advancement: what would Lovecraft do?

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Joined: 13 May 2005
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Location: Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:38 am    Post subject: advancement: what would Lovecraft do? Reply with quote

MUDs almost exclusively employ upward advancement; the continual gain of power through deeds (usually in the form of levels and equipment quality). Some few games utilize outward advancement; the accumulation of new skill-sets, without an overt increase in power. However, a salient issue is that outward advancement seems to support pvp situations substantially more than pve situations. Are there any kinds of advancement systems supporting pve play, that don't suffer the problem of inflation that upward advancement has?

An idea that pervades Lovecraft's writing is, every gain is accompanied by a sacrifice. Specific to his writing, this was usually in the context of knowledge: the truth behind the world is so foreign to what we think is real, that any substantial step forward in understanding truth is at the sacrifice of our sanity, and ability to interact with the world as we typically understand it (which, btw, seems like a good characterization of the academics I know). Translating to MUD terms, this might say "being a hero gets you killed". Instead of achieving, the goal of playing is simply to survive. Now we can have PvE encounters that do not have to result in advancement, because simply surviving them is an accomplishment in its own right.

You don't go hunting for giants; they come hunting for you. The 'game' is fending the giant off long enough that you can find a route of safe escape.

Perhaps an orc warband is amassing to the north. Scouts report their numbers to be two hundred, and they are preparing to storm the city. Charging head-long into the pack would be certain death, even with the 20 other players currently online. The best you can hope to do is pull together as a group, and fend off the warband from the superior defensive position of the city, bleeding them inch by inch until they are convinced that the effort is no longer worth the rewards. Then they retreat back to the wilderness... for the time being.

Magic and other intellectual pursuits are luxuries that the current pressures of the environment do not afford. In the rare circumstances where a 'hero' manages to slay a foe who possesses magical equipment, and brings it back to the city (or more likely the hero dies in battle and his more cautious party members bring back his remains), it is an event for the entire city to celebrate. That's one more step forward in fending off the harsh world. Of course, the entire city has agreed that magical equipment should always be entrusted to the most capable individuals, for the sake of the city as a whole. So there are constant duels and challenges when the city is not being assaulted, to jockey for status within the ranks. And of course, there is the added threat of greedy dragons being lured closer to the city, by the tantalizing smell of the arcane.

Anyways, just some fragmentary thoughts. I'm really interested in how we can let go of upward advancement, while still retaining fun and meaningful interaction with the environment. Are games based on survival as feasible as games of heroics? Is there fun in just surviving? What does it mean to survive? What are the ramifications of being on the losing side of an encounter in such a system? Does it have to be permadeath, or can it be something less sinister? Anyone can win at poker with a killer hand; the real challenge of the game is learning how to minimize your losses. I find poker to be a very enjoyable game. Can similar ideas translate to MUDs?
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Joined: 29 Dec 2007
Posts: 42
Location: Southern Hellinois

PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good words.

It can, depending on what you add and take out. Where its placed.

The problem, is without this advancement, the numbers get heinously silly (behind the scenes, where the real truth lies). Players truth is a bit different in meaning then an Immortals. At the same time, they have to feel they are advancing to survive.

At what point does survival intermix with slaughter.

I have been away from muds for to long I fear.
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