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

Raph Koster rkoster at austin.rr.com
Sun Jul 16 14:24:59 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu
> [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Brian 'Psychochild' Green
> Sent: Sunday, July 16, 2000 3:00 AM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #163 - 25 msgs
>
>
> Raph Koster wrote:

> 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.

Ah, so it was amore about MUD-Dev paying attention than the mud community?
Because I must reiterate, I really don't see the mud community ignoring
Socializers at all. Even the commercial market (1st generation, yes. But
later generations definitely will not).

> > 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.

Of course it will have a short-term effect. But I am reminded of last year's
Phrontisterion again, at Chris Crawford's house (I missed this year's). One
of the topics that led to much agonizing was the split betwwen "hard" and
"soft" people--the techies and the artisy types. And in factm whenever the
split came up, the tcehies all got up and left the discussion, providing
very concrete evidence of it!

But I made the point that for anyone age 20 and younger, the idea of there
being a mandatory split between computers and the arts is ludicrous. A lot
of these cultural divides are short-term. We're in early days yet. As you
yourself said, "PCs... WERE largely the geeks' domain."

The real danger is if the large companies are incapable of breaking out of
the video game molds.

> 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.

More an issue of not seeing all the consequences to a design decision,
something all the early commercial efforts suffer from. IOW, the intent was
there, I believe, as is demonstrated by the presens eof many other features.

> > 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.

Well, we should keep in mind that even in the "real world" of service
industries with billion-person audiences, the 80/20 rule still applies. 80%
of your money comes from 20% of your audience.

> 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.

My impression has been that, say, StarCraft (a hardcore game if I ever saw
one) was indeed bought--though perhaps not played a ton--by casual gamers,
and that's how they got those sales figures. Diablo is definitely open to
the casual market in most ways, though it can be played like a hardcore game
 .

>  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.

I think the key here is to realize that something like The Sims manages to
bridge both audiences. Rollercoaster Tycoon, same thing. And that's where
the real potential comes, because we all know that by and large, it's going
to be hard to get a subscription fee from something as shallow as the three
examples you mention. The "hard core" element is another way of saying
"ongoing depth." This is the approach I think it will take to bring MMORPGs
to the larger audience, and it may well take a big license from other media
to do it.

> > > 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. :)

The main thing I'd say about all those is that they are all renowned for
being poor at emotional context, compared to other forms of communication.
Related to that: fluent expression in text is HARD, and most people can't do
it on the fly.

-Raph




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