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Old 02-28-2003, 08:15 AM   #1
Taniquetil
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Exclamation

Currenty working on a long-time project called Dynasty, which in short comes into the catagory of medieval MUD with some additional fantasy (in the down-toned field). I have the vision of trying to create a "quite" realistic MUD where certain typical "none-realistic" MUD features are removed.

1. A typical example: The kight fights the monster and receives quite a beating. When the knight stands there swinging is broadsword while leaking guts he fights with the same dedicated and skilled talent as if not damaged at all.

2. Some MUDs have solved the issue of starvation and thrist by simply reducing regen to some extent, I'm thinking why do that, wouldn't it kill you if you starved too long?.

These kind of argument still upset some of my friends helping me with this project, they claim it would effect the gameplay and "fun" of the MUD. I'm wondering, did anyone else try to keep MUDs fairly realistic ?

/Taniquetil
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Old 02-28-2003, 10:18 AM   #2
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Quite a few MUD admins try and make their game as realistic as possible. The sign of a great admin staff, to me, is one that can balance out realism with gameplay.

Lets face it, most of us generally play MUDs to have fun. Realism is often overlooked in the pursuit of fun, otherwise we'd only ever have humans as playable races. The trick is to create as believable a realm as possible without killing out that fun element.

One good example, in my mind, is how a game deals with death. Most ROM-based MUDs use the standard death system, where you lose your equipment and gold, get re-incarnated at a temple somewhere, and have to go get it back. Is this realistic? Of course not. But the very few games I've played that enforced a "one death and you're dead" policy were definately not fun for me. Generally a compromise is reached where you can die repeatedly, but only for a certain number of times.

Another common "realism" argument is the standard tell system. Being able to speak to someone regardless of where they are in the world is certainly not realistic. However, if you have a large game and not so many players, they may run into other people very rarely. If you want players to interact with each other a lot, this isn't a good thing. Besides, as I've always stated when this argument comes up, who's to say that telepathic communication ISN'T the normal in your world? It doesn't happen in the real world (although some people claim to be able to do it to a limited extent, twins for example) but neither do Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings!

The balance between realism and gameplay can often be a fine line, one that has to be walked with care. Too much realism over gameplay, and a game stops being fun (to most people). Too much gameplay over realism, and people wont really believe in your world. If it's an RP required game, this is a bad thing.

This is of course my own personal opinion, and I'm sure many people will disagree with me. However it is the opinion I build my own MUD on, and I hope I'll be able to strike enough of a balance so that realism fans can play and believe in our world while still having fun.
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Old 02-28-2003, 10:25 AM   #3
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Many people will probably agree with your friends in that most people don't want to encounter the same BS in a game they are playing to have fun as they do in real life.

Me, on the other hand, I like a bit of realism in my games as long as it is not too overdone. If you make it so your days are 30rl minutes long and I have to eat and drink 3 times a day I am going to be annoyed and quit playing. Some players will just make triggers to deal with it.

It is really slightly unfeasible with time restrictions like that, or for that matter most time restrictions on muds. If you are going to fit something into that time schedule then you would probably need to accomodate for the other irregularities. Esp. Time related.

As to the combat, I am (re)coding the combat system (for the 100th time), and have basically added what you are talking about though to a lesser extent. Semi-permanent body-damaging and disfiguring are part of it, which can suck if you lose the ability of using your left hand during combat, due to a wound.

I am trying all that I can to add as much realism to the game without underlying the main goal of it. FUN.

Also remember depending on your setting the laws of reality may exist differently and be wholly independent of ours. If I'm using a medieval fantasy setting with healers, then someone could possibly get a hand lopped off and lose it, so have to get an orc hand or little hobbit hand put on in place.

Even though it may be far-fetched here, who's to say in that world it is not common place. Or that it's not commonplace to pull an intenstine out, tie it to a spiked ball and call it a flail? Just kidding.. but anyways..
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Old 02-28-2003, 10:52 AM   #4
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Nice little discussion here, actually fun to find a place which is serious when it comes to Mudding, too much **** out there really.

