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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Mon Nov 26 19:28:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

In <URL:/archives/meow?group+local.muddev> on Mon 26 Nov, Matt Mihaly wrote:
> On Fri, 23 Nov 2001, Marian Griffith wrote:

>>   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.

> I would suggest that generally speaking, it's difficult for a
> "can't" to be a proper Law.

While this is entirely up to our law collector (I would hesitate to
call him our law maker ;) Raph Koster to decide if this is a new law
and if it is properly phrased, I think that in this case it is
appropriate. Requirements for a narrative structure direct- ly
contradict requirements for a mud. Narratives require a beginning,
middle and end. Muds on the other hand can not have an end, if only
because not every player is at the same point in the
"story". Narratives require a gradual development of plot and re-
alisation, and generally have a reversal of the reader's expecta-
tions halfway through the book.  In muds this is entirely imprac-
tical, and the only development is that of the ability to kill ever
more fearsome monsters (or other players).  There are many more
reasons why narratives do not work for muds, but hopefully the above
clarifies my point.

> For instance, I've had people, including some from this list, tell
> me that they actually enjoyed the 100% linear narrative that
> serves as our newbie introduction. You're prompted to do things,
> and you CAN screw up, but there's only one way to do it, and most
> of it is being broadcast at you. Does that constitute the whole
> MUD? Certainly not. But it is part of Achaea, and so I feel like
> MUDs can be narratives for players.

Like you said, it is not the whole mud. However I did not mean that
you can not *use* the mud to tell a great and engaging story. That
obviously is not true, and I never meant to imply otherwise.  A mud
is like a theatre that you can fill with backdrops and props, but in
the end you have no audience, only actors and the story must unfold
from *their* perspective, not that of a passive spectator.

>>   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
>>     bigger 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.

> I like this law. I'm trying to figure out the relationship between
> it and my Law of Globalization: There is a proportional
> relationship between the level of globalization of competitive
> player effort and the number of players disaffected by that
> system.

> I think, though, that you should take into account the ability to
> self-repair somehow. "Big" as you used it seems to imply (and
> maybe I'm misreading your intentions) physical space, but if the
> landscape can self-repair for whatever reason faster than it can
> be damaged, then physical space isn't particularly necessary.

Self repair does make a game world seem larger, but it is a dange-
rous approach as it can easily lead to the players experiencing a
sense of futility. The monster they kill today will be back tomor-
row in exactly the same way, with exactly the same script. You can
see it in must muds when done (poorly) on a large scale.  Sure, it
can engage players but in the end they burn up and leave. However,
you could phrase it as "A game world must be robust enough to ab-
sorb the players' ability to affect it."  Somehow it sounds better
to use the word larger instead :)

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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