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Old 05-27-2005, 01:07 AM   #21
Ilkidarios
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 26 2005,14:27)
Fundamentally, I don't want to be playing a game that was designed to cater to people with far greater amounts of free time than I have if the only way to advance is to spend those huge amounts of free time. That's too expensive for me, and I don't like the elitism created by it.

--matt
That's essentially the way I feel about pay-to-advance MUDs.  People with more money sitting around than me can advance light-years ahead of me, meanwhile me and the rest of the people who don't have all the cash to pay for the really good stuff are left behind.  It essentially creates its own type of elitism, not with free time, but with the amount of money someone has.
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Old 05-27-2005, 01:30 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ilkidarios @ May 27 2005,01:07)
Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 26 2005,14:27)
Fundamentally, I don't want to be playing a game that was designed to cater to people with far greater amounts of free time than I have if the only way to advance is to spend those huge amounts of free time. That's too expensive for me, and I don't like the elitism created by it.

--matt
That's essentially the way I feel about pay-to-advance MUDs. People with more money sitting around than me can advance light-years ahead of me, meanwhile me and the rest of the people who don't have all the cash to pay for the really good stuff are left behind. It essentially creates its own type of elitism, not with free time, but with the amount of money someone has.
I just wanted to mention here,

That's what this discussion is all about. If you haven't yet, make sure you read all the posts. The topic of keeping it fair for players has been discussed by me at length in a few posts.

Basically, I understand your position 100% -- I've been there on several games. However, I never considered it from the opposite perspective, as Matt has given. I can honestly say that if I was in the other person's shoes, I would probably feel just as left behind by people who had tons of free time.

The idea is to try and come up with something that will give everyone a chance, however that's not entirely possible. We can't control a player's playing time or income, so in reality, if someone has neither the time to play, nor the money to pay, they are going to be left behind. At that time though, I honestly think that there's probably more important things going on than a getting on a game. The opposite of that person, the ones who have both time and money, those are the ones who pose the biggest threat to a system like this. They're the ones who can play both sides of the fence, and that's where I feel exceptions need to be made to limit things.

There have been many other revenue schemes that I've seen in the past for MUDs. I've seen advertisements, both in and out of game. I've seen "moral donation" systems, where the idea is just that if you like the game, you'll donate. I've also seen MUDs that tie in with other things that can make revenue, keeping the MUD free. All of these systems rely on either an honor system, or the success of one thing or another. The MUD is never independant, and thus it's far too easy to lose enough revenue to force the place to close down, or cease updates and fire staff.

Advertisments are not reliable. The income from ads isn't much usually, and most agencies that buy ad space require click-through's for the real profit, not just impressioins. The ones who offer profit for impressions usually offer it at such a low rate that it's almost not worth it. Further, depending on where you put your ads, users may use blocking software that may or may not screw up your impressions, and would most definately prevent a potential click-through.

Honor-bound donation systems were a great thing when a MUD was small, and the playerbase faithful. Let's face it though, the majority of the people playing free MUDs either can't afford pay to play ones, or rarely think twice about clicking "donate". Added to the fact that the donations often don't add up to the overall cost of operation, this system is again unreliable. It's nice to offer, just so you can get some assistance and still keep your MUD free, but if you plan on trying to do anything - like hire professionals or expand your operations later - it falls way too short.

MUDs that use alternate means of revenue, such as selling T-Shirts, or even comic books and such that go on about the story line usually only last as long as the fad surrounding its products lasts. It costs money to put out those items, and unless you keep new products rolling out every so often, your sales may stagnate to the point where you're making no money. Perhaps you're actually putting out products in real life stores? That works well until, as I said, the fad dies down. If you can't keep new products rolling, or if people lose interest, the MUD will fall with the rest of the company (or choose a different means of revenue).

