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

Koster Koster
Wed Jan 8 18:07:34 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: Paul Schwanz
> "Koster, Raph" wrote:
 
>>   a mud without a treadmill will fail
 
> Why?

Definitions:

  "treadmill" - any repetitive activity performed in order to derive
  advancement. Typically can be performed in such a manner as to
  minimize risk.

  "fail" - fail to retain customers who would otherwise have been
  very happy with the game

Treadmills compensate for real life skill. They are the crutch that
keeps people who below average at the game from quitting. In a real
skill-based environment, 80% of your players are below average at
the game.

Failure is evidenced by multiple large classes of online games. All
persistent skill based games with no treadmill (persistent shooters,
etc) have had subscriber bases around 15-20% of the ones where
cumulative characters exist. All persistent social-and-worldbuilding
based games (MOOs, OnLive, etc) have individually also had
playerbases 10% of that of games where the player's fate is not
solely dependent on skill. Lastly, only 30% of FPS players play
online.

> I think you know that I don't like treadmills, but perhaps more
> importantly, treadmill-oriented games have not been able to keep
> my attention or subscription past a month or two.

You are speaking to two likely factors. One, the diversity of the
activities may bore you. Two, you may dislike the presence of the
crutch.

> To me, treadmills speak of futility.  That is, you are constantly
> exerting yourself but never get anywhere.

Yes; providing a cumulative character model means that anyone with
time and patience will climb to the top, but it ALSO means that the
top is merely having gotten the whole crutch, so to speak. It does
not speak to the gameplay along the way, nor does it speak to the
end game when you have the whole crutch.

-Raph

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