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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sat Dec 8 21:57:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

Jeff Cole writes:
> From: "John Buehler" <johnbue at msn.com>

>> I'm refering to something with a higher 'entertainment density'
>> than current games.  Current games suffer from the model of being
>> open 24 hours, being carefully structured for combat 'balance',
>> for solo play, attempting to derive all their entertainment from
>> simple animated combat sequences leading to the death of sprites.

>> To contrast, chess is quite complicated, but it has a high
>> entertainment density because of all the thought involved in a
>> fairly short period of time.  The same can be said of the game of
>> go.  I haven't hashed this out yet, but I'm wondering if there is
>> are treatments of game content and player interaction that will
>> give a higher entertainment density - more to do in a shorter
>> period of time.  Players should be deciding to step away from a
>> game because they've had enough, not pounding on the developers
>> for more.

> You must be careful, here.  You speak of "entertainment density"
> as if it is some objective measurement when it is really a
> subjective measurement.  Even in the second paragraph you define
> it two different ways: "[quite a bit of] thought involved in a
> fairly short period of time" and "[quite a bit] to do in a shorter
> period of time."

> You recognize that, then, that you are measuring to different
> "types" of entertainment per unit time.

> The question is, is one able to compare the different types of
> entertainment in any way that is meaningful?

You're drifting away from the idea behind "entertainment density".
It's not an issue of actually coming up with a number that reflects
the "density" of entertainment.  The purpose of presenting the term
at all is to put a notion into people's heads that the amount of
stimuli per unit time is important to players.  Not just the amount
of stimuli available.  In the latter case, players will attempt to
accelerate through the available stimuli (aka content and other
things) in order to artificially bring up the "entertainment
density" of the game to a level that they find acceptable.  Yes,
that is a subjective point, but I submit to you that the virtual
reality model has an inherently low density of stimuli.

Leveling is entertaining.  Changes in leaders in a competition are
entertaining.  Seeing new sights is entertaining.  Experimenting
with new abilities, spells, skills and items are entertaining.
These are distinct stimuli that have a shot at actually tickling the
brain of a player in some positive way.  Watching paint dry is not
entertaining because there are essentially no stimuli to please the
brain.  Show a time-lapse film of paint drying and you will have a
couple seconds of entertainment as you see the areas dry according
to the thickness of the paint, etc.

> One who expects to find the same sort of entertainment in an MMO*
> that they find reading a book, or watching a movie, is going to
> encounter a very low entertainment density in the MMO*.

Correct.  The question is, will players remain loyal to lower
density experiences when competing higher density experiences exist?
And I'm wondering and pondering the possibilities that permit a
competing higher-density experience.  I'm wondering if such
reformulated 'high density experiences' will be the next step beyond
the creation of a virtual reality - which appears to be the broad
goal of current designers.


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