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

Marian Griffith gryphon at iaehv.nl
Sun Jun 9 14:06:55 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On Thu 06 Jun, Yannick Jean wrote:
> From: Coyote

>> Of course, there's always the chance that you DON'T want to be
>> around other people, or want to show off that shield made from
>> the scales of the dragon. If not, then single player games are
>> ideal.

>> The people that play Online games are generally people that want
>> the social interaction. Want the chance to show off when they
>> accomplish things.  They put up with griefers, campers, and
>> technical problems because of this, that they can interact with
>> some people that aren't bad.

> From: "Marian Griffith"

>> Socialising is the opposite from being bored.  Well, not the
>> opposite actually as these are entirely different things, but the
>> fact remains that socialising implies an entertaining ac- tivity.

> Ok, I'll jump in the fray here.

> Quite many of you recently stated (as seen above) that player who
> don't really like contact with other players are a rarity in
> Multiplayer Environnement and that single player game are the
> place they belongs.

I am sorry, but I can not read that in the two quotes you gave, not
did I get the impression that anybody actually meant that from any
of the posts to this subject.

> Wrong.  I am sorry to say, but it's simply wrong. I know many
> players in current MMORPG who socialize like any others from times
> to times but who mainly shy away from any social obligations like
> "Forced grouping", Guilds and they are even reluctant to interact
> with PC merchant/crafters.

I, at least, never meant to even suggest that this is true. What I
meant instead was that socialising did not occur because players are
bored, but rather that it is an entertaining activity in its own

Others said that social interaction is what sets a multiplayer ga-
me apart from other games, and what is its strong point, because in
all honesty the basic principles of muds makes it different to
provide the sort of experience that a single player game can.  If
you want a thrilling story or well balanced character development
then muds have great difficulty to provide that. There are too ma-
ny shortcuts and ways to get around the system to really control the
experience, and most of them are caused by the very fact that there
are other players to help you.

This does not mean that you can not play solo on a mud, but merely
that you can not have a "longest journey" or "Final Fantasy IX" like
experience on a mud.

Seeing that, it does make sense to discuss the means by which you
can encourage and strengthen the social experience of players of a
mud, and it does make sense to say that socialising is *important*
on a mud.

>   Question: how many people on this list are lurker and like to
>   watch what's = being discussed without actually interacting
>   themselve ?  Answer: Again a whole lot of them... (clearly the
>   majority in fact)

You can not, really, compare a discussion list like this, with a

> Many players like me and many other have limited playing time and
> the idea when logging in is to be entertained. Careful there, I do
> not mean cheap entertainement (read mindless hack-and-slash), this
> could be meaningful, thought-provoking, entertainement but it
> should entertain the player without large time investment. Is this
> really a suprise that many players are not entertained by
> socializing ? Online socializing is often as mindless and
> superficial as the previously mentionned hack-and-slash and, by
> the way, many people in RL are not at all that found of
> superficial chatters.

Ah, but socialising is not at all the same as chatting. Socialising
is interacting with other players in a way not directly related to
game-play. If you taunt an acquintance who did something monomentu-
ally stupid, you are socialing.  If you congratulate a stranger on
doing something remarkable you are already socialising. It does not
all have to be guilds and plane raids and realm versus realm.  Run-
ning a shop implies that I am interacting socially with other play-
ers, even if *they* see it as a requirement for their own play. One
does not exclude the other.

> I sincerly think that immersion is what lure and retain playes in
> an online RPG.  Socializer see the chance to meet real peoples
> (and that beat any NPCs by far), Explorer hope to see vast
> persistent living world (not the realm of single player game),
> Achiever want to play a game with an advancement ladder (be it be
> equipments, levels, skills, etc.) designed to last for months or
> more, Killer play for the sheer competition of having to compete
> with other players... The short version, is many player do not
> play online game to socialize at all and they haven't the time to
> dedicate themselve to any serious social in-game relationship.

These things *draw* players to a game, but in the end it is their
social network (not necessarily socialising !)  that *keeps* them
there. Because sooner or later, the activities provided by the game
are going to become stale. Sooner or later you have seen everything
there is to see, killed everything there is to kill, attacking any
other player is so easy there is no thrill to it left. By that time
the only reason you continue to play is because your friends do.

> The sanbox principle has been stated and overstated, but designers
> must really be careful before pretending to know what peoples
> enjoy and do not enjoy about games, particulary games as complex
> as current MUD and MMORPG.

Of course, but that does not mean they can not be right about things
occasionally :)

Yes - at last - You. I Choose you. Out of all the world,
out of all the seeking, I have found you, young sister of
my heart! You are mine and I am yours - and never again
will there be loneliness ...

Rolan Choosing Talia,
Arrows of the Queen, by Mercedes Lackey

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