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

Ted L. Chen tedlchen at yahoo.com
Sat May 25 02:20:33 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

Michael Tresca Says:

> Forgot acting stages.  Imagine a world where TV is made by virtual
> cameras that just splice footage together from a virtual world.
> No more actors -- everyone's an actor, you're just reporting news
> footage in a virtual universe where dragons and knights are an
> everyday occurrence.  I imagine traditional acting would come back
> into vogue (like it is now).

Touching up on the topic - Acting stages provide something ever hard
to accomplish in online games... time compression of story.  That
is, on a stage, you can easily whisk away ten years if you'd like
and it won't affect the surrounding virtual world in which it is

Virtual cameras however cannot compress time.  Unless of course you
do post-production editing.  Which isn't to say that both styles
cannot co-exist in the same world.

Right now, there seems to be a developing fringe group of people
that are taking AO's world and extending it using virtual cameras
(and other means).

Comic using modified in-game screenshots:


Movies using in-game videos and some offline rendered movies:

  (the above link is a shameless plug for my own site)

Having experience going off the deep end with the virtual camera
side of things, I personally would welcome the ability to create
most of this in-game on an acting stage.  Several reasons abound.

  1) The stage requires only a script and good actors.

People tend to expect a more visually immersive experience from
non-theatre mediums.  As such, a lot of time is spent in creating
props and other supporting things (including sounds).  It took
almost a month to create all that was needed for The Helpers movie.
Time, which I lament, could have been better spent polishing the
script.  I also used a lot of professional tools which might not be
available to your average player.

  2) Does not require hunting down locations for shoots.

Some of the more interesting places on a MMORPG are in dangerous
zones.  Acting, filming, and directing take a lot of thought to get
right, and having to fight off a MOB while you're doing it doesn't
make it any easier.  A stage play only requires that you have
something to prop up in the background (imported bitmap?).

  3) A very controlled environment (space & time).

Linked to point (2), if your protagonist is fighting a dragon, it'd
be nice not to have him accidentally resurrect at the nearest bind
point during the middle of a shoot - unless it was part of the
script.  And if it was, not having to show the long trek back to the
body would be a good thing.

  4) It's live!  Which opens up the possibility for Improv! among
  other things.

To be honest, this is the one I'm most interested in.  All of the
other points, I can generally do off-line in some fashion.  However,
audience interaction is the thing that's missing from everything
I've done.  Perhaps I'm perverse, but I think that seeing an online
version of Bob Barker would be a cool thing.

  5) The audience want to see things in-game.

There's a reason why they're logging in.  Here's the user-generated
content that might keep them coming back.  And it doesn't affect GoP
balance which is a thorny issue with user created items.  Not to
mention the free labor...  oh, how many people write their own game
related fictions?  If the cost of entry is lowered, to the point
that they need only hire a few actors or friends, rent an in-game
stage house, and slap up some simple props (billboards might just do
- no messy 3D geometry required), just imagine.

The bad things?  It's not tied that strongly to the primary game
content.  It might be related to it.  It might not.  And that lack
of control and user freedom makes it really hard to control from the
dev's standpoint (EULA for virtual playwrights?).

Well, I think Raph might have been the one that applied Sturgeon's
Law in saying that 90% of all user created content is crap.  :) Some
players might not take well to online critiscm.  Heck, some offline
people don't take well to critiscm.  :) Would that be something devs
would want to subject a good deal of their players to?

Then there's the issue of user created content (and who owns it).
It's not as sticky as most others since this would be a transitory
experience as oppose to an in-game item.

And lag?  Oh dear god the lag that a successful play might generate.
All those people in a small contained zone might just bring a server
down to its knees :)


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