[MUD-Dev] Psychology & Player Motivation (was Geometric Content Generation)

Sasha Hart Sasha.Hart at directory.reed.edu
Mon Oct 8 20:11:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> [Rayzam]

>> Neither does dying in a mud. Or losing equipment. Or having to
>> spend money on things. But without these things, you lose
>> challenge. And as per philosophy: can you truly feel happy if you
>> never feel sad?


> I don't agree that you loose challenge. There is challenge to
> playing the piano, making a drawing etc. What you might get less
> of is drama. Although, you can of course find drama in music.

I'd bet the point was that dying, losing equipment and so on were
parts of why many muds are any fun, and not that a game must provide
suffering (maybe as contrast) in order to provide amusement of any
sort, which is ridiculous!

I agree that many, many computer games I have played depended
critically on the availability of risks to make them very engaging -
this does seem to be one of the most salient characteristics of a
"gamey game," as opposed to totally free-form roleplay, building,
etc. which are also enjoyable, but are very different...

Although it is arguable that there is challenge, I don't think it is
controversial to say that games *feel* different without such risks,
or even that players act differently depending on whether the risks
are there. Hence it may be an important consideration to the extent
that we care to compare games in this way. (Harangue me if that was

>> How long can you play a game in invincible/god mode?  How quickly
>> does it get boring, and thus makes the player 'not happy'?

Lack of punishment isn't what makes things boring. But the
possibility of failure may be the spice which makes things like
leveling rewarding *to begin with*.

I have the same intuition, but it is useful to keep an eye out for
how even apparently basic motivators work - I think the ongoing
struggle with this issue is easily seen in the continuous discussion
of, say, "skill based vs. level based advancement."

I think John Hopson's analysis goes a long way, but difficult
analytic and design problems may require us to back off a
little. I'm not sure that play behavior is at all well understood in
the same terms that forage and eating behaviors are, and I think
this is part of what is articulated by Ola's complaints about "RAT

> I (and several others on this list) prefer not to play games by
> their rules, rather we try to break the apparent rules and if that
> makes sense (great depth) then playing not-by-the-rules is what
> makes the game fun.

I couldn't agree more - I think my attraction to benevolent
subversion of gameplay is driven by a combination of interest in
systems which are convoluted enough to be subverted, and the
provision by ideas of how the game "should go" of a defined and
challenging goal for my manipulation of the system (namely, making
it do funny or clever things.)

> Well, maybe I got it all wrong, but I thought behaviourists tended
> to only care about observable behaviour, and that they did not
> concern themselves with "what the brain looks like".

You can look at behavioral principles as remarkably "portable" - the
push for fewer assumptions about processes and internals actually
leaves perfect opportunities for others to work with them, even if
they disagree violently with philosophical statements of Watson or

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