[MUD-Dev] Elder Games

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Sat Mar 13 23:23:43 CET 1999

On Sat, 13 Mar 1999, Martin C Sweitzer wrote:

> great now we have an N dimmensional game.  And we choose the worst case
> of the guy that has mastered all N dimensions.  He has maxLevel in them
> all.  He is the MAN.

Frankly I'm not concerned with spending my time coming up with ways to
amuse the one-player-in-a-lifetime who manages to master every aspect of a
system as complex as a well-done mud. It's not worth it. Theoretically it
is possible to master chess in this manner, but if I had designed chess, I
would not spend my time worrying about adding complexity to satisfy the
computer or person who manages to master the system.

> Your little quip is that you make the game have so many dimensions that
> no one can master them all or get to a point that they are bored. 
> People will ALWAYS get to that point.  And that is the "elder game".  
> (or they will get to the point where it no longer interesting to "excel
> in the game" they have done all the N dimensions)

> What do you do with the people that have mastered it all?  Or have done
> it all either serially or concurrently.

Well, it hasn't happened in the year and a half that achaea has been
running. It may happen sometime, but I'm not particularly worried. What I
DO worry about is that people aren't interested in mastering everthing
(they aren't). Diminishing returns, from theirpoint of view, sets in after
awhile. The trick is to provide a wide enough variety of things that they
won't ever come close to mastering everything.
> Please do list them.  It would be nice to have a nice list of things
> people have done.  Either for those maxLevel guys or to make their world
> N-dimensional.

The thing to do, briefly, is (as has been discussed here before actaully),
create multiple ladders of achievement. My personal favourite way is to
pit players against each other in various arenas, such as combat,
economics, and politics. Given a sufficiently large player base and
sufficient complexity of these systems (in Achaea right now, only combat
is complex enough that no one has even come close to mastering it). It is
very difficult to code things in, without extremely complicated AI, that
players cannot master. What you have to do is make the object mastering
other players in various ways, as players are far more competent at this
sort of thing than an AI (barring Deep Blue-type AI) is likely to be.

So, for instance, take combat. Good combat is a sport, and just like in
any sport, there is always room for improvement. Even Michael Jordan could
have been better than he was. I'm not going to go into how to make a good
combat system now, but a webzine asked me to write an essay on it and I
will eventually get around to it. I'll post it here if anyone is
interested (apologies to the person who asked me to write it if you are
reading this. I'm a procrastinator by nature.)


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