Well, not ruin the fun we agreed on that. But then another important issue comes in, wether the MUD is roleplay oriented or not. The project I'm working on is RP encourging, but not forced, which makes dealing with tells a bit easier, but the problem still remains. Wether I call tells out-of-character or not, there might still be RP people who will use them IC. I'm thinking about removing global tells, and simply just use the OOC channel for OOC talk, problem is it might get spammed, and players want privacy. So I added another feature to the game, when you feel like not RP:ing you can transfere yourself into another "zone" of the game which is strictly OOC where tells can be used. Right now, this is only on the drawing board, and I know there might be lots of problems with it, but we'll see how it works out.

The death point is the hard one. I really cant comment on it, hate to ruin gameplay with it. As for food, yes hours have to be prelonged quite a lot, maybe around 30 mins = 1 IRL hour, justa random number popping up in my head.

So ofcourse, I have tons of other things to say about realism vs gameplay, but the question is where to draw the line....

Another thing, realism also means to me, that you spend considerbly long time research before you put something into the game (both building/code) so that it sticks to reality.

/Tan
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Old 02-28-2003, 11:16 AM   #5
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Here's my take on the subject.

In the mud I play, death is permanent, but also recoverable from. When you die, your corpse lays there rotting (providing no one butchers it) until rescued. Then someone can cast a spell to keep your corpse from rotting. You can be resurrected by a highly skilled healer, although you may have skill loss from laying there rotting so long. Or you can invest in an amulet, which means your soul goes into the amulet after death and it doesn't matter what happens to your body because you can get a new one if you want. However, very few healers are skilled enough to reincarnate you into a body.

I've yet to see a death system I like better than this, although granted I haven't played very many muds. And your chances of being revived from death depend a lot on how willing people are to pass on the required spells, as well as how many quests like to give out amulets and who may be hoarding them to drive up the prices.

The mud I play also has hunger/thirst, and you can die from not eating/drinking for a while. How fast you get hungry/thirsty depends on your stats, which largely depend on what race you are. Each mud day is 4 hours long, and you generally only have to eat once or twice in that time. You could survive on less food than that but being really hungry or thirsty slows down your learning of skills.

One way that we're NOT realistic is that you can craft anything instantly. However, I doubt I'd wanna sit around crafting very long if it took longer. So that's one place where realism has been sacrificed in order to make it fun.

Another bad-for-realism good-for-fun feature is wilderness travel. You can travel from one side of the world to the other within a few seconds if you're not too concerned about maybe passing yourself out on the way. I consider this much better for fun than another mud I've heard of where it can take RL hours or maybe even days to get from one town to another. By the time you get somewhere, anyone you may have wanted to talk to there has probably left.

I'm a great fan of not having global channels/tells. How we do it is that you can shout to communicate with anyone in the same town/area, but otherwise you can only talk to someone in the same room, unless you have spells available. We have a few spells which allow you to communicate mentally with people, one of which works over long distances if you're willing to wait for the spell to travel to them. And when someone dies, they can send an instant "deathtell" to anyone anywhere, but it lowers their skills considerably.

And in a perfect world, NPC's would do all the things PC's do, but as seen in another thread the problem with that is keeping players from abusing it.
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Old 02-28-2003, 11:24 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by
So I added another feature to the game, when you feel like not RP:ing you can transfere yourself into another "zone" of the game which is strictly OOC where tells can be used
I've seen this handled a myriad of different ways. How you plan on doing the transferring though, is something to look at.
Some muds tend to just allow you to go OOC at any given moment, which can truly harm an RP experience (IMO), the best way I can think about this being dealt with:

1) A specific room you have to be in to transfer to OOC. Maybe think of some way to explain the disappearance to other characters, or show them exiting "east" even though they were actually transported out.

2) Have a specific area set aside as OOC, a certain room in a tavern, or inn that is solely OOC but can be easily explained via RP..

Quote:
Originally Posted by
The death point is the hard one. I really cant comment on it, hate to ruin gameplay with it.
That is a hard one, though you can easily explain it away through RP purposes or think of many different ways to handle it without permadeath.

Quote:
Originally Posted by
So ofcourse, I have tons of other things to say about realism vs gameplay, but the question is where to draw the line....
The answer is not an all encompassing one, more of a subject specific. You would have to look at each seperate circumstance where you believe the reality is being comprised and take them on a case-by-case basis.

