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

Koster Koster
Tue Oct 13 14:14:04 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ola Fosheim Gr=F8stad [mailto:olag at ifi.uio.no]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 1998 6:05 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: Laws of Online World Design
> "Koster, Raph" wrote:
> > BTW, I have noticed nobody has quarreled with any of the=20
> laws yet. Are
> > they all that acceptable? And is this endeavor useful? (I=20
> am finding it
> > so, but wonder about everyone else).
> This is probably shocking news, but... Quite a few of the=20
> laws could be
> dismissed by counterexamples, more of them could be dismissed as a
> consequence of "bad" design decisions.  Yet most of them can=20
> be read as a
> result of the visions of the contributors.

Not shocking at all. Getting counterexamples posted is a large part of
the point of generating the laws and posting them to the list. =
most of the laws were extracted by reading through the list archives =
extracting flat statements about how online worlds work. Whether or not
they are all true is certainly a matter of much debate. I'd prefer to
see specifics than a blanket dismissal though. :)

> You probably don't like this law, but:
> Ola's law about laws: Any general law about virtual worlds=20
> should be read as
> a challenge rather than as a guideline.  You'll learn more=20
> from attacking it
> than you will by accepting it.

Are you kidding? I like it enough to put it at the top of the list. :)

> Some other laws:
> The designer will never be able to experience his own design=20
> the way a user
> does. How the designer sees his own design will never be=20
> representative. The
> designer's view of his own system is likely to be more skewed=20
> and distorted
> than that of the average user.  While the user is likely to=20
> 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=20
> motivation in
> the process of designing and implementing a system... Don't=20
> expect the users
> to bring life to it.  The vision is dead or altered the=20
> moment you open the
> system to a larger population.  The designer's vision is a=20
> dream, users
> having fun by doing-what-seems-to-be-a-good-idea-here-and-now=20
> is reality.

These seems more like a general design truths than ones specific to
online worlds... they both certainly seem to qualify as laws as far as =
am concerned...

> I am personally more in favour of slogans than laws. Here are=20
> some slogans
> (from memory):

Well, many of the laws actually are slogans, and a lot of them I
specifically labeled as postulates because who knows if they're true or
not. (Admittedly, I didn't get very far in labelling).

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

This one seems to be stated the same but differently in there already.
:) I'll add this statement of it once I find the original statement of
it... I presume this is in the Habitat materials.

> * Users want to get away with something out-of-the-ordinary. =20
> - Bumgardner

Where's this one from?

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

Richard, do you stand by this? Seems rather broad :)

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

I had not seen these before, but glancing down them, most of them seem
to qualify as basic enough lessons that I'd include them in the Laws.
Yes, I can think of ways to design around some of these obstacles, but
awareness that they are obstacles is the important point that I think
Richard was getting at by calling them "bad ideas" in the first =


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