[MUD-Dev] Blog about GDC implies changes to MMORPG population

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sun Jun 19 02:43:55 New Zealand Standard Time 2005

Damion Schubert writes:
> Quoth John Buehler:

>> I completely agree with you about properly composing mini-games.
>> I always say that such mini-games should be constructed such that
>> they appeal to the enthusiast.  In the case that you describe, I
>> submit to you that you are a business enthusiast, not a crafting
>> enthusiast.  I would want you to have access to a mini-game of
>> the very sort that you are enthusiastic about, while I still want
>> those who are enthusiastic about the physical crafting process to
>> be able to enjoy an entertaining mini-game about just that.

> I would have to disagree.  Though I can't speak for all craftsmen,
> in SWG I was driven by a drive to be a great blacksmith.  My
> personal satisfaction was driven by my solving players needs, and
> knowing that my crafted goods were serving them well in the field.
> Or by finding rare ore that allowed me to craft better armor than
> the other guys on the planet, even if only for the half-day until
> they found it too.  Or taking the Krayt Dragon Scale someone
> brought it to me and turning it into something cool.  If anything,
> I thought crafting the actual item was TOO involved and would have
> loved to have had a couple steps removed or merged in the UI.

Okay, I stand corrected; I have no idea what term would apply to
your preference :)

You like to provide goods.  That much is clear.  I feel the same
way, but I also like the idea of going through the actual crafting
process.  The manipulation of the stuff is, in itself, a source of
entertainment to me.  As an example, I very much enjoy helping
others through the crafting of software.  That's been my career.
But I enjoy my career partly because of the actual process of
software crafting.  It's a very fun thing for me to do.  I don't
want to have push-button-recipes as the means of obtaining the end
result.  And I got the impression that you'd rather have that than
actually go through the crafting process.

I assume that those interested in blacksmithing would like to
blacksmith.  They are blacksmithing enthusiasts.  But rarely does a
craftsman want to operate in a vacuum.  They do want to have others
use what they have crafted.  So there's probably a very solid
mini-game waiting to be assembled for the crafting types.  It may be
that there will need to be push-button crafting as well, so that the
crafters have a sense of having constructed the items, without going
through any sort of detailed crafting process.

>> Instead of fighters, mages and thieves all fighting, have
>> fighters fight, mages mage and thieves thief.  Design each
>> experience as a self-contained game.  If too few players would
>> want to experience that game, then it's not a good game and it
>> needs review or elimination.  Once the experiences are understood
>> as self-contained games, figure out how they interrelate
>> (including a lack thereof).  If crafters can make guns, then the
>> sword-wielding fighters are doomed, and the intersection of the
>> two experiences is going to produce a nightmare.

> I would argue that this way lies dragons, if you're not careful.
> One reason why EQ-style combat has been so resonant for so long is
> that it promotes team-play.  A combat event has roles for everyone
> to take part in, and they take those roles simultaneously.
> Expanding out of combat will depend heavily on finding other
> gameplay paradigms that also provide great team-play between
> people of different roles.

> If what you're saying is that mages should be casting spells in
> combat and not doing 2-4 points of damage with their dagger, then
> I can buy into that.  But it's easy to go too far in that
> direction, and make it so that thieves don't do anything in combat
> that's simultaneous with what their mages and/or fighters are
> doing.

I'm saying that those interested in magic should have a game
experience that is for enthusiasts of magic.  It is completely
unrelated to combat per se.  To my mind, magic is one of those
things that can be used to vary every mini-game.  It would permit
crafters to accomplish things not normally possible.  Heating metal
without a forge perhaps.  Inclusion of materials through 'magical'
means - e.g. mixing oil and water.  It would permit variations in
combat as well.  Perhaps a mage could make an area on the ground
slicker, ruining a charge by enemies by causing a couple of them to
slip and fall.  Perhaps plants could be magically altered or achieve
accelerated growth for farmers.  Perhaps veins of ore could be more
easily located for miners.

But mages don't deal damage.  It's like putting guns into a medieval
environment.  The ramifications are too impactful.

Beyond that, there could be a magical realm in which only mages can
operate.  And I don't mean zones.  I mean a way of sensing the world
that is not available to mundane eyes.  Perhaps there are magical
paths through solid objects - or paths that can be created.  Perhaps
there are lines or pools of magic, waiting to be used by mages.
Perhaps there are puzzles or items that are only accessible to
mages, to permit them to gain access to skills, understandings or
other items.

When I said that thieves thieve, I meant something like a Deus Ex
experience.  Within some larger context.  In "My Game Design",
that's what I do with thieves.  They go into the enemy realm of NPCs
(I primarily rely on PvE for conflict entertainment) to steal, spy
and assassinate.  This is when ideas like the emergent leader
mechanism for orc tribes is interesting to gameplay (described in
another thread).  Thieves will want to know stuff about the enemy
military and social structure.

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