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

McManus McManus
Thu May 10 11:19:41 New Zealand Standard Time 2001


Hmm as a player of many online and other games, and someone who is
slowly inching thier way into the game industry proper, I think my
views might be useful. Maybe. *grin*

Luke Carruthers said:

> If player's identify less with their characters, are they less
> likely to form such strong emotional ties to a game?

I would say it depends on the game.  Take, for example four games.

Dungeon Keeper:

You have lots of critters.  I never really grew attached to any of
them in DK2.  However - in DK1 I did - because there were 'powerups'
that you could find that would let you take a critter from level to
level (I never found any of these in DK2, much to my
disappointment). I remember taking special care of a 10th level
Mistress that I was taking with me from level to level - to the point
where I would restart the level if I lost her (even though I could
have still won the level without her).

The Sims:

You have fewer critters, but you are more involved in their lives.
Interestingly, I tried creating a 'family' based on my own, and I
couldn't play them. I felt that when they got hurt (eg set themselves
on fire) it was too close to me and I didn't want to play them after
that.  Critters that weren't 'special' to me, I never really got
attached to in the long run.  I think this was because they ended up
feeling 'cookie cutter' to me - and that having high levels in a skill
didn't appear to mean anything beyond letting them scream up the
'ranks' in a new employment category.  Since the employment functioned
outside the area you managed, it wasn't of interest to me - I wanted
to see high cooking do something neat, like increase their fun level
(for example).

EverQuest:

You can have 1 or more characters, but you play one at a time.  I
would focus on a 'main' and when I created a new character it was a
sign that I was getting 'bored' with my old main.  Significantly (to
me), this boredom most often happened after reaching a new level and
seeing the vast wasteland ahead of me to the next (before I would get
more 'stuff' in terms of abilities).  Items, other than their visual
appearance, were important only in how they affected my abilities.
Trade skills didn't exist really (luxury skills I call them).  The
lack of things to other than tranverse the exp wasteland to the next
'reward' caused me to lose attachment to my character.  I never really
felt involved in my characters in EQ the way I did in UO.  I had no
pangs cancelling my EQ account.

Ultima Online:

For many many months (over a year in fact) I had 1 character.  She
lived on different shards, eventually coming to rest on Chesapeake as
her home, but what was significant for me was that the character moved
with me.  I -wanted- her to move with me.  She was a baker, a tailor,
and a bit of a fighter (mace) - but 95% tradesperson - and I loved
playing her.  There was always something to do - something that I
-wanted- to do.  The only time I started making new characters was
when J'gan Tathi was retired due to reasons beyond my control.
Cancelling my UO account was a long decision process and made
primarily because I'd explored all the types of characters I wanted
to, now that my 'real' main was retired.

> Will it have less impact for them, and will it be easier for them to
> leave?

Given my experiences above, I would say that the less you can identify
with a character, the more likely it is that the player can move on to
other games without a pang.

> Will it encourage a GoP approach to play? Or will they identify
> less, but be able to do >more, and so still enjoy as much (if not
> more)?

Hmm as a player I like frequent rewards in the terms of being able to
always do something interesting, to see increase in abilities of a
critter in terms of better interaction in the world - that is, in the
part of the world I directly work with in the game.  Whether those
abilities are concentrated in one character or in a 'family' of
characters that exist at the same time, I think is less important.
However, I think as a player, I tend to bond to one character in the
'family' if at all possible.  If I can't bond in some manner then the
game itself has inherently less of a hold on me.

Recap:

So, I guess in summary, my answer to the questions are:

> If player's identify less with their characters, are they less
> likely >to form such strong emotional ties to a game?

For me, yes.

> Will it have less impact for them, and will it be easier for them to
> leave?

For me, yes.

> Will it encourage a GoP approach to play? Or will they identify
> less, but be able to do >more, and so still enjoy as much (if not
> more)?

I will identify less without a main character to bond too.  However,
if there is a way to 'keep' a particilar critter with me for the
duration of the game, then I will bond to that one (and thus make it
harder to leave).  If I'm able to do more, I will enjoy the game more
(and probably longer), but I will have no difficulty in leaving the
game for a new one if I haven't been able to bond to a primary
character.

Personally, I think its human nature to want to bond or identify with
a particular avatar if you are given the opportunity.  Any strategy
games I've played, have been a lot easier to put down and leave once a
scenario is completed, than a game where I had bonded to a character.

Heh, well this ended up a lot longer than I'd planned.  Maybe this is
of some use, or not.  I hope so!  In any case, back to being a lurker.
*slips into the shadows*

-- Susan G. McManus
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