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

Matt Mihaly the_logos at www.achaea.com
Mon Apr 2 03:23:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

On Sun, 1 Apr 2001, Travis Casey wrote:
> Matt Mihaly wrote:

>> 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.

Well, I don't see how it's any less of a metagame than someone going
to a website to get a piece of information. Either way, the ability or
information originates outside the game, as does every single piece of
input a player gives a character.

>>> 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?

Well, you seemed to be arguing against the metagame.

>> 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.

Nod, I understand this. But who are you trying to entertain? The best
roleplaying I've ever seen done is done in small, hardcore MUSHes with
essentially no coded restrictions on the players in terms of player
knowledge and so on. I'm completely confused as to who you're trying
to appeal to. Hardcore roleplayers don't need (or want as far as I can
tell) the sort of clumsy restrictions on player knowledge, because
they're roleplaying for the sake of roleplaying. If you're appealing
to them, it's just not necessary in my opinion.

> 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.

I know you don't want characters to be controlled by AIs. I was making
an argument to illustrate the extremeness of what you're talking
about. As for some people enjoying characters who aren't having fun,
there's no such thing. Characters don't have fun, characters don't
have bad times. Players have good or bad times. The rest is a (very
nice) fiction extrapolated by the players.

> 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.

Ok. But do you know any strongly RP-oriented players who really feel
like they need a lot of coded restrictions stopping them from doing
what they want with their characters? Granted, I'm not part of a
super-strong RP community, but I have been in the past, and I can't
think of any of them that would have enjoyed things like knowledge
modeling. The attitude I've seen with the heaviest RPers is that code
mainly just gets in the way of serious rolplaying. Your experience
might be different from mine here.

>> 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".

Everyone else isn't the unwashed or pedestrian. Most people, however,
are. This list undoubtedly has people on it I'd consider to fall into
those two categories, but I'm also willing to bet that they are few
and far between on a list like this. So don't take it personally.

Anyway, call them what you like. Unwashed, pedestrian, whatever. I'm
not here to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy about humanity
generally. They're the people making Thomas Kincaide the richest
living "artist."

>> 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.

Yep. Of course, for most corporations, it's also a drive motivated by

>> 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.

I'm quite tempted to reply to this, but how I post isn't a suitable
topic of conversation for a list on mud development. I'll be happy to
take it up with you privately if you wish.


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