[MUD-Dev] Building a \\\'Deeper\\\' MMOG

Paul Schwanz paul.schwanz at east.sun.com
Sun Jun 30 15:58:54 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: Marian Griffith <gryphon at iaehv.nl>
> On Fri 21 Jun, Ron Gabbard wrote:

> There are plenty of mushes around that have neither firm theme nor
> any other form of interaction encoded into the game, so yes it is
> certainly possible to have a game where roleplaying itself is the
> center.

> There are even more games where there is a strong theme, but that
> theme does not control the roleplaying.  It is the reason of being
> for that particular game, and it provides story hooks for the
> players, but it does not dominate the gameplay itself in the way
> you seem to be implying.

> E.g. Pernmush, this has a strong theme of course, but the meaning
> of the game is to 'be' a person living on the planet of Pern, not
> to fight Thread, or to be a hero, or replaying events from the
> novels, just being a person on that world.  I do not think you
> could honestly claim that the context takes the center here.

On the other hand, if there is no Thread to fight, can a player 'be'
a person living on the planet of Pern.  I'll take it a step farther
(and this is where I personally have difficulty with roleplaying
centered games).  'Acting' like a person living on the planet of
Pern is very different (at least for me) than 'being' a person
living on the planet of Pern.  I play to 'be' a person on a
different world, and for me, every time I have to 'act' it is an
unwelcome reminder to me that I am not 'being.'  So for me, acting
like I'm fighting Thread isn't nearly as fun as experiencing some
sort of Thread combat.  Now I realize that any virtual world will
fall short of the imagined world on which it is based, and in this I
understand the importance of theme.  But for me, simulation is
extremely useful in helping me become immersed in the theme, because
(I think) simulation is a sort of connection back to my own reality.
(I know, it is difficult to imagine how a connection to reality is
important to escaping that reality, but I think it is. :P )
Unfortunately, I just don't seem to be able to immerse myself
sufficiently through acting alone as some of the list members can.
I'll accept that this is a deficiency in me, but I don't think I am
unique in this regard.  I may even be in the majority of game
players.  So perhaps my deficiency will help me design and build a
better virtual world...or at least one that is more readily
received.  ;-)

Incidentally, I believe that connecting back to a player's life in
some sort of meaningful way is essential to deeper gameplay, and
both theme and simulation (roleplay and achievment are loaded terms)
are methods for doing this.  Which method is most effective may very
well vary from player to player.  For this reason, I think that
discussions that assume that either roleplay or achievement provide
deeper gameplay are perhaps tinged by the proclivity to assume that
oneself is the model for all other humans.  As another poster
pointed out, I think that it might be more appropriate to talk about
the shortcomings of specific implementations when discussing shallow
vs. deep gameplay.


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