[MUD-Dev] Do players enjoy farming? (was MUD-Dev Digest, Vol 7, Issue9)

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Jan 9 10:23:29 CET 2004

Paul Schwanz writes:
> Rayzam wrote:
>> From: "Paul Schwanz" <pschwanz at comcast.net>

>>> I'm still not sure why we have it in for camping when players so
>>> obviously like to camp.  Or why we have it in for farming when
>>> players seem to prefer to farm.  Why don't these facts cause us
>>> instead to come up with better ways to help players enjoy
>>> camping and farming?

>> Because I think it's an issue where it's not enjoyed, but felt as
>> necessary. Some enjoy the control of a resource, ie, owning or
>> controlling the camp. But standing in the same place until a
>> monster arrives, and with random drops, killing the same monster
>> many times to get the 1 item you want from it? That's not
>> enjoyable to most.

> When I talk about camping and farming, I'm referring to *any*
> low-risk activity that produces predictable gains, not just the
> normal paradigm for camping and farming monster spawns.  I think
> players like these sorts of activities much more than what we
> typically attribute to them.  They aren't always the adrenalin
> junkies that we make them out to be.  The problem, as I see it, is
> that monster-bashing is typically the only real route to success,
> both for those who are looking for an adrenalin high as well as
> for those who are looking for a low-risk, low -committment, highly
> controlled activity.

> So why not introduce something like real farming?  Those who are
> interested in farming-like or even mining-like activities can be
> the major producers of resources in the game.  When you add
> monsters to this mix, you can get something very interesting.  The
> farmers don't want to be killed.  That's not really their game.
> However, the monsters have a nasty habit of ruining their crops,
> killing their sheep, or otherwise making a nuisance of themselves.
> So, the farmers hire monster killers (those who like high-risk
> activities) to help keep the nuisance to a minimum.  Or maybe they
> hire builders to construct a better wall around their property.

Barrier alert.

You get an interesting result, but only for the monster killers.
The farmers and miners receive the hassle that you didn't want for
yourself.  I think that you're mixing different types of
entertainment for the farmers and miners.  They want to farm and
mine.  They don't want to have things that oppose their very ability
to farm and mine.

I encountered this sort of thing with Ultima Online.  I wanted to
run a ranger who wandered in the wilderness, living off the land.  I
was perfectly happy to dodge the occasional monster.  And I could do
all that and be entertained by it.  Then the player killers found
me.  And killed me.

At that point, I had the opportunity to hire somebody to protect me.
Or work to be badder and tougher than they were.  I had zero
interest in solving that problem.  The problem wasn't entertaining,
and the solutions didn't hold any promise of being entertaining.

Similarly, I don't believe that farmers want to spend time hiring
people to defend their fields or to constructive defensive
fortifications to protect them.  Although only a story, "The Seven
Samurai" is the very scenario that you talk about.  Notice that the
portrayal of the farmers is that as soon as they can, they get back
to farming.  They don't want to be hiring samurai, fighting off
raiders or any of that nonsense.  They want to be farming.

> Best of all, you can evoke emotions that are much more in line
> with how monsters should be viewed.  Not as something like corn or
> wheat, but as big, scary, dangerous things that we love to fear
> and love to hate.

> It is a very different approach, but one that makes a lot more
> sense to me than does the current one.

I certainly support the notion that monsters should be less about
balance and more about being an entertaining experience.  In your
terms: "big, scary, dangerous things".  And I also support the
desire to eliminate the classic implementations of farming and
camping.  But I think that you're taking the farming and camping
barriers and moving them to somebody else's experience by having
monsters attacking the folks who want to farm and mine.

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