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Old 09-02-2007, 08:11 AM   #1
Xerihae
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"Winning" a MUD?

This is something I've been considering for years and have been thinking about again as my increased participation in the discussions here makes me want to start coding again (damn you all!).

Every MUD I've played at has had a static time period, or a couple floating around depending on what plane/area you were in. They also have no win conditions as it's a persistent world. Why is that exactly?

My idea is to create a game that shifts through four different time periods over the course of four years, basically one time period per year. You'd start off in a fairly primitive world with basic classes and races, moving on to the more familiar medieval-style world with an expanded range of classes and races, followed by a period of industrial revolution, and then the modern age. For each period you could create a basic story outline of events that could be changed by the players so the world developed according to what people did, and to get to the new time period a bunch of research would have to be done which would give players a chance to be the one who discovered something important. You could even have it so that if the research was not completed in time the time period went backwards instead of forwards if you wanted.

My thoughts on the benefits of this are that not only do you have something that can be "won" in a way and a chance for players to make their characters names go down in history, but it presents admins with plenty of time to develop things. Coders can start off with a relatively basic world and engine, and concentrate on advancing the engine over the year (in the background) and just make the B&B (Bug & Balance) fixes needed on the main world. It also gives players a chance to have a say in what comes next, which could be useful as there are any players out there interested in history and you may end up bringing them on board as consultants because of their greater knowledge of a particular time period and what sort of things you could end up putting in the game.

The bad points of this idea is that your game remains relatively static for a year until the time period changes, and how players do the research would need to be carefully considered to stop it from only ever being the people with copious amounts of free time that can be the ones who discover stuff. My thoughts on that would be to institute a "real time" research counter like the skill training on EVE, where research takes a set amount of actual time whether or not the player is logged in. You could link this to the games time system so a piece of research takes say 2 weeks to complete, which equates to 2 months in your game.

Anyway, I was just curious as to what everyone else thinks of the idea, as it's not something I recall being discussed on here before unless I just missed it!
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:12 AM   #2
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

My immediate thought is less about the feasibility of creating win conditions in a MUD, which I don't dispute could be done with a system similar to what you propose. But along with this, you're basically setting it up so that your builders and coders need to completely rewrite the world every year. That's a pretty harrowing thought. And if the time period were to shift backwards instead of forwards based on something that would take the whole of the year to play out, you then have to prepare for multiple contingencies, amplifying the amount of work that'd be required.
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Old 09-02-2007, 09:19 AM   #3
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

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But along with this, you're basically setting it up so that your builders and coders need to completely rewrite the world every year. That's a pretty harrowing thought.
I don't think it's quite so harrowing. The number of areas that need to be re-written could be kept to a minimum if it's just things like towns and the odd mention of them in the distance in areas close by. You'd expand the world with newly discovered areas rather than constantly re-writing the old ones. As for the coding, you'd have your basic world set and then a year to develop the extra bits needed to add into it for the next time period. Surely this is no real difference to the MUDs I've seen that work on "versions" rather than continuous changes?

Quote:
And if the time period were to shift backwards instead of forwards based on something that would take the whole of the year to play out, you then have to prepare for multiple contingencies, amplifying the amount of work that'd be required.
I mentioned that as a possibility and it's not something I personally would add in. However, you could have some form of clichéd cataclysm and just revert back to the previous version of the game because no-one advanced the game into the next period. This would require no work at all really.
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Old 09-02-2007, 01:30 PM   #4
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

Actually, if you take a look at ATITD (A Tale in the Desert), it has a definite "begin" time and an "end" time. Then they just restart the game over again. Granted, this is not a MU*. It's a pay to play graphical game, but it's a very interesting concept.

The game isn't rewritten. It was written from the beginning to progress to various stages until every stage is complete. Then the next cycle begins. It really is about gaming resources and player creations. Very interesting concepts there.
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Old 09-02-2007, 04:33 PM   #5
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

Check out Civilization. The progress through time is similar to what you talk about. Also, Ultima I, was built on this concept ages ago.

