FW: [MUD-Dev] Interesting EQ rant (very long quote)

Matt Mihaly the_logos at www.achaea.com
Sun Apr 1 19:12:05 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Fri, 30 Mar 2001, Travis Casey wrote:
> Thursday, March 29, 2001, 1:28:36 PM, Matt Mihaly
> <the_logos at www.achaea.com> wrote:

>> I don't really see the relevance of claiming that in an ideal game
>> there'd be no metagame methods.

> The only relevance that I see is that the closer you can come to an
> "ideal" RP-oriented group of players, the less you need to worry
> about it.

But surely you'd want your RP oriented players bringing in such things
as a common language, an education, intelligence, free-time, and so
on? All of these are just as OOC as, say, having real money have an

> To bring it back to muds: if you filter for roleplayers at the start
> by using an application system, you won't have to worry nearly as
> much about players applying out-of-character knowledge.

Well, presumably your applications will be written in some
out-of-character language (unless your world is set in the 'real
world' where some real-world language would have relevance).

>> I am all for metagame methods as I'm interested in entertaining
>> players, not characters. Characters are datasets and have no money
>> to give us. Without a metagame, you've just got a simulation with
>> no player input.

> As a hobbyist, I'm not worried about money.  And, IMHO, that's a
> fundamental difference -- I can make whatever kind of mud I want,
> and if it finds an audience and they're happy with it, and I'm
> happy, then I can count it as a success.  Thus, I can do things that
> will limit my audience extremely, which commercial muds would find
> much more difficult to do as a practical matter.

Right. You could leave out the money part and it'd be just as relevant
a statement to me: I'm interested in entertaining players, not
characters. Characters can't be entertained, as they are just sets of
data with no capacity for emotion. Maybe great AI will be developed
some day and it'll be entertaining to create a game that will
entertain your super-AI characters. That seems quite aways off
though. Whether hobbyist or professional, I don't know any MUD admin
who is trying to entertain characters rather than players.

>> But you said that power gaming has no place in MUDs. Did I
>> misunderstand?

> I didn't say that -- J. Coleman did.  I was simply trying to bring
> in a different interpretation of the statement.

Ahh, apologies. All the different attributions (which aren't always
consistent) get confusing.

>   Travis' Rules of Roleplaying, #31 (collect them all!):

>   Powergaming, expressed in character, becomes the desire for power
>   -- which is a perfectly fine thing for a character to have.

Sure, I agree with this. Unfortunately, along with being an asshole,
it's the easiest way to 'roleplay' and becomes pretty boring when
everyone claims they are just roleplaying a powerhungry asshole.

>> As a designer, I feel you can head toward one of two poles:

>>   1. Art-house: Design and implement only what you want. Damn the
>>   player, because you're creating here and there's no way the
>>   unwashed are going to sully your vision with their pedestrian
>>   preferences.

> Heh.  It is possible to do this without the attitude, but it does
> seem to rare.  :-)

Well, the attitude is irrelevant to the art really. When I mean damn
the player, I mean that you recognize that you are the artist and that
you know what your art should be, and nobody else does. To me, it's
the most noble way of creating something.

>>    This is how all of the best art that I've ever seen, heard,
>>    experienced, participated in, etc is created. I do not believe
>>    commercial products are capable of moving all that far towards
>>    this pole. Some (like myself) try, but mainly we fail in the
>>    quest for the almighty dollar.

> Well, I wouldn't call it failure so much as simply being limited in
> how far you can go.  A commercial product has to keep an audience
> large enough to support it.

There are a ton of independent movies that get made that are lucky to
ever even recoup their costs. You can go as far as you want. If your
goal is to make money, then you've limited yourself. I'm not saying
this is a good or a bad thing.

A major problem, in my opinion, with games ever being taken seriously
as an art form is the attitude you just summed up. "A commercial
product" implies that it's primary purpose is to make money. Great. I
have no problem with this.

It's possible, however, to create a product without worrying about
pandering to the masses, and THEN sell it, hoping that at least some
people will find your vision attractive. This is, incidentally, how I
started Achaea. It's been heavily corrupted at this point by decisions
that I made that did not fit with my vision, but which became a
commercial necessity. I'm a slave to the dollar, I admit it. I'm just
hoping that some people won't be, because I want to play their
games. I'd be terribly bummed if I looked in the paper to decide which
movie to see and found that the only things available were teenage
slasher movies, brainless romances, and movies based on john grisham
books. Unfortunately, this is what I mainly see in games. I've got
high hopes for Black and White though, as I've read that Molyneux was
willing to lose money on the product. He just wanted it to be made
properly. I'm going to buy his game just based on that. (It's probably
just spin, but one can hope!)

> It has an equivalent, but it's an early equivalent, I'd say.  Think
> about what the indie film scene was like in, say, the 1960's.  Film
> wasn't as widely considered an artistic medium then, so the "indies"
> were things like AIP, turning out films like "The Horror of Party
> Beach".

Yeah, that's true. I'm certainly not pronouncing the games industry a
waste of time artistically. I'm just trying to encourage people to
think about games in a way that doesn't go "How can I make a game that
will make the most money possible?" All the big graphical MUDs seem
completely driven by this motive, and while I don't at all condemn it
as a motive, it'd be an awful shame if everyone thought this way.


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