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Old 07-09-2002, 04:58 PM   #1
Chapel
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Angry

I feel I am an average builder, some talent here and there. My question is more of a gathering of the general concensus of my fellow builders out there.

(I've recently got the building urge back and am ready to get to work...my old MUD effectively killed off my creativity)

How much do you lead the player? You know hold their hand, find this and do this to get this blah blah blah, and how much do you leave to blind luck?

I always want to build something in that will be found YEARS later, but in my old MUD the immortals were very unscrupulous and I know their characters would end up with those secret items...so how far do you lead? How much do you leave for blind luck?

...
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:34 PM   #2
Mandrake
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Angry

Alas, I must digress from the stated topic slightly, and for that I appologize. Since I am the world administrator that seems to have been winged with a potshot....I would like the latitude of a retort.

Chapel built many areas for us, all of high quality...often very very extensive and well written. The areas were full of interesting material, puzzles, and challenges.

Yes, we had to deal with builders abusing their privledges to "snoop" places...and then use the ill=gotten information for their mortal characters. We ended up completely locking out existing areas from our building domain. But not before granting special security and levels to Chapel so his personal projects could not be looked apon by the rest of the workers...and so that he could remain invisable and not have to answer questions from newbie builders.

The biggest problem of scrupels was the fact that I'd often find "very powerful" weapons, and items in his areas that were tailored to be used by certain classes only.....always the classes of the mortals that he was currently playing.

Areas that leave fate up to luck are fine, they have their place, but in my opinion, the best areas give some guidance...they lead players (linear or otherwise) by presenting them with a story or challenge. Directly akin to that is the fact that the world itself...as a collection of areas...should lead players somewhat by offering a continuous background that meshes together. This background will also lead players by allowing certain things, and not allowing others (like the proverbial super-duper-sword-of insta-kill). thus as the world admin, I require that builders include some elements in their areas....and prohibit other things. Thus, I lead builders. In some cases, you lead a builder....you "ask" that they limit their areas to fit the world....if they repeatedly can not follow those instructions, you lead them to the door.

Right Chap?
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:42 PM   #3
Chapel
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Angry

Actually, Mandrake...you've placed your foot in your mouth...how does it taste?


If you think on my characters.... Ogre Necromancer, Elven Thief.

The items I made were ALWAYS purposely against my characters just so people could not say I built for myself. In fact the "powerful" items I made were always against the stronger players in the game to give a chance to the weaker.

Before you try and do the dirty work of a certain puppy, please be sure to do your research. You and Moeve personally checked my areas...or should have...anything that you didn't like should have been flagged.

Now...need salt for that foot sweety?

...
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:51 PM   #4
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No sir,
I know my facts, and have kept my records well.
But thank you.
~Mandrake
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Old 07-09-2002, 05:55 PM   #5
Chapel
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Angry

Then your records should know you spewed nonsense. Double check. In fact I did try to show some measure of tact by not mentioning the name of the MUD or the names of the people involved...but I suppose when fleas are present the dogs will bark no?

Perhaps you guys should clean up your act just a bit.

...
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Old 07-09-2002, 06:47 PM   #6
Neranz Laverani
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Please refrain from turning this thread into an argument.


I came to mudding from gaming. When I got into building, I found the lack of ability to direct players frustrating. When you GM, you built stories, you knew the general plotline, you were with the players while they were playing it. You could direct and change the story to make sure that the players eventually ended up at the climax. (Even if the names and places were changed to protect the innocent.)

Mudding is very different because there is not as much interaction with the builders and the players. To get the same effect builders would have to be on 24/7 watching all of their areas. This is a physical impossibility.

You cannot lead players in muds; you have to intrigue them and make them want to go where your climaxes are. This is one of the reasons I am a big proponent of planned, fleshed out areas. Luck always needs a nudge.

Neranz Laverani, Seeker of Knowledge
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:19 PM   #7
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I must agree it seemed quite a few darts were amicably tossed in the first posts here but there is a validity to the underlying questions posed that seems valuable to discuss.

Should players be led by the hand to the logical climax of a zone?

To me that's a yes and no, dependent on the target level. Newbie zones need to be rife with obvious clues, open statements in redits, interactive mobs etc. The goal in my mind is to get them familiar with the command usage and world interaction. As the target levels get higher, make them read and search more and more in depth and perhaps make them use their brains more. I find my greatest challenge is the techno-mudder zoomers, those people that level way faster than average by either experience or power leveling and I'm constantly striving to outthink and outsmart them.

Builders sniff out clues and inform mortals of secrets or use their own mortal to abuse the secrets.

