[MUD-Dev] Re: Laws of Online World Design

J C Lawrence claw at under.engr.sgi.com
Mon Oct 12 19:43:18 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


On Sat, 10 Oct 1998 12:50:39 -0500 
Koster, Raph<rkoster at origin.ea.com> wrote:

> A first pass on this project. Please feel free to question,
> debate, add, etc. Only try to do it in pithy little statements. ;)
> Many thanks to all those who helped with some of these laws, too.

...

> J. C. Lawrence's "do it everywhere" law If you do it one place,
> you have to do it everywhere. Players like clever things and will
> search them out. Once they find a clever thing they will search
> for other similar or related clever things that seem to be implied
> by what they found and will get pissed off if they don't find
> them.

Following up here slightly, I recently ran across a quote from Larry
Wall where he commented that Perl is very specifically not an
orthogonal or even very logical language, but that it is an
*expressive* language (sorry, I no longer have the text to quote).
As such per standard CS design rules it is a nightmare, but is also
a linguists delight.

Earlier in the list's history I posted JWZ's, "Worse is Better"
(http://www.jwz.org/worse-is-better.html -- highly recommended
reading) with the comment that it partially explained Perl's
success.

Now throw in Bartle's socialisers (as verus the explorer bent which
the above rule favours), and all of a sudden you've explained
LambdaMOO's success and failure.  LambdaMOO is (internally)
atrociously designed, a heck of a long way from orthogonal, full of
nasty little ugly corners with missing "Don't Go There!" signs, and
vast inviting minefields carefully labelled "Picnic area".
LambdaMOO also invites expressiveness.  Expressiveness implicitly
creates detail and "clever bits" to know, savour, horde, lord over
others with, pass about as gossip, or create new forms of yourself.
A just-good-enough expressive environment implicitly rewards and
encourages player-creation.  The current system is good enough to be 
tolerated, bad enough that the temptation to add or "fix" is strong, 
and __expressive__ enough to allow the basic medium of multi-player 
games (communication) to become a function of the expression rather
than the parent of the expression (ie you use the expressive
features of the environment to process communication rather than
using communication to enact the expressive features).

Have I lost anybody yet?

This makes the idea of producing a game which is __deliberately__
unfinished and full of half-way-dones and almost-dones tempting.
Make some bits fine and polished to whow what can be done.  Make
other bits pretty grotty and annoying.  Balance carefully.  Make
sure the environment is expressive enough to lock in the player base
and they'll do they rest for you.

One translation: I'm thinking 3D rendered game where only a small
fraction of the world is fully rendered, some is not rendered at all
(beyond a glowing wireframe), and the rest in the middle is of
various qualities.

Two translation: Design of the internal programming language, and
class/object heirarchy.

Three translation:  Don't strive for perfection, strive for
expressive fertility.  You can't create utopia, and if you did
nobody would want to live there.  You can howver create knee-deep
cow patties and semi-implement admobe construction.

--
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...




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