My humble opinion on why this MUD isn't growing

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17 Aug 2007 02:47 #5558 by Asteris

So long as we are advertising ourselves as one type of MUD (RPI) and then focusing on developing the game as another type of MUD (Hack&Slash with RP)

<snip>

... That turned out to be a bigger derailed frustrations post than I had intended, but.. to get back to the original topic... MY humble opinion about why AL isn't growing?  It's because there's too many lazy, self-centered people on the game who are just in it for themselves.


We are a beta RPI mud & we are not focusing on developing the mud as anything else.  I am not going to speculate on your reasons for posting this falsehood, but I am not going to tolerate it either.  The frustrations board is to vent about things that are not getting handled in game, not to post false information.  Yes, it is obvious there are things we need to improve, but it should also be obvious that we have made significant progress towards our goals as an RPI mud in open status, and are being recognized as such.

For the list of things that frustrate you, this is a good thing to have, and I suggest they be taken up on a one by one basis in game, and solutions be devised to handle them.  (Ideally by removing any benefit with code, or having solutions to monitor abuse) The minimum level of quality we expect in players is that they "Outperform an npc".  If this is not happening, then they have the wrong game.  If it is happening, then the player should be left alone to enjoy themselves.

The rest of your post is frustrations, and I will take it as such, except for the generalized personal attack at the end.  I realize you haven't specified anyone, but it is still a personal attack, which is not allowed at AL.  You may attack lazyness as a behaviour, but you may not specify that a person is lazy and attack *them* for it.  If this is not clearly understood as a rule, it needs some more visibility.

That said, I want you to know (without any doubt) that I really appreciate all your efforts and drive to improve AL and you are doing an excellent job of it; I am only irritated by some of the things I have seen in this post.

Bear in mind that you have a full license to push for improvements that will improve our RPI aspect, whether it be suggesting ideas (preferably ones that are easy to implement), or implementing them yourself.  The main complaint I have heard of late, however, is that there aren't enough creators organizing RPE's and hosting them at a recommended playing time advertised in advance.


Alright, backing up. No, no, while it may be somewhat frustrating to admit, I think Parhelion raises a very valid point. While we are selling ourselves as an RPI MUD we still have most of the earmarks of a hack and slash game with light roleplay elements. Here is why: video games, in a very traditional sense opperate on feedback loops that reward particular actions, many feedback loops are very simple: get the white, square group of pixels past the far long, rectangular group of pixels and get a point, rinse, repeat. we have that feedback loop, and it doesn't benefit roleplayers, it benefits those who busy themselves. There is this concept among many people who design games like this that "roleplay is it's own reward". While it's true that roleplay and dialogue are probably the most ontologically rewarding pursits available to human beings there is still a very raw desire to be rewarded for good actions. There is a very strong sense here that the game part of this game occurs for those who, as Lakemen puts it "practice hard every day and eventually got it" not for those who interact and struggle to develop relationships, work together to better understand their own capablities and the world around them. Basically there's no real reward for roleplaying.

I'm not just BSing here, I want to look at this in terms of tabletop games: in a hack and slash game of D&D (or most other tabletop settings) experience is awarded for 1)killing mobs 2) following and sticking very closely to mechanical rules. Those who know the mechanical rules best are not the most apt roleplayers. The balance of D&D in particular favors those who specialize and find a niche, those who specialize best within a well built team succeed most. The balance of AL rewards those who do everything as fast as they possibly can, which mitigates the need for, as they say in D&D "who's going to play the cleric"
In a roleplay intensive tabletop game the story is very different, while some rewards are given for following rules many times more are awarded for 1) writing a good backstory 2) playing a consistant, interesting, or difficult character with style 3) using creativity to solve problems outside of the rules 4) roleplaying and applying what mechanical skills you have well "don't just roll diplomacy, really try to convince her".

