[MUD-Dev] MMORPGs & MUDs

Jeff Freeman skeptack at antisocial.com
Sun Dec 23 05:34:20 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


From: Michael Tresca <talien at toast.net>
> Jeff Freeman posted on Friday, December 21, 2001 2:15 AM

>> Gamers are screaming and yelling about art versus entertainment?

[snip]

>> Want to point me to a forum I've missed?

> This is by no means an exhaustive list.

I'm pretty sure we're talking about two different things here.  In
most of the forum-links you posted, the debate wasn't about art
vs. entertainment.  Certainly not "designers keep sacrificing fun
for the sake of art".

>  Also, please note, these are critiques of intent vs. playability,
>  which I categorize as "art > vs. fun" -- when the players don't
>  see or experience what the development team promises:

Some were, and that's a bit differently than I was pegging it
anyway.  Most of these seem more along the lines of "This game is
about X, but I don't think X is fun."  It's like complaining that a
FPS has too much shooting, and a first-person perspective.  If you
don't like that sort of thing, I'm sure it's be very annoying, but
do you blame the designers for "sacrificing fun for the sake of art"
in that case?

Breaking it down:

>   This fabulous poll (10/21/2001)
>     http://www.voodooextreme.com/pollcomments.taf?pollid=93

Most of the people in that thread seem to be complaining about a
lack of inovation: Designers not trying anything new or particularly
artistic, but just sticking with "what's fun".

>   Thinking Virtually by Shannon Appelcline
>   - #33: The Fun Factor
>     http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/virtually26nov01.html

Most of the replies to that article were from me.

>   Mu's Unbelievably Long and Disjointed Ramblings About RPG Design
>   - The Grandfather Clause of Stupidity
>     http://mu.ranter.net/theory/general.html#grandfather

Again, Mu's talking here about designers *not* being artistic, and
instead just emulating other designers.

>   Foaming at the Mouth by Erich S. Arendall
>   - Hanging Up the Dice Bag
>     http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/spritefeb01.html

The point of this article is that games lack story.

>   - You're Doing What On-Line?
>     http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/spritejan99.html

'Speaks to the advantages and disadvantages in online gaming (in
that you get/have to game with strangers).

>   - Computer RPGs and How Most Aren't
>     http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/spritejan98.html

An essay on where CRPGs fall short of the real thing (due mostly to
having NPCs played by a computer, rather than a person).

>   Gamegrene.com's Rants
>   - What's Wrong With RPG's? Part 1
>     http://www.gamegrene.com/rants/whats_wrong_with_online_rpgs_part_1.shtml

'Says the original NWN was good, but current MMO's suck.  Doesn't
say why.  But says he'll get to that here:

>   - What's Wrong With RPG's? Part 2
>     http://www.gamegrene.com/rants/whats_wrong_with_online_rpgs_part_2.shtml

Reveals it is due to a lack of roleplaying, and specifically: "While
the system itself and the world created are nicely done, the lack of
roleplaying and character depth is evident."  He's not complaining
about the design, or the designers, there - he's complaining about
the players.

>   - Click Me Baby One More Time
>      http://www.gamegrene.com/rants/click_me_baby_one_more_time.shtml

  "So unless we get really lucky and a developer comes along who
  wants to make a great game instead of a money-making game (Yes
  Virginia, there is a Santa Clause), or we demand more out of our
  MMORPG experience, I believe that the next generation of MMORPGs
  will be essentially the same as the ones we have now."

That sounds to me like he wants more Art, less pandering to the
masses (i.e.  "mere entertainment").

>   Ack! by Jeff Freeman
>   - The One True Way to Roleplay
>     http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/ackjul99.html
>   "I haven't played on a text MUD (or MUSH) since Ultima Online came
>   out."

I hadn't at the time that I wrote that.

> Did I mention that a lot of my feedback comes from disgruntled
> players who quit MMORPGs and went back to MUDs?

Are you suggesting that the big graphical MMO's are more Artistic
than MUDs, and that MUDs are "Mere Entertainment", devoid of
artistic goals?

'Cause I just don't see that.  It seems just the opposite to me.  It
seems to me that Joe Schmoe typically puts up his very own MUD
*because* he wants to express himself, artistically that is, without
quite a lot of regard for whether it's going to appeal to the masses
or not.

> Perhaps the issue is that the MMORPG forums are exactly the wrong
> place to be listening for customer feedback.  Those aren't the
> customers I'm talking about -- indeed, the customers I'm talking
> about are disgusted long before they would engage in a forum, a
> newsgroup, or a list.  These are the folks who play those "dead"
> games -- tabletop RPGs, MUDs, among others.  If they simply bashed
> the medium, I would agree that their opinion is irrelevant.  But
> it's not irrelevant, because they paid, and then they stopped
> paying.

I didn't say that their opinion wasn't important.  Just that I
didn't see a huge public debate over "art vs. entertainment" prior
to Jessica's article.


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