Player-built dungeons
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 12:51 pm    Post subject: Player-built dungeons Reply with quote

Something which has been discussed on other places in the past (such as MUD-DEV) is the idea of player-built content - for example, players might be able to build their own dungeons and fill them with monsters and treasure (think "Dungeon Keeper"). Other players could then seek to kill the monsters and take the treasure.

I think this is a nice concept, as it allows player to amuse each other rather than having to rely on the staff to create all the content. However the question is, why would players bother creating the dungeons? And once there's a valid reason to do so, how would you stop them creating unbalanced opponents or rewards?

Something I've been considering is combining this concept with resource-gathering. Several valuable resource points could be located around the world, and players controlling such a point would have access to various terraforming options based around it - they could build a dungeon around it, assign guards to protect it, and so on. While they controlled that resource point, the player would receive a constant income from it, however that income would also be used to maintain the guards and traps, so that the greedier the player the more vulnerable their resource point would be. Kill a powerful guard and you'd take resources away from the player, disarm a trap and you'd also take resource away - the player owning the dungeon would therefore want to make it as deadly and efficient as possible.

It seems this would provide a fun thing for players to do, both from a defensive perspective (build the optimal dungeon) and an offensive one (kill the monsters and grab the loot). It would also encourage the players to generate large amounts of ever-changing content for each other, giving them something interesting to do. Think it could work? Or am I missing something obvious?
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it could work. As to the "why?", I'd guess for the same reasons people flock to the various MUSHes, MUCKs and MOOs that have the @dig command enabled. For the same reason Blogs have flourished. People (some, anyway) like creating content for others. It would, in a sense, be the ultimate crafting system, albeit somewhat OOC in nature.

The more I think about it, it's also similar to the Clans on many MUDs, where you write descriptions for rooms (though a Builder has to install them for you) and members pool their gold to buy guard mobs, pill dispensers, regen couches, and such other goodies. However, I think a system that avoided the politics of a Clan would have great appeal to many.
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Alayla



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I think this is a nice concept, as it allows player to amuse each other rather than having to rely on the staff to create all the content. However the question is, why would players bother creating the dungeons? And once there's a valid reason to do so, how would you stop them creating unbalanced opponents or rewards?


One approach - although probably not what you're aiming for here - would be to target the group of players who simply enjoy creating content. Give them the tools to make mods or campaigns, then let others play in the areas. Apparently, for this to work without abuse in a multiplayer game, the areas would have to be separated from the rest of the mud, but the advantage is that there's always plenty to do, even if it doesn't influence the power of the character. It could even be extended with a rating system and quality control approval, which would allow the best areas to become part of the game.

There is also a huge audience for browser-based games. Making some subgames from the mud accessible through a web interface could target this group (and also help players who are not able to connect to the mud for whatever reason - such as being firewalled at work). If you, for example, allow people to run and control shops through the web and post job requests, it could be a better alternative to the infamous fedex quests.

You could manage the stock from a web browser, buy goods from other shops or from trading posts (where players who do play the game but are not interested in running their own shop could place them for sale). What you couldn't do, however, would be acquire special items (since you are not logged into the game and cannot fight for them) and perhaps deliver items from other areas (you could only buy from shops in the same area as you are). For these tasks, however, you could be able to hire players who are logged on, again by posting an ad through the web interface, thus giving the players additional content.

Similarly, you could allow people to build and control settlements through a web interface, using their account's resources. These people would be playing a different game - a strategy/economy game, in which the players on the mud would replace "random destructive events" and the web players would serve as "invisible game masters" for the people playing the mud.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Player-built dungeons Reply with quote

KaVir wrote:
I think this is a nice concept, as it allows player to amuse each other rather than having to rely on the staff to create all the content. However the question is, why would players bother creating the dungeons? And once there's a valid reason to do so, how would you stop them creating unbalanced opponents or rewards?


Other then those player who like to create, and make things, I don't think that there is going to be any player who feels like making a dungeon. There's no bonus to be had by having a dungeon. Player Houses, have the advantage of being able to store things. Clan Halls have the advantage of housing guild special stores, or armories. So those items provide intrinsic value to the player(s). And unless you give the players some intrinsic value then there is no reason.

