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

ApplePiMan at aol.com ApplePiMan at aol.com
Fri Oct 16 20:52:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998


At 10/16/98 3:05 PM J C Lawrence (claw at under.engr.sgi.com) altered the 
fabric of reality by uttering:

>ApplePiMan <ApplePiMan at aol.com> wrote:
>> At 10/15/98 5:43 PM J C Lawrence (claw at under.engr.sgi.com) altered
>> the fabric of reality by uttering:
>>> ApplePiMan <ApplePiMan at aol.com> wrote:
>
>> Still, how many folks who don't breathe our rarified air are
>> _really_ capable of learning to fluently express themselves in
>> Perl (I can't speak to LambdaMOO's language as I'm not [yet]
>> familiar with it), much less will take the effort to do so "just"
>> to play a "game"?
>
>No, you're missing the point.  The idea is not that everyone will
>use those reality editing features, just that they *can*, and that a 
>small percentage *will*.  You don't need very many Edison's per
>capita of general population.  You do need at least one however.

If you have even *one* Edison out of the entire population, much less one 
per capita, you're arguably already statistically well beyond what you'd 
encounter in RL. But what I'm interested in is not a rehash of LamdaMOO 
(as good as it might be, it's already been done), but rather in a 
methodology that would allow anyone interested in becoming an Edison to 
do so, at least at some minor level, without having to learn a new 
language. 

"All" I'm advocating is tearing down the entry barriers and flattening 
out the learning curve, so Bubba doesn't feel too intimidated to "give it 
a go" if he doesn't have the RL mentality of an Edison or an Einstein. It 
may be that all Bubba is *capable* of inventing is the in-game equivalent 
of the whoopie cushion, but so what? He'll have fun inventing it, and it 
will be "his" invention. Yet if he has to learn an arcane scripting 
language to invent it, odds are he'll turn his energies to 
less-productive (game wise) enterprises.

>> I'm not in any sense implying there isn't a market for such a
>> thing (in fact I think it would gain a *very* vocal niche very
>> quickly), just wondering if there's some way to broaden the market
>> without insulting the intelligence of the existing market...
>
>cf LambdaMOO.

Just how broad *is* LambdaMOO's market? Without waiting to hear an 
answer, it's still a niche. Maybe a niche market is the best *any* mud 
will ever do (contrary to comments I've seen here, even UO is not really 
"mass market", where MacDonald's and Coca Cola play), but it's 
*certainly* the best we'll do as long as we build in barriers to keep out 
Joe Blow. And let me hasten to add there's nothing wrong with shooting 
for a niche market (even a tiny niche can be *very* profitable, actually, 
given the right circumstances); but unless you define your market and 
plan accordingly, you'll just be "shooting in the dark" and very lucky to 
find a market segment.

My question then boils down to, must such a system where players build 
the world itself by definition aim for the programmer niche, or can it be 
broadened to appeal to a wider niche, or possibly even mass market?

>> Agreed. But, again, is there an implementation palatable to both
>> the geek and the technophobe? How do you break down the entry
>> barriers so your (average) players won't take a look and decide
>> that growing things is not more trouble than it's worth? A few
>> people, those who would, as in your example, go and create their
>> own worlds, will go to the trouble no matter what; but is there a
>> way to get your average Bubba and Sally Jo in on the fun? A
>> solution that could be carried over to the mass market (who
>> generally can't, or won't go to the trouble to, program their own
>> VCRs) would be ideal.
>
>Dunno.
>
>The hope is that it feeds on itself.  The early adopter s enclude
>enough hackers that they create features that are leveraged by the
>later adopters to create new things ad infinitum.  

Check out Geoffrey Moore's _Crossing the Chasm_ (I can track down the 
ISBN if you like). The problem is that's there is a "great gulf fixed" 
between the early adopters and Main Street (the market segment where the 
product hits pay dirt). The early adopters aren't your problem: you'll 
indeed be able to find hackers to get the ball rolling (they'll seek 
*you* out, even). The problem is the paradigm shift it will take to keep 
the ball rolling once it starts. According to Moore, it's *not* a given 
that later adopters will come along to leverage what was done by the 
early adopters, even though human nature is to assume it is given 
(assuming the early adopters like what they see). A product can have tons 
of early adopters who dearly love it, but still bomb without a plan to 
bring in "fresh blood."

>> Again, how many do you think will go to the effort? And won't the
>> ones who won't go to the effort (rightly or wrongly) complain as
>> much about the way the ones that *do* go to the trouble implement
>> the world as they would have a world completely of our own
>> invention?
>
>Absolutely.  This is not only guaranteed, it is necessary and
>desirable.  They are emotive, which means that there is a sense of
>attachment and value.  They can also, should they be sufficiently
>motivated, step up and "do it right" any time they wish.
>
>Players will complain.  This is a given.  The world with complaint
>free players is farcical utopia that logically can't exist.  If you
>have a player complaining about something that means that there is
>something they like and value there which they would like to
>appreciate and value even more.  Translation:  They've taken the
>bait and swallowed the hook.  Your only question is wether you need
>to set the hook or not.

Seems like an awfully long block to travel around only to end up where we 
started with players complaining the world wasn't "done right," if that 
were the only reason to implement this. =) 

The point I'm getting at is that I don't think a large portion of the 
virtual world's population would be *capable* of "step[ping] up and 
'do[ing] it right' any time they wish". Not everyone could, even if 
motivated, learn to program. You're setting up an elite ruling class and 
giving them special powers. Not that there's anything inherently wrong 
with that (a classless world is as impossible and boring as Utopia), but 
I don't think we should pretend it's anything other than that. The 
"haves" (the intelligentsia) can create, and the "have-nots" (the rest of 
the population) cannot. If the "have-nots" get fed up, they'll just go 
somewhere else, where someone has given thought to allowing *everyone* to 
create (if such a place exists).

-Rick.



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