[MUD-Dev] RE:

marke at mac.com marke at mac.com
Wed Nov 21 19:42:08 CET 2001

On Wednesday, November 21, 2001, at 05:13 AM, 
Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com wrote:
>> From: Mark Eaton [mailto:marke at mac.com]

>>   3) NPCs are completely artificial. The NPC interaction in the
>>   current crop of MMORPGs makes Zork look like true AI. I'd love
>>   to see an NPC that asks for your help in killing a monster, and
>>   then joins your party and accompanies you, acting like any
>>   player would.. fighting, casting spells, healing, etc. On the
>>   flip side, the NPC monsters are just as bad. They're so
>>   completely predictable that players use slang phrases like
>>   'agro management'. Does 'managing' a monster sound just.. wrong
>>   to anyone else? What, other than the simple arithmetic of
>>   bigger stats, is qualitatively different from the biggest
>>   dragon and the smallest drake in your typical MMORPG? In all
>>   the fantasy I've read and table-top games I've played Dragons
>>   are supposed to be super intelligent. You wouldn't know it from
>>   any of the current crop of games.

> There are a few quests where npcs accompany in Everquest (See
> 'Qeynos Badge Quest'). Its not as exciting as you might think I'm
> afraid. I'm beginning to think that quests might just be boring
> full stop.

It wasn't exciting for you, maybe. That doesn't make it
uninteresting for others. Quests don't have to be boring.

(And no, no NPC in Everquest acts the way I describe, joining my
party and acting and reacting to situations in a convincing
manner. Perhaps you should read the quoted paragraph again?)

> As Kwon eludes to in another post, the most interesting content is
> other players. The most fun quests in EQ are the ones where you
> have to bring along 30 guild mates and repell a giant invasion - I
> think the key elements here are scale and _other_people_.

30 person events are dreadfully dull. A bunch of folks sitting
around waiting for something to happen. Confusedly asking when
something will happen, or if something has already happened. Then
when something does happen you're just a cog in a machine,
expendable in the worst sense of the word.

>> The game is supposedly taking the place of the DM in the
>> traditional pen and paper RPG. Unfortunately none are coming even
>> close to this. The two routes I see are to make the game engines
>> better at storytelling or to give players the tools to tell
>> stories. To come around (by the long way) to answering the
>> original question, these games aren't good at letting players
>> 'project their values and morals' into the game because even when
>> they do it goes unobserved by the game. In a table top game the
>> DM would see and reward or punish every player action. MMORPGs
>> today only 'observe' and react to 1 thing: who you kill.

> For fear of rehashing the same old ground for the millionth time,
> I'll just mention Neverwinter Nights is trying the player content
> card. Hope it works as its a brave and interesting move.

I'm looking forward to NWN but it isn't persistent. I'm thinking of
LambdaMOO, where players could create new areas, new items, new

> As for pvp being bad, thats because combat in these games is
> completely unsophisticated. If the balance is moved towards player
> skill as opposed to level then things may start to evolve. We
> covered this a bit a month ago too ;)

You are simply wrong. Structured Player-Player interaction is
uninteresting in the current crop of mainstream MMORPGs because
there is only 1 axis that the games are 'sensitive' to -
healing/damage. The games aren't intelligent enough to reward or
even register anything that isn't simple damage or healing. I'm
generalizing here, I know.

It isn't possible in e.g. Everquest or Dark Age of Camelot to have a
non-combat class. What would be the purpose of a class that had no
means of harming or healing another player? Players can be Merchants
to the extent that they can craft and sell items, but there is no
Merchant class. They have to start a combat class. What exactly
would be the point of a Politician or Diplomat class in one of those

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