[MUD-Dev] In defense of "soloability" [was Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility]

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Wed May 29 08:23:30 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Clay posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2002 9:40 AM

> Grouping spontaneously and for the fun of it (or for a particular
> challenge) is a good thing.  But I think the conventional wisdom
> which holds that a game which constantly pressures you to play in
> a group improves "community" ... well, that seems a little
> misguided to me to say the least.  Players can feel shackled by
> this pressure, and chaining people together isn't a very good way
> to enhance your social setting.

Misguided?  Perhaps in the overemphasis on it above all other
aspects of play.  But make no mistake, it is a critical component of
Multi-User play.  If you aren't offering that, you're competing with
single player games that do the single-player thing ten times
better.

Socialization is the gold ring.  It keeps players coming back for
more despite crappy gameplay, poor graphics, and bugs.  Why?
Because "all my friends are there" -- I've heard that a thousand
times on a multitude of games.  "I'd leave if it wasn't for the fact
that all my friends were on here," or "I don't come on to play
anymore, I just come on to chat."

If making money is your primary goal, those people who "only come on
to chat" are just as valid as those who are actively playing.

Players who have no incentive to socialize end up devolving into a
massive GOPer competition -- if PK's involved, it's even worse.
Players don't need to socialize in game, they have the web and real
life to do that.  To make a cohesive community requires hard work.

Too many MMORPGs take this for granted now.  Rather than cultivate a
community, it's assumed that if you just make partying an important
part of the game without encouraging the social aspects (like a safe
place to talk, decorative elements, etc.) the socialization will
"just come."

Sure it will.  In all the wrong types -- selfishness, violence,
competitiveness to a destructive degree.  Highly individualistic
GOPers is an entropic condition, it's where social games slowly
decay towards if they do not have a thriving community.  Fail to
cultivate it and that's ALL you have.

If you want to see an example, watch what happens to an unmoderated
board.  Leave it alone long enough, and you'll see it overwhelmed by
get rich quick schemes, foul language, and porn solicitation -- none
of it having anything to do with the original board's
purpose. Everyone's acting on their own, they simply don't have any
reason (or indeed, any boundaries) to be respectful of each other or
even strike up a meaningful conversation.

Communities have to be cultivated.  Partying is just one aspect of
that cultivation.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator
http://www.retromud.org/talien


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