[MUD-Dev] Removing access to entertainment

John Buehler johnbue at msn.com
Fri Nov 14 11:35:41 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003


This is an observation about some graphical games that I've played
through the years, and a pet peeve that has been building all that
while.  I don't know if text games have this manifested in any way,
but the graphical games sure do: they remove my access to
entertainment as part of the normal
operation of the game.

  Example 1: Nighttime and rainstorms.

    In graphical games, the gee-whiz graphics are a major selling
    point.  All the screenshots that we see show amazing detail,
    wonderful graphics, magical effects and so on.  Yet half of the
    game time is rendered for 'night'.  The screen goes dark.  I
    can't see the neato graphics.  In truth, I can't see much of
    anything.  Rainstorms do the same thing.

  Example 2: Mesmerization.

    This is where one character is able to cause another character
    to go unresponsive to controls because it is 'mesmerized'.  This
    effect can last 30 seconds or more.  But the esential truth of
    the effect is that the player can not play the game for those 30
    seconds.

  Example 3: Blindness.

    This is a combination of the first two examples.  A character
    causes another character to go blind, meaning that the player
    can't see anything in the game world.  Their controls may be
    accessible, but the world itself is not visible.

  Example 4: Slow travel in large worlds.

    This is less removal of entertainment and more a barrier to
    getting to entertainment.  Let's say that the world is
    geographically large and the task to be tackled requires
    multiple players to come together.  Or multiple players simply
    want to gather because it's fun to do so.  The time it takes to
    assemble those multiple players from around the game world can
    be prohibitive.

The only real purpose of this post is to suggest to game designers
that they cease putting in game features that, while 'realistic', do
NOT add to the game's entertainment value.  In truth, they oppose
players finding entertainment because those very features remove
access to the game's entertainment.

  1. Don't remove or limit my ability to see the game world in an
  entertaining way.  A dark screen is NOT entertaining.  It only
  adds to eye strain.  A rainstorm isn't 'fun'.  It only impairs my
  ability to move around the game world to find the real
  entertainment in the game.

  2. Don't remove my access to my character's abilities.  Let others
  attempt to counter my character's abilities, but don't remove
  access to mine.

  3. Don't install barriers to accessing entertainment.  I
  understand that players will consume all available entertainment
  in a game because of the difficulty in composing content.  That
  doesn't mean that there should be such onerous barrier to pursuing
  that entertainment that I spend much of my gaming experience in
  simply trying to reach the entertainment that's out there.

There are solutions to all of these things.  But the first problem
to be solved is that game designers/developers/publishers seem to
believe that impairing a player's ability to access game
entertainment is of itself somehow entertaining.  It isn't.  So let
me enjoy what entertainment there is in your games.

JB
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