[MUD-Dev] Reward system for social gaming?

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Wed Oct 19 16:52:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Matt Chatterley writes:
> On 12/10/05, Arnau Josep Rosselló Castelló <arossello at atmsa.org> wrote:
>> 08/10/2005 10:40 -0700, Christopher Allen wrote:

> Two options immediately jump up:

>   1. Don't require any RL time to elapse. Teaching is
>   instanteneous and restricted to a 'N teachers per day' or 'N
>   learning from teachers per day' system. Further limits can be
>   arranged by taking the skill difference between pupil and
>   teacher into account, etc.

>   2. Make the players involved DO something with a short RL time
>   elapse.  I'm at a loss as to what 'something' might be, though -
>   perhaps entering a series of semi-random commands - or
>   completing a short puzzle to acquire the knowledge?

Consider the following for the problem of what the players would be
doing:

Set up your skill systems so that there is tweaking and fiddling
required in the user interface to get a skill optimal for a
character.  Teaching then becomes a process of the student trying to
use a skill while the teacher looks on.  After the attempt, the
teacher can tell the student all about what they saw, providing
insights into what changes the student needs to make at the user
interface level.

The tweaking and fiddling for an individual short sword move might
be to adjust the speed and angle settings, two sliders unique to the
particular short sword move being taught.  The student could play
with those settings without an instructor, but the presence of the
instructor's critical eye makes the process of figuring out what the
settings should be far easier.  Or the settings might be a slider
and two switches.

There would need to be per-character obfuscation to ensure that
figuring out the short sword settings would have to be more than
looking up the settings on a web site.  Part of that obfuscation
could be algorithmically-generated relationships between user
interface controls and the skill.  Each player sees completely
different controls for each skill.  Learning a skill is about
setting up the user interface so that the character employs the
skill well.

The critical eye of the instruction would translate to their knowing
that a setting should be changed in some way.  Perhaps the changes
can be expressed in bits and pieces, as opposed to 'warm' versus
'cold' or 'higher' and 'lower'.  It may be that the instructor will
only see a 'greater' or 'lesser' indication on one skill use, while
the next use would indicate that the two settings that control the
style should be 'closer to each other'.  Or that one should be an
odd number.  And so on.  It all depends on how much time you want
them to spend with each other - and how long they'll put up with the
cycle.

Ideally, experimentation with a skill should produce interesting
results.  The short sword stuff could include thrown or dropped
swords, smacking one's self in the head, stray swings to drag the
wielder off-balance and so on.  Making progress should be fairly
straightforward and clearly indicated.

Note that this system leaves open the idea of the student's skill
going only so far under instruction, with additional insights
popping up through use later on.  The game starts telling the
student things that the instructor would have been saying earlier
(or perhaps things that most instructors just won't ever be able to
suggest).

The relationship between settings would tend to be non-linear.  If
the relationships are linear, then the players will ignore
instruction and simply experiment, using a binary search on the
range of a setting.  But if settings are actually fooling around in
a non-linear space, getting to maximums is going to be more
difficult.  Local minimums could be interpreted as some kind of
failure, even though it may not be an absolute minimum.

An additional feature that could be tossed in is the initial
demonstration of the skill by the instructor, which sets the initial
values of the skill's user interface bits.  The 'goodness' of the
settings is again taken from the instructor character's ability to
instruct and, possibly, the student character's ability to learn.

JB
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