As for winning a MUD. This comes up in discussions on NW and NW Forums from time to time and the schoolbook answer I normally give also is pertinant for "power gaming" thread:

Because this is a Roleplay Enforced game, you will never win it through levels, gear, and coins, albeit thes states of being can bring personal satisfaction. The only true winning you can have is through roleplaying and increasing your fame through politics and socialism, which means, gaining supporters and contacts through the groups you associate with both worldly and independantly.

I have seen players who are serfs or low levels in guilds influence more of this game than those of elite guild status with powers to destroy multiple foes. Winning is from roleplaying. Remember that and you will never be disappointed.

Just my thoughts, I'm sure others vary.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:44 AM   #6
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

I definitely think you should check out Tale in the Desert, as Mina suggested.

Further, I think the idea of progress wouldn't be such a pain in the neck if you kept the world you're building fairly small.

On OtherSpace, the game started in the year 2651 with a dozen worlds or so. After a year, we stuck everyone on Sanctuary as they fled for their lives from the Kretonian Invasion. Six months later, after a voyage through a time-dilated parallel universe, they showed back up in the old universe in the year 3000. We had basically rebuilt the grids for all our worlds and changed the universe they'd known. Next year, the current incarnation of OtherSpace will be replaced by one that starts in 4008. (Again, we're rebuilding everything. I know I just told you to keep your world fairly small if you change it drastically, but I sometimes fail to listen to my own advice.)

Beyond keeping your world at a manageable, easy-to-alter size, I'd caution that your game avoid giving your players any reason to get a strong attachment to their characters. If it's an RP-heavy environment, you'll probably run into the most friction by effectively nullifying what players have done to develop their characters in the past. It can create the perception that they've wasted their time and could suggest to potential newbies that they'd be wasting their time if they start a character this week, only to have the game "shift" a couple weeks down the road.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:42 AM   #7
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

The Chronicles of Amber MUSH have stated as a design goal that the game will last about 3 years. And that things will change. It's about a year into the story, and two features have been killed off so far.
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Old 09-06-2007, 10:31 AM   #8
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

A persistent world by most definitions can not be beaten, since the basic idea is that it exists perpetually.

I'm kind of meh on the four ages thing, mostly as someone who generally wants to think the places he plays on operate on a going concern premise. (That is to say, the game is not 'ending.')

Maybe I'm interpreting the question differently, but I don't know if what you are going after are 'ages' where everything changed a ton while people were out so much as the possibility for technology to advance with time. Depending on the code and such involved, I think this could be done with only a few troubles.
  1. Code to easily implement new technology being in place would be helpful.
  2. A guideline for what kinds of new technologies should be rolled out (also known as keeping a semblance of game balance)
  3. A mechanism for players to guide technological development along.
  4. Either an accelerated time frame (as in 1 RL day=1 game week or something similar) or a mechanism to explain how things can be invented/created in shorter periods of time. Most players don't react too well to being told an invention takes six months of RL time just to get a single shot at testing.
Maybe 'tech points' or something could be accumulated and spent on attempts to allocate them to certain fields, and when a field gets so many tech points new stuff starts coming out. Or you could preset what happens at tech levels in advance and have the stuff ready to roll out once that tech level is hit, depends on the nature of your game.

Maybe I'm kind of selfish, but now that I wrote this I'm thinking, "Man, this idea'd be cool to put in the game I'm doing development work on now."
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Old 09-06-2007, 11:23 AM   #9
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Re: "Winning" a MUD?

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Originally Posted by Sergeytov View Post
Maybe I'm kind of selfish, but now that I wrote this I'm thinking, "Man, this idea'd be cool to put in the game I'm doing development work on now."
Hehe go ahead. If I didn't want to share the idea I wouldn't have posted it on a public forum

Keep the comments coming, I find it fascinating to see what the rest of you think and if it provides inspiration for other people that can only be a good thing.
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