This one is a real toughie I know all of us have to deal with. The ability to review an existing zone or mob is a valuable teaching tool, a wide range of building commands at low level is pretty much mandatory too. I suppose many would say don’t let a builder have a mortal, but that’s counterproductive to them actually enjoying themselves at times and maintaining a good “flavor” of how the world is actually played. We have instituted “active” which are mortal accessed zones versus “in progress” which aren’t mortal active. No unproven or untrusted builder may modify these zones and mapping in them is mosty forbidden. Locations of builders and syslog display of loading objects or mobs is always available. We do have the luxury of almost 24/7 oversight on both builder and player ports and all are warned up front that information gained as immortal may not be used as mortal. It seems to work most of the time.
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Old 07-09-2002, 09:49 PM   #8
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Arrow

I agree with Iluvatar. Its more dependent on the target level ranges. Higher level players I try to add unexpected twists to throw a powerleveler for a loop.
Lower level areas I tend to leave more obvious clues to help them find their way.
Right now I am creating a high level area with a lot of twists and unexpected progs (we use ROT codebase)
Another consideration when building is the type of area, is it a quest area or a regular gameplay area.
Quest areas I think should make the player think and seek out what is not easily seen. Then the level range comes into play.

Well I am starting to ramble,
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Old 07-09-2002, 11:49 PM   #9
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Ok...
my building experience is quite limited. In fact, I have built only one area which has never been put in a mud because I don't have the coding know-how needed to complete the area. So i would like to offer some input on the topic from the view point of a player.
I have been mudding for slightly over a year now, and have discovered FEW secrets on the MUD I play, most of which have been discovered on accident by pure chance. When I explore high level areas, I read every description of every room and mob, trying to see if there might be a cool secret. Never find 'em. Since i am quite thorough, I have a feeling that these areas were designed to find secrets by chance. Personally, I despise those types of secrets in any area that has a theme.
i.e. We are in evil lord's base, looking for secrets. the only secrets are hidden exits which can only be found by luck.
BORING! Wouldn't it be so much cooler if you could follow clues from room descriptions that would lead you to find this awesome secret that you actually worked at finding! On the other hand, a wilderness area might hold a secret that does not have any clues leading to it, maybe just one room description in the room which leads to the secret area. make any sense?
I would also like to broaden the topic of this thread and state that I absolutely HATE mobprogs that are impossible to figure out. There is nothing more frustrating to me than to find a unique, mysterious mob that you just KNOW is holding a secret, and end up searching for hours to find the keyword for the trigger, but to no avail.
I hope this will help you in your future projects, Chapel, though I have a feeling you won't be building on the MUD I play again.

funny how ya like people more after they're gone, huh

~waffle~
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Old 07-10-2002, 12:44 AM   #10
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Rjakagel makes a very very valid point. Areas need depth. But there are two major killers to making this a reality....

1) It is truely rare when you find a builder who can not only write good areas, but build them, program them, and dress them out....meaning...a builder will usually lean towards a few of those items, but not all. For instance, they will be so focused on their "puzzle" or "trick" that the area lacks description or (worse) needed clues...or the solution to the puzzle is "push blue button", and players strugle with "push", "push blue", and "push button" before they get the golden syntax right.

2) The secrets get out. The harder you work to make special area with puzzles and hidden gems, the faster the grapevine passes out the answers to it all. Dynamic areas are a solution that have been mentioned here, but eternal attantion that this demands is unoractice (imho). Deeper areas are better, but trying to stay ahead of the players and the spoilsports is a daunting task.

~Mandrake
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Old 07-10-2002, 03:00 AM   #11
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How much do I lead the player? Not much anymore. I point out things like doors or entrances to people who bother to read the room descriptions, and sometimes I give general hints, but most of the time I leave it up to the curious adventurer to find things past the hints.

I tend to not make a lot of quests in my areas, mostly because I lack imagination, but also because once a few people have gone through my area, the secret is out. And player do talk, at least on the muds I've played and built on. One mud has a special quest players must do to gain a specific level, and one guy went afk and let another person drag him through the entire quest. That guy even did teh hardest part, killing the "boss" at the end, and then just turned the quest over to the guy who needed it. Seeing those things doesn't give me a lot of hope for the hidden bits in any of my areas.

