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

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Fri Jan 3 15:08:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Marc Fielding posted on Thursday, January 02, 2003 1:09 AM

> The context for my discussion with Mike was his honest desire to
> maintain a game's atmospheric purity at the expense of a popular
> playstyle he happens to find disruptive. My central thesis is that
> the MMOG market needs to bring new gamers into the fold, primarily
> through lowering any barriers to entry.

> Given that context, my clarified statement is that developers
> don't have the luxury of limiting their target market *to the
> extent Mike desires*.  A target market *is* essential; mine
> includes casual and uninitiated gamers.

In short, anyone with a credit card.  I have submitted before that
this is a grievous disservice to game designers, to the fabric of
their virtual universes, and to the premise of anything with the
words "role-playing game" tacked on the end.

Don't build a beautiful shop filled with expensive, delicate china,
and then be upset when a bull smashes its way through it, burns it
to the ground, and then pees on the fire.

Don't want a bull in your china shop?  Then don't hang a sign
outside that says, "Any living thing is welcome so long as it has a
credit card."

Why make a beautiful Star Wars universe with painstakingly realized
characters, only to have it completely unappreciated by 90% of the
playerbase?  Who cares how immersive it is, really?  If you're just
trying to make it a money pit, make it a money pit.

MMORPGs are creations that involve the players as well as the
creators, and I dare say, the players more than the creators.  Your
product exists as a static entity only for that moment where you
stop developing and before a single player steps on.  Once two
players are in the game together, they are now changing the universe
based on their very presence.

Players make the game.  The MM of the ORPG part.  Ergo, if you're
not concerned about what players you have, you're not concerned
about the universe.  You are essentially just washing your hands of
the game after creating it.  And then everyone wonders why griefing
pops up en masse.

MMORPGs have largely intangible elements that designers don't CODE
-- but that by no means absolves them of responsibility for it.  I
expect Star Wars to function on a basic level like Star Wars:
hyperdrives, the Force, blaster pistols.  But I also expect Star
Wars to "feel" like Star Wars in an intangible way.  It's impossible
for me to make a huge list of what is and isn't appropriate, only to
say that I can spot it when I see it.

MMORPGs with strong themes have an obligation to maintain that
theme, because that's what the casual gamer, the new gamer, expects.
They expect Star Wars, and they have no idea about the dynamics
behind it.  But they will instantly know when it doesn't feel like
Star Wars anymore.

Ironically, enough casual gamers can spoil the gaming experience for
other casual gamers.  But the first step is recognizing that players
ARE content.  That's the foundation for monitoring the social growth
of a MMORPG.  Ignore that, and inevitable entropy ensues.

Star Wars, because it has a strong theme, suffers the same paradox
-- its reputation will draw players who aren't gamers and
conversely, enough new players will dilute the setting, making it
less appealing to new players.  Administrative monitoring of the
universe is critical, before, during, and after the universe is

Which is why, to bring it back to the original point, I applaud
muling being discouraged.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
RetroMUD Administrator

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