[MUD-Dev] Critiquing Muds

Koster Koster
Wed Jul 7 18:58:18 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


I see the list is back, so this is a repost of a message that bounced.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Marian Griffith [mailto:gryphon at iaehv.nl]
> Sent: Monday, June 21, 1999 3:45 PM
> To: Mud Dev Mailing list
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Critiquing Muds
> 
> In-game communities are not really something you can design. When the game
> is large enough they will emerge. However the game can provide mechanism
to
> encourage and support community building.

Amy Jo Kim has lots of superb ideas along this front, but I think she saving
most of them for her book, and doesn't want the laundry list disseminated
yet. Far be it from em to steal an author's thunder! :) The essay I wrote
that can be found at http://mud.sig.net/raph/gaming/essay6.html is intended
for players, not mud designers, but it's not hard to read through it and see
what sorts of tools designers should provide to better enable what is
described.

> Any game that aims to grow beyond
> a minimal player base  (Raph Koster mentions  averaging 250 players
on-line
> simultaneously)  will find  developing communities,

I think communities can be found in much smaller muds--250 is merely a
yardsitck for when *subcommunities* will emerge. And I lifted the figure
from Richard Bartle. Reference is his article on "Bad Ideas for Multi-Player
Games," where it is tossed off as part of Bad Idea #1:

URL: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/tcsf98.htm

start quote--->
Bad Idea #1:
"If 50 simultaneous players is good and 500 is better, 5,000 must be
absolutely fantastic!"

No. If people want to be nobodies, they can play Real Life... 

To handle these kinds of numbers in a single game, you have to package
players up into smaller communities so individuals CAN feel "known" to their
peers. A 5,000-player game becomes a 20-community game, where each community
is 250 simultaneous players. Write a better game for 250 players, and run 20
copies of it. 
<---end quote

I don't fully agree with his position on this--I agree that there is a point
where it is pointless to try for a bigger playerbase. But I think the
friction between subcommunities can make for very interesting game dynamics,
particularly if you are interested in things like political or economic
structures within the game.

This essay of his, btw, along with many others, are now gathered in a links
page I have put on my website. Unlike other links pages about muds, this one
is specifically oriented around mud design. If you want to check it out,
hit:

URL: http://mud.sig.net/raph/gaming/

Click on Links in the Gaming submenu. Apologies for embedding all the linked
pages inside the frames--I haven't gotten around to fixing that yet (this
just went up). While you're at it, sign the Guestbook, see what else is new
(I put up some doodles recently...)

-Raph


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