Key hoarding problem
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, so you don't like doors, I get it. Wink

Seriously, even if you totally eliminate doors and keys from the equation, you're still going to have the same problem eventually. Unless you're operating under an extremely strict set of design rules, you will at some point have an item that is The Only Thing allowing players to progress in a zone/quest/what have you.

Whether it's the rune stone required to solve the puzzle, the crank handle that operates the giant crane, or the magical gem you have to give to the village elder, you end up with the same dilemma: You probably want to limit how many of this item can exist in your game at any given time (or not, but let's for the sake of argument say that you do), but once you start limiting that number, certain players might be inclined to hoard said item, for various reasons.

Anyway, that was mainly the issue I was trying to get opinions on. I wasn't trying to get drawn into some kind of "doors vs no doors" debate or anything.

As for instancing, yeah I've definitely considered that. It does effectively solve any problems of "resource hoarding" within a zone. It comes with its own set of negative effects, of course, but I suppose no solution is 100% without flaws.
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eiz



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 152
Location: Florida

PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grabnar wrote:
Whether it's the rune stone required to solve the puzzle, the crank handle that operates the giant crane, or the magical gem you have to give to the village elder, you end up with the same dilemma: You probably want to limit how many of this item can exist in your game at any given time (or not, but let's for the sake of argument say that you do), but once you start limiting that number, certain players might be inclined to hoard said item, for various reasons.


Generally speaking, you will have this problem with any kind of limited resource. Doesn't matter if it's keys, magic widgets, or rare enemy spawns (witness 'camping'). You're trying to solve a problem you created intentionally. Who's to say that hoarding keys and selling them for massive profit isn't a valid strategy? What's the point of making an item limited if you're not supposed to take advantage of this fact?

RE: Doors, yes. I am going to write a MUD with no doors whatsoever.
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Grabnar



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While "camping" is a problem to some extent on almost all muds, unless it is extremely prevalent (in which case your mud might have a bad player/content ratio, or you are putting way too much top eq on a few select mobs) most players will understand and put up with it.

"Joe's group got here first and is now killing the mob, lets move on to a different zone" is a lot easier for players to accept than "Joe got the key off the first mob in the zone and hid it somwhere and won't let anyone into the zone unless they pay him X gold."

When the latter happens, people tend to get very angry very fast.

As for limiting the amount of keys, the "point" typically has to do with maintaining the challenge of exploring a given zone. If you walk into the town square and find four copies of the key to the magic door, then the challenge of completing that dungeon has probably been greatly reduced.
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Vopisk



Joined: 22 Aug 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Golden Valley, Arizona, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think Eiz had a suggestion that's valid. I think there's far too little emphasis on the "puzzle" aspect of things. I've seen everything from card games, to minesweeper to various other little Yahoo! (tm) games implemented in some manner or another in MUDs, but more often than not, it has nothing to do with the main aspect in the game, although I've seen these puzzles as job-related individual quests, resource harvesting games, etc...

Rather than have it be a moldy wooden door with a rusty padlock that for some reason or another cannot be unlocked by sheer force, magic spells (which of course, a dispel magic spell should take care of) or picking the lock? This breaks immersion and playability by just not making much sense (reference the other threads where we've recently been debating these issues).

However, if the "door" is actually a stone wall, with a series of levers and buttons that the player has to arrange in a specific fashion (it changes randomly every time of course) with clues being sent to the player every time they "reposition" one of these buttons or levers, you can make unlocking the magical door a challenge and a part of the game itself, without the prementioned forced exploration. And also, you can change the storyline however you want to make the door more magical/high-fantasy or technology (opening an electronic keypad and rewiring it?) focused.

This suggestion will probably stir up the pot of "player vs. character skill". However, if we don't have ANY player skill involved, there's not a whole lot of point to "playing" the game.

My two cents, something to chew on,

Vopisk
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MikeRozak



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
Posts: 15
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a random comment that's slightly off subject:

Adventure game authors look down on key and lock puzzles/obstacles because they're automatically solvable if the player picks up everything they come across (especially keys) and carries them until they're used exactly once, at which point they're dropped. This makes for a fairly mindless and cliche puzzle, so the puzzle is dropped from the game. (Mazes are also looked down upon because, as one person put it: "You can't beat "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike.", and that was wirtten in 1980.")

