[MUD-Dev] RE: Some survey results...

Dr. Cat cat at realtime.net
Thu Nov 22 07:14:54 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> From: Andrew Wilson <andrew at aaaaaaaa.demon.co.uk>
> Dr. Cat:
>> Regarding the "human condition" - I think we see rather a lot of
>> it, something to do with not trying to shove a "game" or a
>> "story" in there too much, just putting people in with some tools
>> and seeing what happens.  I could tell some pretty amazing
>> stories about things that've happened in and around Furcadia.
>> Someday I'll have to write a book or something.
> Mmm, a big site must generate a fair amount of real-time fiction,
> by which I mean, lots of stories being told or acted out.  Perhaps
> there's scope for capturing this kind of thing and reworking it as
> a novel?  Lots of sites are based on an elaborate back-story that
> helps to set the tone for role-playing or general user behaviour,
> but can the reverse be true?  Is there an untapped market in book
> generation sitting in there?  Discworld has the Terry Pratchett
> novels to provoke peoples' imaginations, could Furcadia produce a
> book a year from the 'amazing stories and things' that you're
> observing?  And in general, how capable are muds at spontaniously
> producing recognisable story-arcs, not just themse that have been
> deliberately inserted byut the admins?  Wanna go into publishing?

This isn't the type of story I was talking about at all.  There's
certainly role-playing and acting out of things there, but I don't
even watch that sort of thing, that's more my partner's area.  I
would assume that some of the RPing is fairly good, a lot of it is
mediocre or poor, and hopefully people are enjoying themselves
somewhat.  But reading a logfile of someone ELSE'S roleplaying fun
is usually deathly dull.  It's fun for them because they have the
added interest factor of it being about them personally, not to
mention getting to decide what to do next, and the other people in
it being friends of theirs.  Even if you rewrote it to sound like a
narrative with dialog rather than a logfile, inserted back in any
missing background details the players all know but the reader
wouldn't, etc. it would still make for pretty poor reading in most
cases.  To a certain extent you can have an online newspaper or a
town crier or whatever, finding what's going on and telling the most
interesting bits and making for a good read.  But even there, I
think they'd be talking a lot about the kind of story I was really
talking about.

Most of these stories involve real life to some extent or another.
Like the person with multiple personality disorder, who played a
little girl born with no arms and a weak heart, her loving father,
and her best friend.  People were very sad when she passed away,
angry when they found out she wasn't "real", and the details of the
whole thing are one of the most fascinating experiences I ever had
in my whole life.  There's the "Geno invasion".  You could tell the
whole story just based on what happened in game terms, how a lot of
grey canines with purple hair came preaching this weird religion,
blocking traffic, etc.  But the whole dimension of the story that it
was a bunch of people from the somethingawful.com crowd, that they
invaded Habbo Hotel before and a few other places after, that on
Furcadia their movement was co-opted by Furcadia regulars looking
for something new and different to do, since their prank involved
all looking alike they couldn't tell each other apart from the
non-troublemaking Furcadian Genos...  All the real life or OOC
aspects of the story, like what happened to their message boards
after we broadcast to our players the URL of their web board, those
are what make it really interesting.  Yesterday there was a bug
where for a few hours, any player could set the entry messages on
any of the main public maps.  It was like a grafitti war.  This
gives people something to talk about, and makes a small story.  So
did my April Fool's pranks, which involved some server code.  The
party we went to in Michigan that a group of Furcadia players held
is a story, the couples that've met and gotten together in real life
(including me and my fiancee'), the two people who had someone move
in with them, take all their money, and leave, the pedophile who
bought things in the game for young boys and talked about moving
near one of them, until we found his criminal record and told his
local police about him, the sweet lady who died of pancreatic cancer
some months after kicking out her online boyfriend who'd moved in
with her, beaten her, and once threatened her with a gun...  And I
wonder how much longer she'd have survived if she hadn't been
subjected to that mental and physical stress for those months?  Kids
under 13 who can't sign up for our volunteer program because of the
COPPA unless their parents give permission for them to give us their
age and email address, and the wonderful letters those parents write
us.  Running the virtual Worldcon, helping a student in South Africa
study for the math section of a test he was going to take in
England, on and on.  These stories are much more interesting to most
people than how Hrognath got together with a rag-tag bunch in the
tavern and went out to fight off the invasion of plant-monsters just
outside the city.

Games that are "connected" to real life in some way involve real
money, real sex, real violence, and real death.  Those things will
connect a little and get talked about in any online game that has
the ability for players to talk to each other, but in a socially
oriented game, they're talked about more and are more integral to
the community.  And those real things are far more compelling than
any adventure of "Hrognath" will ever be.

As for publishing - NO thanks!  I would much rather be an author and
leave the hideous and painful aspects of being a publisher to the
companies that are already doing it.  I would like to be a book
author someday, but I'd mine something like Furcadia or my game
industry career or autobiography for one book, I wouldn't try to
make an annual thing out of it.  (Unless it was such a huge
best-seller it demanded a sequel, and then all bets are off!)

   Dr. Cat / Dragon's Eye Productions       ||       Free download!
*-------------------------------------------**   http://www.furcadia.com
  Supporting user-created graphical worlds. ||  Let your imagination soar!
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