I try to look at it this way, the players who aren't interested by the changes are probably not the people I wanted for my environment anyways =) You can't cater to every taste out there, so cater towards yours.
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Old 02-28-2003, 12:07 PM   #7
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On whether tells should be IC or OOC:

When my MUD opens for proper play, RP will be enforced. However, I plan on keeping tells since they just too useful to the gameplay to get rid of.

What I will have is a system similar to one I originally saw on Avendar: The Crucible of Legends. There you have normal tells that are considered IC, and an OOC tell that is the only form of OOC communication in the game. Although I was never an Immortal and so never saw what kind of things went on between other people on this OOC tell system, I can say from my own experience with it that it was rarely used, mostly used to say things like "Oops I have to run off, time to pick the daughter up" or somesuch, and definately wasn't abused.

As far as death goes, I've changed the way it works slightly from stock. Currently if you are level 10 or under and are killed, you dont "die" in the normal sense. Rather, you are transferred back to the Midgaard temple (until the new hometowns go in) with all your equipment and gold, and told how you died. Since the only way a level 10 or less can die is to a mob, they get a message saying what killed them and how to try and avoid it in future. If the mob was aggressive, it mentions a little about that too. This was put in to help new players learn the basics of the game without discouraging them if they happen to wander into a level 45-50 area and get jumped by an aggro mob.

Anyone over level 10 becomes a ghost upon death. Their equipment and all their money stays on their corpse. While a ghost they cannot be attacked or cast on in any way, although if they attempt to attack someone else the ghost protection is removed.

In addition to this I plan to add a random chance, somewhat based on constitution score, for stat loss on a death.

Realistic? Yes, in my world
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Old 02-28-2003, 03:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (Xerihae @ Feb. 28 2003,09:18)
Quite a few MUD admins try and make their game as realistic as possible. The sign of a great admin staff, to me, is one that can balance out realism with gameplay.
I would suggest that few people are looking for realism. After all, realism means: no magic, no intelligent races besides human, permadeath, aging, etc. What people want is immersion and internal consistency of the game ideas, not realism.

--matt
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Old 02-28-2003, 03:19 PM   #9
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I definitely agree with the sentiment that gameplay needs to balance with realism. I played a mud where you had to practice to improve your skills, but they imped something called skillrot. Meaning that your skills decayed over time if you didn't continuously practice them. If you took a few days' time out to rp or just chat, you'd lose hours and hours of skill development. The admins absolutely refused to alter or remove skillrot, even though the players all hated it and loudly and continuously said so. Did skillrot make the game more realistic? Maybe. But I've yet to meet a player who liked skillrot or thought it improved gameplay. I'm sure most of us have stories like this about some feature or other.

As for tells, I just wanted to comment on the best ways I've ever seen global channels handled icly. I'm not sure if they still do this, but when I played Dragonrealms, they had these helms/headsets of telepathy. I'm not sure where they came from- I just know they cost a #### of a lot of money and I was too new to be able to afford them so I didn't worry about it. But basically the helms enabled tells- you could "think" to other people who were wearing helmets.

In the aforementioned mud with skillrot, we had blue gems you bought in a particular shop in one city. You could hold this gem and use it to 'gemtell' other characters, but it also required mana to use.

Both these systems have two advantages:
1. They restrict the use of tells/globals to older, more experienced chars which one hopes would cut down on abuse by nitwits, although not necessarily. (In some cases this can backfire, like with the blue gems...older players would teleport to the island and buy blue gems as a favor to newbies a lot of times. If you have a level-based equipment system you can solve this by restricting the level of the item.)
2. They provide an in-character explanation for the ability to talk to others mentally across distances. You could also possibly restrict the ability to particular classes that are more mentally attuned- or make communication possible only among people who have tuned their gems to each other. Or you could make use of the devices a trainable skill. There are a lot of ways to set it up.

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Old 02-28-2003, 05:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by (the_logos @ Feb. 28 2003,14:16)
I would suggest that few people are looking for realism. After all, realism means: no magic, no intelligent races besides human, permadeath, aging, etc. What people want is immersion and internal consistency of the game ideas, not realism.

--matt
I would pretty much agree with the above. I do, however, think that sometimes a semblance of realism can be a part of the immersive quality of a game.

