[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Dr. Cat cat at realtime.net
Sun Jan 23 22:21:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

-- Start of included mail From:  "F. Randall Farmer" <randy at communities.com>

> Date:  Fri, 21 Jan 2000 10:59:41 -0800

> A question: In what way do you manifest yourself as the immortal?

In Furcadia, my partner and I appear as regular characters, for the
most part.  We want players to feel that we're people just like them, who
enjoy spending time in the game world and socializing - which we do.
I've delegated most of our early responsibilities for taking care of
the few really persistent troublemakers to our volunteer staff, and
refer most complaints to them.  If people have questions about what's
coming for the game in the future, I try to answer them all patiently
and politely.  When people make a big deal about me or call me a "god"
or something, I invariable say "I'm just this cat you know", which I
deliberately leave ambiguous.  I intend for it to be unclear whether I
mean "You know, I'm just another cat" or "I'm just some cat with whom you
are acquainted", or perhaps both.  I like it that way.

I will confess that when we put a premium option into the game to let
people have wings for a modest fee, I gave my partner and I both a set.
When I add the option to turn them on and off, though, I intend to walk
around without them a fair amount of the time.  And when we add the more
expensive (and therefore rarer and more "special") option to play as a
dragon character, I intend to stay a cat - thus letting some of the
players have a more rare and interesting form than the game founders.

Anyway, one of the main purposes in going around amongst the players is to
make them feel that the creators of the game care about the world and the
community, and participate in it.  With a secondary benefit of some
percentage of the players getting the same pleasure that people get from
meeting creators at public autographing sessions, book tours, etc.  This
is, of course, a solution that doesn't scale well at all.  When the player
base goes up by an order of magnitude, the amount of personal contact with
the creators each player gets will go down by an order of magnitude.
Still, I think it's vitally important to "seed" a new environment with a
really strong sense of involvement and emotional bonding to each other and
to the game.  And I think we've been very effective at that.  I just hope
it will help shape the society that emerges when swarms of new people come
flooding into the environment, rather than being swept away by them.

I also hope that word can be made to get around that we play in the game
regularly even when it's huge, through players talking to each other about
it.  I certainly heard a lot of talk on the net in the early days of
Ultima Online about the fact that Lord British almost never logged on to
play, and it was clear people wished he would.  And it's also clear that
when people became aware of Designer Dragon as someone who did spend time
there and who did talk to people and answer questions, the community liked
that quite a bit.

I'd like to note, by the way, that I'm very glad to see you on the list.
I've been following your work and your writings ever since the early
Quantum Link days, and I always recommend the articles you and your
colleagues wrote about Habitat as some of the best things to read to learn
about online community issues.  It's nice to finally get a chance to say


   Dr. Cat / Dragon's Eye Productions       ||       Free alpha test:
*-------------------------------------------**  http://www.bga.com/furcadia
    Furcadia - a graphic mud for PCs!       ||  Let your imagination soar!

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