[MUD-Dev] [DGN] The Human Condition

Kwon Ekstrom justice at softhome.net
Mon Nov 19 01:26:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


This is pretty much my responce to the ongoing thread. (which
incidentally has no specific subject)

A multi-user environ is simply uncomparable to a prewritten
storyline, IMHO.  Although there are certain areas where you can
borrow ideas.  Most games have to entertain people for more than the
2 hours of the average movie, or 2-600 pages of the average good
book.  A game must have continueing entertainment value, which often
leads to monotonous stat enhancement rather than story development.
The stories, although much deeper, have quite a bit less long term
entertainment value (although I find reading a book or watching a
movie much more entertaining for the short duration, its a deeper
entertainment)

That's just my take on the problem, the solution is somewhat more
difficult.  There are a variety of likely ways to fix it.  My
personal take is to use the players as content, 90% of what is
interesting to me on a mud is what the other players are doing.

Players make wonderful content, they rarely create intricate
twisting storylines popular in fiction, but as real humans portray
alot more true humanity than we can write into our games.  For
example, on the mud I currently play on (not the one I'm writing
which I refer to often), there are 3 Kingdoms (similar to clans on
most muds), the 2 most active ones are at war.  I'm second in
command (although handle most of the management) of the larger of
the active kingdoms, we became larger from a policy of encouraging
participation and helping our members rise thru the ranks.  We've
got most of the new players in the game because we actively help
newbies...  Our enemy, the other kingdom is lead by a somewhat
greedy king, he tends to keep what equipment they get for himself or
his favorites, etc...

I could go into detail about differences between the kingdoms, but I
won't... the point is that the sparks that fly between these
kingdoms generates alot of active content.  None of it is scripted,
none of is is roleplayed (although I'm positive that if you added rp
to the situation it would add quite a bit of flavor), but it creates
volumes of human content.  These are actual players interacting
based on affiliation... there's conflict, which heats things up
quite a bit.  No single book I've read, or movie I've watched has
created as much lasting entertainment with real human
value... There's alot of very human characteristics which come up
every day with the interaction.  I as a leader play this conflict to
the benefit of my kingdom, using it to encourage selfless acts by
donating equipment to weaker members.  I really can't tell you how
well the other kingdom handles their matters.  I actually fear what
will happen when open war is allowed, my kingdom will easily win
such a war, but it would be a loss for the mud once that conflict is
over.  It adds life to the game that isn't there otherwise.

I've seen various muds use quests and clans to turn players into
meaningful content over and over again, they are both the problem
and the solution.  It all depends on what they're doing.  Left to
their own devices players will only do what helps themselves.  With
a little guidance (and a big carrot) they can be turned into
meaningful content.

-- Kwon Ekstrom

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