Very superstitious

DelphasDelphas Member Posts: 488 Virtuoso
A conversation this weekend gave me reason to think over something I've thought about for what seems like forever now (mid '90's).  Let's talk superstitions.  As players we might have one idea, but let's adopt our Mud Developer hat for a moment and look at it that way.  Some superstitions are simply that, but others are the result of clever players actually reverse-engineering game logic/code.  Assume Nda's are iron-clad and there is no chance of an insider defecting.

In the Elder Scrolls games, starting with Redguard, astrology has an actual impact.  Those whose sun-sign is The Steed, for example, enjoys increased Speed whereas those born under the sign of The Thief enjoy improved Luck.  These mechanics are explained in both the publisher's OOC documentation and in-world IC fiction.  Would it ever be acceptable to say nothing at all? Isn't saying nothing in fact tacit approval of whatever superstitions/theories/hypothesis the players develop, even if the players are wildly off the mark?

There is still a sizable population in WoW that insist Hunters should always be the first to enter an instanced location because Hunters have better "loot tables".  The publisher has repeatedly denied this.  Would you?

Some players of DDO to this day assert that one should always use their Diplomacy/Etiquette skill against a chest before doing anything to it, because that decreases the chances of a trap and improves the loot within it, ostensibly because one is making the chest "nicer" to the character.  The publisher has repeatedly denied this.  Would you encourage it?

If you were a developer, would you create mechanics to encourage the formation of superstitions, or would you always provide some means for the player to determine if they are or are not on the right track.  Consider DEF and TRISTITIA and BODYSCAN.  Would you hide some of this information? What of the Divine? Should They foment superstitions, or should they reveal the true (read: mechanical) aspects of the world?

Bartle, in his book (Designing Virtual Worlds) insists that as much fun as the above might sound to some of us, players will determine it sooner than we expect and will publish it on websites in short order (he even gives real examples).  I can't find too much on the subject beyond Nick Yee's research and conversations on the MudDev mailing list, so it looks like the topic is wide-open yet.

Would you, as a developer, encourage superstitions (pre-science humanity), or would you encourage a mechanical and regular universe (post-science humanity)?  Clearly some of these answers might depend on how much information you would share with players.  Do players see absolute numbers (Str: 18, you did 7 points of damage), or do they see comparatives (You are stronger than most, your scored a glancing blow)? Either way, I'm curious what most people like both as an academic exercise and how/if that might impact how/if we play Lusternia.

Thoughts?
</RANT>

Comments

  • EnyalidaEnyalida Nasty Woman, Sockpuppeteer to the Gods Member Posts: 4,386 Transcendent
    As a matter of game design for a a game like Lusternia, hiding information and obfuscating known (or knowable) facts about game mechanics only leads to making it harder for new players to break into the game. Either through outright telling some players or extensive testing for the purposes of envoy reports etc., facts will come out, even if the exact numbers or formulas aren't known. There might be some immersion factor to having vague details about mechanical facts, but at the end of the day if there is a table somewhere that has testing data on exactly what each non-committal score description means, players who are serious about breaking into the mechanical parts of the game will have a huge disadvantage if they don't have access. Basically, what Bartle said.


    Look at Aetolia and the old Hematurgy mechanics. Basically, the skillset revolved around ritual spells that you needed to learn/alias. You'd CHANT some words, perhaps write a rune on a tablet or target, crush some curatives, and so on. Once you did all the steps in the correct order, the effect would activate. The strength of ritual you could cast safely depended on your skill level, but you didn't learn them like skills, after spending x lessons. Instead, some quests or areas would drop snatches of paper with bits of rituals and hints to powers obfuscated both by metaphor AND a cipher conlang. The rituals were guild secrets, and you either needed to cozy up to an experienced ritualist who could teach you new rituals, or do the footwork of piecing together ritual fragments... or just look on the (unofficial) wiki for the complete list.  It was a cool idea, but it a) extremely priviledged older/clued in players in a mechanical way and b) effectively punished players who were committed to maintaining IC only roleplay. Now you get an automatic list of rituals and have a unified syntax to cast them. 
  • HallenHallen Member Posts: 79 Capable
    That sounds kinda fun. What class uses Hematurgy?
  • EnyalidaEnyalida Nasty Woman, Sockpuppeteer to the Gods Member Posts: 4,386 Transcendent
    Vampires, but it was recently totally overhauled and most of the rituals are not back in (and it worked very differently during the end of its lifespan), partially because of the issues I mentioned. Instead of a separate skillset, it's being folded into regular vampires as a path. 
  • EveriineEveriine Wise Old Swordsbird / Brontaur Indianapolis, IN, USAMember Posts: 2,979 Transcendent
    edited March 2016
    In Lord of the Rings Online, there's a horseshoe item that does this. It's called "Erebrandir's Horseshoe", and having it equipped at certain times has the following confirmed effects: changes one line in a quest conversation, makes two apparitions appear in specific instances, grants a temporary immunity in a completely unrelated snowball fight.