As to unscrupuloous immortals, you'll find them all over. There's not a lot you can do about them. Also, immortals always have an edge over mortals, it tends to come with the position, even if they never use it. There's no way you can do away with that edge, you can lessen it slightly, but that's about it. and the only way I've found to lessen the edge they have is to work offline and upload the work after you're completly done. That way they see the area for the first time when the mortals do, and so there's less time for them to encounter things from it.
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Old 07-10-2002, 03:26 AM   #12
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I say the clues to the hidden secrets must exist. They can be extremely subtle, they can be hidden under several layers of useless information, there can even be some purposedly wrong information, to lead the players astray. The harder the zone, the harder the clues should be to find, and you should have to work your way through several steps to find the valid ones.

But the clues MUST be there.

Why? Because if they are not there, the players will think the zone 'unfair', and that opens the door to cheating. If you only can find the hidden treasure by pulling a lever that you cannot even see, or saying something totally far fetched to a certain mob, then that clearly isn't fair. They will think that the special item was put in there just for the Builder and his friends to enjoy, and more often than not they will be right too.

The Builder will know of course. And soon his closest friends will know. And eventually someone else will be told and then the word will spread very quickly. Nobody will respect the secret, because there IS no legitimate way that you can find it out. And because THEY were told the secret, they will think that it is perfectly okey to tell others too.

It's very easy to make a zone that is impossible to solve in a legit way. It's much harder to plant enough clues to make it possible for the skilled and observant player to get through it by their own work, while at the same time stopping other players from accidentally stumbling over some random solution. But it can be done. With scripts that set flags on the player, so that they can only enter the inner level of a zone AFTER they have performed certain tasks. With aggressive guards at the entrance of the inner circle, that are virtually unkillable for any player, but bow and step aside if you have the right flag. There are lots of similar tricks that you can use.

And if you set the puzzle up like that, and it takes 6 months for a player to solve all the riddles and get to the hard core, he is much less likely to blabber about the solutions. Why should he let others get for free what he worked so hard to achieve himself?

If there is a legitimate way to solve a very hard puzzle, most players that do will keep their mouths shut afterwards. If there isn't, and they were just told the solution, they'll blabber about it.
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Old 07-10-2002, 10:23 AM   #13
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Boy Molly you hit the nail on the head there. Make a puzzle *possible* to find through actual effort, maybe some skill or stat checks (a higher perception stat would allow a character to find something that someone with a very low perception can't find), make it require some kind of group effort... maybe a guard who is wearing armor that makes him impervious to magic, so a weaponuser has to kill it, and the next room would have an orb that requires a mage to cast on it to get the next clue...and maybe find some hermit in the middle of the puzzle who demands a specific type of armor that only a crafter can create.

Make them work like dawgs to get that quest solved. But make it completely solvable without "luck" being part of the actual plan. Luck in noticing something that is actually there, isn't luck. It's research and effort. And the tougher it is, the less likely people will want to give that info out to their buddies.

I also would add, there shouldn't need to be a "prize" at the end of the quest. No special Vorpal Enchanted Deathsword of Doom, no Magic Sphinx Statue of Permanent Defenses. How about just a few extra skill points (training points, builds, whatever your game calls them) upon completion? That way, EVERYONE can get the "prize," and everyone can feel the sense of accomplishment.

Or maybe the prize can be that hermit in the middle of the puzzle, who tells the story of part of the world's history that all believed to be lost forever. In a game that stresses roleplay (wtihout getting into semantics on RPI vs. RP-enforced vs RP-supported vs. RP-coded or whatever)...a "prize" of monumental significance shouldn't ever be necessary. The journey should be as much fun as the final outcome, and the completion should be prize enough for any adventurer.
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Old 07-10-2002, 04:49 PM   #14
Chapel
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Angry

Awesome awesome responses.

As I built more and more areas, I think I got better and better. My earlier areas were simple "beat the guardian" to advance areas...nothing too spectacular. In fact, watching the progression of my areas were kind of like watching me grow up.

What I find to be difficult is much of what was said. Keywords, passwords they are often difficult to use because of special keywords or passwords. So I try to stray from those, and other problem is that when you really want to turn the situation into a quest type feel, the scaling becomes a bit too large and finishing becomes the problem.

An example is that in a normal town, nothing special, there is a rock wall where a simple "climb up" command will lead the player up onto a plateau. It truly has nothing to do with the area...but for the person that was lucky (or smart) enough to read the description and just joke around by trying to climb...

...imagine their exhilaration. THAT is what I try to build for.

Another problem I notice is that once one person finds whatever it is you hid in the area...the entire world knows and your area is effectively through...especially if it didn't hold some awesome item that kept people coming back.

...
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Old 07-12-2002, 04:13 PM   #15
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See why I love Molly! What a tremendous builder and she snubs my job offers, sniff.
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