[MUD-Dev] New laws. (was: Player Manipulation of Environment)

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Fri Nov 23 20:52:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

On Thu 22 Nov, Paul Schwanz wrote:
> Mike Sellers wrote:
>> Jeff Freeman wrote:

>> "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 far.

> I also think this is the right approach.  Static environments
> breed static stories.  A world needs to be dynamic, giving players
> the possibility of bringing change.  Players want to be able to
> reach out and touch the virtual world around them, causing it to
> change ever so slightly.  When the world changes, at the very
> least you have news.  If the players care about the change--if
> their emotions are engaged--then I think the news becomes a story.
> It is the sort of story that arises naturally from players
> manipulating their environment (perhaps in response to content
> introduced by developers) that I find most interesting.

> But more dynamic virtual worlds bring their own set of problems.

> When you allow players to manipulate their environment, how do you
> ensure that manipulation doesn't create imbalances?  Should you
> even try to do this?  What about if the imbalances lead to some
> sort of dead end.  How do you ensure player manipulation doesn't
> impinge upon another player's ability to enjoy the game?  Should
> you even attempt this?

It seems this leads to two new laws :)

  1) Muds can't be narratives for the players.

    Players "live" in the game, they participate far more directly
    than the reader of a book, or the viewer of a movie. Techniques
    and strategies that work for a narrative structure do not work
    for muds.  This is a direct result from the "everybody wants to
    be the hero of the game" law.

  2) The game world must be large enough to absorb the player's
  ability to affect it.

    The more freedom the players have to affect the world the big-
    ger that world has to be, or the they will rip it apart sooner
    or later.  Probably sooner.  This however requires some serious
    change to the way games are organised, including the fact that
    for games to be experienced as lively they need to be extremely
    dense, which directly conflicts with their need to be big.  Of
    course currently players have no ability to affect the world in
    any meaningful way, which lead to the game feeling stale and to
    repetitive gameplay.

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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