[MUD-Dev] RE:

Dave Rickey daver at mythicentertainment.com
Wed Nov 21 10:14:01 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Sellers, Mike <msellers at origin.ea.com>

> Dave Rickey wrote:

>> ... I not only don't see any signs that it is possible to tell a
>> story in a "multi-protagonist, self-directed environment", I
>> don't see any real indication that's what players want.  Our
>> stories suck or are non-existant, yet people play, obviously they
>> aren't playing to be told a story.  Why *should* we look for a
>> way to do something there's no sign we should even care about?

> How many people play games without story?  No non-storied online
> game (even those online games that claim to have story elements)
> has gotten more than about 10% of the number of people who have
> played Myst.  Sure it was static and lonely, but it had a story
> that literally millions of people found to be compelling -- to say
> nothing of the tens and hundreds of millions of people who
> regularly turn to other forms of entertainment in which the sole
> common denominator is story.

No storied online game has ever reached 1/100th the numbers of the
non-storied.  No attempt to inject story into the existing games,
however many resources were committed to it, has ever gotten much
response beyond "So what?" and "Go away."  People don't want the
games to tell them stories, they want them to be stories.  They want
it so badly, they're willing to forgive the brain-dead AI and
artifical rules, because even if the story that is their play of the
game is boring and repetitive, it's *theirs*.

The first Siege of Trinsic never had any web-pages created about it,
and never had any GM involvement.  I doubt OSI even knew it
happened.  But when the Obsidian Order locked down the city, and the
Trinsic Miner's Collective tried to break the siege, the resulting
"story" was the best I've ever personally seen in one of these
games.  The problem wasn't that the good guys lost, it was that (as
Oasis and many other player-town related showdowns showed) the good
guys would *always* lose.  The game didn't tell the story, OSI never
kept score, the story was "real" because we, the players, made it
real.  To anyone who witnessed and participated in the first siege,
the "official" Siege of Trinsic, the grand epic drama that was to
explain the sudden expansion of the world, the big showdown between
Good and Evil, was a sorry joke.

>> I don't see players asking for stories, rather they ask for the
>> world to be made to seem more "real" and stories are the only
>> form of that they've ever known.

> Depends who you're listening to: the few who play now, or the many
> who don't.

The overwhelming majority of that many don't play any computer
games.  Most of those that do play console games, and have no
interest in a "game" that requires such large blocks of time (or
willingness to pay monthly fees for game experiences they can get
for free).  There may be a market for online console gamers as a
captive audience to a matchmaking service.  But we're 10 years or
more away from a console MMOG.

If they don't vote with their wallets, why should I listen to them?
They can get a far better story told *to* them by TV, why would they
pay me for a bad one, in a medium that doesn't *tell* stories?  As
stories go, Majestic wasn't bad.  If it had been done as a novel, I
might have read it, if it was a movie I at least would have caught
it on cable.  As an MMOG, it blew chunks.

It seems far more promising to me to do a better job of equipping
the players to *live* stories.


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