Now of course, there are plenty of things that you can reward the players with. To take classic Medieval themes: A Wizard who builds a tower and defends it, get's access to the highest level spells, ability to create magical items. Warriors create castles to attract followers and start their own faction. Clerics found Temples/Cathederals to gain followers for their god, and get bonuses to the spellcasting. Rogues found Thieves guilds to earn extra money without doing anything.

This gives you an even better PvP set up then. And the value of the 'dungeons' is increased and becomes sort of an End Game.

So in summary, if building the 'dungeon' doesn't grant value beyond satisifaction of having created content, it'll be a system that you spent too much time developing and is not being utilized properly.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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Location: Munich

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Player-built dungeons Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
Other then those player who like to create, and make things, I don't think that there is going to be any player who feels like making a dungeon. There's no bonus to be had by having a dungeon.


Well yes, there is - there's the income you'd be constantly receiving, whether you were online or offline, for as long as the dungeon remained unpillaged (very much like the Thieves guild example you go on to mention). Of course you'd have to balance the income against the expense of properly defending the dungeon, but IMO that's just part of the fun. How many corners can you cut, so as to ensure a good income from your dungeon, without leaving it too vulnerable to attack?
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Rendelven



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, you gain money for 'holding' your dungeon, keeping it free from thieves and wicked evils. You also have to spend money for 'upkeep'.

So, what happens if the costs of the dungeon exceed the income created by it? You effectively go into debt. Does the dungeon start degrading due to neglect and lack of finances?

Do the guards do a poorer job because they aren't being paid? Say, you have that trap set up.. and you don't have money to upkeep it.. does it start degrading?

Will the dungeon pay for itself? Have to dump money into it to start?

What DOES a 'dungeon' consist of?

I apologize if this isn't very.. coherent. Very Happy
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rendelven wrote:
So, you gain money for 'holding' your dungeon, keeping it free from thieves and wicked evils. You also have to spend money for 'upkeep'.


Sort of, yes - although I was thinking more along the lines of 'maintaining' rather than 'spending'.

As a very simple example, you might have a small dungeon which provided you with 1000 resource points. Options could then include things like... a guard for 50 points, an explosive trap for 100 points, a swarm of rats for 150 points, a wraith for 200 points and a dragon for 500 points.

You couldn't then spend more than 1000 resource points, because that's all the dungeon would have available. But you could choose to spend none of them, and hope that nobody came near your dungeon. Or perhaps you might just stick a couple of guards in the entrance and hope that that would deter people. Or you could stick a dragon in the middle and settle for half the resource points for yourself.

In retrospect I think it might be better to say that you could only get a maximum of half of the resource points (so there'd be no point in not having any guards at all).

Quote:
What DOES a 'dungeon' consist of?


Just a location - a place, a 'zone' if you like. The specifics would be up to the player to define, within reason (i.e., it must be possible to reach the central point).
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Sandi



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[quote="Alayla"]
Quote:
Similarly, you could allow people to build and control settlements through a web interface, using their account's resources. These people would be playing a different game - a strategy/economy game, in which the players on the mud would replace "random destructive events" and the web players would serve as "invisible game masters" for the people playing the mud.

I just love this! Instead of mice getting lost in a maze (or however it is computers generate random numbers) players could play a web-based game of chance based on the chance of a MUD-based mob being killed, or EQ being bought and sold. And MUDders could haggle with real people, instead of 'bots. Of course, the effect would be spoiled if either side figured out what was going on. Sort of like the Democrats and Republicans...
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Rendelven



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What are the resource points? How does the dungeon generate them?

What good are they to a player? Turn into cash? ARE cash?

What does a player get for creating, maintaining, and defending the dungeon?

I am sorry, I just don't see where having your own personal dungeon really enhances gameplay. Are you going to stick your treasure box in to give other players a reason to venture into the dungeon? ( besides taking over the dungeon )
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 5:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rendelven wrote:
What are the resource points?


Locations around the world which produce resources.

Quote:
How does the dungeon generate them?