I think the problem most muds run into with realism is because most designers still think in terms of realism vs. gameplay instead of realism as gameplay. For example, The Sims seems to be a very successful game, despite a number of what would be, in game terms, realistic elements: your characters have to eat, they have to bathe and take leaks, they have to socialize with people they might not really like, they have to work like fools at low wage jobs just to be able to afford decent TV sets. Still, as a game, it works. The reason it works, though, is because these realistic elements are integral to the goals (as broadly defined as they might be in a game like The Sims). Keeping your character well-fed and dressed in trousers that aren't constantly soaked in urine becomes a part of the challenge of the game.

Likewise, any "realistic" features a designer might be considering for a game should contribute towards whatever goals most of the game's players are likely to have. I'm not thinking so much in terms of specific goals ("I want to become the best swordsman in the game and slay the vile dragon Tootlefruit."), but rather in terms of more broadly defined goals, which in most muds seem to include some combination of character building (in the purely mechanical sense of stat improvement) and socialization (both OOC and IC).

Successful elements of realism are going to those which don't merely inhibit the player's ability to character build and socialize (as too many such features are). Most players would probably not appreciate, for example, having to take time off from stat improvement and socialization to go through some rote mechanistic process of cleaning their gear if such were required to keep the gear from simply falling apart and setting them back both in terms of time and money. Fighting ogres makes them more capable with their weapons. RPing attendance at a dress ball perhaps gains them some IC political clout. Typing "oil sword" and waiting however long for a game generated response is just down time.

More popular, I would argue, would be a system in which attending to one's gear might improve the effectiveness of said gear, but in which no loss would be experienced for those players too impatient to get out and bust skulls. In this case, the task would be a means of improving one's performance, rather than a requirement to avoid a significant hindrance to one's performance.

Even more popular, though, might be a system in which the character could actually improve her martial proficiency by, among other means, occasionally attending to the maintenance of her weapons (the in-game justification might be that this is a reflection of her discipline and adherence to some sort of warrior code), and in which the character might have some locale to go to during this activity where she could meet and interact with other characters who might include potential trainers, companions, and persons of political/social usefulness.

All of these are arguably realistic systems as far as in-game concepts of realism go. And while this is but a single example (and one I just pulled out of the air without really giving much thought to how I might implement it in my own game), it hopefully demonstrates what I think is a fairly safe assumption to make about "realistic" game elements: namely, that like any other game system, they should serve as vehicles to allow the players to progress towards their goals in a way that keeps the progression interesting and varied enough that the players will continue to see it as worthwhile and, thus, the game as worth playing.

If a feature merely presents an obstacle (buy food from mindless NPC and eat it before you starve), it will grow old pretty fast. Players, after all, tend to prefer games which continue to present them with newer, more challenging obstacles. If you are going to present players with such an obstacle, then it should be part of a larger, more interesting challenge (improve your hunting/combat skills and make friends as you hunt/fight for food you will need to survive, develop the necessary social connections with those who can supply you with decent, reasonably priced food with as few strings attached as possible, etc.). The players should encounter such obstacles as part of the challenge of their progression towards their goals rather than as distractions from this progression.
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Old 02-28-2003, 05:28 PM   #11
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Actually I kinda like the idea of skillrot. It'd keep some guy from trying to learn EVERY skill in the game pretty effectively. But if you're gonna have skillrot, it should be very slow compared to how fast you can improve your skills, and the speed of rot should be based on how good you are at the skill. I mean if some guy learns how to smith every metal item in the game, stopping smithing for a few game months or years shouldn't seriously impede him.

The way it'd get the most annoying I think is if it happened to spells and mages typically learned 70+ spells. Can you imagine spending more of your time trying to keep from forgetting all your spells than you spent trying to learn new ones? Ugh.
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Old 02-28-2003, 05:36 PM   #12
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This topic puts me in mind of The Sims. For those who haven't played the game (I.E. hermits), you basically live the entire life of a simulated person- food, jobs, toilets, showers, TV. The original game- with no expansion packs- was freakishly realistic; I personally got so engrossed in it that I ended up living their life rather than mine
But, you get bored with the game quickly, because life is, let's face it, mundane. We don't think about going to the toilet, or eating, or even watching TV, but with the Sims you have to force them to do each action- they're far too stupid to live by themselves.

