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

ApplePiMan at aol.com ApplePiMan at aol.com
Wed Oct 14 20:04:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

At 10/13/98 4:44 AM mud-dev at kanga.nu (claw at under.engr.sgi.com) altered 
the fabric of reality by uttering:

>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?

Mmm... I hate to say this, but yes. Try as I might that last sentece just 
doesn't parse. =/ Or rather, I understand what you're saying, but don't 
see how it relates to muds (remember, my background is largely paper 
RPGs). What, in mud terms, is an expressive environment, and how does one 
implement it "just good enough"? Sounds like a fascinating topic in and 
of itself, but I'm not following it well enough to comment further...

>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.

The Metaverse from _Snow Crash_. =) My background is different from that 
of most of you (and so my spec'ed software is not "exactly" a mud to 
begin with), but I view this as essential, in one form or another. 
Players must be able to make the world "theirs" in some way, by 
personalizing their corner of it. Whether I allow, as in your example, 
building the world from a wireframe up, or just players making their 
customizing marks on a pre-built shell, the customization is a vital 
element; I think the alternative (a "finished" world) is a bad idea in 
that it is not a strong stimulus to player imagination. And if we manage 
to involve the player's imagination, we've got them "hooked" for as long 
as we manage to *keep* it involved.

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

This is where I'm missing your boat altogether. =( How are you tying this 
to "expressiveness"? (I'm certain I'm just being incredibly dense... I 
never cease to amaze myself with just how dense I can occasionally be for 
a basically intelligent fellow. <g>)

>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.

Amen, brother! Preach on!! <g> (I still didn't quite parse "expressive 
fertility", but I *strongly* agree with the contextual sentiment of 
letting PCs "fend for themselves" whenever possible...)


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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