The dungeon doesn't generate them - it protects them, by preventing another player from walking up and claiming your resource point.

Quote:
What good are they to a player? Turn into cash? ARE cash?


The resources? That would depend on the mud - I was trying to be generic. I guess some form of currently would be the obvious choice though.

Quote:
What does a player get for creating, maintaining, and defending the dungeon?


They get to prevent other players from taking control of their resource point.

Quote:
I am sorry, I just don't see where having your own personal dungeon really enhances gameplay. Are you going to stick your treasure box in to give other players a reason to venture into the dungeon?


The resource point is the 'treasure box', and you can't move it - so instead you have to guard it.
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Ashon



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, we aren't so much talking about building a 'dungeon' in the classical sense, what we are talking about is building the defenses of a resource?

Running with that, the resource, even after upkeep of the defenses needs to benefit the player. Having control over a resource that is not benefiting you because of the cost of defending it, is a zero-sum expedition.

I have a feeling however, that assuming these resources are used for crafting, that the only ones who are going to want to defend them or control them, are going to be the crafters, who I suspect are already going to be interested in content generation. So I'm still not sure that under this 'resource defense' concept will work.

But I do think that it would be possible to encourage players to generate content like dungeons, as per my previous post. Give them an END GAME edge, and power associated with the Content Generation.

I just realized that this really is a matter of, how to get builders to be players without making them staff members. Builders are your content generators in the game, but the work OOC. And what we really are talking about is how to make the Builders work IC. Instead of rewarding them with the Staff Title, how do we reward them in-game?
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ashon wrote:
So, we aren't so much talking about building a 'dungeon' in the classical sense, what we are talking about is building the defenses of a resource?


Yes - although it'd say it still keeps the classic dungeon objective of "kick down the door, kill the monsters, and steal the loot" ;) All you're really doing is inventing a reason for players to build the dungeon, hire the monsters, and leave the loot lying around.

Quote:
Running with that, the resource, even after upkeep of the defenses needs to benefit the player. Having control over a resource that is not benefiting you because of the cost of defending it, is a zero-sum expedition.


Right - but it's up to the player to weigh the benefit of high income against the risk of weak defences, and vice versa.

Quote:
I have a feeling however, that assuming these resources are used for crafting, that the only ones who are going to want to defend them or control them, are going to be the crafters, who I suspect are already going to be interested in content generation. So I'm still not sure that under this 'resource defense' concept will work.


Well it depends on the resource and what it represents. If you create a resource which is only valuable to players of type X, then obviously only those players are likely to be interested in it. And I'd agree that appealing to crafters would likely be a poor idea, as they're less likely to be interested in smashing their way through other players dungeons.

However the resource doesn't have to be something for crafters - it could be anything. Think of it as a form of currency if you prefer, something which can be made valuable to all players.

Quote:
But I do think that it would be possible to encourage players to generate content like dungeons, as per my previous post. Give them an END GAME edge, and power associated with the Content Generation.


I'd rather avoid the 'end game' edge, on the basis that the dungeons are not likely to be something you'd keep for a long period of time - you'd try to defend them, sure, but other people would be constantly trying to take them away from you.

Quote:
I just realized that this really is a matter of, how to get builders to be players without making them staff members. Builders are your content generators in the game, but the work OOC. And what we really are talking about is how to make the Builders work IC. Instead of rewarding them with the Staff Title, how do we reward them in-game?


By making the content generation part of the game, and that's what I'm trying to achieve.
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Molly O'Hara



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After several years as head builder, I'd be really reluctant to let 'ordinary' players loose in the Mud with any sort of building tools, simply because of all the totally crappy attempts at building that I have witnessed over the years. If the players were to write the descriptions and create the monsters and weapons themselves, without any supervision, it would most likely dilute and degrade the quality of the mud in general.

But perhaps we are talking about code generated descs and mobs or prewritten prototypes that they could just load?

If so, we have something along these lines in my mud. It's not a dungeon, but a mine, 1000 prewritten but unconnected rooms, in 8 different levels, filled with monsters and treasures and metal ore. The players connect the rooms by digging in different directions, which load the rooms randomly and create a sort of maze. The more they dig, the bigger the mine gets.

