Transparency

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    mudlab.org Forum Index -> Design
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 11:11 am    Post subject: Transparency Reply with quote

I know some muds prefer to hide mechanical detail from the players (sometimes even to the point of hiding stats), but I've always preferred to keep everything very transparent, explaining in detail how different things are calculated and revealing the inner workings to those who are curious. This has certainly payed off in terms of balancing and bug-fixing, as the players are able to discover problems which would otherwise have been obscured within complex formulae.

However one of my more recent additions is based around the idea of unlocking specialised subpowers, called Knowledges. Unlike other abilities, these Knowledges do not involve picking and choosing - instead the objective is to earn them all (or at least, all of those available to your class).

Because there is no choice involved (and no reason not to have them all) I decided to make the help files inaccessable until the Knowledges have been earned. This provides a strong incentive to earn them all, even if you don't actually want to use them. A demon might never use the Slug Fiend warp, or the Crystal Devil warp, but they'll want to earn them just so that they can see what they do.

This has worked pretty well - curiousity seems to provide a potent incentive. However one player recently complained that it moves away from the principle of transparency. In particular, he stressed that an important concept in competition is knowing the potential capabilities of your opponent, and that if you don't know what they're capable of, you can't build a character capable of responding.

I can see his point, and for a long time I've been a fan of transparency - but I've also come to feel that, if taken too far, it can take some of the magic out of the game. Like opening a Christmas present or a Birthday gift, the element of surprise adds to the excitment.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to force players to play each and every class just to learn what they might come up against - and it would be highly inappropriate to let all classes learn all Knowledges.

Where should the line be drawn? How much information can you reveal without ruining the excitment of the unknown? How much information can you hide without reducing the competitive element of the game?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Author Message
Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 94
Location: Boston

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You want a clear answer on where to draw a transparent line? Twisted Evil


I dunno, my help files still say I give more information than most MUDs, I have three times the stock help files, but over the years I've moved away from that, back to the 'learn by doing' approach of DIKU. I have a lot of undocumented features that I refer to as 'bugs to be exploited'. At certain moments in combat, for instance, it's possible to just walk away from a fight, without fleeing. My score displays 'hunger' and 'thirst', part of my 'more information' approach, but the new food system has three values and I only display a weighted average, obscuring what they are hungry for.

My plan (not that I really have one) is that the lack of documentation will encourage the 'water cooler' approach - this term was coined by sociologists at Xerox's PARC to describe the process of passing 'how to' information verbally, rather than writing it down. I'd like to enhance the value of clans by having advice from 'older' players be, if not quite necessary, at least extremely valuable.

At this point, I'm realising your game is aimed at killers, while mine is for achievers (and explorers, if I ever get around to writing new areas). Obfustication of intelligence serves the purpose of making my game replayable, while I suspect you're tryng to keep characters playable forever. That is, I expect players to start over and run the same leveling gauntlet again, which different races and skills making the same areas seem a new challange. Most games try to maintain the value of the time invested in a given character, but I tossed this concept immediately, as it requires a linear extension of content. I'm hoping to create a matrix of winning values, sort of the way that chess is always challenging even though there are only a few different pieces on a very small board. Chess, I suppose, is also your ideal paradigm, as each player is exactly the same, except for the first move.

I guess all this blabber is just leading to the suggestion that you might find players providing the information that's lacking in your help files during in-game interaction. Which, I suppose, is an answer to your problem, not your question, but I'm not sure your questions can be answered with a generality.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Author Message
Tyche



Joined: 13 May 2005
Posts: 176
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sandi wrote:

At this point, I'm realising your game is aimed at killers, while mine is for achievers (and explorers, if I ever get around to writing new areas).


Yes, yes. The culture of "spades" revolves around discovery and collection of information. Transparency is the antithesis to "exploration". Exploration is orthogonal. It's not just knowing one's way around and where to find things; it's also about knowing how things work. Some games even going as far as making the interface part of the exploration.

