[MUD-Dev] Gamasutra: Online Justice Systems

Sayeed yu219121 at YorkU.CA
Tue Mar 28 00:40:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

Todd wrote:
>Two things -- in a market where it's pretty standard to get x amount of
>characters for $10, if you only offer 1 character, and your competition
>offers 5, likely you're going to loose a great deal of business. The appeal
>of the online gaming market has to appeal to the senses of a populace that
>might not think in terms of game value and 'what my experience in relation
>to the overall game is'. Shop A advertises 5 for $1, and a Shop B advertises
>1 for $1, in most cases (hardcore gamers with a history and devotion to the
>game itself aside) most people are going to take the Shop A route.

I'm not sure about that.  I'd say that this is one of the 
clearer issues in online gaming.  'If players only have 
one character, they WILL be careful about whether they 
use or abuse him/her/it.  They will feel more responsibility'
I think that's a clear idea that the majority of gamers 
will understand.  After all, "An audience is only as 
smart as you give them credit for." Where it gets 
complicated is HOW to insure you get a 1:1 player:account
 ratio (covered in my last post).

To the customers that DON'T understand the benefits of single 
character games, the reviews of the beta test, clearly 
showing those benefits, should be evidence enough.  It's an 
easily understood issue, so what it comes down to in the end 
is good marketing, and if there's one thing the western world 
has in abundance, it's marketing geniuses.  I personally think 
they can make having a persistant character in a fantastic new 
world a really fun thing.  Especially since this world will 
have a lot fewer problems than all its competitors.

(Note:  When we talk marketing, beta tests, or reviews, I 
guess we've started talking about larger scale gaming, but 
most everything else applies to the somewhat smaller, 
pay-for-play ones.)

Also, if we're looking at the initial appeal to customers,
 I think it would be wrong to ignore the other side of the 
coin.  A more ordered and civilized world which finally 
allows game-play mechanisms to work like well-oiled machines 
to provide content which a more civilized user can take an 
active role in (don't I sound like marketing now? :-/), is 
going to attract a new crowd which has been chased away by 
the rampant problems and overly restrictive solutions of 
other online games. (Whew!)  Real role-players, disallusioned 
adventurers, aspiring politicians, a whole new crowd will 
flock to a game and to say it will chase away players would 
be folly.

>The second thing is a jerk's a jerk's a jerk. 
>[snip- jerks paying to play numbers only]
>even if they're limited to just a single character, these are not the people
>who feel honestly horrified if something bad happens to their character.
>They just make a new set of numbers and go from there.

Then the jerks would prefer multiple character systems?  I 
think some of the real jerks would go terrorize those games 
and it's better then for the single character systems, so 
no developer really wants those types of people in their 
games.  Still, I don't think ALL the jerks would go to other
systems, and that's the real beauty of a single character 
system.  These people aren't horrified if something bad 
happens to their characters precisely BECAUSE multi-character 
systems distance players from their characters.  And it 
doesn't only affect jerks, it affects EVERYONE, but jerks 
are just the most noticable, since they're obviously just 
at the controls of complex harrassment machines.  But Now 
we can make them responsible for their actions.  Multiple 
character systems ENCOURAGE the sort of thinking that 
characters are only a collection of numbers, an ethereal 
facade you can switch to, switch to, and switch to.  
Current systems allow and encourage jerks to get out 
their jerkiness.  Single character systems encourage jerks 
to come back from the dark side.  In real life, show the 
criminal what he's done and who he's affected, and he'll 
feel responsible, this responsibility might lead to 
remorse and change.  Don't let him think the cash he's 
stolen is just numbers, show him how it's the blood and 
sweat of a now bankrupt man.  At the very least he'll 
stop acting the way he does when he gets out of jail 
because people are WATCHING HIM.  Society does this 
because it can put the yoke of blame on people's 
shoulders, it can hold someone responsible.  In multiple 
character systems, there's little reason for even 
superficial remorse, for even disgruntled change, because 
people don't NEED to, the responsibility isn't on their 
sole character, it's on only one of their many.  OF 
COURSE they go to the Dark Side!

Yes, a jerk is a jerk is a jerk.  Jerks can be discouraged 
from entering MUDs however, and they can be limited, and 
they can be encouraged to change, and a single character 
system is the fundamental first step on the way to doing it.

>Trust me, though, I like the theory. But in order to combat the costs of
>making such a game and to make it profitable, it has to appeal to a wider
>audience, and not necessarily an audience who has the same ideas of 'value'
>that game designers have =)

I'm glad you like the theory.  Sure, all new ideas have 
their supporters and their detractors, but just because 
some people disagree is no reason to abandon them, 
especially when you KNOW that they are good.

What you have to do is trust that others will, that others 
CAN see the same things you can.  If there is doubt, SHOW 
THEM.  It's much easier if it's a really good idea.  My 
contention is that it's a clearer issue than one might 
think.  Marketing, player-developer involvement, beta tests,
reviews, Marketing, they've have all been instrumental 
to bringing games to the people who will enjoy them.  I 
believe this theory is extremely beneficial, extremely 
enjoyable.  All we need to do is Build it, market it, and 
they will Come.  If they love it, they'll bring even more. 

(27 million in online gaming in how many years was it?
  How many of those in MUDs?)

Zaid Sayeed
yu219121 at yorku.ca

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