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

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Sun Jan 19 17:28:57 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


Caliban Tiresias Darklock posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2003 9:08 PM

> I don't think you can make any valid arguments for or against MCS
> on a per-character level. I think MCS can be an effective crutch
> when your character concept is too limited, turning a game that
> sucks into a game that's tolerable, but the problem is still in
> the limited character concept.

Right.  A game flaw that should be fixed in that case.

> Multiplying the number of boring characters you can have doesn't
> actually make them less boring, it just takes up more of your time
> while you learn that they're ALL boring.

Agreed.

> That's not really a fair response. I pay money to play a game
> because I want to have fun. If your game eventually dumps a big
> steaming load of "no fun" in my lap, I shouldn't have to buy
> another account.

You misunderstood my response.  My point is that MCS folks can buy
extra accounts to get around things and metagame just like a SCS
person can.  No difference.  The argument that somehow, people
purchasing accounts limits them or influences their playstyle
doesn't hold true because both groups can do it regardless of
whether you're for or against MCS.

> There is probably a certain amount of fear that since the company
> makes more money because you buy new accounts when you don't like
> your game experience, the company will actively attempt to degrade
> that game experience.  Realistically, though, degrading the
> experience doesn't make people buy new accounts... it makes them
> play other games.

It's a fine line between a game designer being viewed as, "I put
challenges into the game so you enjoy it more in the long term" and
"the game is screwed up but I put it in so the player gives me more
money."  Not always easy to distinguish when you're a player.

> The one thing I hate more than anything else in a game is looking
> back and saying "that was a dumb idea" later in gameplay, and
> having no way to change it.

Yep.  Game flaw here.  In real life, you would have other options to
get around the handicap.  Any game that forces you down a path and
then gives you no way to get around it is flawed, flawed, flawed.  I
just finished playing The Thing for PS2.  There are certain actions
you can take that set you on a path, a path that ultimately leads to
failure an hour later.  No matter what you do, once you make the
wrong decision, you're screwed.

That sucks.  It requires me to reload (just like it might require me
to restart a new character on a MMORPG).  That irritates me.
Irritate me enough and I start to notice how many hours I blew on
the damn game.  Then I stop playing it.

> But what you actually get in today's games is -- nothing! I either
> live with what I've got, or I throw out everything. That just
> plain sucks, because I worked hard to earn what I've got. If you
> expect me to throw it all out because I made one bad decision, am
> I going to work hard next time? Hell, no. I'm going to take a lot
> fewer risks. I'm going to lie, cheat, and steal to avoid making
> bad decisions. If it's fair for you to dump a big steaming load of
> "no fun" all over my character, then it's fair for me to dump a
> big steaming load of "no fun" all over everyone else's characters,
> right? After all, I *paid* you, but nobody's paying me.

Yep.  RetroMUD's solution to this problem is reincarnation.  Players
can start over, giving their character new choices and possibilities
at the cost of experience points and other penalties.  There are
some folks who are utterly addicted to this. There are others who
never do it.  But it effectively gives an "out" for the, "oh crap, I
chose the wrong combination" scenario.

> I think it's more that people simply can't imagine a character
> development system with enough richness and depth to make one
> character enough -- unless that system is either hopelessly
> complicated and difficult to learn, or so bug-ridden that the
> entire game goes straight down the toilet. This is pretty much all
> we've seen so far: shallow, complicated, or broken. Until we see
> something that actually manages to have depth, usability, and
> stability, I think the community will resist the idea on
> principle.

Agreed.  Star Wars claims to have a system that will beat that
problem.  I guess we'll see.

> How does SCS decrease anonymity? On an SCS system, I *have* to
> create my next character on a new server where nobody knows
> me. Doesn't that make each character MORE anonymous?

SCS decreases anonymity because it causes a player to more closely
identify with that character.  If that's their SOLE identity on a
server, then it represents them.  It is more of an psychological
attachment than a person with 5, 10, or 1,000 characters.

If a person doesn't identify with a character, they have lest vested
in the character's well-being.  Killing other folks, being killed,
cheating -- all of it is not impacted as much on someone with 50
characters vs. someone with just 1.  1 hour for 50 characters is
less time invested in any one vs. the 50 hours in 1 character.  I'm
going to treat the 50 hour character as much more valuable than the
1 hour character.

The more virtual selves you get, the more disjointed your presence
becomes, the easier it is to not care about the character and the
easier it is to do something detrimental (because who cares, you
have 49 others).

Mike "Talien" Tresca
http://www.retromud.org/talien


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