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

Travis Nixon tnixon at avalanchesoftware.com
Mon Jan 6 16:22:44 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Caliban Tiresias Darklock"

> What would be *really* productive here would be to examine how an
> MCS system solves problems that you can't solve in an SCS system;
> this would give us some idea of the tradeoffs involved. How does
> an SCS system *hurt* players?  How does an MCS system help them?

Off the top of my head I can only think of one thing that MCS does
better than SCS: keep people playing.

In my own personal experience playing various MMOGs, the primary
reason (and for most people, the only reason) for starting a new
character was to try something else.

Maybe you're bored with your current character and want to try a new
one for a bit.  Maybe you're playing EQ, are moderate-to-high level,
and you don't feel like waiting an hour or two to get started.

Sure, you could start a character on a new server, but most of the
point of starting over is to try something new without overturning
your entire world.  You want to try a new character, but you want to
play with the people you already know.

I played in both EQ and DAOC in guilds that could for the most part
be called "casual" guilds.  They were both quite large, but we
weren't the planes-radiers/ultra-powerlevelling types.  DAOC is an
interesting case, because it has some of the attributes that an SCS
system would.  If you wanted to try something from one of the other
realms, you did, in fact, have to go to a different server.

Here's what I noticed, though.  Practically everyone in the guild
had at least 3 or 4 "alts", at varying different levels.  If you
wanted to try one of the other classes (or if you already had
another character of another class and wanted to play that one for a
while), you just asked who was playing alts at nearly the level of
yours, switched to your other character and joined up with them.

Now the interesting thing here is that although starting totally new
characters was a very common occurance, starting new characters in a
different realms was practically unheard of.  And the very small
number of times a few people did decide to go try out another
server, it was almost always a one-session event.  They'd create the
characters, play for a few levels, and then come back home.

The reason for this behavior is fairly obvious.  They wanted to try
new things, but they didn't want to try it with new people.  If
you're the only level 50 online in an SCS system where enforced
grouping is a major mechanic, but you still want to play with your
friends, you're pretty much out of luck.  The SCS model is in direct
opposition to all the extreme efforts that have gone into building a
sense of community.

No matter how deep or how broad your game is, at some point, people
are only playing because of the friends they have in the game.  I
would argue that this is true of every multiplayer game in
existence, from Everquest to Subspace to Quake and everything
outside or inbetween.

I would also argue that no matter how deep or how broad your game
is, at some point, people are going to want to try something new.

Anybody who reaches situation where they want to try something new
but the only reason they're playing is because of the community that
they've been a part of, is basically a lost customer in an SCS game.

Another interesting note about DAOC is that practically none of
these alts were actually mules, in either the traditional (inventory
hoarding) or tradeskilling sense.

In fact, using SCS to try to prevent those types of mules is
practically guaranteed to fail, because the people who are really
muling to significant advantage are already playing 2 or more
accounts, at which point SCS is completely irrelevant.  The only
people you're stopping from "muling" are the people who weren't
muling in the first place, but were, in fact, exploring different
facets of the game, which you should be encouraging, not
discouraging.


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