[MUD-Dev] Neverwinter Nights

S. Patrick Gallaty choke at sirius.com
Sat Nov 13 04:43:56 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Koster, Raph <rkoster at origin.ea.com>
To: 'mud-dev at kanga.nu' <mud-dev at kanga.nu>
Date: Thursday, November 11, 1999 10:47 AM
Subject: [MUD-Dev] Neverwinter Nights

>So, who's been following Neverwinter Nights (the new one)?
>  http://www.neverwinternights.com
>If you're familiar with it, how do you feel about it in the context of this
>  http://www.kanga.nu/archives/MUD-Dev-L/1998Q3/msg01274.html
>MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

Honestly I don't know what to think of it based on what I have read and the
descriptions and heard from other players who are looking forward to this
As many of you know the game exists in three forms - as a singleplayer
standalone game, as a multiplayer game and also as a multiplayer game
administered by a human 'Game Master.'  I don't comprehend their description
of a persistent world entirely.

At first I must admit I was dismissive.  Perhaps I have severe mind
pollution from all the MMORPGs I've been playing but the affordances the
game makes for establishing identity in the game is very interesting and the
concept of distributed design is frankly mind-boggling.  I can see this
being epic, or falling flat all depending on the creative flare of the
people who design the modules and a mass of other unpredictable variables.

What I see here really is a throwback to the original sort of "We all build
it" mud paradigm.  Where things are fun, zany, stupid and engaging because
they are an insane mix of thousands of minds.

I hope it works out.  I want to dig out my old D & D stuff and make them
into NWN modules.

This however doesn't answer your question.  Within the context of the post I
think that this NWN game will differ from the MMORPG offerings in that the
'character' will be less of a commodity.  I don't see the 'character' in
this game being a row in a table on the server, but rather more like the
piece of paper in the RPG sense - where the character exists largely in the
player's enactment moreso than in the intrinsics.

> - how do I provide the sense of persistent identity?

In this case presistent identity will occur because the player invests of
themselves into the character.   There are numerous technical affordances
for this specifically customization of the 'avatar' pardon the term, however
it's the player's immersion that will make the identity 'real' when it comes
time to play.  I am rambling, but I what I am trying to say is you don't
provide this, you make affordances so that the player can accomplish it.

- how do I foment the social experience? How do I control the
- how do I keep it running and thriving?

I think in this case the decentralization of the server mechanisms is the
key element here.  This is a form of evolutionary pressure.  Bad MUDs got
few players and thus languished.  Bad NWN modules I am presuming will
accordingly receive bad reviews and be neglected from the player base.
Running and thriving?  Dynamicism.  This is the element which many of the
MMORPGs fall dead flat on.  They are too afraid of perturbing the income
stream to upset the player base and so the scope of what may change is
extremely limited compared to a system where noone has to answer to the
We can point to many examples of design decisions which later became
concrete galoshes because the MMORPG authors did not have the freedom to gut
their "MUD" and fix stuff that was broken - because it would have upset
paying customers - many of whom are highly sensitive to changes which affect
them personally and very vocal.

- Nox

MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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