw them into
>> entertainment that they will find more enjoyable than the
>> simpleminded stuff.  I believe that the online communities that
>> result from higher-order stimuli will be better-behaved than
>> those that result from low-order stimuli.

>> I don't contest that people like to hoard items.  I wouldn't
>> contest that people like sex, or that they are fascinated by
>> violence.  I'd contest the notion that a game must cater to those
>> impulses, and I'd argue that there are forms of entertainment
>> that transcend such simple impulses.  Such as being a part of
>> empire-building.  Falling in love.  Helping others.  Less selfish
>> stuff.  (I said it was philosophical)

> So....back to some of the things I've suggested in the past.  Most
> of us agree that people like to accumulate THINGS.  We don't want
> to be punitive in our attempt to remove THINGS from the game, yet
> we need to pace the rate of new THINGS entering the game.

> Why don't we approach it from the perspective of creating
> something that encourages players to get rid of THINGS on their
> own?  Taxation was one avenue I suggested.  I want to pay my taxes
> (removing GOLDRESOURCE) because I receive some percieved service
> for doing so.  In order to pay my taxes, I must accumulate wealth
> by selling off my extra or less desirable THINGS (removing
> THINGRESOURCE).

Unless I'm missing some subtlety here, what you're talking about is
how things are done today.  It may not be done within the
roleplaying context that you'd like to see, but sources and sinks
are the very mechanism being used to introduce and eliminate
resources from the game environment.

> In this case, the player doesn't have to participate in the
> system.  Certainly, by killing monsters he could possibly earn
> enough income to pay his taxes.  It's also likely the player will
> want to have extra money to buy other consumables (food for
> example, if your characters must eat like mine do to maintain
> their regen rates).

A minor rant about food...

If I were creating a military strategy game, I'd include food as a
logistical element, just like weapons and other equipment.  The
consumption of the food would never be shown, except as a numeric
value that goes down as the units go through their supplies.
Military.

If I were creating a social game, I'd include food as a social
element, to give the characters something to socialize over.  The
consumption of the food would be a pivotal point of entertainment
because it would be a means of altering the social context in which
the characters operate.  One character likes this food, another hate
that food, a third is allergic to it, and so on.  Alcohol relaxes
people to a point, then makes then drunk, which might make then
socially irresponsible.  Social.

If I were creating a fighting game, I'd eliminate food the same way
I'd eliminate going to the gym to keep in shape and sleeping to
recover mental faculties.  Those things are annoyances that hang on
the periphery of the experience of fighting.  If the game is about
fighting, let fighting consume the player 100% of the time, until
the player is no longer interested.  Then they stop playing or they
move on to another facet of a multi-faceted game.

This is a continuation of the notion that there are things that
developers find entertaining because they have a certain design
'completeness' or 'novelty' or 'sophistication' to them.  But the
players only care about what they end up doing.  I think that this
falls into the category of 'neat because my characters actually have
to eat' and doesn't add to the entertainment experience of games
that have regeneration rates.

If you DO put food into your game, make it as entertaining an
experience as you possibly can.  Don't make it a logistics problem
for individual players.  We had that in Everquest, along with
finding a light source.  It wasn't entertaining.  It was annoying.

JB
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