[MUD-Dev] Storytelling in a PSW from a Player's Persepctive

Talanithus HTML talanithus at mindspring.com
Wed May 21 23:35:16 New Zealand Standard Time 2003

From: "David Kennerly" <kennerly at sfsu.edu>

> The only part of the design wherein role-playing is encouraged is
> the intention.  Whereas, the machine implements:

> 1.

>> Give them the power to ... place ... a fearsome dragon.

> 2.

>> Give them the tools necessary to find ... disruptions ...

> 3.

>> And then ... let them ... design it.

> I'm not attempting to misquote or quote you out of context.  I'm
> attempting to strip intention from execution.  Please bear with
> this butchery for a one more paragraph.

> We intended roleplaying, but designed a grief machine.  Only in
> the best case will a noble soul follow our intentions.  In the
> mediocre case, a mediocre soul will pay lip service.  But cars
> don't crash in mediocre cases.  In the worst case, some apparently
> noble soul will (1) place fearsome dragons in the land, (2)
> disrupt the area, and (3) design a convenient reward for whomever
> most everyone declares unworthy.

Actually, I do not see this as an issue at all.  In no way do I
think players should have the ability to setup scenarios, quests, or
monsters in a way that it could it affect the ENTIRE world at large.
Instead, I think that they should have those powers to affect ONLY
their guilds/fellowships/parties.  This is a self policing model,
and would solve the griefing issue on its own.

In effect, if a guild hosted events simply to kill off their OWN
guild members, that guild would quickly become extinct.  Whereas on
the other hand, those guilds that continually ran events that were
fun and exciting would find their growth rates continually

In other words, we step back to micro-management.  In almost every
community structure existing in MMORPGs today, their exists the
potential for the guild to grief it's own players.  Yet though these
problems do arise, they are rather rare and isolated.  Why?  Because
those guilds shoot themselves in the foot every time they use those
mechanics for griefing purposes.  In a world where EVENTS are run
via guilds, then this will become even less of a problem, as
publicity regarding those guilds becomes more widespread.

Simply put, with simple game mechanics to enable community level
self-policing, griefing should never become a wide-spread issue.  A
negligible cost, in my opinion, for giving the powers of
storytelling to players to enable and grow THEIR worlds in YOUR

Snipped to issues I have real feedback on.

> It's a hard topic.  Here's a few suggestions:

>   1. Roleplay, roleplay, roleplay!


>   2. Give every object a story.

Absolutely agreed.

>   3. Weave the stories into legends that players interact with in
>   quests.

Again, absolutely agreed.

> 4. I think player events do help; e.g. Asheron's Call.  When doing
> so, leave the events in place.  Create some seasonal events.
> There were some old posts here about that, about encouraging an
> in-character calendar of events.

I do not wish to sounds like I am against the development and
deployment of "Epic" fiction.  It is an integral means of steering
the fictional consistency of them world set, and one that has the
capability of reaching tons of players with one fell swoop.  But the
manpower to run CONTINUAL epic story-lines, with constant plasyer
input and cause/affect scopes, simply does not exist.  Thus I feel
that while Epic Developer maintained player events are an important
aspect of game world development, they pale in comparison to the
power that guild/community level storytelling would enable the
players to achieve.

In other words, massive Epic fiction is costly, time consuming, and
a pain in the arse to deploy.  Community level fiction would be a
one time development expenditure, and return constant returns as
communities develop and grow their own story lines, events, and
quests.  Which would you, as a Developer, prefer to do?  Be forced
to continually provide your players with fish, or buy thema fishing
pole and let them feed themselves?

> 5. I also think creative contests help.  I can't prove that they
> do.  It's just that I did these in Dark Ages for two years
> beginning in 1999, and players continue to tell me that it made a
> difference for them personally.

I agree with you completely here as well.  Having contests where the
players feel that their input becomes a PART of the world only
allows deeper immersion for them.  Of course, that is also one of
the same reasons I beleive that community level storytelling is the
wave of the future for MMORPGs, albeit one that no Dev House has
seemed to grasp just yet.

> 6. The service provider may consider publishing roleplaying
> activities, much like a journalist publishes socially laudable
> activities.  But I worry that the service provider might be
> promote the a lot of insincere activity.  They'd promote the image
> but ... well... freedom fries anyone?

An undesrstandable concern, but I think this is an issue of paranoia
for the possible negative PR such events might create.  Frankly,
these insincere activities already occur, and nothing is really
going to stop them.  But limiting your players ability to outreach
to the community at large simply because of the potential of some
players grief is a self defeating prophecy, in my opinion.  Better
to deal with the bad apples then not have any apples at all.

> Keegan Reid asked me, Paul Schwanz :), and apparently several
> others to write about encouraging roleplaying a couple of days ago
> over at Lejendary Adventure's board.  It's long and is a different
> audience's thread, so I won't bore you by pasting the contents.
> Instead, here's the link:


Interesting.  I am going through the rather large lists of posts,
and will likely post my own as well.  Thanks for pointing it out.

Talanithus Tarant
  UO Lake Superior - http://uols.net
  Tel'Mithrim - http://www.grey-company.org
  UO Powergamers - http://uopowergamers.com
  Unknown Player - http://www.unknownplayer.com

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