[MUD-Dev] Asheron's Call, Story and Population Density.

Zak Jarvis zak at voidmonster.com
Thu Nov 29 02:21:27 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Well, it's been a long time since I posted. I've kind of pulled back
from the whole game development biz to focus on art and
writing. This thread finally got me to delurk a bit and even think
about more game development stuff than I had in a while. You lucky
sods get to hear what I've got to say.

First up, I hear rather a lot of ass (as in talking out of) talking
about AC's story. I would like to point out that while I found the
'active' story a bit boring, much of the backstory which was used to
support that was some of the finest game fiction I've
read. Actually, *the* finest. It's not uniformly great, and it
tapered off over time, but there is some really *good* stuff
supporting their events.

They also did more than I've seen with other large, commercial games
to make the outcome of stories have *something* to do with the

Which brings me to the second part of what I felt a need to say.

We aren't going to get good stories happening until we lose the
shard model and get real, sizable populations, or create very
geographically small areas for the shards. What we're talking about
with the best case scenarios in current games is 3000 people
populating an entire world, and usually they're expected to hold up
multiple entire ethnic groups (sometimes MANY groups).

The results that I've seen so far are pretty consistently community
manque.  3000 people is a very small town, and that small town is
being fractured into usually many tens and sometimes hundreds of
pieces. These sorts of artificially divided groups usually seem to
devolve into one of two scenarios for players. Either they feel
isolated from other players and they solo the game with the
occasional interactions, or they join some sort of guild and have no
real interaction outside their group.

I'm positing that all the solutions I've come up with previously and
I've seen others posit are Band-Aids on bullet holes. These problems
don't get fixed until we can build games that operate around
real-world population densities, and that's a new can of worms

Lurching, cliched and patchwork stories are the best we can expect
fractured, artificial groups to be involved in.

  Zak Jarvis

"Fairytales may be incomprehensible to the individual. They
have grown that way. No one mind cast them as they exist."
   -Edward Gorey

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