Realism doesn't always have to be a gameplay killer. If taken to the extreme, it's riveting. But people play MUDs to escape from the real world; to live, for a few hours, in a world where you don't have to do coursework. Where your mom doesn't tell you to tidy your room. Where you can be yourself to whatever extent pleases you. Where you can be free. And most people don't like having to eat, drink, get a job, and not die.

It's a dilemma, certainly- the balance between an unimaginably false world, and one that is so realistic it's dull, is a tricky one to keep hold of. But if done well, it's the key to a MUD's success.

I would strongly suggest against extreme realism- executing a "Once you're dead, you're dead" method is a surefire way of pushing away newbie players. But starving to death would be acceptable- as long as you made food widely available.

I wouldn't worry about things like goblins and elves though- OK, so they don't exist here, but they could feasibly do so in another universe. However, it is less reasonable to assume that in another universe you don't have to eat and drink.
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Old 02-28-2003, 05:49 PM   #13
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I think the problem is mainly that many administrators confuse realism with internal consistency. The latter is really what they're shooting for.
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Old 02-28-2003, 07:06 PM   #14
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Lots of interesting responses so far.

Maybe it would be time to turn the discussion slightly...

Name your top-ten-things that could combine good gameplay with realistic coding / building ?
(and give me something good to work on
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Old 03-01-2003, 06:04 AM   #15
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For me as a Builder it's essential that the zones are consistant in topography, ecology and architecture. For instance; you don't find an alder tree growing in a desert, and you don't find a rain forest next to an area with ice and snow. This means that you have to make a lot of fill-in areas to separate the 'real' zones, and we usually do those in the form of grids, not 'paths', meaning that you can walk from point A to B in several different ways, which is 'realistic' in itself.

We don't use the form of fake 'grids' with random exits that you see in some muds though, the grids are real, meaning that you can map everything in the mud on a graph paper. Also we try to avoid repeated descs as much as possible. Even though the grids are code generated, we usually add individual descs for each room, except in the cases where the grid is something like an ocean or 'open space', where it makes sense that all rooms should be identical.

Naturally the grids are not as detailed (extra descs, etc) as the 'real' zones that they connect, which also makes sense, since there are a lot more different things to look at in a castle than in a forest. However, all rooms in the mud have listen and smell desc, the grids too, although they are mostly repetitive in similar types of terrain. And of course the grids are not empty. They are just as full of mobs and animals as the real zones; a forest would for instance have all the usual animals, from insects and birds to large mammals, and you might also find some useful things in them, like trees that can be chopped down for timber, herbs that can be used for potions, edible mushrooms and berries etc.

Another thing that I like to be consistent is the architecture. It always irritates me when 'medieval' cities are described as having broad and straight avenues planted with trees. The medieval cities were actually very dense, to save the space inside the protecting walls. Narrow, winding alleys, low buildings, possibly with the exception of the Ducal Palace at the small square which might be two stores. No parks, no 'marble palaces', no boulevards. The streets were cobbled at the best, but more than likely filled with garbage and so was the moat.

I like the three dimensional touch too. We have a castle, with the usual medieval type of 'WC' - an oriel with a hole in the floor. If you check the moat below that oriel, you'll find that the water at that particular place is extremely muddy and has a very disgreeable smell.

Also, if you look out of the window in a house, you should see the actual landscape surrounding the house, even if you cannot go there. Same thing with the top of a mountain. Looking in all directions there should give a wide view over the landscape surrounding it, which can be useful for the players to orient themselves.

Consistency in the details adds a lot to the 'realism' in a mud, without in any way affecting the actual gameplay negatively. Not many players may notice these details, but the ones that do usually appreciate them.

One last thing; we use some types of 'portals' that you can climb, descend or jump. So you don't just go 'up' to get to the tree top, you climb the trunk. And if a deep ravine is barring your way west, you may have to 'jump ravine' to get to the other side. Or possibly first descend the cliffs to the bottom and then climb the cliff face on the opposite side. If you just go west, you are more than likely to fall down and hurt yourself badly.
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Old 03-01-2003, 07:04 AM   #16
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#### you sound just like me
Trying to be as informative as possible to give my builders a glance into a MUD world which is built just like the one you're talking about, a world with a more "free" possibillity of walk angle, no idiotic blockades between zones and silly connections. At least I now know it's been done, then I better push my builders a bit harder .

