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

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Sat Jan 11 13:01:23 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: "Marc Fielding" <fielding at computer.org>
> [ Caliban Tiresias Darklock ]

>> I don't see that you really *have* a line of argument. As I see
>> it, you would like to play multiple characters, and you have a
>> personal agenda to convince people that single character systems
>> are not even an option.  Unfortunately, your argument is
>> subjective, which relegates it to the status of "complaint" and
>> raises the above question of whether it is even relevant to the
>> market. >

> My arguments are based on my personal experience and the
> experiences of nearly two dozen friends and acquaintances that
> spend their leisure time in MMOGs. The defense of our playstyle, a
> playstyle that seems rather popular even in this list, is by
> definition subjective. However, balancing among competing
> "subjectivities" is one of the challenging components of game
> design. This isn't a hard science.

The defense of your playstyle is reasonably irrelevant. The question
at issue is more one of whether a game MUST support your playstyle,
and I would argue that the answer is "no" regardless of who you are
and what your playstyle is and how many people agree with you.

In short, there can and should be games you won't play.

>> I could be wrong. So far, all I've seen from you is some very
>> intelligent defense of *your* reasons for wanting to play
>> multiple characters. I do not, however, see any reasonable
>> argument ot the effect that this is a good thing for the game's
>> business; your proposal to pay a small fee for multiple
>> characters on the same server, for example, is ill-conceived and
>> simply would not work.

> I'm well versed in client-server and database design. Could you
> please fill me in on the "ill-conceived" and "unworkable" nature
> of my proposal?

It has nothing to do with the database design. Your proposal ignores
the problem of servers becoming full. When a server is full, you
can't have another character on it no matter how much you pay. This
creates customer dissatisfaction by ensuring that at some point, the
player will ask for something and you will have to say "no" based on
the environment -- not on an across-the-board policy. Players will
accept that NOBODY can do something, but they will be far less
willing to accept that they can't do what someone else just
did. Someone by definition will pay for the last available
character, and someone else by definition will want to pay for the
first unavailable character.

>> SCS has some big wins over MCS that are not immediately obvious,
>> and all MCS has to offer is some nebulous idea of making people
>> happier. I just don't see any *evidence* that MCS systems make
>> people happier, while I see a *lot* of hard evidence that SCS is
>> a Good Idea.

> Unfortunately, I found your "proof" rather irrelevant to this
> discussion.

How exactly is it irrelevant that when you allow two characters per
server per player, you will need more servers and possibly twice as
many servers?  That certainly impacts the cost of running the game,
and hence the cost of supporting a player.

> SCS vs. MCS is an INTRA-server issue.

Exactly. An MCS server can't support as many players as an SCS
server, so you need more servers. And that's not an intra-server
issue at all.

> Even if an account can have one or one million clients on a
> server, the only resource variables I need to address are storage
> and database capacity (ignoring any offline crafting for the
> moment). This consumption can be addressed by charging for
> additional characters used.

It could be addressed this way if you provided a character generator
for a PNP RPG. Unfortunately, a *game* also needs to provide a world
in which the characters adventure. That world also takes up storage
and database capacity, as well as the talents of various content
creators, and it is necessarily populated with opponents which use
storage and database capacity and CPU cycles.

> I wasn't trying to answer your somewhat hypothetical question. I
> was trying to setup the closing punchline below!

Which entirely proves my point that you didn't answer the question,
which was -- in case you forgot -- a major point of my original

>> Most users don't participate in community forums, but we have a
>> certain amount of faith that the users who *do* participate are
>> fairly representative of the entire user community. If this is
>> true, then whatever proportion of those users do something, we
>> can reasonably conclude that roughly the SAME proportion of ALL
>> users do the same thing.

> That's not a reasonable assumption.

And I believe I *questioned* whether this was reasonable, too. Which
was the other half of the point.

> The self-selecting nature of forums and protestors produce a
> sample that's highly skewed towards the most radical positions.

How does that have any relevance to how many are on which side? How
far they are to that side isn't really important.

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