[MUD-Dev] RE:

Sellers Sellers
Wed Nov 21 18:40:18 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Jeff Freeman wrote:
> From: Sellers, Mike [mailto:msellers at origin.ea.com]
>> How many people play games without story?
> All the people that play Sims, SimCity, et al.

No, these games (The Sims in particular) succeed because of their
story.  They rely on the "sandbox" approach, but without a doubt the
most engaging aspect of these games is the player's ability to tell
their own story as the game unfolds.

They may not have a traditional, linear, pre-conceived story, but
from the players' POV, they definitely have stories within them.

> All the people playing multiplayer FPS fragfest type games.

Yeah, that's probably the biggest non-storied crowed, along with
sports games.

> All the people playing AC, UO, EQ, Lineage, AO, etc.

Except that the people who made AC, UO, EQ, etc., will all tell you
their game *does* have story in it. :)

>> 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.
> Myst's objective was not "retention".

Retention is secondary to acquisition.  Myst acquired somewhere
between three and five million players.  Online games have acquired
somewhere in the neighborhood of one to two million *put together.*
Retaining these people is important, but acquiring new players from
a broader base is important too (to some of us anyway; not everyone
has or should have this goal).

>> 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.

> Yeah, if objective is to sell a bunch of copies of a game that
> people play for a few hours and then toss aside, then you better
> have a story in there.  That's not the right objective for an MMO,
> IMO.  I think the right approach is to create the compelling
> environment - which may very well entail having a nice backstory -
> and then throwing the people into it with enough tools at their
> disposal to create their own stories.

Yeah, the sandbox approach.  But at present there's a disconnect
between this, which has been so incredibly successful for games like
"The Sims" and our current player base.  EQ is arguably less of a
sandbox than UO, and yet it's attracted more players.  Also, one
thing players have asked for in The Sims is a greater ability to
tell and be told stories.  So maybe NWN is on the right track after

> I think the right approach is to give players enough tools to
> manipulate their environment, and an environment that's hostile
> enough to require they manipulate it, and they'll make their own
> stories.

"Tools not rules."  I heartily agree with the principle -- we just
haven't done all that good of a job in presenting it in MMP games so

Mike Sellers

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