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

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Jan 9 19:06:07 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


Rayzam writes:
> From: "Paul Schwanz" <pschwanz at comcast.net>
>> "Koster, Raph" wrote:

>>>   a mud without a treadmill will fail

>> Why?

>> To me, treadmills speak of futility.  That is, you are constantly
>> exerting yourself but never get anywhere.  I might be able to
>> accept that a mud without a journey will fail, but I'd really
>> like to understand why a treadmill is essential to a mud's
>> success.  Or do you simply mean that we don't have the resources
>> or content to give players a decent journey and must settle for
>> treadmills as this point in mud evolution?

> On the flip side, treadmills mean that the player always has a
> goal that he can work towards, and feel some accomplishment
> for. Gaining experience is an accomplishment. Making a new level,
> or increasing a skill is an accomplishment. Treadmills means that
> something can always be accomplished, and when it is, there's
> another goal further away.

> The treadmill thus also takes the place of an awful lot of other
> types of content, such as places to explore, or quests to
> complete. Treadmills don't consume content in the same way, since
> they are often repetitive and irrespective of specific content.

But, in the spirit of what I was talking about with Brian Hook's
"The Changing Nature of Fun" thread, treadmills don't change.
They're one form of entertainment.  If that's really the full scope
of entertainment in the game world, then when the player enters the
game world, that's all that's there to do.  If that's not what the
player really wants to do, they get dispirited about the game
experience.

"So don't play" is the immediate reaction.  But they often enjoy
coming into the game world, so returning to it in order to socialize
in the venues of entertainment provided only makes sense.  Back them
come to the game, but only to find that the thing that they can do
today is the same thing that they could do yesterday.  And the day
before.  And it's what they know they'll be doing tomorrow as well.
Some days it's fun because they're up for some treadmilling, while
other days it's not fun because they're just not interested in
hopping on the treadmill.

This was an essential point of the briefly-lived "The Changing
Nature of Fun" thread.  I believe that treadmills are a viable form
of entertainment.  But not all the bloody time.  Games desperately
need to have multiple, orthogonal or only slightly overlapping forms
of entertainment.  Crafting isn't a new form of entertainment
because it's predominated by the realization that the players are on
a treadmill.  That makes it just another treadmill.

So the fundamental point here is that treadmills can be fun.  But
not all the time.  Put treadmills and six other ways of entertaining
your players into your games, let the players easily transition
between them as they like, and you'll hear far fewer complaints.
Yes, there will be new and different complaints, but I think that
they won't be about such fundamental things as are inspired by those
who obsess about the single treadmill in the game they're paying
money to play.

JB


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