[MUD-Dev] Raph's collection of MUD design Laws

Greg Underwood gunderwood at donet.com
Sun Mar 12 22:45:06 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Raph must have put up his page-o-laws whilst I had traffic turned off, so
the first I saw the page was just this week.  On the whole, I think the
comment at the top about viewing them as challenges and not rules is most
excellent.  I know I found myself saying "yeah, but if you try this," or
"well, yeah, but looking at it this way..." an awful lot.  ;)

Anyway, forgive me if I'm restating a previously discussed topic, but I
just had to comment on what seems to me to be an obvious correlation
between a couple of the points.  Specifically:

    A corollary to Elmqvist's Law
    In general, adding features to an online game that prevent
    people from playing together is a bad idea.

    A caveat to the corollary to Elmqvist's Law
    The exception would be features that enhance the sense of
    identity of groups of players, such as player languages.

    Community size
    Ideal community size is no larger than 250. Past that, you
    really get subcommunities.

Does it not make sense, then, to say that you ought to severly limit (or at
least very carefully consider) the number of 'group identity enhancing'
features in your game, until you reach that level of roughly 250 players?

In answer to my own question (and probably what got me thinking along these
lines as I read those points), I have to offer up my experiences in running
EoD.  Early on, we didn't have too many guilds (the stock 4 or so that come
with most DIKU's, IIRC).  However, we thought it'd be keen to add some
more, give more people a chance to find their niche, not to mention fit
more closely with the story (Wheel Of Time) that we were supposedly based on.

Once we boosted the number of guilds, we ran in to a few problems which, in
retrospect, seem to be what the corollary to Elmqvist's law is trying to
prevent.  We had about 150 people online during the peak hours.  Early on,
people tended to split out pretty evenly amongst the guilds.  After a
while, once we had a few pretty charismatic leader types in charge of the
guilds, people tended to group together under the strongest guild, leaving
the rest as vastly underpopulated.  Which guild was "the guild to be in"
depended on a lot of things... which charater class was perceived to be
strongest (class didn't determine guild, but the nature of the guilds based
on the story from the book did tend to determine the class of the members).

Now, granted, any community will want to divide into sub-groups, but what
you call those groups, as well as how many you provide can have a great
affect on how much flavor they add vs. how much they push at the seams of
what holds the community together.


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