Learning about MUDs (was: Re: [MUD-Dev] Re: MUD-Dev digest, Vol 1 #301 - 15 msgs)

Brian 'Psychochild' Green brian at psychochild.org
Mon Apr 2 00:14:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

"Baron, Jonathan" wrote:
> Raph replied:

>> Will & co are paying quite a lot of attention to social dynamics,
>> actually.  For example, they're codifying "six degrees of
>> separation" using an interface much like The Brain
>> (http://www.thebrain.com).
> I think you and I were both a bit shocked - I know I was - by how
> quickly Will picked up on key elements of MMOGs.

I've never met Will Wright in person, but I attended his talk at the
GDC.  The man is amazing.  I came away from his talk with quite a bit
to chew on mentally.

> Plus, unlike entirely too many successful developers, he was
> attending GDC for the sessions, taking notes and absorbing
> everything he could from the lectures and roundtables.  Impressive,
> to say the least.

This observation agrees with my conclusions.  From his talk, I can
deduce that he is the type of person I strive to be.  He is able to
digest large amounts of information (which often seem unrelated) and
synthesize it into useful pieces.  He's the type of person that never
stops learning, even when it seems he's on top of his game.

It's the old saw, "The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know."

Therefore, I don't find it shocking that he quickly understood the
various dynamics of MUDs.  As the old-timers have told us, history and
information about older games and communities are available for those
that search; yet, all the newer developers seem to think that they are
blazing amazing new trails in unknown territory.  Will Wright is
obviously sharp enough not to fall into that trap.

The best example is economies.  (Credit to Randy Farmer for
highlighting this in one of our discussions.)  "The Lessons of
Lucasfilm's Habitat" said that economies are easily broken and that
players will come up with their own currency using rare in-game items.

Every high profile, commercial online RPG has had its economy
broken. Yet we are shocked, *shocked* I say, to learn that players
come up with their own currency when this happens, whether it is Dark
Angel Feathers in Meridian 59, the "rares" in UO, the trade-only
economy for high end items in EQ, or the Sturdy Iron Keys in AC.  Even
though a paper written before these games were even started says that
this would happen.

This is just one example of many, many lessons one could learn from
the art that has been presented in the past.

Of course, there's the need for those that have gone before to share
their experiences with the newer faces in the crowd.  The GDC works
not just because people go there willing to learn, but also because
people go there willing to teach.  Unfortunately, in the age of
Intellectual Property and Competitive Advantages, this gets rarer and
rarer. :( This is one of the reasons why I corner poor, defenseless
developers and force them to re-subscribe to mailing lists. :)
"And I now wait / to shake the hand of fate...."  -"Defender", Manowar
     Brian Green, brian at psychochild.org  aka  Psychochild
       |\      _,,,---,,_      *=* Morpheus, my kitten, says "Hi!" *=*
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   "They're not bugs, they're 'place-
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'    holders for code that works.'"
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)         - Andrew Kirmse, Meridian 59 creator
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