[MUD-Dev] The audience is the medium. For now.

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Tue May 7 08:00:28 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

John Szeder writes:

> With the recent discussion revolving around explorers, and Nick
> Yee's studies, etc, it raised an interesting question in my mind.

>   How many people have experimented with having a venue for
>   "Observers" in their game?

> Admittedly you have GM tools etc that let you be invisible, and in
> Ultima Online you can ghost around with impunity as well.

>   Has anyone really cottoned to the idea of enabling this more in
>   their games?

> A lot of people who I talk to who are outside of the hardcore
> gamer area struggle with the notion that the audience is the
> medium.

>   Why not introduce the concept of an audience into the game?

In my design document, I give observers access to the game.  They
may go along for the ride with a character who permits visitors, or
they may show up at a number of static locations in the game world.
In both cases, they are player-observers, capable of everything that
a player can do except control a character.  In a tabletop game,
these are the folks who sit around and watch the action without
actually saying what a given character is going to do.  Mostly, they
socialize and they explore the experience of the game itself.

I consider this to be a very important element of a game because it
permits player community - and recognizes that player community is
the real community of a game, not character community.

It's also an interesting free demo technique.

> In a persistent world style game, how many people would pay a
> reduced rate of 5.95 a month to have the ability to ghost around
> the world and watch things happen?

I'd love to have the micropayment option so that I can charge a
nickel an hour or some such thing.

>   Even more to the point, what if you tied into the ability for
>   audience people to award points periodically to players they see
>   doing cool things?

I have no interest in trying to turn observers into achievers.

> Essentially you would get people being able to along on these big
> plane raids and experience vicariously the thrill of killing some
> of the really big nasty monsters.

And I wonder how much that would kill achievement-centered games.
People work through all the crap that they do so that they CAN go on
a plane raid and be part of that experience.  Not that I'm worried
about killing off achievement-centered games.  I favor a game which
is rather more observation-oriented than control-oriented.

> There are downsides to the idea of course. Some people don't like
> being watched, and others are busy doing... well... what lots of
> people like to do when they think no one is watching.

Having someone watch over your shoulder would be by permission only.
Having somebody watch your character because it is in a public space
is something that you have to deal with anyway.

> I am certain that I am going to catch some flak here from the
> "this is bad for the community" crowd too, but I am not sure on
> what basis.

I'm all for it because it's GOOD for community in general.  It would
seriously damage some of the existing games' reason for existing.

Good topic.


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