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

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Fri May 31 11:15:56 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From:  "Michael Tresca" <talien at toast.net>
> 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.

[snippets in no particular order]

> 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."

It seems to me that Clay was also emphasizing the need to foster
community.  I didn't get the sense that he thought its pursuit was
misguided, but was addressing the fact that it is often not pursued
in the most productive manner, much as you seem to be saying
yourself.  (Although perhaps the title of his post wasn't the best
representation of what I thought were its major points.)

> Players who have no incentive to socialize...

The question is not whether we should or should not have incentives
to socialize, but how those incentives will be experienced.  Will
players feel shackled by the pressure?  If so, I'd have to agree
with Clay that chaining people together isn't a very good way to
enhance socialization.

> 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.  

I too believe that too many MMORPGs are competing with single-player
games unnecessarily.  I don't think this is because they don't push
players strongly enough toward combat groups though.  Rather I think
it has more to do with the fact that the game's primary goals
themselves are so single-player focused.  We brought loot and levels
directly over from single-player RPGs and transplanted them into
games that could be vastly different.  Even if you stick with these
basic goals, at least make the pursuit more about community items
(loot) and community levels.  Shared goals can bring players
together more naturally without the feel of coercion.  See this old
post for examples about how this might be done.



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