[MUD-Dev] MMORPG, buildings, is it bad to be just props?

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Thu Feb 13 09:26:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Dave Rickey writes:
> From: "Paul Schwanz" <pschwanz at comcast.net>

>> I actually very much dislike the use of props.  To me, they are
>> an unwelcome reminder that I am on a stage instead of in a world.
>> So I'd apply this preference to more than just buildings.

> I think this goes to the core of why these games have trouble
> breaking into a wider audience: Our worlds are too obviously fake.
> Not just in the sense of being fake because they have Dragons and
> magic (or cyborgs and nanotech), but fake in the sense that they
> do not behave like real worlds.  Buildings are indestructible
> lumps, NPC's stand around waiting for the players to kill them,
> appearing from thin air, and so on.  I'm not talking about realism
> for the sake of realism, but simple violations of common sense on
> the order of "Cartoon Physics" but without the humor.  There's no
> underlying logic to most of it, but simple "Because I said so"
> fiat on the part of the developer.

That's all well stated, and I can imagine that this line of thinking
can carry into discussion of our favorite evils in current games.
The fakery employed by game developers most irks me because it
contributes to the player mindset that the game is a very artificial
construction.  It's so artificial, in fact, that players don't think
of it as a world, but as a collection of rules to follow and hoops
to jump through in order to achieve the game's end.  A kind of
graphical version of the board game "Life".  Suspension of disbelief
is really right out the window.  Only the diehard roleplayer who
really wants it to be an immersive environment is going to go
through all the emotional and mental effort to say that Freeport in
EverQuest really is a rough and tumble town.  To other players, it's
a maze with quest NPCs.  Rules and hoops.


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