[MUD-Dev] Critiquing Muds

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Fri Jul 9 21:04:08 New Zealand Standard Time 1999


"Koster, Raph" wrote:
> 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! :)

She seems to target virtual communities, in the most general sense though
(http://www.naima.com/book/toc.html).

There used to be something roughly like this (reproduced mostly with my
words):

1. PURPOSE
- announce purpose
- retell the creation myth providing some sense of history
- hightlight features which underline the purpose
2. GATHERING SPACES
- make public spaces distinct
- allow creation of their own spaces
- reward experienced players with more powerful tools
3. RICH COMMUNICATION
- messageboards
- chatrooms (lobby?)
- buddy lists
- private chat (tell)
4. LADDERS
- make rank visible in the avatar
- include rankings history (player-of-the-month awards)
- make comparison of rank easy
- make the ranking "algorithm" available
5. EVOLVING PLAYER PROFILES
- create browsable member directory
- update profile with responsibilities and participation history
- self authored content
6. HOSTING AND SUPPORT 
- admin available at all times, empowered to resolve conflicts
- hold hosted events regularly, collect feedback
- enable hosting of player run activities with control functionality
7. NEWBIES
- send new members personal email greeting
- greet new members when they first come online, offer tour and info
- create a mentor system
8. GROWTH PATH
- set up levels of membership with privileges and responsibilities
- announce promotions publicly, create awareness of punishment for
  abouse of new powers
- encourage forming of task oriented groups
- announce job openings to members first
- consider creating a member council
9. SUBGROUPS
- make clan oriented stuff visible
- make clan membership visible in directory
- clan of the month stuff
- tournaments for clans
- provide clan mailinglists and web pages
- provide clan oriented rankings
10. DISPUTES
- define bad language
- resolution hierarchy
- members should know where to go with a problem
- train staff behaviour, recruit members who resolve successfully
11. REGULAR EVENTS
- daily gaming column on the webpage
- weekly events at appropriate times based on existing habits
- create events after popular TV shows go off the air
12. PASSING OF TIME
- reflect seasons in the visuals
- reflect holidays and (external?) events which your members care about
- greetings on birthdays etc
- acknowledge length of membership anniversaries
- acknowledge important events in the lives of characters
- celbrate launch date of your community

on the Naima website, but much more elaborate. Nothing surprising in there,
though. John Coate has written something on building communities too, and
Peter Kollock(1996/1998) has written an article "Design Principles for
Online Communities", which refers to physcial world research on communities
as well (Axelrod, Ostrom).

I am personally somewhat sceptical about overfocusing on "the community" in
a design, as opposed to "the group". But of course, people usually forget to
define what they mean with "community", maybe they mean group. I'd like to
see some definitions of what one desires from a "community".  Sharing of
resources? Cooperation?  Altruism?  Productivity?  Moral?

Most of the writings on community seem to be tied to Usenet, mailinglists
and similar constructs which I don't view as representative for virtual
worlds (MUDs). They might even be less useful than the physical world
related theory for all I know. 

Elinor Ostrom's design principles (quoted from Kollock's paper):
- Group boundaries are clearly defined
- Rules governing the use of collective goods are well matched to local
  needs and conditions
- Most individuals affected by these rules can participate in modifying
  the rules
- The right of community members to devise their own rules is respected
  by external authorities
- A system for monitoring members' behavior exists; this monitoring is
  undertaken by the community members themselves
- A graduated system of sanctions is used
- Community members have access to low-cost conflict resolution
  mechanisms

--
Ola




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