[MUD-Dev] Stories, why?

amanda at alfar.com amanda at alfar.com
Sat Dec 1 01:50:36 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Ian Collyer <i.collyer at ntlworld.com> wrote:
> When I play a MUD I don't want to be told a story, or to tell a
> story, I want the ability to live a life very different to my own in
> a virtual world.
> Real life has much more to offer us as a model for MUDs than books,
> movies or theatre.

"Your character is asleep now.  Please come back in 8 hours."

I'd argue that you don't, in fact, want to live a life in a virtual
world.  You want to experience some signficant aspects of living a
life in a virtual world.

Stories are a way of sorting out what things are significant.  So
are game mechanics (Why does AC have cooked chickens but no live
chickens?  These and other mysteries...).

> Of course I want my stay to be entertaining, and I love admin
> injected events for the variety they bring, but only as far as they
> are subject to the same game mechanics that I am. If they are in any
> way immune to my interacting with them, especially if they have a
> set storyline that will be followed regardless of my actions, then
> they are a huge turn-off for me.

I spend a certain amount of my time in a virtual world.  One with
decades of contuity and  long-lived and stable communities, where the
people involved have direct control over how (and to what to degree)
they participate, stories develop and play out without any centralized
scriptwriting, and so on.  There are some "power levellers" and some
"grief players," but with very few exceptions they don't have a big
impact on most of the base of participants.

This virtual world is called "The Society for Creative Anachronism",
and isn't mediated by a computer at all (not counting the mailing lists).

I've wondered for a while whether or not virtual communities like the
SCA, SF fandom, or other communities of interest (including gaming
clans, for that matter) aren't a more fruitful model for MMORPGs
than AD&D.  I'd greatly enjoy an MMORPG where I didn't have to do
"busy work" to advance, where my achievements depended on actual
skills and knowledge, not in-game arbitrary markers.  At the very
least, it's a different way of looking at the challenges...

Amanda Walker
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