This brings us to what we're discussing here. By charging the people who play your game, for either access or perks, means the MUD is supporting itself. As long as the playerbase stays interested (and the perks stay interesting), you'll have revenue. If your playerbase leaves you, well then I think it's time to pack it up, or come out with something new and correct your previous errors.

That's all from me for now. Please remember that this discussion is about when "free" just isn't possible. It's not really an option unless you have the funds to throw away, when you want to professionally develop a MUD.
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Old 05-27-2005, 01:33 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Ilkidarios @ May 27 2005,01:07)
People with more money sitting around than me can advance light-years ahead of me, meanwhile me and the rest of the people who don't have all the cash to pay for the really good stuff are left behind. It essentially creates its own type of elitism, not with free time, but with the amount of money someone has.
Why do you assume "more money" means they will fly past you?

What if the whole idea was that tons of free time or tons of free money were both ways to get ahead?
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:46 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 26 2005,14:19)


I, for instance, quit playing Worlds of Warcraft precisely because of this. I don't look at monster bashing games as a competitive enterprise (what does it matter to me what level someone else is?), but I objected to playing a game that was clearly designed to be oriented towards people with large amounts of free time. No job, no family, no friends? Great! You get to progress faster.
I had read an  article on Slate that said that Wow had come up with a scheme to level the playing field for people who couldn't spend as much time as others on the game. Essentially, you get a boost of experience gain if you have been logged off for a period of time.

Do they not have this feature or is it a sincere, but ultimately vain attempt to level things a little?
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:54 AM   #25
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I had read an article on Slate that said that Wow had come up with a scheme to level the playing field for people who couldn't spend as much time as others on the game. Essentially, you get a boost of experience gain if you have been logged off for a period of time.

Do they not have this feature or is it a sincere, but ultimately vain attempt to level things a little?
Yes you get a little boost in the exp gain. Lets say you been off for a whole week doing RL job or similar, you will then have a boost in exp for approximately the next level you work to get. So it will give you almost double exp for a whole level... not sure if thats really correct, but it works something like that.
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Old 05-27-2005, 04:03 AM   #26
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Even though some of you may be EQ haters, EQ2 has also offered this for a long while now. Honestly, as a hard-core gamer, I found that it leveled it too much.

Basically, on EQ2, they have a percent of vitality. While you have vitality, you gain double experience. I forget the exact, but basically you gain so much vitality a day, not just when logged off. If you spend a lot of time grinding experience, your vitallity will never really add up. However, if you logged off for a period of a day or two, you'd quickly find that you have about half a level of double experience. For me, since my girlfriend played most of the time, I would log on with 100% vitality. When I would play, I would play for hours, sometimes gaining two levels in that night. My vitality never dropped below 70, and even in the new level, it showed the vitality bonus going on until my next level.

I suppose it does make things more equal, however this, combined with the mentoring system (which gives you an exp bonus for every high level that mentors you), you can easily combine things to make massive power-level sessions. My level 20 wood elf swashbuckler can attest to that.
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Old 05-27-2005, 07:25 AM   #27
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Obviously it depends on your perspective; different strokes for different folks. My personal view is that the mud is a game, and advancement should reflect your efforts within that game, much like in any other contest or test of ability.

Allowing players to purchase their advancement is, for me, comparible with a martial arts club that allows people to buy sashes instead of earning them, or a University that allows students to buy reference books that can be used during the exam, or a marathon where people are allowed to buy taxi-rides along the way. True, someone who works full-time isn't going to be able to spend as much time learning kung-fu as someone who is unemployed, nor will they have as much time to study as a full-time student, or as much time to keep fit as a professional runner. But for me, it undermines the whole purpose of those exercises. Of course I'm sure there are people who would be more than happy to buy a degree or a black-sash, but as I said, different strokes for different folks.

IMO the worst form of pay-for-perks is the one in which money is the only realistic way to earn certain competitive edges. At this extreme, cash becomes more valuable than time, and the more cash you spend the better you're going to be.

