[MUD-Dev] Winnable MMO

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Sun Apr 6 18:15:15 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

apollyon writes:

> So, what if you designed an MMO that was made to be winnable?

> The biggest obstacle I can see to such a proposal is that it's
> risky.  MMOs are expensive and no one wants to lay down that much
> money for a game that people can "beat".

> Another obstacle is the fact that every time a given conflict ends
> there's a finite chance that a given player will simply set the
> game aside and not pick it back up again.  To help alleviate this,
> such a game would need to include rapid power advancement so
> players can quickly get back into the swing of things after a
> concluded conflict.  Perhaps even an advantage to continuing play
> once you have concluded one conflict.

Another obstacle is that if you bill your game as having one final
goal, the most goal-oriented types will be hell-bent-for-leather to
achieve that final goal.  If the design accounts for this by making
the final goal achievable only by a group of size N, it suggests
that the N most hell-bent-for-leather types will have to band
together and cooperate towards that goal.

In any case, I advise against a single goal in a multiplayer game.
In a traditional board game, you select your competition knowing
that you will have an entertaining competition ahead of you.  In a
massively multiplayer environment, you are competing against an
unknown quantity.  You may be hopelessly outclassed.  And in an
environment where time played is the final arbiter of success, not
even your personal skill can make the difference.

More likely, I would think, is having an experience which contains
many traditional style games which may or may not contribute to an
overall plot progression.  And even that plot need not ever end.
There can always be another battle, another challenge of nature,
another intrigue, etc.  The important point is to have the world
state change such that players have the perception of the world
being a dynamic place.  When the bad guys are forced from their
mountain stronghold, they don't just reappear overnight.  NPCs that
are killed are dead and stay that way.  And so on.

This says nothing about the fact that repeatable entertainment can
still exist in the environment.  Climbing the same cliff over and
over again might be entertaining because of different paths taken up
the face, or different conditions in which the climb is attempted.

The short of all this is that there can be many wins available to
the players during the course of the game experience, and they need
not have any impact on the world's overarching plotline.

One last comment would be that power advancement is one style of
entertainment.  It is not axiomatic to all entertainment in these
games.  For the most part, I'd rather not have power advancement to
deal with.  Only occasionally do I want to fool with it.


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