[MUD-Dev] Protecting the Player's Suspension of Disbelief

Caliban Tiresias Darklock caliban at darklock.com
Wed Feb 12 04:22:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Ron Gabbard" <rgabbard at swbell.net>

> My question is this:

>   Where do you draw the line between increasing the
>   convenience/playability of the game and protecting the player's
>   suspension of disbelief (SoD) with regards to the immersive game
>   world and/or storyline you're trying to create?

A fair question, and one that in recent weeks has been much on my
mind. It is my considered opinion that they're nesting.

Oh, sorry, wrong line. Let me try this again.

I don't think suspension of disbelief works in a multiplayer
environment, because you have to allow players to talk to each other
in some fashion -- and, inevitably, someone will say "Hey, did you
watch Joe Millionaire last night?" or something like that. SoD down
the tubes, and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

In single-player games, I've generally found that when you attempt
to get your player to suspend disbelief, you end up pretending that
the player is going to respond appropriately to stimuli. Since
players are contrary and irrational, they don't, and weird things
happen.

As far as convenience and playability, I would rather play a game
that was less immersive and more playable than the alternative of a
more immersive game that was a pain to play. Fundamentally, we're
building a game here -- not JUST a game, but still, a game. Games
are meant to be played. If you choose to make the game less playable
for the sake of setting or storyline, chances are you didn't really
want to make a game in the first place.

> Is it even important to protect the player's suspension of
> disbelief if that protection results in game play or policies that
> the more-vocal players deem inconvenient (or even fascist in the
> case of character naming conventions)?

SoD is really not that important to the MUD player, IMO. Basically,
the average player on the average MUD is going around spouting
statistics and levels and game mechanics half the time -- so even if
you *want* to suspend disbelief, you generally can't.


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