[MUD-Dev] Cultural impact on Muds (was: Star Wars Galaxies)

Dave Rickey daver at mythicentertainment.com
Wed Feb 12 09:24:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


From: "Eric Hu" <eric at ttic.com.tw>

> To compare with the effort Korea designers spent in combat,
> Lineage lack the luxury storyline, background, plently quests of
> EQ, UO, DAoC, AC1 and AC2. The tale-telling is terribly suck in
> Lineage. You don't need to care about the background and story,
> all you need to know is how to storm the castle, and kill the guys
> who dare to block the path.

I've been wondering about the success of Lineage for a long time.
It's mystifying to myself and most of the US designers I've spoken
with how a game with such primitive graphics does so well.  Actually
playing the game doesn't change that, the gameplay is nothing
special, the systems rarely much more sophisticated than the
graphics.  The lack of success for Lineage in the US mirrors the
poor showing of the popular US games in Korea.  I think I've finally
gotten a hande on it.

In the US, game-rooms are rare, and where they exist mostly focus on
providing FPS players the chance to be "Low Ping Bastards" on a
digital connection.  The overwhelming majority of MMOG players are
connecting from home, in most cases alone in real space.  In Korea,
"PC baangs" are a huge market, there's a game room on every block,
and from what I am told almost everyone in a particular baang will
be playing the same game at any given time.  I think this is the
root cause (but not core issue) in the split.  Lineage is very much
a social game, but the social side of it takes place in person.  Not
only is everyone in the same baang playing the same game, they are
part of the same "Bloodpledge".

US games emphasize individual empowerment.  You play your character,
you collect stuff, you become "Uber".  All mechanics, gameplay,
reward systems, quests, etc. focus on feeding that sense of
empowerment and making the player feel that he, himself, is
"advancing".  Cooperating with others is something you do in order
to gain personal reward, those rewards are usually deliberately
structured to be inaccessible otherwise.  There is little in the way
of rewards aimed specifically at the group, the group is rewarded
with continued existence because it serves the goals of the members.
It takes a lot of work to encourage a social environment to appear
in a game played by physically isolated people.

In Lineage, the real rewards are reserved for the "Bloodpledge".
It's the bloodpledge that claims the castle, the bloodpledge that
collects the rewards.  Personal reward comes from the appreciation
and comradery of the other members of the group, *who are right
there in the room with you*.  The line between "virtual" and "real"
friends is nonexistent, because the friends you play the game with
are physically present.  The conventions and methods used to reward
and socialize individuals in US games are either unneccessary or
counter-productive.  The Korean gamer doesn't need to have the
game's social construct propped up or pushed on him by mechanics,
he's soaking in it.

I'm not going to say this is rooted in the individualism of
Americans or any stereotypical urge to collective behaviour in Asia,
the simple difference in the real-space environments each plays in
is enough to account for it.

--Dave



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