[MUD-Dev] Information sharing (was: Re: Where are we now?)

Luke Carruthers luke at hiddensignal.com
Tue May 8 01:16:37 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

At 03:49  6/05/01 -0700, Raph Koster wrote:

> That's why the presentation was called "Design Patterns"--this is
> stuff that everybody knows, yup. But I maintain that nobody knows
> how to talk about it because it doesn't even have
> names. Classification in this sense is the art of telling you what
> you already know in a way that makes it comprehensible.  I'd go so
> far as to say this is stuff that nobody knows they already know.

To many people here Raph's point is probably obvious, but I think it's
worth emphasising. It's the reason I (and I suspect many others)
joined this list, it's the reason I went to GDC and MERA. It's often
easy to know what is right or wrong by intuition, but it's much harder
to articulate why, and in doing so have others able to follow your
vision, and perhaps even more importantly give yourself a greater
ability to build upon what you know. The more widespread the common
understanding of these things are, the faster the state of the art
moves forward.

When I first started seriously exploring the field of multi-player
game design, I was astounded to find that the arguably most important
conceptual tool available to the field was put forward in 1991 or 1992
(the analysis of player types in Richard Bartle's "Who Plays MUA's?" 
article - it was still reacted to as new when rereleased as "Hearts,
Clubs, Diamonds, Spades" in 1996!). While many designers might
intuitively know there are different types of players, and even what
their characteristics are, without such categorisations not many will
be able to do more than use parts of this knowledge to fix flaws in a
piecemeal fashion, and new designers will keep making the same
mistakes over and over again. No offense to what is clearly an
important work, but why hasn't the industry managed to develop (m)any
equally important conceptual tools in the last ten years? Without
these sort of tools, each project has to reinvent more of the wheel
than they should, our products (whether free or commercial) take more
time to develop, and end up being of lower quality than they otherwise
would be.

And this is why efforts like Raph's are so important. While there
might not have been much new information (for those within the
industry, anyway) in the presentation, the way the information was
organised and presented was new. More, because Raph and Richard Vogel
have been generous enough to put it out into the public domain, it
constitutes a set of tools the rest of the industry can use to aid our
understanding of our field in the future. (As a small aside, the three
best compilations of such conceptual tools I've found are Raph's
website at www.legendmud.org/raph, footnotes in Richard Bartle's
various papers compiled at www.mud.co.uk/richard, and Imaginary
Realities at imaginary.imaginaryrealities.com:8080. This is both a
reference for others, and a request to be enlightened if I'm missing

Which is all to say that I agree with Raph's point, and I think it
would be a Good Thing if more people categorised and published their
thoughts in a similar way. Verbose at times, aren't I?


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