[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #163 - 25 msgs

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Sun Jul 16 00:59:49 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


Raph Koster wrote:
> 
> > From: Dr. Cat
> >
> > I don't even need to quote the message, my reaction to this was generated
> > mainly by just seeing the tacit assumption in the message title.
 
> To be honest, I was a little surprised to see Brian's title to his post,
> given that I don't see any particular neglect towards socializers going on,
> *except* in the "MMRORPG" world, where of course, it's not the initial
> target market.

I'm trying to take a more generalist approach to my rants, for the
benefit of all participants here.  I've had a more commercial focus in
the past, and am trying to include all MUDs in these article.  Yes,
commercial MUDs (including those that prefer to go by that dreadful
acronym, MMORPG) are the worst offenders, but I know there's a good
share of free MUDs that do the same when it comes to exclusion of
Socializers.

Also, MUD-Dev has historically not had much discussion about
Socializers.  We go on endlessly about Killers, talk about Achievers,
wonder how to keep Explorers happy, but we don't talk much about
Socializers (with a few notable exceptions).  My goal is to start
discussions and to get some of the unspoken gestalt out in the open.
 
> > The dominance of combat-oriented muds is a temporary phenomenon, caused
> > largely by the fact that the small minority of the human population that
> > hardcore gaming geeks represent (a group I'm a member of, by the way) are
> > much more willing to do hard work early on to make something
> > like a mud possible.
 
> The fact of the matter is that sooner or later, highly interactive virtual
> environments had to break out into a larger audience using more current
> technology. It just made sense that the first industry to do so would be the
> interactive entertainment industry. But it doesn't say anything whatsoever
> about the future of virtual environments.

Hmm, I disagree here, Raph.  PCs have a lot of baggage because they were
largely the geeks' domain and also because some people only viewed them
as glorified game machines.  And, how many of our older relatives still
think the internet is just a place to find porn and marriage-ruining sex
chat?  Have you read an Ann Lander's column about the Internet lately? 
She's got nothing good to say about it.  It may not have a permanent
impact, but it certainly will alter things in the short-term.
 
> I've stated before (and I think, argued with you about it, Cat) that even
> socializer-oriented virtual spaces are going to have to include games for
> the foreseeable future.

I'll have to back Raph up on this one.  My current job at
Communities.com (Randy Farmer's (et al) company, specializing in
graphical, social chat) was secured largely because they wanted someone
with a games background.  "Come for the game, stay for the community" is
a mantra I've heard quite a bit from others in our industry.

> >  When the masses are using online environments, character
> > advancement and killing monsters will be a fringe genre, with most people
> > using muds for socializing.  Most of them *gasp* not even roleplaying,
> > just pretending to be "myself talking to my friends through the computer".
> > Or at most "myself in a funny space-alien costume, ha ha."
 
> Just to be picky...
>
> I think that the understimated audience is actually not the pure
> socializers. That's evident to anyone with a modicum of Internet savvy. Even
> EverQuest, generally agreed upon to be a primarily hack n slash experience,
> makes a point of the game design forcing sociailzation.

And, to be even pickier....

You spoke correctly, because EQ encourages socialization, but it's
important to realize that it doesn't encourage socializers.  As I've
said a few times now, the achiever-focused gameplay restricts who
players can meaningfully interact with.  The level 3 character doesn't
get to chat with a level 40 player (unless the level 3 is a twink, of
course. ;)  As a socializer-type that's played EQ, the communication
tools are absolutely horrible.  A lack of in-game mail or readily
available in-game chat boards make it very hard to stay in touch with
newly met friends within context of the game.

And, while Explorer/Builder types may not have many tools built for
them, I think most will agree we discuss their plight more than we do
the poor Socializer's plight.  This is why I wrote my rant on paying
attention to Socializers instead of other types.
 
> > Numbers for the latest reality check - a recent article I saw (don't
> > remember the source, so feel free to consider the numbers as
> > questionable
> > as you like) said there were one million hardcore gamers on
> > the Internet,
> > and thirty million casual gamers.
 
> The big commercial video game companies making these MMORPGs know that. They
> just don't know quite how to get there yet. But I know for a fact they are
> trying. :)

(Un)fortunately, some are also learning that it's harder to get those
30M "casual" gamers to part with their money than the 1M hard-core
gamers.  I'm certainly not arguing that there are more casual gamers
than hard-core gamers.  That follows from the definition of "hard-core"
and "casual",  ya know. :)

But, I'm skeptical of such figures.  The sales figures for Blizzard's
games, which I love dearly but certainly aren't "casual" games, places
that hard-core figure a bit low.  It's also important to know the
definition of "casual" gamer.  The only non-hardcore (offline) games in
the top-seller rankings in recent memory have been Myst, the Deer Hunter
(and it's associated clones), and "Who Wants to See a Check for $1
Million?"  The last game, I'll remind the audience, retails for less
than $20.  And, yes, that's my final answer.
 
> > The question in my mind isn't how to work socializers in, but
> > rather how
> > to make a place that caters primarily to socializers - the majorit of
> > humans.
 
> I guess all I am saying is that I don't think the answer is only better
> chat.
 
Again, I'll have to agree with Raph.  Most of the pure socializers have
their favorite tools already; they have Email, and ICQ, and AIM, and IRC
and a plethora of other tools.  Note that many of them are free if you
already have an internet connection.  Can we seriously add enough to
compete with them?  I dunno, but good luck. :)

--
"And I now wait / to shake the hand of fate...."  -"Defender", Manowar
     Brian Green, brian at psychochild.org  aka  Psychochild
       |\      _,,,---,,_      *=* Morpheus, my kitten, says "Hi!" *=*
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_  
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'  "Ritalin Cures Next Picasso" 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)               -The_Onion_, August 4th, 1999



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