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

Travis Casey efindel at earthlink.net
Sun Apr 1 21:36:55 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Matt Mihaly wrote:
> On Fri, 30 Mar 2001, Travis Casey wrote:
>> 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 effect.

Yes, these are OOC, but they are not "metagame methods" for dealing
with problems.  Now, it's true that some of these things can help with
dealing with some kinds of game problems -- but if you screen for
hard-core roleplayers, they will be willing to play their characters
as being less educated, as not understanding other characters, as
being less intelligent, and so on.

>> 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).

Of course.  Have I ever said or implied that they wouldn't be?

>>> 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.

I think we're not getting through to each other.  I'm also interested
in entertaining players -- I'm just interested in entertaining a
particular narrow segment of players.  There are players who want to
make up a character and play that character as if it were a real
person in a real world.  These players find this to be more fun than
simply using characters as game pieces.

Now, naturally, there are practical limits to this.  There are very,
very few people who would want to learn a new language to play a game,
for example.  However, the fact that it can only be done in a limited
fashion is *not*, IMHO, a reason not to try at all.

I think you're also falling into the trap of lumping a bunch of people
together and assuming that anything one of them wants, all of them
want.  I don't want characters to be controlled by AIs -- I want them
controlled by players.  I don't want to try to entertain characters --
that's logically impossible until/unless strong AI is achieved, and if
it is, then the characters will *be* the players -- so you'll still be
entertaining the players.  Further, some RP-oriented players enjoy
having characters who *aren't* having fun -- e.g., someone who likes
playing a surly, grouchy character who never gets along with anyone.
In this case, making a game the *character* would enjoy would be
downright counterproductive.

>From my point of view, you're putting up a strawman argument -- I
don't want to create a mud that players won't enjoy, and I don't know
of anyone else who wants to either.  I just have in mind an audience
that enjoys things that a lot of people don't.  Heck, to draw a rather
odd analogy, you could liken strongly RP-oriented players to S&M
enthusiasts -- what they enjoy would not be at all enjoyable to a lot
of other people.

>>   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.

Yes, it does.  However, you can desire power without being an
asshole. Careful player screening should help keep out the assholes,
and you can always toss them out when they slip through.

>>> 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.

I understand that... just saying that you can recognize that without
thinking of everyone else as "the unwashed" or "pedestrian".

> 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.

Indeed, that's the method that I've long recommended to people --
build the game *you* want to build, then try to sell it, if you even
want to sell it.  IMHO, doing anything else is best suited for
corporations or those working for them.  That's not trying to slam
corporations, but simply recognition that it's easier to design a
product to appeal to lots of people if you have lots of people to give
input on it.

(The problem that comes in is that "appealing to lots of people" often
gets somehow translated into "offending as few people as
possible". That's a route to creating pablum, IMHO.)

>> 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.

I believe you, but I have to say that a lot of the time, you don't
come across that way here.  You have strong opinions about how a game
should be -- which is good.  However, you also seem to have a problem
with other people who have strong opinions which are opposite to
yours.  From extended conversations with you, like this one, I know
you can be reasonable and understanding about such ideas, but it seems
that your first instinct is to go in with guns blazing, saying that it
won't work because no one will like it.

       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at earthlink.net>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)
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