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

Freeman Freeman
Thu May 10 12:23:24 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

From: Luke Carruthers [mailto:luke at hiddensignal.com] 
> Jeff Freeman said:

>> Going back to the community-building game, it might be interesting
>> to have players choose a starting estate rather than a starting
>> character. The Estate would come with a number of characters,
>> adventuring-types among them, and the player could play any of the
>> characters in their estate (though not all at the same time). In
>> that model, the tailor shop might come with a spinner, tanner,
>> hunter, seamstress, etc. (the tailor shop itself just being one
>> building in the estate, that is).

> Would this lead to a lessening of player's identification with their
> character though? (And, is that a bad thing?)

I don't believe so.

> In many games, players already seem to have a lot of characters, and
> still to be attached to at least some of them, so maybe this sort of
> approach won't lead to less identification.

Yeah, I think the players will still latch onto a "main character".
In the end, I don't believe this would be much different than the
situation we have now in games like AC, EQ and UO - where people are
allowed multiple characters per server.

> It does seem to me though to be going down the continuum towards
> strategy gaming, where you have resources (your warrior, your
> tailor, etc) instead of avatars.

I don't think moving away from character-centric games is necessarily
a bad thing, if the goal is to foster community building among players
(rather than faux-communities built of personas).

The main thrust of the game though, wouldn't be as in a RTS - to 4X
your way to personal (individual) victory.  Rather, you would need to
hook-up with other individuals (more on a player-level than on a
character-level perhaps) in order to "level-up" your collective
community.  i.e. Exactly what I'd be shooting for as a game designer:
The community building game, and specifically a community of players,
who all have avatars that they play though in the gameworld.

I think some of the character-centric baggage from PnP RPGs probably
ought to be jettisoned in favor of developing a beast that is, from
floor to ceiling, a MUD.

> If player's identify less with their characters, are they less
> likely to form such strong emotional ties to a game? Will it have
> less impact for them, and will it be easier for them to leave? 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 think that communities ties which occur on a player-to-player level
are far more compelling than ones which occur on a
character-to-character level (Although I am aware there are people who
don't share that view, and would see an estate-centric game as weird
an very un-RPG-ish as compared to a character-centric game).
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