More About Mega-Alliances
By: Charles Mosteller


While the following message was written for a discussion involving another game, and not about Hyborian War, it talks about certain things relating to mega-alliances. It may or may not be of interest to you, but some Hyborian War players might find the mega-alliances aspect of this discussion posting to be of interest on the overall subject of mega-alliances. Just skim past the portions that pertain to deities, and focus on the comments about mega-alliances, if you will.

From: "Charles
Date: Mon Apr 28, 2003 4:59 pm
Subject: A Footnote on Deities and Mega-Alliances

While I have previously read and re-read all of the complaints voiced, thus far, regarding a player-controlled deity system, in exploring the issue in greater depth, I remain convinced that within this concept is an opportunity to implement a form of check and balance on the creation of mega-alliances.

On its face, it may seem, and it has been lamented previously, that the prospect is now seen for mega-alliances to stretch into the heavens, and the potential for abuse is ripe, because of such.

However, the nexus of mega-alliances is the three C's - Communication, coordination, and cooperation. It is, as such, more a player-oriented issue than it is a kingdom or nation oriented issue.

By implementing a player-controlled deity system, a mechanism is created whereby a check and balance on mega-alliances can be instilled into the game. Not just a mechanism, but an ACTIVE mechanism, as distinguished from a PASSIVE mechanism.

The players are ACTIVE participants in the game. Their decisions, whether good or bad, are, nonetheless, ACTIVE decisions. Mega-alliances are the result of ACTIVE decisions by players.

Theoretically, on at least one level, a war between good and evil is a war between mega-alliances. A deity, in theory, would be the head of a GOOD mega-alliance, whereas another deity would be the head of the opposing EVIL mega-alliance.

In practice, however, this form of mega-alliance is checked by something already designed into the game - the free will of the mortal players.

Alliances are always strained by the individual goals and desires of the various individuals who form said alliances. The corresponding deities would naturally try to maximize the strength of their respective mega-alliances. The mortal players, however, would have different goals, and be guided by forces in addition to just what certain deities want. Players, in fact, may even feel that they couldn't care less about what the deities want or desire.

The game is, in its purest sense, a form of competition. By increasing the dynamics of competition, the nexus of mega-alliances would be correspondingly weakened. It is only by increasing the dynamics of competition that the likelihood of mega-alliances between players will decrease.

In Middle-earth PBM, the game is composed, basically, of two mega-alliances, each vying to increase its strength by enticing or intimidating neutrals to join their respective sides. Yet, the reality of it is that, even though mega-alliances are intended and encouraged, the players tend to look after their own positions first. This is one of the beauties of human nature, where game design is concerned. It makes for predictable patterns in player behavior.

By implementing broader mega-alliances, in the form of good versus evil, driving forces will be instilled into the game that will run at odds with the will of individual players. The overall effect will be a dilution of commonality, and an increase in competitive incentive.

When either the forces of good or evil unite, in theory, their chances of prevailing increase, accordingly. However, when individual mortal kingdoms are strong, they have the least incentive to submit themselves to a greater, collective cause.

Hyborian War suffers from a lack of attention to the issue of mega-alliances. Middle-earth PBM, however, actually benefits from their design into the game structure, itself.

Kingdoms do not form mega-alliances. Players do. Until that point is realized, the ability to deal effectively with the negative ramifications of mega-alliances cannot be properly or fully addressed.

By providing the individual mortal players with incentive to be greedy, and to look after their own individual interests, you maximize the headaches of player-controlled deities positions to champion their respective causes - GOOD or EVIL.

If you eliminate the opportunity for retribution amongst the forces of good and evil, then you automatically decrease the opportunities for conflict within each of those respective mega-alliances. If a deity smites a mortal player's character, it may very well piss off the mortal player, perhaps even to such a degree that harmony within the forces of good or evil, as the respective case may be, would no longer be possible.

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