Gameplay Diversity and Segregation

On Realms of Despair there are three basic types of gameplay, Player Killing, Mob Killing and Roleplaying. Hereafter refered to as PK, MK and RP for the sake of my laziness. This means that when you want to play, what you do will fall into one of these three catagories. Now, some people might feel constrained by only having three options available to them, but to be fair some MUDs have more whilst others have less, but they are still an excellent playing experience.

The question is not so much ‘How many fields do I have?’ but rather, ‘How much can I do?’. The answer varies between catagories, of course, but many people on RoD feel constricted and unsatisfied with their gameplay experience. My belief is that this stems from segregation of gameplay and a lack of diversity or player interaction.

Segregation refers to the fact that in general MK, PK and RP stand as solitary units of gameplay, instead of forming one cohesive whole which gels together. For instance, in RP you could be Level 2 and dressed in pre-auth gear and you could be the best roleplayer in the land, without even a glance at MK or PK.

The same goes for MK, the majority of the MUD are MKers, who do not RP or PK seriously.

PK, on the other hand, breaks the current trend seen so far, in that PK is inexorably linked to MK. PKers will always need equipment and gold and in general, this is obtained through MK and trading. Looting reduces some of the dependence of having to MK for equipment, however, the looted equipment came from a mob and the lootee will have to replace it with something. So PK remains linked to MK. However, PK is still isolated from RP.

This segregation is not beneficial to the player as ultimately, it lowers your options of how you can play the game. Imagine a game where the scope of RP was enhanced. Instead of having Cardinal Laws about how the game should be played, what if, instead there were laws made by players and enforced by players? These laws might be determined by an elected representitive, which gives us a real sense of in-game politics.

Different towns would also have different Leaders, and therefore different law which means that some towns would be safer, less prone to crime, more economic or the perfect little Hellhole of anarchy you’ve been looking for. This promotes interaction between players and can create a real sense of player control, in which the player feels that they are helping to shape the world they inhabit, which is satisfying and fun. It also makes the world bigger than just Darkhaven, which is always a good thing in my opinion.

Now, how would these laws be enforced by players? Well, PCs would be able to get an occupation as say, a town guard or Bounty Hunter. Guards would be under the employ of a city ruler to uphold his laws. Be it no violence in the street, no stealing or no speaking between the hours of noon and two. Guards would receive a wage for doing their job. Which is excellent as it means that MK would no longer be the sole way to earn money.

Bounty Hunters on the other hand would be freelancers. So they would actively have to search for work in order to earn their money. However, Hunters would generally be sent after the toughest law breakers, the ones that could not be handled by city guards alone.

This gold for all of this, has to come from somewhere, however. In real life governments take taxes for this sort of thing. I propose however, that city leaders would get a certain percent of the money deposited into the area’s economy as a tax. This means that the populous and economic town could afford more guards, meaning potentially that the town would be safer.

This also means that smaller towns, further out might have trouble making money and as such, be more prone to banditry or law breaking. Kind of like the Wild West, but with swords and fireballs. However, in order to not cripple these smaller towns, leaders would have the option of effecting store prices to an extent, in order to either attract tourism in the case of lowered prices, or to make the most of money spent in a town in the case of higher prices.

The scenarios outlined above are potentially possible outcomes of what could happen if players were less restricted in the area of how they were allowed to play Realms. By giving players more options, you increase gameplay diversity by allowing the players to mix elements of RP and PK into their every day game life.

There are also ways that MK and the economy could be improved if a system for crafting and player owned shops were introduced. Adventurers could easily sell skins, hides or other things they obtained for money, or alternately barter for stock in a store. Obviously equipment would still be obtainable from mobs, but custom clothing or equipment would have to be crafted, and if you want to stand out in the crowd, that would be the way to do it.

Now, whilst I am in favour of player made and enforced laws, this does not mean that I desire all Cardinal Laws to be removed from Realms. Things like spam, harrasment, duping or off-game trading should still be illegal and enforced by Immortals, but every aspect of what a player can or cannot do should not be determined by a helpfile.

Let’s face it, some laws were made to be broken and it’s fun to be there when they are. Let murderers be hunted down by Hunters, let trade caravans be attacked by bandits, let people defend their homes and livelihoods themselves, let there be a distinction between divine and mortal law, and most importantly, let players play the game how they want.

In conclusion, if the forced segregation that exists between gameplay aspects was removed and player diversity was maximised by giving players more ability to shape their world a higher level of fun and playability could be reached.

A friend of mine once told me that the food you hunt yourself tastes better. I believe it to be the same with MUDs. When the player has the ability to affect the actual history of the game with their actions is probably the highest level of gameplay there is, and it’s also the sweetest. The MUD that you can shape yourself is the best kind to play.

Hugs and Kisses,
Sealom!

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