As for topography and flora&fauna I did this.
We created our map, which is a quite small part of a world, though fairly isolated. We're talking about an island the double size of Siccily for compairment. We devided this island (map) into grinds. So when each builder starts with a zone he/she receives a grind location which makes it easier to "grip" to surrounding topography in her/his perticular zone.
We also created a quite extreme doc. about flora and fauna and gave different grinds different possibilities of certain flora and fauna the grow and inhabit that location. Works very nicely.

/Tani
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Old 03-01-2003, 12:52 PM   #17
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It always amazes me how much Molly and I think alike but perhaps that's explainable since we had similar mentors way back when as little Imms.

Realism can often be a double-edged sword and a balance between "fun" and "abusive" needs to be found. For example, we increased combat damage received by equipment in an effort to cause decay which leads to eventually require revisiting old haunts to replace stuff. Realistically, how much damage should different materials take? It took us a few tries, but we finally found a reasonable medium that both the Imms and the Morts could deal with. Moral of the story is it's good to try stuff BUT do it slowly over time and watch reactions. The reactions of your players dictate if you're going too fast or being too harsh and removing the "fun" element.

Like Molly, I also find realism in the world environment a crucial piece of building expertise. Our goal is a truly round world complete with poles, multiple continents, oceans, ecosystems, climate etc PLUS a relative interaction between adjacent zones. I'ts simply not acceptable to me to trek from desert to ice to jungle all in a group of 300 rooms. It's also not reasonable to have a "cloud-touching" spire 50 rooms east of a mountaintop and not be seen from the mountain or vice versa. This certainly is a hassle for all the senior builders but the payoffs in the long run are great. Good mapping and discussion usually solve most issues and keeps everybody with the same goals. Anything and everything you can do to make the environment realistic and contextually accurate amazes and impresses the players to the point of telling friends and exploring more. Cost? Builders must plan, must research and must explore routinely and comply to get published. Reward? An awesome building team proud of their work.
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Old 03-01-2003, 01:31 PM   #18
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Too bad we're on different MUDs folks.
We could really create something Żber
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Old 03-02-2003, 04:08 PM   #19
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Having thought some about both food/water and more importantly weather I have to say that realism + short days are counterproductive. Why? Because a complex weather system becomes very unrealistic if it is designed to change from day to day, but the days are only 2-4 hours. This is especially true if the weather is intended to change slowly throught the day itself (like it does in the real world). The same complications exist with food, since being able to go without water for a week and food for only about 3 days means that you are in serious trouble in a mere 6-12 hours and dead in 14-28. Some mobs on our mud are intentionally so powerful that under a 4 hour system you would be literally fighting an epic battle against them that lasted a day or more. In a two hours one you are talking about between 1 to maybe even 3 days or more of continuous combat (though no one has successfully killed ones like the great dragon Moserath since beta when they where much weaker). At minimum you would need at least 6 hour days, but a 11 or 13 hour one is better.

Now you are no doubt wondering, 'why 11 or 13 and not 12?' Simple, so that you can get a really good weather system running and also make sure that every player, regardless of when they normally log on, will eventually get the opertunity to enjoy things that only take place in a time of the day when on a 12 or 24 hour cycle, they would probably never be there to see. A 11 or 13 hour cycle allows for events like the door in The Hobbit that only opened at a certain time, without artificially stretching/shortening the moment. At the break of dawn becomes roughly a 5 minute span, instead of say 10 minutes in real life, long enough for people to echieve the task, but not extended into the next 'hour' so much that the local bakery is already selling its 50th loaf of bread by the time the event ends.

And as I said... the weather is also an issue. Say for instance that you have a spell that is more powerful close to the influence of water and it is raining. It might be funny if someone standing there in the rain screams, 'I will kill you now', and starts casting, only to have the storm hit a lull and the rain stop falling. Having that happen randomly every 10 minutes, like on most muds, is not. Or if a rainy day continued to rain endlessly until the next day comes along is imho just as bad, since it is far too predictable.

Anyway... Those are my thoughts.
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