Additionally, and this may just be personal opinion, in order for roleplay to really feel like it's own reward it has to feel like it's doing something in terms of the bigger picture: down the road what will my actions mean for people, did the fact that I lived really affect the next generation whether it be my contribution to training the next generation of skilled workers, achieved some level of political power, contributed to some monumental project, or slay the demon that ravaged my homeland. What if I failed? If I failed my homeland would remain exactly the same, the same NPCs would frequent its streets, nothing would appear different, and most players, within a few weeks would stop mentioning my name. There's only so much we can do by ourselves, only so much creativity can be expended before we start feeling like it's pointless or we've been to pretentious in our attemts to achieve some goal without any support and we feel isolated or betrayed or so on so forth because nothing has happened to justify our ideals. We can't overthrow kings, we can't reshape an economy, we can't build a decent home. We can build skills, we can get to know everything about sword, that we have and nobody can take that away from us and that alone is what makes us feel unique ans special.

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17 Aug 2007 03:25 #5559 by Shadowslay
(deep breath)

Lots of negative energy going around.

That difficulty to make a point without all-but-directly-burning someone prevails in so many people with such... I don't know, I find it a bit frustrating and saddening.


Concerning the last few posts ---

On person vs personality: Absolutely. If one character's essence can be summed up with the words 'crafter', 'warrior', 'stonemason', etc, etc, one doesn't have a solid character concept. Someone anonymous once made the claim that roleplaying is playing your role and just that - I strongly disagree. (One could go into a long philosophical rant about how no living entity has a true 'role' except that which is defined by itself yadda yadda, but it's easier to just say: characters are not this, or that, they are simply people. They simply are.)


On novice crafters: Here's a long one. 90% of the time, except for a few rare idealists, and this I will place money on, the people who have the patience to spend hours working to become something are the same people who end up warrior-mage-thief-everythings, or at the very least, just plain warriors. This is not universally true; I know for a fact that there exist hard-working, dedicated AL'ers who are not warrior-mage-thief everythings. They are not the common ALer.

I sympathize with the position that claiming being 'good' at something just by virtue of starting out, as per your background, without working to get said skills... is cheating.

At the same time, a sort of policy that dictates non-combat/magic professions (let's just say Crafting for the sake of brevity - everyone knows that more than crafting is being discussed, but hey) to take as much time and work as combat... may bring some good to the AL by virtue of principle and pragmaticism.

But it will also perpetuate some of AL's biggest problems. The fighter abundancy. It's gonna' mean not a whole lot of crafters. (Currently, one will be very hard pressed to find a crafter who is not also a fighter or aspiring fighter.)

This is not necessarily a bad thing, sure: a character is a person and not a profession. In theory and principle, nobody should have to care who's a warrior, and who's a crafter, and who's both, etc, as long as everyone's a person.

But that doesn't change what we see happening every day, from both new and old players alike (especially new): people getting fed up and throwing in the towel and just saying 'screw it, I'll play another fighter' (comment: I feel sorry for these people, I really do. That shouldn't be necessary and that's not what RP is about. But, it happens. A lot. To be fair, not everyone who roleplays well has the diehard perseverance that some do, and not everyone who has that diehard perseverance roleplays***. or, even worse, leaving the game over it.

(***Diehard Perseverance - defined, for the sake of this post, as the resilience to just take what's given to you and work with it, to weather through obstacles such as getting your leg cut off, or sucking for a while or indefinitely, etc. People who have this trait often have the will and patience to skill-grind but that doesn't necessarily mean they do. People who say, "nobody wants to work this long etc!" are mistaken, because there are people like that and they play this game. And yet, so are people (mistaken, that is) who believe that all worthy players possess/must learn to possess this trait to contribute positively to AL.  

Any sort of social system in which one shuns the other as being 'skill-grinders' or 'lazy' or otherwise inferior/not worthy of consideration will only create further divisions without bringing solutions to real problems.)

