[MUD-Dev] an essay on PK

J C Lawrence claw at varesearch.com
Mon Sep 27 21:06:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

On Tue, 21 Sep 1999 08:31:13 +0100 (BST) 
Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl> wrote:

> You are apparently assuming that your victims (the whiners) are
> playing the same game as you are.  They obviously are not. A large
> part of the shock is coming from the fact that people think they
> are playing a particular type of game and then are suddenly forced
> into an entirely different type of game.  

I happen to have spent some time studying Raph's law collection

  J C Lawrence's "stating the obvious" law

  The more people you get, the more versions of "what we're really
  doing" you're going to get.

> Paraphrasing the person who wrote the original article: Players
> think they are safe and that the warning PK allowed does not apply
> to them, until I prove them otherwise.  

Hurm.  This also parallels the points I made recently on
predictability, or if you wish, the principle that players hate
being surprised with the surprise is to their disadvantage.
Surprise is usually not welcome and in fact is often actively, even
violently campaigned against.  One could view consensual play styles
as being modes with minimal "unpleasant surprise" factors.  

  Pleasing your Players
  Despite your best intentions, any change will be looked upon as a
  bad change to a large percentage of your players. Even those who
  forgot they asked for it to begin with.

This in turn directly relates to Keegan's assertions on the
popularity of Stock MUDs and the general unpopularity of MUDs with
more interesting and therefore unusual design elements. 

Hanarra's Laws

      Over time, your playerbase will come to be the group of people
      who most enjoy the style of play that your world offers. The
      others will eventually move to another game. 

      It is very hard to attract players of different gaming styles after
      the playerbase has been established. Any changes to promote
      different styles of play almost always conflict with the
      established desires of the current playerbase. 

      The ultimate goal of a virtual world is to create a place where
      people of all styles of play can contribute to the world in a
      manner that makes the game more satisfying for everyone. 

      The new players who enter the world for the first time are the
      best critics of it. 

      The opinions of those who leave are the hardest to obtain, but
      give the best indication of what changes need to be made to
      reach that ultimate goal. 

Familiarity sells.  Predicted surprises sell better:

  J. C. Lawrence's "do it everywhere" law

  If you do it one place, you have to do it everywhere. Players like
  clever things and will search them out. Once they find a clever
  thing they will search for other similar or related clever things
  that seem to be implied by what they found and will get pissed off
  if they don't find them.

Tough sell.  You have to be different, but not too different, and
yet you have to allow for discovery, exploration, and the delight of
"safe" surprise -- all without upsetting the Stam Collector's

  Dr Cat's Stamp Collecting Dilemma

  "Lots of people might like stamp collecting in your virtual
  world. But those who do will never play with those who like other
  features.  Should you have stamp collecting in your world?" We
  know that there are a wide range of features that people find
  enjoyable in online worlds. We also know that some of these
  features are in conflict with one another. Given the above, we
  don't yet know if it is possible to have a successful world that
  incorporates all the features, or whether the design must choose
  to exclude some of them in order to keep the players happy.

J C Lawrence      Life: http://www.kanga.nu/   Home: claw at kanga.nu
---------(*)                Work (Linux/IA64): claw at varesearch.com
 ... Beware of cromagnons wearing chewing gum and palm pilots ...

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