Somewhat less offensive would be a pay-for-perks where time is just as valuable as money. This breaks down if it doesn't handle players who have both, of course, but you could get around that (for example, only allowing the players to purchase the equivilent of X hours playing time each day, where X is the difference between how much time they actually played and how much time a 'serious' player could put in).

The least offensive pay-for-perks model in my eyes would be a method where cash could be used to compensate for lost time. For example, a 'super-exp mode' which allowed you to earn double exp for X hours (once again where X is the difference between how much time you'd actually played and how much time a 'serious' player could have put in). This method would prevent people from simply 'buying' their advancement, as they'd still have to earn exp just like everyone else, but it would still allow them to catch up with those who had put in a lot more hours.

You've mentioned time and money, but there is also a third major factor (unless the game is poorly designed), and that's player skill. The first pay-for-perks model I outlined makes money more valuable than skill, and I think that's the part I really dislike the most. The second pay-for-perks model I outlined allows you to progress without the need for skill. But the third model only replaces time - you still need exactly the same amount of skill to play, it just lets you get there faster.

So rather than just talking about money vs time, I think you also need to decide what sort of role player skill is going to take.
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Old 05-27-2005, 08:49 AM   #28
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As I said in my post, we've tried to make it so skill can beat bought perks and those who have done something like spending a lot of time getting their levels up.

I actually forgot about WoW's system of having experience bonuses after being logged off, I remember reading about that a while back. I liked the idea of that at the time, as I've always felt their strength was the the ability to allow casual gamers to play happily alongside powergamers.

This is something I really appreciate these days because I'm so busy at work and working on Lusternia. In the past I would spend hours playing RPGs like Baldur's Gate and more recently things like Fable, but I just don't have the time anymore and when I've dealt with a stressful situation at work or while being an admin I just want to wind down, so I'll shove Halo 2 in my xbox and blast away.

I do think casual gamers should be able to have a great time on games, but at the same time I don't think hardcore gamers should be punished in any way for putting a lot of effort into the game. It's all a question of getting the balance right between your players that play 6 hours a week and your players that play 40 hours a week. We have plenty of both.
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Old 05-27-2005, 02:34 PM   #29
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I think in any MUD worth charging for, player skill should be playing a major role. The one reason I completely dislike the "EQ-Ebay" thing is because I've played with people who buy their way through the game. They don't know the game, and because of how EQ is set up, they can get away with it. Even if you don't buy a ready-made level 70, 700AA point, Anguish/DoN geared toon... you can still pay for platinum (in-game money), and pretty much "twink" your character out with some of the more rare, but very valuable items that don't discriminate based on level.

You can then pay people with in-game money to "power-level" you. In short, by the time you arrive to level 70, the only skill you have is how to hide behind the Druid that's power-levelling your rear, and how to click "Buy It Now" on your favorite game-item buying service.

I really do think that player-skill is what makes some pay-to-advance schemes work. It doesn't matter how much money you spend on your character, that won't teach you how to play it well. In a good system though, this can't be the only check and balance. Hence why we've discussed limitations, and why I still feel some sort of playtime-based limitation is a valid solution. Also, in considering a more binary way of doing this, you're completely removing the chance of someone without money enough to pay from keeping up. Yes, this means the playing field is more level, when you consider that everyone who's over XX level is a paying subscriber, however it removes the choice that I'd like customers to have.