    The developers have denied that it improves loot, fishing chance, or other random gains.

    It is theorized, but not confirmed, that it does a few other things.

    So everyone once in a while, people just leave it equipped to be on the safe side and to see if it has any other effects we haven't yet discovered.
    Everiine is a man, and is very manly. This MAN before you is so manly you might as well just gender bend right now, cause he's the manliest man that you ever did see. His manly shape has spurned many women and girlyer men to boughs of fainting. He stands before you in a manly manerific typical man-like outfit which is covered in his manly motto: "I am a man!"

    Daraius said: You gotta risk it for the biscuit.

    Pony power all the way, yo. The more Brontaurs the better.
  • DelphasDelphas Member Posts: 488 Virtuoso
    edited March 2016
    No, @Hallen, it is not fun.  Just as Bartle and @Enyalida have indicated, and @Everiine hinted, core/mainstream mechanics need to be regular and clearly documented.  Doing otherwise creates barriers to novices, creates barriers to comraderie/community (didn't ShadowbaneAsheron's Call have a ``secret'' magic system? Gorgon had [has?] a ``random power word of the day'' mechanism), and all the crap is eventually (within days) published to some public website, or all of the above.

    On the other hand, can one-off or sideline mechanics be fair game to this? The Astrology example above might be suitable, but I suppose that would only work if players were never exposed to the ``modified'' values.  That is, they would know the base or root score of 17 or ``stronger than most'', but not the score as it is improved by astrology.  Perhaps they would know they are enhanced from other effects (a potion of Super Strongness), but their birth sign might not make it past the filter.

    What if there was lore along the lines of ``Those born during the year of the Ox are exceptionally strong'', but the mechanic was a lottery of only 1:4 are so blessed, and the blessing barely nudged the needle of perception rather than prove to be an exceptional? Are placebo effects a Bad Idea? The false ``You are highly resistant to magic because your moon sign is The Sage'' might be fun.  Would it increase bug tickets?

    I'm definitely not talking about the core stuff.  Swinging a sharp piece of metal, or singing and dancing a ritual, and so forth, if these are the ``important bits'' then they do need to be well documented and fairly uniform (if warriors pay a trainer to be better warriors, then wizards should too).  I guess that looks like the consensus.

    But what about those minor bits? Those one-offs? Would it be Ok if the impact of any effect is less than 0.05 (even 1D20 is pretty darn fickle, so let's use a proper rand() function), such as only a +(1-5)% ? How many of these individual effects should one permit to stack?

    [Edit: changed end of third paragraph]
    [Edit: changed ``Shadowbane'' to ``Asheron's Call'']
    Post edited by Delphas on
    </RANT>
  • EveriineEveriine Wise Old Swordsbird / Brontaur Indianapolis, IN, USAMember Posts: 2,979 Transcendent
    Erebrandir's Horseshoe is only documented though because players keep testing it out. When it was initially put in the game, there was no indication it did anything at all. It was only as players continued playing with it did they discover the confirmed effects it has (there are forum posts about it on the LotRO forums where players share what they think it does). So really, it was an item meant to fuel superstition, because you're never quite sure if it actually does make you luckier.

    I personally love these kinds of things in games, so long as they aren't significant or required.
    Everiine is a man, and is very manly. This MAN before you is so manly you might as well just gender bend right now, cause he's the manliest man that you ever did see. His manly shape has spurned many women and girlyer men to boughs of fainting. He stands before you in a manly manerific typical man-like outfit which is covered in his manly motto: "I am a man!"