Explorer nirvana:

Code:
Welcome adventurer!
> help

I sorry I don't undertand.
>


Wink
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Author Message
KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bartle card suits comparison is an interesting point. The player who made the proposal has little in the way of Achiever or Explorer tendancies - he has a strong dislike of having to train up his character or earn equipment, and he likes to have all the information available up-front rather than fight blind. His only real interest seems to be in fighting players (something he admittedly does well). Anything else he refers to as "the grind", and doesn't consider it part of the "real" game.

However I'm not creating a game purely for Killers. I tried, but it didn't work - Killers need people to fight, and with nobody to fight there's no incentive for them to stay. And if they don't stay, there's nobody for the next player to fight...

The Explorer types seem to enjoy discovering what the Knowledges do, and many of the Achiever types have a burning need to earn them all just for the sake of having them. While they do this, they become potential targets for the Killers. In this respect the approach I've used works pretty well.

The real problem is that a player can never learn the Knowledges of other classes, and therefore they can never learn the full capabilities of the other classes without actually playing them. Many players end up creating a character of each class, but I don't want that to become a requirement just to learn what the other classes can do. Equally, you could ask another player to tell you what the various Knowledges give, but that's not very clean from a transparency perspective.

I've toyed with the idea of allowing other classes specific ways to learn what the Knowledges of other classes can do - perhaps by fighting people using those Knowledges, or trading information, or simply by having comparible Knowledges from their own class. However that would also remove some of the excitment for the many players who choose to create a character of each class - after building up one powerful character they'd be able to view the full potential of all the other classes.

The only compromise I can think of would be to let the classes view a general overview of the capabilities of the other classes - i.e., you don't see the exact descriptions broken down by Knowledge, but you get a brief list of the sort of things they can do. Enough that you can at least take their potential capabilities into account when building a character to fight against them.

However I doubt that would truly satisfy the Transparency fans (it wouldn't be explicit enough) and it'd also ruin some of the surprise (you'd already know what sort of things you'd be capable of, you just wouldn't know which Knowledge gives which bonus) so perhaps it'd end up being the worst of both worlds rather than the best...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Author Message
Kaz



Joined: 05 Jun 2005
Posts: 24
Location: Hampshire, UK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, my favourite anecdote:

A long time ago, in a mud far, far away, I implemented a "gem" system, roughly based upon Diablo II's, and integrated it with our resource gathering and crafting system: Raw gemstones were harvested from underground places, and "cut" in order to refine them. This would yield a "carefully cut <gem>" (such as amethyst or emerald or whatever), which could then be attached to weaponry to add special effects.

Other than saying that the system was in place, nothing else was announced about the system.

In short order, players began exchanging notes about what particular gem types did, and tables were produced with the attributes that each type of gem produced.

Much to my amusement, occasional arguments broke out over this, as sometimes the effect seemed to vary.

What I had done was to give a small percentage chance (it was 5% at the highest skill level) that a gem could be "perfectly" (instead of "carefully") cut, which would double its effect. Being there when one of the players figured this out and announced it (with many exclamation marks) over chat made the entire implementation worth it for me.

I liked this implementation because it managed to fit in all of the player archetypes: Achievers were those that sought the raw materials and crafted the items, Socializers had to talk to each other to complete the supply chain, Killers got the powered-up items they wanted and, my favourites, the Explorers got an entirely new microcosm of a system to work out, complete with a couple of suprises along the way.

In small bites, I think this works well. However, if an entire mud were programmed that way, I think it would be overwhelming to a newbie, and probably turn them off.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Author Message
KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 565
Location: Munich

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Transparency Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
I know some muds prefer to hide mechanical detail from the players (sometimes even to the point of hiding stats), but I've always preferred to keep everything very transparent, explaining in detail how different things are calculated and revealing the inner workings to those who are curious.

As an experiment (and a bit of fun, because I wanted to try something different), I decided to take the opposite approach with the latest class I added - the help files for its abilities contained only thematic information, no actual mechanics at all.

The decision proved so unpopular that I ended up reversing it a few weeks later. I guess it's one of those fundamental parts of the game style that players don't like you changing once they've gotten used to it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    mudlab.org Forum Index -> Design All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
BBTech Template by © 2003-04 MDesign