Following this line of thought...

If the key is hidden, then the real puzzle is, "How do I find the key? What clues exist in the room description that tells me where it's hidden?" In which case, you might as well hide a secret door.

If the key is on the monster, then the puzzle/obstacle is to kill the monster so you can get past the door... which means having the monster act as guard produces the same results.

If the key is given as a reward for completing a quest, then perhaps there's a way around that too. Maybe the NPC unlocks the door for the player then and there.

Personally, I'm not against keys and doors being used (or mazes), but there are other alternatives that provide the same result.

On an even more tangential note, you might want to look at http://www.mxac.com.au/drt/GatesAndKeys.htm for some ideas I wrote down a few weeks ago.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Mazes are also looked down upon because, as one person put it: "You can't beat "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike.", and that was wirtten in 1980.")


I can't say that I agree - there are plenty of ways to make mazes more interesting or challenging than that.

Quote:
If the key is hidden, then the real puzzle is, "How do I find the key? What clues exist in the room description that tells me where it's hidden?" In which case, you might as well hide a secret door.

If the key is on the monster, then the puzzle/obstacle is to kill the monster so you can get past the door... which means having the monster act as guard produces the same results.


But you could do both - hide the key and the door - and thus increase the number of steps in the quest (much like you might have "find the mirrored shield THEN find and kill medusa", or "find the two parts of the magic staff, then stick them together", etc).

You could also have the key as an optional thing - allow the player to hunt around for the key or pick the lock by completing a lockpicking "puzzle".

Quote:
Personally, I'm not against keys and doors being used (or mazes), but there are other alternatives that provide the same result.


There are, yes, but keys are a pretty convenient way of adding an extra step to a quest.
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eiz



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Florida

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grabnar wrote:
If you walk into the town square and find four copies of the key to the magic door, then the challenge of completing that dungeon has probably been greatly reduced.


There's another solution to this problem: simply make your key 'bind on pickup' - so the player can junk the key, but not give it away or drop it.

RE: camping, I've never seen a MUD which encouraged camping to the extent that certain MMOs do. Most mobs aren't particularly limited in quantity (respawn times of a few minutes are typical). However, when you get to hours or days between spawns... don't get me started.
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MikeRozak



Joined: 27 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kavir wrote:
Quote:
I can't say that I agree - there are plenty of ways to make mazes more interesting or challenging than that.


I agree with your disagreement. I think mazes can be used effectively, it's just that most IF people don't.


Quote:
There are, yes, but keys are a pretty convenient way of adding an extra step to a quest.


I think keys are fine solutions AS LONG AS they make the quest more fun and don't add extra STEPs for their own sake. I don't think you were saying that keys should just be makework, but I'd thought I'd emphasize a point: IMHO, if keys are just put in for makework, then don't put them in. Which is why I why I brought up the fundamental puzzle/obstacle that the key represents... The puzzles/obstacles should somehow be fun.
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mihoshi



Joined: 05 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

eiz wrote:

There's another solution to this problem: simply make your key 'bind on pickup' - so the player can junk the key, but not give it away or drop it.


Why not make it flag or NPC, instead of object? Something like "Old gnoll told you that there is a secret lever, opening the door and tought you how to find it" or "Gnoll said you 'You are a good guy. I'll tell door guard to let you in'"

Also consider passwords or other "magic words", possibly changing over time.

Other option is to hide door itself, instead of hiding key.
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Molly O'Hara



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 99
Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Fri Jun 09, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lately I tend to dispose of doors and keys most of the time, and instead use Portals, which only load if the player has a certain quest flag and then purge themselves after about half a minute. Someone without the flag might be lucky and sneak past while the portal is loaded, but the percentage chance isn't all that great.

It disposes of the problem with players hoarding keys in crashproof houses - (which we too have had some problems with) - while at the same time ensuring that access to the 'inner' part of a zone isn't all that easy to acquire.

You can also use a command script set on the entrance room, which prevents you from walking in a certain direction. With the flag, you are greeted cordially, withoout it the guards prevent you from entering, or throw you out.

It can even be set up to work ICly. You do the Baron a favour, and next time you pass his castle you are invited in by his Major Domo, otherwise the door is closed to you - that sort of stuff.
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