[MUD-Dev] MMORPGs & MUDs

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Fri Dec 14 19:20:31 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Derek Licciardi posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 11:42 PM

> This is hard to stomach.  I am not saying that someone with money
> to burn and a passion in his/her heart won't do this but the
> current economic model surrounding game development won't let this
> happen.(forget that we are in a recession)

<other interesting financial data snipped>

Whew.  Glad you said it and not me.

I don't think the model will last.  I think the mass appeal will
have to change.  I'm not so foolish as to think it will fail, per
se, but that it will definitely change into a model that feels
tighter, more focused, that allows players to play the game they
want without interacting with the massive, boiling, random pile of
unknowns that are other players.

I believe the MM in MMORPG is becoming a hindrance.  It is actually
becoming less representative of the reality we're used to -- MMORPGs
are beginning to represent a huge parade of strangers with even less
continuity than one would ever encounter in our normal lives.

The tabletop format started out with social groups.  MMORPGs
actually de-emphasize this aspect of the gaming experience.  You are
not starting with your friends -- you're starting with strangers.
MILLIONS OF THEM.

As you've already established, there IS no screen.  There is no
idiot-filter.  There's nothing protecting you from the other guys.
Worse, the other guys may be more experienced, more powerful, and
actively hostile.  It doesn't have to be PK either -- there's a
multitude of ways to grief without virtual confrontation.

Games are only going to get bigger.  And, as I already said, the
screen can't be "because they have a credit card" forever.  Weirdly,
a lot of MMORPGs seem to be developed with an innocent naiveté:

OF COURSE players are going to give away quest information,
multiplay, farm monsters, steal kills, and kill every damn thing in
sight.  There's so many bloody people on these games, the griefers
are a solid inevitability.

Administrators of MUDs expect this.  But they can fix it.  Because
they personally pay attention to those issues, as Matt's already
said.  You cannot make a massive universe and then let it go wild,
because the griefers filter out the "nice" players (and not the
other way around, unfortunately).  Sustaining a viable community
requires a minimum level of maturity.  And that must be EARNED.
Those players don't just start playing a game.  They must be
cultivated.

Credit cards do not, sadly, ensure maturity.

In fact, the horrifying statement that "the only screen for any game
is the credit card" pretty much invalidates this entire list's
purpose.  Worried about plot?  You have to have mature players to
care about a plot.  Worried about them creating content?  If you
give them that ability, they may just create leg armor called
"butcheex".  You can't fix these problems with a game's automated
tools.

Just one example: removing curse words from names.  Some of my Asian
friends where not pleased that "Atshituko" was not allowed.

It takes PEOPLE to deal with PEOPLE.  Nothing else will work to
create a viable, vibrant player base that's interested in playing
the game rather than griefing it in whatever random urge that
strikes them.  Because there's no screen that really ensures they
want to play the game in the first place.

What I predict will happen is that, as the gaming populate matures
in age, there will be less tolerance for a game that anyone can
play.  Hopefully, income will diminish as well.  Then we end up with
some other MMORPGs:

  * Accessible only by those who have a subscribership to a magazine
    (additional fee to play).

  * Gamer-created content wherein players "host" other players and
    can control who they interact with (e.g., Neverwinter Nights).

  * A recognized authority of "valid" gaming -- maybe purchasing
    certification for your gaming style from neutral authorities who
    certify you are a player of a particular type. Games would then
    brand themselves, "We accept Mature 4.0 players!"

  * Prestigious, private games that can only be accessed after
    reaching a certain level in a MMORPG.

That's just a few possibilities.  I don't think the current model
will work in the long term because it's not really a model.

Where do I get these crazy ideas from?  MUDs, of course.  This has
already happened to MUDs too. Long-term survival requires a niche,
not a bland take-all-comers approach.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator
http://www.retromud.org/talien




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