[MUD-Dev] RE: Storied Games

amanda at alfar.com amanda at alfar.com
Wed Nov 28 10:41:53 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Paul Schwanz <paul.schwanz at east.sun.com> wrote:

> but when the story *telling* begins, the interaction stops.  The
> question is not whether players like stories.  They do.  The
> question is whether or not they like to stop interacting in the
> game.  I think that in many cases, they would rather not suffer
> interruptions to their interaction.

I agree, and I think this goes even deeper than that.  PnP RPGs,
when they are actually functioning as RPGs and not dice & chart
extravaganzas, are interactive storytelling.  MMORPGs are great at
handling the dice & charts, and even at creating worlds and
backstories.  But the interactive storytelling aspect falls flat, I
think, because the players are no longer interacting with the
"front" story--some of the most engaging and fun D&D sessions I've
ever played in amounted to improvisational theatre, where we set
aside the rule books and just winged it.  This is where the GM
becomes a lot more than a combat resolver and a random event
generator--the GM is able to respond to and improvise upon player
actions in real time, and change the world on the fly to adjust to
player actions (if the GM is good, the seams will not be obvious
;-)).

Even "power levellers", I think, are trying to create stories.  "No
shit, there we were, the first group to finish quest X.  My buffs
were almost out, but I managed to grab the shield and recall with
only 3 HP left!" and so on.

One of the eternal challenges for game creators is the creation of
content.  But this is also the challenge for game *players*.  If you
look at what keeps many MUDs active and what keeps people playing
twitch FPS games, it's the continual influx of player-generated
content.  New levels for FPSs, new rooms & objects for programmable
MUDs, ... and MMORPGs lack this.  EQ houses barely count :-).

For example, the monthly props in AC help keep things from becoming
entirely static, but imagine the difference if, say, the advocate
statues were designed & but by players, not by Turbine--if changes
to the world itself didn't always happen "off camera".  Look at the
vast amount of additional content for UT and Q3A that the game
authors didn't have to create.  What if players could create
dungeons?

Sure, there's potential for misuse, either from building in exploits
or simple lack of taste.  But these strike me as tractable.


Amanda Walker <amanda at alfar.com>
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