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

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Sat Jan 11 10:15:37 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Damion Schubert posted on Friday, January 10, 2003 1:46 AM

> Let's start at the beginning.  I've seen a lot of nasty things
> said about people who want or use multiple characters.  But they
> really aren't the evil, baby-eating, destructive forces of nature
> that everyone seems to think that they are.

> They're just bored.

> Bored because of the treadmill.  The hardcore gamers make
> designers feel compelled to create something where 'it'll take a
> player 3 months to get to level 50!'.  Of course, we speed up the
> low end so that you can zip through, oh, 5 to 10 quickly, but
> before you know it, all the gamers are stuck between levels 15 and
> 20.

Sounds like a game flaw to me.  Strong argument to fix the game, not
so strong argument against SCS.

> At this point, the player wants to do something.  Still wants to
> advance a character, but he wants to try something new.  Maybe a
> fighter, or a mage.  Just something that's _different_.  Something
> that feels like he's making progress without making him want to
> poke out his own eyeballs.

And he still has that option by buying another account.

> Sure, it would be great if we had more content.... but we do!  We
> spent a lot of time making more spells, more quests and more
> areas.  He only gets to experience 1/16th of those
> class-restricted stuff, and 1/8th of the race restricted stuff.
> Just by way of comparison, they get to play all of Baldur's Gate
> of it, and miss hardly any of it, in just about 120 hours (more or
> less) In an MMP, a player can play 500-1000+ hours, and yet SCS
> suggests they should limit themselves to a fraction of the design.

Variety is the spice of life.  No, you do NOT have to play every
character combination.  I do not want to be every single profession
on the planet in real life.  I like my specialization, I'm
comfortable with it.  I like to learn new things -- a sufficiently
flexible game that allows multiclassing or skill-based games that
allow characters to branch out in many directions both satisfy the
above concern about "exploring character content."

The ability to individualize your character is in large part by
having something someone else doesn't.  The obsessive need to "know
it all" ensures the game is completely genericized and ultimately
loses its theme.  As a player, you make choices in your character's
creation that limit his ability to experience the entire universe.
Just like real life.  These choices require us to deal with the
consequences.  It's tough being a pauper when you have the choice of
being a playboy as well.

Generally, what I've seen of the MCS complaint that they "can't
explore character creation content" is actually, "I can't maximize
the best combination by testing out all the alternatives."  People
don't want to make commitments because they're used to free-for-all
games with no real vision as to what the game's about.  Star Wars is
huge, bigger than those games in concept and design.  So it will
accomodate even experimentation in life through a more generic
advancement system that allows you to explore MOST (although I'm
betting not all) of the character development process.

> Well, now our guy's got a nasty choice.  He can either sacrifice
> all of the friendships that he's made, or he can destroy the weeks
> of work it took him to get that first character to level 16.

> Given that friends and achievement are possibly the strongest
> retention factor in a game, this is a nasty, unfair choice to
> offer.

People make this choice all the time?  It builds character, it
forces you to deal with the character's flaws rather than discard
them.  To put it another way: it IS limiting playstyles and that's
an intentional choice.  It's on purpose.  It's a limitation on a
game that's deemed justified (in my mind anyway) to increase
diversity later.

I see MCS as having your cake and eating it too -- it's like being
in college forever, on your sixth degree and you're 50 years old.
We all wish we could dabble in EVERYTHING.  Not everyone can, not
without consequences.

I just had the shocking realization that perhaps this is because the
adolescent population is really not happy with the idea that they
have to choose a "job" or "career" path when their real lives may
not have gotten to that point yet and they don't want to be saddled
with such a long term decision.  Hmmm.

> Most hardcore gamers will buy second accounts (we had SCS on
> Meridian 59, so I feel pretty confident of this).  I've heard it
> said that SCS prevents griefing.  Wrong.  It's now harder to
> prevent griefing, because players now have second accounts which
> they have very little emotional investment in, and which are
> difficult and time-consuming to trace back to their primary "I've
> spent 500 hours on this character" character.  Who cares if my
> second account gets banned?  I'll just plunk down $20 bucks for a
> new box, and I'm right back in with a mule.

And how is this different than MCS? So we ban five characters -- and
the guy STILL plunks down $20 bucks for a nex box.  SCS
psychologically discourages griefing because it means there is more
investment in a character.  Less anonymity.  Anonymity encourages
griefing. See my thesis for more details.

Mike "Talien" Tresca

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