[MUD-Dev] MMORPGs & MUDs

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Sat Dec 22 11:12:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Fri, 21 Dec 2001, Koster, Raph wrote:
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Michael Tresca
 
> This is a huge non-sequitur. Jess' article wasn't about paying
> personal attention to players. Paying personal attention to
> players is, however, a great topic, and one I wish she'd write
> about. :)

I think it's already been written about, no? The currency of
attention and all that?
 
> The MMOs are consciously trying to remove all the psychological
> barriers because they are trying to maximize customer base. This
> is common to all entertainment media, common to all mass market
> goods in fact. It's why the iMac was such a good industrial
> design--open, inviting, friendly, etc. It's why we talk about the
> MMOs turning into thematic pablum in their desire to appeal to
> everyone.

Pablum is such a good word. Pablum.
 
> Muds have tons of psychological barriers which we might as well
> face up to.  For many of us, these barriers are actually
> attractors. I love prose and words, therefore to me the fact that
> muds are driven entirely by words is a nice thing. To the rest of
> the world, however, it's an insurmountable barrier. I am
> comfortable with command line operations too, as are most of us on
> this list--we find them the most efficient way to accomplish
> tasks.  But the rest of the world declared them obsolete years
> ago. I can proceed on down the line with more, but they should be
> obvious.

The rest of the world sucks. *stomps about a bit, muttering and
grousing*
 
> Now here's an interesting issue. Just to be contrarian, let me
> suggest to you that the playerbase of MMOs is the "real world" and
> the playerbase of muds is a weird, distorted hothouse elite.

> I am being somewhat sarcastic, but c'mon, you have to recognize
> that the statement you made is an extremely elitist
> statement. After all, the MMO playerbase is really a weird
> distorted hothouse elite too. It's miles away from the concerns of
> the general populace.

I had typed out a long reply questioning your sanity in claiming
that the graphical MUD population was anything but a freaky little
niche. I'm sure people ask you what you do for a living as much as
they ask me, and I'm sure you get blank looks as much as I do when I
reply "I make MUDs. Ever heard of Everquest?"
 
> It could even be argued that a game that only works when players
> behave as expected or as can be managed by human intervention is a
> flawed design.  That's being extreme, but I know that I personally
> want to design games that are resilient to unexpected factors, not
> brittle ones that shatter because the audience I got isn't the
> audience I expected.

Me too, but those designs encompass human intervention. You're
always talking about how it's a service, not a product. The very
concept of service revolves around human intervention. Everything in
service industries that is good and quality revolves around human
intervention, and generally there is a direct relationship between
quality and level of human intervention.
 
> I got to this paragraph and I just shook my head. Gone to the
> movies lately?  Seen any professional sports? I could go on a huge
> rant about sublimated violence and popular entertainment, but
> suffice it to say that discounting violence or deeming it to be
> too lowbrow or base to be desirable or "proper" seems to me to be
> VERY out of touch with what humans seem to crave as entertainment
> (the male ones, anyway).

I don't think there's anything wrong with violence, particularly in
games where implicit consent is given. I'm involved in pretty
physical, hardcore martial arts (Gracie jujitsu and muay thai
kickboxing), and there is a real level of intellectual beauty to it,
or at least to the grappling. Yes, it IS all about learning to hurt
other people, but there's still some real beauty about it.

Incidentally, I could have watched Aragorn slay Orcs all day.
 
> Nonsense. What exactly is your definition of art here? Because
> based on the above, I am reading it as "things which appeal to
> this targeted, cultured, sophisticated audience" and that's a very
> narrow definition. Better to say that the sort of art you want to
> make would be wasted on the large audiences. Which is fine to
> say--Matt Mihaly says it often enough. But don't close your mind
> to the notion that there's other forms of the art and craft which
> aren't bound by that audience.

You know, I'm starting to wonder if I should even refer to 'art' in
any of my arguments, as I'm not sure that's what I care about. I
will write a post on that later. What I care about IS, however,
likely to appeal to a more targeted, cultured, sophisticated
audience though, as you say.
 
> I'll say it flatly--right now, the innovation, for better or
> worse, is coming from the graphical side of things. Yes, there's a
> TON of catch-up work to be done, and basic fundamentals that they
> (we?) are missing. But what we're seeing is an explosion of basic
> typologies--and muds divided into a few typologies so long ago
> that a new one hasn't been invented in literally a decade.

*sigh* Can't argue unfortunately.

 
--matt

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