[MUD-Dev] Re: CGDC, a summary

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Tue May 19 11:48:55 New Zealand Standard Time 1998


On Fri, 15 May 1998 08:24:11 -0700 
Mike Sellers<mike at bignetwork.com> wrote:

> At 04:30 PM 5/14/98 -0700, J C Lawrence wrote:

>> On Sun, 10 May 1998 00:14:04 -0700 (PDT) Adam
>> Wiggins<adam at angel.com> wrote: ...

>>> His main theme was that conflict is essential, as it accelerates
>>> the bonds between those involved, and since on-line communities
>>> have so much less time availible to them (since most people play
>>> for a small fraction of their total real-life time), this
>>> acceleration is necessary to form meaningful bonds in a reasonable
>>> amount of time.

>> Good stuff, tho I'd put a different mechanic underneath it.  The
>> essence is not combat, but problem solving.  Combat merely allows a
>> particularly simple and easily understood set of problem mechanics.
>> Consider:
>> 
>> A) Bubba goes about and gathers a group of players to go off and
>> see if they can finally kill the Red Dragon.  After a bloody and
>> vicious fight, with great injury and some points dealt to all, the
>> dragon finally dies.
>> 
>> B) Bubba gets a team of people together to attempt to solve
>> Fortress Fract.  People need to push stones in order, ring bells
>> together and otherwise actively causally cooperate in order to do
>> this.  After some time, you all figure out how to solve Fortress
>> Fract, and finally return Princess Julia to King Mandel.  Much
>> stature and points are awarded by the final solution.
>> 
>> Which builds the better community spirit?  Why?  Does it really, or
>> is it just that the mechanics and model underlieing the combat
>> risks and rewards of #A are just so much more obvious and familiar?

> Actually, I think that there is an essential difference here.  Both
> of these are good and useful in some proportion, but there is
> considerably less tension and resolution created by the second
> example, and this seems to be a necessary ingredient to creating a
> bond between people.  That is, given two similar events (as above),
> the one that is the more threatening or in some way creates more of
> a basal tension, creates a stronger shared experience.  This is true
> to the extent that a game like Doom or Quake can create a sense of
> shared experience faster and easier than, say, a multi-player Myst
> variant.  I'm by no means trying to say this makes a game like Quake
> *better*, but it does do a better job of pulling on those
> sub-rational strings in our minds that engender a feeling of shared
> experience with others.

Good point, and I mostly agree with you.  However I also note that the 
players in MUDs that I formed the strongest relationships with the
fastest were those that helped me.  It wasn't the group formation or
game strategy sessions that did it, it was the simple fact of help.
Curiously enough it had to be a very specific type of help -- not help 
for my character or other in-game succour, but assistance in making
the game /fun/ for me as a human player.  Not removal of obstacles in
the game, but quality added to those obstacles with a little hands-off 
mentoring thrown in.

Then again the concepts of fair exchange and social debt are strong
with me, perhaps (likely) atypically.  Having been so helped I then
feel quite obliged to pass on that help, to maintain the extra quality
of the game.  Having been handed the solutions to puzzles on a
platter, or other in-game pandering, mostly prompts me to exit,
quickly.

> Of course, most people don't like or quickly grow tired of a game
> like Quake that has nothing _but_ basal tension, which is where
> examples like solving Fortress Fract come into play: for people who
> are already building a shared identity (party, group, guild, clan,
> etc.), other types of experiences like this reinforce and broaden
> the sense of shared experience.  But I do not believe you can rely
> on essentially no-risk scenarios like this to bring people together
> quickly in the first place.

True.

>>> There were a few folks from TEN, Mpath, Asharon's Call, the guy
>>> from Avalon, several from Kesmai, and a whole host of startups
>>> looking to break into 'massively' (this seems to be a key buzzword
>>> now) multiplayer gaming.
>> Which guy from Avalon?

> Pretty sure this was Daniel James.  I think he was the only one from
> Avalon there.

What happened to David Whashisface?  Moved on?

> There were a *bunch* of hopefuls in the MMPOG space at CGDC -- a
> disquieting number.  I see that Rubies of Eventide has somehow
> survived to get to beta, for example.  I expected to see a big shake
> out in this space this year, as I thought we'd have Everquest and
> Asheron's Call up against UO in the marketplace.  Looks like we need
> to wait a little longer for that to happen... but next year at CGDC
> I expect to hear even more tales of woe about efforts that started
> and failed (did anyone else go to Steve Meretsky's "Rise and Fall of
> Boffo Games" talk?).

If this field is anything like the rest of software development, the
mantra will quickly become, "Where are you working today?"  Money and
market predictions are too fluid to be stable in the face of constant
technological redefinition.  Then again, if the WinTel alliance
continue their financial sufferings, we might finally get some sanity
in this game.

--
J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
(Contractor)                               Internet: coder at ibm.net
---------(*)                     Internet: claw at under.engr.sgi.com
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

--
MUD-Dev: Advancing an unrealised future.



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