... Long discourse. Where was I? Right. There are problems created by the status quo (how things are now). Frustrations. The biggest symptoms are: smaller playerbase and a surplus of fighters. In real life, groups will often try to resolve problems by adamantly maintaining, in face of all opposition, that the status quo is -great-, and that anybody who expresses a strong disagreement with it has something wrong with them and should receive nothing but reproval in return. (comment: We see this in politics.... I don't think -anybody- has actually 'taken up' this position and so most will be offended if accused of this, but I am concerned nuances of this mindset permeate the heads of many players, whether they realize it or not. We must be wary of the human tendency to figuratively plug our ears and whistle loudly while people disagree before actually considering the merits of said disagreements.)

Sorry if I'm sounding like a preacher. I don't actually have a strong opinion one way or the other, not yet at least, but I want to leave this thought:

The status quo may be a good thing - I won't say that it isn't. -But-, if we go with how things are now (that is, seriously working on crafts to develop them is required), there -will- be side effects to that in the form of less 'peaceful crafters', not to mention -less- players and more -pissed off- ones.

When this happens, nobody ought to be surprised. It's easy to dismiss the subject matter with, 'screw them! they suck! we don't need them anyway!'
But, we, ALers, will be forced to acknowledge that we knowingly perpetuated a system that actually drives people away from the game (not just preferentially 'gives' and 'loses' some players, either) in favor of a roleplaying principle that relatively few people have. Nobody will be able to then complain that there're not enough people playing this MUD.

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17 Aug 2007 03:36 #5560 by Cobain
Musica: I give up. Post removed.

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17 Aug 2007 04:02 #5561 by Musica
Sorry, I didn't mean to be harsh, man. Post removed. No hard feelings?

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17 Aug 2007 07:16 #5562 by Mark
Good discussion, I'd like to see a list of agreed upon items at the end of it that we can act on, if possible.

Also kudos to those who are getting agitated and then are self regulating and calming things down.

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17 Aug 2007 19:26 #5563 by Synthesis
1. I, for one, would like a little more clarity surrounding the mechanics of skill progression.

Why?

Look up "Skinner Box" and "Reinforcement" on Wikipedia. You'll note that variable schemes of reinforcement produce the highest levels of response, and the longest behavior extinction period.

The way the current system is set up, the reward (skill gain) is given for the behavior (skill spamming) on a seemingly variable basis (i.e. there seems to be a very large random factor involved in when exactly you get a skill gain). The problem with this is, psychologically, it's the system that's -most- likely to result in a bunch of players who do predominantly sit around and skill spam.

But wait, that's not all!

2. At the same time, -something- needs to be done about law enforcement, because relying solely on PCs to get the job done just isn't working. Code in a hard-coded crim-flag system, so that if you commit a crime within a city (or are a well-known criminal outside the city) you can be flagged (either automatically or by an Imm who's been watching) so that when you enter a city, the NPC guards will recognize you and attempt to arrest you.

Why?

If people feel safe and secure with the NPC guards, they won't feel the need to become uber warriors -and- master craftsmen. As an example, I'll cite Armageddon's crim-flag system. There, if you get crim-flagged, you're pretty much boned. Partially as a result of this, you see a multitude of characters in the game whose primary activities do not include sparring or practicing of any sort. When protecting oneself is not necessary, there is less incentive to make it one's primary activity.

3. NPC shops need a massive upgrade. The PC economy is, by and large, an abysmal failure. There are a few select PCs who can and do make money, and provide a useful service to the other players in their area, but the vast majority of the playerbase seems to get by on the very few NPC shops that buy things (gathering raw materials, mainly, it seems).

I would include two things in this upgrade: First, NPC shops should only buy a limited quantity of a particular item, and only buy more of that item once they've sold some of the stock they've already acquired. The shops would periodically (weekly?) reset to prevent massive, permanent stock backups. Second, NPC shops should buy a wider variety of goods, to compensate.

In short, give crafters a reason for being crafters. Yes, they'll amass much large quantities of coin, but that's generally a good thing. It means they can hire people to do things...they can stockpile goods...they can acquire and maintain personal PC entourages...all without ever having to pick up a wooden sword and practice with it.

