[MUD-Dev] Re: Storytelling vs. Simulationist (Was Re: Room descriptions)

ApplePiMan at aol.com ApplePiMan at aol.com
Sat Oct 3 00:58:24 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

At 10/2/98 9:03 PM Caliban Tiresias Darklock (caliban at darklock.com) 
altered the fabric of reality by uttering:

>One of the problems with attracting volunteers to an online game is that
>while MUDs usually offer the appearance of impartiality with a cultural
>understanding of bias and prejudice, MUSHes offer the appearance of bias
>and prejudice with a cultural understanding of impartiality. 

Coming from a background that includes role-playing but very little 
experience with either MUDs *or* MUSHes, I'm not absolutely sure I 
understood that. But that's OK... =)

One of the problems with attracting volunteers, as far I can see, is that 
the process is of necessity "catch as catch can". While there are some 
functions I indeed intend to entrust to volunteers, if they can be had, 
I'm not sure something as important as writing the stories of a virtual 
world is one of them. After all, in my system's world view, the world 
*is*, to a large degree, the sum of its stories.

>This is the problem. The physical world is bound by laws which can be
>quantified by physicists and mathematicians and other "hard" scientists,
>and as a result can be modeled. However, there is no program out there
>which can write consistent, cohesive storylines which will spark the
>interest and participation of players -- there has to be a human being in

Of course there does... but not to the degree of having one human whose 
primary purpose is providing plot for every four or five players in the 
game. Much of the storytelling problem of GM'ing can be offloaded to a 
computer system with careful planning and ingenuity. I can't comment much 
more on systems that are under NDA and in fact may be patentable, but I 
will say that, even with our system, we're going to need more writing 
talent on staff than I'd really like to have. But, if the experiment 
works, we've found a way that at least isn't prohibitive.

>>But remember, I'm coming at this from the viewpoint of a commercial 
>I think every MUD is a commercial venture. It succeeds or fails in the
>arena it defines (whether success is a matter of number of players, size of
>database, money from subscriptions, whatever) primarily on the strength of
>its ability to convince the public at large that to contribute to this
>arena will be Fun. In other words, whether your MUD is commercial or not in
>the sense of its intended income-generating potential, it will make or
>break itself based on its ability to locate and please a market, full-stop.
>And that's the primary aim of any commercial venture; to make the customer
>happy, so he keeps coming back.

Perhaps I didn't make myself too clear. Of course, every mud designer is 
designing with the stated goal of finding an audience, and preferrably a 
large one, who will move in and make the world their own. And of course I 
know that if I can't get players I won't make money. But there are 
different sets of goals and constraints for a venture built from the 
ground up, using OPM (other people's money), with the expressed intent of 
making a profit for those OP (and hopefully ourselves as well =) ), and 
something built as an experiment or research to advance the state of the 
art. I was merely trying to indicate that there are constraints on what 
could be done within budget, as well as what you can justify to your 
investors, in a commercial venture. Hiring a GM per four or five players, 
or even convincing investors that you can and should find that many 
volunteers, is unfortunately not something that fits within those 
constraints. =)


Rick Buck, President and CEO  <mailto:rlb at big-i.com>
Beyond Infinity Games, Inc.
See you in The Metaverse! <http://www.big-i.com>

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