[MUD-dev] Fun in Games

Koster Koster
Sat Apr 27 10:29:47 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: John Buehler
> Raph Koster writes:

>> Right now, the ways which we permit players to act on the world
>> and have the world actually respond are severely limited. And
>> because of this, the range of emotions we generate is pretty
>> limited too.

> What range of emotions do you want, and why do you want to trigger
> emotions in your players?

As wide a range as possible. The wider the range, the better we will
have mastered our craft, IMHO.

As far as why I'd like to do that--because to my mind, videogames
are an art form. So is online world design (an increasingly
divergent art form from videogames). As such, I'd like both art
forms to be as rich and rewarding as the more established art
forms. I'd like them to contribute to the betterment of society, for
example. I'd like them to be thought-provoking or revelatory.

(And yes, of COURSE I want them to be fun).

> If you want an emotional response from your player, you better
> damn well make sure that it is a positive one for your player.
> Just yanking players' chains in an effort to get them whipped up
> in emotional situations is not a healthy way to present
> entertainment.

Oops, you better return the money you paid for TITANIC.

> Do you want to delight your players?  Do you want them to laugh?
> Do you want them to consider social issues?  Do you want them to
> learn?

Yes, yes, yes, and especially yes.

> Can you do these things in an interactive medium?

I sure hope so. Otherwise, the interactive medium is definitely
poorer and less intriguing than, say, comics, painting, music, film,
fiction, poetry, dance, or theater. But I don't believe that it is.

>  Is a fictional > environment the ideal environment because the
>  behavior of the > players is guaranteed to require suspension of
>  disbelief?

Hurm, a fictional environment is exactly what most of those
provide. Human beings seem to learn through story extremely
well. Often better than through bare facts.

>  Are the > player characters in a concentration camp going to
>  adhere to the > behavioral norms of a concentration camp?

That would depend on the design, would it not?

> I'm working up my own design for a virtual environment, and it
> involves fairly autonomous characters that the player only
> directs, not controls.  I see that model as viable for what you're
> pursuing because it ensures that the social context of the
> characters remains intact.  And at the same time, the players
> interact with each other as players, permitting player community
> to build.  It's almost a step away from interactive movies, where
> people in the theatre get to nudge characters to do this and that,
> and the people in the theatre get to talk about what they're
> witnessing.  That would seem a viable model for a concentration
> camp or Colonial Williamsburg, rather than the current model of
> direct control of every action taken by a character.

I usually use both those examples as examples of "impositional
worlds" as opposed to "expressive worlds," cf

   http://www.legendmud.org/raph/gaming/narrativeenvironments.html

Short form: I agree with your approach.

-Raph
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