    Daraius said: You gotta risk it for the biscuit.

    Pony power all the way, yo. The more Brontaurs the better.
  • RancouraRancoura the Last Nightwreathed Queen CanadaMember Posts: 1,504 Transcendent
    Everiine said:
    In Lord of the Rings Online, there's a horseshoe item that does this. It's called "Erebrandir's Horseshoe", and having it equipped at certain times has the following confirmed effects: changes one line in a quest conversation, makes two apparitions appear in specific instances, grants a temporary immunity in a completely unrelated snowball fight.

    The developers have denied that it improves loot, fishing chance, or other random gains.

    It is theorized, but not confirmed, that it does a few other things.

    So everyone once in a while, people just leave it equipped to be on the safe side and to see if it has any other effects we haven't yet discovered.

    There was also a rumour that it helps with the treasure hunts, but I saw no such evidence when I tried a few times.

    But then, maybe I'm just terrible at the treasure hunts. :(

    Tonight amidst the mountaintops
    And endless starless night
    Singing how the wind was lost
    Before an earthly flight

  • HallenHallen Member Posts: 79 Capable
    All I meant by "it sounds fun" is that a skill centered on blood spells sounds fun. I doubt the old system of acquiring rituals was all that enjoyable.
  • DelphasDelphas Member Posts: 488 Virtuoso
    edited March 2016
    @Everiine and @Rancoura are on the right track, in my opinion.  They should be little things.  They should be one-offs and spin-offs but not at the nuts-and-bolts, like Hematurgy.  Being that as it may, Bartle documents how players were able to figure out in a Mud several combat-related (but undocumented) mechanics to such an extent that the combat mechanism was eventually made mockery.
    1. drop a marble to see which direction it rolls to determine who has the higher ground
    2. smoke a pipe to see which way the wind blows
    3. light a match to see how strong the wind is
    4. drop some sand/ash/flour to see how wet the ground is.
    This was in the ``old style'' of Mud's of course, before everything was Diku-based (C, C++, C#, Java), so things were easier to change around; i.e. in the style of Forth or Postscript or Mudl.

    [Edit: changed #2 from ``smoke moke'' to simply ``smoke'']
    </RANT>
  • DelphasDelphas Member Posts: 488 Virtuoso
    Well anyhoo, my favourite examples of Superstition:
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/06/09/why-dont-our-npcs/
    http://uo.stratics.com/secrets/books/book_17.shtml
    http://martin.brenner.de/ultima/uo/wispconf.html

    And finally some isolated anecdote:
    <blockquote>
    There is an area deep in a temple in FFXI where you have to go through a ritualistic sort of procedure to open a secret door. First you have to acquire an item (the Paintbrush of Souls). This item gets taken to a particular room. Once in the room you have to 'talk' to a few objects in a certain order, then face your character at a blank canvas. The game tells you that your character starts to paint on the canvas, then puts a mark at the end of the line to let you know that you have to hit Enter to continue.

    The trick to opening the door is you have to wait approximately thirty seconds before hitting Enter. You must give your character time to finish their painting. (The game gives no hints on your progress, nor when you are done. You just have to be patient, and wait a minimum of thirty seconds.) In FFXI, you can chat in real time in a variety of different ways. If you hit enter to send a chat message during the painting, it would abort the waiting period. I can't tell you how many times I had been in that area, where a raid leader would swear up and down that the *only* way to open the door is for *everyone* to be absolutely silent for two full minutes; if anybody typed anything at all, the door wouldn't open and it would be YOUR FAULT! [EO, M, 27]
    </blockquote>

    </RANT>
  • SteingrimSteingrim Member Posts: 1,155 Mythical
    Everiine said:
    In Lord of the Rings Online, there's a horseshoe item that does this. It's called "Erebrandir's Horseshoe", and having it equipped at certain times has the following confirmed effects: changes one line in a quest conversation, makes two apparitions appear in specific instances, grants a temporary immunity in a completely unrelated snowball fight.

    The developers have denied that it improves loot, fishing chance, or other random gains.

