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

Sasha Hart hart.s at
Wed Jan 15 16:55:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

[holding99 at]

> I think players don't mind treadmills as much as they mind not
> being entertained. (And that sounds so completely obvious that I
> am almost ashamed that I wrote it before saying 'DUH'.) But then,
> it raises a question: why are some aspects of the treadmill
> entertaining, whereas others aren't? And how can we maximize the
> entertaining aspects without shortening the lifetime of the
> treadmill?

We might have to grasp a nettle - that insisting on a given lifetime
of the treadmill is part of what is causing dissatisfaction.

I think it is possible to use design to extend the period of real
interest in the game as opposed to simply throwing in extra
time. The problem is that, in doing this, you are relinquishing some
degree of control over the lifetime. Guarantees seem to be
weaker. The benefit, I think, is that players aren't playing your
game unhappily. They just quit when they're unhappy.


Think about games outside genre that maintain long playing
lifetimes.  What techniques do they use? Sure, some might have
rotating or regularly updated content, user content, automatic
content. Sure, some provide multiple games to choose from. These are
important. But other games maintain long play without changing
substantially and while only being one game - more or less.

Tic tac toe might be trivially interesting initially. It certainly
isn't too interesting when you figure out the trick. Maybe it is fun
to demonstrate that you know it to someone who doesn't. For a while.

Chess can be intimidating and probably doesn't strongly attract a
majority of people who try it. But it has had many, many lifetime
players. Consider the differences chess has from tic tac toe. Then
consider - can differences of this general type be implemented
without the intimidation?

In some sports ability matters tremendously. But reflect on why arm-
wrestling isn't a particularly popular sport.

Similarly, classic deathmatches attract a continuous audience. Not
always a majority audience in the genre of online shooters. What
online shooters maintain the most popularity? What are some possibly
important properties of the most popular online shooters? Why is
having different game modes and maps so popular?

I would speculate from this kind of comparative exercise that the
following are among the important ingredients to social games that
maintain interest: freedom/getting to do things yourself,
interesting relations between actions and conclusions, getting to
generate novel solutions, cooperation, and competition. I think it
goes without saying that providing multiple games and updating
content are quite useful as well, though more typically emphasized
around here.

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