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

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Wed Nov 28 10:08:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Don Healey wrote:
> Raph Koster wrote:

>> To quote something I recently wrote on another list:

>> start quote--->
>>   I've come to think that the blind effort to replicate the pen
>>   and paper game in MMOs is seriously misguided. Frankly, they are
>>   not trying to do the same thing. An MMO is for thousands of
>>   simultaneous players of widely disparate interests and
>>   abilities; a pen and paper session is for six of the same level
>>   and the same goals. An MMO is non-linear, and a pen and paper
>>   game is (in the best ones anyway) a strongly directed narrative
>>   experience. A pen and paper game relies on improvisation, and an
>>   MMO relies on other players.  A pen and paper game is cliquish
>>   and an MMO is the hoi polloi. How many of the problems we
>>   identify with MMOs today come about because they are trying to
>>   be someone's rose-colored memory of an AD&D session in junior
>>   high?
>> <---end quote

> Actually my experiences are the OPPOSITE. Almost everything Raph
> described as being typical of the pen and paper experience is
> typical of my MMO experience, and most attributes listed for MMO's
> match my RPG experience - and with only limited stretching.

> I obviously accept MMO's are for thousands of simultaneous
> players. But they do not interact all together at once. In fact
> MMO's tend to encourage/force players to group together, and in
> particular EverQuest forces players to form groups of up to six
> (with reputed experience bonuses for a full group of 6), all of
> whom must be roughly the same level, as it becomes harder and
> harder to solo as you progress in experience. And as I mentioned
> the better RPG campaigns allow individual action

Are you sure you are not describing here the very same sort of
"problems we identify with MMOs today" that Raph is claiming are the
result of "the blind effort to replicate the pen and paper game in

In other words, could not Raph's post be directly applicable to the
fact that MMO's tend to encourage/force players to group together at
roughly the same level when there is no logical reason to do so.
Does Verant take this approach with EQ because it makes sense to do
so in an MMO, or do they take this approach because they are trying
to be "someone's rose-colored memory of an AD&D session in junior

To me, it seems you are making all of Raph's points for him.  It is
indeed a Bad Idea to automatically transplant PnP methodologies into
an MMO.  This is not to say that MMO developers can learn nothing
from their PnP RPG roots.  I think that would be a diservice, but I
haven't really seen anyone making that point in the current thread.
Rather, they make the point that for various reasons, PnP RPGs are
poor models for MMOs.  EQ and its grouping requirements are a
smashingly good example of this.


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