4. There needs to be some sort of secure PC housing within the cities. It's absolutely absurd to have to build a cabin miles away out in the woods, and always keep everything but your most replaceable items on your person at all times. Create enterable room objects such as "a block of houses." Within each block, there will be an NPC who you can rent a key from, which will unlock the door of one of the houses, which you can then use as your own. Fail to pay your rent, and they toss all your junk out and virtually send thugs to come and reclaim the key. (Note: you should also be able to report keys as stolen, which will allow the NPC to change the locks after a period of time...say, an IC day or two.)

This list of concrete suggestions is far from complete, but I think these four things would untangle a very large portion of this Gordian knot of frustration.

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18 Aug 2007 00:01 #5564 by Blakat

Posted by: Synthesis Posted on: Today at 8:26pm
1. I, for one, would like a little more clarity surrounding the mechanics of skill progression.

Why?

Look up "Skinner Box" and "Reinforcement" on Wikipedia. You'll note that variable schemes of reinforcement produce the highest levels of response, and the longest behavior extinction period.

The way the current system is set up, the reward (skill gain) is given for the behavior (skill spamming) on a seemingly variable basis (i.e. there seems to be a very large random factor involved in when exactly you get a skill gain). The problem with this is, psychologically, it's the system that's -most- likely to result in a bunch of players who do predominantly sit around and skill spam.

But wait, that's not all!

2. At the same time, -something- needs to be done about law enforcement, because relying solely on PCs to get the job done just isn't working. Code in a hard-coded crim-flag system, so that if you commit a crime within a city (or are a well-known criminal outside the city) you can be flagged (either automatically or by an Imm who's been watching) so that when you enter a city, the NPC guards will recognize you and attempt to arrest you.

Why?

If people feel safe and secure with the NPC guards, they won't feel the need to become uber warriors -and- master craftsmen. As an example, I'll cite Armageddon's crim-flag system. There, if you get crim-flagged, you're pretty much boned. Partially as a result of this, you see a multitude of characters in the game whose primary activities do not include sparring or practicing of any sort. When protecting oneself is not necessary, there is less incentive to make it one's primary activity.

3. NPC shops need a massive upgrade. The PC economy is, by and large, an abysmal failure. There are a few select PCs who can and do make money, and provide a useful service to the other players in their area, but the vast majority of the playerbase seems to get by on the very few NPC shops that buy things (gathering raw materials, mainly, it seems).

I would include two things in this upgrade: First, NPC shops should only buy a limited quantity of a particular item, and only buy more of that item once they've sold some of the stock they've already acquired. The shops would periodically (weekly?) reset to prevent massive, permanent stock backups. Second, NPC shops should buy a wider variety of goods, to compensate.

In short, give crafters a reason for being crafters. Yes, they'll amass much large quantities of coin, but that's generally a good thing. It means they can hire people to do things...they can stockpile goods...they can acquire and maintain personal PC entourages...all without ever having to pick up a wooden sword and practice with it.

4. There needs to be some sort of secure PC housing within the cities. It's absolutely absurd to have to build a cabin miles away out in the woods, and always keep everything but your most replaceable items on your person at all times. Create enterable room objects such as "a block of houses." Within each block, there will be an NPC who you can rent a key from, which will unlock the door of one of the houses, which you can then use as your own. Fail to pay your rent, and they toss all your junk out and virtually send thugs to come and reclaim the key. (Note: you should also be able to report keys as stolen, which will allow the NPC to change the locks after a period of time...say, an IC day or two.)

This list of concrete suggestions is far from complete, but I think these four things would untangle a very large portion of this Gordian knot of frustration.


