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

Marc Fielding fielding at computer.org
Tue Jan 7 00:19:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

[ Caliban Tiresias Darklock ]

> I strongly disagree with that idea. It is not so much that the
> barrier to entry needs to be lowered, as much as that the distance
> you drop on the other side needs to be lessened. Lowering barriers
> to entry does this, but so too does increasing the quality of the
> product on the other side. If you make the other side worthy of
> climbing the wall, people will climb it no matter how high it is.

Hybridize it then. High quality will attract customers. High quality
WITH Rookie Management System (RMS) with attract more! They need not
be mutually exclusive.

> Is it the job of a game to raise gamers who can play *this* game,
> or gamers who can play *any* game?

I'm not looking at it from the perspective of a single game. I'm
turning the problem around and asking "What features do games need
to attract new players?"

> I honestly don't think you are. I think the kind of person who
> plays an MMOG for the first time is almost certainly aware that he
> is making a large investment -- close to a hundred dollars just to
> learn his way around -- and would like some assurance that his
> investment will pay off. But while your view of the payoff is an
> ability to play any game you like, most people probably see the
> payoff as being an ability to play this one game and enjoy
> themselves.

I think you're assuming too much. A rookie player doesn't think in
terms of "large investments" and "payoffs". He wants to be
entertained. High complexity detracts from that
entertainment. Minimize his initial complexity and he gets a faster
"ROI" (as you'd likely put it).

>> You don't give a Kalahari Bushman a bit of "Rum-Raisin Swirl" for
>> a first taste. That would be overwhelming and somewhat of a
>> waste.
> I find this statement *terribly* condescending and arrogant. Just
> because they're new to the concept doesn't mean they're stupid and
> unable to appreciate things. Some people *want* to be overwhelmed,
> and an MMOG *ought* to be overwhelming anyway.

Excuse me? It's a simple matter of pragmatism. The rookie will be
sufficiently overwhelmed just by experiencing the standard game
world.  The extra complexity you're advocating just gets you
diminishing returns with the increased risk of newbie confusion.

> Do you actually teach people at all? Because I think you've got
> some really bad ideas about how people want to learn. Most people
> don't want to learn at all, and this *is* a game, so you really
> need to get out of their way and let them play.

For the abject initiate, a straightforward in-game training
procedure is invaluable. A spectrum of decreasing simplification can
be applied to more skilled beginners all the way up to the veteran

>>>> Those newly minted roleplayers will seek refined experiences,
>>> No, they won't. They will seek experiences that are more of what
>>> they like, and less of what they don't. It takes a certain kind
>>> of person to appreciate refined experiences, and that kind of
>>> person tends to turn up his nose at vanilla.
>> You just made my point! An informed consumer will seek those
>> refined experiences, but first he needs an introduction.

> But the kind of person who appreciates refined experiences is not
> created, he simply *exists*. Some people simply aren't equipped to
> handle the refined experience; it's not a flaw or a failure, it's
> just the way they are. Some people watch a movie and say "that was
> a good movie"; other people watch the same movie and say "the
> lighting was particularly effective in portraying a sense of
> urgency and mystique". When you boil it down, the second guy is
> still just saying "that was a good movie", he just says it in a
> different way. But the first guy is probably never going to talk
> like the second guy, no matter how much you try to teach him.
> If you send a redneck to film school, you don't get a film critic,
> you just get a redneck with a film degree. You can't *create* a
> cultured individual with refined tastes, you have to recognise him
> when he comes along.

Wow, talk about "condescension and arrogance"! Have you never heard
of "diamonds in the rough?" Refinement results from an individual's
desire for education and exposure to new ideas. Those with narrow
worldviews are likely casualties of that process.


> It will be interesting to see if anyone goes the other way and
> does the Linux thing, simply giving away the product to get the
> XP.

Good observation. Barring any mechanisms I'm currently unaware of, I
think that's a reasonably probable outcome.


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