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

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Tue Oct 13 12:05:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

"Koster, Raph" wrote:
> BTW, I have noticed nobody has quarreled with any of the laws yet. Are
> they all that acceptable? And is this endeavor useful? (I am finding it
> so, but wonder about everyone else).

This is probably shocking news, but... Quite a few of the laws could be
dismissed by counterexamples, more of them could be dismissed as a
consequence of "bad" design decisions.  Yet most of them can be read as a
result of the visions of the contributors.

You probably don't like this law, but:

Ola's law about laws: Any general law about virtual worlds should be read as
a challenge rather than as a guideline.  You'll learn more from attacking it
than you will by accepting it.

Some other laws:

The designer will never be able to experience his own design the way a user
does. How the designer sees his own design will never be representative. The
designer's view of his own system is likely to be more skewed and distorted
than that of the average user.  While the user is likely to experience the
system top-down, the designer can hardly avoid thinking bottom-up.

While the vision of the designer seems to be an all important motivation in
the process of designing and implementing a system... Don't expect the users
to bring life to it.  The vision is dead or altered the moment you open the
system to a larger population.  The designer's vision is a dream, users
having fun by doing-what-seems-to-be-a-good-idea-here-and-now is reality.

I am personally more in favour of slogans than laws. Here are some slogans
(from memory):

* It's the people STUPID!  - R. Farmer

* Users want to get away with something out-of-the-ordinary.  - Bumgardner

* It isn't a game if you cannot die. - Bartle?

I view Bartle's "bad ideas" (http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/tcsf98.htm) in
much the same way as your laws. Some are related to my own conclusions, yet
most of them could probably be solved by design.

Another law (based on a comment by Bartle):
The ratio between how difficult it is to build a general foundation for
design and how easy it is to rip apart is approaching infinity.


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