This brings back the idea of going with something that can adapt to the situation. KaVir's exp-bonus idea is a great idea actually, as it's a perk, but you can't do anything with it without playing the game. Yes, someone will advance more quickly while using it, but only for a period of time nearly equal with that player's offline time.
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:18 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (KaVir @ May 27 2005,07:25)
Allowing players to purchase their advancement is, for me, comparible with a martial arts club that allows people to buy sashes instead of earning them, or a University that allows students to buy reference books that can be used during the exam, or a marathon where people are allowed to buy taxi-rides along the way.  True, someone who works full-time isn't going to be able to spend as much time learning kung-fu as someone who is unemployed, nor will they have as much time to study as a full-time student, or as much time to keep fit as a professional runner.
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Allowing players to purchase their advancement is, for me, comparible with a martial arts club that allows people to buy sashes instead of earning them, or a University that allows students to buy reference books that can be used during the exam, or a marathon where people are allowed to buy taxi-rides along the way.
A more comparable example would be going to your local amusement park, going in, and then being charged for individual rides. Is that somehow "unfair?" You seem to be looking at MUDs as inherently competitive experiences. They are competitive for some people. They are not competitive for others. These are entertainment experiences for most people, not a way to validate yourself .

In terms of competitive activities, what about all the money Lance Armstrong spends trying to gain an edge via superior equipment. Is that unfair? Does that diminish his achievement? How about Valentino Rossi (best motorcycle racer ever)? His team spends tens of millions trying to eek out an extra half a horsepower for his bike. Is that unfair? How about pro sports? Why do you think the Yankees do so well? It's cause they can and do spend more money than small market teams.

Now, you might argue that none of the above is fair. That's fine. I'd argue that people generally don't care. In nearly EVERY professional competitive endeavour, people buy advantages, and hundreds of millions of fans the world around tune in with bated breath anyway. That, to me, says that this mythical 'fairness' is a chimera, which I believe is only of concern to a narrow segment of the population.

Besides, unless you completely eliminate all asymmetrical item trading, you cannot stop people from obtaining things using out-of-game resources, like friends. I don't know any sane developers that want to tell people, "You can't get help from your friends." Why should those who are friends OR free time rich have an advantage over those who are money rich? I see literally no fundamental difference between your rl friend helping you out and your rl bank account helping you out.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't care what kind of business model people put in games. I don't care if they charge blondes double and let wheel-chair bound parapalegics with Hispanic surnames use a Sword of UberLeetness on full moon nights. I don't actually understand anyone getting upset about any of it, since you can just not play the game. I don't play games that require character apps, for instance, as that's my personal preference, but I wouldn't call it "offensive" to ask for character apps.

--matt
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:21 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by (pwyll @ May 27 2005,03:46)
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Originally Posted by (the_logos @ May 26 2005,14:19)


I, for instance, quit playing Worlds of Warcraft precisely because of this. I don't look at monster bashing games as a competitive enterprise (what does it matter to me what level someone else is?), but I objected to playing a game that was clearly designed to be oriented towards people with large amounts of free time. No job, no family, no friends? Great! You get to progress faster.
I had read an  article on Slate that said that Wow had come up with a scheme to level the playing field for people who couldn't spend as much time as others on the game. Essentially, you get a boost of experience gain if you have been logged off for a period of time.

Do they not have this feature or is it a sincere, but ultimately vain attempt to level things a little?
Typical ignorant, sloppy games journalism. What is it about games that makes writers feel like they can write about them without having a clue.

Yes, WoW has that kind of system, as Brody pointed out. But is it particularly effective? Not really. Does it "level the playing field?" I'm not even sure what that means, but I'm thinking not. The bonus you get is nice, but you really have to play infrequently to get that bonus, and there's no way that said bonus would actually allow you to have a prayer of keeping up with your frequently-playing friends.
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Old 05-27-2005, 03:40 PM   #32
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I've found that the WoW experience bonus (which accrues during the time a specific character is left unplayed and kept in a tavern or large city) actually encourages and, in some ways, rewards people to keep on playing more - particularly with alts. I know that's what I've done. I have two or three characters. I cycle between them and usually have one that's got at least a full level of double-XP waiting to be earned.

