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

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Tue Jun 4 22:17:07 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


Martin C. Martin posted on Saturday, June 01, 2002 3:50 PM

> So how do you cultivate a community, other than partying?

I've stated this elsewhere in detail, but to sum up:

  1) You create a screen that ensures the players who are on your
  game belong there.  By belong there, I mean you determine what you
  determine the primary goal of the game and then you screen
  appropriately for it.  Not all players are right for all games --
  even if that's the most profitable model in the short term, in the
  long term I don't believe this to be the case.  Thus, if you're
  going to do say, a Star Wars game and the primary purpose of the
  game is to immerse people in the Star Wars universe, it would be
  desirable to have people who are interested in Star Wars content
  -- as opposed to people who want to just be griefers, who want to
  just chat about what they did with their girlfriend yesterday, or
  people who want to PK others.

  2) Once you've defined who you want, you need to get those folks
  into the game FIRST.  You target your audience -- maybe people who
  go to the movie get a free month on your game, or who subscribe to
  Star Wars Gamer, or who buy the DVD.  You target your audience by
  identifying their interests.  You get them onto your game first.
  And you start small.

  3) You let them play.  That first culture is the most tenuous.
  You continue to advertise.  Players form bonds, camaraderie,
  social interaction -- all tied to the game however (not, "This is
  where I go to chat with my friends").  If you have the ability to
  PK or there's a level treadmill, these players become advanced.
  They have a vested ownership.  They are higher level.  They care
  about the game and they share the original design's vision.

  4) NOW you open it up to the acculturation process.  Now, the game
  is ready for new players to come in who don't share that vision,
  who are utterly clueless, who think Star Wars is kewl but really
  don't understand the game's original vision -- they don't get it
  (e.g., they want a kewl lightsaber but they want to use it to
  roast hot dogs).  The culture can now teach and assimilate the
  folks who are willing to adapt to it.  The ones who aren't will
  hopefully feel unwelcome and leave.

  5) You now have your own gaming culture that values the game.
  While it's probably not the exact vision you started out with,
  it's run by players you can trust who aren't about "beating" the
  game so much as enjoying it.

Too many MMORPG are just a vast morass of filthy humanity, taking
anyone and everything who has a credit card into the fold.  When
left to their own devices, the culture degenerates into a "strong
survives" GOPer biased playerbase.  Instead of cultivating players
who feel vested in the game, you fire the sound shot of a race to
become the best -- and to abuse the system before the other guy
figures out how to abuse it more.

The concept of MMORPGs for their own sake is passing.  Targeted
content is the way to retain players for years, who will give long
term returns because they genuinely care about the game, rather than
just care about themselves.

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


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