[MUD-Dev] Star Wars Galaxies: 1 character per server

Marc Fielding fielding at computer.org
Wed Jan 1 23:55:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


[ Michael Tresca]

> Sure they do.  The land rush is over.  There are 20+ MMORPGs
> coming out.  The populations are already spread across four of
> them (Ultima Online, Dark Ages of Camelot, Everquest, Asheron's
> Call) and a few others (Anarchy Online, WWII Online).  The only
> markets that will be left ARE niche markets.

Actually, I think this will be the first of *many* land rushes. As I
mentioned to C.T. Darklock in a previous post, we've only covered a
fraction of the MMOG design problem space. This shakeout will merely
thin the herd of "classical RPG" style MMOGs.

> And of course, the very existence of the Star Wars universe
> relegates it to more of a niche market than any of the above
> MMORPGs.  Okay, WWII Online is pretty specific.  But the top four
> are generic fantasy.

I think the popular appeal of the Star Wars universe has the
potential to draw a *huge* number of new gamers to the MMOG fold and
finally move it into the mass market. Of course, to fully capitalize
on the flood, designers need to cater to the new recruits' special
needs (i.e. lower the barrier to entry). Whether or not SOE's Star
Wars game will accomplish this remains to be seen.

>> You're there to play Star Wars? Great. So is the powergamer who
>> wants all those "l33t Jedi skillz." So is the socializer who
>> wants nothing more than to hang out in a cantina. So is the
>> explorer who just wants to complete the Kessel Run in less than
>> 12 parsecs.
 
>> The Star Wars setting is simply a stage upon which players live
>> out their fantasies.
 
> I fundamentally disagree.  Star Wars at some level is separated
> from science fantasy.  What is that distinction?  How much can the
> playerbase metagame before they dilute the setting?
 
> If everyone uses "l33t Jedi skillz" is it Star Wars anymore?  Not
> in my opinion.
 
> So there are boundaries.  Extreme powergamers are beyond those
> boundaries in my opinion.

As I've said before, that's your opinion. Your desire for a purity
of experience is understandable and reasonable. Unfortunately, it's
not scaleable at this point in time.

>> MMORPGs development is a balance between developer Vision
>> (*genuflects*) and player desires. Lean too far towards your
>> brand of Vision and you risk alienating the large number of
>> people who don't subscribe to "Roleplaying Über Alles."
 
>> To paraphrase Princess Leia:
 
>>   "The more you tighten your grip, Grand Moff Tresca, the more
>>   customers will slip through your fingers."
 
>> If your response is "Good riddance!", that's fine. Just be
>> prepared for your game to be relegated to "niche market" status.
 
> Finally, I've been escalated to Grand Moff.  About time people
> recognized my megalomania! :)

LOL. Feel free to use me as a reference anytime!  ;)

> Seriously, Star Wars as a niche market will still make disgusting
> amounts of money.  And for the long term viability of the MMORPG
> when there will be another 20+ choices competing choices, niche
> market is critical to survival.

That's completely valid if the market's breadth has been
exhausted. I think we've got a long ways to go even AFTER the near
term shakeout.

>> Today's "vanilla" product (as you put it) serves a purpose. It
>> provides a taste of MMO gaming to the public. From this seemingly
>> homogeneous mass of humanity will come new generations of
>> roleplayers, socializers, explorers, and, yes, powergamers.
 
> Yes, I agree. I'm contesting that Star Wars is not a vanilla
> product because 1) it is a franchise with a very detailed history,
> 2) people who are not traditional gamers will play it.
 
> Ultima Online and co. can be the gateway drug.  The next
> generation of MMORPGs will refine their content even more and it's
> very likely the various groups will segment to certain game types.
> Which is just fine with me.

FYI, my use of "vanilla" was not in the sense of "blandness" but
rather in the sense of its general target market.

>> Those newly minted roleplayers will seek refined experiences,
>> similar to what you provide with LegendMUD. In time their numbers
>> will grow until they become sufficient to (perhaps) sustain a
>> successful MMORPG.
 
> I'm not affiliated with LegendMUD, btw.

Whoops...I meant RetroMUD. (I got it correct below! =)

>>> If enough people mule, I as a socializer cannot find other
>>> people to group with.
 
>> Who are you kidding? From your statements I'd say you're more
>> roleplayer than socializer. ;)
 
> I'm exhibiting rather strong social tendencies by arguing my
> points with this community, I imagine.

I'd say you're more of an explorer in this forum....

	exploring the limits of my patience!  ;)

(Just kidding...I've quite enjoyed the debate.) =)

>> That's because you provide a tailored, intimate experience that a
>> certain kind of mature player appreciates. That doesn't mean you
>> can scale that up to the mainstream MMORPG level at this point in
>> time.
 
> I've argued this point before, but to put it briefly: there are
> large scale dynamics used to govern populations in existence now.
> I work for a Fortune 5 company.  I know how it works.  It's worked
> for years.  MMORPGs are refusing to embrace the peoplepower and
> expense necessary to govern their populations.  Thus, anarchy and
> chaos ensues.

> You CAN scale that intimate experience.  It just takes a lot of
> investment to do it and right now, it's not cost effective because
> everyone was caught up in the gold rush.  That's coming to an end
> and more personalized, "mature" MMORPGs are on the horizon.

Then we're mostly in agreement. I feel the process won't scale until
there are a large enough number of roleplayers to support a
commercial MMOG.

>> BTW, I briefly checked out your RetroMUD website. The "Notes"
>> section on the left of the start page indicates that "Multiple
>> characters [are] allowed." How do you prevent the "abuse" that
>> disturbs you so? ;)

> This explains it better:
> http://216.86.139.21:3003/cgi/help?=Legal/multi-playing We do have
> issues with multiplayers, but our populace is highly intolerant of
> muling and helps weed out those who abuse the system.
 
> And of course, we notice when five characters in a party that
> never talk to each other go linkdead at the same time from the
> same IP address.

Given your target market, the rules are pretty reasonable. Do you
get a good deal of clever attempts to get around the rule?

BTW, check out the "Enforcing roleplay on small muds" thread. I'd be
curious to see your take on the "paranoia-like" approach being
advocated there.

-Marc






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