[MUD-Dev] Quality Testing (and community)

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Sun Oct 28 11:02:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


This is getting off topic, but I just want to challenge the dynamics
that were presented...

Michael Tresca wrote:

> If your monitor burst into flame every time a program crashed,
> there'd be recalls, there'd be apologies, there'd be furious
> customers not purchasing that product.  But virtual creations do
> NOT burst into flame.  They just don't work, and it all happens
> inside your computer.

Well, actually, I bought the most expensive 17" Eizo (Nanao) monitor
I could find, and the geometry was rather screwed for its price
class, but I couldn't be bothered to call the service, even though
it bothered me quite a bit (it even had 3 years guarantee, 1 year on
site).

Notice that a professional salesman will not even let you test the
CRT you get delivered because he knows that they are all different
(hand assembly etc). The products that are sent to magazines for
testing are carefully chosen too... So people buy monitors on false
premises... The fact is, most people learn to live with the product
they get if they can!

> My theory, which I believe is proving out, is that the conception
> of the value of a virtual good is a historical measure.  Over
> time, the more users comprehend a virtual good's importance (my
> paper for school in MS Word, my 5.8 million bill in MS Excel) the
> less tolerance they will have for crashing software.

You may be right, but people buy products that suck all the time
(Duh, have you seen how excited people get over the glossy 40 pages
Windows XP brochure that are put in their bags at the food store?) 
Most people dislike arguing with the salesman, so they don't even
bother...  With software it is sufficient that the main
functionality works, then users will stay away from all those exotic
features that have been included for marketing purposes... *grin*

I'm sitting with a top-line Sony Minidisc that is randomly
non-functional...  You learn to live with it, or you stuff it on a
shelf. Most people probably even think that _they_ did something
wrong.

> In a virtual universe, this process is accelerated.  AO is
> creating virtual bodies, objects, and terrain. When a character
> "blows up" in a virtual universe, despite the fact there's not a
> whole lot of separation between that character and the MS Word
> document, people can relate to it easier.

Well, I think AO's main problem was _technical_ stability, not
bugged content.  I assume they believed that technical stability was
within reach. In my view a technically unstable MUD is a big deal,
but weird content that generates a riot can be interesting marketing
(A REAL WORLD), or at least something people can learn to live
with. What is really special in MUDs is that customers get together
and complain so they never get to think "it is just me, it is really
ok, it really is, I should be able to live with this". They keep on
reminding each other that it is not ok, and that it really
sucks. You can even build a community around that, within reason, of
course.  I've heard that a well known high quality car manufacturer
opened a web-community , but quickly shut it down because people
gathered to _complain_ about their products.  They had hoped they
would get a community that cherished their products... :)

Anyway, consumer rights in Norway are strong (life-expectancy
guarantees by law, no shrink wrapped licenses etc), I am sure anyone
that wanted a refund would get one. From what I can tell from web
boards, those that did ask for a subscription refund actually got
it. If the product does not run on your PC then you can also contact
the CC company, but as for other products, most people don't
bother... Still, I do believe people get more fun from their "beta"
MUD purchases than they get from many of the single-user games they
purchase.  So, don't expect them to improve a whole lot content
wise...

> And finally, they start to treat their games like cars.  FINALLY.

When they cost $50000...  I would guess a lot of the griping you see
on web boards is from young people for whom $50 IS a big deal.

--
Ola  -  http://folk.uio.no/olag/

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