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

Travis Casey efindel at
Thu Jan 9 18:35:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

On Tuesday 07 January 2003 2:02, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:
> From: "Travis Casey" <efindel at>
>> On Wednesday 01 January 2003 10:07, Caliban Tiresias Darklock wrote:

>>> When wasn't it? Don't we all know one packrat who owns every
>>> major PNP system and half of the minor ones? (You can usually
>>> spot this guy by asking whether he owns "The Arduin Grimoire".)

>> Yes, you all do -- that would be me.  :-)

> I thought it was me. SPI's "Universe", anyone? Or perhaps TSR's
> "Valley Forge"? ;)

How about "The Morrow Project"?  "Mercenaries, Spies, and Private
Eyes"?  "SpaceTime"?  "Santa's Soldiers"?

>> I'll note, though, that there's a fundamental difference here --
>> PNP systems require only a one-time expenditure of money, where
>> most of the MMORPGs named above require continuing payment in
>> order to be able to play.

> I think that would be why people "bolt" between online games,
> while they tend to just *add* PNP stuff. I haven't played
> "Battlelords of the 23rd Century" since the playtest, but I simply
> *had* to put it in my collection.  If I ever meet someone else who
> has it, maybe we'll try to set up a game.

That's part of what I was getting at... PnP folks can play their
games at will, subject to finding someone else interested in playing
them.  (And with online PnP gaming, that can be easier than it used
to be for obscure games.)  And many PnP folks tend to be "system
sluts" -- willing to play anything, if someone else is willing to GM

>> PNP games are generally played with a group, which often meets as
>> often as the player who can meet the least often can meet.  Thus,
>> there's not the same "falling behind" problem with playing in
>> multiple games.

> There's also a certain contract with the GM that he at least
> *wants* you to succeed. On most online games, the administration
> doesn't give a rat's ass on a biscuit whether you succeed, so when
> you're not succeeding and hence dissatisfied with the game --
> well, tough. In a PNP game, the GM tends to watch for that
> dissatisfaction and throw you a bone if it starts edging into the
> danger area.

Yep.  I'll add as well that if all the players in a PnP game are
willing, then there's no need for the group to go through "leveling
up" to get to "the good parts" -- if you want to create a bunch of
12th level AD&D characters and start playing them, or a bunch of
300-point GURPS characters, or whatever, you're free to do so.  And
new characters in an existing game are often brought in at a power
level the same as or close to the established characters -- so
there's no "I'm a newbie, and I can't do anything" problem, as there
can be in some online games.

> There's also a very definite sense when playing a PNP game that
> the GM will make a certain amount of effort to ensure that he
> provides something for everyone. On the average online game, my
> dwarven thief might have a keen interest in cooking with fungus,
> but the game won't respond by using fungus as a form of
> treasure. In a PNP game, the GM will almost certainly start
> setting up situations that rely on an attraction to fungus as the
> "hook"; treasures, traps, trails, etc.

Real-time customization is a wonderful thing.  On similar notes, if
the group is feeling silly on a particular night, the GM can run a
silly game.  If they feel like heavy role-playing, a night can be
devoted to the characters talking to folks in an inn.  And so forth.

IMHO, that's the major reason why, short of strong AI, computer RPGs
aren't going to completely replace paper ones.

       |\      _,,,---,,_     Travis S. Casey  <efindel at>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-' 
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_) 

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