[MUD-Dev] To good to be TRUE, in an MMPORPG?

Dave Rickey daver at mythicentertainment.com
Mon Aug 6 10:11:38 New Zealand Standard Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe Andrieu <jandrieu at caltech.edu>
> Raph Koster wrote

>> To put it another way, how do you GET groups of such sizes? It's
>> not like guilds of 150 spring into being out of thin air. Whereas
>> a village with sufficient food is pretty much guaranteed to get
>> there, a player group or tribe has no growth forced upon it in
>> that sense.

> Yes, but guilds do spring up at that size even when there is no
> support on behalf of the game.  They'll put their own websites
> together, use AIM to coordinate, and enforce membership entirely
> through social pressure.  That's a lot of expended energy for
> things that could be done much more easily if designed into the
> game.

It usually comes down to your wealth example, there's some reward
the players are all individually pursuing that cannot be achieved by
smaller units.  In some cases it's obvious (the "Planes Raid" level
encounters in EQ, that require an organization capable of fielding a
cohesive force of 30+ high-level characters on little to no notice),
in others it is not (the largest organizations in UO were largely
monopolistic cartels whose operations mapped more closely to the
Mafia than to anything else).  There's a constant tension between
the drive to organize on larger scales, and the tendency of large
player organizations to fragment from internal strife.

>> People do tend to organize. But they don't seem to grow in size
>> or develop into more complex structures without some prodding or
>> need.

> Agreed.  Economic need. Social need. Psychological need.  I would
> argue that all of these needs drive the current level of social
> structure.  So what drives the transition to the "state" or third
> tier structures (50,000+) in Diamond's model? If those needs can
> be met at a lower cost, will the structures form with smaller
> groups?

The drive classicly has been banditry.  In larger populations,
eventually a group of bandits emerges that is so successful that it
achieves legitimacy by protecting its resources (the population it
exploits) from others that would exploit it.  After a few
generations, assuming the bandits don't lose their edge, this
becomes a feudal society.  Unfortunately, in UO at least the
situation never stabilized, successful bandits split into warring
factions instead of legitimizing.  However, the ideal size of a
fighting force in UO was a dozen people or less, largely because of
the ease of travel and the (comparative) impregnability of homes.

On the other hand, Lineage seems to have stabilized around just such
a system (territorial feudalism), but the basic social units are the
patrons of particular internet cafes.

--Dave Rickey

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