[MUD-Dev] The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat

Jeff Kesselman jeffk at tenetwork.com
Tue Jun 3 21:01:23 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

Chris Lawrence wrote:

>In <199706020309.WAA16765 at dfw-ix13.ix.netcom.com>, on 06/01/97 
>   at 08:19 PM, "Jon A. Lambert" <jlsysinc at ix.netcom.com> said:

>>This is cute.  The word balloon idea is neat.  I was leaning against
>>avatars since the range of emotions expressed might be limited.  
>It also is rather twee.  Have a look at the various Habitat inheritors
>like Palace and V-World.  The general impression is more of kicks and
>giggles than say Conan the Barbarian's testosterone grunts.

I took a serious look at bubble-chat a bit ago for our needs.  In an
envrionment thats already cartoony (great exampel is Sierra's The Realm) it
fits the metaphor quite nicely.  

The big problem is lack of history.  In a chat window when it comes fast
and furious you can look back.  I type looking at my keybaord half the time
(yes one of the reasons for my typos).  I never learned formal typing (I
type code great this because I've typed the same words over and over a
million times.  English is trickier.) Anyway in bubble chat I miss things
when I look down.

A secondary issue is that it often gets in the way of seeing what else is
goign on in the envrionment.  Ina  slow paced game thats less of a big
deal. In a fast paced one its mroe of a problem.  Lastly, many person
dialogs gert out of hand pretty fast, its hard to keep up with who is
sayign what in response to whom.

SOmething i proposed a whiel back amogn our development group, mroe as a
thought experiment then anything to imoplement right now, is bubble chat
with real world heuristics.  Things like you dont see chat bubbles "behind"
you unless ther eis noone talkign in front.  That yoi usee them from
yourself otu ina circle unti la ceratin "noise level" is reached and then
stop seeing them for anyoen further out.  Things that model how people
really DO strain the hubub of noisen in a crowded space.

>>Any thoughts on avatars, good or bad?

We've looekd at this exhaustively. Our conclusions are as follows, for what
theya re worth:
(1) 1st person (Doom).  Strongest sens eof presence ('immersion"). Bad
sense of environment.  Makes group play on a strategic level difficult.
(Real people are always scannign their environment to put together a total
picture, but until we all have HMDs this will not be real possible for 1st
person games.)

(2) Overhead/three-quarter view (Diablo).  best for strategic. Most
distancing from the character.  Tends to give the feelign of playing pen
and paper with miniatures. Due to understanding of spatial relationships of
you to other characters it does allow for both group tactics and "spatial
roel play" (semi-physical roleplay through character positioning.)

(3) Side View (The Realm, any Sierra graphic adventure.) Rates half-way
between the above two for group tactics and immersion.  Is the best for
physcial roleplay, particulalry when coupled witha cusomizable avatar
system as it gives best view of character image.


More information about the MUD-Dev mailing list