    It is theorized, but not confirmed, that it does a few other things.

    So everyone once in a while, people just leave it equipped to be on the safe side and to see if it has any other effects we haven't yet discovered.
    It is kinda like all the superstitions which rose on 'page drops' for the LotRO epic books.
    You tell Wyrden Ravager Tarken, "Come to Gaudiguch. I'll give you the title of Grand Moth."
    Eyes peering skywards as he thinks, Ironbeard the Magnanimous says to Sksez, "Welll, on my gooD lis *hic* t, we have....Stei *hic* ng *hic* rim.U..Xypherv....Luu *hic* hghaigh *hic* hhe....Breandryn....."
  • DelphasDelphas Member Posts: 488 Virtuoso
    In DAoC, crafting was tightly 1d100.  This means the more you tried, the more times you rolled 01.  Easy?

    Being this as it may, many would craft a 100 or so trash to ``get the low rolls out''.  Some would claim you ``stole'' their exceptional item because you were crafting at the same time they were.  Others would complain the game ``stole'' their exceptional because they managed to lucky-roll an exceptional trash item before they were ready to craft the good item.  No matter how many times people (including publisher) would try to explain how events are independent, they would ostensibly assert they KNEW how this stuff worked.

    So yeah, I guess some ``superstitions'' are pretty bad, especially when helpdesk tickets are involved.
    </RANT>
  • SteingrimSteingrim Member Posts: 1,155 Mythical
    Delphas said:
    In DAoC, crafting was tightly 1d100.  This means the more you tried, the more times you rolled 01.  Easy?

    Being this as it may, many would craft a 100 or so trash to ``get the low rolls out''.  Some would claim you ``stole'' their exceptional item because you were crafting at the same time they were.  Others would complain the game ``stole'' their exceptional because they managed to lucky-roll an exceptional trash item before they were ready to craft the good item.  No matter how many times people (including publisher) would try to explain how events are independent, they would ostensibly assert they KNEW how this stuff worked.

    So yeah, I guess some ``superstitions'' are pretty bad, especially when helpdesk tickets are involved.
    I've seen that in other games. While it is possible to code a system that would use a 'roll table' it is pretty unheard of. These are the same people I see playing roulette with progressive betting.
    You tell Wyrden Ravager Tarken, "Come to Gaudiguch. I'll give you the title of Grand Moth."
    Eyes peering skywards as he thinks, Ironbeard the Magnanimous says to Sksez, "Welll, on my gooD lis *hic* t, we have....Stei *hic* ng *hic* rim.U..Xypherv....Luu *hic* hghaigh *hic* hhe....Breandryn....."
  • SaranSaran Member Posts: 2,422 Transcendent
    edited March 2016
    Delphas said:
    No, @Hallen, it is not fun.  Just as Bartle and @Enyalida have indicated, and @Everiine hinted, core/mainstream mechanics need to be regular and clearly documented.  Doing otherwise creates barriers to novices, creates barriers to comraderie/community (didn't ShadowbaneAsheron's Call have a ``secret'' magic system? Gorgon had [has?] a ``random power word of the day'' mechanism), and all the crap is eventually (within days) published to some public website, or all of the above.
    I'd disagree with this to some degree, it's more on how the devs respond to the community on it.

    Had the Hematurgists developed differently, where the rituals were uncovered by someone and then shared to the guild, documented for every member to view (maybe with some of the functional rituals being hidden but not the combat related ones), with the discoverer being honoured and the like for bringing this knowledge to the guild then things could have been radically different.

    Especially with some simple ritual that lets the player know if there are any more rituals out there not on their list.

    This offers differentiation from the IRE norm, this offers the explorers a chance to go out and potentially discover something new, if you develop the guild with an ingrained attitude of sharing (Which GW2 and the NAEU BDO games show you can instill in players with little effort) this means that early adopters might have a hard time but it'll all be discovered and shared freely rather quickly.

    And then you get to instill in them the possibility that one day, you might perform that completion check ritual and find out some new magic has been added to the game, then everyone rushes off to be the first to figure it out.

    I think that's a thing that only muds can really achieve and it's a strength of the medium.
    Post edited by Saran on
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