[MUD-Dev] trade skill idea

Koster Koster
Wed Oct 4 17:27:01 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu 
> [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Matthew Mihaly
> Sent: Wednesday, October 04, 2000 3:51 PM
> To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu'
> Subject: RE: [MUD-Dev] trade skill idea
> On Wed, 4 Oct 2000, Koster, Raph wrote:
> > Tell that to everyone who bought SimCity, The Sims, Rollercoaster
Tycoon, or
> > any of the many other similar products. These don't even HAVE a product
> > marketing phase after the building phase of the game. It's ONLY about
> > building. The desire to build is what crafting satisfies. You wouldn't
> > that "building areas isn't fun, it's only what you do with the area
> > afterwards" would you?
> But notice that in none of the games you mentioned does anyone spend their
> days doing one thing, ie making bread.

Now you're just talking about the granularity of the simulation at any given
point. Is it conceivable that you might spend all day doing just one thing?
Sure, if the simulation level of that one thing is complex enough that in
itself it provides sufficient detail and choices to keep you interested. For
example, it's easy to see how you could build SimAnt into The Sims, and
SimsVille out of lots of cases of the Sims, and SimCity out of lots of cases
of SimsVille, and SimEarth out of lots of cases of SimCity. (In fact, when
SimEarth came out, there was a key you could press that responded with "This
key will eventually place your SimCity into your SimEarth, in a future

If making bread was the point of the game, and there were dozens of grains,
many sorts of ovens, many possible bread shapes, and lots of
variables--sure, what the heck. It could get especially challenging if there
were managing multiple ovens and bakeries at once. Not that I am suggesting
making this game--I am just saying that if you break down the games here,
and examine them topologically (what is the SHAPE of the gameplay), you'll
find extreme similarities.

In each case, you have a set of variables (8 or so in the case of the Sims)
with feedback mechanisms, and usually a constant trend downwards, modified
by placing affector objects and taking actions that impact more than one of
said variables. Actions all take time. The goal is to try to keep them all
the variables above the baseline. Period. You could do The Sims in text
without any problem; the main reason to use a graphical display is because
most of the Sim games rely on spatial relationships (usually radial
distance) for calculating the impact of a given action or object on the
state of the game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon is the same game; you're managing a different set of
variables, of course. And the main reason why it feels more "gamey" to
people than The Sims does is that each affector object has multiple
variables within itself, so you can modify the price of hotdogs at the
hotdog stand, etc. And SimThemePark feels even more gamey than RoolerCoaster
Tycoon in part because of the granularity again: each affector object in
itself has a set of variables and baselines to try to reach.

But I'd argue that even this is icing on the cake. The REAL attractant to
RCT or Sims is the stuff that has fairly little impact on gameplay. Painting
wall colors and making new skins for your Sims, now THAT was fun--and it's
what the fan community is out there going nuts for.

It's not hard to imagine ways to apply the variable-management game to muds.
It's especially easy to imagine the environmental customization as an
attraction--UO barely scratched the surface of it, and it's one of the top
draws in the game.

I'll say it again: I believe that a game about doing nothing more than
interior decorating has a bigger potential audience than a game about going
on a grand adventure and saving the day.


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