Flagging people needs to be done, but how can it be done so it is done right? Perhaps staff should have the power to flag those that are known killers. I know for some time Xotl has wanted to set up a bounty office where you can bring a token to prove you have killed a known criminal (perhaps their head) for payment or bring them in to be put in jail if they are wanted 'alive'. This would also be a cool system, but perhaps those who are flagged w/ bounties would either be arrested on sight (by any NPC guard, not just the ones that saw the crime) based upon those who have been flagged by the AL staff. If someone was wanted 'dead' it would be awesome if they were put in jail until a few days later when they were auto escorted to a public hanging, or something, that would incredible, hehe.

All your other suggestions are totally awesome, I agree with the crafting ideas and expanding AL's options for a successful economy. I also think it would be cool to somehow incorporate PC government options, player ran governments (though this would take major planning and work, just an idea that Asty brought up).

And yes, players need to be able to purchase homes in the city to which they are given 'the only' key. Perhaps even the ability to purchase extra locks and pay NPC's to guard at their door. This would be an awesome addition to the game. I'd like to see furniture shops some day, hehe.

ANYHEW, just more idea's to make this game better, I know things are in progress that are probably more important, just thought I'd share.

*waves*

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18 Aug 2007 09:55 #5565 by Shadowslay
I'm willing to wager that the past two posts have been some of the most productive in this topic. Thank you, Synthesis. Thank you, Blackcat.

I agree with pretty much all of it. Though...

If people feel safe and secure with the NPC guards, they won't feel the need to become uber warriors -and- master craftsmen.


I partially disagree; there are enough players on AL who want to be uber just because they want to be uber, so -that- they can kill any other player in the game. Some of these people tend to learn crafts as well (and some will go out on a limb and try to master everything - magic, thievery, etc, sometimes with success.)
I don't think the predicament is so much crafters mastering fighting (though they may feel the need to do so), but fighters mastering crafts and everything. This teeters on an almost entirely different subject matter, though.

That said, I am in strong support of a more code-enforced legal system. Arguments against it vary: one of the valid ones is that it might make being an antagonist even more difficult than it is now, but I don't think that's a problem. As long as NPC law enforcement is restricted to cities and maybe their outskirts, playing a rampaging killer or organization can still be practical by doing realistic things like staying out of cities and actually taking effort to avoid pursuit.
Stupid things like well-known bad guys (we're talking Public Enemy No. 1 here) repeatedly doing stuff in broad daylight in populous cities will no longer be practical, and it shouldn't be in real life.  
Furthermore, because even well-coded NPC's have finite intelligence/adaptability and have their jurisdiction limited to inside cities, there will still be room for player-driven law enforcement.

My support for this hinges on it being just that, though - realistic. A system in which a PC is automatically 'crim-flagged' for certain things in towns is not realistic, nor should city guards be able to obliterate anyone in a heartbeat as they can in certain MMORPG's, IMO. Situation should be considered: there's a difference in smartness between killing someone in the middle of a street at day, or in a tavern, or even in a shop, as opposed to in a dark alley at night. This can be done either by the hands of creator discretion -or- just a really well-thought (but not necessarily complex) mechanics implementation.

I believe that if a working legal system were enforced, more people would be willing to play peaceful crafters, a few less newbies would leave the game in anger, and overall good things will happen. The result will enhance the game on several levels: realism/IC believability, character diversity, overall player enjoyment. I can not think of any really good, convincing reason (I'm open to hear one) as to why this should not be implemented in the near future.

First, NPC shops should only buy a limited quantity of a particular item, and only buy more of that item once they've sold some of the stock they've already acquired.  The shops would periodically (weekly?) reset to prevent massive, permanent stock backups.  Second, NPC shops should buy a wider variety of goods, to compensate.

In short, give crafters a reason for being crafters.  Yes, they'll amass much large quantities of coin, but that's generally a good thing.  It means they can hire people to do things...they can stockpile goods...they can acquire and maintain personal PC entourages...all without ever having to pick up a wooden sword and practice with it.


I love it. Rock on. I unofficially nominate Synthesis for our creator staff.

