[MUD-Dev] Re: UO rants

Schubert Schubert
Tue Aug 22 18:59:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Matthew Mihaly [mailto:the_logos at achaea.com]

> Unfortunately, I think we can expect that to be par for the 
> course with
> licenses and massively multiplayer worlds. It happened with 
> Ultima. Sierra
> completely mucked up the Tolkien license and wasn't even able 
> to deliver a
> decent friggin' game on time. I shudder to see Star Wars 
> Online. In their
> defence though, I don't put the blame on the large commercial 
> designers
> though. They are under a mandate (presumably either explicit 
> or implied)
> to make money for their employers. 

Being able to pay your employees salaries is, like, cool and stuff.

Seriously, most licenses are _not well designed_ to be turned
into MUDs, because MUDs are usually somewhat static, 
predictable worlds with spawns and campers and D00dz and easily
twiddleable alignment systems and ludicrously stupid NPCs who
will give you the same quest every day of the week and plots 
that move forward extremely slowly if at all and fiction that
rarely if ever turns the hero into the center of attention and
players who insist on naming themselves Beavis and wandering 
around the world going "'heh-heh-heh-heh... he said 'Shaft'".

That doesn't make the desire of thousands of players to live
in the world of Tolkien, or Star Wars, or Dune, or Anne Rice,
any less.  It is, in fact, far more compelling to your average
user than a world created from scratch.  You only need to
take a look at the MUD list to see the sheer number of well
populated dikus, LPs and MUSHes based on existing properties.
Most MUDs that aren't strictly one fiction have Python areas,
Robin Hood areas or Tolkien areas which tend to be more 
popular because they are mentally accessible to the user.  
Places you know are more comfortable places to 'live'.

And for what it's worth, I don't know of any fiction that 
captures the realisms of the genre, such as the ones I 
listed above.  The decisions behind all of the things 
mentioned above were made by the UO, EQ and AC teams for
solid reasons, more often related to time and code 
complexity than to money.  The realities of the MMPRPG
genre are so specific that they must always be in the 
driver's seat, which means that the fiction, oftentimes,
is not.

>If that means destroying a 
> well-loved
> property, well, so be it. Really, it's just the sort of thing 
> you'd expect
> from EA. *starts ranting about how incredibly lame it is that EA is
> shutting down both Meridian 59 and Kesmai*

Meridian 59 is being shut down by the company that owns it,
which is 3DO, not EA.  Now, I probably love that game more 
than anyone on the planet, but it's numbers at this time 
are very low (i.e. usually less than 80 people online at
a time), which is to say, almost certainly unprofitable.

Damion Schubert
Lead Designer, Ultima Worlds Online: Origin
Designer Emeritus, Meridian 59

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