[MUD-Dev] Playing catch-up with levels

Craig Huber huberc at frontiernet.net
Wed Apr 21 20:46:49 CEST 2004

First, my thanks to everyone for your replies... they were all very
much appreciated.  While I could easily respond with a novella to
each of them, I am going to try to keep a tight hand on the reins so
as not to clutter up everyone's mailbox with my disjointed
ramblings.  So, if I don't happen to respond to yours, simply assume
it was because I either covered any response in a preceding reply,
or simply had nothing even remotely intelligent to add. :-)

On Tuesday, April 20, 2004 10:37 PM, Byron Ellacott wrote...

>> My question is, why does the vast majority keep circling back to
>> the class/level/hp paradigm in spite of the aforementioned
>> obstacles?  Is it a case of "Better the devil you know..."?  Is
>> there a sense that there are no other titles/paradigms that have
>> merit?  Is there evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that D+D's
>> hallmarks of narrowly defined roles and geometric (if not
>> exponential) power growth are "what the typical player wants"?

> I think the answer is a combination of all three.

> Given the cost of developing a large scale MMO, you want to be
> fairly sure that there'll be an audience for it, and the best way
> to be sure of an audience is "Like that game, but better!"  So, if
> that game has levels and power progression, so do you.  But
> better.

> Further, the level progression is rewarding player achievement
> with increased power (levels, skills, more health, etc).  It seems
> fairly obvious to me that you must reward achievement in some way,
> so an alternate paradigm would need to find a replacement reward.
> To me, ideas for rewards other than increased power are where the
> interesting discussion here will lie.

To be honest, I keep thinking there has to be more to it than just
those few reasons I threw out above... that I am overlooking
something that is just incredibly obvious to the rest of the world,
and that I am utterly blinded to by my particular experiences and

For my part, I agree that other reward mechanisms unrelated to "raw
power" are one interesting avenue of
exploration... relationships/contacts, to pick an example with some
previously explored permutations (EQ, Sims).

I also think alternative paradigms for increased power could have
some merit.  That was my intent in mentioning games like Traveller
and RuneQuest.  While neither they, nor any other pen-and-paper
title, were designed with the specific capabilities and challenges
of the MMO (or MUD, for that matter) environment in mind any more
than D+D was, I believe they may offer some insights into
alternative mechanics that have yet to be fully explored (in my
opinion, of course).

> And finally, to decide what the typical player wants, we should
> decide what a typical player is.  In the MMO audience, the typical
> player is one who is comfortable with one or more of the big hit
> MMOs of the past.  And all of those MMOs, to my knowledge, have
> had power rewards for achievement.  Your typical player, if you're
> marketing to that audience, is therefore one who likes and
> presumably wants power rewards for achievement.

I guess the question begging to be answered is "how many people are
out there who are not (or are no longer) comfortable/satisfied with
the big hit MMOs of the past?"  For my part, I can only safely
proclaim a count of exactly 1 (me), with anecdotal evidence for 5 or
6 more in my circle of friends, based on an accelerating cycle of
abandonment...  for example, UO and EQ lasted nearly a year, AC and
DAoC each lasted 6, AO weathered about 4, and SB, SW:G, and Horizons
each squeaked out an average longevity of only about 3 months.  Some
of us are too lazy/conflicted to cancel our accounts promptly, I
admit, but in terms of "frequently logging in to play"... the above
are "dead" to us.

Some of that accelerated attrition might simply be due to the
rapidly growing number of alternative titles, of course... but given
the frequency of comments along the lines of "I don't know, it
looked promising, it just isn't grabbing me like I thought it
would/like it used to", I would be inclined to suggest alternative
causes/issues might be more to blame.  In relation to me and "mine",
defining and addressing those causes is the challenge yet to be met.


Again, to all, my thanks...

MUD-Dev mailing list
MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

More information about the mud-dev-archive mailing list