[MUD-Dev] Re: Marian's Tailor vs. Psychopaths

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Fri Oct 2 14:57:04 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


On Fri, 2 Oct 1998, Benjamin D. Wiechel wrote:
> From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at origin.ea.com>
> >This is what led me to coin the term "virtually sociopathic"--meaning
> >people who cannot seem to reach that level of empathy with others who
> >are sharing a virtual space. It does NOT reflect on their dealings in
> 
> [snip]
> Somewhere I think someone got the idea that PK is bad.  PK is not bad,
> even having an out of control PK character isn't bad.  What I would
> define to be bad would be when the players within the mud do nothing to
> solve the difficult situation on their own, and instead whine at the gods
> and the admins to take the player away.

The problem, I think, is not so much the mere *existence* of sociopathic
characters.  It's that there's a disproportionant number of them, and this
disproportion grows as you expand to encompass the "mass market" of gamers,
as UO has.  Remember, this "mass market" has been bred on games like Quake,
where killing everything that moves is normal and expected behavior.  In
addition, these players have limited experience with multiplayer games, and
especially with persistent game _worlds_.  As I've noted before, many muds
have very strong communities despite (or maybe - because of?) completely
unrestricted pk/psteal/etc.  Arctic has been this way from day one, and
it has (IMO, of course) the strongest ongoing community of any large mud
(large arbitrarily defined as 100 or more players online all the time).
Certainly there are sociopathic character which show up, but they are not
a *problem*, persay.

I almost wonder if the problem is simply too much, too fast.  That is to
say, games like Furcadia and UO take you through a minimal character
generation and then just throw you dead in the center of a fully
functional world. To extend the childhood analogy, this is equivilent to
taking a two-year-old and throwing them out on the street saying, "Okay,
go learn about the world."

Of course, what's the alternative?  First of all, in the case of UO and
eventually Furcadia, players are your customers, and they don't want to
be put through a complex newbie gauntlet to try to get them to learn more
about the game world.  Non-commercial games can do this, of course, but
player are going to tend to breeze through it as quickly as possible without
paying much attention, because they want to get in there and play, not jump
through hoops designed to turn them into a fully functioning member of an
online society.  Besides which, I'm not really sure that a simple newbie
gauntlet would really be all that effective.  Players need to experience
something which will have some impact; something to make them realize not
just the rules of the society in which they have been dropped, but why those
rules exist and how they affect everyone's quality of play (ie, greater
"fun" for everyone).

A tall order, indeed, and not one I really have an answer to.

Adam W.






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