You still have to spend time either questing or grinding to level. But, in this way, you're still able to benefit from having a lot of time to invest in the game without suffering any real penalty. WoW doesn't really reward you for *not* playing.
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Old 05-27-2005, 07:24 PM   #33
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A more comparable example would be going to your local amusement park, going in, and then being charged for individual rides.
No, that's not comparible. Amusement park rides are not competitive activities. A mud with strong gameplay aspects (particularly those of a PvP nature) are competitive activities. Some people might not care about those competitive aspects, but the same is also true of running a race or earning martial arts grades - some people just do them for fun, but for many others it's a competitive activity, and allowing people to buy their progress will reduce the value of skill.

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How about Valentino Rossi (best motorcycle racer ever)? His team spends tens of millions trying to eek out an extra half a horsepower for his bike. Is that unfair?
If he raced against people who had no budget, yes, that would be unfair. If he entered races where all the other contestants were hobby motorcycle racers, do you think the other contestants would consider his races fairly won through skill? Or do you think they'd feel that his tens-of-millions-budget had bought him an advantage they couldn't compete against?

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Besides, unless you completely eliminate all asymmetrical item trading, you cannot stop people from obtaining things using out-of-game resources, like friends.
You can stop them obtaining most things though, and there are many ways to restrict players from taking advantage of overpowered items that they've received from friends - plus, such equipment is always going to be something that is available to other players as well, while I was specifically referring to muds where "money is the only realistic way to earn certain competitive edges" (in other words, equipment which only money can buy). However a mud which cannot stop people from becoming overly powerful through shared equipment has a serious design flaw - and even if they want to sell super-equipment, a flaw like this is going to make a hole in their profits, as players can simply get nearly as good gear from their powerful friends.

But internal character advancement (as opposed to things like equipment) is another thing entirely. I don't know of any muds which allow players to give their friends levels, exp or skill-boosts - yet many pay-for-perks muds allow precisely these sort of things. It is one thing to argue that players with insufficient time should be able to compensate for it with money, but when players can purchase advancement outright like this you're also allowing money to replace playing skill.

I've no plans to run any sort of payment model in God Wars II, but I am working on a number of completely player-skill-based advancement options. Much like the typical pay-for-perks approach, except that money is replaced with skill, this 'play-for-perks' model allows skilled players to progress faster than grinders, and also unlocks options for skilled players which no amount of pure grinding can achieve. If someone has something you can't get, you can't blame it on them having more time or money than you, only on being a better player.
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Old 05-28-2005, 04:45 AM   #34
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The last few posts have sort of missed the point I think.

To say that someone who pays for a perk in a game has an advantage over other players isn't really true. Each player has the option to also pay for the same perks. The issue comes in with how much can a player afford, and if a player wants to pay or not. I really can't help it if a player doesn't want to pay for any perks, especially if they go into the MUD knowing it's got a pay-for-perk scheme. For me, that's one thing I'm going to make known right at the start. Even so, it boils down to "why play?" if you're unhappy with how the game is run.

No one has an obligation to provide a free MUD. The only restraints on you are with code licenses, and with any agreements you have with your host. Now when talking about the intention of making a system that's somewhat fair all around, as it's been said several times in this thread - that's just not going to happen. Someone isn't going to like it no matter what you do. I also think the predictions are right - that this sort of pay-for-stuff view on online games is going to be the hottest thing on the market, if it isn't already.

Anywho, back to being fair, and all the sports analogies...

If the athletes all had the same spending cap, then honestly it would be fair. Especially in a sports example, because an athlete's skill is what lands them sponsers, and sponsers help increase the budget toward making the athlete better. At some point, it all boils down to sheer skill. I also point out that there's skill in getting the most out of the money one can spend, and that the best gear doesn't make you the best. Put my grandmother in a NASCAR stock car and she's not going to win the Daytona 500. She's probably not even going to drive over 50mph, if that. Why? Because she's not a skilled racecar driver.