There needs to be some sort of secure PC housing within the cities.  It's absolutely absurd to have to build a cabin miles away out in the woods, and always keep everything but your most replaceable items on your person at all times.  Create enterable room objects such as "a block of houses."  Within each block, there will be an NPC who you can rent a key from, which will unlock the door of one of the houses, which you can then use as your own.  Fail to pay your rent, and they toss all your junk out and virtually send thugs to come and reclaim the key.  (Note:  you should also be able to report keys as stolen, which will allow the NPC to change the locks after a period of time...say, an IC day or two.)


I've seen something very similar to this done effectively on another RP Mud that's still in Alpha and not nearly as complex or refined as AL by any standards. I have no coding experience - at all - but is it truly inaccurate to state that this really isn't hard to implement, at least compared to many features we already have? Please shoot me down if it is.


Unfortunately, a lot of these issues (and suggested solutions) have already been discussed in detail. That they have come around the block another time probably signifies their importance to the game and to the playerbase.
I encourage everyone who feels the same way to throw their two cents on the MUD using the /request command and/or the ideas board. No harm repeating good things.


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21 Aug 2007 05:01 #5566 by Grendal
It's been a long time since I played, but I thought I would give my opinion........

If the way the game is setup isn't working, then change it.

"But you are asking us to break our established RULES, to break our established THEME. You are asking us to CHANGE and we just can't do that.
It's against the rules to change"

I've suggested on numerous occasions "Hey, try this out for a week or so and see if things change"

"Nope, we can't do that, it's against the rules to do that. You are asking us to go against our established rules."

The rules you have established, the way you operate, the procedures you have in place are NOT producing the results you want.
They never have.

AL is a plant that you don't want to give any light or water to, but yet you expect it to grow.

It's all basic cause & effect.

If the effect isn't what you are looking for, then you must change the cause.

YOU MUST CHANGE, even if it goes against the rules.


For one fricken week, change one rule, just ONE, for a limited time. I don't care what the rule is, but just change it to see what the outcome is.

Suggestions

1. One day a month, just one day, all creators stop what they are working on and interact with the playerbase. How about the 1st day of each month. All players would look forward to the first day of each month and the things that happen that day will carry over and ripple out until the next month comes around.

2. Allow limited IC info over public channels so that people can organize groups more effectively.
[quest chat] Bear Quest is forming at the well in <type in city name> We will begin when we have (x number of people)
(small bit of time goes by)
[quest chat] I can be there in 20 min
[quest chat] Be there shortly.

Quest chat wouldn't be designated by names, so people would not know who is going to show up, only that people will be arriving soon.
(20 min pass by)
[quest chat] Bear Quest group has been formed and will now get underway.

3. Allow players to designate for themselves whether or not they can be attacked by other players and alternatively they will also not be able to attack other players as well. (hireguard dismissguard ) Each command will last for a week (real life) time.
If I want to work in the fields, rp with my fellow man and not worry about some random killer coming along to kill me, I could type hireguard
A vnpc guard would watch over me and not allow any other players to attack me, until such time when I would type dismissguard.

Once I type dismissguard then for one week (real time) I would not be able to use the hireguard command and be vulnerable to attack.


I don't care what you change, just change a bit......change a little, cause if you don't.....nothing will ever change.

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21 Aug 2007 06:02 #5567 by Jinkarto
Well, I agree with what you said, Grendal, except for that last one. But that's probably the way you intended it. Personally, the only problem this game has is that a lot of people think...



OMFG, AL ISZ DYIN'!!!!!


It's not like there are constant roving bands of so called "twink" players running around with the help of corrupt creators who have their mentor pets give assistance to the over powered animals while the Vnpcs run amok.


People like to stretch things out a bit, exaggerate.



The only reason this game doesn't have 100 plus players is because people don't like MUDS anymore. They like games with graphics, like World of Warcraft, Evercamp, or Oblivion. It's no real reflection on the mud, it's just that most people aren't going to invest the time to get into the game when they could get their immediate gratification. (Or see actual progress for their spammage-no-jutsu)

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