[MUD-Dev] [STORY] Story and population size

Derek Licciardi kressilac at home.com
Tue Dec 4 22:36:21 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Buehler
> Derek Licciardi writes:

> I find this a rather odd assertion.  I see no reason why an
> economy of excessive supply is going to be improved by introducing
> a greater number of both producers and consumers.  EverQuest's
> economy has some flaws to it that, if repaired, could permit the
> existing player bases to enjoy a more reasonable economic
> environment.  Note that if the economy was inclusive of all
> servers we wouldn't see a change in the excess of supply.  More
> players, but still the same issues.

> Excessive supply seems to be the general failure of most
> economies, where the assumption is that producing many items is
> entertaining, while producing few is not.  Just as killing many
> monsters is entertaining, while killing few is not.  Because of
> the very low 'entertainment density' in games, players feel
> compelled to perform what few tasks there are in volume in order
> to get some sense of extracting entertainment from the games.

I was merely speaking of an improved economy as an improvement
because of scale.  The statistical possibility of a transaction
occuring in a larger world is a simple function of some player
activity rate * number of players(buyers or sellers).  The fact
remains that in a larger system, you as a seller have a larger
chance to find a buyer and vice versa assuming the game mechanics
allow for easily finding that seller/buyer.  This results in a more
steady transactional flow of goods through your economy.

In another post someone mentioned rarity of goods in an effort to
claim my statement wasn't valid.  Rarity in this case has nothing to
do with the equation, because ANY movement of ANY good is considered
a transaction and a greater number of participants will virtually
guarantee an increase in movement of goods. (again assuming the game
design allows it to happen and doesn't prohibit the flow of goods in
some way) The one thing I did agree with in the other post is that
yes, size will more than likely bring about greater problems of a
different kind.  I only offer size as a possible "improvement" to
the economy in the loosest sense of the word "improvement".
Economies of scale exists for a reason and to some degree this is
just another application of it.

> Now consider the problem of entertainment density with a world that
> is flooded by repeated items.  Thousands of players obtaining the
> exact same specially-named item completely eliminates the promise of
> holding a 'special' magical weapon.  There's no story there.
> Thousands of players are killing the same specially-named monster
> with their specially-named weapon.  Often all at the same time.

> As far as I'm concerned, a story is something that is noteworthy
> because of its uniqueness.  'Note' worthy.  Worthy of note.  Worthy
> of writing it down.  Worthy of presenting it as a story.  To be told
> to others.  Why should I tell you about my killing of Bob the Troll
> when you've already killed Bob the Troll yourself?  Obviously there
> are small stories to be told, such as how you specifically
> approached Bob the Troll.  But again, we get into that problem of
> entertainment density.  There just isn't that much that you CAN do
> that's unique or special when tackling a problem.  Game designers
> think up ways to solve problems and that's the way that players
> solve them.  So ALL players solve them in essentially the same way.
> Getting interesting stories out of these games is just a nightmare.

I think we are agreeing here for the most part.  Future MMORPGs will
have to answer the problem of what to do besides kill kill kill.  It
is possible to give players a more unique experience.  It may not be
possible to give everyone a fantastic hero-like single-player RPG
experience but even a normal experience can be unique to the player,
especially if it is an experience derived from the people he/she is
playing with at the time.  This is what I was referring to as "real"
interraction.  I completely agree with you that the game-play in
most games today is what restrict "entertainment density". (is this
an official buzzword cause it sounds good enough to be?)  My only
thought was that following the statistical improvement logic of the
economy above we could potentially apply that same logic to player
interactions and story as there would be more of a chance for ANY
story to take place.


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