Brand Loyalty (was Re: [MUD-Dev] Requirements for MM (wasComplexities of MMOG Servers))

Szii szii at sziisoft.com
Thu Jan 2 21:44:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Koster, Raph" <rkoster at soe.sony.com>

> I am not sure what this has to do with brand loyalty per se, but
> I'll make the assertions that

>   treadmills are good
>   forced socialization is good
>   downtime is good

> even in the face of much outcry from many, many people. There's a
> lot more to the dynamics of human behavior beyond "I'm bored" and
> "I want to be self-sufficient."

I disagree - people can be "loners" and still play the game.  People
don't like forced ANYTHING.  In today's world we're not playing Zork
with it's fairly linear storyline.  If I can only jump on for 20
mins at a time, I don't want to spend that time LFG.  Same with
downtime... it's just "time wasted."  If I'm wanting to play a game
I want to PLAY IT.  I didn't buy it (or online time) to sit around
and regen, or camp X mob because it might drop something I want
after I kill it 1000 times.  People do it because they want "Y"
reward, not because they enjoy it.

As to treadmills..they're just plain wrong.  They're a timesink.  Do
I think that everyone should be able to attain "the highest levels?"
No way.  However I will propose that there is a way to keep people
happy playing WITHOUT a treadmill as the main motivator.  So far as
I can tell, online- gaming has become a service-oriented industry
and people are willing to pay for premium services.  If this means
$30 a month for more interactivity, helpfull admins, good CS ... I
think people will play it.  Having a few people dedicated to
constant revamps of zones, mobs etc would pay off in the long run.
We always chat about AI and fields of bunnies and farming... the
best "I" is on a real person.  How much effect could 2 people
dedicated to simply moving spawn points, quests, etc around in game
X have?  Not even zone revamps, just moving the placement of
non-static objects.  Maybe changing up the models or even the mobs
in a given area.  Move the pathing nodes around.  Two people full
time could make a MASSIVE world of difference in just keeping the
game fresh and challenging for the players.

EQ Legends went this route a little bit, but it's was after the fact
- too little too late.  A game would have to be built from the
ground up around it.

A player will view the world in a certain way - even small changes
are noticed.  People are SO hungry for new content that they'll buy
expansion packs and download new worlds to explore. NWN tapped into
this a little by letting player-created worlds run.

IMHO, they fell short because...

  1) They're player run and on player-links and player-machines.
  These bog easily.

  2) They're not fully persistant.

  3) They're not fully "in sync" with a given storyline or thread.
  This is good for variety, but doesn't constitute a singular
  "game."

  4) There's no control on what you can do...is TOO decentralized.

  5) It's too easy.  Most people think of the "risk reward" factor
  and then err on the side of reward.  Consistant drops of lesser
  value are better than the occasional drop of good gear.  When the
  game's too easy, people become complacent.  When you start on the
  treadmill, people become complacent...and bored.

As ye-olde-armchair-quarterback, I feel that the next "big thing"
will be a NWN-type toolset which taps into the artistic talents and
drive of the gaming populace.  Give them some direction, give them a
forum and a "master gamemaster" and a QA group.  Let them (the
gamers) build the world and let the gaming company sync it/QA
it/support it/host it.  When someone builds the core, they will
come.  The world will be built, stone by stone, by the blood, sweat
and tears of the masses.  Only the masses can keep up with the
masses - the trick is to harness it, direct it and then let it run
with you in tow.

</armchair_quarterback>

On another note, I think it'd be interesting to see what would
happen if you took 100 MUD players and the entire MUD-DEV list and
put them in a conference room for a week.  What would they end up
with as "the next game."

-Mike


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