[MUD-Dev] Striving for originality

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Wed Jun 12 19:33:57 New Zealand Standard Time 2002


On Tue, 11 Jun 2002, Ron Gabbard wrote:
> From: "Matt Mihaly" <the_logos at achaea.com>

>> I just think it's incredibly boring to try to implement the same
>> game (D&D) over and over and over. There's absolutely nothing
>> inherent in magic that makes it a balancing problem.
 
> Combining common threads...  Designing a world where an item made
> with a hilt and blade that looks like a sword and is called a
> sword is used for "planting trees" seems like an unnecessary
> burden on the player (cognitive dissonance).  Everyone has a
> language link in their brain between visual image, 'name' of that
> object, and the concept behind that image and name.  These links
> are so strong that we don't even cognitively think about them
> anymore.  Piers Anthony effectively plays around with this a lot
> in his Xanth series where 'shoe trees' are actually trees that
> grow shoes, etc.  However, the mental image painted of the 'shoe
> tree' is consistent with the new concept even though the name
> remained the same.

Nod, I agree with this. I used swords as an example, because
extremes can often illustrate a point more easily (and even included
that sword trees are a stupid example).
 
> There may be some overwhelming design reason 'why' swords are used
> for planting trees and hats are used for carrying items.  But,
> it's a high risk decision as players have to resolve the
> dissonance between their 'known' concept of swords and the
> 'proposed' concept of swords.  There is the possibility that this
> resolution will be "this game is stupid... swords are used to
> plant trees and everyone knows that swords are combat weapons."

Sure. Swords occupy a fairly concrete idea-space. Magic doesn't even
come close, however. And really, even a sword-tree is certainly not
inherently bad. I may not be typical, but I would be a lot quicker
to play a game that plays around with my perceptions and with
convention than I would be to play yet another D&D wannabe, and
similarly, I'd be a lot quicker to praise trying something new than
just doing the expected. (I also don't give credit to arguments that
say "Well, then you'll end up with a niche game." Most people on
this list will never make anything but niche games, myself
included.)

--matt


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