[MUD-Dev] Continuous versus Discrete Functions

Koster Koster
Sat Dec 22 17:30:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


> -----Original Message-----
> From: John Buehler

> I'm seeing a generally status-quo-centric attitute here.  That
> games are intrinsically about achievement and competition.  That
> without them, players will be bored.  Are players only about
> achievement and competition?  Given that they've only had
> multiplayer games about competition and achievement, it's a pretty
> hard question to answer.  If anyone has experience with
> multiplayer entertainment that pursued other avenues of
> entertainment, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

Playing pretend, in all its various forms. Most forms of "play" as
opposed to "games" are this sort of entertainment.

The difficult aspect is giving good feedback. As soon as you give
feedback, there's something people can use to measure progress (and
relative progress). I think it would be extremely dangerous to say
that we shouldn't give feedback.

Now, if every player recieved individualized feedback, in theory
they wouldn't feel in competition. Especially if they are working
towards a common goal. And if each one of them had a different
aspect to offer the joint endeavor.

I am recalling, for no particular reason, a leadership seminar I
took part in when I was in college. A largish group of us had to
work together to cross a "river." We were given a few planks and
boards and some silly rules (two people must always be touching, or
something). What ended up happening was that another guy and myself
ended up directing everyone and we solved the problem in no time at
all. But the counselor was unhappy because the two of us had "taken
charge" rather than the solution emerging from the group.

So there's a pecking order already, in an endeavor where nobody got
scored on their performance, nobody got anything but individualized
feedback. There was, however, a specific clear achievement for the
group--crossing the river.

On a different occasion, a different team-building exercise. Each
person had to solve one of those puzzles where you fit triangles
together to form a square. The trick was that you worked in groups
of four. Nobody was allowed to talk, and everyone's pieces were in
one giant pile. The only thing you were allowed to do was to offer a
piece to someone else.

The point, of course, was that good teamwork often has to do with
solving other people's problems and helping them surmount
obstacles. The way to solve the problem was to look at each piece in
your hand and see who *else* needed it, even if it meant that you
might give up something you could have used.

Now, both of these were "fun," they were "entertaining." They were
still goal-oriented, but they are the closest things I can think of
to what you are shooting for.

I'd recommend checking out the game A Tale in the Desert, which is
currently in intermittent beta testing. It's a graphical mud themed
around building and cooperative activity. It is still achievement
focused in that you get something when you all cooperatively meet
the requirements.

I am having real trouble thinking of examples which do not involve
achievement. Even chatting is often about scoring points. Some
forms--like giving comfort and consoling people--are not, but most
"social" conversation seems to be directed towards establishing
pecking order. (Even seen those surveys of how often the word "I" is
used in everyday conversation?)

Hmm. I am not sure any of this is helpful. You've picked a tough row
to hoe, my friend. :)

-Raph

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