As I said before, it doesn't matter how many levels you get, what kind of gear you have, or anything. Eventually it'll come down to skill, and those who have not evenly paid and played won't have any. At that point, who is at the advantage? The person who slugged it out for longer to reach the top level and get the good gear, or the person who just started the game a week ago, and is a thousand dollars poorer?
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Old 05-28-2005, 09:21 AM   #35
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Ok... lets try this again. Hopefully firefox won't crash before I submit it this time.

I personally prefer the PFP system over PTP. I've been a long time IRE player, and now code for Lusternia. Over the years I have made characters on 3 out of 4 of their games, and some I spent money on, some I haven't. Regardless of the money, I enjoyed all of them, and all of them raised to about the same level. My last mortal actually rose in levels and skills(just looking at the things you could buy, not RP related things) farther than any other, and I spent FAR less RL money on that one than on any other.

Another advantage I see, mainly from a business side, is someone(like I did) may play for months and not want to spent money(or have it). Months later, they may decide to spent some, but if you were on a PTP mud they may have left after the free time period was up, and you as a business never would have gotten that sale.

On a side note, Lusternia's highest level character, and has almost all her skills maxed out, has done it all IG without spending RL money. For players, expecially younger ones who can't afford to pay, seeing things like that really makes them want to continue playing. As I stated above, those people may later decide to spend money, which is ofcourse the goal for commercial muds.
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Old 05-28-2005, 09:46 AM   #36
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To say that someone who pays for a perk in a game has an advantage over other players isn't really true.
Of course it is - otherwise there would be no reason for them to buy the perks.

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Each player has the option to also pay for the same perks.
Only if they have the money. And the point is that only by paying can they alleviate that advantage. This could start a form of arms race which could become far more expensive than any pay-to-play mud.

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The issue comes in with how much can a player afford, and if a player wants to pay or not. I really can't help it if a player doesn't want to pay for any perks, especially if they go into the MUD knowing it's got a pay-for-perk scheme. For me, that's one thing I'm going to make known right at the start. Even so, it boils down to "why play?" if you're unhappy with how the game is run.
Well fair enough, as long as the players know in advance what they're letting themselves in for I don't think anyone would complain.

However you started this thread asking what people thought of pay-to-play vs pay-for-perks, and it's from that perspective that I'm explaining my opinion. Of course you can run your mud any way you please, but personally I wouldn't play a mud that allowed people to overcome my skill with their wallet.

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If the athletes all had the same spending cap, then honestly it would be fair.
Indeed it would, and that would be the equivilent of a pay-to-play mud which had a fixed cost. However what I'm talking about here is the pay-for-perks model, where the more you spend the better you become.

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Put my grandmother in a NASCAR stock car and she's not going to win the Daytona 500.
No, but put her against a marathon runner who's on foot and she's going to win. Do you think the athlete would enjoy competing against her? Do you think he'd congratulate her on her skill?

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Eventually it'll come down to skill, and those who have not evenly paid and played won't have any.
You're mixing up money with playing skill - they're not related. With most pay-for-perks models money provides an extra boost against those relying on skill, but it's not an indicator of skill in its own right. Someone who relies almost entirely on money is obviously going to be far less skilled than the person who relies purely on skill, but that money is going to allow them to offset or overcome that lack of skill (just like your grandmother when drives past the professional runner in her car).

As I said before, you need to decide what role you want skill to play. I'm not judging you, just giving the suggestions you asked for - what sort of role do you want money to play in relation to time and skill? Should money be the primary factor, allowing newbies to overcome even the most skilled of players if they pay enough? Or should money and playing skill be of approximately equal value? Or should money just give a small edge, only allowing you to defeat those who are slightly more skilled than you? Or should money not affect skill at all, only allowing people to compensate for time?
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Old 05-28-2005, 12:38 PM   #37
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I suppose what I'm trying to go for here is like pay-for-perk, but not really. What I mean is, in a pay-to-play, if you don't pay for a month, you don't play for the month. You could say that this is just like pay-for-perk, seeing as the player who didn't pay that month is going to be left behind by about a month. I'm trying to figure a system that's like this, but instead of not being able to play for a month, you're just not going to be able to take full advantage of certain things for that month. This way, you're far less behind than if you didn't play at all.

