[MUD-Dev] Role-Playing Games Are Not Dead

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Fri Nov 23 16:59:09 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Lars Duening wrote:

> The whole thread and this paragraph in particular brought to my
> mind the development of movies as an art form.

Are you talking about the Hollywood movie or movies in general?

> In the beginning, movie makers just put their camera somewhere and
> filmed whatever happened there. Movies were real life conserved,
> nothing more.

You mean like trains crashing through the walls, or Disney's early
animated movies? Or do you mean filmed theatre or early 20th century
propaganda movies? For some reason,the newer Disney productions seem
to be much more "real life conserved", at least from the little I've

> It wasn't until one moviemaker started to play with the
> possibilities of the technology, namely the ability to cut and
> paste the film, that the real possibilities of movies could be
> explored. By developing their own language, movies became less
> realistic, but much more compelling in the result.

I'm not really sure what you mean really. In my view the artists do
experiment a lot in the early phase of a new technology. There is
not yet a perceived genre and you get all kinds of different
experiments.  Then you get locked down in a few particular genres
that the audience expect. You may try to create some excitement by
playing and bending on genre characteristics, but you are to a large
extent locked into the history of the medium. I.e. the language may
be as much a barrier as a set of possibilities, and the competence
that the language depends on _resides_ in the audience that have
been trained for decades... The avant-garde artists move to new
media where there are no established genres and conventions yet,
like computers, for a reason.  I believe you could see this
experimentation in the 1990s VR/MUD field. Today you seem to have
genres that lock down design to some extent, but you still won't
have that language that Hollywood productions can utilize because
you want to acquire non-MUDers that do not possess the competence of
reading the "language".

Now, if you are talking about the Hollywood version of MUDs, then I
guess we see one of those already in EQ/AC/AO/?SWG?

> also to the relation of real-life to realism in Muds): they are a
> good for inspiration, but in the end Muds have to do things in
> their own unique way in order to succeed. And like movies split up
> in genres with their own conventions, there won't be just One
> Right Way for Muds to handle things - big online worlds will work
> in a slightly different way than smaller Muds.

No doubt MUDs possess different characteristics than f2f gaming and
movies and what not, but they also do have their conventions (some
shared with their cousins, the chats, irc etc). You probably will
see 4-5 genres, but the competencies that imply can be as much of a
curse as a blessing. Right now, players in MMORPGs construct their
own language and educate eachother (the hard-core). It is as if they
just sit and wait for an opportunity to scream "NERF!" and what
not. The current crop of games have made the game designers and the
designer's direct influence on the player's situation _very_
visible. From an artistic point of view you probably don't want any
awareness or presence of designers at all, but as players have been
educated to "see through" the design and down to the implementation
and put blame on designers rather than to accept the world as a true
world. I think it may become more difficult to achieve true
immersion and suspense as these languages get established...

Maybe someone will deconstruct MUDs for us, please?

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