[MUD-Dev] I Want to Forge Swords. [Another letter to game designers]

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sun May 6 00:28:03 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

Auli writes:

> And that is exactly what the space is that I'm trying to describe,
> home.  Home for me was not my avatar's house.  It was a room in
> another city with a fountain and a tree.  The avatars Icicle, Pixie,
> and Ididit were constants in that space with me.  I was home because
> we could go home whenever we wanted.

> You guys build big worlds.  Very, very big.  I have always respected
> the logic that limiting travel makes these worlds seem even bigger.
> But that is not a way to build community.  People want to explore
> these worlds, to go to the farthest reaches.  You design them with
> rewards for doing just that.  But at the end of the day, if you
> really want to build communities, you have to provide a way home.

I'm a believer in the big world, combined with realistic travel times,
so I'm interested in your view.

Is community of player or character more important?  Is it important
for characters to come together and use character conversation, or to
have the players have a means of communicating?  You cited EverQuest's
single social location, yet every guild is a social entity unto itself
via the guildchat mechanism.  I'm of the opinion that the social
structure of a game is the players and that the characters only afford
an excuse for the players to interact in an interesting way.  It could
just as easily be a deck of cards.

As a result, I assume that the players should be able to communicate
with each other using game-supported, but out of context tools.  If I
want to talk to you as a player, that means that I need to know your
name - not your character's name.  I can communicate with you so long
as you are online.  And possibly even if you're not, if the game
mechanism dovetails with ICQ or even email.

Also, there is the issue of world design when considering casual
social meeting places.  These are places that characters come together
to socialize.  In this way, players can meet through their characters
and form new social groups.  I believe that, in a large world, the
entertainment of the game must be formed into pockets.  That is, near
any given location that player characters work from, there must be
interesting entertainment nearby.  So close, in fact, that the player
doesn't feel obligated to travel very far in order to do something
entertaining.  These pockets will form a microcosm of activity, and
the same groups of players will be encountered over and over again.

So avoid creating a world that requires far-flung travels in order to
find entertainment.  Don't create X amount of entertainment for a
world Y big, then create a world ten times as big and retain the same
amount of entertainment.  The entertainment density has to go up, but
focused in on the places that the player characters will be encouraged
to congregate.


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