That's where I'm going. I totally agree that MUDs who claim to be free, and then have a pay-for-perk system with little restraint on how much someone can buy, leads to an unfair game where the wallet eventually out-weighs skill. However, what would a system be called if it was based on what I said above? Pay for Perky Play?

Any thoughts on this? I mean, I'd consider a MUD where you could pay up to $12.95/mo and get some sort of in-game thing that represents your payment. That "thing" could be applied toward what you want it to be applied to. You could choose to boost a few skills, to better some stats, buy a piece of gear, or maybe convert it to in-game money. Maybe even enable a "perk", like the exp-bonus that was explained here. Once you've spent it all, that's it. There's some skill in deciding where to put those things, but I admit that's a weak argument. I suppose what I'm doing is just taking a different view though. It still seems like a PFP system, only twisted around to seem more fair, though I guess it just depends on the way you run your MUD and the way you hold it in perspective.
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Old 05-28-2005, 01:22 PM   #38
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I think I missed where anything in the world is fair, personally. You get out of things what you put into them.

The comparison between payment models and kung fu for me would be similar to being plugged into the matrix and having the skill 'uploaded'. Someone who has trained it up slowly and is more used to it will definately be better, thats for sure.

I know kung fu... whoa..

Another bonus of pay for perks systems is that there is hardly ever a level playing field in muds unless you are a founding player of the mud. Everyone who has been there before you has more experience, more time to gain items and levels, more political power, etc. This is another thing that I personally find frustrating, mainly as being someone who is more than a 9-5er I cannot compete with the oft unemployed hardcore mudders of any non pay-for-perks realm I want to play.

Even if I do get on on day one, I'm doomed to fall behind in fairly short order.

-H
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Old 05-28-2005, 06:42 PM   #39
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I'm trying to figure a system that's like this, but instead of not being able to play for a month, you're just not going to be able to take full advantage of certain things for that month ... Any thoughts on this?
Similar to the approach Traithe is taking for his new game then? That could work, although as I've said before, my personal reference (as it's opinions you're asking for) would be something that didn't replace (or remove the need for) player skill. Examples might include unlocking extra character options (giving pay-to-play people more variety rather than more power), out-of-game bonuses (email forwarding, additional character slots, custom client, etc), or even allowing them to advance faster (requiring less playing time, but just as much playing skill).
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Old 05-29-2005, 07:38 PM   #40
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While I wish only success for Traithe and others who hope to positively modify the pay-for-play systems, I'm not sure how any implementation where payment affects access to any subsystem of the game or metagame can effectively solve the fundamental disadvantages of PFP.

If you give a player access to a race other than human, then that means they have access to any power that makes the race distinguishable from humans. You might as well allow them to purchase a weapon they could not otherwise obtain. If there is no advantage to playing that race over playing a human, then the system is unfortunately more pay-for-cognitive-dissonance than pay-for-play.

There may be an even greater impact on gameplay if players must pay to access a particular zone of the game, unless there is no way to transfer the rewards of that zone back to the free areas. If the latter is true, then once more the net value added is zero -- or less, since the paying player will feel they've been wasting their time.

Suppose you only offered one service: players can store an extra description of their character that only they can view, and only when offline. The only thing that makes this service worth paying for is that it takes slightly less time to store the description there then putting it on a person website or saving it as a Word document. How can this possibly affect the gameplay of other players? Well, as the logos said, time is a resource, and one that we all know has an affect on gameplay. Even one second taken out of your day is one second less to plan out one's gameplay actions, whether you do that planning in the game or out of the game.

There is little point in trying to distinguish between game and metagame. If they can be effectively separated, then at least one of them is not worth considering in the first place.
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