In some parts the exits are premade, and these stay over a reboot, while the player-made exits close. The tunnels also cave in over time, meaning that the mine is never exactly the same, even if the mud has been running for a long time without reboot.

I guess a similar system could be used to generate terrain, castles, dungeons etc. to hold and defend. But I really agree with Rendelven, that unless there are some hefty rewards in comparison with what they get from the other gameplay, I don't think the players will bother with it for very long. Our players mine mainly because there is a legendary weapon hidden in the middle of a maze somewhere in the 1000 room mine, guarded by a formidable mob and with a quest to get to the weapon once you passed that guardian. Sure, they pick up the ore and the gemstones on the way too, but what really keeps them mining is the off chance of getting that weapon.
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Cornelius



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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This whole debate concerns me because I am working on just such a system, and what I have come up with is a page right out of Sid Meier's playbook. I will try to be nonspecific in the following tirade in order to generalize the concept. I am also unsure if this is the best place to put this because although it addresses a lot of the questions about the whys and hows a player creation system could work it discusses a lot more than that as well... I leave its fate up to the discretion of the moderators.

Let's start by assuming we have a world_terrain littered with 'n' types (lumber, oil, rubber, etc.) of resources in various locations. Now lets assume a player entering this world starts in a city that is in competition with the other cities of the world for nothing less then global domination. A city will want to expand its influence and can do so by several means including: conquest, culture, and economy. Now the aforementioned resources can have the following affects depending on type: (1) they increase wealth (ore = gold), (2) allow new construction types (marble = coliseum), (3) allow new troop types (horses = riders), (4) increase culture value (grapes = wine)

Cities on the world_terrain exert a certain Sphere Of Influence on an area of the terrain, everything within that SOI (resources, armies, etc.) falls under the jurisdiction of the city. Resources can also be farmed outside the SOI and brought in by players or traded with other cities. When a city has the correct resources they can construct an outpost in another part of the world and this outpost would generate a SOI that acts as an extension to the owning city.

The outpost would be vulnerable without protection so it would either have to provide for itself, if it can, or cost money to maintain- the benefits of its location would have to be weighed with the cost of properly defending it. If it is taken over however, the enemy would then have a free outpost, of course its upkeep would fall on its new owners, unless they 'raze' it. Outposts of a certain level may even grow to cities of their own thus expandinding into an empire.

Aside from outposts the city could also build monuments or shrines which do not gather resources but may have other affects within their SOI. These effects may include: adding combat bonuses to friendlyarmies (and maladictions to enemies) within the SOI, restricting other cities from using resources within the SOI, increase the culture value of the city. The effects of culture may range from better items in the city's shops to new troop and warmachine types (if the correct resources are available) to randomly annexing nearby enemy cities of much lower culture ranking.

To exert political influence on its enemies the city may wish to raise a field army. Only armies can: lay siege to, assault, or conquer a city or outpost, attack another army, use war machines (trebuchets, siegetowers, arbalists, etc.). When a city grows into an empire, its original city becomes a capital and cannot be conquered (but can be seiged or assaulted). A seiged city has no SOI and therefore gathers no resources.

Field armies must be lead by a player commander appointed by (and may be) the city magistrate. In the 'field' (wilderness between cities) the size of the army acts as HP to the commander in a new type of combat model, when his army is defeated he will be captured by the enemy commander and his fate determined by one of: deathmatch (one on one commander duel), release (back to his capital), entice (won over to your side if agreed to). While an army is outside the SOI of its home city it will constantly lose morale, this will decrease the armies fighting strength and may result in desertion if left unchecked. Thus adding another dimension to the placement of outposts and monuments.
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Kjartan



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Molly O'Hara wrote:
If so, we have something along these lines in my mud. It's not a dungeon, but a mine, 1000 prewritten but unconnected rooms, in 8 different levels, filled with monsters and treasures and metal ore. The players connect the rooms by digging in different directions, which load the rooms randomly and create a sort of maze. The more they dig, the bigger the mine gets.

That is a really neat idea. I might use that myself. Something like that also would work well with dynamically generated descriptions.
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