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

Ron Gabbard rgabbard at swbell.net
Wed May 29 13:43:50 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


From: "Clay" <clayf at bu.edu>

> and sometimes (perhaps often, depending on the player type) you
> need to break away from them for a bit and try something new on
> your own.

> 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.

> Pressured grouping actually often shoots itself in the foot here,
> because the grouping mechanics are rather sensitive to having the
> right combination of complementary skillsets.

> Pressured grouping is another hit against the casual player, who
> ends up spending ("wasting" is a more common word) most of their
> time trying to find a group and be accepted by them.

OK, correct me if I have this wrong.  The four reasons listed above
to make characters independent (soloable) are:

  1. People need a break from having to be in 'social' situations
  all the time.

  2. Some players are uncomfortable with the process of finding
  groups and/or despair at not being able to find a group when it's
  a requirement for hunting.

  3. Forced grouping induces 'uber group' templates.

  4. The cost of finding the required group is too high for the
  casual player who has limited leisure time to invest in the MUD.

Are the problems listed above truly the result of 'forced grouping'?
Or, are they caused by other game design decisions and are just made
more apparent because of the emphasis placed on grouping?

> Why do we need to be committed to the idea that downtime = social
> time?

I agree that downtime doesn't necessarily equal social time for
every player.  But, time of high-involvement with the content (high
frequency and complexity of strategic and tactical
decisions... typically combat) does necessarily equate to non-social
time in terms of communication in most MUDs... unless you have a
combat system that lets the player hit the ATTACK button and they're
done.

Why do MUD gamers play MUDs vs. traditional client-based RPGs when
the traditional RPGs often have... better/deeper storylines written
specifically for the individual player, their own fan sites and
player communities, module/dungeon creation tools where players can
create and share content with each other resulting in almost
infinite content, fewer technical problems/no Internet latency, no
griefers, no TOS or 'name police', a plot where the player is the
'hero' and not just 'another joe', no running to a dungeon to find
all the content 'camped', cheat codes where the players can be 'God'
if they desire without being banned for exploiting, no 'nerfs', no
having to share loot from kills, no getting disconnected only to
come back dead and suffering the 'death penalty', no dependence on
other people for fun whatsoever, convenient 'save' options so the
player can lower their risk before dangerous encounters if they
desire, no server downtime for scheduled or unscheduled maintenance
and patches, a lower time commitment required to experience all the
content, no monthly subscription fee, and a higher level of
convenience in terms of booting up, playing, then quitting out?

Traditional RPGs would seem to be superior to MUDs in every way.

Cheers,

Ron

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