[MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #164 - 12 msgs

Raph Koster rkoster at austin.rr.com
Sun Jul 16 18:27:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu
> [mailto:mud-dev-admin at kanga.nu]On Behalf Of
> Dr. Cat
> Sent: Sunday, July 16, 2000 2:04 PM
> To: mud-dev at kanga.nu
> Subject: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #164 - 12 msgs
> > From: "Raph Koster" <rkoster at austin.rr.com>
> > Subject: RE: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #163 - 25 msgs
> >
> I thought we had argued about whether it's essential (or at least
> inevitable) to have combat or combat-like functions in all virtual
> environments, or at least the "fully rich" ones.

Yeah, we had argued about that too. And I suspect that what we argued over
had a lot to do with the definition of "combat." But I do seem to recall at
some point an argument (oh, let's call it a "debate"!) over whether "games"
were going to be required in virtual environment in the near future.

> I'm not sure that
> I have a strong opinion on that, or need one.  Certainly Furcadia and
> the Zippity stuff I'm working on have plenty of game or
> game-like things
> planned for 'em.  I think the "foreseeable future" stretches
> far enough to
> imagine that people who just want to talk will have something aimed
> exclusively at that, though.  IRC and telephones both seem
> popular, each
> in their own way.  (Telephones just a trifle more so. :X)

Yes, the question is whether there's some application for virtual spaces
that is better at what telephones do than telephones are.

> > I think that the understimated audience is actually not the pure
> > socializers. That's evident to anyone with a modicum of Internet savvy.
> > EverQuest, generally agreed upon to be a primarily hack n slash
> > makes a point of the game design forcing socialization.
> I wouldn't say it's evident to everyone on this list, nor would I have
> said much of ANYTHING was evident to the game industry back in '94 when
> I made the rounds pitching DragonSpires. [snip]

Trust me, it's evident to at least some of the big players. There are
projects being done by major commercial game companies that are solely about
chat. Even if they turn out to be worse at it than, say, the Palace, they
have a shot at being more successful because of access to the market.

> > To my mind, it's the explorer/builder types that are the large ignored
> > market.
> Not ignored here.

You've always been an exception to the rule, Cat, in more ways than I can
count. :)

>  I do think things like
> karaoke are rare in the bar world, though it's a good example.

Bars have this huge advantage, they already have something to go do there:
get drunk. They don't need to rely nearly as much on things to do while
there. Think of other forms of social congregations, though--a major part of
them is generally providing members some chance at self-expression--in the
most successful ones, this self-expression is redirected towards things that
strengthen the social congregation.

cf this list? :)

> Even
> online, MOST people are too embarassed, lazy, disinterested or
> what-have-you to create stuff.

Dunno--I think most everyone snuck in writing a poem or two in junior high,
and tried to draw something when they were ten, and wished they could be a
famous pop star at some point. The problem has always been that it's hard to
do these things.

It's even harder to build in a mud. Mud building tools suck. Big time. It's
hard to WRITE, and that's been the primary mode of self-expression permitted
mud players for decades. At least at that, we could assume that most people
had base competence when they got there. Now we're graphical--the barrier to
entry is higher for content creation. And we don't even have mechanics to
reward it in the games!

> But that minority that do are generating
> free content that makes your service far more interesting to the rest of
> the players.

I agree with the crassly commercial points you make here (exploit their
work, they're more & better than we are, etc :) -- but that said, I think
there's more to it. People go onto chat boards not only to make contact with
others, but also to be big fishes in small ponds. To feel like contributors.
We could be doing a better job of that. There's gotta be some aspect of the
appeal to various sorts of god games from SimCity to the Sims in this.

> > The real question, for those people trying to make that
> type of mud, is
> > whether the market is ready for the socializer-only mud.
> After all, there
> > have been a couple of attempts thus far, and they've faield
> to get very far
> > (speaking in absolute market terms ehre, of course--as
> artistic and social
> > endeavors they are seminal works in the field: Habitat,
> Palace, AlphaWorld,
> > WorldsChat, etc).
> Redefine ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger as an "online community" and I
> think they blow away the usage levels of ALL muds added together, free
> and commercial ones both.

Well, sure. But I don't make instant messenger systems, I make virtual
environments. I am pretty sure that adding spatiality t AIM or ICQ would
fail miserably--it's not an optimum interface for the primary purpose of the
software any more than walking down virtual aisles is the optimum interface
for onilne shopping.

We already know that ICQ and AIM would do dandy WITHIN a virtual environment
(muds seem to be omnivorous insofar as consuming communication media--you
can successfully stick any of them in one). But a mud that is about ICQ? Why
bother? ICQ is better, smaller, faster.

> I think worlds like the
> ones I'm building should have a component exactly like this, with the
> opportunity for the draw-you-further-in elements like an ICQ chat request
> to draw you into the visual world any time you see someone you want to
> interact with in greater depth.

Ah, now we're talking. So to me the real question is, what do they do while
they're there, what do they talk about, and in what way does it keep them
there as opposed to all the other services that are going to offer the exact
same thing, down to the same forums?

> Anyway I'm not sure this is so far off as you think.  AIM and ICQ are
> huge, and voice chat is going to make such things a lot huger over the
> next five to ten years.  Change the world as we know it, forever.

Yep. Agree here. But again, I think it's going to take the killer app.
AIM/ICQ were better than email for specific things. Hence they filled a
need. Internet telephony has not filled a need that people found critical.
Hence it never took off. What's the killer app for virtual communities that
are spatial in nature, eg muds? People have tried games, building, chatting,
conferencing, classrooms, and a few other things. So far games is the one
that has really clicked, and I think others can click as well, but it's
gotta do somthing nothing else can do.

> > The advantage to starting from the base of the had core
> > gaming geek community is that it gives entry to a "seed audience" that
> > get the ball rolling.
> Disadvantage is they and the type of environments they favor
> are a huge turn-off for lots of the general public.

Yeah, we're in agreement here, as I stated to Brian, the big difficulty with
this route is breaking out of the "computer game" mold. But as JCL noted,
where's Harry Potter?

> We'll see.  Eventually you'll see the fans of a particular sports team,
> rock band, etc. forming the cores of these communities, probably a lot
> more than gamers.

Keep in mind that many of the smallest muds follow this paradigm (lotta
poorly attended talkers with themes like that); the biggest tend to make use
of beloved fictional environments. What makes those guys talk about their
favorite rock band or team on YOUR service?

>  I think it'll be decades before as high a percentage of
> the public likes to roleplay even a little as my partner is hoping for.
> I admire her for working towards it though, I think society will be better
> off when more people stretch their imaginations that way.

You referring to 'Manda? Well, personally,I don't think roleplay will ever
be huge in the sense that she means it. In the sense of "concealing one's
identity and pretending to be someone else," sure. :) It's already huge that

> > The big commercial video game companies making these MMORPGs know that.
> > just don't know quite how to get there yet. But I know for a fact they
> > trying. :)
> Again, you've made the rounds of them a lot more recently than me.  But
> I'm much more willing to belittle them and say "Oy, you call
> that trying?"

Heh. Yes, well. :)

> Tell ya what, I'll race you there.  You're ahead of me right now, with
> 200,000 to my 10,000 or so.  But there's plenty of time to catch up.  :X)
> First one to ten million gets bought dinner, whaddya say?  Five million is
> too easy!

Hoo boy. Now the list is gonna hold me to it. :)


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