Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quests Participants and Non-participants

There's a low intensity, yet long running debate about quests and peril to people who aren't participating. The crux of the matter is there are some quests where the entire mud becomes a pretty dangerous place whether you are involved with the quest or not, so characters who are unaware of what is happening can be killed.

An example of this is the "blue steel gang" that went into towns and hunted players. As many of you may remember, players severely criticized it during the event, but afterward there was much praise about the quality and theme. Certainly there were players who are often away from the keyboard that were disgruntled even after its conclusion. In fact, there was significant debate among the admin during the quest as to whether or not this type of event should be allowed to be done again or even if that one should have continued. In the end, a well thought out theme that made the mud more dangerous was accepted as an improvement by the admin.

One of my beliefs is: The mud should be a dangerous place. Expecting to amble blissfully about or go away from the keyboard with no consequences is something people have gotten away long enough for it to be comfortable. That doesn't mean it should be this way. Few argue that exploring shouldn't be dangerous, but they argue walking around town should be safe. It is most of the time, but in my opinion, there's no halo around towns. Players sack towns constantly; why should mobs be excluded from hunting players there?

I'd like to see us make it more dangerous by putting in themes and long running (like several weeks or months) quests that can cause disruption to existing play. The quests, will of course, have rewards. These don't necessarily all have to be drachma, spells, skills, but will be worthwhile for those who participate. They may be simply for the larger good like something as simple as the mud is a safer place for the next few weeks. Long running quests that increase danger are disruptive and SlothMUD players like certainty and predictability. And while I believe we shouldn't provide either, we certainly don't want random, purposeless death, either. Any increase is sure to stir a controversy with players.

There are plenty of reasons to go away from the keyboard for extended periods of time. The only really safe way to do it is to rent out. This has a small cost associated with it and players often try to avoid this by not renting. That's a risk/reward which currently has nearly zero risk. If the mud is a more dangerous place the risk goes up and fewer people will take it, at the expense of paying a little more in rent. A few that do take the risk will be unlucky and face the consequences of trying to figure out what happened while they were away.

A counter argument states that we have the "join" command that allows people to participate or not. So why not just use that for all quests and themes that might attack players? I'm all in favor of this when the event has a declared reward is time boxed. However, in the case where the reward isn't obvious, or even that there is a clear objective, I'm not in favor of using this. Nobody would ever have the join flag on outside of the clearly announced events.

By no means is this a done deal. These are my own opinions and I haven't convinced the rest of the admin of this, so we aren't moving forward on it yet. We shall see if we can harness some creativity and muster the effort to implement a broader, more permanent theme that will indeed make the mud more dangerous.


Klothman said...

As a brand new player, I like the idea of having long, harrowing quests that involve the world. I think it'd be fun, and it would help bond the players together (not that they seem to need bonding :P ). Just my opinion.

Charles said...

I like some risk involved with running around town, but it's hard to threaten a high-level player without totally killing off low-level players.

Some time ago we had lightning strikes occur randomly to characters who were outside during rainy weather. If the lightning hit some percentage (50%?) of max hps, it might present an similar threat to everyone.

Nice blog though, it's always an interesting read.

Juggleblood said...

Danger is good. Pthieving was bad because it created animosity between players, but it did provide a fun amount of danger to the game. Perhaps we could start adding some small game events that would add some danger and excitement, minus the interplayer hostility that pthieving caused.

Heres 3 ideas:
Epic Mob: Ali Baba - goes all over the mud stealing from players in non-safe rooms until they finally get together and kill him. Wouldn't be too hard to make him actually use the boats to get around.

Wander Lust: Mobs catch a contagious disease that makes them wander. Also enables them to wander across zones and through no_mob exits. Players need to stamp out the plague by killing or quarantining the affected mobs and being careful not to spread the disease themselves.

The grey goo: A dangerous slime infestation occurs simultaneously in a few areas of the mud. The slime is a wandering, high hit point, low damage mob, that destroys mobs and turns them into more slimes. Which in turn wander and destroy more infinitum. Any gold on the mob is destroyed as is any non-personal eq.

The latter 2 events would best be started a few hours before a planned reboot, because if the players fail to contain the disease or infestation, the mud will be rather chaotic.

Just some fun ideas.